TWO MEN FROM HER PAST ARE ABOUT TO BECOME HER FUTURE.
After a relationship turns sour in the worst way possible, Angela Kenzie flees to her childhood home leaving her job and cheating ex behind her.
Content to spend time at home licking her wounds and eating comfort food she unexpectedly runs into her college ex-boyfriend who happens to be the town police chief. Even more shocking is her high school ex-boyfriend is now the coach of the local college basketball team.
Drawn to both powerfully sexy men, Angela doesn't want to have to make a choice: the cop or the coach. They spark a desire in her that she thought was long gone. They both want her body and soul, is she brave enough to surrender to two men?
About the Author
Sheryl Nantus was born in Montreal, Canada, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. A rabid reader almost from birth, she attended Sheridan College in Oakville, graduating in 1984 with a diploma in media arts writing. She met Martin Nantus through the online fanfiction community in 1993 and moved to the United States in 2000 in order to marry. She loves to play board games and write haiku, although not usually at the same time. A firm believer in the healing properties of peppermint tea and chai, she continues to search for the perfect cuppa. In 2011 she won two second-place Prism Awards from the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA for her steampunk romance, Wild Cards and Iron Horses and the first volume of her superhero romance trilogy, Blaze of Glory.
Read an Excerpt
By Sheryl Nantus
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Sheryl Nantus
All rights reserved.
I can't believe he did this. In his damned office.
In his damned office right next to mine.
Angela Kenzie swiped at the tears blurring her vision. The last thing she needed was to have a car accident while escaping back home.
Her phone rang.
She dug the phone out of her purse, keeping one eye on the road. The turnoff for Glen Barrow was coming up, and if she missed it in the dark, she'd have to go another fifty miles to the nearest exit to turn around. That was the last thing she wanted at this point.
If it's him —
Eric had called three times already and left long rambling messages, texted her six times with short pleas and explanations.
She'd read them at one of the rest stops:
It wasn't what you thought you saw.
I care about you.
She hadn't answered, still in shock.
I know what I saw.
I'm no fool.
And the last communication, when it was apparent by her silence that she wasn't going to buy his story:
I thought you loved me.
No. I thought you loved me.
She prepared herself for another kick in the gut.
The caller identification read MOM.
Angela sighed in relief and tapped the button. "Hello?"
"Just calling to see where you are. I've got macaroni and cheese waiting for you."
Angela smiled despite her tears. "I don't know if I can eat."
Mary-Ann snorted. "You've never been able to turn down my food. Made it special for you 'cause I know you're hurting."
I love you, Mom, but mac 'n' cheese can't fix everything.
"And I know it won't fix a broken heart, but it sure as heck won't hurt it," her mother said. "Where are you?"
"A few miles from the turnoff. I should be there in about a half hour." Angela checked her dashboard GPS. "Can you please put the coffeepot on? I'm in desperate need of caffeine."
"You got it. I'll be waiting. Love you." The connection ended.
Angela spotted the turnoff sign for Glen Barrow in the distance. She maneuvered the Ford Taurus onto the exit ramp, its headlights cutting through the darkness.
Angela calculated the distance to her family home and the waiting meal. Her stomach growled, reminding her that she hadn't eaten since breakfast. She'd planned to surprise Eric in his office and go out for lunch.
That hadn't worked out.
Instead she'd walked out and gone back to her apartment, where she sat on the couch for hours, stunned and in shock.
A burst of fury had prompted her to pack her suitcases and throw them into the car. She'd made two phone calls, one to her mother and one to Eric, leaving a voice mail for the bastard before heading out on the highway.
Angela thumped the steering wheel with a clenched fist, anger surging back up her throat.
The son of a bitch thinks he can do this to me?
Should have snapped a picture of him screwing that bitch. Serve her right; make sure she never works as a legal secretary again.
The flashing red-and-blue lights in her rearview mirror brought her up out of her vengeful thoughts.
She stifled a curse and pulled over, hoping the police car would whiz by on the way to an emergency call.
It slowed as she stopped and put her car into park.
Angela held her breath, wishing the officer would keep driving.
The squad car slid in behind her on the shoulder as she turned off the engine.
Of course. How could this day possibly get worse?
A policeman got out of the cruiser and advanced on her, illuminated by his headlights.
Angela rested her forehead on the steering wheel and steeled herself. Just what I need.
A gentle knock on the car window brought her up from her introspection.
She rolled down the window and stared at the man standing outside.
"Jake?" she croaked.
