Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Sports, Oral Sex, Slow, .
Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Shane Ellsworth is a rookie quarterback in the NFL. Fresh out of college, he's got a lot of adjusting to do if he's going to make it. No sex in the first few chaps.
"Prick faggot mother fucker," Shane Ellsworth spouted as a defensive back plucked his lame duck pass out of the air, and ran it forward six yards before the coach blew his whistle.
"God dammit Ellsworth," Coach Barnes said. "I've seen you throw better with your off hand!"
The pass hadn't even been near Fazon Williams, its intended target instead it was five yards to the left, straight into the numbers of Cedric D'hall. There hadn't even been enough oomph on the ball to make Cedric work. He'd just squatted under the pass, caught it, and took off.
"Strangely get in here!" Coach yelled to Ed Strangely the team's starting quarterback. "See if you can't show Ellsworth how to throw a proper curl."
Shane groaned from his spot on the bench. He'd been throwing curls for years, the idea that at twenty three years old he would be taught it for the first time, grated against him. In frustration he kicked a Gatorade cup away from his feet, and stared at the dirt.
"Head up Ellsworth," a deep voice said from his right shoulder.
"Dude," Shane said. "I'm really not in the mood for encouragement."
"Not a problem, but if you don't get your head up, and look out at the field, coach will ream your ass some more."
Confused, Shane finally looked toward his conversational teammate. Standing there with a helmet in one hand; and an offensive playbook in the other was Daniel Jackson "The Dozer". Inwardly Shane felt an immediate foolishness.
"The Dozer" was a consummate veteran. He'd been playing as a professional for seven years, and had been to three Pro Bowls. On the Orlando team he was an anchor for the offensive squad. Any other member of the offense would have been ignored by Shane, but you couldn't ignore Dozer and expect to be treated well by the team.
Shane stood, and stepped back, over the bench. He was taller than Jackson by several inches, but the other man's presence was not diminished. Off the field he was soft spoken, and easygoing. But a man doesn't get called "The Dozer" by being gentile. On the field he was a machine, many sports journalists and aficionados called him the consummate fullback. Crushing opponents when blocking, and steamrolling them when running, he was five foot, ten inches tall, and built like a titanium fire plug. Daniel Jackson's highlight reel was a who's who of famous linebackers, safeties, and even defensive linemen, all of them going backward or airborne as "The Dozer" went through them.
"Ok, keep my eyes on the field then," Shane said, keeping his eyes glued to the field now, He leaned slightly over and spoke. "Any more advice?"
"You really want more advice?"
"From you, absolutely," Shane said. His eyes darted as Strangely drilled Fazon Williams with a bullet pass. The pop of the ball hitting the receiver's gloves echoed in the empty arena. Coach looked back to Ellsworth, and locked eyes on Shane as if he were about to speak. Then he looked to Jackson, and turned his attention back to the practice.
"You have to get to the root of things, simplify your outlook." Dozer began. "You're a rookie, and a first round pick at that. You know that ninety five percent of your fellow draftees won't be playing ball in three years, and you know that you won't get game time unless you show the Coach something hot."
Shane winced as Strangely repeated the same play. Jackson was pointing out things that Shane's agent had already said to him.
"That's too much pressure. What you need to do is ask yourself some serious questions, and condense those answers into a purpose on the field."
Shane stopped watching the practice, and gawked a bit at Jackson. It was hard to remember sometimes that Dozer had left Stanford six credits short of a degree in communications. He was more educated than most of the players and the only black man in the organization who spoke without slang.
"What questions?" Shane finally said.
"This is the last day of minicamp, why don't we get some dinner out for a change, instead of the same cafeteria crap they serve here, and I'll tell you," Dozer said, now looking Shane in the eye.
"Alright, but I'm buyin," Shane said, holding his right fist out to Jackson at waist level.
"Damn right you're buying," Dozer said, pounding his own fist down onto Shane's.
