Game for Trouble

Game for Trouble

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by Karen Erickson
     
 

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Game for Trouble (A Game for It Novel) by Karen Erickson

He'll play dirty to get what he wants…

Willow Cavanaugh would be happy if she never saw cocky football star Nick Hamilton again. Sure, their fling was the hottest she'd had, but he's way too much of a playboy to settle down with one woman. Plus, she's got her heart set on a piece of

Overview

Game for Trouble (A Game for It Novel) by Karen Erickson

He'll play dirty to get what he wants…

Willow Cavanaugh would be happy if she never saw cocky football star Nick Hamilton again. Sure, their fling was the hottest she'd had, but he's way too much of a playboy to settle down with one woman. Plus, she's got her heart set on a piece of real estate for her catering business—and Nick owns that property.

Nick may be at the top of his game, but all he wants is a second chance with Willow. When he offers to sell her his commercial space if she agrees to a series of dates with him, their chemistry is so scintillating that jumping back into bed seems like an inevitability. But Willow's decided all's fair in sex and blackmail. Little does she know, Nick's playing to win…and she's the prize.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781622662722
Publisher:
Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date:
10/28/2013
Series:
Game for It
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
250
Sales rank:
44,592
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Game for Trouble

a Game for It novel


By Karen Erickson, Stacy Abrams

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2013 Karen Erickson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62266-272-2


CHAPTER 1

Willow Cavanaugh entered the property management office at precisely five minutes before the scheduled meeting time. The receptionist who greeted her led the way to a small, empty conference room, encouraging Willow to have a seat, make herself comfortable, and did she want anything to drink while she waited?

Considering she might barf from even a few sips of water, she was so nervous, Willow offered a polite no thank you and a smile, watching the very young, extremely chirpy receptionist bounce out of the room.

The moment the receptionist shut the door behind her, Willow collapsed in a chair, placing her sleek black leather portfolio on the table in front of her. She was a wreck. She'd hardly slept last night, no thanks to her worry over today's meeting. How much her life could change if things actually went her way ...

This appointment could be the most important of her career. Of her entire life. She'd finally found the dream location for her catering business: a storefront with tiny rooms she could use to consult with clients and a large room in the back of the building where she could create and package all of her product.

The location was prime. The size of the space — perfect. And the cost of the lease was pretty close to ideal. She couldn't afford to let this location get away from her. There was nothing else on the market that fit her needs more perfectly than this building.

She was running out of room at her little house — her business was growing so fast she could hardly keep up. Five years ago, she'd been drifting, wondering what the heck she was doing with her life. Never could she have imagined creating a variety of both artificial and organic flavors of cotton candy and making them available for birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, graduation parties, and just for fun with her friends could turn into something so much bigger than she'd ever hoped. Not to mention her cotton candy cocktails, which were becoming a major hit at bachelorette parties.

Now she was booked months in advance with a variety of parties. She turned people away and had wait lists, which blew her mind. She needed more space, more employees, more ...

Everything.

Tapping her foot against the floor, she checked her phone and saw that it was one minute past the scheduled time. She hated being late. Sorta hated those who were late even more. There was nothing worse. She flat out didn't have the patience for being kept waiting. Had little patience for anything lately, really.

Including a certain man who drove her insane. Why did everything have to circle back to him?

Damn Nick Hamilton and his charming, no-good ways. Her former lover and, if she were being honest, the first real love of her life always knew how to barge right back into her life and mess with her head.

Six years ago, for a few blissful months, the summer he'd been in training before he started as a tight end with the San Jose Hawks football team, they'd had a momentous, life-changing affair. She'd fallen madly in love with him. And he'd left her in his dust — a hard, painful life lesson that still hurt every time she saw him.

God, she'd had her hands all over him that night at the restaurant with the team, when she'd been there as a sort of wing-woman for Sheridan after she married the Hawks' quarterback, Jared Quinn. One look at Nick and she'd wanted him. He'd dragged her outside and next thing she knew, she'd been in his arms. His mouth on hers, how he kissed her ... her stomach fluttered just thinking about it. That he could still work her up into a complete frenzy with only a few words, a touch, and a kiss infuriated her. She should hate his guts forever for how easily he made her want him.

But she didn't. More like she feared if he walked into the room at this very moment and demanded she give him a blowjob with that dangerously sexy smile of his, she'd probably do it, no questions asked.

Clearly, her last encounter — hell, all of her encounters — with Nick left her thinking like an idiot.