"Angela?" came the shocked reply.
It's been years, and he's still damned easy on the eyes, Angela said to herself as she took in the uniformed man standing outside her car door.
His lips were twisted into an automatic smile, but she knew the pleasure they could deliver, his tongue and teeth willing accomplices. The short-cropped brown hair gave him a youthful appearance, which had frustrated him in college when they tried to purchase beer. His deep green eyes were offset by the dark blue uniform shirt, tight across his chest and shoulders and revealing how he'd kept himself in shape.
The leather belt and handcuffs at his waist sent a delicious shiver down her spine at the memories they stirred up.
A little bit of kink never hurt anyone.
"Angela?" he repeated.
"Hi ..." She paused, scrambling to find the right words. "How's it going?"
"Fine." He leaned on the open window, his eyes catching hers and locking on. "You've got a blown taillight."
"Really?" She started to turn around before realizing there was no possible way she could see the problem from the driver's seat. "Damn it. It was fine this morning."
"It might have blown while you were driving from —" Jake frowned. "Wasn't it Philadelphia you ended up in?"
"Yes." She cleared her throat. "I'm coming home to visit Mom."
"I see." He nodded. "Well, least I can do is escort you there. Let me call Dispatch, and I'll tail you. Keep you from getting into trouble."
"I —" Before she could object, Jake walked back to his car.
The flame of remembered desire sputtered and died out. Here was another man deciding what was right for her.
Damn all men.
He flashed his lights at her, signaling for her to go.
She jammed the engine into drive and set back out onto the road, her curiosity piqued.
The last time she'd seen Jake Weatherly, he'd been headed for the FBI, dreaming of going to Washington and saving the world.
How the hell did he end up working as a cop in her hometown?
Angela couldn't help looking in her rearview mirror, seeing him studying her, watching her.
Jake stuck his hand out the window, letting it rest on the doorframe. She remembered those long slender fingers, so strong and yet so gentle when they needed to be.
"Don't move," he murmured as cold metal encircled her wrist, pinning her arms over her head. He stroked her palm, drawing his finger down over the inside of her outstretched arm. "Damn. I love you, Angie. So much."
She gripped the steering wheel hard, a tickle of desire building again at the recollection, lightning bolts of need burning along her spine. It'd been years since she and Jake were intimate, yet the memory could still arouse her far more than any recent interludes with Eric had.
Angela cursed herself again for calling up his name, thinking of his name, thinking of that bastard who —
A familiar street appeared in front of her, and she recognized her childhood home, the bright lights a welcome signal in the darkness. Her heart broke a little more, the memories of her time with Jake washed away by sadness. As she pulled up to the curb, the police car drew alongside and the passenger window slid down.
Jake looked over. "Don't forget to get that taillight fixed." He waved. "Hopefully I'll see you again before you leave. Take care."
Before she could reply, the window slid up and he was gone.
Angela got out of her car and stood in the street, watching the patrol car disappear around the corner.
"Angela!" The cheerful yelp from her mother brought Angela back around to the two-story house she'd grown up in and left for what she thought would be greener pastures.
Angela's heart sank even as she opened her arms to the blond woman racing toward her. Talk about the ultimate walk of shame.
Of all the people he could meet on patrol, he never would have imagined running into her.
Or expected her to look so distraught.
He couldn't let that go.
Jake shook his head as he walked into the police station.
"You okay?" Grace frowned, chopsticks poised for an attack on the Chinese-food container in her hands. "You look out of sorts."
"Just tired. End of shift and all that." Jake rubbed his chin, forcing himself to put on a stoic face.
Grace Matthews wasn't just one of the dispatchers. She also knew more about Glen Barrow than Jake would ever be able to learn.
He'd figured out by now what to say and what not to say around Grace. The woman ran the gossip mill in town, and she ran it like a professional.
The platinum-haired senior waved the wooden sticks in the air. "Well, I'm here and waiting, if you need someone to talk to. Keep that in mind." She smiled and he automatically returned it.
Jake sat down at his desk and logged in to the computer. It took a few minutes to fill out the paperwork to sign off his shift and a few more to bring up Angela Kenzie through the department's official database.
The generic photograph showed her with a thin smile, staring at the camera.
Jake studied the details: clear driving record, nothing on file other than the fact that she had a current license and was an organ donor.
He paused, unsure of what he'd expected to find.
Nothing was going to show up here about Angela's sudden return to Glen Barrow.
He clicked the window to close it, swallowing back an annoyed growl.