The rest of the practice went as Shane expected, he worked on his hand offs, and play action movements with the quarterbacks coach Ray Thomas, and Strangely stayed on the field with the first team.
In the shower, Shane was a bad penny. Teammates stayed clear, and Shane kept his head down. The pass he'd thrown earlier had been another in a long line of throws he'd made in the mini-camp. Every ball he'd tossed, and tossed was the right word, because he hadn't 'thrown' much of anything, had been worthless, and would have been ineffective in a game. Shane could count on one hand the number of receptions he'd thrown in the camp.
When he finally looked up, he was alone in the shower. Sighing, Shane turned off the water, and padded out to his locker. A few players were packing their gym bags, but the rest had vanished.
Shane toweled his blonde hair dry, and put on a grey team tee-shirt. Pulling on a pair of ragged looking cargo pants that had cost him a hundred dollars to look the way they did, he slipped his feet into his black leather flip flops, and with comb in hand stood before the mirror.
At six foot four, and 228 pounds, he was built lean and strong. He looked like a football player. Blonde hair that fell around his ears and cheekbones gave him a wind blown look that magazines preferred; it had been his stylist's idea.
His agent had said he'd endorse for over a million after one touch down, and if he was the starter, he'd be asked to sell sand in Arizona. A poster boy for the American dream his agent's secretary had said, if he could just get some game time.
So far all he'd signed were a few routine contracts to the memorabilia card companies, and a video game. It wasn't big money, but it'd help cover the rent on the moderate two bedroom apartment he'd found.
Ten minutes later, Shane had his duffle packed up, and left the locker room, his baggage from the dormitory the team had stayed at all week was already in his car. As he walked out of the facility, and into the parking lot, he saw Jackson leaning against a giant four door Lexus.
"Took you long enough, I'm starving rookie."
"I'm sorry, I had to try and relax," Shane said without emphasis.
"It's cool, but I made reservations, just follow me, I'm not about to drag your ass home after this, I got kids that want to see me tonight."
So Shane tossed his duffle into the back seat of his Chevrolet Tahoe, a ten year old truck his father had let him take to college, and gave him after the draft, and started off behind the Lexus.
If pro football worked out, Shane was sure a big four door sedan was not for him. Maybe some sort of luxury truck. The Lexus suited Dozer fine though, the fullback's entire being seemed to be a contradiction, intelligent and soft spoken as a man, yet violent and brutal as a football player. He looked like an imposing, tough guy, but drove the car of a Florida snowbird.
Dozer drove like Shane's grandmother, and it took fifteen minutes to get to an Italian place that Shane was sure he could have gotten to in five. The valet opened the Tahoe's door, and seemed surprised to see Shane behind the wheel.
"Mr. Ellsworth, welcome to Felini's," the kid said as he held the door open.
"Two under Jackson," Shane heard Dozer saying as his truck drove off. He made his way to the hostess where Daniel was checking in. Seeing Shane, the hostess, a young brunette with a cherub face, flushed.
"Right this way Mr. Jackson"
The restaurant had a comfortable Mediterranean feel to it, and Daniel and Shane were seated at a large round table. A busboy brought water glasses, and a pudgy middle aged woman introduced herself as Kate, their waitress.
When she left to get their wine order, Jackson looked up.
"Ok," he said. "The questions."
"Right," Shane said. "Should I be writing this down?"
"Nope," Jackson shook his head. "Question one, why do you play football?"
"Why do you play, are you playing to get rich, to be famous, why do you do it?"
Shane stared at him. There was a trick, he could feel it. Jackson was about to take this simple question, and turn it into something surreal on him. As fortune would have it, their waitress arrived.
"Can I start you off with an appetizer?" she said as she placed their wine glasses in front of them and went about filling them.
"Uh," Shane said, shaken from thought. "Maybe some bread."
Kate jotted that down, and looked back up. "Do you know what you'd like for dinner?"
