Home > Hard Count (Men of Fall #5)

Hard Count (Men of Fall #5)
Author: S.R. Grey


Last Night in Paradise



I’m feeling good tonight, really good. It’s not entirely because of the party atmosphere, though this raucous club at this all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic certainly plays a part.

Mostly, though, my pumped-up vibe has to do with the fact that this is my last night in paradise. I intend to make the most of it too. And I have, by dancing a bunch of times already.

Hitting the packed dance floor all by myself is not my usual way to have fun, but on this vacation, it’s how I’m rolling. It’s all about having a good time and living life to the fullest, tonight especially.

You only live once, right?

You bet your ass.

So yeah, I may be here all alone at this beautiful resort, but I’ve been YOLO-ing all week long.

I’ve swum in the crystal-clear blue ocean every fucking day, went boating and snorkeled a few times, and hit up this little club—exclusive to the VIP guests—almost every night.

Tonight, however, I’m mixing it up. Instead of hanging at the bar and people-watching, like I’m doing right now, I’ve joined the throng of sweaty bodies on the crowded dance floor too many times to count.

Yeah, I’ve had a blast shaking my faded jean-clad ass like there’s no tomorrow.

Ah, but there is a tomorrow, one where I’ll leave this island escape and return to the real world, my world, a world of football. Training camp with my new team, the Columbus Comets, starts in two days.

I can’t believe how fast this summer flew by. I spent most of it finding a rental house in Ohio and making the move from Delaware, where I played at the quarterback position for the Dover Sharks for the past couple of years.

With all that upheaval, I needed this break and some time away before returning to real life.

Man, it’s been crazy these past few months.

After a less-than-stellar season with the Sharks and an early exit from the playoffs, I was traded to the Comets…to be their backup QB.

From starter to backup.

Talk about a demotion.

But what can you do?

I’m a realist, and I can see the writing on the wall. I have for a while now, as I’m thirty-three. I can still throw the ball like nobody’s business, at least most of the time, but I’m not where I was at, say, twenty-two.

Some guys have more longevity, but me?

I really don’t see myself playing all that much longer.

For now, though, I’m just happy another team picked me up, even if it is in a backup role.

It still feels good to be wanted.

Speaking of feeling wanted, a stunning beauty is smiling at me from across the bar.

Well, hell, I smile right the hell back.

She must have arrived at the resort recently, as I haven’t seen her all week. I don’t think I would’ve missed her. In fact, I know I would remember her.

She’s pretty with long, shiny auburn hair and a heart-shaped face. She’s a little curvy too.

I like that.

When I catch her laughing with the bartender, clearly teasing his ass over something with the way he’s rolling his eyes, like yeah, okay, you got me, I see that she’s sassy, as well.

I chuckle to myself and think about how it’s a shame I’m leaving tomorrow. I could’ve maybe gotten to know this spunky chick.

But all is not lost.

There’s still tonight, right?

Yes, yes there is.

I glance back over at her, and she catches my eye. Lowering her chin flirtatiously and batting her long, dark lashes, she raises her tropical-looking drink in a mock cheer.

I do the same with my beer bottle and give her an accompanying nod.

That’s it—I’m going to go over and talk to her.

But just as I’m pushing my bar stool back, with that intent in mind, some douche slides in next to her, instantly chatting her up.


I scoot back in.

I don’t want to stare over at them like some sort of creeper, so I look anywhere but across the bar, sipping the last of my beer.

Downing my final gulp, I set the bottle down.

I’m ready to go.

It’s time to call it a night, as I have an early flight back to Columbus, Ohio.

I push the empty bottle away, and when the bartender catches my eye, I shake my head, indicating “no more.”

But it’s like he didn’t even see me.

Instead of snatching the bottle up and walking away, the bartender replaces it with a fresh beer.

“Wait, hold up.” I jerk my chin to the beer bottle. “I didn’t order this.”

The bartender points over to the woman I shared a smile with just moments ago before dickhead stepped in.

Oooh, but wait, dickhead is gone.

She must’ve blown him off.

As I chuckle to myself, the bartender says, “That pretty lady over there”—he continues to point over to her—“sent this beer to you.”

“Oh? Ohhh…”

He steps away to wait on someone else, and as I peer her way, I’m met once again with that flirtatious smile.

The “pretty lady” mouths with her full, pouty lips, “For you.”

Damn, she really is a beauty.

And you know what?

Fuck that I have an early flight.

This week, and especially this night, it’s all about YOLO-ing, right?

Damn straight it is.

So I’ll be a little tired tomorrow?

Who cares?

I can sleep on the plane.

Lifting the bottled beer she sent me, I mouth back, “Thank you.”

Though the drinks are all paid for at this all-inclusive resort, it’s the thought that counts.

Speaking of which, I should probably send her a drink in return.

Yeah, I think I will.

I signal for the bartender, but it takes me a minute to get his attention. When I glance back across the bar, shit, the pretty woman is gone.

Damn it.

Where’d she run off to so quickly?

That sure ended fast.

I hold up my hand and shake my head to indicate to the bartender that I don’t need him after all.

Sighing, I mutter a dejected “Another one gets away.”

It’s just an expression, but someone from behind me clears their throat and says, “Ahem. ‘Another one gets away’ huh? Are there a lot of women who send you beers that, uh, ‘get away’?”

I start smiling.

I know it’s her before I turn around.

Not just because of her words, but her voice. It’s sexy and seductive and completely what I’d expect from her.

I spin around on my bar stool to face her, and before I can even stop myself, I blurt out, “Wow.”

She just smiles.

Damn, this woman is even prettier up close. She’s lightly tanned, has high cheekbones, and vivid green eyes that are beyond mesmerizing.

I can barely pull my gaze away to check out how good she looks in the multicolored tropical print sarong dress she has on. It fits her every curve like it was made for her.

But it’s those eyes of hers I keep going back to.

Locking gazes once more, and drowning in sparkling emerald depths, I finally answer her question. “No, there aren’t a lot of women sending me beer or drinks of any kind. You’re the first of the week, so technically that makes you the first who got away as well.”

“Ahh, I see.” Smiling, she flips her hair back and says, “Well, I’m here now.”

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