One week only!
University Park Series Box Set is $.99!
If you haven’t been able to read The Same Side or The Winning Side, now is your chance. For one week only, August 23 – 29th, the entire ebook series (books 1-3) will be $.99. Regular price is $4.99 so this is a killer deal!
You can purchase the ebook at the following retailers:
Are you caught in The Raven’s Trap?
A Different Side, book 4 in the University Park Series, will be released on September 14, 2015!
Pre-order your ebook copy today:
Now for an excerpt from
A Different Side!
The difference between a successful person and others is not lack
of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. Vince Lombardi
I dug my fingers into the thick turf. Sweat trickled from my face and I took a deep breath, inhaling the sweat and funk all around me. I lived for this.
I lived for the rush.
Football was my life and I didn’t know anything else. Without it, I was nothing. Nothing but a wasteful piece of shit. In reality, I had screwed up so many times, I had no business playing but apparently, Coach Anderson saw something in me that I didn’t and he was determined to see me succeed.
“Hut one, two.” Matt Russell, center, grunted as he passed the ball to me. My hands gripped the leather and I sprang into action – surveying the burgundy and white jerseys struggling to come at me while the defense held them at bay.
Immediately, I spotted Shawn, one of the best wide receivers on the team and my good friend, wide open. My arm retracted and I hurled the ball toward him. Just as the ball left my hands, I took a hard hit — a debilitating thud that took the air from my lungs for a second. Cheers and yells filled the air and I shoved the fat ass linebacker off me to get a clear view.
“Hell yeah!” I shouted as my teammates surrounded me, congratulating me once again for a victorious throw. And I loved it. It was the best feeling in the world. Nothing compared to the exhilarating feeling of conquering the opponent and gaining a win for the team. A win that they deserved. That we deserved.
“Way to go!” another player yelled.
“Oh yeah, The Raven’s back!” Josh roared as he high fived me. He was right. I definitely had my game on.
“We showed ‘em.” Shawn slammed his chest against mine and I grunted.
“You’re damn right,” I replied, slapping my hand against several other team members.
Shawn had scored the winning touchdown taking us to a six and one record. We were half way through the season, and it had promise written all over it. I was glad to be back after being expelled when Jared Harrington, a teammate, and I were caught with marijuana. I didn’t have a drug problem – or so I told myself. Demons clouded my mind and getting high seemed to help me forget about all the shit in my head.
I found myself making bad decisions constantly, even though I knew I was taking a risk every time I did. Those devil voices reminded me I wasn’t worth anything and I’d never make it to the pros. Time after time, I’d give in and regret it the next day — hoping and praying I wouldn’t get caught. Living on the edge was all I knew, but deep down, I had to change. I couldn’t keep going on like this. Eventually I’d run out of second chances and then I wouldn’t have anything. All hope would forever be gone. Then again, maybe there was no hope for me.
Reporters and cameras surrounded Coach Anderson as he trekked across the field to shake the hand of the coach from the opposing team. Next thing I knew, they headed in my direction. Field security kept them at bay as they begged for that two-minute interview with me. It was so eff’n great. It was even sweeter when the reporter was a hot girl and the one making her way toward me was definitely tight. Being Park Hill University’s quarterback definitely had perks. I unhooked the chinstrap from my helmet and pulled it off.
“Congratulations on the win! How does it feel to be the leading team in the South Central Conference.” The petite blonde with short wavy hair held a microphone up to me.
My eyes skimmed down her chest, lingering for a second longer than necessary to see her name on the university media badge. “Well, Jenna, it feels great.” I flashed a grin and her blue eyes sparkled.
She hesitated a second, as if trying to keep her focus. I loved it when I had that effect on women. After she took a hard swallow, she said, “With twenty-three seconds left in the third quarter, the game was tied and you ran the ball in for a touchdown after the defense nearly took you down. What was going through your mind?”
