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The Playmaker

Nova Conners is a big physics nerd and football fan. So she’s ecstatic when the Atlanta Cruisers offers her a job based on her final thesis. She jumps at the chance—a dream job. But their star quarterback, Maxwell Garland, is an arrogant, driven player who refuses to listen to anyone: not his coach, not his team, and especially not a physics nerd. But if they want to keep their jobs, they can’t let anything get in the way of being professional…like their uncontrollable lust for each other.

Age Rating: 18+

Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.


The Playmaker by Natalie M is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.



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Nova Conners is a big physics nerd and football fan. So she’s ecstatic when the Atlanta Cruisers offers her a job based on her final thesis. She jumps at the chance—a dream job. But their star quarterback, Maxwell Garland, is an arrogant, driven player who refuses to listen to anyone: not his coach, not his team, and especially not a physics nerd. But if they want to keep their jobs, they can’t let anything get in the way of being professional…like their uncontrollable lust for each other.

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: Natalie M

Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.


I fiddle nervously with the unraveled string from my sweater as I sit patiently in Dr. Ronan’s office. I have no idea the reason for which he’s called this impromptu meeting.

All I know is that it has something to do with my final thesis, and that worries me.

It’s now August, and while I should have my final grade by now, I don’t; and though I’ve already graduated, I have yet to receive my degree.

I took a monumental risk with the topic of my dissertation—giving it a somewhat personal aspect—and I’m not sure how I fared in comparison with my classmates.

Most assume that being a “child genius”—the moniker kids in grade school bestowed upon me to prolong my humiliation well past high school—means that everything comes easy to me, including school.

However, this isn’t the case.

Having skipped two grades means that I’ve had to adapt to the level of academia that challenges me; and that being said, I quickly discovered that getting my PhD among students who were more well read and more cultured and who had more resources proved to be no small feat.

Not only had I had to acclimate to the rigorous course work, but I did so at a time in my life when most people my age were decorating their graduation caps or packing up their dorm rooms.

Instead, here I am, twenty-four years old, living in a world where my peers are four years my senior.

I have no real-world or life experience, and I graduated with a doctorate in applied mathematics and physics with not a clue in hell about what to do with it.

To say that my emotional maturity has been stunted would be an understatement.

Most girls my age have taken their first shot at relationships and broke up with their first—and possibly second—boyfriend, had their first kiss, and experienced their first orgasm.

According to the standard IQ test, I may be intellectually superior to most men and women my age, but socially, I’m nothing short of an idiot.

Playing catch-up socially and emotionally only made keeping up with my studies all the more challenging.

That coupled with the fact that I work two jobs to help support my father and myself, I’m surprised I managed to finish with an A in all my courses—all except my capstone. So far.

I’m wondering what’s taking Dr. Ronan so long to meet me when the click of the doorknob turning nearly causes me to jump.

I smooth the cheap, rough fabric of my skirt as the handsome man shuffles behind his desk, carrying a yellow file of some sort.

On my first day of classes, I developed a crush on my professor.

I remember thinking he possessed a studious but laid-back charm, and his piercing blue eyes, salt-and-pepper hair, and manicured beard didn’t hurt.

He’s not the typical “teacher” type; if anything, he reminds me more of a lumberjack than a grad school professor, but that rugged, outdoorsy look is what draws women—like my classmates and me—to him like moths to a flame.

Unfortunately for us, though, the man is very happily married.

“Sorry to make you wait, Nova. I’ve been on the phone for the last half hour, and I only just ended the call.”

Dr. Ronan’s eyes brim with excitement, and while I’m relieved he doesn’t seem to have called this meeting to rip my thesis to shreds, my earlier trepidation has been replaced with curiosity.

“It’s all right. But what exactly am I here for?”

Dr. Ronan chuckles, and the fact that he’s practically bouncing in his seat has me on edge to hear his news.

“Miss Connors, in all my years of teaching, I’ve never had a thesis quite as innovative as your own, and well, that being said, I think you should know that I took the liberty to share it.”

I nervously tug at the piece of string once more as wait for him to get on with it.

It’s not unusual for professors to share their students’ work, but it is unusual when they act as though a twenty-page dissertation on how physics can save a failing football team’s season—and potentially the quarterback’s job—is the equivalent of Christmas morning to a seven-year-old.

“Miss Connors, do you know who Gabriel Winters is?”

My jaw nearly hits the floor, and I’m not sure I’ve heard him right. “I’m sorry, did you just say Gabriel Winters as in head coach of the Atlanta Crusaders, Gabriel Winters?”

Surely he did not share my senior thesis with the head coach of the very team I wrote about? Suddenly, my excitement dissolves into panic.

I’m not sure how a head coach would feel about some random math nerd criticizing his franchise player’s offensive strategies.

“Yes, Nova. I sent him and Mike Rodney, the offensive coordinator, your thesis, and I’m not going to lie to you, I didn’t even expect them to read it, but they did.

“I just got off the phone with Rodney, and he wants you to come in for an interview.”

My professor claps like a giddy schoolgirl who’s just passed a love note to her crush, and to be honest, I can’t help but revel in his excitement. There’s only one thing I don’t understand…

“Wait. When you say interview… Wha—”

“He wants to outsource you as a consultant to help him with the offense this season. Nova, your thesis was so brilliant, an NFL team wants to hire you to help them use it!”

I really try to listen to Dr. Ronan after I hear the words “consultant” and “NFL team wants to hire you,” but I can’t.

All I can think about is the fact that I’m interviewing for a job that seemed like a pipe dream just yesterday.

After my mother left when I was twelve, my father and I watched football together as a means to bond and to cope with her being gone.

