Melanie Smith has followed football her entire life, and is a
long-time fan of the California Wildcats. When they lose the world
championship in the final seconds of the game, she is devastated.
But not as devastated as Derek Fox, the Wildcats' handsome and
A chance meeting brings Melanie and Derek together, and after
the disappointing loss, they turn to each other for comfort in
the long and steamy night ahead...
"You're Derek Fox, right?"
"That depends," he said, brushing his brown hair
out of his face.
"On whether or not you want to string me up by my balls."
Melanie smiled softly. "No, I'm not interested in that."
He held out his hand. "Derek Fox at your service."
"It's a pleasure to meet you Melanie." He lifted
the beer in her direction. "Cheers."
"Cheers." She watched him drink, trying to force
her racing heart to slow. He was bigger in person than on television,
his shoulders broad, his hands large. He had scrapes on his
face, his knuckles were bruised, and his back was sloped, like
it took too much energy to hold himself up. She could see the
weight of the world had settled on his shoulders-the weight
of an entire team's loss, the weight of hundreds of thousands
The weight of a ball falling to the soft snow.
"So you were at the game?"
"On the fifty yard line. I bought the tickets after the
Wildcats won the sixth straight game."
"Really? Everybody in the world was calling that a fluke."
"Well, I knew better."
He smiled wryly. "Are you sure you don't want to string
me up by my balls?" He held up his right hand, flexing
his fingers in front of her face. "You know how many career
fumbles I had before tonight?"
"Fourteen," she answered promptly.
"That was a rhetorical question."
"Yeah, I figured you probably already knew the answer."
"I'm surprised you did."
"Hey, you're the great Derek Fox. I've been following
your career since you played college ball."
"Oh, so that's why you don't want to injure me."
"You're used to the disappointment that is my career,"
he said. He sounded more matter-of-fact than bitter.
"Do you usually do this after a loss?" Melanie asked.
She sipped from her beer. "Throw a private pity party?"
He tilted his head and nearly downed the entire pint in a single
swallow. "No. Usually, I have a pity party with my teammates,
"They don't want to see you?"
"I don't want to see them."
"Last call, guys. I want to get home before we're completely
snowed in," Harold said.
Melanie didn't miss Derek's disappointment at the announcement.
She was a little disappointed herself. She would go home, and
Derek would go back to his hotel room, most likely, and they'd
both pretend that it was only a game. She didn't blame him for
throwing a private pity party-she was there to do the same,
and she wasn't the one who lost the world championship.
"Look, if there's room at your party for one more guest,
I've got some beer back at my place," Melanie said, before
she could lose her nerve.