Grace pulled up a mouthful of noodles. "Problem?"
"Just doing a bit of research." Again, he paused. "Stopped someone I used to know a long time ago. Took me a bit sideways. Thought I'd see what she was up to."
"Who?" She slurped the noodles into her mouth.
Grace's eyes went wide behind her bifocals. "Well, there's a surprise. Haven't seen her in town for ages." She gestured with her chopsticks. "Mary-Ann's going to be cooking up a storm." She eyed Jake. "What did you stop her for?"
"Broken taillight. Escorted her home."
Grace nodded. "Good call. Her mother would have a fit if she ended up in an accident." She smiled. "Guess you gave her a warning, right?"
He arched an eyebrow.
"Doubleplusgood. She might be making good money working in Philly, but no one likes to pay tickets."
"Yeah." Jake tapped on the keyboard, doing a general search this time. He'd never thought about looking her up before, having put the past in the past. But now, after that roadside meeting, he wanted to know what she was doing in town. She had looked tired and worn out in the dashboard light, nothing like the strong woman he'd loved and adored years ago.
This wasn't a casual visit home to see her mother. Something was wrong, and he needed to find out what.
"Where did you first meet Angie?" Grace asked.
He smiled inside at the less-than-subtle interrogation. "We went to Penn State together." It was as much as he was willing to give her right now.
"Hmm." She looked over as he scanned the screen. "Small world."
Tell me about it.
"That son of a bitch!" Mary-Ann Kenzie thumped the table with her fist. "I'm going to —"
"Could you get me another plate of mac 'n' cheese?" Angela prompted, holding out her near-empty dish. "Please."
Her mother froze, caught between continuing her tirade and serving her daughter.
Finally, nurturing won out over anger.
She snatched the plate out of Angela's hand and headed for the counter where the still-hot casserole pan sat. "Don't think I won't go kick his ass. How dare he do that to you! To my daughter." She let out an angry huff as she refilled the plate. "You were engaged, for God's sake. Engaged!" She waved the cheese-encrusted spoon in the air. "True, you didn't have the date set yet, but he proposed. Got down on one knee, gave you a ring. I have the pictures you sent me." She dug into the mountain of melted dairy. "Asked you in a nice restaurant in front of everyone you worked with, everyone you knew in Philly. What was he thinking?"
"I'm not going to disagree with you. But he's there and I'm here, and he —" The words stuck in Angela's mouth as an emotional wave swept her under again. She grabbed at her paper napkin as she began crying, forcing herself to keep the thick pasta down.
"My sweetie." Mary-Ann dropped the plate on the counter and went to her. "You're here and safe. No one's going to say anything nasty to you while you're here — and if they do, they'll answer to me." She pulled Angela close, into a tight hug. "You're staying here as long as you want to. Your old bedroom is ready, and don't you worry about keeping me company. I'm working part-time at the library, and I'll give you your space to do whatever you want to do."
Angela gently freed herself from the iron grip. "Thanks, Mom. I'll be fine. Just need some time to clear my head. Figure out what I want to do." She pointedly kept from looking over at her cell phone sitting on a nearby counter.
The kitchen hadn't changed since she was a child, its sunflower motif flowing across the wallpaper and onto the storage containers. The fat flower trickled out into the hallway in the form of ceramic wall hangings.
The lack of change was comforting.
Mary-Ann turned back to retrieve the heaping plate of pasta. "Of course. Whatever you need."
"So." Angela took a sip of coffee. "What's Jake Weatherly doing here?" She'd tried to make it sound casual and failed spectacularly, going by her mother's wide-eyed stare.
"You met him? When?"
"Stopped me on the way in. Broken taillight. Escorted me here." Angela wasn't sure when she'd become unable to form a single coherent sentence.
"So that's the cop car I saw driving off." Mary-Ann put the plate in front of Angela and sat across from her. "I'd thought it might be Al. He's on duty tonight."
"Al?" Angela scooped up a mouthful of pasta.
"Al Thorton. You might remember him, he used to work at the grocery store when you were in school. Decided to go pro, went and got educated and been working as a policeman for a few years now."
The thick pasta and cheese silenced Angela, forcing her to gesture onward with her loaded fork.
"Oh, yes. Jake. He came in about a year ago when Chief McQueen retired. You remember Bill? Got his pension and went to Florida with Mabel." She waved one hand. "Anyway, they put the word out, and Jake applied. Had the right qualifications, and the town council liked him even though I thought he was a bit young for the job." Her mother shook her head. "Man's only thirty."
