Love in the Lineup

Love in the Lineup

by Deborah Fletcher Mello

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Love in the Lineup by Deborah Fletcher Mello


ROSHAWN BRADSHER finds that a midlife change is exactly what she needs after her divorce. Amicable with her ex-husband and peacefully co-parenting, Roshawn decides that a complete change of scene is required to ignite passion in her life. When Angel Rios steps into her office, she is determined not to be swept away by this baseball player's considerable charms.…


ANGEL RIOS finds that his new home in Arizona provides all the challenges he can manage, at the moment. Yet, as an unmarried, ruggedly handsome athlete, Angel is decidedly a prime target and catch for women at home and on the road. However, a social life is not going to derail him now that he's made it to the major leagues. In fact, entanglements of any kind are the last thing on his mind. Until lovely Roshawn proves there's more ways at winning in life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460349991
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 01/15/2014
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,038,346
File size: 489 KB

About the Author

Writing since she was thirteen years old, Deborah Fletcher Mello can’t imagine herself doing anything else. In 2005 she received Book of the Year and Favorite Heroine nominations for her novel, The Right Side of Love, and in 2009 won a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award for her ninth novel, Tame A Wild Stallion. Most recently, Deborah’s eleventh novel, Promises To A Stallion, has earned her a 2011 Romance Slam Jam nomination for Hero Of The Year.

Read an Excerpt

Roshawn Bradsher couldn't help but think that slamming doors had become more the norm than not in their home since her daughter, Ming, had celebrated her seventeenth birthday. She stared up the short flight of stairs to the second floor as her daughter's bedroom door still vibrated from the violation.

"We're not done discussing this, Ming!" she yelled, her voice rising another octave to ensure the young woman heard her. "I have had just about enough of your nonsense!"

Roshawn winced as the door to the girl's adjacent bathroom slammed in response. Roshawn swore under her breath, her body quivering with anger. With her hands gripping the lean line of her thin hips, she glanced toward the grandfather clock against her dining room wall. It was half past three o'clock in the morning and Ming was just now coming home from hanging out with her friends. The child was out of control, Roshawn thought as she headed into the living room and reached for the portable telephone resting on the coffee table. She dialed quickly, the ten digits to her ex-husband permanently engraved in her memory.

When the man's answering machine picked up the call, Roshawn became even more irritated as she waited for the annoying beep to sound so that she could leave a message. "Chen, it's me. If you're there, pick up. It's about Ming." Roshawn waited. Getting no answer she continued. "Your daughter went out tonight and didn't bother to come home until just now. It's three o'clock in the morning, John Chen. I have had enough of this girl. I'm telling you right now, she might not live to see sunrise! You need to call me before I knock the pee water right out of her! Since you moved to Arizona she's just been impossible to deal with. Call me, Chen!"

Roshawn slammed the receiver down, her head waving from side to side. She was too through, she thought as she stood with her eyes closed and her chin hanging against her chest. Too through dealing with her daughter and the weekly antics that had begun to turn too many strands of her blue-black, shoulder-length bob a vibrant shade of silver gray. She had not a clue how one child could cause a parent as much angst as Ming had begun to cause her. Things had been better when Ming's father, John Chen, had lived two blocks away. Whenever Ming got out of hand all Roshawn had to do was drop her off on the man's doorstep to be disciplined. But last year Chen up and moved from his home in Seattle, Washington to Phoenix, Arizona. Roshawn had been certain such had been the brainchild of her ex-husband's new wife, a mousy brunette with a tiny face and big, brown eyes that constantly made her look like a deer caught in headlights. Roshawn skewed her face with displeasure. And now, with her father gone, Ming was hell-bent on testing every nerve in Roshawn's body.

Roshawn tossed her hands up in frustration as she screamed out her daughter's name. "Ming Louise Chen! Get your butt down here. Now!"

When she received no response, Roshawn hurled herself up the stairs and into her daughter's room. Ming sat cross-legged on the bed, her new iPod and headset against her ears. Her head bobbed in time to whatever music was playing on the sound system. Roshawn gestured for the girl to remove the appliance and in response Ming rolled her eyes, slowly dropping the instrument onto the bedspread.


