A sexy category romance novella from Entangled's Brazen imprint...
Scoring is only part of the game...
Today, I was supposed to get married, but thanks to my dick of an ex, there's no happily-ever-after in sight. So tonight, I'm aiming for a happy ending, one that involves a whole lot of champagne, and the hottest sex of all—revenge sex. Garrett Kelly is just the man to satisfy my needs, both in and out of the bedroom. All I need to do is to make the first move...
For one night, he's everything I wanted and needed. Of course, now I've gone and crossed the line between friendship and…something else. Getting involved with an unreliable guy is always a bad idea, and falling in love? Even worse. Now my little game of hot-sex-and-revenge has taken a hell of a turn—and this time, there are consequences.
Previously released on the Ever After imprint in July 2013.
About the Author
Diane Alberts has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn't until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author. Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a cat, and a Senegal parrot. In the rare moments when she's not writing, she can usually be found hunched over one knitting project or another.
She is a multi-published, bestselling author with Entangled Publishing, Swoon Romance, and Decadent Publishing. She has, as of this date, four books with Entangled Publishing, one book with Swoon Romance, and five older books with Decadent Publishing. Diane is represented by Louise Fury from the L. Perkins Agency.
Read an Excerpt
A Take a Chance Novella
By Diane Alberts, Shannon Godwin
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Diane Alberts
All rights reserved.
Garrett Kelly might have been a laid-back middle school math teacher by day, but at night he was a basketball coach who yelled and cussed and fought for his team. And right now? He was yelling. And in his head? He was cursing up a storm. Mainly because his star player, Chris Worth, stood frozen mid-court of the middle school gymnasium.
What the hell was going on out there? Chris never choked. Never missed a chance to win a game. But he was just standing there. Not moving.
"Dribble the ball, Chris!" Garrett screamed down the court, his entire body tense. The damn score was tied at fifty-six with thirty seconds left and he still wasn't moving. Garrett looked up in the bleachers at Kiersten Worth, Chris's aunt and legal guardian ... as well as acting mother, who shrugged back and scrunched up her nose. "Move!"
Chris finally launched into action, dribbling in between the opposing team's defense as if they merely stood still, and banked another two points. The crowd went wild, both with moans and shouts, depending on which side they were rooting for.
"There you go. You got this down, boys," he called out, rubbing the back of his neck. Now, they just needed to figure out how to prevent the other team from scoring in the next twenty seconds, and they would be able to maintain their undefeated record. And if they failed? He might have to give them all double homework duty on Monday.
His assistant coach, and best friend, paced behind him. "If they let this kid score, I'm gonna lose it," Mike whispered. Then he raised his voice and shouted, "Arms up, defense!"
"You're preaching to the choir."
Garrett tensed as the opposing team headed down the court. Sending a prayer above — God had to like basketball ... He was a man after all — Garrett clenched his hands tight. The other team's tiny point guard dodged between two players, only to be caught off- guard by Chris. Chris snatched the ball out of his hands and dribbled down the court. He squared off and took a shot just as the buzzer sounded.
"Yes!" Garrett said, turning to give Mike a high five. "And the streak continues."
"Thank God," Mike grinned.
They lined up all of the kids in the most unorganized row ever, slapped hands and huddled for an after-game pep talk. After they finished, Mike and Garrett headed toward the waiting moms, who hovered like vultures waiting for their meal.
"Oh, God, Susan is eyeing me again," Mike groaned, rubbing his forehead. "Help me."
"Well, you shouldn't have slept with her, dumbass," Garrett replied, smiling at the woman in question as they approached the crowd. "I warned you to avoid her like the plague. Her ex-husband had to get a restraining order against her. If that doesn't scream caution, I don't know what does. You have no one to blame but yourself."
"Yeah," Mike shrugged. "But she's hot. That throws the crazy scale askew."
Garrett rolled his eyes. He scanned the crowd for the woman who wouldn't be chasing him. Kiersten stood in the back of the well-wishers, waving at Chris and beaming with pride. Her straight blond hair looked silky smooth today and Garrett's fingers twitched with the desire to see if it was as soft as it looked. But friends didn't fondle other friends' hair.
Or so he kept telling himself.
Chris held his index finger up to Kiersten, obviously needing a minute to collect his stuff and say his good-byes. Though Chris's mom had died in a car crash when Chris was an infant, the boy had never lacked for a mother. Kiersten, though barely more than a child herself at the time, had stepped into her sister's role without hesitation. She had even refused to let her older sister take on the responsibility, since Brianna had just had a baby with her husband. That was just one of the many things Garrett admired about her so much.
"Don't even think about abandoning me for her," Mike said between clenched teeth, following the line of his gaze. "You don't stand a chance and you know it. Besides, she's still depressed over Pete leaving her. Fucking asshole."
"Agreed." Garrett shrugged. "We're friends, is all. Stop trying to make it more than what it is."
"Are you so sure about that? Need I remind you of high school?" Mike called out. "Move on and leave her alone."