Aside from the softball question, I knew what was going through my mind, but I was on live TV. Admitting my raucous thoughts would be stupid. I wiped the sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand and took in a breath. “I had to think quickly. Josh Marshall slipped and fell, and Shawn Jackson was covered. We needed a touch down so I went for it.”
Her weight shifted in my direction, despite all the sweat and grime I was covered in. My type of girl! “Going for it definitely proved to be the right decision.” Despite her hand trembling, she managed to hold the mic to my mouth.
“I definitely like it when I score.” I cocked a brow.
Her hand dropped and she stared at me, as if unable to comprehend my response. A low, “Thanks, Raven,” left her lips. I thought about giving her a little slap on the ass to get her attention but she finally regained her composure. After a few blinks, she turned to the camera and began her spill to close out the interview. I wanted to slip her my number but something told me she’d find me tonight. They always did.
I walked off the field, answering a few more questions from other reporters. One thing was certain; I’d never tire from all this hype. It kept me going. The team followed me into the locker room, continuing to congratulate me on the win. Everything was ten times sweeter after a win. The locker room buzzed with a glorious chatter and excitement filtered through every player. Including me.
After I got dressed, I headed to the media room for the post-game interview. Talking to the media and answering questions came so easily to me. Football was a part of me. It ran thick in my blood and it made me who I was – The Raven. The interview lasted under five minutes but it was my claim to fame. I stayed seated as Coach Anderson answered a slew of questions, reiterating his satisfaction with the way the defense played and giving me several accolades. I had done my job and then some.
I exited the media room and returned to the locker room to grab my stuff. Fans and kids from booster clubs would be waiting for me to sign pictures and various paraphernalia. I didn’t want to let them down.
“Raven,” Coach Anderson called as I finished packing up. “I need to talk with you for a minute.”
“Yes, sir.” I zipped up my bag and threw it over my shoulder.
“Want me to wait for you?” Sean asked as he sprayed cologne all over his shirt.
“No, man, go ahead. I’ll catch up with everyone.”
Sean tossed the bottle in his bag and ran a comb over his short hair. “I’ll text you and let you know where we’re going if you’re not out by the time we leave.”
After home games, we typically went to eat at a nearby restaurant. On occasion, we’d end up at an all-you-can eat buffet, but most of the local eateries gave us deals or fed us for free. Another perk of playing football for PHU.
“Sounds good.” I rolled my shoulders and told myself not to worry. I had been walking a straight path, aside from drinking, so I had no idea what Coach wanted. Sean obviously noticed the concern on my face.
“Hey, don’t worry.” He patted my back. “You did great on the field today.”
“I know,” I assured him and headed to the coach’s office.
“Shut the door and have a seat.” The coach’s voice sounded serious and panic hit me.
Millions of thoughts coursed through my head. I carefully recounted the past week and everything I had done.
Drinking – none.
Drugs – none – not since I was expelled.
Practice – on time and at every one.
Working out sessions – hadn’t missed one.
Classes – eh, I was doing okay.
Girls – I banged two this week.
Had one of them claimed I raped her or something? That always scared the hell out of me. One had already blamed me for knocking her up. A hundred bucks later, to prove I wasn’t the father, I made sure I bagged my junk, each and every time. Many of the girls were part of the Fantasy Wife’s Football club at PHU for one reason — to get their Mrs. Degree. You had to watch out for those vultures.
I eased the door shut and set my bag down. “Is everything alright, Coach?”
He placed a piece of paper on the desk in front of us. “Son, did you forget to tell me something?” His fingers pointed to an email from Dr. Phillips, head of the writing center. He pushed it closer to me and my eyes quickly scanned over it. My last tutoring session had not gone so well and I was positive the tutor had requested someone else to help me. I was already on my second tutor, but I honestly couldn’t handle Lisa Jenkins. Her ways were so demeaning and even though she knew her stuff, I didn’t want her help.
“Sorry, Coach.” My head dropped and I sighed. “I should have told you it wasn’t working out.”