"And you didn't think I might be interested in this information?" Angela mumbled through a mouthful of ooey-gooey heaven.
"It was none of your business. He was married, and you were dating that fellow already."
"He's married?" A trace of jealousy surged through her veins, displacing her anger at Eric for a few seconds.
Her mother took a sip of coffee, eyeing Angela over the ceramic rim. "I said he was. Woman up and left him six months ago, said the life wasn't for her." Mary-Ann snorted. "Figure if you marry a cop, you know what you're getting into. She was too high-strung, if you ask me. Worried about him when he was a state trooper and then freaks out when he's in a good place like Glen Barrow 'cause we've got only one Starbucks." She rolled her eyes. "Can't imagine what he saw about her in the first place."
"The guy I dated in college comes home to work as the police chief, and you think I wouldn't be interested? Just as a bit of trivia?" Angela dug out another heaping forkful of macaroni.
"You want some trivia? Okay." Her mother leaned in, a wisp of blond hair escaping the tight bun to fall in front of her face. "Guess you'd like to know Hunter Stratham is back as well, right? Got himself a job at the college, basketball coach. Taken the Badgers to the play-offs two years in a row."
Angela swallowed the mouthful of pasta to avoid a coughing fit. "I thought he moved to Harrisburg after graduation." She waved the fork in the air, forcing herself to tamp down the rage building inside her. "What the hell is going on with this town? How many secrets are you keeping from me?"
Mary-Ann crossed her arms and glared at her, pushing Angela back three decades in time. "Don't you get that tone with me. I talked to you once a week and didn't think it was appropriate to talk about your ex-boyfriends. Go ahead, tell me I was wrong." She leaned back in her chair. "I told you about everything else, from the screwed-up church bake sale to the fertilizer truck accident that stank up half the town for a week. Forgive me for wanting to keep you from having any issues with Eric by bringing up the men you used to date. Last thing I wanted to do was give him a reason to be upset with me and with you. In retrospect, I sort of wish I'd yapped your ear off."
Angela felt her face burn, the reprimand taking hold. "Okay. I understand."
Excerpted from Game On by Sheryl Nantus. Copyright © 2016 Sheryl Nantus. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
Game On is by Sheryl Nantus. This book was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review by NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and by the author. Angela Kenzie thought she had it all. She had graduated from law school with big dreams of helping people. She got picked up by a firm in Philadelphia where she was working hard to prove herself. She got involved with a lawyer at the firm, Eric and they fell in love and became engaged. Well, she thought they were in love, until she walked in to Eric’s office and caught him with a legal secretary. “Her career, her life, her self-esteem… All snatched away in a second.” So Angela is going home to her mother in Glen Barrow to lick her wounds and figure out what to do next. What Angie doesn’t realize is that two of her former loves, one from high school and one from college, are both living in Glen Barrow. Hunter Stratham was her high school love. He is now the basketball coach at the local college. They were in love. But when Angie wanted to leave for college, Hunter had to let her go. It was her dream and he couldn’t hold her back. Jake Weatherly is now the town police chief. They fell in love at Penn State. But after graduation, Jake had big dreams of joining the FBI and Angie was off to save the world. Again, they parted on good terms, both not wanting to say good-bye but both trying to be supportive of the other’s dreams. Now they are both here in this town and are both single. For the first few months, Angie sees them constantly and they are very attentive but only on a friendship level. Neither of them asks her out or makes any type of romantic gesture. What is going on with these two? Once they both start to try to win Angie’s heart in earnest, things get all kinds of complicated. Angie has loved both of these men. She still has deep feelings for them. So how can she ever choose which one she wants to be with? “Why pick one man when she could have them two?” “This is my time. This is what I want. This is what I need.” But what would the town’s people ever think of such a relationship? Would they be ostracized? Could this really work? And just when they all think they have found their happily ever after, something else comes into their lives to complicate things. This was an enjoyable read. I didn’t love it as much as Betting on Both, but I still liked it. I guess I didn’t feel the connection quite as strongly as I did with the other book. But I’m still glad I read it. Angela was a strong woman. She just needed a little time after first going home to remember that. As for both Hunter and Jake, Angie was always the one that got away. Now is their second chance for happiness. Will they find it, or will they have to let her go once again?
This was a good read for me, I liked the characters as well as the story. I really liked Angela, she is a strong person and was willing to go for what she wanted. I enjoyed the story as well as the drama and the steamy sex. I really liked it.