"I'd like angel hair pesto, with a double portion of chicken, and a Caesar salad," Shane said without hesitation. One of the first things Fred Day, The team's conditioning coach, had done was give him a notebook on how he was expected to eat and imbibe drink while a member of the Orlando Cannons.
Kate left the now half empty bottle of pinot on the table
"You've been reading Fred's book," Jackson smiled, then looked to Kate. "I'll have the lamb and beef lasagna, and for the sake of health, a Caesar salad."
"I'll get that right in, and Kate nodded, and sped off.
"What's the answer to my question rook?" Jackson hadn't wasted a second before jumping on Shane again.
Shane's focus narrowed as he thought about it. Boiled down to just a few instances, and then honed in on one moment.
"Because when I was eleven, I threw a perfect spiral ten yards to a wide open Billy Parker, who sprinted half the field for a game winning touchdown," Shane finally said his eyes clear and a hint of a smile on his face.
Jackson grinned, and nodded, then sipped from his glass and looked away.
"Mine was a stiff arm, my first stiff arm. Right into a kid who to this day, as an adult, doesn't know he decided that I would play ball forever. I don't even know who he was, just that he fell away and I kept right on going," Jackson said without looking across the table. Now Shane was grinning too.
"Ok, question two; Is football personal, or business?"
"Personal," Shane said with no hesitation or waver in him.
"Three; what's the best part of the game?'
"Throwing a pass," This time Shane had reflected for all of a second on his first answer.
"Ok then," Jackson said and sat up to lean toward the middle of the table as if he was a sage about to intone wisdom. Kate their waitress took this moment to drop off a basket of breadsticks, and then vanished like the professional she was.
"You love to play football, you play it for you, and you love to throw."
"Right, except now I have to do it better, and faster—" Shane began but was silenced by Jackson's upturned hand.
"No you don't, you played for the thrill and the fun of it all the way to the pros, you were drafted as a guy who flat out loves to play and blast the ball down field. Don't act like you weren't. Everyone on the team watches football on Saturdays, we all saw you play, I've seen you punch the ground after a sack, and get back up with a grin after the very next play."
Shane just stared, Daniel was right. He'd been thinking about agents, money, endorsements, and fame ever since the draft, things that he had never let get in front of him in college.
"You have got to take that on to the field with you," Jackson continued. "Leave the decisions and shit in the locker room. On the field, you need to take the damn ball, and be the guy who just plain loves to be there."
That point melted into Shane's brain, from someone less respected, he probably would have taken the statement and filtered it out of his head halfway through, but, hearing it all, he knew it was right.
Dinner blurred past, and Shane didn't even know what his food had tasted like. All he knew was that he was going to play football, just play. Sometimes he wondered how he'd ever gotten this far without someone saying it to him before, then he realized that before now, that was all he'd ever done ... he hadn't needed to hear it before.
The rest of the conversation was just chatter, later though, after they'd eaten and were waiting for their cars, Jackson said something else that sunk in to Shane.
"I expect to see the rookie from Ohio State in one week at training camp, not the first year pro with his head full of bullshit."
"You know it," Shane said, holding his fist out again, and for the second time, Jackson slammed his own fist down into it.
"Good," Jackson smiled. "I look forward to it."
His energy amplified by the experience of Dozer's talk, Shane didn't want to go straight home. Instead he climbed into the Tahoe, and drove toward downtown Orlando. He had a plane back to Ohio in the morning to spend the week before training camp with his parents. He figured he'd just not sleep until the flight.
In front of a club called "Passion" he pulled up to a chagrined valet who actually did a double take when Shane got out of the truck. Clamoring to overcome his snobbishness about parking such an old vehicle, the valet professionally handled the Tahoe and left Shane to wander up to the front door.
Shane was always surprised by the way people in line reacted when he was around. There they were waiting, probably for a long time, to gain entry to a place that he would just walk into with out stopping. Sometimes they took his picture, and sometimes they looked like they were just dying to go somewhere that he would go to. Never did they act like he was cheating.
