Title: The Recruiting Trip
Author: Lexy Timms
Series: University of Gattica #1
Release Date: November 19, 2014
Genre: New Adult, College-Sports RomanceSummary:
Aspiring college athlete Aileen Nessa is finding the recruiting process beyond daunting. Being ranked #10 in the world for the 100m hurdles at the age of eighteen is not a fluke, even though she believes that one race, where everything clinked magically together, might be. American universities don’t seem to think so. Letters are pouring in from all over the country.
As she faces the challenge of differentiating between a college’s genuine commitment to her or just empty promises from talent-seeking coaches, Aileen heads to Gatica State University, a Division One school, on a recruiting trip.
The university’s athletic program boasts one of the top sprint coaches in the country. The beautiful old buildings on campus and Ivy League smarts seems so above her little Ohio town upbringing. All Aileen needs to convince her to sign her letter of intent is a recruiting trip that takes her breath away.
Tyrone Jensen is the school’s NCAA champion in the hurdles and Jim Thorpe recipient for top defensive back in football. His incredible ocean blue eyes and confident smile make Aileen stutter and forget why she is visiting GSU. His offer to take her under his wing, should she choose to come to Gatica, is a temping proposition that has her wondering if she might be making a deal with an angel or the devil himself.
***This is NOT erotica--It is a new adult & college sport romance.
For mature readers only. There are sexual situations, but no graphic sex.***
She nodded as she swung her back pack over her shoulder. “That’s me.” A guy jostled past her mumbling something about baggage claim sucking.
The chauffer driver tucked the sign with her name printed on it under his arm and took her small carryon suitcase. “First time coming to Gatica?”
“It is.” She glanced around the airport wondering why one of the coaches at the University of Gatica hadn’t come to greet her. It seemed weird. Sort of. She had no idea what proper protocol was. Were coaches required to meet recruits when they arrived? Or was a shuttle service completely legit?
She had been on four other recruiting trips, the last on two months ago in Miami. The sprint coach there had picked her up from the airport, but the university was about fifteen minutes away from the school.
The chauffer led her outside. She dug through her bag and slipped her sunglasses on against the bright sun.
“You here on a recruiting trip?” The chauffer glanced at her. “Volleyball?”
She shook her head. “Track.”
“Cool.” He loaded the ‘UofG Travellers’ van. “The memo says to drop you off Wavertree Fieldhouse. It holds the indoor track and the girls’ volleyball gym. They have a gym off the track and then a court set up in the middle of the track for games. It’s pretty impressive to watch a game courtside or up in the bleachers above the track.”
Aileen nodded, pretending to be interested. She couldn’t picture what he meant. Her indoor track was a gym at the high school. Basketball, volleyball, badminton or whatever sport was going on at the time shared the gym with her. Her coach happened to be her high school gym teacher and he was awesome. He wanted her to go to Connecticut or Louisiana, somewhere with a strong woman’s track program. She agreed.
UofG had been a last minute choice for her final recruiting trip because of their near Ivy League status – and the fact that the super-hot looking male NCAA champion happened to attend the school.
Aileen’s best friend, Becky, had dared her to go. She had gone through all the brochures at Aileen’s house and said she needed to go on one recruiting trip based on something other than track. Becky had insisted UofG because of the hot guys. Aileen had said yes because of Tyler Jensen.
She had watched him race at the USTAF championships last summer. He had this amazing physique, all muscle with no fat and a six pack which really should be referred to as a twelve pack. However it wasn’t his body that always had her staring at him, it was his face. The short, perfectly cropped hair against his naturally tanned skin and those unbelievable eyes.
She had picked UofG in the hopes of talking to him close up just so she could figure out what his eye color really was.
It was ridiculous. Stupid. She knew it, but nobody knew the real reason she had come to Gatica except Becky, and she only knew half of it. Aileen had never voiced her silly crush out loud. Nobody knew, and she planned to keep it that way.
