Read an Excerpt
Game for Tonight
A Game for It Novel
By Karen Erickson, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Karen Erickson
All rights reserved.
Sometimes, a desperate woman resorted to desperate measures.
The cliche repeatedly ran through Aubrey Cooper's head as she strode through the crowds clustered within the small restaurant, her gaze scanning the dimly lit room with ruthless efficiency. The restaurant had been closed to the public tonight, and everyone was in full celebration mode. Plenty of alcohol flowed—most generously through her veins, which wasn't helping her state of mind. Giant plates of appetizers were currently being passed around, and the delicious scents wafting through the air were making her stomach growl.
Not that she could eat right at this moment. She needed to find him, needed to talk to him right—
Ah, there he was. Flynn Foley. Second-string quarterback for the San Jose Hawks. The Golden Boy—that was the nickname he'd earned from the media last season. Young and strong and fast, tall and broad and gorgeous as hell, he was an exceptional football player who had been sitting on the bench for far too long this season.
He also made Aubrey's toes curl every time he so much as looked her way. A rather difficult thing to ignore, considering she was his publicist and worked with him all the time. As in, she had to stare at that handsome face and listen to that deep, delicious voice all the time, too. Which in turn led to her curling-toe affliction and the rapid development of her mad, crazy crush.
The crush had become too much to ignore.
The Hawks franchise had a stringent no-dating policy—though it wasn't a major issue, considering there wasn't a ton of women who worked there. Of course, she would have to fall for her client. Not that he seemed to notice. He was always nice to her, easy to work with, very easy on the eyes. At first, she'd thought there was a spark between them, but that spark must have died a quick, painless death, because the man clearly wasn't interested in her.
Or maybe there was a chance she could make him interested. She had no idea. Alcohol was fueling her all-over-the-place thoughts tonight. Alcohol and finding out via Facebook that her ex-boyfriend was getting married. Jerk. Asshole. The man who'd promised her his undying love, then dumped her as soon as she'd moved to San Jose to start her job with the Hawks—one minute there, the next minute gone. This woman—he'd started dating her almost immediately after Aubrey had moved away—was supposed to be his rebound.
Not the one.
Ugh. She paused near the bar and glanced around, wishing she had another drink. Everyone seemed so happy, all the single players congregating together—probably planning where they were going later tonight to party harder, because tomorrow they were back to business. The paired-off players were sitting with their significant others, looking cozy as they all chatted among themselves.
And then there was her, Aubrey, all alone in the middle of a packed restaurant. She needed to stop thinking about Derek and his impending marriage to Rebound Girl. She wasn't in love with Derek. She hadn't ever really thought of him, either, until the Facebook announcement. Heck, she'd had her rebound guy already and moved on. It just ... irked her. That Derek had found someone and she was still alone. Lonely.
One more drink could give her more of a spine, she figured. Then maybe she could go up to Flynn, drag him into a dark corner, away from prying eyes, and offer him a congratulatory kiss—accompanied by tongue?
Aubrey shook her head, shook the very idea straight out of her mind. They worked together. Any type of relationship, however temporary, especially temporary, was frowned upon. Her thoughts were ridiculous. Her bold idea to approach Flynn and kiss him? Reckless. Risky.
Okay, maybe she didn't need any more liquor coursing through her veins. Her thoughts had derailed straight into Crazy Town. Clearly she was feeling down and out over her ex. And over the fact that she'd found out some other unpleasant news that might change everything.
Rumor had it that Flynn Foley wasn't going to be her client much longer. She'd earlier overheard her boss, the head publicist, Harvey Price, discussing Flynn's fate with the coach. And Coach Walsh had specifically said they were considering trading Foley.
She'd heard it come straight out of his mouth. It wasn't a rumor. And that meant Mister Hot Pants himself—a nickname she'd come up with because, good Lord, the man looked hot in his uniform—was possibly leaving. Silver lining? She could pursue him all she wanted if he wasn't going to be a Hawk any longer.
Though she should probably break it to him that they might let him go ...
Nah. She couldn't do that. Just because she was down and out in the midst of a celebration didn't mean she needed to bring Flynn down, too. The Hawks win this afternoon was a big deal. And the team's owner, Charlie Monroe, loved any excuse to use the restaurant he owned in downtown Carmel to bring his team together and honor their wins.
Raining on Flynn's parade tonight would be mean. Cold. And she wasn't that type of person. She was nice. Responsible. Probably too nice and responsible. Maybe she needed to loosen up and be irresponsible for once. Nice got her nowhere. Maybe if she was bold for once, she could approach Flynn. Tell him she'd love to throw down on him. As in, grab hold of the front of his shirt and yank him down for a kiss. Or maybe she could crawl up that rock-hard body, letting all of her important bits rub against his important bits. He was so tall that she might need a ladder to reach his lips ...