Waving his hand at the idea that Shane would pay a cover charge, a thick bouncer unclipped a red velvet rope, and ushered the quarterback inside. Through the doors, music that had been subdued outside was deafening. This didn't bother Shane as he headed to the bar.
Fred had said that three drinks would be plenty for fun, and four would start getting him stupid. Shane decided to find out how fun three would be, and ordered a dirty grey goose martini.
Football fans were somehow reserved in this club. Shane was sure that the bouncers had something to do with this, as only a few people came to him for autographs, and they all seemed to simply expect him to deliver. Like there was an unwritten rule that he would sign, because no one else was asking him.
Half way through the second Martini, Shane was just getting up the nerve to find someone to dance with when a woman's voice caught his ear.
"Tea from Long Island," the voice said in a New York tone.
Shane turned around to see a red haired woman obviously in her twenties, wearing a black dress that flattered a fit body. Her hair was pinned up above her neck, and she flashed him a smile.
"You're a football player," She said, then gave a crooked smile. "El-something or another."
She was drunk. Which Shane thought was just his luck. Truly attractive, he would have loved to try and talk to her, but drunk like she was it probably wouldn't be worth it.
"Ellsworth," Shane supplied. "Shane Ellsworth."
"Pleased to meet you Shane," She held out her left hand, ring free, and extended in greeting. "I'm Valerie."
"Good to meet you."
Before he could turn back, a man in an expensive double breasted suit stormed up to Valerie.
"Come on Val, let's get back to my place," he said, agitation evident in his tone.
"I told you, I don't want to," Valerie said, alcohol and frustration guiding her posture. She leaned on the bar, and held her right hand up as if to block the suit from view.
"Let's go," the suit continued.
"Look Tommy," Valerie said, hand still held high. "Just cause I drank doesn't mean I suddenly found the desire to spread my legs. I just met this man here, and I don't intend on speaking to you anymore."
The suit looked at Shane unimpressed. He pulled Valerie's hand down and grabbed her wrist. Recoiling, she yanked away from him, and Shane took that moment to inject him self into the situation.
"Why don't you just call her when she's sober dude," Shane offered.
"Shut up," Tommy said without even looking at Shane. "Just get back to your light beer, go find some middle class tramp to bang, and leave us alone."
Shane squared his shoulders, and imposed himself into the smaller man's space.
"I don't really care what you think about me," Shane said edging into the man's face. "But what you know about me, is that I'm a lot bigger, clearly more sober, and I've probably been in a few more fights than you ... right?"
"So what?" Tommy said haughtily, though his body language seemed now much tenser.
"So leave her alone, before I make you shit teeth."
Tommy's face paled, and he stormed away. As soon as he was two steps away, Valerie clutched Shane's arm and pulled him away from the bar.
"Let's go," she said.
"Let's go, he'll be back in two minutes with his bodyguards, and they won't give a crap about how many fights you've been in."
So they half sprinted, half walked to the valet, Shane realizing that his idea of a fun night was ending faster than he could believe. As they stepped out the front doors, a barrage of flash bulbs went off, and he stammered an apology to Valerie about it, saying he still wasn't used to it.
"It's ok," she had said, then seemed taken back when the valet opened the door to Shane's old truck for her.
Once they were inside, and driving she laughed, alcohol laden breath filling his nose.
"This isn't what I was expecting you to drive," she said, one hand toying with her hair.
"I like it," Shane muttered. "Where do you live?"
"Don't think I'm sleeping with you," she snorted. "You may be the white knight, but your stallion leaves a lot to be desired."
"Whatever," Shane was seriously wishing he had gone to another club. His mother would beat him if he hadn't helped this girl, but that didn't mean he had to like helping her. "I'm just going to drop you off."