“Ms Nessa?” The grandfather aged chauffeur lifted his foot off the gas. “Are you alright?”
She tuned back into the present and realized they were on the highway. “Sorry, pardon?”
“I was just wondering if you needed a drink? We’ve got about an hour and a half before we reach Gatica. Do you need anything?”
“No thanks. I’ve got a bottle of water here.” She could feel the heat in her cheeks but refused to acknowledge it. She stuffed her ear buds in and turned her iPod on, hoping it would defer monsieur chauffeur from chatting.
It didn’t work.
“So, where are you from?”
She paused hoping he would think she couldn’t hear him. When he repeated the question louder, she imagined her mother sitting beside her giving her the look. “From Ohio. Bucyrus.”
“What event do you do?”
“Sprint or four hundred?”
“Are you any good?”
Aileen shrugged. “Pretty good for high school. Not so sure about university level.” She had spent the past year and half comparing her times to NCAA students. If she compared her personal best to last year’s outdoor rankings she would be second. Her indoor times this year weren’t so great, only because her coach wanted to focus on the upcoming summer and trying to make the World Junior Championships. However she wasn’t going to brag to a total stranger. She had to believe in herself, not make other people believe.
“Well you’ve got five years to find out.” His walkie talkie two-way radio buzzed and a woman’s voice came through the line. Mr. Chauffeur replied.
Aileen leaned back against the bench and closed her eyes. Her flight had been early this morning. She was tired but could never sleep while travelling. She went over her high school coach’s instructions for training. They usually planned a hard workout for Fridays so she could take Saturday easy.
He hadn’t been impressed with her decision to use her last recruiting trip on UofG and made today’s workout tougher than usual. When she moaned about it, his only sympathy came by saying she could do the workout Saturday instead. She still had to do it.
It sucked having to call the coach here in Gatica the day before she left and ask if she would be able to use the weight room and possibly the track. At least Coach Anderson had been totally understanding and said it wouldn’t be a problem. With the track meet tomorrow she could use it today or possibly early tomorrow morning.
Guess it all depended on what she would be doing on the trip. She didn’t think tonight would be late. The athletes had their meet tomorrow. Doing the workout in the morning seemed easier than trying to squeeze it in today. Coach Anderson had mentioned a campus tour today before practice at three o’clock.
She peeked at her watch. If the chauffeur drove at least the speed limit, they would arrive just before lunch.
“Did you know we have a good hurdler here already?” The chauffeur turned the radio down and looked at her in the review mirror.
Aileen blinked and ran the question over in her head. She thought she knew who all the hurdlers were. Gatica had a good multi eventer who could hurdle, but no strong female sprint hurdlers. “Who?”
“Tyler Jensen.” He nodded. “That boy’s extremely talented. Athletically, and I read in the paper the other day he’s up for making the dean’s list in academics. He’s taking some kind of sport major.”
She nodded. She knew exactly who Tyler Jensen was. His beautiful, chiselled face graced the cover of the track brochure and his long, muscular body hovered over a hurdle on the inside. He had these amazing coloured eyes. They looked green, or blue, or grey. She couldn’t decide from the picture or from the times she had watched him race this summer.
They had both competed at nationals. She was a nobody junior and he the NCAA champion. She had watched all his races at nationals and felt his disappointment when he finished fourth in the finals. It was a good, clean race until the last hurdle when he stumbled slightly and lost a placing from it. Third would have meant a trip to the World Championships.
She didn’t even make the finals. She came ninth, one place away from the finals. Last summer she turned eighteen while at nationals. Her mom and dad had come to watch her race and taken her out for ice cream afterwards. She hadn’t cared, two weeks before she had placed fourth at junior nationals and missed making the Can-Am international meet.
Tyler was over nineteen so he hadn’t competed at the junior nationals. It wasn’t until the meet in California she had noticed how cute he was. He had the perfect tan, the kind of skin that never faded in the winter. His dark hair was cropped short. It all brought out those eyes. You could notice them from the finish line, a hundred and ten meters away from where he stood before his starting blocks.