“Not working out? You’re supposed to be focusing on becoming a better writer so you can pass your English Comp class, not worried about another notch on your belt.” The coach eyed me and I retracted in my chair.
“She said, and I quote, ‘You know you want me to fuck you, so let’s just get it over with.’” The coach inclined his head, waiting for me to fess up to the comment I made.
“I’m sorry, Coach.” I stared at the floor, ashamed of my behavior. At this point, lying would be the worst thing I could do. “That was wrong of me. It won’t happen again.”
The coach reclined in his chair and crossed one leg over the other. “Raven, I won’t tolerate this type of behavior. It’s disrespectful and does nothing for your character.”
“Yes, sir. I know.” I sat up straight and interlaced my fingers together. His eyes narrowed and I said a silent prayer he wasn’t thinking of pulling me out of the next game. “I promise I won’t make any more remarks like that to her again.”
“Well, there won’t be a next time.”
“What?” My heart fast-forwarded to three times its speed. “Coach, please. I-I didn’t mean it. I was just messing with her. She’s so damn serious and hardcore. I thought joking with her would loosen her up.”
“Son, I may be old, but I wasn’t born yesterday.” He inclined his head.
“Okay. I’m guilty.” I threw my hands up in the air. She may have been hardcore, but I thought my charm would change her. I was wrong. Big time. “So, what now?” I waited for coach to continue, my heart pounding against the inside of my chest. A thin line of sweat formed on the top of my lip but I kept steady.
“Well, since she refuses to work with you, I guess that means you’re on your own.” He stretched and placed his hands behind his head.
I might not have wanted to work with Lisa, but the God’s honest truth was I needed help. I struggled to write my papers — at least to my professor’s satisfaction. Since the professor was my grandma’s age, there wasn’t much I could do aside from completing the assignments. I sure as hell wasn’t crossing that line. I shuddered just thinking of the sagging and wrinkled skin. Besides, taking a professor to bed was worse than playing with fire. It would surely get me kicked off the team and out of school. No questions asked.
“What about a private tutor?” I rubbed my hands together, squeezing them tighter.
“As long as you’re paying for it.”
My shoulders dropped. I barely had money for living expenses. My mom wouldn’t be able to help and I didn’t expect her to. I thought about the money I had stashed in my drawer, money I wasn’t supposed to have. No. That wasn’t the answer. I scratched my forehead. “I can’t pay for a private tutor.”
The coach kept a straight face and I searched it, trying to determine what he was thinking. Coach wasn’t always the easiest person to read, especially when he was deep in thought. He leaned forward, keeping his eyes directly on me. “So, what are you saying, son? That you still need help?”
“Yes, sir.” I nodded. “I’m afraid I won’t pass this class without a good tutor.” I might have been dumb at times, but I was smart enough to know I couldn’t play football if I failed.
“If I call Dr. Phillips, you’re not going to make me regret it, are you?” The coach’s voice was firm. I knew he meant business.
“No, sir. I promise. This time, I’ll be on my best behavior.” I drew an X over my heart, even though it wasn’t my heart getting me in trouble. My problem sat below my belt buckle and it was hard to tame. My good looks didn’t make it easy either. Girls practically threw themselves at me. It only made it harder for me — or easier, in most cases.
“I’ll see who he recommends. I think a male tutor might be the best option.” He gave a slight roll of his eyes before slipping on his reading glasses.
“Whatever. Doesn’t matter as long as they are good.” At this point, I was desperate.
He picked up his phone and then looked at me from the top of his glasses. “I’ll let you know what he says. You had better hope he has someone else. You’re two down and I’m not sure how many tutors are on his staff.”
I stood up, getting the hint that it was time for me to leave. “I know, my stats aren’t looking that good. I promise that will change.”
“For your sake, it better.” He dialed a number and then motioned for me to close the door on the way out.
“Thanks, Coach,” I said before exiting. I just hoped Dr. Phillips would pair me with someone who could help me. I needed all the help I could get.