Nick Hamilton was bad for her. Unhealthy. An addiction.

She'd really not even thought of Nick for years. Fine, the Hawks came to the Monterey area for their summer training, but she never saw him around. But then Sheridan had to go and marry Jared, throwing Willow right back into Nick's path.

He'd been hotly pursuing her ever since.

The door swung open, and a man appeared, dressed in khakis and a white button-up shirt, his wheat-colored hair buzzed short. She automatically stood when he came at her with his hand out.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Miss Cavanaugh. I'm Frank Benson." He gave her hand a hearty shake before he sat across from her at the table.

She settled in her chair and offered him a pleasant smile. This was the property management representative who she'd made the appointment with, but she'd been told the owner of the property would be in attendance as well. "Is the owner coming?"

"Absolutely." Frank nodded, opening and glancing over the manila folder he'd brought in with him. "He just called and said he'd be here in ten minutes."

Fuming quietly, she pasted on her best fake smile. Didn't they realize her career was on the line here? Her future depended on this new location. She couldn't expand if she didn't have the space, and she couldn't afford any other space. "Perhaps we could start the meeting without him?"

Frank flicked his gaze up to meet hers. "Of course. I could answer any questions you may have in regards to the property, though regarding any financial dealings, the owner stated specifically he wanted to be here before we get to those discussions."

Right. Those discussions. Problem? The lease amount was still a bit high for her rather limited budget, though still cheaper than what she'd looked at in the recent past. The location was perfect, the biggest selling point in her eyes. And she refused to ask her dad for help. Walter Cavanaugh was a successful sports attorney who represented many famous athletes, including plenty of Hawks players. He had more money than he knew what to do with, and he always stressed how much he wanted to help her.

But there would be no more "loans" from Daddy. She needed to do this on her own.

She'd hoped to knock the owner down a bit, even as little as a few hundred a month, though she preferred more, especially since the location had sat empty for a while. She'd done her research, gathering every piece of information she could about the building. The only bit of info she couldn't figure out was who the owner could be.

A secret investor had been brought in well over a year ago to fund and refurbish the entire shopping center. The location she wanted had an interior structure that wasn't what the average business owner was looking for. In her eyes, it was ideal. Perfect. A wedding and event planner's office was located in the same shopping center. A bakery that specialized in wedding cakes was across the street, right next to the bridal gown and accessory store. It was like the four corners of wedding central. She needed to be in this location just to increase business.

Yet she couldn't quite afford it.

Letting her smile grow, she adjusted her thick, black-framed glasses. She wore them when she worked, when she wanted to be taken seriously. There was no getting around it — people took one look at her face and judged her. Too pretty, too spoiled, too ... everything.

Fine. She was pretty. She had been destined to be from the moment she was born — her mother had been a beauty-queen-slash-supermodel. Her father had exquisite taste. All of his ex-wives were gorgeous.

Sometimes Willow's pretty face got her nothing but trouble, so she downplayed the looks. She didn't want to intimidate men and make women hate her.

"I have no problem waiting for the owner before we discuss the financials, but I would like to know a few more details." She opened her portfolio, thumbing through the lists she'd scribbled on a notepad when the door cracked open and the receptionist stepped into the room, all flushed cheeks and dreamy-eyed.

"Sorry to interrupt, but the owner has arrived." Giggling, the receptionist stepped aside ...

And the very bane of Willow's existence strode into the room, looking as if he hadn't a care in the world.

Horror rendered her still for one infinite moment. She stared at him, saw the smug smile on his face, and her fist instantly curled. If she had the balls to slug him, she would.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Willow snapped the moment the receptionist shut the door.

"Uhhh," Frank mumbled but she ignored him. Her eyes were focused on stupid, irritating Nick Hamilton standing there, larger than life, gorgeous as all get out, clad in jeans and an untucked black button-up shirt, sleeves rolled to reveal those strong, sexy forearms that shouldn't do a thing for her.

Nope, not a damn thing.

"Well, I'm a little late but not enough to have you cursin' at me." He smiled, revealing straight, white teeth. The tingles that swept over her at the sight of his irritating-as-hell smile irritated her further. "I'm here for my appointment. With you."


* * *

Willow gaped at him, those ridiculous black glasses she wore somehow making her look cuter. She pressed her full, luscious lips together then opened them again, though not a sound came out.

Look at that. He'd just rendered her silent. A miracle he needed to note with the date and time because he never thought he'd see the likes of Willow Cavanaugh at a loss for words. She'd given him an unending rash of shit since they came back into each other's lives a few months ago.

