Home > The Player and the Single Mom (The Legends #5)

The Player and the Single Mom (The Legends #5)
Author: Erin McCarthy

 

Chapter One

 

 

Sera

 

 

“Everyone in this room is having sex on a regular basis except for me,” I said.

Blame it on the cocktail in my hand. Or the holiday blues. Maybe my unintentional three-year celibacy streak.

Because I didn’t say that to either of my sisters, Toni or Helena.

No.

I said it to Cash Young, who just happened to be standing next to me loading his plate with crab dip from the buffet spread at my sister Toni and her boyfriend Miles’s New Year’s Eve party.

Cash went very, very still.

I’d met him at least a half a dozen times, but for all he was generous and cool with my three kids, he was also quiet. No verbal vomit from this guy. He was the strong, silent type. Literally. He was enormous, his professional career as a left tackle requiring he retain an already large frame.

And he was a man of few words.

Even when he’d crashed through my front window, shattering glass in all directions, after catching a wild football pass from my twelve-year-old son, Johnny, Cash hadn’t had a whole lot to say. Just, “Sorry, ma’am,” which might have been worse than him saying nothing at all.

I hated being called ma’am. As if I didn’t feel old as dirt already.

When I glanced over at Cash it looked like he was having trouble swallowing a lump of crab. He thumped his fist on his chest and coughed. He was dressed the way he was on a regular basis, in jeans, a muscle-hugging T-shirt, and cowboy boots.

“Sorry,” I said, contrite but amused. “I didn’t mean to say that out loud.”

He finally looked over at me. I couldn’t read his expression. “If it makes you feel any better, not everyone in this room is having sex on a regular basis.”

I raised my eyebrows and paused with my espresso martini halfway to my lips. “And how would you know that?”

“Because I know I’m not having sex.”

Interesting. I knew he didn’t have a girlfriend but I couldn’t imagine why an attractive professional football player wouldn’t have a bevy of hot young women rotating through his bedroom. “Why not?”

“Because hookups are messy. Why aren’t you?” he countered.

That should be obvious. “I’m a single mom of three kids, a bakery owner, and I’m enrolled in an undergrad business program. I have no time, and no way to meet men.”

“I don’t believe you don’t have a way to meet men.”

I frowned. That’s what he extracted from my list of how complicated my life was? “Oh, really? Where should I be meeting men, exactly? The grocery store?”

“Sure. Or at the bakery. Or at the university. Or at school functions for the kids. Out downtown for a once a month girls’ night. The park.”

Well, that was all true, and terribly rude of him to point out. I sipped my wine. “Those sound like places to meet men for relationships.”

“Oh, are you not looking for a relationship? If you just want sex that’s even easier. You don’t even have to leave your house to find that. Just pull out your phone.”

Was Cash drunk? “Yes, I just want sex. Theoretically, of course. Didn’t you hear everything I just said I have going on in my life? I’m not looking for a relationship when I can barely manage my life as is. Are you?”

He nodded. “Eventually. Soon. Ish.”

That made me give an ungracious snort. “And hookups are messy?”

“Yes.”

I made a face. “I’ve never had one. I wouldn’t know.”

“I don’t like having sex with strangers.”

This was more than Cash had ever said to me in the half dozen times I had met him. Given that I’d lost my virginity to my college sweetheart, John, and had never had sex with anyone but him since we’d gone on to get married, this conversation was actually interesting. My sisters and female friends liked to talk about dating and sex, but I’d never had a man’s perspective. “Why not? Isn’t that the way to go if you don’t want any entanglements?”

“One, you don’t know what you’re getting.” Cash gave a low whistle and moved his finger in a circle by his ear. “Could be nuts, you know?”

I pressed my lips together, thoroughly entertained. This was much better than standing in a corner by myself at this party, feeling sorry for myself.

“Two, when you know a woman you aren’t going in cold. You know how to approach her, how to please her.”

I reached for a canape off the kitchen island buffet spread. “Every woman requires a different approach?”

“Of course.”

We were both quiet for a second. Then I asked, “So you basically want, what, friends with benefits?”

“Something like that. What do you want?”

“I think I just want to get pounded.”

“Holy shit,” Cash said.

I had actually shocked him. I was definitely tipsy. I hadn’t meant to actually say that out loud. But I hadn’t eaten dinner and I hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before. Or the fifteen years of night befores before that one. “Holy shit, indeed.”

Cash eyed me like I was a bomb he needed to defuse. “When was the last time you had sex?”

For a second I couldn’t make eye contact with him, but then I realized I’d started this conversation. I needed to finish it. And I don’t like lying to anyone, certainly not to a man who had become a friend and who generously allowed my kids to go horseback riding on his ranch. I shifted in my heels. Unlike Cash, who was dressed super casually, as the invitation had indicated the party would be, I had taken the opportunity to put on tight jeans, a scoop neck satin shirt, and heels.

I spent ninety percent of my life in yoga pants and sneakers. At least I had since John had been killed in a car accident. It was a thrill, if not a little destabilizing, to be in heels.

“With my husband, before he died. Well, obviously before he died. But sadly, an entire two weeks before the car accident. I took getting laid for granted in those days. Stupid me.”

“So it’s been three years?”

“And change.” Three years, four months, and eleven days. Thinking about that day John died, getting that phone call, still had the power to make my shoulders tense and my teeth grind.

“How long were you married?”

“Almost thirteen years.”

“You were what, nineteen, twenty, when you got married?”

I nodded. “Twenty. We had been together since my eighteenth birthday.” I sensed what he was getting at. I wasn’t exactly an ideal candidate for jumping on a dating app, aka a hookup app, and navigating the waters of casual sex. I wasn’t and I knew it. It was why I hadn’t and why I was currently mildly drunk at my sister’s New Year’s Eve party lamenting out loud the lack of dick in my life.

Cash tossed his now empty paper plate into the trash at the end of the island.

For a second, I didn’t think he was going to say anything else, but then he put his large hands on my shoulders and looked down at me. It disarmed me. Given I’m six feet tall, not a lot of men tower over me like he did. But he had a good four inches on me.

“Sera.”

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