Valerie just looked out the passenger window, obviously unhappy with her situation, and spouted out directions as he drove. Shane stayed silent. The attitude she'd donned for Tommy hadn't gone away, and he wanted as little to do with it as possible.
In short order, the Tahoe pulled beneath a towering high rise, and a red jacketed bell man came, and with no regard for the vehicle, just opened the passenger door, and smiled with courtesy.
"Welcome home Miss Valerie," he said as he recognized the woman. "Will you require service sir?"
"No thanks," Shane said, a little angrier than he intended.
"Of course sir," the bellman smiled "Just a moment please then."
Shane watched as the bellman helped Valerie into the building, as her staggering was now more pronounced. Then he returned to his bellman's desk for a second and came back to the still open passenger door.
"I'm sorry Mr. Ellsworth," All per function was gone from his voice and posture. The bellman had left, and the fan had arrived. "My wife's from Ohio, if I don't at least get turned down for an autograph, I'll be beside myself."
Shane laughed out loud, his frustration briefly forgotten in the absurdity. "Sure thing," he said between chuckles.
It took him an hour to get the autograph signed. First he'd asked where in Ohio Walter's, that had turned out to be the bellman's name, wife was from. Then they'd talked about football. Walter turned out to be a real football man. He watched everything he had time for, and even some that would get him in trouble at home.
"Thanks for the company Walter," Shane had said when he climbed back into the truck and fired it up. Of all things, Walter had made the evening bearable.
"Anytime Mr. Ellsworth, you ever get insomnia, I'm always here." As Shane drove away he watched the fan disappear, and saw the rigid bellman reappear.
Having no desire to do anything else for the evening, he went to the airport. Six hours ahead of time, he put the truck in long term parking and made his way through security. Once on the other side, a blonde airline employee took his suitcase, and escorted him to the VIP lounge where he propped his feet up, and without so much as a deep breath, passed out.
The blonde airline girl shook him awake, and told him his flight was boarding. Shane, still brushing the cobwebs out of his mind, somehow made it to the cart that took him to the gate, and boarded. In his team supplied first class seat, he fell back asleep before the plane could back out of the gate.
As he came into the baggage claim, Shane saw his parents waiting for him without fan fare. Dad just shook his hand, mom gave him a brief hug, and they let him carry his own bag out to the truck.
"Camp ok?" His father asked, as if he'd just gotten back from scout camp, not like he'd returned from his first experience as a professional football player.
"Yes Sir," Shane said, throwing his bag into the bed of his father's truck, and climbing in the back seat. It had always been this way. Mr. Ellsworth drove, his wife sat beside him, and everyone else got in the back, or drove their own damn car. "I can do better though."
"Did you find a place to live yet?" His mother said.
"Not yet mom, I still haven't gotten out much."
They caught up briefly in the truck, and then his mother and father started talking about their passion, fishing. Long as Shane could remember, they'd been fishing. Every weekend, holiday, or convenient day to take off the two of them would be fishing. Friend's had said that Bob and Mary Ellsworth were made for each other just because no one else would put up with so much fishing.
Shane himself was a horrid fisherman, impatient, and ungratified by it, he'd taken to trying to hit things with his football while they fished. Unknowingly he'd ended up spending countless hours honing his accuracy with the ball. Just by relaxing and killing time.
Mr. Ellsworth pulled into a drive through on the way home. They were on their way to Hillsboro Ohio, where Shane had grown up, and his father had been fixing cars since his own father had taught him when he was fifteen. No one at the drive through noticed Shane in the back seat, and all the way home he enjoyed the peaceful anonymity.
As they were pulling into the dirt drive at the Ellsworth home, Shane's cell phone rang. Looking at the screen he saw a number he didn't recognize. This was odd because two people actually had the number for his phone, his father, and his agent.
"Dad," Shane said without looking up from the screen. "You give anyone my number."
"Nope, but I'd still like your sister to have it." This was a point of debate between the Ellsworth men, Shane loved his sister, but her husband was thought of as a weasel who'd have every news agency in the country calling Shane directly just for a buck.
