THE OTHER HALF OF ME
I can’t make you love me…
Seth Harjo loves women! Black, white, Hispanic, Asian are all given equal access to the star quarterback’s bed. No matter their size, shape or color, he enjoys them all indiscriminately. At least that’s what he used to say before his heart is irrevocably crushed by Jasmine Blackman. He meets her while playing touch football with her brothers and accidently tackles her to the ground. The instant his eyes collides with hers, it is love at first sight. She has four massive brothers who adamantly oppose his amorous pursuit. But nothing except death could keep him away from her. For months he is the happiest man in the world. He finally has the woman of his dreams, someone who loves him as much as he loves her. But sometimes love isn’t enough. When she walks away, his life is a black void without her. Why is she back demanding closure? How can he possibly trust her again?
How do you mend a determined heart…
Jasmine Blackman knows better than to fall in love with a professional athlete. Growing up with four brothers in the profession, she knows their player ways. She has no excuse for falling for bad boy Seth Harjo, star quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. But the heart wants what it wants, and nothing he does dissuades her. The instant he flashes those golden boy dimples, she is lost. Ignoring the objections of her brothers and her own common sense, she mistakenly believes they have a future together. Confronted by his betrayal, she has no choice but to leave while she still has some pride left. How do you move on when the love of your life still commands so much of your heart?
“Come on baby, you know you want me,” Big Al urged in his deep bass tone.
“Look, Big Al, I don’t want to hurt you, but you need to back the hell off,” Jasmine Blackman muttered in frustration. Why are these football players so damn egotistical?
Initially the stench of the room more than the noise and the chaos had gotten to her, but this was not her first visit to a men’s locker room. The locker room had been noisy with loud music, boisterous male banter, televisions blasting with post-game commentary and highlights, and people running around getting dressed. Jasmine tightened her lips in annoyance. She had been hit-on incessantly since she entered the players’ domain, and that was expected as well. But Big Al was the only dumb-ass who tried to physically impose his will when she ignored the other catcalls and whistles. Granted, springing a surprise visit on her brothers was not the smartest thing she had ever done, but can’t a girl enter a men’s locker room without being accosted? This had been the team’s last preseason game hosted in Dallas, and she had hoped to visit her brothers without too much drama.
She was getting really pissed trying to fend off Big Al, and he obviously needed to be put on his ass before he got the message. With her brothers Marcus and Nathan nowhere in sight, she knew when she entered their domain that she would have her hands full controlling these raunchy men. After their preseason game today, their testosterone and adrenaline were still running high. Most of them knew who she was and should have known better, but there were a few who had no idea who she was including the big ape in front of her.
“Come get some of this! All the ladies want some of the ‘Chocolate Thunder’.” Big Al laughed outrageously at his own joke while launching again at her. His teammates, more than fifty of them in various stages of undress, none naked thank God, laughed along with him.
Jasmine easily stepped out of his reach again. Big Al, at six-foot-three and over three hundred and twenty pounds of fat and muscle, had massive legs and moved unbelievably well for a man of his size. He had to move fast because he played defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, one of the best NFL teams in America.
“Dude, really? Are you too stupid to understand English or are you just freaking crazy? I’m not interested in you. I don’t want to go out with you. And for the last damn time, I don’t want to have sex with you!”
Big Al laughed and continued his single-minded focus to stalk her. He cornered her against a locker and gripped her arm. Pulling her close to his large frame, he grinned in triumph, happy to have her pressed against his large protruding stomach.
“Damn moron!” she hissed through her teeth.
Using his hold on her as leverage, she propelled herself up horizontally, ran her legs against the adjacent wall to climb high over his head, and jumped over his shoulder. As he released his hold in surprise at her maneuver, she perched with her knees on top of his shoulder and slammed his two ears hard with the heels of her hands. She then jumped nimbly out of his reach as Big Al roared in pain.
“Ooh!” the other players exclaimed in stunned disbelief, scrambling to get out of the way.
“Playing hard to get?” Big Al roared. “I’m going to make you suck my dick off right here in front of the guys!”
He advanced toward her again. This time he came at her strong, shoulders down, legs pumping at a dead run, determined to flatten her with his signature tackle.
Jasmine crouched low, and when he was within inches of her, she jumped up and used her hands on his massive shoulders to agilely flip over his head and land lightly on her feet behind him.