Eventually, the sport grew on me, and it became my and my father’s very own religion. I grew up watching the Atlanta Crusaders, and now they want me to work for them?

The first thought that enters my mind after I finally leave my professor’s office is, I have to tell Dad.


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“Call me as soon as you’re done with the interview! I mean it, Nova Danielle Connors! Don’t you dare blow me off!”

I try to balance my cell phone between my ear and shoulder as I trek my way down the hall to the offensive coordinator’s office.

My best friend Lily has just received the CliffsNotes version of the last few days of my life.

Since breaking the news of my newest job opportunity to my father, I’ve managed to grow a gray hair or two from the sheer stress of it all.

Once the elation wore off, pure anxiety was left in its wake, and my preparation for this interview has been nothing short of OCD-level obsessive.

My father made sure to quiz me on probably every play and formation used by the Crusaders since the eighties, not to mention the team’s history.

I’m almost positive Dan Connors has chewed his fingernails to the nub by now, and I only left his home not twenty minutes ago.

“Lil, I will. I promise. But I’m here now; I’ve got to go!” I whisper-shout into my phone.

“Aah! I can’t believe this! We’re going to be working together!”

I giggle at Lily’s comment. “I’m pretty sure that as an offensive consultant, I won’t be spending much time with the cheerleaders, Lil,” I remind her.

“Yeah… I still think you should’ve tried out. You’re just as good a dancer as me.” I internally cringe at her statement. Lily is being kind.

We both met when my father signed me up for ballet classes at her mom’s studio when we first moved to Atlanta from Memphis.

While I did take to ballet, and both of us might be classically trained, Lily is talented in all genres of dance, and she possesses the showmanship needed for professional cheerleading.

I myself prefer the precision and the challenge ballet presents. Besides, I decided not to continue with it after I graduated from university, and Lily has.

“But I have so much fun watching you from the sidelines. You know you’re the best one out there. But okay, Lil. Seriously, I’ve got to go!”

Without waiting for a response, I stab at the screen to end the call and knock at the door.

Because Rodney’s office is on the lower level of the Crusaders’ stadium near the field, it took directions from several different staff workers, an elevator, and a few wrong turns to find it.

I’m suddenly grateful I left an hour early to be on time.

“Come in!” the muffled voice from behind the door calls to me.

I’m not sure what I expected to find when I enter, but what I see is one of the most disorganized offices I’ve ever seen.

Filing cabinets stuffed to the brim with file folders are barely closed.

A tall bookshelf behind Rodney’s desk is equally full of play binders dating back to before I was born, and the desk in front of me looks to have just been cleared away only moments ago.

From what I’ve seen on television, Rodney is a fit man in his mid to late forties with dark, dark brown hair and green eyes.

His tall frame is sturdy and still holds the muscular build from his days as a quarterback for San Diego.

However, here in person he looks just a bit older, and the dark circles beneath his eyes belie the energetic smile he’s giving me.

He stands and offers me his hand, and I shake firmly before taking my seat.

“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Connors. I have to say, it’s not every day I meet someone quite like yourself.”

“You mean a football-obsessed science slash math geek?” I joke. Rodney laughs heartily, and I instantly decide that I like him. The way his eyes crinkle when he smiles reminds me of my father.

“Honestly, yes. And I mean that in the best way. Your dissertation surprised me, though.”

“How so?” Other than the fact that someone like me wrote it at all, I can’t imagine what about it would surprise him.

As the offensive coordinator, he’s probably aware of everything I said in my thesis and more. This team is his baby, his life.

I can’t imagine I’ve offered some enlightening revelation regarding the technique of his franchise, albeit losing, player.

“Well, for one thing, your thesis mostly focused on the mathematical elements of improving speed and accuracy in throwing technique, but I couldn’t help but notice that you seemed to criticize the quarterback’s mentality as well. Why?”

“Well, Mr. Rodney. From a mathematical standpoint, I can most certainly place the blame on the technique, reaction time, poor conditioning, et cetera for your QB1’s performance last regular season.

“But from a personal standpoint, everyone knows that the flower grows from the root. Have you ever seen Ice Princess?”

Ice Princess?”

I nod.

“In the film, the main character is a physics scholar who figures out the exact formula to perfect figure skating technique.

“But she says in the movie, ‘The computer doesn’t make the jumps for you.’

“It’s the same concept, Mr. Rodney. The system, the strategy, the plays, his technique… None of it works if the leader of your team doesn’t, sir.”

I fidget nervously. I know that he wants my honest opinion, but I can’t help but feel like a fish out of water critiquing someone who probably knows more about football than I ever will.

However, the truth is in the performance. Which by the looks of every single pre-, regular-, and postseason game, has been less than stellar.

I’m not sure how I expected Rodney to react, but when I see him break into a wide grin, I can’t help but wrinkle my brows in confusion.

“Ms. Connors, how would you like to be an offensive consultant for our upcoming season?

“You’ll be working mostly with myself and Mr. Garland, but you’ll still report to the head coach, all the same. I’d like to get you started—”

“I’m sorry; did you just say I’m going to be working with you and Garland as in the quarterback, Maxwell Garland?”

I have to blink myself out of the shocked expression I’m wearing, and for the second time this week, I pick my jaw up off the floor.

Holy. Shit.

“Yes, Ms. Connors. The quarterback is the captain of the team. Like you said, we’re the flower. He’s the root.

“Besides, I’m looking forward to introducing you, and after reading your thesis, he’s excited to meet you.”

I suddenly feel my hands clam up, and my head is dizzy. I probably just insulted a multimillion-dollar athlete, and now I have to work with him?

I’m not sure how I plan on smoothing this over, but one thing’s for sure, this is not going to be good.


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