"Right," Shane said. Clearly his agent had given it out then. He flicked the 'talk' button. "Hello?"
"Shane?" said a sexy New York accent.
"Speaking," balling a fist, and pressing it into his forehead, he squeezed his eyes shut. What was she doing calling him now.
"Hey, this is Valerie; we met at Passion last night."
"I remember," Shane said, then without thinking added. "Are you ok?"
He heard an intake of breath.
"I'm fine, thank you for asking, what I was hoping, is that maybe you'd found my earring in your car?"
"Oh," Shane relaxed a bit, she just wanted an earring. "No, my truck is at the airport, I'm home with my family for the next week."
"Look," she said her voice troubled by this news. "I really need to get that earring, it belonged to my grandmother, would it be possible for me to meet you there when you get back and get it?"
"Um, sure, I'll call you Saturday and tell you when to meet me on Sunday."
"Thank you so much," she seemed to be ready to hang up, then. "And thank you for everything last night; it was nice to have no regrets this morning."
She disconnected before he could respond. Without closing the phone he was dialing his agent's number. His father meanwhile was getting out of the truck, and his mother was opening her door.
"Frank Gerrard," the loud obnoxious voice of his agent said.
"Frank, it's Shane Ellsworth, did you give my number out?"
"Fuck yes I did," there was no explanation.
"Ok... ," Shane was baffled, and his parents, in their own easygoing manner, just shut the doors on the now silent pickup, and went inside the house. "Can I ask why?"
"Sure Shane," Frank said, then obviously made about relocating himself. Shane could hear him saying a few excuse me's, and then the background noise on the other end of the phone died off. "I gave your number out, because I don't get many calls from people who could buy the teams my clients play for. So when Benjamin Winters calls and says that his daughter wants your phone number, I just give it out."
"Who?" Shane said, now feeling like some dumb jock that he was supposed to have been his whole life.
"Ben Winters? Seriously Shane? Watch the news kid; you're all over it today."
"I've been on a plane or in a pickup all day."
"Get the news kid, you're face has been all over," the agent then began spinning the wheels. "If you're seeing her, then I can make anything happen. If you're not, then we just have to make is look like you did."
"What?" Shane objected. "No Frank, I just gave a drunk girl a ride home last night."
"Yeah, then you spent an hour at her luxury high rise before you left town. Kid, Valerie Winters is big news. You have arrived."
"No, don't say anything about this; it's not what anyone thinks. She was drunk, and I took her home, then I talked football with the bellman at her building, and came home," Shane's voice was picking up. "She called me today to say she might have lost an earring in my truck."
"That'll never be believed anywhere," Frank took a few breaths. "Ok how about I just say 'no comment' when people call, then you don't worry about putting out the wrong idea?"
"Sure Frank thanks."
Looking out of the windows of the truck, Shane laughed to himself.
"You sure know how to step in the deep stuff Shane," He said to the empty vehicle.
Once he got his bag, and came into the house, Shane went straight to the spare bedroom, and turned on the Ellsworth family computer, a four year old machine that balanced the checkbook, and had let his parents find pictures of their son in away games for the Buckeyes.
Seven lines down on CNN.com, Shane saw his name. "Rookie Ellsworth seen at the apartment of Valerie Winters, daughter to billionaire New York mogul Benjamin Winters"
The story went on to explain how the two had been seen getting comfortable at an Orlando night club, then gotten into Ellsworth's suv and headed to Winters' apartment where it was more than an hour before the quarterback had left.
Shane though it was almost comical that 'getting comfortable' was used to describe him threatening some guy that was bothering her, and 'suv' was used instead of 'old truck'. Almost comical that is, until he remembered it was his life plastered all over. Shane didn't realize he'd been in the guest room for so long, until his mother was behind him.
"Everything ok?" she asked.
"Yeah, just public scrutiny I guess."
