It all started with a bet
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He couldn't be serious. He couldn't possibly be asking her to do this. No way. No how. Not even her brother would stoop that low ... would he?
"Absolutely not," Kassidy Thomas said, shaking her head for good measure. "I'm not wearing that or doing that. Are you crazy?"
Caleb, her annoying older brother who acted like he was still thirteen instead of thirty, waved the offensive item under her nose, clearly refusing to take no for an answer. Like usual. "You have to do it. A deal's a deal."
She crossed her arms, frowning, and shook her head again. There was no way in hell she was doing what he wanted. No. Way. "You had insider information. Admit it."
"How the hell would I have had inside information on the condition of Wyatt Hamilton's arm? Come on." He shoved the green contraption under her nose again. Kassidy was this close to punching him in the stomach like she had when they were in high school and he'd told every boy he knew she was a lesbian so none of them would ask her to prom. "Stop being such a sore loser."
Stiffening, she uncrossed her arms and shoved her glasses into place, reminding herself calmly that she was an adult now, and punching people was not an acceptable response to annoyance ... no matter how big a jerk her brother could be. "I'm not a sore loser."
"Then put on the outfit, and stop pouting." He wiggled it again, way too excited at her impending embarrassment. "It's just one song you have to deliver to some stranger, and you'll never see them again. A couple of minutes. No big deal."
"Who is it being delivered to? Man, or woman?"
"It doesn't say," he glanced at the paper, frowning. "A dude ordered it, though, so probably a woman."
Well, at least there was that.
"You've heard me sing before," she muttered, her cheeks hot. She scrambled for the papers on her desk and held them up, pointing to them angrily. "There's a reason I do numbers and stay in here. I don't have an artistic bone in my body. My singing is even worse."
That was the truth. Ever since the third grade, she'd been pretty much banned from all musicals in her school, and her mother had forbidden her from singing anywhere but in the shower — with the door closed. Some might call it cruel, but Kassidy considered it necessary honesty. Hey, if you sucked at something, you sucked at something.
It was your parents' job to tell you as much.
Caleb laughed. "That's the best part. The client requested 'For he's a Jolly Good Fellow' and wants you to dress in a fairytale costume — though, I'm not sure how the two go together, to be honest. But either way, Dad got this costume and didn't realize it was woman's, so it might be the only chance this little guy gets to see the light of day."
She slammed her papers down on the desk. "You're seriously going to make me do this?"
"I'm seriously gonna make you do this." He focused on Kassidy, not breaking eye contact. He had hair the same shade of blond as hers, and a dimple in his chin. He'd always been a prankster, but this took it too far. "Besides, weren't you just saying you wanted to try being a little more adventurous and a little less safe?"
"I meant by going hiking, or taking a painting class." She came around the side of the desk. "Not making a fool out of myself in front of some stranger."
"Better that than someone you know."
Well, he had a point there. But still. "This is all Wyatt Hamilton's fault," she muttered.
"It's not his fault his arm healed better than anticipated," Caleb said, grinning. "Comes with being a beast on and off the field."
Yeah, from what she'd heard, he definitely fit that description. The star quarterback from the Atlanta Saviors was never alone, and never seen with the same woman twice. He had quite the reputation as a "beast" and certainly didn't seem to mind it.
Rolling her eyes, she snatched the outfit out of his hand. It was ridiculously green and ugly. She'd never make a good Peter Pan, or Tinkerbelle, or whatever the heck this was supposed to be. Wyatt Hamilton had been injured last month, and the rumor had been that he would be out of the game for the rest of the regular season. With their best player out, Kassidy has been sure that they would lose to the Pelicans for the first time ever. Caleb bet they'd win as always, and she'd taken that bet. Then Hamilton, jerk that he was, had healed quickly and rejoined the game.
Hence the situation she was now in.
"Don't forget the tiara thing on the hanger," Caleb said, grinning way too widely.
She clenched her teeth. "I'll shove that tiara right up your ass —"
"Kassidy!" her father admonished, walking down the hallway with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. "Language."
Her cheeks heated, and she called out, "Sorry, Dad."
He lifted a hand and kept walking.
She pushed him out of her office and slammed the door shut. Trembling, she fought the urge to kick the door for good measure. He always one-upped her. She should never have taken that stupid bet. If he'd told her this was the price she would have to pay, she wouldn't have.
