IMG_1543.JPGA couple of days ago, a dog found his way to my house after I suspect he was dumped by his previous owner.

Injured and afraid, he didn’t so much as growl, much less bite as I got him home and installed in my garage to keep him from being pummeled by my other dogs while healing.

I promptly christened him Maximus because he’s a fighter with a heart of gold.

I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor of my garage as I write this. He’s got his head on my lap. Every so often, he licks my hands as I hold my phone.

Tomorrow he’s going to the vet. I hope his injuries are minimal as I believe, and that he will find himself up and around like the young dog he is.

As for what happens after that…I could say I’ll work to find him a good home but I admit that I’m pretty attached already. I’m a marshmallow.

I’ll keep you posted!

Much love,
Shayne

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leapoffaithNEWTEASERPROLOGUE

It was the last play of their season and the final touchdown of Tucker Irvin’s career.

Putting him back on the field as the starting quarterback hadn’t been enough to take them to the Super Bowl, but he’d managed to save the last few games from the over-confident rookie.

The young man for whom team management had unceremoniously benched him to promote.  The powers-that-be finally tired of their shiny new toy – drafted for a ridiculous sum out of Oklahoma State – after ten back-to-back losses.  They put Tuck in for the six games leading up to playoffs.

His offensive line knew him well after years of working together.  When he rejoined them on the field, they celebrated with utter brutality.  Sportscasters would be talking about those six wins and his teammates for a long time.

During the last huddle, they unanimously determined that he had to carry the ball over the line.  As Tuck crossed into the end zone, he felt at peace.  He was certain that his decision to retire was the right one despite his devotion to his team and the sport.

Yeah, his knees felt like they were made of pudding and his shoulder wouldn’t handle lifting anything heavier than a pencil right now, but it had been worth every ice pack and cortisone shot to go out on top.

He spiked the ball and ran for the stands to make his last Lambo Leap…the best one in all his twenty years on the field.

Powering up on nothing but adrenaline, Tucker cleared the side and was groped, hugged, and kissed by the people who’d meant so much to his career.  They screamed his name.

A woman was directly beneath his facemask.

She stared at him with huge golden eyes shining from a heart-shaped face.  Wrapped in enough clothes to qualify her as the Michelin man, he watched two beads of sweat drop from his body and land on a tiny patch of bare skin at her throat.

He smiled and shouted over the noise, “Give me your name!”

“Sasha.”  Nothing else.

“Last name?”

“Fowler.”  Definitely not happy to admit it.

“Sasha Fowler?”  She nodded and he raked a gloved hand down the side of her body and lightly squeezed her butt.  “Meet me outside the locker room after the game.  Nice to meet you.”

Minutes later, they shook hands with the Giants’ players and many said a few words about his career, his leadership, and his last game as they passed.

He gave a couple of post-game interviews despite the fact that he could feel the sweat freezing on his hair in the sub-zero wind chill.  The questions ranged from what he was going to do now after retirement to how he felt about the fact that they hadn’t made it to the playoffs.

Tuck laughed.  “Even though it wasn’t enough in the end, I feel good.  We turned the season around.  I have to thank my line for that.  They kept me on my feet tonight; didn’t let a single damn sack complete, and blocked me for the best touchdown of my career.”

Running a towel over his head, he gave the female sportscaster a winning smile.  “As for what I’m going to do now?  I don’t have the full plan yet, but I know that for the next few weeks I’m going to relax and take a step back.  Take my time deciding on the rest of my life.  I hope it’s as fulfilling as the first half has been.”

Several members of the offensive line hauled him off the field to the sound of fans chanting his name.  These guys had been part of his inner circle for more than ten years; one had started the same year he did.  They’d stuck with the Packers throughout their career despite bad seasons, lackluster coaching, and poor management decisions.

Tucker wondered when Grady Teutonico would make the choice to retire.

“Dude, you looking to get pneumonia to kick off your retirement?  We aren’t one of those spoiled Florida teams.  A couple words and get the hell inside to dry off.”

“You’re right, Dad.”

Grady punched him in the arm and Tuck thanked god it wasn’t his throwing arm because he might have cried like a little girl.  The big man didn’t understand pulling his punches.

His bright white smile faded in the cocoa of his skin.  “Don’t have a fucking clue what I’m gonna do without you here.  I got nothing else.”

“You’re so full of shit, Grady.  What happened to your dream of coaching?  You’re one of the best offensive linemen in the league.  Any team will snap you up and you can stop getting beat the fuck up every season.”

He nodded and pulled his dreads behind his head and secured them there.  “We’ll see.  I pretty much fucked up my personal life so football is it.”

A messy and highly publicized divorce three years before had ended with Grady in rehab and his kids in foster care after his ex-wife took her life.  She left a note blaming him and it took another court battle to regain custody of his kids from her sister.

