Exclusive Excerpt from The Rainbow Clause
by Beth Bolden
“Did you really not expect me to pick you up?” Colin asked.
Nick made a disbelieving noise. “Do you not have a PA? A hired car service?”
“Both.” Colin had the nerve to blush under his tan. “But it always seemed so rude to me. You’re not baggage to be collected. You’re here to see me. You’re going to stay with me. The least I can do is to pick you up from the airport.”
“You hate reporters,” Nick said slowly.
“And yet…you’re still not baggage,” Colin said. He paused. “And I don’t hate them. I…their methods bother me sometimes. I don’t usually trust them. But I don’t hate them.” Colin shot him a quick, pleading look, and Nick would have to be a hell of a lot dumber to not know what that look meant.
Or what it could mean, if Nick decided to forget all the rules he’d set for himself when he’d first started his career.
Don’t sleep with the athletes. Don’t like the athletes. Don’t fall for the athletes.
It had never been particularly hard to keep them, but Nick had a feeling he was about to be tested.
Nick had known he was in trouble since Colin had first stepped off that elevator into the Five Points office looking even hotter than his Sports Illustrated cover. Since LA, Nick had been walking a very fine line between winning Colin’s trust and giving his own away.
With a lot of sports stars he’d interviewed, Nick had been perfectly able to maintain a very professional distance, even while digging up all the dirt he could.
It was something he’d gotten very, very good at.
The problem was that Colin was smarter than that, and had assumed a position of pay to play. Colin wasn’t going to give without something in return. The invaluable barrier he’d been hiding behind, constructed with all those sarcastic quips he loved, was never going to work with Colin. He knew this was personal for Nick, and he wanted a front row seat to all the bruises.
Nick wanted to tell Colin, I hope you more than don’t hate me. But even if what crackled between them eventually flared into more, he needed to postpone the inevitable. Instead he said, “Hate the game, not the player.”
Colin shook his head, a chagrined but hopelessly amused smile blooming on his face. “And people say I’m a dork.”
“You are a dork,” Nick said. He couldn’t tell Colin that he had more integrity in his pinkie finger than most big shot NFL players had in their whole bodies.
Shaking everybody’s hand as soon as he entered a room. Holding doors open for women. Once leaving a sideline interview to find an umbrella for Erin Andrews. Speaking about everyone with respect, and expecting respect in return or he would immediately cut the interview off. Insisting on picking up a reporter from the airport himself. All of this combined to make Colin O’Connor who he was in the public eye, and while many might claim he wasn’t genuine, Nick thought they couldn’t have actually met Colin and believed that. While closed off and intensely private, he still radiated sincerity.
He didn’t want a rap career. He didn’t want his own clothing line. He didn’t want to get paid for attending any number of club openings. He didn’t want a chain of groupies. He wanted to play football and go home to a simple life. And to so many who didn’t understand, it looked old fashioned or dorky, but Nick had long believed it made him unique and authentic.
And that was the side of Colin O’Connor Nick was so desperate to show people.
“I wish more people were dorks,” Nick added, and Colin laughed.
“If everyone was boring like me, you wouldn’t have anything to write about.”
Colin was wrong; if everyone was boring like him, Nick would have more opportunities to write about the things that actually mattered.