Mary Ellsworth's eyes flashed over the web article on the screen.
"What happened?" she said, concern evident.
"Nothing, girl had too many drinks, I took her home, then talked football with the guy who parks cars at her building."
"Okay then," Mary said, and then walked out.
Shane had always been glad of his parent's blind faith in him. They believed him no matter what, and he tried not to take advantage of it.
The rest of the week went too quickly for Shane, and on Saturday night, his father was asking him when he needed to be at the airport. This jarred Shane into remembering his promise to call Valerie Winters to let her meet him. She picked up on the second ring.
"Hey, this is Shane Ellsworth, I wanted to give you my flight information so we could meet."
"Great, just let me get a pen," she said. Shane gave her the information, and heard a tapping noise from the other side of the phone.
"Shane, I can't make that time. I'm supposed to have lunch with my dad, and I'll be on the other side of town," she hesitated. "Do you think you could bring it to me? I know you're headed to my side of town anyway to check into camp aren't you?"
"Yeah... ," Shane felt trapped. "I could do that."
"Great, just meet us at Bert's, and I'll even treat you to lunch." She disconnected again. Shane groaned. Life was much easier in Ohio.
Getting off the plane in Orlando, Shane felt like he was switching into another persona, his senses were much more intense, and he felt like he was moving at a faster pace than in Ohio. He gathered his things, and got back to his truck. Before he started it up he dug through the passenger seat until he found it. The earring was a large dangling teardrop shaped diamond affair, it was clearly expensive, and Shane unceremoniously threw it into the ashtray as he started off to Bert's.
Having printed directions out from his parent's computer, Shane knew where he was going, he also knew that Bert's was a very exclusive restaurant that didn't list a menu or price range online. When he saw yet another valet stand, he knew just how different his two lives were.
The valets were expecting him, and ushered him to the door. Once inside the hostess beamed, and quickly escorted him through the restaurant which was oddly empty. Bewildered, Shane clamped down on the earring in his left hand, and followed.
At an enormous table, covered with a wide variety of food, Valerie and her father, a well distinguished older man in a blue pinstripe suit, sat. They both stood when Shane walked up, now feeling thoroughly undressed in his jeans and team polo.
"Mr. Winters," Shane managed to get out first, extending his right hand before the other man.
"Pleased to meet you Shane," Benjamin Winters said, shaking Shane's hand with a tight grip that didn't try to impose. "Ben Winters."
"Valerie," Shane said, turning to the redhead, who now that she was sober was beyond mere beauty, red hair falling about her shoulders, obscuring the expensive blazer she was wearing. He held out the earring. "I think you're wanting this."
Embarrassed to make the exchange in front of her father like Shane had wanted, she just took the jewelry, and sat back down.
"Shane, have lunch with us, we're sampling the menu my restaurant is serving, and talking football."
"You guys talk football?" Shane said, surprised by the billionaire's nonchalant behavior. "No offense."
"None taken," Winters said as he forked into a plate of pasta. "It's not something you'd expect I guess."
"Who's you're team then Mr. Winters?"
"America's Team; Dallas," Winters said. "And it's Ben."
"Right," Shane said taken back with the comfortable demeanor he was adopting as he sat across from them. Despite knowing he was in the presence of a billionaire, he was at ease. "What about you Valerie?"
"San Francisco," when Shane looked at her and then back to Ben, she explained. "It started in the early nineties; I couldn't pick Daddy's team because he was Daddy, and so I picked the team that was beating them."
"Not always beating them, Aikman and Smith kicked some Forty-niner ass too as I recall dear."
For the rest of lunch, Shane relaxed, and enjoyed the conversation; Ben and Valerie ribbed one another, and made fun of Shane's team too. They didn't pry into the inner workings of the Orlando organization, and surprisingly didn't talk football much longer, especially after Ben tasted a horrid avocado tuna sandwich.