"Don't take that tone with me, young lady. You know what. Where were you?"

Ming sighed, tossing the length of her black hair down her back, the strands falling to the line of her paper-thin waist. "We were just hanging out. It's no big deal."

"No big deal? You stay out until sunrise and I'm not supposed to get upset about this?"

"Why can't you leave me alone? You're always on my back!" the girl shouted, moving to ease the earphones to the iPod back onto her head.

Ire raced across Roshawn's face as she snatched the iPod from Ming's hand and flung it out the door, listening as it slammed against the wall and rolled down the length of stairway. Both jumped when it landed with a hard bang on the hardwood floors below, the harshness of it a surprise to the two of them. Roshawn turned back to her daughter. "Ming, when I get on your back you're going to know it," she hissed, leaning down to stare her child in the eye.

Ming's eyes widened in surprise, words caught in the back of her throat. It had been a good while since she'd seen her mother this angry.

Roshawn continued, her tone harsh but controlled. "Now, I want you in that bed. When you get up in the morning don't turn on a thing. No television, no stereo, no nothing. In fact, don't even open your mouth to speak unless I give you permission to. Not one word. And don't even think about leaving this room. You're grounded until I feel like letting you out. Do you understand me?"

Ming nodded, slowly still eyeing her mother cautiously. Roshawn spun around on her heels and headed for the entrance. As she reached the door, Ming ventured to utter one last comment.

"I want to go live with Daddy."

Glancing over her shoulder, Roshawn gave her child one last glare, the final threads of her anger spinning from her eyes. Ming was the perfect melding of the best genetic material her parents had to offer. Roshawn marveled at just how beautiful her child was with her father's Asian eyes and thin lips, and her petite frame, dimpled cheeks, and mahogany complexion. From the moment she'd been born, Ming had been her mother's chocolate China doll. At that moment, with her jaw tightened, tears beginning to drip down her face, she looked like a China doll with a serious attitude problem. Heaving a deep sigh, Roshawn said nothing, the door slamming closed behind her the only response.

Roshawn dropped fully clothed onto her queen-size bed, curling up into a fetal position as she pulled a heavy quilt up over her body. The start of a migraine pressed angrily against the front of her skull, an initial rise of pain shooting current from one end of her body to the other. For a brief moment she thought about heading back downstairs to grab two Tylenol pain pills and a glass of water, but changed her mind. She had no desire to move herself from where she rested, comfort coming from the warmth of the hand-sewn quilt she'd inherited from her grandmother.

She couldn't begin to fathom why every aspect of her life was suddenly out of control. Ming's sudden defiance was just one of many aspects of Roshawn's existence that seemed to be spinning in a quandary. For the last year it seemed as if one thing after another had gone wrong. John Chen had started the vicious cycle and although common sense told her it really wasn't her ex-husband's fault it made her feel better to drop the blame smack-dab into the man's lap.

She and Chen had been divorced for over a decade, having severed their legal alliance just after Ming's fourth birthday. Their separation had been amicable, the divorce more of a technical notation than anything else. Despite having just divided up their assets and claiming joint custody of their only child, she and Chen had left the Seattle Justice Center hand-in-hand, stopping for a quick sandwich, and a lunch-time quickie immediately afterwards.

Her friends and family had never understood why they hadn't just stayed married. It had become an ongoing joke amongst their mutual acquaintances that they did more together divorced than they ever did while they'd been married. Only the two of them had known how different their home was once the doors were closed and the outside world couldn't see inside. John Chen had very traditional views about marriage, wanting a barefoot, and pregnant, stay-at-home wife. Roshawn's spirited personality had never really fit the job description and the formal union between them had become more battle than pleasure. Roshawn had insisted on the separation and the divorce, but the friendship that had initially drawn them to each other had remained intact. It hadn't hurt that their sexual relationship had been off the charts and neither had seen any reason to stop doing what obviously worked for them. Why fix what wasn't broke?