He hadn’t been the same since and Tucker didn’t remember the last time he’d seen his best friend genuinely happy.  He locked their forearms and pulled him close.

“Take some time off.  Hang with me while I muddle through – bring the kids.  Get your fucking feet under you.”

Grady nodded.  “I’ll think about it when I get back from seeing my folks.  Thanks, man.”

The two of them were suddenly bathed in champagne by the entire team.  They laughed and roughhoused with the younger guys before they hit the showers.

The doctor checked him out afterward with a huge smile.  He’d started as an intern during Tuck’s fourth season.  That year, he’d injured his shoulder and for a while, everyone thought it would be the end of his playing career.

“You survived, Tuck.”

“In no small part because of your help, Doc.  Thanks.”  The emotions were getting to him.  After a quick hug, he hurried to his locker.

Dressing in a dark gray Brooks Brothers suit with a green tie that matched his eyes, Tuck pulled on the Rolex he bought himself for his twentieth high school reunion.  As he exited the locker room, he was stopped by coaches and support staff.

Almost two hours after the end of the game, he walked down the hall toward the parking lot.  Once he left the stadium, he’d be officially retired.  It was permanent.  He couldn’t keep putting his body through hell day after day and expect to live with any quality of life by the time he hit sixty.

In a couple of days, he’d come back to clean out his locker or he’d ask one of the assistants to box it up and ship it to him.  No way was Tuck risking coming back until the temptation to keep playing was gone.

It’s time to see what life after football is really like. 

The exit to staff parking was mobbed so he signed autographs and posed for photos.  He waved goodbye to the fans, the best in the league in his opinion, and headed in the direction of his Hummer.

He realized that he’d scanned their faces for Sasha Fowler but she hadn’t shown.  He was strangely disappointed.  Her eyes were gorgeous and there’d been something familiar about her for some reason.

Climbing into the driver’s seat, Tuck contemplated hanging out with the rest of the team for a few hours and getting into some trouble.  It was still early.

He just wasn’t in the mood.  Instead of driving in the direction of the bar district the team frequented, he went the other way toward the highway.

As the anti-environmental vehicle he’d received as part of an endorsement deal idled at the light, he glanced over at the side road that lead to the fan parking lot.

A Lexus SUV was parked on the shoulder under the bright lights.  The driver was jacking the vehicle up with a tiny flashlight between their teeth.  The person crouched and started loosening the lug nuts.  Apparently unable to remove one, the driver stood on the T-bar, jumping up and down but making no progress.

Tuck went through the light and made a U-turn.  He parked behind the Lexus, pulled on thick leather gloves, and grabbed his heavy jacket.

Green Bay weather was no joke.  The wind was howling and the temperature would drop another twenty degrees by morning.

Approaching the back of the vehicle, he said loudly, “May I be of some assistance?”

The driver screamed, their supporting hand slipped off the side of the SUV, and the person fell.  He jumped forward to catch the smaller figure.

Wrapped in a hat, scarf, and heavy jacket, it was hard to determine gender…until he saw the eyes.

“Well, well…Sasha Fowler.”

© Shayne McClendon

Read “Leap of Faith” right now…download the mobi file exclusively through Always the Good Girl.

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Leap_of_Faith_by_Shayne_McClendon

Available as an Always the Good Girl exclusive!

Sometimes you have to go with it…

Sasha Fowler knows allowing Tucker Irvin into her life will be complicated, stressful, and downright rag-worthy. She’s determined to fight her attraction every step of the way.

Tucker understands why Sasha is leery of getting involved with professional athletes. She’s been burned more than once and he doesn’t have the best reputation.

Despite her reservations, her attraction to him – and his to her – is undeniable. Putting it all on the line is something he’s used to but the woman he wants needs to take a leap of faith.

Author’s Note:
This story was originally released in the “Pink Shades of Words” anthology to benefit the fight against breast cancer. It was only available for a limited time.

I waited a few months and decided to make it an *exclusive offer* through my website and shopping cart for those of you who might not have been able to buy the charity collection.

Get it now…mobi file available for immediate download.

An erotic sports romance by Shayne McClendon

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Did you get your F*R*E*E Story?

I’m getting great feedback on Hart and Bailey’s love story – a parallel plot line I pulled from “The Three Pointer” (the last novella in the “Love of the Game” box set).  I’d love you to have it and you get it for free when you subscribe to Always the Good Girl.

ABOUT THE STORY
Bailey has loved her best friend’s older brother for years but he looks at her as another little sister. She pulls back, determined not to make a fool of herself anymore…but she can’t turn off her love for him.

Sometimes, it’s all about timing, maturity, and a great salsa.