Though, he was right about one thing. At their annual Octoberfest dinner a couple of weeks ago, she lamented that she'd spent most of her twenty-six years acting like she was in a bubble, refusing to actually live. She'd been tipsy at the time, sure, but it was the truth, even so.
She didn't take risks.
Didn't ever jump into anything with both feet.
She overthought everything and lost the only man she ever loved because of it. Her high school sweetheart had gone to the same college as her. They'd made plans to move in together after they graduated, and had talked about marriage — though, she had been undecided on the number of kids she wanted, if any. She'd also been unable to commit to their wedding date, venue, size and, really, to whether or not they should get married at all.
She'd loved Jake with all her heart, and she'd thought he loved her, too, until he left her the week before graduation for some girl named Debbie with big boobs and even bigger hair. He'd told her that her indecisiveness had driven him mad and that if she could ever learn to make up her mind about a single thing without overthinking it, then maybe he'd think about taking her back.
Well, she'd made up her mind all right — she didn't want Jake back, and she'd decided not to date anymore because men were the devil incarnate.
That had been four years ago.
At the time, giving up on men seemed right, and backing down from her decision had been too reminiscent of indecision (something she'd just been left for), so for better or worse ... she'd stuck to it. In the process, she also stopped doing anything else exciting, and though she'd been alive, she hadn't really lived in years.
It was sobering.
Her admission was probably why Caleb chose this particular brand of payback, but he was missing the point. She wanted to live, not make a fool of herself. Then again, wasn't that a part of living? Making mistakes and being able to recover from them?
Sighing, she locked the door and undressed.
As she slid into the tights that her brother had asked her to wear, she sucked in a breath and yanked them up. They were practically a second layer of skin and would leave nothing to the imagination. Literally nothing.
Breathing shallowly in case she tore them, she glanced around her office in her parents' flower shop, which was another reminder that she'd always chosen the safe route as opposed to the road less traveled. When she was a child, she'd wanted to be an author, but the second she realized that it was an uncertain job with unrealistic salary expectations, she'd instead opted to become an accountant and after graduation had taken over management of her parents' shop.
Under her management, Thomas Flowers was booming, and for the first time ever, they were showing a bigger profit than when they'd first opened in 2001. It had been her idea to add singing telegrams to the menu of things offered, a decision she wholly regretted right now, thank you very much.
She slid the top over her head and tugged on it until it covered her stomach. It was even tighter than the pants, if that was possible. When she glanced down, her eyes bugged out because holy frigging cleavage. She cupped her breasts, laughing uneasily. She always wore sensible necklines and never let her boobs hang out, but then again, they'd never looked like this.
Maybe she'd been wearing the wrong clothes all this time.
"Thank you, corsets," she muttered, turning and checking out her ass, too. "Whoa."
Then she smiled because when Caleb saw her in this outfit, he was going to have a heart attack. He'd always been an overprotective brother, so this would kill him. Maybe it made her petty to want her revenge, but whatever.
At least she'd be petty with some amazing boobs.
After sliding into the skirt, she took her hair out of its usual bun and fluffed it with her fingers, hoping it went with what had to be a sexy Halloween costume that teenaged girls wore to get laid by some hot college boys. Not that she knew what that was like. She'd only ever had sex with her ex, and it hadn't been that exciting. In her opinion, she hadn't been missing much in that department while she'd put her life on hold.
In fact, she didn't miss it at all.
"Maybe sex has gotten better these past four years," she muttered. After one last glance at her cleavage, she opened the door and came walking out. "Okay, off I go."
Caleb's reaction was immediate. "What the hell is that?"
"What?" she asked, somehow managing to hide her smile as she glanced down at her body. Shrugging, she picked up the balloons, all of which either said Good Luck, or Congratulations. "It's the outfit you picked for me."
"The hell I did," he growled, coming out from behind the counter. "Take it off right now, or I swear to motherfuck —"
"Language!" their father said, again appearing out of nowhere.
How did he do that?
Caleb gestured toward Kassidy. "Have you seen her?"
Her father lowered his inventory sheet and frowned. "Why are you dressed like that and carrying balloons?"
"I lost a bet," she said drily. "I have to go sing to a customer."
"God help him," her dad muttered, crossing himself.