They had never spoken to each other. She ran one more race last season and blew everyone away, beating the national champion and world bronze medalist. Her time was a hundredth off the American junior record and the tenth fastest time in the world that summer.
Now she had every school in the country recruiting her, sending brochures, letters and phone calls every night. She had gone on four trips and picked Gatica as her last trip.
“Have you ever seen Tyler race?”
Aileen smiled and leaned forward in her seat. She didn’t mind talking about Tyler Jensen. She just couldn’t refer to him as Tyler… yet. “I watched him this summer at nationals. He just missed out on a medal.”
The driver nodded. “He was probably burnt out. Between football and then winning NCAAs in track, he probably had nothing left in the tank by the end of July.”
“Good point. “ She hadn’t thought about that. She knew he played football because the brochure boasted about some medal or award he had won. She wasn’t a football fanatic. Her cousin said it would all change when she started university and got into college football. She highly doubted it, except if she was here in Gatica, then she would watch every game. It wasn’t going to happen though. She had pretty much told Stanford she would be there in September.
“So you’ve never been to Gatica?”
She shook her head. “I’ve only been to New York once. My parents and I went on holiday to Niagara Falls one time.”
“Niagara Falls is nice. It’s about three hours from here.”
He chatted on about other great places to see in New York and the restaurants she needed to try while in Gatica. Before long he was pulling the van off the highway.
“We’re about ten minutes from the school. I’ll drop you off right in front of Wavertree Fieldhouse. The track offices are to the right of the main entrance on the first floor. You’ll have no problem finding them.”
Butterflies began wiping around in Aileen’s stomach. She pulled her make-up bag out of her backpack and slipped on some lip gloss and then deodorant when the drive wasn’t looking. She hoped her hair looked okay. She had straightened it last night and then stuck it in a ponytail this morning. The pony had come out a few times as she tried to keep it straight and neat. Her blonde hair preferred to have a mind of its own so she usually lived with a pony and hairband to keep the frizzy’s in check.
Forest trees cut away to houses. Total college town.
“I’ll take you through Campus Corner.”
“Campus Corner?” Aileen tried to remember if she had read about it and couldn’t recall.
“It’s the strip where the college kids hang out. Restaurants, shops, bars, all the things you kids need for a proper college experience.” He chuckled. “If you live on this side of campus, it’s walking distance.”
He turned the van left and then right.
Aileen looked out the window. Little shops and restaurants had the Gatica symbol. An old movie theater had been renovated into a bar named “The Red Coats” and had an army of soldiers painted on the front of the building.
“That’s where all the sport kids hang out.” The driver told her about other places and when he came to a stop sign he pointed to his right. “Here’s the entrance to U of G. It’s the original signed from eighteen seventy-six. They’ve repainted the soldier but the horse and soldier monument where erected when the school opened.”
A larger than life monument stood beside a stone with University of Gatica 1876 engraved in it. The monument was made of brass or copper or something that had turned green over time but the soldier’s coat and hat were painted a bright, poppy red.
Aileen smiled. It was awesome!
The campus was built out of the same stone as the plaque at the front. Maybe limestone or something like that. The buildings each had vintage character to them but with a twist of the twenty-first century. She imagined walking around the campus in fall would be amazing. Even the light layer of snow covering the ground now added to the picturesque seen.
They drove by the outdoor track stadium. Someone had shovelled the two inside lanes and the mondo red track stood out bright against the snow. Behind the track was a building that looked like something that held airplanes. It had to be the indoor track – Wavertree Fieldhouse.
Aileen zipped up her coat and took a deep breath as the van pulled around and stopped in front of the building.
Here we go.
Lexy Timms is a mom, business woman, dreamer and writer. She finally decided to write her first romance novel and Saving Forever is her debut story.
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