Bad Boys of Football #1 - Game For Love - Bella Andre Page 0,1

weekend she'd been smiling, but she'd been through this three times already, having planned all four of her sisters' weddings in the past two years.

"You know, dear, we all thought you'd be the first to get married. Do you remember how you used to dress up as a bride when you were a little girl?"

It wasn't easy to keep smiling while she was gritting her teeth, but somehow Anna managed it. "You know how little girls are. They love to play dress-up."

As a first-grade teacher, Anna was reminded of this every day. There was nothing children liked more than using their imaginations. At what point were they taught to stop doing that?

But Aunt Lena was shaking her head. "Actually, if I remember correctly, your sisters never played dress-up. They were too busy with sports and winning academic prizes. You were the only one focused on wearing white and walking down an aisle. How strange that you're the only one still waiting for your Prince Charming."

"Maybe I should grab the nearest available guy and pop into one of those quickie wedding parlors."

Anna didn't know who was more shocked by her response--her aunt or herself.

Finally, her aunt said, "Oh Anna, you would never do something like that."

Anna was about to agree, when she suddenly realized what was behind her aunt's--completely true--statement.

She doesn't think I have any guts.

Taking a glass of champagne off the tray of a circulating waiter, Anna shrugged. "You never know. There is something about weddings, after all. And this is Las Vegas. Anything can happen here."

But she got small satisfaction out of walking away from her aunt's open mouth. Because at the end of the day, Anna was still not only the only Davis girl who hadn't dressed in white and said "I do," she was also the only one without someone to love.

* * *

"Cole! Right here. Looking good, man. You crushed the Jaguars last Sunday." Cole looked up into the paps' flashbulbs. What kind of crazy was he, looking in the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino for a nice girl? But he'd just wasted an entire day looking in the places he'd assumed she'd be--the library, an animal shelter, even a knitting store, for f**k's sake--and had come up empty.

The chicks in the library wouldn't let him talk long enough to try to ask them out.

The animal shelter had been full of nauseatingly happy couples and kids. Not to mention the fact that one of the mutts had taken a strange--and overpowering--liking to him. The shelter manager had shoved fifteen pounds of squirming, licking, sniffing black and brown fur into his arms. Cole didn't do pets--too much responsibility, knowing something would be waiting for him every day at home, depending on him. Still, those big brown eyes had almost done their job on him and he'd barely gotten out of the building mutt-free.

Strangely, the knitting shop was where he'd felt the most comfortable. His grandmother had always been knitting something during her breaks at the casino when he was a kid and the clickety-clack of her needles was the backdrop to his childhood. Which was why he hadn't had it in him to pick a girl up in the yarn store. It would have felt like he was betraying his grandmother...even though he was already a lying son of a bitch.

Daylight had come and gone and Cole wasn't any closer to bringing his "true love" to his grandmother's hospital room than he had been that morning.

He'd gone up to his suite at the Wynn to wash away the stink of failure. He was good at two things: football and one-night stands with women who didn't expect anything more. Not

"true love."

If anyone was a magnet for huge tits in low-cut tops and skirts so short they should be illegal, it was Cole. Not that he'd ever thought to complain about that, of course. Not until now.

Not until his grandmother had told him her dying wish.

A wish that he was going to grant, even if it killed him.

Getting out of the shower, Cole wrapped a towel around his waist and walked to the floor-to-ceiling windows of his wraparound suite. Looking out at the flat stretch of casinos, he didn't see flashing lights and tourists walking the strip. He saw home.

His grandmother had been one of the greatest poker dealers on the circuit. He'd learned so much from her. How to deal straight--and crooked. How to work hard. And most of all, how to stick with something.

Giving up had