Mad Scramble

Philadelphia Frenzy series

Mad Scramble | Susan Scott Shelley

Everson Montgomery’s entire life is devoted to ensuring the success of his pro football career. Strict rules about his diet, sleep habits, and training schedule keep him running like a well-oiled linebacker machine. There’s zero room for distractions… until he meets his teammate’s brother and is instantly smitten with the friendly, gorgeous, generous man.

Ryan Brennan has had a crush on the gridiron giant for years. When the opportunity to work together on a charity drive arises, he’s all in. Spending time with Everson, he sees the sweetness and vulnerability beneath the stoic exterior, and opens up his heart and his home. He’s learned the hard way that getting too close, too fast isn’t smart, but something keeps drawing him to Everson.

Everson doesn’t do relationships and Ryan doesn’t do hook ups, but they can’t stay away from each other. When chaos on the field and in the locker room spills over into everyday life, and past ghosts return to haunt them both, will they chase after their hearts or will their relationship be tackled before they have a chance to score?

Mad Scramble was originally featured in Love is All: An Anthology, and has since been expanded.

50% of all royalties from this novella will be donated to organizations that provide advocacy for the LGBTQ community. 

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His brothers were going to kill him.

Ryan Brennan jogged through the South Philadelphia streets, dodging pedestrians as his sneakers closed the distance between his house and the city's sports complex. Getting sidetracked at work hadn't been part of his plans. Neither had the traffic jam on the way home, or the minutes wasted during the hunt for his hockey jersey. None of those things would be considered valid excuses for being late to the game, not by his brothers, and especially not when their oldest brother's team was in town to take the ice.


He patted the front pocket of his jeans. At least he'd remembered the tickets.


His blue Buffalo Bedlam jersey may have stood out in the sea of fans attired in yellow and gray Philadelphia Power gear, but pride in Leo, now an alternate captain for his team, wouldn't allow Ryan to wear anything else. He stopped at a red light on the corner of Broad Street and Packer Avenue. Traffic steamed by, congested as always before a sporting event, confirming that his decision not to drive to the game had been smart.


One of his favorite things about Philly was that the baseball stadium, football stadium, and arena that housed both the hockey and basketball teams were all within the same area, and all within walking distance of his house. Growing up in a sports-obsessed family and having two brothers who played at the pro level ensured that he spent more than his fair share of time visiting the venues.


He glanced at his phone screen. An alert from the hockey league's app signaled the game was underway. Two additional texts popped up, from his brothers Xavier and Shane, just as eager to see Leo, and giving him shit about being late. He tapped out a quick reply. I'm a few blocks away. Relax.

Sporadic gray clouds drifted across the orange and pink sunset sky, bringing vibrant color to his corner of South Philly. Even with the delays to his day, excitement pulsed through his skin. Not only would he see Leo play in the opening game of the hockey season, but seats in a suite with his brothers were the best way to kick off a week.

The signal changed to green. He pocketed his phone and jogged into the street. A car horn blared to his left. He shifted his gaze. A huge red SUV ran the red light, barreling down on him. His heart slammed into his ribs. His lungs seized. And he couldn't move his frozen limbs.

The car didn't stop.

Something hard grabbed his shoulders, yanked him off his feet, and dragged him back to the safety of the sidewalk.

"Shit. Oh, shit." His heart pumped wildly. Blood rushed into his ears, and white spots dotted his vision. He couldn't catch his breath.


"Are you okay? Maybe you should sit down." Strong hands pressed on his shoulders until he sat on the sidewalk. "Deep breaths, man. You're fine."


Ryan sucked in air. A flash of adrenaline tingled through his body. When he had control of his breath, he glanced at the man beside him and his heartbeat stuttered all over again. Warm brown eyes studied his face. Auburn hair flopped over a freckled forehead and accented strong features that reminded him of a Viking warrior.

He knew that face. Knew the way that long hair flew when the wind captured it on the football field. Knew the way those eyes narrowed whenever the giant lined up against an opposing team's offense. Everson Montgomery, three-time All-Pro linebacker and his brother Xavier's teammate on the Philadelphia Frenzy football team, crouched by his side.

Forehead creasing in concern, the man laid a hand on his shoulder again. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Ryan drew in another breath. "Thanks for making sure I didn't turn into a pancake out there."

A low chuckle, warm and rich, shot awareness into Ryan's blood. Everson smiled. "I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time. Those guys were in a hurry for the game."

"Think so?"

"They were wearing Philly Power jerseys, and their car just turned into the parking lot." He pointed toward the lot at the end of the street where a line of cars waited to enter.

"Just great. I hope I won't run into them when I get inside." Not that he'd be able to identify them. But if he could, he'd at least have a crew with him. No one messed with his brothers. Hell, no one usually messed with him. Aside from that one awful time a few years earlier. A chill crawled over his skin, and his forced his focus away from the memories crowding on the edges of his thoughts. His phone pinged and vibrated in his pocket with a fresh round of text alerts. No doubt from his brothers.


"You look familiar." Everson hadn't moved his hand. It rested on his shoulder in steady support. "I swear I've seen you somewhere… Wait, you're one of Xavier's brothers."

Ryan's brows shot up. He gaped at the linebacker. "Good memory. That barbecue was pretty crowded. I'm—"


"Ryan. I remember." His mouth curved into a smile and his gaze sparked with something that Ryan definitely wanted to explore.


"Think you're okay to stand?"


Ryan nodded, not trusting his voice or his still shaky limbs. Everson remembered him from a brief meeting at a crowded party months earlier? He'd been crushing hard on the league's first out gay athlete since the first time he'd laid eyes on the man three seasons ago, but admiring him from afar was nothing like being up close, under his scrutiny.

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