Valerie and Shane were forced to try the foul concoction to satisfy Ben's need to know it wasn't just him, and then he took out a pen and scratched through the item on the menu.
"The fewer of those we ever make, the longer we'll be in business."
"Why a restaurant Ben?" Shane asked, it had been driving him nuts that a billionaire would bother with such a small endeavor.
"Good question," Ben looked directly into Shane's eyes, and then glanced at his daughter who nodded. "You pay attention; most people just nod and assume I do this all the time."
"But you don't"
"No, I have never opened a restaurant, I have buildings that contain restaurants, but those are just people leasing space from me," Ben looked to Valerie, who smiled.
"Daddy's supporting Bert," she said. "He worked for the family as a personal chef for ten years, then one day told Daddy he was quitting, because he really wanted his own place. I think it's the first time Daddy had looked at a business proposal that was under five million dollars in twenty years."
Ben Winters laughed, and tasted a dessert. Valerie just smiled. She really was gorgeous Shane thought. He watched her green eyes sparkle. Her hair flipped about in soft gentle curls, and he snapped back to attention, realizing he was looking at her a bit too intently in front of her father.
"You know what it's about Shane," Ben said, seeming not to notice the look on Shane's face. "Those guys on the field aren't just other player, they're your team mates, that's what Bert is, and he's part of my team."
"I can buy just about anything I want, but I can't get anymore loyalty as a billionaire than I could as a poor man. Bert's just a loyal guy, you treat him right, and he'll treat you right. Doesn't matter if you're his accountant, his friend, or in my case his former boss."
Shane agreed; his father was the same way. Everyone who knew him trusted him. He was the only mechanic Shane knew that never had a diagnosis questioned, or had people come back saying they'd been taken advantage of. When his father said something was broke and it would cost a hundred dollars to fix, he charged a hundred dollars, simple as that.
Lunch ended shortly after that when Ben's phone rang, he excused himself, saying it was good to meet Shane, and then stepped away from the table. Valerie looked across at Shane and kept smiling.
"He likes you," she said. "When he doesn't like someone he starts talking about the stock exchange."
Shane laughed, and began to notice the heat in his chest at being alone with Valerie. She had been so far from the girl he'd driven home. At some point he had relaxed in the presence of Valerie and her father. With the two of them alone for the first time since the night a week before, he was comfortable.
"So how long is your training camp Shane?" She said.
He realized he had actually been staring at her lips when she said it, and tried to fixate on something else. That led to him swimming in her eyes for a second before responding.
"A couple days shy of six weeks," he said, still looking at her eyes.
"We'll be in our regular season practice schedule." He shrugged. "I guess I'll have to find a real home. Games that count will begin, and with luck I'll still have a job."
"You really worry about that?" She looked surprised, and leaned over the table, folding her hands under her chin. Shane grinned.
"I always worry about my job," he said. "I stay concerned about my performance, or I end up on the bench. Like now."
"Now?" she asked. "You're just a rookie; of course you're on the pine ... right?"
She had surprised him with her awareness of professional football. This woman may or may not know the details, but she definitely understood things.
"Yeah well," he began. "I'm not even performing as well as a rookie should be. Dozer thinks I'm too wrapped up in the business side of things, not playing with my heart anymore."
"Sounds reasonable to me," said Mr. Winters, returning from the kitchen. "Making money when I need it is always harder than making money just because I can."
Shane laughed at the analogy, and checked his watch; he was due at the camp within the hour.
"Lunch was great Valerie, but I really need to get to camp," Shane said, his voice slow and calm, using the manners his parents beat into him. "Mr. Winters, thank you for your hospitality. Please tell Bert I think he's going to do great."
When he stood and turned, Valerie followed him to the front, slipping a business card into his hand.
"Shane," she said, dropping her voice to a hum that vibrated up his spine. "Give me a call, anytime. I wrote my personal number on there for you."
He was glad that he was an athlete at that moment; else his knees may not have stood up to the weakening they were feeling.