Mike, of course, referred to the huge crush Garrett had held on to all throughout his teen years. But he was over it. He'd grown up and moved on, as people did. "You have no clue what you're talking about," he said before walking away.
"Yeah, I do. She's my sister," Mike retorted. "And you're an as —" Mike broke off and looked at the kids surrounding them. "Uh, an astounding fool."
Garrett rolled his eyes at his friend's quick recovery, waved over his shoulder — with one finger conspicuously higher than the others — and stalked to Kiersten's side. All of the other moms let out a sigh and zeroed in on Mike. The poor sucker stood no chance, and deserved every second of it.
The closer Garrett got to Kiersten, the faster his heart thumped in his ears. It felt more like he was sprinting down the court for a winning shot instead of walking up to his longtime friend. She saw his approach and straightened, cheeks rosy. Her green gaze latched onto his, pushing him away without saying a word. "Coach Garrett, how are you doing tonight?"
Her voice washed over him like a soothing balm. He shook his head and grinned at her. "Kiersten, you can call me Garrett."
"Not here," she murmured. Her gaze flitted over his shoulder to where Chris probably approached. "Don't want to give anyone anything to gossip about."
He pasted his generic playboy-smile on and ran his fingers through his hair. "No one would get the wrong idea. It's quite obvious we're just friends. Speaking of which ... are we still getting together for drinks tonight?"
"Yes," she said quickly. "Now be quiet. Chris is coming, and I don't want him to get the wrong idea."
The wrong idea being that she was actually interested in more than friendship from him. Garrett knew all too well that wasn't the case, even if he occasionally wished it weren't. "Right."
"Hey, coach," Chris said. He walked over to Kiersten's side and looked at Garrett with eyes far too wise for a thirteen year old. "What's up?"
Garrett cleared his throat. "Nothing much. I'm just letting your mom know about practice on Monday at five."
"Oh, okay." Chris looked up at Kiersten expectantly. "Ready to go to Friendly's?"
"I'm always ready to go to Friendly's," she replied. When she slung his gym bag over her shoulder, her gaze met Garrett's for one brief second. "Good bye, Coach Garrett."
"See ya," he murmured.
He watched her walk away, the swing of her hips teasing him. Over the past three months, they had been getting together at her place to have a few drinks on the weekends, but not as lovers. Just as friends. Very platonic friends. It's all they could ever, and would ever, be. He was her kid's teacher and coach. Though the school didn't frown upon such things ... other parents did.
All it would take was one game where he played Chris longer than another kid and all hell would break loose. So no matter how much he might like to discover how those swinging hips felt in his hands ... he needed to keep his head on straight.
And his hands at his sides.
Rolling his shoulders, he headed back to Mike. Upon seeing his return, Mike flashed him a dirty look. "About time," he muttered under his breath. "Done drooling over my sister?"
Garrett ignored him. "Okay, everyone. Listen up. Practice is Monday at five. We'll see you all then. Coach Mike and I have to go over some end-of-game plays, so we're gonna head out now."
The women dispersed, leaving him and Mike alone. Mike scowled at him and punched his shoulder. "Look, fuck-wad, stop chasing her."
Garrett ground his teeth together. "I'm not chasing her."
And he wasn't. They were friends. If there were a moment or two where he wished they could be more, then so be it. That's life. It didn't mean he had to act on the desire. Making a move, especially an unrequited move, certainly wouldn't do at all for his image — the image he'd worked very hard to build. He was the perfect picture of the content bachelor with no intention of ever changing his ways.
"Looked to me like you were chasing her," Mike said.
Garrett gritted his teeth. "Then you weren't looking close enough. I'm over her. I've been over her since college. You're the one who needs to move on, man."
"I did." Mike eyed Garrett in a way that all too clearly conveyed that he doubted Garrett had.
"Yeah?" Garrett grabbed the clipboard. "So did I."
"Good. Now, I need to drink a few beers and find a woman with a lot of daddy issues and no attachment issues whatsoever," Mike said, gathering up his jacket and clipboard. "You in?"
Garrett hesitated. After all of the ribbing Mike had been giving him, the last thing he wanted to admit was that he was spending his Friday night at Kiersten's. "Nah. I think I'm getting sick. I'm gonna go home and take it easy tonight."
"Like you've been doing almost every weekend lately? Are you going to shave your legs and douche, too?" Mike snapped. "What the fuck, man?"
"Yeah, that's exactly right. I'm going to go home and douche. See you later, asshole," Garrett called over his shoulder. "Don't forget that we have our own game tomorrow."
Mike called out, "See you then. Wear a pretty skirt for me, will ya?"
Garrett flipped him off and stalked out of the gym. The cold air blasted his face as soon as he walked outside and he inhaled deeply. Damn, he loved winter. Tiny snow flurries drifted down from the sky and Garrett took a minute to appreciate the sheer beauty of the unblemished white snow falling around him. Too bad it wouldn't stick to the ground. It wasn't cold enough in Vegas for that.
But it sure looked pretty.