When they weren't lip-locked, that is. Kissing Willow was his only guarantee he could shut her up.

He'd been following Willow Cavanaugh around for what felt like fuckin' forever, though it had only been a few months. Chasing after her like a dog with his tongue hanging out, tripping over it every time she gave him the finger, both literally and figuratively. Plenty of that sort of rejection had been going down since the moment he set eyes on her again, after they'd done everything to avoid each other for the past six years.

"W-what are you talking about, your appointment with me? We d-didn't have an appointment," she stuttered. That smooth, glossy composure he caught a glimpse of when he stepped into the room was gone — shattered by his presence. And damn if he didn't love that.

"The building you're interested in. I own it." He held his hand out as if he wanted to shake hers. Really, he wanted to take that slender hand with the perfectly polished pink nails in his and yank her to him. Whisper in her ear all the dirty, wicked things he wanted to do to her. With her.

That first sight of Willow after having her absent from his life had nearly knocked the wind clean out of him. He'd gone to some local festival thing with Jared, shocked all to hell to see Willow Cavanaugh in the flesh, working a catering booth. She owned the business, she'd told him.

With her rich-as-hell bastard of a father, she could have anything she wanted, but she was running her own catering business. Talk about a surprise. The Willow he remembered had no problem playing the spoiled rich girl role.

She'd looked different. More ...grown up. Besides the obviously gorgeous curves that were more defined and made his hands itch to explore, there was that woman's face. Skeptical, with narrow dark brown eyes and an expression that said she'd seen it all and wasn't impressed.

Damn if that expression didn't make him want to work his hardest to wrap her around his little finger. She'd been so easy the first time; hell, so had he. They'd fallen foolishly in love — yes, he wasn't afraid to say the word love, damn it. She'd been the one for him.

Then Walter Cavanaugh had come to him and warned Nick to stay the fuck out of his daughter's life. Insulted him up one side and down the other, insisting his daughter was too good for the likes of some no good dumbass football-playing hick from Texas.

Thinking about that little speech Walter gave him all those years ago still hurt like hell. His chest ached with the memory.

He still remembered that first moment he came to Monterey for his rookie season of summer training camp. The area was nothing like the dusty little town he'd grown up in, smack dab in the middle of Texas.

He'd been in awe of the pretty little thing he first caught sight of hanging around the football field, with those long, tanned legs, long, dark hair and a smile that she flashed special just for him.

Well, he'd tossed that right in the can, hadn't he?

An idea had bloomed in his mind a few days ago when he'd discovered he owned the very building she wanted to lease for her growing business. She wanted it real bad, too. For whatever reason, word on the street was Ms. Independent refused to take any money from her father to help with her business. She'd been such a daddy's girl back in the day, this surprised Nick. But no, she was looking for a reasonable business space to lease, and she was having a hell of a time finding it, especially since she wanted to move her business into a specific area of town.

Nick had invested in a few properties in the Monterey Bay. He happened to own a shopping center in that area — with the space she was interested in. Very interested in, though she would die if she knew he was the owner. And wouldn't that just eat at her daddy's soul if he knew Nick Hamilton was his daughter's landlord?

But damn it, he truly believed Willow was worth the aggravation. Which meant Nick had a fight on his hands. He loved a fight. Lived for the damn fight. Look at what he did for a living. Went to war against another team over a stupid ball. Fighting was in his blood. Miss Sassy and Gorgeous-as-hell Willow Cavanaugh did not scare him.

Well. She might scare him a little bit.

"You're lying. How do you know about my interest in the building?" she asked after clearing her throat.

"Considering I'm the owner like I just said, I know exactly who's interested in leasing my building." He settled into the seat next to hers, barely able to restrain the laugh that wanted to escape when she scooted her chair away from him. It was almost entertaining, the lengths she took to keep a certain amount of distance between them.

"Please. I don't know how you found out about this, but quit trying to trick me. I'm rattled enough. I don't need you here trying to shake me up further," she said.

Interesting. So he shook her up, huh? And here she seemed cool, calm, and collected every time he came around. Well, sorta. He'd shaken her up a few times. Always when he touched her, laid a big kiss on her that left her in a near stumbling state. She usually composed herself quickly, though. She was damn good at that.

He had no idea he'd been blowing her ever-lovin' mind these last few months. This sort of information could only help, not hinder, his plan.

