It’s finally time for the player to get played.
Tobey Fine, the ‘Blasian Sensation’ is at the top of his game as the face of the Miami Medusas, a Steinger Football League team. When he’s introduced to his teammate’s best friend, the Blasian Sensation comes face-to-face with his reckoning.
Niveah Wallace is the founder of Carmicon Technologies, a software development company contracted to do a pilot game app featuring the Miami Medusas and team rivals, the Atlanta Mercury. If this project goes well, it will put CarmTech on the map.
Still smarting from Tobey’s rejection years ago, Niveah is presented with her chance to get back at him—but forgets that revenge can be a double-edged sword.
Despite their initial fallout, Tobey and Niveah grow close in a way neither expected. But inside the SFL there’s trouble brewing as a piece of Tobey’s past threatens to upend his present and jeopardize his future. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep his love no matter who he has to fight to do it.
Niveah lifted her glass of water to her lips, barely sipping. Her hand shook and she could feel a few eyes on her. She had paid for this time with Tobey and his phone was getting more conversation than she was. The more she thought about it, the more upset she felt. This was the first time she felt the need to speak up for herself. Gathering her courage, Niveah got up to find him. One of the waiters pointed to a back hallway. She saw him, hunched, his back to her speaking lowly in the receiver. She slowly walked up to him, ready to make her stand. That was when she heard the words that would change her from that day forward.
“...some toad date for charity that I’m just not into right now because I’m thinking about Brian leaving...”
She couldn’t breathe as she slowly backed away, holding on the walls for support. Her heart hurt and the tears she had been trying to hold back threatened to overrun. No. Not tonight. She would ruin her makeup and her dress. Niveah straightened herself and tried to look neutral as she walked back to her table. The waiter came with their food and for a while she merely hung her head, looking at her plate, replaying his words over and over in her head, pushing around the food on her plate. Her embarrassment was deep and painful, but she had endured worse, hadn’t she?
But not from someone like him. Somehow being dismissed by the boy you turned into your source of validation, the one who barely knew you existed even when you were on a date with him, in front of his face, hurt just a little more.
Tobey came back to the table, and she painted on a smile, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of knowing just how much power he had over her. She may have been naïve, but she wasn’t stupid. They chatted for a few minutes, which gave Niveah a little hope until she saw a pair of flashing lights.
“Oh, that’s my friend,” Tobey declared. “I’m sorry, but I have to jet. A friend of ours is leaving for Afghanistan tonightand we have to say goodbye.” He got up and put some money on the table. He extended his hand, which she took. “Listen, it was nice to meet you, you really look nice.” He kissed her quickly on the cheek and the lights flashed again. “I’m so sorry to just bail on you like this.” Her hand was still in midair when he just disappeared.
Niveah put her best face forward, swallowing anger and hurt.
“Hey, you do what you need to,” she mumbled to herself as she watched him run to the car and get into the backseat behind the driver.
Some of the patrons cast sideward glances at her and she felt her cheeks flame with the shame of realizing that she sat at a table for two alone while her date practically ran away from her. The damn had burst and the tears flowed freely, and try as she might, she couldn’t stop them.
Tobey sat in the booth, looking out from the table, his eyes unblinking and glazed as he remembered that night when Brian had left for the war. Of course, he remembered it differently never once taking into consideration what he had inflicted on a poor girl who wanted nothing more than to be with him, to be his new friend.
“Dammit! Niveah.” He shook his head as if trying to ward off the bad memory. “I’m sorry.” Tobey turned to her, his mind searching for some reason but coming up blank. “Look, I could say I was young and stupid and insensitive, but I feel that’s just another excuse for being such an asshole that night. I just...I was...I’m sorry.”
Continuing to look away, Niveah smiled perceptively, not at Tobey’s words but at the feelings they didn’t stir in her. There was a time when she would have given the world to hear him apologize or feel some sort of regret about that night. But time was funny. The scars she had developed over the years rendered her numb to his contrition. Regardless of how real it was or how much he had changed since that night or how he didn’t know or realize whatever whenever, it no longer mattered to her.
Not meeting his gaze, she carefully slid her body from around the booth. “No need to be sorry, Tobey.” She assured him. “Actually, I should thank you for that night.” Niveah grabbed her bag and stood up. “You taught me something valuable that I’ve carried with me all this time.”
Tobey knitted his brows at her unexpected response as he watched her put her tablet back in her bag.
“What was that?” he asked.
She looked at him squarely. “You showed me that the only things I could rely on, and I mean really count on, were myself and my work.”
Niveah saw what she thought was a look of disappointment flash in his eyes as he sat there looking at her.
“Don’t worry, Tobey, I don’t hate you or hate all men, haven’t turned bitter or anything that cliché. There have been plenty of men since that night.” She shrugged. ”You see, I realized I had the same power you exercised that night with me. I have the power to just walk away from things that don’t suit me.”
With that, she bid him good night and strolled toward the door. Before she did, she looked at the girls who had been waiting patiently for the opportunity to finally introduce themselves to the gorgeous player. She had caught a couple of them giving her the dirty eye, much like they were doing now.
Looking back at Tobey, who leaned his head back against the top edge of the booth, silent and stunned, Niveah turned to the girls and drawled, “I’m done with him. He’s all yours.”
Connect with Palessa:
Palessa started reading her first romance novel, at the age of 11. Then she got introduced to V.C. Andrews, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Anne Rice and many more notable contemporary authors as well as some of the classics, A Tale of Two Cities, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Great Gatsby and others. It was during her teenage years that she dabbled in writing. First, it was in her diaries, then she started creating characters, stories about romance, the supernatural and much more. Being an I.B. student as well as entering college, left little time for writing and so she put it and the ideas aside to pursue a career. It would take almost 20 years, a radical move from the city she grew up in, Miami, FL back to her Caribbean birthplace, and a chance Facebook meeting with Sable Hunter to start the juices flowing again. After some fits and starts, the Baxter Family Saga was born. Unchained Hearts is Palessa's first published fiction book with Beau Coup Publishing. She considers herself just a storyteller that sees no reason to shy away from the juicier romantic elements. She currently lives in the mountains of Jamaica with her crazy, cracker-munching-mutt Ivy and a farm, primarily managed by agribusiness partner, also known as Dad.