If you didn’t get it, does that mean you aren’t subscribed to my website? I guess that’s one way to go. You could also be one of those people who only subscribes long enough to get something for free then unsubscribes…that’s another option.

I don’t always advertise what I’m posting so if you only sign up to get something – you’re going to miss a lot of great content.  Totally up to you.

In the meantime, for those of you who read “Hart of the Matter” – I hope you enjoyed it and that you’re going to pick up the box set so you can read Harley’s full story.

Right now, read below for a quick excerpt!

Much love,
Shayne 

CHAPTER ONE

Bailey Verreos knew she was a fool.  That’s what really chapped her ass.

At eighteen, she was far different from her best friend Harley.  Bailey might be the girly one on the outside but she was hard as nails on the inside.

Unless Hartman Jamison was involved…then she was a fucking warm puddle of goo.

It was disgusting honestly.  She made herself want to puke.  For years, she’d been in love with Harley’s brother and Hart didn’t know she existed unless he needed something.

Trifling ass piece of…

She was so done with this life.

Thinking back to the moment she’d fallen completely in love with her best friend’s brother, it was as clear in her mind as if it had happened yesterday.

Bailey had been fourteen years old, a freshman in high school, and was already built like a porn star.  It was not a positive thing around teenage boys marinating in testosterone and ignorance.

Coming out of the girls’ locker room after cheer practice, the school was pretty much abandoned.  She’d spent time searching for her house keys and was late meeting Harley for their ride home with Hart.  Finding them under the bench where she must have kicked them, she was in a rush to make it out front.

She didn’t immediately notice the two young men standing outside.  When she did, she nodded with a ‘hey’ and kept going.  They weren’t familiar.

They fell into step beside her and started flirting.  Internally rolling her eyes, but experienced in dealing with the fragile egos of boys their age, she was polite but reserved.

“You should come hang out with us.  My friend really likes you,” the taller one said.

“I can’t.  I have two hours of homework to finish.  Thanks though.”

The shorter of the two frowned at her.  “You too good to hang out with us?  We’re nice guys.  Not athletes like those guys we see you with all the time but good enough for you.”

“I bet you’re giving it up for all three of those guys, huh?”  The tall one reached out to touch her hair and she flinched away.  “You’re too hot not to be.”

It wasn’t the first time such assumptions had been made about her and it wouldn’t be the last.  So much for being polite.

“You don’t know me, you certainly don’t know them, and you need to get the fuck away from me before I lose my temper.”

One of them grabbed the strap of her backpack, yanking that side of her body to the side.

“I don’t think you’re being very friendly.”

Then the tall one tried to kiss her and she slapped him as hard as she could.  The other one grabbed her ponytail and wrapped it around his fist.  Opening her mouth to scream, a sweaty hand clamped over her mouth.  She was shoved against the wall in the empty hallway as they groped her roughly.

Bailey tried to bring her knee up but one of them stepped on her sneakered foot.

Suddenly, one found himself in a headlock, yanked violently away from her and the other’s hair was gripped hard in Hart’s fist.  Bigger by several inches and in peak physical condition, he held the boys easily.

“You alright?” Hart asked her gently.  She’d never seen such a look on his face before.  She nodded but silent tears slid down her cheeks.  “You’re not alright at all.”

He slammed the one he had by the hair face-first into the painted concrete wall.  There was a sickening crunch and his nose gushed blood.  The other, he turned.  Delivering three precise gut-shots, the boy fell beside his friend holding his midsection.

Both of them were crying as he crouched beside them.

“This is my sister’s best friend in the entire world.  Her name is Bailey and my name is Hart Jamison.  It’s important you remember.  If you ever so much as whisper her name or look in her direction, me and my two friends are going to make you wish you were dead.”  He slapped their cheeks lightly.  “Do I make myself clear?”

They nodded with a moan.

Standing, he grabbed Bailey’s bag, wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and guided her away.  When they were outside but still out of sight of his car where Harley waited, he brought her to a stop.  Facing her, she was unable to meet his eyes.

Without a word, he gathered her close and held her tight, his palm cupping the back of her skull.  “I’m sorry, Bailey.  I’m so sorry I didn’t get there sooner.”

He let her cry and it would be years before she’d ever do such a thing in front of him again.  She listened to the sound of his heart and he murmured soothing little things to her until she took a deep breath.  From his back pocket, he held up the brand-new basketball jersey they’d been issued at practice.  Taking his time, he wiped her face carefully and leaned forward to kiss her forehead.

It was the first time she truly saw Hart as a man.  As someone capable of not only protecting her, but drying her tears.  She’d loved him every single moment since.

He asked her if she wanted to call the police and she shook her head.  There was no way she was putting herself or her family through something like that.

