Excerpt 2: The Long Shot

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The first excerpt I posted with Julia is the beginning of the book, but as always, I sarted this book with the hero. This is the first scene with the hero, Deacon, and his brother, Wes.

Deacon slammed his hand against the glass door of the university administration building and stalked through. He made no attempt to hold the door for the idiot he called a brother. In fact, the way he felt right now, he hoped the door would hit Wes in the face. The kid desperately needed someone to knock some sense into him.

“Deacon, wait,” Wes called.

He kept walking. His Porsche convertible was parked in a visitor’s spot right outside the building. “Deacon!” His brother was behind him, the flip-flops he wore slapping the pavement.

“Get in the car.”

“Can’t you listen for one minute?”

“I was just at a meeting with your coach and a very nice woman from the dean of students office. A meeting in which I fully expected to listen to what you had to say, but, wait a minute…you weren’t there, were you? They were talking about kicking you out of school, Wes, and you couldn’t be bothered to show up?”

“I got there.”

“A whole hour late. The meeting was over before you managed to drop by.”

“Aren’t you even going to listen to my side of the story?”

“How can there possibly be “your” side to paying your roommate to do your work? How can there possibly be “your” side to skipping practice? Or getting caught in a bar with a fake ID? And I’d really, really like to know how there can be “your” side to stealing your coach’s car and “parking” it inside the weight room.”

He heard Wes’s barely suppressed snicker when he mentioned the car.

Deacon went back up the sidewalk to face his brother, muscling into his space because he was angry enough that he didn’t care about being nice. Deacon and Wes Fallon were both over six foot and both had spent a good part of their lives in the gym. But Deacon was ten years older and he’d shouldered responsibility for their family at an age when most boys were dreaming about learning to shave. So while he and Wes might be physically matched, he was still able to back his little brother down a step when he wanted to.

“You wouldn’t be laughing if Coach Mulbrake had called the cops when he found out his car was stolen—"

“It was a joke, not auto theft.”

“How is it not theft if you took his car out of his garage without his permission? The only reason he didn’t file charges is because I personally begged him not to. I worked too damn hard to get to a place where I don’t have to ask anyone for favors and I spent the last hour doing exactly that because you think everything is a big freaking joke!”

Wes squared his shoulders and put his hands on his hips. “You’re not even going to listen, are you?”

The kid might be eighteen, but he still sounded six when he thought he was being treated unfairly. Which happened more often than you’d expect in the privileged life of Wes Fallon.

“I don’t know what you could say that would convince me that you haven’t screwed up the sweet deal you have here to play ball and get a college degree on top of it. You’re suspended, Wes, and unless we scare up three hundred hours of community service and a fist full of letters of recommendation, you can kiss your college basketball career goodbye.”

Deacon felt sick thinking about how wrong college had gone for Wes. He’d tried to give his brother everything and he had a horrible feeling Wes didn’t want any of it because he didn’t know how much an education, respect, a life with value meant. How could he throw away his life on irresponsibility?

Wes might have been too young to know what really happened to their parents, but Deacon watched his dad drug his life away, day after agonizing day until he died of exposure, drunk and strung out in the snow just a few months after Wes was born. Their mom had died two short years later, killed in a fire at a club on a night when she’d called in sick to work. Deacon knew what happened to people who didn’t fear consequences.

“No, Wes, I’m not in the mood to listen. Get in the car. Keep your mouth shut, and we’ll talk later.”

“I’m not getting in the car.” Wes’s cheekbones were stained with splotches of red, a sure sign he was angry. That only served to piss Deacon off more. What exactly did Wes have to be angry about?

“I’m not asking you, Wes. I’m telling you. Get in the car or stay here because if I leave without you, I’m not coming back.”

He got in the driver’s side and slammed the door. He took his time finding the key and fiddling with his seatbelt, the whole time praying under his breath that Wes wouldn’t call his bluff. Deacon felt a sharp stab of the panic he thought he’d left behind when he signed his first pro contract—panic that he’d lose his brother because he was too stupid to figure out how to rescue him.

Wes took off, striding down the sidewalk in those stupid freaking flip-flops, head and shoulders above most of the other college kids.

He put the car in gear and crept along, keeping behind his brother.

They got to see their mom in the hospital for a few minutes before she died. He was twelve when he promised his mom he’d look after his two-year-old brother. There hadn’t been a day of his life since that he hadn’t worried about Wes, which was why a big portion of his anger today was aimed squarely at himself. He’d let his brother down and it was up to him to get him back on track.

He pulled up next to his brother. “You’re acting like a child. Get in the car.”

“You’re treating me like a child. Screw off.”

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