"I'm not playing any sort of trick on you, Will," he murmured, leaning in so only she could hear him. He inhaled her sweet-like-candy scent and let his gaze wander over the length of her elegant neck. Her long, silky dark hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail, and he had the sudden urge to grab hold of it, jerk her head back, and kiss her until they were both stupid with wanting each other.

She'd probably nail him in the nuts and leave him writhing on the floor if he so much as touched her.

He was so lost in his thoughts of how he could actually get his hands on Willow, he didn't notice her penetrating stare until it was too late. Moving away from her, he slowly shook his head. "It's not what you think."

"You own the building." She didn't phrase it as a question. "You. You're the mystery owner."

It was like she had to reiterate that he was indeed the owner so the information would sink into her stubborn brain.

"I didn't realize I was such a mystery you were hoping to solve." He smiled, but when she only scowled back, he let the smile drop.

He was lying. Hell yeah, he'd made sure no one knew who he was when he bought the property. Not that he'd been trying to entice Willow in any way — that ended up pure dumb luck. His favorite place in the whole damn world was the Monterey Bay.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Game for Trouble by Karen Erickson, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2013 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.

Meet the Author

USA TODAY bestselling author Karen Erickson writes what she loves to read—sexy contemporary romance and sensual historical romance. She has been digitally published since 2006 and when she's not busily writing on deadline, she enjoys reading, hanging out with her family, and traveling. A native Californian, she lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and three children, the dog, and too many cats. She is also the author of the Lone Pine Lake series, kicked off with Jane's Gift, for Entangled's Bliss line.

