Anatomy of a Player

By: Cindi Madsen

This bad boy is about to get played…

After getting her heart broken by a player again, Whitney Porter is done with men. She’s focusing on her future career and her first assignment at the college newspaper: Posing as a sportswriter for an exposé on the extra perks jocks receive. But Hudson Decker, the bad boy of the hockey team, is about to test her resolve. To keep herself from breaking her no-sex rule with the temptingly tattooed athlete, she decides to use him for a side project: Anatomy of a Player, to help Whitney—and women everywhere—spot a player, learn what makes him tick, and how to avoid falling for one.

With his life spiraling out of control, Hudson Decker’s looking for a distraction. When his teammates bet him that he can’t land the gorgeous but prickly new reporter, he accepts the challenge, boasting he’ll have her in bed by the end of the semester. But Whitney is so much more than Hudson expected, and soon enough, he’s in too deep. The last thing he needs is another complication, but staying away isn’t an option. One thing’s for certain: this girl totally throws him off his game.






To Alycia Tornetta, for jumping into this series with me.

And for digging my book out of the slush pile all those years ago.





Chapter One


Whitney


You know those girls with no gaydar who fall in love with every gay guy within a thirty-mile radius? I lacked whatever version of radar was for players. Playdar—yeah, I was definitely missing playdar.

I trudged up the concrete stairs of my apartment complex, my heart heavy after yet another breakup—if it could even be called a breakup, considering Trevor and I had never been an official couple. Something he’d so nicely pointed out earlier tonight when I saw him on campus with another girl.

The stabbing pain in my chest returned as I recalled the way Trevor had asked Perky McBoobs to give him a second before pulling me aside. Denial and I were old friends, and she whispered that maybe he’d have some great explanation, like the girl was just a close friend—his hand in her back pocket ruled out relative. Okay, so it ruled out friend, too. I didn’t go around cupping my friends’ asses, no matter how close we were.

As I slid my key into my apartment door, I replayed that awful moment when the guy who’d once told me I was so sexy that he thought about me all day long claimed I was “too needy” and he was afraid I wanted more than he could give.

Did I want him to refrain from having sex with other girls while he and I were together? Of course I did. Apparently asking for the most basic relationship requirement—after three months, no less—made me needy.

And there was nothing quite like getting played by the third freaking guy in a row, only to come home to one of the cuddliest, most in-love couples ever. I knew Lyla would never purposely rub her relationship in my face, just like I knew she and Beck had earned their happiness the hard way. But it didn’t make it any easier to walk in on them making out on the couch.

I shut the door behind me with a little extra force, and Lyla glanced up, obviously just noticing my presence. “Hey,” she said, pulling away from Beck and tugging her disheveled clothes back into place. “Didn’t hear you come in.”

The first few times I’d caught them, she’d blushed and apologized profusely. Now it was commonplace enough that we were past blushing and apologies. Last weekend she’d caught Trevor and me in the same position.

Another wave of sadness crashed into me, making it feel like my chest had caved in on itself. Why does it have to hurt so bad every damn time?

Lyla’s hazel eyes widened. “Oh, no. What happened?”

I’d done so well fighting back the tears on my drive home, but having someone care enough to ask that cracked the dam wide open. “You know how Trevor told me he was too busy with football stuff to hang out tonight?” My voice squeaked and I forced the next words out before I totally lost it. “I caught him on campus with another girl. It’s over. Even though apparently it was never a thing anyway.”

Lyla untangled herself from Beck and hugged me. “I’m so sorry, Whitney. I know how much you liked him.”

I sniffed and squeezed her back. “Last year I swore that I was only going to go for sweet nerds who’d appreciate me, but then I slipped and fell for Mr. All American Football Player over the summer, so I suppose I deserve this.”

“You don’t deserve it,” Lyla said, pulling back to look me in the eye.

I didn’t. Deep down I knew I deserved someone who’d treat me right. I just didn’t know how to go about finding him. Clearly I needed to avoid football players, though. Strike that. The guy before Trevor was Matt, and he’d played baseball in high school. So make it all athletes in general, and since the guy before that had been a frat boy, I might as well scratch them off the possibilities list, too.