Unfortunately for Big Al, his momentum was too great to stop himself from plowing into a hardwood locker panel, leaving an impressive crack in the panel.
“Daayummmmmn!” The players cringed.
Big Al got up from his fall with renewed aggression. “You ain’t getting away with that, bitch! Not happening!” Ugly purple veins stood out in Big Al’s face as he glared at her, his chest heaving rapidly in agitation, retribution etched on his face. Snarling, he ran toward her with murderous intent.
Trapped again, this time between the angry footballer and a wall, she had no other option than to slam her knees as hard as she could into his testicles.
Big Al roared in pain as his knees buckled.
As other players audibly winced in reaction, every male holding his testicles in commemorative pain, a booming voice of authority brought everything to a halt.
“What the fuck is going on?” Seth Harjo demanded with menacing authority as he advanced into the room.
Wheezing in pain, Big Al could barely speak. Bent over with his hands on his knees for support, Big Al pointed at Jasmine leaning nonchalantly against a locker. “She fucked me up man,” he rasped.
“Looks like you fucked with her first!” Seth shouted.
“No, man, I just asked the bitch for a date,” Big Al protested.
Seth strode over to his fallen teammate, lifted him up with one massive arm as if Big Al didn’t weigh over three hundred pounds, and threw him against the wall, making an impressive hole in the sheet-rock.
Jasmine grimaced as Seth again threw the tackle against another wall.
The other men looked on, groaning as though they could feel the violent impact. They scrambled out of the way of the toppling massive body hurtling toward them. Metal chairs went crashing to the floor under his weight.
“Touch her again, and I’ll fuckin’ kill you!” Seth snarled.
Big Al nodded his head, gasping for breath.
Jasmine’s brothers were notorious hotheads when it came to her, so she knew they would kick ass if they were here. But given the acrimony between her and Seth, she was shocked he would defend her honor.
Seth turned and addressed the room. No one had dared leave, thoroughly enjoying the drama that unfolded in front of them. “You bastards watched this assault and did nothing to stop it?”
No one dared answer him.
“That’s fucked up! Ms. Blackman is here to visit her brothers, your damn teammates. She’s not here for you morons to harass for sexual favors or abuse. Her name is Jasmine Blackman, not bitch, honey, babe, or whatever other names you assholes can come up with. Do you understand me?”
A few contrite “Yes sirs” could be heard in the room.
“Now get your asses dressed and get out of here!” As the men scrambled to comply with his command, Seth turned and pinned Big Al with a disgusted glare. “As for you, Big Al, since you have so much energy to assault a woman, in addition to your drills with the guards, I’m going to recommend to the coaches you run Kamikaze drills for the next month with the running backs. I’m sure given the black-eye the NFL has had recently, the GM will have no problem suspending your ass from the first two season games for this shit!”
“What the fuck!” Big Al growled.
“You will also go to counseling on sexual harassment in the workplace with Dr. Rodgers,” Seth continued. “Otherwise you can pack your shit and get the fuck off this team! Abuse in any form will not be tolerated by this organization.”
“That ain’t right, man!”
“You have a problem?” Seth took a few threatening steps toward him.
“No, man, I don’t.” Big Al hung his head.
Jasmine sighed in helpless longing. After Seth’s display of masculine dominance and chivalry, how was she to move on from her longstanding infatuation with the blond giant? The six-foot-six, 250-pound, thirty-four year-old, blue-eyed Texan took her breath away every time she saw him. Two years of avoiding him had done nothing to lessen his effect on her. She hadn’t known he was capable of such anger. Seth had been a fun-loving, even-tempered, jovial kind of guy when they first started dating when she was barely twenty-two and he was thirty-two. He never lost that famous cool off the football field—or with her. For the most part. Seeing him like this, his temper unrestrained, was incredible to witness. Where was this much emotion when their relationship had ground to dust two years ago?
Nathan Blackman walked in the locker room, a small towel slung carelessly around his narrow hips. He stopped in mid-whistle on spotting Jasmine. “What the hell are you doing in here?” He looked around at his tense teammates. “Come on, Jaz! Are you trying to get some motherfucker killed?”
“Mom says to hurry up. We’re going to wait for you at MoJo’s.”