"Who cares about that? She's practically naked," Caleb hissed. "You win. I'll do it. Go get changed."
Kassidy grabbed the door handle, which she'd backed up to while he'd been freaking out. "I can't. A deal's a deal, right?"
With that, she pushed outside and took off for her car. Her smile didn't fade ... until an old guy stepped into her path with cold eyes and a smirk as he looked her up and down, weighing her worth as if she were an object instead of a human.
He whistled at her through his teeth, giving her a once-over, and then a twice-over, and a thrice-over ... if that was a thing. "Whatever you're selling, I'm buying."
"I'm not selling anything."
"Well, you should be," he said, leering at her.
Cheeks hot, she stepped around him and slid into her car, immediately locking the doors. After shoving all the balloons into the backseat, she glanced at the address on the paper. Some dude named Brett Ross was the person responsible for her debacle.
Him and Wyatt Hamilton's stupid arm.
Rolling her eyes, she punched the address into the GPS and then frowned when she realized it was an affluent neighborhood just outside of town. Great. Just great. Not only did she get to make a fool out of herself, but she got to do it in front of some rich girl who would laugh about it later with her equally rich friends. Brett Ross probably ordered these balloons for his rich girlfriend who had amazing hair and even more amazing shoes.
"You wanted to live?" she said to herself. "Start driving."
Heart pounding, she put the windows down to enjoy the unseasonably warm fall day, turned up her favorite Broadway musical, and tried to keep up with the fast rhymes as she drove.
By the time she arrived at the mansion that held her doom, her hair was crazy, her palms sweaty, and she was two seconds from driving in the other direction and taking up her brother's offer to do it instead. But pride ran deep in the Thomas family, and she'd stupidly agreed to the bet, so she would pay the piper.
Groaning, she flipped the visor down and glanced at herself. Frowning, she tried to fix her hair, gave up, and pulled a tube of red lipstick out of her purse. Cleavage like this demanded sexy lips to match. After carefully applying the MAC shade, she glanced down at her feet. There was nothing she could do about the fact that she wore Chucks with her costume, but at least the rest of her fit the part.
She took her glasses off — if she had to make a fool of herself in front of some rich chick, at least it would be easier to do if she couldn't see the woman laughing at her. After wrestling the balloons out of the back, she smoothed the shirt of the costume over her stomach.
As she made her way up the stone walkway lined with carefully planted roses, she squinted up at a house that would easily fit three of her homes inside of it ... maybe four. It had white shutters, a stone-faced front, and was gorgeous. In the garden, there was an Atlanta Saviors flag waving underneath the American flag that hung off the railing of the porch.
Glaring at it, she muttered, "This is all your fault."
After taking a deep breath, she lifted her hand and knocked on the door sharply, three times. It was time to make a complete and utter fool out of herself.
Wyatt Hamilton frowned as he listened to the woman in his headphones tell him how to say hello. He'd tried his best, but no matter what he did, he screwed it up horribly. Groaning, he ripped out the earbuds and reclined on the couch cushions. All his life, he'd dreamed of a foreign endorsement, and his agent had never delivered. But the second he fired the asshole earlier today, fed up with the guy for never really caring about Wyatt's career more than he'd cared about his own, he'd been offered a deal by a company in China — and the dinner meeting was in a few hours.
There was no time to get a new agent.
No time to even search.
Since he didn't speak a single word in Chinese, he'd come up with the bright idea to try and learn, but that had been a complete failure. He was agentless, unable to communicate with the people interested in endorsing him, and was barely able to put on a damn tie by himself.
He was a complete and utter mess.
What the hell was he doing with his life?
"Son of a bitch," he muttered, picking up his phone when it buzzed.
His sister, Anna, had texted him. So proud of you!Brett arranged a little surprise for you, by the way.
Is it someone who can speak Chinese? he shot back immediately.
You wish. Relax, you'll be fine.
Wyatt sighed. Funny, I feel like I'm going to make a fool out of myself. Does Brett speak Chinese?
Do you? He already knew the answer, but, hey, he was desperate.
Eric is in Texas with his girlfriend. Maybe if you had a girlfriend, she would speak Chinese ...
Wyatt rolled his eyes at the dig and set his phone down. His sister was constantly trying to set him up. She didn't seem to understand that he had no interest in a relationship, love, marriage, or children. All his life, there'd been only one goal — — to play ball.
