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Buried by Brenda Rothert
Do you believe in fate?
I didn’t. I’d worked since childhood to become an NFL starting quarterback. All the blood, sweat, and tears were about to pay off with my name in the record books. Setting an NFL record was going to be the crowning achievement of my career. Hell, of my life.
But then fate, the cagey bitch, threw me a curveball I never saw coming. I ended up trapped in a doomsday bunker with four strangers, my chances at that record slipping away as days turned into months.
I never would’ve given Erin a second look. She was gorgeous, sure, but not my type. I liked women who were strong. Fearless. Resilient. Not to mention that she hated me.
But I was so wrong about her. And in that bunker, I fell in crazy, stupid love.
I thought a record would be my greatest triumph. But now, all I want is a shot with Erin. I’ve faced down massive linebackers intent on ending me. For her, I’ll go toe-to-toe with fate.
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I sigh softly, willing my heart to stop jackhammering in my chest, and walk over to the large, opened steel door in the ground.
Kenna white knuckles the black steel ladder that leads straight down, scrambling to get her heels situated. I wonder again why she’s wearing a business suit and heels out here.
“Do you work here?” I ask her.
She gives me a sharp look. “I’m Derek’s personal assistant.”
“Oh, got it. And he must be the football player who owns the place?”
Kenna gawks at me in disbelief. “You don’t know who Derek Heaton is?”
I shrug. “Isn’t he a football player?”
“He’s the best quarterback in the league. Also the highest paid.”
“Huh. Well, good for him,” I say dismissively.
Kenna shrieks as one of her feet slips on the metal ladder.
“You okay?” I ask her.
I peer down into the dark hole, trying to think about anything other than going down there. Even after years of therapy, the panic is so strong I want to run away.
Just make it about the groceries, I tell myself. Think about getting the delivery where it needs to go as quickly as possible. You can do this.
I take a deep breath and then follow Kenna down the ladder. I start sweating immediately as my self-preservation instincts kick in. But I ignore it, descending the ladder to a small landing and then taking a staircase the rest of the way down.
For a moment, my fear is forgotten. The bunker is nothing like I was expecting. It’s open and expansive, the kitchen done with stainless appliances and warm wood cabinets. The floors are also wood, and there’s a large leather sectional in a living area.
“This way,” Kenna says, motioning impatiently from in front of a doorway.
I tear myself away from looking at the rich, slightly rustic décor and join her in a large white room. Fluorescent lights glow overhead, illuminating walls lined with shelves. About half the shelves are filled with supplies ranging from toilet paper to giant containers of tapioca pudding.
“Right here,” Kenna says, grabbing a clipboard and glancing down at it.
She stands in front of an empty section of shelves. I wait a couple seconds as she reads something on her list, but then I can’t take it anymore. I refuse to be down here for one minute longer than I have to.
“I’ll go get my first load,” I say, turning.
“I need it shelved in groups,” she says as I depart the room. “Keep all the peanut butter together, all the trail mix together, and so on. And make sure you fill the entire shelf all the way to the back.”
“Okay,” I call over my shoulder.
I hear male voices from somewhere in the bunker, but I ignore them, practically sprinting to the stairs out of this death trap hole in the ground.
When I get to the truck, I stuff my backpack with as much of the supplies it back hold, then grab another box to carry in my arms. Surveying the flatbed load, I realize it’s going to take at least twenty trips to get all this into the supply room.
Just great. I have to make myself go down that ladder over and over again.
As I reach the end of the stairs, I see three men in the living room area of the bunker. One is kneeling by the floor, looking at something. The other two are talking.
One of the two looks pretty young, maybe college-aged. His skin is deeply tanned and his hair is hidden beneath a baseball hat. The other one looks like a young Russell Crowe, very tall and all muscles and chiseled jaw line. He’s wearing shorts and a plain gray t-shirt.
He has to be the football player. He’s got arrogant pro athlete written all over him, from his biceps straining the sleeves of his shirt to his perfect smile.