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Deep in the Pocket

Lainey Davis

© 2017 Lainey Davis

Hard Edge

Lainey Davis

© 2017 Lainey Davis

Possession: A Football Romance

Lainey Davis

© 2019 Lainey Davis

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All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Individuals pictured on the cover are models and are used for illustrative purposes only.

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I hear the classroom door creak open just before the lecture is supposed to begin. I whip around in my seat, irritated, to see just who dared to show up so late for this class.

I could barely contain myself when I saw Matt Jacobs was teaching a statistics elective at Stone Creek University this semester. He was a fellow with the American Statistical Association for god's sake, one of the most distinguished people in the field…and he's here at my college.

So yeah, it bugs me that Talon Kelly is even here, let alone sauntering in just as Matt is about to begin speaking. Talon "The Claw" Kelly thinks he's god's gift to this school, and that's probably because everyone constantly reassures him that he is, in fact, our savior.

He's the quarterback of the football team, of course. He probably hasn't seen the inside of a textbook since he learned how to read, if he ever learned that much. I remember that he hurt his knee this past fall, and sure enough, he clatters into class with a pair of crutches and some enormous brace. "Sorry, guys," he says, his deep voice smooth and condescending. "I'm moving a little slowly these days."

I look into my notebook, hiding behind the curtain of my straight, brown hair, as he hops down the aisle of desks and into a seat behind me. Matt Jacobs leans into the podium and says, kindly, "Take your time, Mr…?"

"Kelly," he shouts, and I feel his breath on my neck as he leans forward to tuck his crutches under his seat. "But everyone calls me Claw."

With a chuckle, our instructor says, "Well, Mr. Kelly, most people call me Dr. Jacobs, but I was just about to tell your classmates here that this semester, I'd like you all to call me Matt."

My jaw drops at this. I'm really going to have to get over being starstruck, especially when I go to office hours. Matt continues. "This semester, we're going to explore post-college applications of statistics. Everything from sports analytics to biostatistics."

I hang on his every word. I've been a statistics nerd as far back as I can remember. Oh, I know all about Talon Kelly and his football performance. My high school required everyone to participate in sports in some capacity. Having absolutely zero interest in playing a sport, I opted instead to keep stats. I begrudgingly learned the ins and outs of football. I'm not humble about statistics. I'm really good at what I do, and I helped the coaching staff recognize patterns they weren't seeing. I might not like football very much, but I sure did know which defense teams were more likely to cover the open, deep field for a long pass.

I interned in the stats booth here at SCU a few semesters, too. It was good experience for me. I got to work with some interesting new software, and D1 college football is a high-pressure environment to be keeping stats! I probably would have enjoyed staring at the muscle-bound men I was tracking if I'd had time, but the mood in the stats booth was urgent and fierce. I can tell you all about the Claw and his pass completion percentages, and now that I see him up close I understand more about what I've heard about his action stats with SCU girls.

But what I really want to do is study biostatistics. With Matt Jacobs. At Dartmouth. I can't let the Claw distract me from why I'm in this elective. Before I can stop myself, I've drifted far into a fantasy involving Matt and me being honored by the National Institutes of Health for our contributions to the world of infectious disease. I jump and squeak when I feel a hand on my shoulder.

"Help a guy out?" Talon lets his hand linger on my shoulder, and I'm stunned by my body's response to his touch. His hand is warm and firm through my sweater, and I feel the blood rush to the place where his fingers rest above my collarbone. I stare at his hand, which is nearly as large as my face.

"Sorry? What?" Class is over and people are filing out of the room.

Talon slides his hand from my back and smiles at me. He's objectively handsome. No, that's not even the right word. Talon Kelly is sexy. I let my eyes linger a moment too long on his dazzling blue eyes. He repeats, "Can you help me out? I can't reach my crutches and I can't bend all the way forward with this brace on."

I look more closely at the yards of padding and velcro immobilizing his leg. Talon raises his eyebrows as I stare at his leg, apparently wondering if I'm completely daft. "Sorry," I mutter, leaning forward to pick up the crutches. Our hands touch as he takes the crutches from me and I feel a sizzle as he begins to hoist himself into a standing position.

He smells clean, like soap and laundry detergent, and he's chewing mint

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