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Game for Trouble (A Game for It Novel) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading Sheridan & Jared's story, i will admit i was looking forward to Willow's story. Nick was HOT. Even though i liked Willow's spunk, her charactor came across as belligerent and a bit too needy. Too, too much back and forth. Hot & Cold could be interesting, except she was more cold than hot. I have read thousands of books, and this is the first female character that i didnt like. She was bent on being miserable, and you got the feeling at the end of the story that it wasnt a happy ending, but a lifetime of work for Nick.
Kellie09 More than 1 year ago
Is it predictable? Absolutely. Is it sexy? Ummm, YES. Is it still kind of funny, sassy, and worth reading? Of course!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good story but the characters had so many insecurities that it was like watching a ping pong match. Nick is a famous football player who had hooked up with Willow when he first came into the league. Her father was the team attorney and didn't want his daughter with a football player so he warned him off then threatened his career for good measure. Willow knew nothing about this and thought he broke her heart on purpose. Many years later he comes back to town and buys real estate one of which Willow wants to lease for her expanding business, but she doesn't know he's the owner. That was an interesting meeting! Both characters aggravated me with the wishy washy personalities but based on their past histories somewhat understandable. It had a wonderful ending and overall was hot & romantic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this series! This had it all- Thanks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Willow Cavanaugh had once had her heart broken by football star Nick Hamilton. But she is unaware of the reason behind the break up. Nick Hamilton has lived his life hard and fast and a chance meeting with Willow after several years has him re-evaluating what he wants out of life. One thing is for sure and it's Willow he wants more than anything. The problem is figuring a way to make her believe he's serious. He may not go about it the right way but he won't give up until he makes her see him for today and not the past. The author did a great job with this story and the characters were connected with such intensity and sexual chemistry you can't help but want to see things come together for them. It was a very enjoyable read and highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very disappointing. Im a huge sports fan, and a big romance novels fan, so sports romances are really fun for me. I thought the first book in this series was really good, good characters, good storyline, sweet romance. This book was nothing like the first one. Lame main characters, high school behavior and dialogue. I couldnt have cared less how their story worked out, couldnt wait for the book to be over. Very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
## Fantastic read. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I enjoyed Willow. I'm happy she was strong and wouldn't let the hero off the hook for stomping on her heart last time they were together. I hate when the hero is instantly forgiven. The hero Nick was definitely NOT my favorite hero. Some of the things he said and did rubbed me the wrong way. Especially when he flirts with every woman he encounters and when he listens to Jared and starts treating Willow meanly. However, I did like it when he stood up for himself against his PR people who wanted him to "pretend" date one of the pretty girls on staff. I love it that he said "no". I felt every bit of the angst the author was trying to convey. All in all a terrific read. I just wish I could've liked the hero more, ergo only 4 stars. Still, I will be reading again.
grandmareads102 More than 1 year ago
Nick Hamilton, a star football player for the San Jose Hawks, had loved and left Willow Cavanaugh. He broke her heart. That was six years ago. Now he realizes his mistake and wants her back, but that won't be easy. She is still hurt and bitter over what happened. Will these two soul mates end up together? Karen Erickson is a wonderful storyteller. She has written a steamy and well plotted story that keeps you hooked. I loved Nick! He is an Alpha who won't give up. He adores Willow and he is determined to claim her. Willow appears to the world as cold and determined, but on the inside she is vulnerable and afraid to take a chance on love. The chemistry between these two is off the charts. I enjoyed seeing Sheridan and Jared Quinn (Game For Marriage). It was fun to catch a glimpse of their life together. This is a very passionate romance by a talented author that will leave you breathless.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sandy-thereadingcafe More than 1 year ago
3.75 stars:  GAME FOR TROUBLE is the second instalment in Karen Erickson’s contemporary romance Game For It series. This is Willow and Nick’s storyline.  Nick is a player for the San Jose Hawks professional football team and we were first introduced to the players in Game for Marriage-book one-Jared and Sheridan’s story. The premise of Game for Trouble follows Nick as he tries to win back Willow’s heart.  Years before Nick and Willow were in a relationship when Nick abruptly ended the couple.  Not knowing the ‘what or the why’, Willow has had a difficult time forgiving Nick for abandoning her.  Fast forward several years later and Nick wants a second chance but Willow remembers the hurt and the pain. The relationship between Willow and Nick begins acrimonious at best.  Nick offers a deal-Willow wants something from Nick and Nick wants Willow.  8 dates and they call it even.  If Willow does not want Nick after the 8 dates, he won’t bother her again. As the storyline unfolds, so too does the relationship until Nick tells her the truth about why he left years before. The world building continues from the previous storyline in that Sheridan and Jared play a small role in this particular premise.  We watch as a second chance at love is destroyed when the truth is finally revealed. My only complaint is Willow’s almost bi-polar personality.  I know I use this term in many reviews, but she pulls and pushes the man that she loves in every direction.  She is aggressive and determined, which at times comes across as too strong. Game for Trouble is another interesting and sweet romantic storyline by Karen Erickson. There is a little bit of football where we are introduced to a fellow player and publicist.  It looks like Karen may be setting up for her next story. If you like an uncomplicated story about second chances, Game for Trouble is a wonderful read. Copy supplied by the publisher.
MelodyMay More than 1 year ago
So, I finished Game for Trouble by Karen Erickson. I actually have been dying to read this before it even had a title. If you had read Game for Marriage you would remember Nick and Willow and how there was this chemistry between them. However, they were secondary characters and weren't really important to Game for Marriage. Now Nick and Willow have there story and there is a little more than what I was expecting. Willow has had an issue with football players, and thinking that they were players in more than one way. Only way you get those kind of thought is when you get burn by a athlete and you have scars from the incident. Which Willow does. Six years early Willow dated Nick Hamilton and she got dumped in the harshest way. Of course she's going to carry a chip on her shoulder when it comes to Nick. Nick is a good ol' southern boy who was madly in love with Willow six years ago, but he did an idiot thing and dumped her. It wasn't because he wanted to play the field; no, it was Willow's good old daddy making the calls. After all he didn't want Willow entangled in with a football player, because she will get hurt. Basically, Nick is trying to win back Willow in the story. Poor Nick. The guy has to jump through hoops to get Willow to look at him and he might have gone about it the wrong way. However, the more they hang out together, the more Willow starts to melt and land into Nick. Overall, the story is really good for a past lovers story. They both want each other, but the past still hangs in the air and does jeopardizes the relationship. Plus, it doesn't help that Willow runs hot and cold when she's around Nick. Yes, it's a self-preservation mechanism, but I'm surprise Nick held on for so long. I guess love will make you do anything. I absolutely love Nick with his southern charm; it's easy to fall in love with him. So, if you love hot football players that will have you melting by his charm, you might consider reading Game for Trouble. Nick Hamilton is definitely trouble looking for. Copy provided by the publisher
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This second book in this author's series Game For It was quick, funny, real and had a sweet HEA. Nick and Willow's love affair was meant to happen eventually despite how they first broke apart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this story but i hope there is more to come. Nick and willow were real and heartwarming
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was anxiously awaiting this release because I enjoyed the 1st book so much. Well, anything Karen writes is awesome. But this book was great! The 2 main characters were funny, romantic, and HOT! Can't wait to see what's next!