He'd traveled the country, kicked some ass, and dedicated his life to the game.
Football was his one true love. His life. His wife. His only long-term commitment. He had no interest in sharing his heart with anything or anyone else. The Saviors held the whole thing, and he liked it that way. He wasn't single by necessity. He was single by choice.
That was never going to change.
Just because his sister was engaged, one of his brothers was married, and his other brother was close to following in their footsteps, that didn't mean he had to follow suit. He and Cole were the last men standing.
That was just fine with him.
He'd leave the happily-ever-afters to his Hamilton siblings.
Someone knocked on the door three times, and he frowned. He wasn't expecting anyone and wasn't particularly in the mood to deal with someone showing up on his doorstep unannounced, either.
Placing his MacBook on the couch, he stood, stretched, and made his way to the door. He peeked through the peephole and stiffened. All he saw was a hell of a lot of balloons and a small, feminine hand holding them. "What the ...?"
Slowly, he cracked the door open, half expecting this to be some sort of trap. When the woman didn't pounce on him and profess her undying love ... he frowned. She didn't do anything. Just stood there, hiding behind balloons. When she didn't say anything, but just mumbled something under her breath, he cleared his throat. "Uh, can I help you, miss?"
Excerpted from "Catching the Player"
Copyright © 2017 Diane Alberts.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kassidy Thomas’ life was about to change forever. After losing a bet with her brother, Caleb, she is destined to meet Wyatt Hamilton, star quarterback of the Atlanta Saviors. She doesn’t take risks and hasn’t dated for 4 years. He is never seen with the same girl twice and his only commitment is football. Can she be his friend with benefits knowing that he has no interest in a relationship or love? Will he accept her offer knowing that he doesn’t date girls her type because “all his life, there’d been only one goal–to play ball”. Though I was a bit disappointed in Wyatt’s character at first, he eventually comes around and his grand gesture is bold and endearing. This is the third book in the A Hamilton Family Series and it stands well on its own. The book is charming, funny and the characters have real emotions that teared me up a couple of times. I read it in one sitting. Recommend.
I loved loved loved this story! Both Kassidy and Wyatt were great characters that you really want to have a happy ending. Kassidy might be my favorite in this one. She was a foreign language speaking, football whiz, intelligent woman learning to live life to the fullest. She was vibrant, a little nerdy, and beautiful all wrapped in one package. And she kept Wyatt on his toes. Now Wyatt, I liked him and could picture each expression he made. From the quizzical confused looks to the oh-crap-what-have-I-done moments, he had them all. It is always fun to see those most against falling in love, declaring they will remain single, fall completely head over heels in a heartbeat. I love it. The last few chapters really got to me and made my heart beat a little sadder and faster, but the epilogue is pure gold. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
catching the player continues the hamilton family series with wyatt hamilton's story. he lives and breathes football, so the last thing he expects is to fall for a prank singing telegram performer. but fall for kassidy thomas he does. it just takes him a while to figure this out. because he has always assumed that there would be nothing else in his life other than football. that in order to be the best football player he could be, he needed to eschew romantic entanglements or anything else that would distract from his focus on the game. but without trying he finds himself all tangled up with kass. and she is trying so hard to only take what he is willing to give her. she's so used to planning out every aspect of her life and is sick and tired of feeling bored and uninspired. being with wyatt is anything but boring. and so what if she knows this is only going to end in heartbreak. being with him any way she can get him is worthwhile. or it will be worth her while until it's not. and even though there is a huge misunderstanding that is partly all wyatt's fault for being a jerk and also partly all wyatt's fault for not realizing his true feelings quickly enough, the way he goes about making it all better is really sweet. in the end, the relationship that wyatt and kass have is everything. it's not just sex and romance, there is real friendship too. and that makes the story all that much sweeter. **catching the player will publish on october 9, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (indulgence) in exchange for my honest review.
