Game For Love

By: Mara Jacobs

Chapter One

“Oh my God, it’s nothing but naked men in here!” Marlee said on a bit of a squeak. Which was unusual, because calm, cool Marlee Reeves never squeaked.

“Where? Where?” Marlee’s friend, Anna Taylor, peeked around Marlee’s tall shoulder, looking past the foyer where they stood, and down into the sunken living room.

“Everywhere. There, and there.” Marlee pointed out the men in question to Anna.

“Marlee, if that’s your idea of naked men, you’ve been in the classroom way too long.” Anna chuckled and shook her head at Marlee.

Anna was one of the few people Marlee knew who didn’t think of her as uptight, because Anna had seen her when Marlee let her hair down, both figuratively and literally, when they’d been roommates at Stanford. But most people when meeting Marlee—for the first, second, and even third times—came away thinking of a stereotypical cool, buttoned-up priss. And that was fine with her.

She supposed it didn’t help that she perpetuated the stereotype by wearing nothing but severely cut business suits, her auburn hair always bound up in a tight chignon, and the requisite glasses. The suits were designer, as were the glasses, and very fashionable, but still.

Anna had told her to dress casually for the football game they’d gone to earlier that day, and she had…or so she’d thought. Anna, upon seeing her, had laughed and asked her if she even owned jeans. Marlee had only smiled and told her friend that she would be fine in what she was wearing.

And Anna hadn’t said a word at the looks Marlee received as they’d walked through the crowd at Liberty Field to watch the Pumas lose to the Jets, taking them out of the playoffs and ending their season. Amidst the face-painted, bare beer-bellied Pumas diehards sat Marlee, in a gray Donna Karan paint suit with cream silk blouse underneath, all covered by a camel hair coat and cashmere scarf.

A large whoop from the crowd in the living room in front of them brought Marlee back from her musings on her wardrobe, and she once again concentrated on the wardrobes of the people in front of her.

Or, rather, lack of wardrobes.

“Semi-naked, then,” Marlee amended. It was still an awful lot of flesh. It was wall-to-wall bodies, mostly female. Anna and she were descending into the living room of the home, had just passed the foyer, when the visual Technicolor of the outfits and the overwhelming aroma of nearly fifty different designer perfumes assaulted Marlee’s senses.

There were probably thirty men. They were all huge. A true rainbow coalition. The skin tones ran the gamut from palest white to blackest black, with every hue in between represented. Marlee assumed that these men were the players she had watched earlier today.

Tried to watch. The game moved faster than she’d imagined. She’d left the game with a headache, hoping for a quiet dinner with her friend Anna and her husband Cole. This loud, body-filled house was not what she had in mind.

The men at the party all wore either muscle shirts or no shirt at all, and nylon running pants. Maybe regular pants just wouldn’t fit over thighs like theirs, though it seemed to Marlee that surely these men’s salaries would allow them some custom tailoring. The huge biceps on most of them would cut glass, they were so hard. That must be the reason for the sleeveless shirts—to show off the bulging muscles. It certainly wasn’t to stay cool. Not in January in Boston. Marlee looked, but was hard-pressed to find a neck on any of them. It seemed their burly chests blended right into their massive heads.

The women were just as scantily dressed. Halter tops, tank tops, and even a sprinkling of tube tops. Lots of them in lamé. All worn a size too small. In the dead of a Boston winter. Marlee shivered just thinking of how cold the women must be. They didn’t act cold, though, unless their close proximity to all the men in the room was an effort to bask in the collective body heat. Marlee wasn’t sure which was more plentiful at first glance: big hair or nearly bared breasts.

Marlee hadn’t seen so much cleavage since the time she had inadvertently gone to a strip joint with some male colleagues after a conference, thinking that “The Trim Club” was a new workout place.

Anna had taken her to the football game—Marlee’s first—and now they were at an after-game party at a home belonging to one of the players. Marlee and Anna were there to collect Anna’s husband Cole, who was a former teammate of the man who was hosting the party.

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