Bad Boy Brit (A British Bad Boy Romance)

By: Caitlin Daire & Avery Wilde

Chapter 1

Allison

I’m here!

In my head, I could hear the song ‘London Calling’, and I took a deep breath and looked around with wide eyes and a big smile.

Although I’d never been to England before, I’d always felt a deep connection to the country, to its people, and to some of its customs. During World War II, my Grandpa had been stationed in Britain, prior to the D-Day landings, and he’d developed an affection for the place which he’d passed onto his son, who’d in turn passed it on to his only daughter—me. It was, therefore, a tremendous thrill for me when I took the final step from the plane and placed a foot on British soil for the first time in my life.

It was a huge moment for me, but its importance was somewhat lost on the rest of the plane’s occupants, queued up behind me, waiting to get off and wondering why this strange woman had simply come to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. I flashed an apologetic smile and a wave to the people behind me and hurried on into the airport building. For the next half hour I was shunted through the unpleasant but necessary formalities of modern travel, finally picking up my suitcases at baggage claim and stepping out of the main doors of the airport to find myself face to face with England.

The flood of sensation that hit me was palpable. From this particular vantage point, England might be little more than an overcrowded parking lot and an underwhelming taxicab stand, but it was still England, and that was all that mattered. I’d dreamed of this place for so long, had listened to my father and grandfather talking about it so often, and now I was here.

Finally.

“You looking for a taxi, love?”

Even the overweight man in the stained T-shirt now addressing me seemed beautiful through the rose-tinted glasses I was currently wearing.

“Yeah, thanks,” I replied with a smile.

The man hurried to help with my bags.

“American?”

“That’s right.”

“The wife and I took the kids to Disneyland last summer,” the man said as he heaved a suitcase into the trunk. “Although, now I come to think of it, that was Euro-Disney. Still,” he added, “we’re all a little bit American now, aren’t we, eh?”

“Sure.” I wasn’t altogether certain what the man was talking about, but right now it didn’t matter.

I got into the back seat and the car pulled away, the driver talking all the time, mostly about his wife, the kids and Euro-Disney. I sat back and let the man’s chatter fade into white noise. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was finally here in London, and better yet, I was here for a reason that genuinely excited me.

Mostly.

There were aspects of my trip here that I found distasteful, but those aspects took a back seat for now as I focused on everything that was brilliant about me being here.

Alongside his love of Britain, my grandfather had instilled in my father a love of one particular British obsession—soccer….or football, as they called it here. In turn, my father was a lover of all sports, and he and I had bonded over that shared interest, especially after my mother had passed away. We watched football, baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis and pretty much any other sport that was on TV, but above all we enjoyed soccer. Grandpa had always called it football, which had thoroughly confused his fellow Americans, but he insisted. After all, as he was fond of pointing out, in football you used your feet—the name just made more sense than soccer. I had to admit, he wasn’t wrong about that.

Working as a U.S. sports journalist as I did (and how proud my father had been when I got that job straight out of college last year!), I’d thoroughly gotten used to American football being the only sport called ‘football’, but now I was in England, and I would have to change that habit. The British were, in very many ways, a very tolerant people, but if you started calling football ‘soccer’ then things could get ugly. I’d have to get used to calling it ‘football’ now that I was here in London, although the word still conjured up all-American images of quarterbacks and shoulder pads in my mind.

For the last year, I’d worked exclusively in the States, and I’d been very happy to do so. After all, it was my home turf. However, at the back of my mind, there was always a hankering to cover the sport that had been such an important part of my childhood. But there was a problem with that: nobody cared. While football was popular across the globe, and practically a religion in some countries, it had never really taken hold in the States. This had been a source of some irritation to me for a long time, not least because there were so few people to whom I could talk about my love of the beautiful game with. But then two things happened, neither of which was really related to sport itself.

Regardless of the sport, what the general public really loved was a personality—someone to root for, rather than something. It was always the individual that made the experience of watching sport so rich and made sports agents so much richer. If a footballer other than David Beckham had arrived in America, it would have been to a chorus of indifference—no one would have cared, no one would have watched, and the nation’s interest in the sport would have remained unchanged. But Beckham was more than a footballer; he was a charismatic personality who attracted a lot of media interest, and he’d begun to raise the profile of football in the US. I was a great admirer of David Beckham as a player, as an ambassador for the sport and as a man. The way he’d raised the profile of football in the States was the first thing that led to me being right here in England at this moment.

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