She needed to find Flynn. Would he think she was crazy if she made a pass at him? And she wasn't talking about the sort of passes he was used to on the football field. Would he blow her off? Rumors were rampant that he was a virgin, and she was pretty convinced they were true.
"Hey, hey. Where's the fire?" Strong fingers curled around her upper arm, halting her in her pursuit. Glancing over her shoulder, she found Nick Hamilton, tight end for the Hawks and one of her other clients, smiling at her, his grip lessening on her arm so she could pull away from him.
"Sorry." She offered a wan smile. "I need to find ... somebody."
The knowing look on Nick's handsome face said he knew exactly who she was looking for. Damn it. "Haven't seen him."
"Seen who?" She schooled her expression, trying her best for utter innocence, but she couldn't fool Nick. She'd spent too much time working with him the past couple of months, and clearly he had her all figured out.
Just as she had him figured out—for the most part. It was her job, after all. When she'd started as the assistant publicist for the Hawks, Nick Hamilton had been her first major assignment.
Flynn Foley, secret mad crush, her second.
"You know who." Nick gently socked her in the arm, making her wince, though it hadn't hurt. More as if her pride had been bruised because, man, was she that obvious? "Sorry. I'm trying to say I haven't seen Flynn." He whispered the last word, his eyes dramatically wide.
"I wasn't looking for Flynn." And anyway, somehow, she'd lost him. Again. Her gaze cut left. She thought she saw his familiar, outrageously perfect profile, but the person wasn't him. She ignored the disappointment that filled her, silently berating herself for being so hung up on a man who clearly didn't notice her, beyond her being his pain-in-the-ass publicist.
Not that he'd ever call her a pain in the ass. She knew he didn't think of her that way. He was the epitome of polite. One of the most dedicated football players she'd ever witnessed—and she'd witnessed quite a few of them already in her just-beginning career. A do-gooder with a kind heart, an earnest smile, and always a thoughtful word, Flynn was a publicist's dream.
Well. He was more like her very own, personal, sexy, haunt-her-in-the-middle-of-the-night, make-her-wake-up-gasping dream. He had those big hands and arms bulging with muscles. And his butt ... It was the stuff of her very dirty, she-wondered-if-he'd-mind-if-she-spanked-it fantasies ...
"Liar," Nick said softly, shaking her from her thoughts. "The course of true love never does run smooth, does it?"
"Not true. Look at you and Willow." Nick and Willow were a couple again, after being together years ago, when they were young and stupid and their burgeoning relationship had ended so horribly. Nick had regaled Aubrey with stories about what had happened between him and Willow long ago, when he dumped her like the scared dumbass he'd been, even looking for Aubrey's opinion at one point as to how he could make it right with Willow.
Now they were the cutest couple she'd ever seen, besides star quarterback, Jared Quinn, and his wife, Sheridan. If she didn't like them all so much, she'd be filled with an obscene amount of jealousy.
Being surrounded by love and romance when the one you wanted didn't ever notice you was hard.
"I worked my ass off to make that woman mine." Nick tilted his head, his gaze focused over Aubrey's shoulder. "Hey, he's over there, talking to Walsh."
Aubrey whipped around, her eyes locking on the very man she'd been searching for since she'd arrived.
Flynn stood on the opposite side of the restaurant, towering over Jim Walsh, the head coach of the Hawks. At six foot four and 220 pounds, Flynn was a giant—and sexy—hunk of a man, though he seemed oblivious to his power over the ladies. He'd informed her more than once that his body was a machine. He'd been put on this earth to play football, and he was using his body to the absolute maximum to fulfill that prophecy.
When he talked to her like that, she sort of lost herself. She secretly believed he'd been put on this earth to drive her crazy with lust, what with that deep bedroom voice and those intense green eyes. The short dark brown hair she wanted to run her fingers through, his chiseled jaw, that lush mouth that made her imagine what it might be like to be kissed by him ...
She shook herself, concentrated on Flynn's body language, which she'd become particularly skilled at interpreting since she'd started working with him. He was tense. She could see it in the firm line of his broad shoulders, the stiff way he held himself. The expression on his face was beyond serious, his mouth turned into a frown, his gaze somber. Whatever Walsh was telling him couldn't be good.
Which meant she needed to go play interference and quick.
"I've got to go," she murmured to Nick, ignoring the huge, knowing grin on his face. Jerk. She knew he would keep her crush on Flynn a secret, though. They'd grown close since they'd started working together. She trusted him and he trusted her, like the bossy big brother she'd never had.
