The Player Next Door Read online K.A. Tucker

Categories Genre: Contemporary, Romance Tags Authors:
Total pages in book: 114
Estimated words: 109102 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 546(@200wpm)___ 436(@250wpm)___ 364(@300wpm)

Read Online Books/Novels:

The Player Next Door

Author/Writer of Book/Novel:

K.A. Tucker

Book Information:

Scarlet Reed has returned to Polson Falls, convinced that twelve years away is long enough to shed her humiliating childhood identity as the town harlot's daughter. With a teaching job secured and an adorable fixer-upper to call home, things in her life are finally looking up.
That is, until she finds out that Shane Beckett lives next door.
Shane Beckett, the handsome and charismatic high school star quarterback who smashed her heart. The lying, cheating player who was supposed to be long gone, living the pro football dream and fooling women into thinking he's Prince Charming. Shane Beckett, who is as attractive as ever and flashing his dimples at her as if he has done no wrong.
Scarlet makes it abundantly clear that old wounds have not been forgotten. Neighbors they may be, but friends they most certainly are not. She won't allow herself to fall for the single father and firefighter again, no matter how many apologies he offers, how many times he rushes to her aid, or how hard he makes her heart pound.
But as she spends more time with him, she begins to fear that maybe she's wrong. Maybe Shane has changed.
And maybe this time she's the one playing herself—out of a chance at true happiness.
Books by Author:

K.A. Tucker


September 2007

* * *

I survived Day One without puking or crying.

Do they make T-shirts with that slogan? They must. I can’t be the only person to head back to school after summer vacation with a broken heart. Though, I’d be lying if I wore that T-shirt. I did cry today; I just didn’t do it in public. I ducked into a restroom stall as the first fat tear rolled down my cheek and then spent my entire lunch period with my butt planted on a toilet seat, struggling to muffle my sobs as giggling girls streamed in and out, oblivious.

And all it took was one look from Shane Beckett to cause that reaction. Or rather, the lack of a look. A passing glance as we crossed paths in the hallway between third and fourth period, when his beautiful whiskey-colored eyes touched mine before flickering away, as if the momentary connection was accidental.

As if the seventeen-year-old, six-foot star quarterback for the Polson Falls Panthers and I hadn’t spent the summer in a semipermanent lip-lock.

As if last night, sitting in his father’s car outside my apartment building, he didn’t tell me that we were getting too serious, too fast, and he couldn’t handle a relationship right now, that he needed to focus on football, and I was too much of a distraction.

That one vacant, meaningless look from Shane Beckett in the hall today was worse than anything else he could have done, and it sent me stumbling away, dragging my obliterated spirit behind me.

The rest of the day has been a painful blur, with me cowering in the same restroom stall after the last bell rang to avoid the crowd. I foresee myself spending a lot of time in there. Maybe I should hang an occupied sign and declare it mine for the school year.

“Hey, Scarlet.” Becca Thompson, her stride buoyant, flashes a sympathetic smile as she passes me on the steps outside the front doors of Polson Falls High.

“Hey,” I manage, but the bubbly blond is already gone, trotting down the sidewalk, no glance backward, almost as if she hadn’t greeted me at all. She’s nice enough, but I shouldn’t be surprised by the lukewarm friendliness. We’ve never traveled in the same circles, her being the popular cheerleader and me being the reticent mathlete who slogs away at the local drive-in movie theater every weekend in summer. We’d exchanged nothing more than polite greetings before Shane and I started dating, despite our mothers working together at the hair salon for years.

Couple that with the fact that Becca is best friends with Penelope Rhodes—a.k.a. the Red Devil, otherwise known as the worst human to walk these dank halls—who was away in Italy all summer, and I’m not surprised that I’m persona non grata once again.

Becca obviously knows Shane and I broke up. They all must know. But at least she acknowledged me, so I guess there’s that.

She’s heading toward the parking lot now. That’s where the jocks and cheerleaders and otherwise popular crowd hang out, congregated around the cars their parents bought for them, talking and laughing and ignoring the peasants.

I check my watch. It’s been twenty minutes since the last bell. Most of them should have left by now. With a heavy sigh, I tuck a wayward strand of my mouse-brown bob behind my ear, hike my backpack over my shoulder, and amble down the path, ready to avoid eye contact and walk the eight blocks home where I can hide in my bedroom for the rest of my life—or at least for the night.

Rounding the bend, I spot Steve Dip heading this way with two other guys from the football team. My stomach clenches. There’s a reason the wide receiver and Shane’s best friend is nicknamed Dipshit. He’s an obnoxious ass with a cruel sense of humor.

I hold my breath, hoping he’ll ignore me, like everyone else seems to be.

Our eyes meet and he winks. No such luck. “Hey, BB. You cost me fifty bucks!”

I frown. What? I have no idea why he’s calling me that, but it can’t mean anything flattering, especially not with the raucous laughter that follows.

He brushes a hand through his cropped hair. “Tell Dottie I’m gonna come in for a quickie later, will ya?”

“Bite me,” I throw back, my cheeks burning as we pass. How long has he been sitting on that stupid joke? It’s far from the first time I’ve heard something along those lines. When your mother’s the town bicycle, everyone feels the need to share their punch line with you. He never dared say a word about her when Shane and I were together, but I guess it’s no holds barred now.

“Is that an offer?” Steve grins. “’Cause it sounds like that’d be more action than Bex got this summer.”

I lift my middle finger in the air and speed up, wanting to put as much distance as possible before this knot in my throat explodes into tears. I told Shane I wanted to take it slow and he said that was fine. He never pushed me.