That was until Chen met and married the mousy flight attendant who'd become an instant thorn in Roshawn's side. Despite the relationship putting an end to their extracurricular activities, she had been happy for Chen because Chen had clearly been happy. Although both had dated other people off and on over the last ten years, Roshawn hadn't met one man worth giving a second thought to. But she had been glad that Chen had found a woman who managed to hold his attention longer than a minute. So maybe she had been a little bitter, and a touch jealous, she thought as she rolled from one side of the bed to the other. It had passed. Just as she and Ming had been adjusting to his new relationship, Chen announced that he'd taken a new job in a new city and was moving his new family away from them. And then all hell broke loose.

On the heels of Chen's departure, Roshawn's business partner decided he no longer had any interest in working the beauty salon the two had spent over eight years building into an emporium for their upscale clientele. His insistence on Roshawn buying out his interests, and his threat to sell it to a third party had just upped the mountain of debt Roshawn already owed, sending her credit score into the abyss. Struggling to keep the ends meeting now required sixteen-hour workdays with no benefits and Roshawn was beyond tired. Exhaustion had become her middle name and the collection agents her new best friends. Sending her clients out with the newest hairstyles no longer thrilled her, each new hairdo now a required commodity instead of the output of creative energy it had once been.

Roshawn heaved a deep sigh as she extended her legs and then pulled them back into her chest. She wished she could call one of her best friends. There was a time she could have awakened her friend Jeneva Tolliver at any hour of the night, but Jeneva now had a new husband and a toddler and was no longer available twenty-four seven.

She would call her friend Bridget Hinton, but she and Bridget hadn't spoken in weeks. Roshawn stalled the memory, letting it drop like dead weight from her mind. There was no point in upsetting herself any more than she already was, she thought, the fringes of depression beginning to take control.

Footsteps creaking against the wood floors suddenly pulled her from her reflections. She didn't bother to open her eyes knowing it was Ming who stood in the doorway of her bedroom, peering inside.

"What is it, Ming?" Roshawn asked, still not moving from where she lay. "I thought I told you not to leave that room."

The young woman came closer to the bed, her low sobs tainting the air. Roshawn lay listening, allowing the soft inhale and exhale of her daughter's tears to fill the four walls of the room. When the hurt of it became too much to bear, coating the pale blue walls a deep shade of unhappy, Roshawn wiped her own tears against the back of her hands. Sliding to the center of the bed, she lifted the edge of the blanket and beckoned toward the girl to crawl in beside her.

As Ming settled down against her mother, tears still falling, Roshawn wrapped her arms tightly around her daughter's shoulders. Roshawn said nothing, allowing Ming to calm herself, sobs eventually giving way to intermittent hiccups.

"Are you ready to talk to me?" Roshawn finally asked, the digital clock on the nightstand reading ten minutes past four o'clock.

There was a moment's pause before Ming responded. "I'm sorry, Mommy. I'm really sorry."

Roshawn sighed, air blowing in a quick gust past her full lips. "Girl, that seems to be your theme song lately. I was tired of Ruben Studdard singing it a year ago, so you know I'm tired of hearing it from you." Silence filled the space between them. When Roshawn spoke again there was no mistaking the fact she intended to get some straight answers from her child. "Where were you tonight, Ming?"

"Evergreen Cemetery."

Roshawn rose up on her elbows, tossing her daughter an incredulous look. "The cemetery?"

Ming nodded. "A group of us just hang out there sometimes. As long as we don't make a lot of noise no one bothers us."

Roshawn shook her head. "Were you drinking?"

The girl hesitated. "Don't lie to me, Ming. I will find out the truth if you lie."

"I had one beer."

"Who were you with?"

"It was just me, Kara, Leslie, Stephanie and a few of the guys from the baseball team."

"What guys?"

"David, John Peters and that crew."

"Were you having sex tonight, Ming?" Roshawn asked, dread coating her words as she imagined what Ming and her boyfriend David could have been doing until three o'clock in the morning.

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Love In The Lineup 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Deborah Thank you so much for Angel & RoShawns story in a word 'Wonderful' was what it was. I know you will let us know about them having ther baby in Bridgett's story. I loved her and Mings relationship. All mothers & daughters should be like that. Can't wait for your net book.