Without thought, she wound her way through the crowds of people, all of them there to celebrate the Hawks latest play-off victory. The team was having a superior season so far. She'd been in a celebratory mood, as well, excited at the possibility of her team going all the way to the Super Bowl.
Not that anyone from the Hawks actually ever said those words. That would be a total jinx, and athletes were the most superstitious bunch she'd ever worked with. So they all gathered together and celebrated each individual success while barreling their way toward the ultimate goal.
Super Bowl Champions.
Unfortunately, her let's-celebrate mood had deflated like a popped balloon when she'd randomly checked Facebook right before walking into the restaurant. So stupid. Why was she still friends on Facebook with Derek-the-ex anyway? She'd immediately ordered a drink at the bar. Then, when she'd overheard the conversation regarding Flynn's possible nonexistent future with the Hawks, that had called for another drink. Maybe two.
Aubrey stopped short, teetering on the super-high-heeled boots she wore so she could be—talk about wishful thinking—within reach of Flynn's kissable lips.
God. She was so wrapped up in her lusty thoughts, it was sort of ridiculous. She needed to focus on the here and now, not let her imagination carry her away like it tended to do lately whenever Flynn was around.
Nearly stumbling over her own feet, she stood straighter, brushing off her skirt as she lingered near where the two men stood intently talking, silently arguing with herself over what she should do. Should she interrupt their conversation or wait for them to finish? It was sort of rude and presumptive, barging in on what was clearly a private moment.
Deciding to channel her inner Harvey, she strode right up to them and cleared her throat. Turning to look at her, Walsh had a scowl on his face that indicated his irritation. Flynn's expression softened, his tense jaw relaxing enough for her to notice. "So sorry to interrupt, gentlemen. Flynn, do you have a minute?"
"Can't you see we're talking here?" Walsh grumbled, looking extremely put out.
"Hey Coach, come on. Treat Aubrey with some respect." Flynn smiled at her, and her knees threatened to buckle at the sight. Would she ever grow used to having that potent grin aimed directly at her? The man had dimples for miles, and she'd always had a weakness for dimples. "Everything all right?"
"Everything's fine. It's great," she reassured, lying through her teeth. "I just—I have something I need to tell you." Well, that was certainly the truth.
"No problem. We can talk later. Right, Coach?" Flynn asked with a little frown.
Walsh grunted. "If you say so," he muttered before taking off.
Aubrey watched him go, nerves eating at her insides. Crap, she was ... scared. Petrified, really. Her liquid courage was slowly evaporating. What if she confessed all to Flynn and he didn't feel the same way? Or worse, what if he laughed at her?
She scowled. He wouldn't laugh. He was too nice. He always treated her with respect, even when some of the guys would tease her or try to shock her with their colorful language. Not that they blatantly harassed her, but pretty much the entire Hawks team loved to give her a hard time.
Except for Flynn. He was "good ol' boy" personified. Polite. Demanding respect for her and that she be treated like a lady, which both embarrassed her and made her fall for him a little bit more every time. When they had meetings and Harvey cut her off in his usual way, Flynn always interrupted, asking that they let the lady finish speaking.
It was sweet. He was sweet. And all that niceness intrigued her. Made her wonder if the rumors about his sexual status were correct. Could he really be a twenty-five-year-old virgin? He never denied it. Didn't confirm it, either, choosing to let everyone speculate instead, which Harvey loved with a fierce passion. Flynn brought the Hawks a lot of media attention, what with his stellar good looks, his wholesome reputation, and the way he'd taken over for an injured Jared Quinn and practically turned the entire past season around.
"So what's going on, Aubrey? Why do you look so tense?" Flynn's deep, slightly teasing voice broke through her thoughts, and she lifted her head, her gaze meeting his.
"I'm not tense." She took a deep breath. She was so tense she could shatter. "Why would you say that?"
"You get this little line right here." Reaching out, he drew his calloused finger between her brows, easing the line that was, yep, right there. Tingles raced over her skin at his innocent touch, disappointment filling her when his hand dropped away. "I've spent enough time with you to know that look when I see it. Don't tell me you have bad news, too."
"No, nothing like that." She shook her head. Did that mean Coach Walsh had told him he was going to be traded when the season was over? Maybe he was in a terrible mood now. She hoped that what she was about to tell him wouldn't seem like bad news. "Can we go somewhere more ... private?"
"Sure. We can head outside." He nodded toward the open doorway that led onto a terrace.
"That'll work." She released a shuddery breath when he settled his big hand at the small of her back, then guided her through the crowded restaurant. Plenty of people said hello, a few congratulated Flynn, and he smiled obligingly, always friendly, always agreeable.
Excerpted from Game for Tonight by Karen Erickson, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2014 Karen Erickson. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.