So entertaining, right from the beginning! Kassidy Thomas is an accountant for her family's flower shop and she lost a bet to her brother and so she is delivering a singing telegram, the only problem is she cannot sing. She delivers to the one and only Wyatt Hamilton, quarterback for the Saviors. Sparks fly and they do not know what hit them. Wyatt has always said, told everyone actually, he would always remain single because he only had room in his life for football and his family but when Kassidy walks into his he doesn't know what hit him. He wants nothing more than to get to know her and soon even though they are both telling each other they are only friends it turns out to be so much more. Can they survive all the changes and will they adapt to the changes? This was so much fun to read and watch these two weave their way through their non-relationship. I definitely recommend this one! **Received this ARC for review from the publisher via NetGalley**
I haven't read the first two books in this series but that's ok because this book can completely be read as a standalone. The beginning of this book had me in hysterics. Kassidy loses a bet to her brother and has to deliver a singing telegram in a pretty revealing costume. Except she can't sing, at all. The entire exchange at Wyatt's house had me laughing so hard I couldn't even see the screen. The chemistry and connection between Kassidy and Wyatt was immediate but Wyatt is married to football and isn't looking for anything to get in the way of that. Kassidy has taken herself out of the dating game but is ready to start living life again. They promise to not expect more than the other can give but that's not always possible when life throws curveballs your way. I did really like Kass and Wyatt but there times that I just wanted them to get over themselves. Why can't Wyatt have a girlfriend and still be just as committed to football? Why can't Kass just say what she wants? I loved how their story came full circle at the end and the epilogue was insanely sweet. I will definitely be adding the first two books to my TBR!
Kassidy Thomas lost a bet that Wyatt Hamilton, star quarterback wouldn't heal in time to play and win a game. So she had to wear a Tinkerbell costume and deliver a sing-o-gram. Only Kassidy can't sing. When she discovers who's on the other side of the doors, she confronts Wyatt telling him she lost a bet because of him. Suddenly shy, she backs into an invaluable vase, knocking it over and breaking it. She offers to pay him back, but realizes she can't with money. Wyatt jokingly asks if she speaks Chinese... Wyatt can't believe his luck. He opens the door to the worst singing he's ever heard, to see "Tinkerbell". When Kassidy doesn't go all "fan girl" on him, he's intrigued even more. When he jokingly asks if she can speak Chinese, he can't believe his luck. He was about to meet with possible Chinese sponsors, but no longer had an agent and couldn't speak Chinese. Kassidy quickly offers her services to pay her debt. What started out as fulfilling a lost bet turns into sooo much more. Wyatt has one love, football. He doesn't think he has room in his life for more. He believes if he splits his focus between a girl and football, then he'll be less than in football. Yet, he can't stop thinking about Kassidy. Kassidy wants it all. She wants a man who loves her, a home, and kids. She knows Wyatt can't be that for her, but she'll take what he can give. Kassidy has promised herself to start living, so instead of overthinking things she just goes for it. This is the third novel in The Hamilton Family series. I'm OCD about reading a series out of order, but I'm truly glad I did. I would've missed a wonderful, light, funny, swoon-worthy novel! It was laugh out loud funny. It made you want to reach through your reader and cover Wyatt's mouth so he'd stop his episode of word diarrhea because you KNEW he'd regret it later. At the same time, I rooted for him to win Kass' heart. I can't wait to go back and read the first two novels in the series and hope his brothers are as swoon-worthy! I read a gifted copy and all opinions stated are my own.
This was a great read! Full of humor, sexy times, and a wonderful romance. From the opening scene to the HEA it was completely entertaining. It has some wonderful characters and great writing. Kassidy is a flower arranging accountant being held back by her past. Wyatt is a commitment phobe devoted to his career. Kassidy and Wyatt were great together. Two people not looking for anything serious but sometimes life has different plans. Definitely a book I recommend to everyone!
Loved! This is an entertaining love story with two characters determined to not fall in love. Kassidy is a sweet girl that has protected her wounded heart by withdrawing from dating for years when losing a bet with her brother puts her in Wyatt's orbit. Wyatt is a well known quarterback totally devoted to football. While he enjoys the ladies, he will never give a girl more than one night. After Kassidy helps him with a problem, an unlikely friendship develops. I enjoyed the way the author told their story even though I didn't start out loving the characters. I thought Kassidy was a bit of a doormat and Wyatt was a bit much, but as all good novels do, the characters transformed and changed in a way that made me love them. Fans of the genre will love this book. While this is part of a series, this is a stand alone novel, however, its so good that you really owe it to yourself to read them all. The author is on my must read authors' list.