Jasmine felt like such a fraud. She had only volunteered to come get her brothers on the chance that she might see Seth. She had loved him for eight years, and after their breakup two years ago she was ready to move on. She had initiated the end to their relationship and hoped to arrange a meeting to settle things between them.
She had not, however, anticipated that the sparks between them, which had always been at a high voltage, would still be so intense. Although her love life had been a non-starter since Seth, she still had expected that at least some of the chemistry between them would have dulled with the passage of time. She had been dating Darren Carter, a corporate attorney, for almost five months, but she could not contemplate sleeping with him. She had thought that perhaps if she gained closure with Seth, she could love again.
“What? Did something happen to your phone?” Nathan tightened his towel around his waist and stalked toward her. “You know better than to come in here!”
Seth raised an eyebrow at her, daring her to deny the foolishness in coming into the men’s locker room.
“Yeah man, she attacked me!” Big Al piped up.
Nathan glared at him. “What the fuck did you do?”
“Nothing, man! She’s just damn crazy!”
Seth glowered at Big Al.
Nathan looked around at the carnage in the room, the cracked wood of the locker frames, overturned and broken chairs, and holes in the wall. He then looked at the scowl on Seth’s face and then at Jasmine, who inspected her well-manicured fingernails.
Nathan confronted Big Al. “Dude, tell me you didn’t touch my baby sister!”
“How the fuck was I supposed to know who …?” Big Al didn’t get to finish his question before Nathan grabbed him by the throat. Big Al outweighed Nathan by at least one hundred pounds, but Jasmine's brother was taller, more physically fit, and filled with rage that gave him righteous strength.
“I didn’t mean to disrespect you, man!” Big Al choked out as Nathan held him pressed against a locker.
“Disrespect me? You fucking disrespected her!” Nathan glared at Big Al. “Touch her again, and this team will be missing a fucking nose tackle! Now apologize to my baby sis!”
“Sorry, Ms. Blackman,” Big Al muttered. He looked like he’d been in a barroom brawl, the dark skin of his face starting to swell.
“You right, you’re sorry,” Nathan said. “Sick bastard, ain’t got no home training.”
“That’s enough, Nathan,” Jasmine said. “Lord knows Seth has reprimanded the poor man enough and put the fear of God in him. Besides, he come at me again and I’ll put him in the hospital.”
Nathan released Big Al and laughed. “Yeah, man, you picked the wrong chick to fuck with. Jaz has brought my brothers and me to our knees too many times to count.”
Big Al lumbered out of the locker room, muttering as he went. The other players resumed dressing and chatting among each other as it seemed the entertainment had drawn to a close.
Jasmine walked toward Seth. “Thank you, Seth.”
Seth only grunted.
“I’m going to get dressed,” Nathan said, looking amused at her interaction with Seth. “You’re lucky Marcus is in with coach. There’s no telling what he would’ve done to that idiot. Now sit your little ass down in the viewing room because everyone in there is dressed.” He marched her to the nearby room with its high ceiling and dim lights which featured an 80-inch-screen plasma television showing the ESPN broadcast, numerous oversized custom-made leather chairs, and a ventilation system that gave the room a new car scent.
Other than Seth, who had followed them into the room, the room was unoccupied.
“Good, no one’s in here,” Nathan said. “Don’t move until I get back. And leave Seth alone! He doesn’t need you giving him shit.” Nathan glared at her before turning and leaving them alone.
As a friend and teammate of her brothers, Seth had been a frequent visitor to their house over the years. Their home was the testosterone hangout, and all of her four siblings were professional athletes. Her other brothers, Jared and Lamont, played basketball in the NBA. Being the youngest and only female in the litter of five, Jasmine learned early not to back down from a challenge. Although she was also a professional athlete, she was the only one who didn’t play a team sport. She was a tennis player and had learned early to fight her own battles.
“Listen, big guy, you’re going to have to talk to me eventually,” she smirked.
Seth again grunted, but at least he didn’t leave the room. He moved away from her. Leaning against a far wall, he stood silently brooding.
What the hell is his problem? I’m the one who should still be pissed! He cheated on me, not the other way around!
Banking her growing annoyance, she resolved to be as patient as necessary to get what she wanted. She had to do this, had to resolve the lingering questions between them if she had any hope of moving on. Knowing how stubborn he was going to be, she sat quietly facing him from her perch on the leather chair.