Groupie (Juked Book 2)

By: ME Carter

“Hey, Rookie! How have your first couple of weeks been?”

Daniel Zavaro sits down on the bar stool next to mine. All I’ve ever wanted since I could walk is to play soccer for a living, and now I am. A lot of people would say it was inevitable. Or that I didn’t have to work as hard as the others. They may think they know my dad. But they don’t really know him. Or me. And they have no idea the effort I’ve put in to distance myself from his reputation so I could make one for myself. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished.

“Really good so far. Thanks for asking.” Daniel has been captain of the Texas Mutiny, the team I play for, for a few years. Not only is he a kick-ass forward, he’s really respected in the league for being a stand-up guy, family man, local legend, and all around fantastic leader. I was really excited when I found out I was going to be working with him. The biggest scandal he’s been involved in his entire career is dating someone with a kid in the last couple of months.

That’s the type of scandal I can handle. I’m much too low-key to enjoy public drama.

People think I’m shy, but I’m not. I just like to observe. I like to watch the subtle movements they make. Their “tells.” I feel like I really get to know them that way, instead of filling up space with mindless chatter.

Considering the noise level in this hotel lobby, where my teammates are hanging out, I might be the only one who feels that way.

Daniel slaps me on the back. “We want you to feel welcome, Rowen. You’ve got an amazing ability to think four or five passes ahead and have killer crosses into the box. Just warning you now, we’ll be exploiting that skill later on.”

I smile at the encouragement. Not only am I a member of the Mutiny, my captain is pointing out my skills. As a rookie. I shouldn’t feel this excited, because it’s my job. But it’s a total rush to hear these words coming from him.

“I’ll be expecting you to exploit my skills for the good of the team.” I start to take a sip of my whiskey but change my mind, lowering it to the bar and turn back around so I can watch the action in the room. “That’s what I’m here for, after all.”

“Hey let me ask you a question.” He leans closer, and my smile falters. “Why are you a midfielder?”

“You mean instead of a forward?” No reason to beat around the bush. He obviously knows my heritage.

“Yeah. Don’t get me wrong. You’re fantastic at what you do. I’m just curious why you chose to play defense.”

I swirl my glass, making the Jameson spin. I’m sure it makes it look like I’m enjoying the drink, even though I’m not. “Easy answer. Would you want to be compared to your father your entire life, and how great he is, always afraid you’ll never measure up to that greatness?”

A strange look crosses Daniel’s face, but he covers it up quickly. I can’t be sure, but after years of observing people, I’m willing to bet I accidentally struck a nerve.

“Fair enough,” he says after taking a sip of his drink. “Now what’s the real reason?”

I smirk. I should have known Daniel would see right through me. He is captain, after all. “My dad is a great forward.”

“Arguably the greatest.”

“Definitely the greatest. But that was never me. I’m aggressive on the field, but not like him. I love the idea of protecting the other players. Of protecting the goal and supporting guys like you so you can really shine.” I laugh and smack him on the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. “Plus, your abs will never compare to mine, since I do way more running than you do.”

He punches my arm. “That hurt, ass-munch.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be. The best players are the best because they know who they are and where they can be the most valuable. That’s a rare thing, man. I’m impressed.”

I shrug and feel my cheeks redden. It’s the curse of being half Irish. Flaming red hair and cheeks to match when I’m embarrassed. “Hey, uh, the team doesn’t know who my dad is, do they?”

“I haven’t told them,” Daniel says, leaning against the bar and looking around at the team. “You don’t want them to know?”

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