“I…I just want to forget it happened.”  Glancing up into green eyes that would forever captivate her, she whispered, “Don’t tell Harley.”

With a small frown, he asked, “Why?”

“She worries about me.  I’m not very strong physically and I have a big mouth.”

His smile happened slowly and she didn’t realize she was holding her breath until she needed air.  “Bailey.  You have a beautiful mouth.”  Seeming to realize what he’d said, he quickly added, “You know, for a smart ass who’s like my little sister.”

Yeah, a little sister.

Bumping her with his shoulder, he led her to the car and she settled in the backseat.  When asked why her face looked splotchy, she told Harley she fell and sprained her wrist.  Slapping her attacker had hurt her more than it hurt him.

“I’ll throw ice on it at your place.”

Nodding, Harley launched into their usual topic of what they planned to eat the second they could get to her kitchen.  She did her best to participate but she was still shaking on the inside.

They took her with them to the Jamison house.  It was where she spent the majority of her time anyway.  She even had her own room next door to Harley.

As the car turned into the neighborhood, she glanced up and caught Hart staring at her in the rearview mirror.

Over the last four years, he’d never mentioned that day to anyone as far as she knew and they’d never spoken of it again.  The boys who attacked her kept a low profile and gave Bailey a wide berth.  She watched them and she knew Hart did as well.  When they graduated the same year as the guys and moved away, she breathed a sigh of relief.

That day changed her life in so many ways. 

If you love “Hart of the Matter” then read the rest of the stories in the “Love of the Game – The Complete Collection” – available on Amazon and in print through my shopping cart.

If sports romance are your thing…I also have an exclusive story through my shopping cart called “Leap of Faith” – a football romance.

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The Barter System (dig) - Shayne McClendonCarlo Larrosa had worked in the building since he was eighteen years old.  Originally hired by the new owner, his plan at the time had been to help his mother and get a different sort of work experience than he was used to before considering college.

Less than a year after taking the job, his mother slipped on wet marble and fell at her job.  She’d been the long-time housekeeper for a wealthy family who lived less than two blocks from where he currently stood.  They made sure she was well cared for until she could return to work.  The blood clot that formed from a bump on her head – thought to be nothing – killed her a few days later.

His boss offered to pay for a full funeral but he declined with gratitude.  Instead, he held a memorial service in their fourth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn and people from all over the neighborhood came to pay their respects to a woman who had been kind and hard working all her life.  Her only child had her cremated as she’d requested in a document he found in her desk.

Though he had never met his father, Araceli had filled his life with strength and love from his first memories.  An orphan who traveled from Uruguay with an elderly uncle as a child, she soon became the only surviving member of her family.  She was a beautiful woman who made friends easily but rejected the attention of men and never married.

Hence, when she died, he was alone.

A week later, he returned to work.  There was no wisdom in sitting in the home they’d shared and allowing his grief to overtake him.  Besides, he enjoyed his job and the people who had become a sort of extended family for him.  As he’d known they would, his co-workers welcomed him back with open arms and kind words.

[click to continue…]

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Paying it Forward

September 12, 2014 Good Girl Talk

Don’t forget to pay a little kindness forward. Just a bit. Paying the toll for the car behind you. Leaving a busy server an extra couple of dollars. Smiling at an elderly person…maybe stopping to chat. Winking at a haggard older woman in the grocery store and helping her see herself as a woman instead […]

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Gone | A Short Story by Shayne McClendon

September 5, 2014 Micro Stories

He knew the moment he walked in the door that she was gone. The place felt like a tomb. Before anything else, he had to wash off the dust from a day of spraying stucco. He was tired, bone tired, and he just couldn’t find it in himself to give a fuck. She’d been threatening […]

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An Ancient Love Story | The Taj Mahal

August 29, 2014 Good Girl Talk
Taj Mahal - Samuel Bourne - 1865 PD

Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as tribute to his deceased wife. He described the Taj in these words: Should guilty seek asylum here, Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin. Should a sinner make his way to this mansion, All his past sins are to be washed away. The sight of this […]

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Diary of a Survivor | A Short Story by Shayne McClendon

August 22, 2014 Micro Stories
stay strong

There were times I thought they would kill me.  I did not die…and some days, I promise you, that was harder. I hid the bruises, pretended I wasn’t in agony simply bending over to tie my shoes, and became a habitual liar to excuse the hell that leaves marks on my body like a road map through hell. I […]

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Penance | A Short Story by Shayne McClendon

July 20, 2014 Erotica
SM - PENANCE (ms graphic)

Fair warning, this is an M/M story. That means, in plain English, sexual activity between two men. If that is a turn-off for you, skip this one (and definitely don’t freak out on me…I love writing stories about men). For all you women out there who secretly love stories like this…enjoy. Troy stood in the […]

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