Wild Distortion - Tina Saxon
“You had ONE job.”
Coach throws the magazine down on his beat-up wooden desk. One that has traveled with him throughout his career. I try to hide my disdain for the stupid comment. My smiling face flashes back at me from the cover with the words Suspended for Three Games stamped across it.
“And that wasn’t it!” His voice booms in the compact room as he stabs his finger on my picture.
“That’s bullshit,” I snap, pointing at the magazine. “I passed my drug test.”
Hands on his desk, his mouth twists with anger as he leans forward. “Ryker, you were arrested because you had marijuana on you.” I open my mouth to argue that they set us up, but he growls for me to shut it. “In a fucking state where it’s illegal. And we both know; it wasn’t yours to begin with.”
True. We both know. But I’m not admitting shit. I’ve taken it this far, I’m not backing down now. At least it was a state that doesn’t sentence first-time users to jail time and my attorney got it reduced to a misdemeanor.
“I can’t believe you’re risking your career for that tool.”
I glance over at Bree, my PR rep, who has been silent the whole time. The tool that Coach is referring to is also a client of Bree’s. And a teammate.
She shrugs in agreement. He has potential. He just needs someone to guide him in the right direction.
That is my job. I’m the leader of this team and I made a snap decision in the moment to help him out. Do I regret it? Hell yeah, in hindsight. I never imagined they would suspend me for three games.
I had a terrible feeling when we left the bar that night. A bar in a town where we had just decimated their team. Emotions were running high and a few of our guys had just gotten into a fight with some local guys. I needed to get them out of there before the cops came.
I’m the dad of the group. The sensible one.
And now… the suspended one.
I’d bet a million dollars one of those guys called their local cop buddies because when they pulled us over, they weren’t doing a normal traffic stop. They already suspected we had drugs on us. Probably because Jarod had just bought some.
I didn’t know any of that until it was too late. I had already offered to hide it in my pocket because he was freaking out, thinking we were getting stopped for speeding.
The only thing that went through my head when getting cuffed was how disappointed my mom would be. And Coach’s berating is a walk in the park compared to the talking-to I received from Mom. When she started crying, might as well have stabbed stakes in my heart. It felt the same.
I glance over at Bree. “Anything you’d like to add?” She’s not only here to witness Coach rip me a new asshole. There’s a reason.
“We both agree it’s best to send you away for a few weeks.”
I sit up in my chair, straightening my spine, wondering where they want to send me. “What the hell does that mean?”
“We need you to stay out of the public eye while this dies down. You’re on every entertainment avenue there is. You are the hot topic. Good boy turns bad.” She air quotes the last part. I roll my eyes.
“Okay, so I’ll rent a cabin for a couple weeks and disappear.”
She shakes her head. “They’ll find you, Ryker. These people are vultures. We need you out of the country.”
“Maybe. But it’s a done deal. You’re going to Tahiti for fifteen days. Leaving tomorrow at six a.m.”
“You’re seriously banishing me to a small island in the Pacific? Holy shit.” I jerk my head to Coach, waiting for him to agree with me that this is asinine. Way overboard.
“Think of it as a reset button. You can come back and finish the season strong.” Not exactly what I expected him to say.
“So, I don’t have any say in this?”
They both shake their heads and I sigh in resignation. I guess it could be worse. They could’ve shipped me to Alaska. Pushing up to my feet, I put my ball cap back on. I was trying to be respectful while getting my ass handed to me.
“Guess I’ll see you guys in a few weeks.”
“Ryker.” I stop with my hand gripping the doorknob and look over my shoulder at Coach. “Three rules. Train. Stay focused. And for fuck’s sake, no