From the book
The aroma of sweat and dirt blended with a myriad of expensive colognes, creating a nauseating odor that suffused the locker room and clung to Payton Mosely's nostrils.
Payton tamped down the urge to pull her shirt over her nose. None of the other reporters seemed affected by the overpowering smells attacking her olfactory system with the force of the entire New York Sabers defensive line. They were used to this, and if she wanted to maintain her facade long enough to accomplish her goal, she had to suck it up and deal.
She ducked and weaved her way through the crowd of reporters wearing press passes identical to the one that hung around her neck. The names printed on theirs probably matched the names on their driver's licenses, something Payton could not claim. Today she was Susan Renee Sutphen, sports writer for the Buffalo Daily.
Nothing short of a full day of pampering at a day spa would be suitable to thank Sue for allowing Payton to use her press pass. If she was caught, Sue's paper would likely be banned from the Sabers locker room. And that was the best scenario. Her friend could lose her job over this.
The crush of reporters surrounding the Sabers's punt-return specialist, Jared Dawson, whose ninety-eight-yard kick return for a touchdown set a Sabers record and sealed today's victory against the Philadelphia Eagles, slowed her forward momentum, but Payton would not be deterred. She wasn't here to get a quote from the game winner. She would never put up with this stink for something as simple as a recap of today's football game. Payton had her sights set on a much bigger prize, and she was going to be waiting at his locker for him.
He emerged from the shower room, bare-chested, with sweatpants that hung low on his waist.
Payton's steps halted. That confidence she'd been building over the course of the game needed a pep talk before approaching the man who would make or break her career, especially if she had to go near him in his current state of undress. He had a running back's body, solid and strong, without an ounce of visible fat lurking, only muscle and a whole lotta attitude.
Dark brown skin glistened over the rippling muscles of his supremely defined abs. The six-pack looked as if it had been created by a master sculptor with the sole purpose of driving the female population crazy.
Payton's palms itched with the urge to glide across all that glorious skin but she reined in the impulse. She wasn't here to admire his physique; she was here to convince Cedric Reeves to become the first client of Mosely Sports Management. Despite the stomach-turning affects of the pungent locker-room air, she sucked in a deep breath and used one of the pranayama breathing techniques she'd learned in yoga class to calm her rapid heartbeat.
This was it: make or break time. Two possible outcomes: either she convinced the Sabers running back to take her on as his new agent, or she threw her dream in the gutter and headed back to West Texas.
Payton tossed away that idea before the image of tumbleweed could roll through her psyche. The only thing that would take her back to her small hometown was a visit with her mother. Her life was here, in New York. And her profession was sports agenting.
All she needed was a client.
"All or nothing, Mosely," she whispered under her breath.
Payton's eyes zeroed in on Cedric. He stood before a wooden alcove that sported his name engraved on a teal nameplate above it. The locker room contained about eighty identical cubbyholes made of a beautiful solid oak, gleaming, as if the wood had been polished by hand. They made a semicircle around the room, each with a cushioned folding chair in that same Sabers...