And then it struck him how very much like life falling snow could be. It looked great at first glance, but within minutes all you had left was yellow snow and gray streets. Nothing ever stayed pure and fresh — which was why he avoided romantic entanglements.
It wasn't because the only woman he really wanted didn't want him. No. All he needed was a warm body in bed every once in a while and he was good to go. It didn't matter who she was or where he found her. Intimacy was overrated and overbearing.
Unfortunately, the more he told himself that ... the less he believed it.CHAPTER 2
Kiersten glanced in the mirror and smoothed her hair back out of her eyes with a trembling hand. Tonight, she was going to do something completely out of character. Terrifyingly so. When she had been sitting in the bleachers earlier, reflecting on the fact that today was supposed to have been her wedding day, she'd compared her life now to what she'd expected it to be. And quite honestly ... it sucked. Pete was probably married to his skanky secretary by now. Blissfully and happily getting ready to raise cheating little babies to match their cheating, lying parents.
While she hadn't even gotten laid since the break-up.
Today was supposed to have been her special day — the day she said I do. As the time had ticked down on Chris's game, it also had ticked down on her contentment to just ... be alone. Then it came to her — she didn't have to be alone tonight. She could give a final fuck-you-Pete and sleep with the one man Pete had always been threatened by.
Pete would never know, but she would.
And it would feel good.
Now all she needed to do was tell Garrett.
She hoped she hadn't misread the interest in his eyes. And hoped he wouldn't turn her down. She was choosing him as her target because of three reasons. One? Proximity. He was coming to her place tonight anyway. Two? He used to have a crush on her back in high school and probably still wondered what it would be like between them, so less likely to reject her. And three? That whole secret fuck-you factor he would give her.
Maybe it was childish but so what? Pete had decided he loved to bang his secretary more than he loved Kiersten, so why shouldn't she celebrate tonight with a little too much wine and a good bout of forbidden sex?
And hopefully some sore legs tomorrow.
Yeah. That's so what she'd envisioned for this day when they had sent those save the date cards out.
Kiersten sent a quick goodnight text to Chris, who was sleeping over at his cousins' house, and hurriedly brushed her hair. At most, she only had thirty minutes before Garrett arrived — and the furriness of her legs appalled her more than words could say. After a fast shower and an even quicker make-up session, she stood in front of her closet gripped with indecision on what to wear.
Could she really go through with this impetuous plan? Seduce one of her only friends?
When Pete had destroyed the tiny bit of faith she'd had in humanity, she had fallen to pieces. All her life, she had avoided relationships so Chris wouldn't have a father figure enter his life and just as quickly leave. But then the one freaking time she trusted a man and let him in, he'd cheated on her with his secretary and they'd called the whole thing off.
She had been brokenhearted but Chris had been even worse off.
She would never do it again. Wouldn't bring an unstable man into his life like she had before. She'd been right to avoid love. All the love she needed she got from her family.
But she wouldn't think about that asshat Pete. She would drink with Garrett. Get a little stupid. Let loose. And have some casual, no strings attached sex. If she could do that with anyone in her life, it would be Garrett. He'd always been by her side, rooting her on.
Looking at her with those hot, blazing blue eyes that seemed to undress her without a simple touch. Her stomach tightened just thinking about him and that look. And given his years-long single status, he didn't seem to want a relationship any more than she did.
But what if he wanted more than she could give him? A series of pictures ran through her head of how he would fall in love with her and ask her to marry him. Have kids with him.
She shuddered at the mere thought.
Nah. He wouldn't want that. He'd never even acted on his crush in high school, so how serious could it have been? Not once in all of their time together had he even given her a slight hint he wanted those things. Hot glances? Yes. Happily ever after? No.
He was like her. Independent. Unattached, and content to stay that way.
Marriage obviously wasn't for the Worth children. The only one of them who hadn't been messed up from their parents screwed up marriage was her older sister, Brianna. She was married with three kids. Her first husband had died, but Brianna had met another man she'd fallen head over heels in love with. Thomas Jones. Now they were married and happily living their normal lives in their normal house in their normal world.
Then there was her and Mike.
Mike didn't spend more than a night with the same woman — if not an hour — and Kiersten refused to even try relationships ever again. She was broken. Unfixable. She didn't want to get married, or even fall in love a second time. Didn't want any kids besides Chris. She was fine alone.
But she needed to get laid. Needed to prove to herself that she wasn't a complete failure who couldn't attract a man — much less keep him. And Garrett seemed like a sure bet, given the way he looked at her when he thought she wasn't watching. Like she was a woman, and he was a man. And he wanted her.
Or at least ... she thought he did.
After pairing a scoop neck sweater with a black skirt and applying a quick spritz of perfume, she made it downstairs just in time to feel her phone vibrate in her hand. He was here. When she opened the door, he stood there smiling at her, a bottle of Asti in his hand. The porch light illuminated his perfection, as if God was reminding her just how exquisitely he had made this particular male specimen.
"Hello," she said, motioning him inside.
"Hey," he murmured. His blue eyes swept over her body, leaving heat everywhere they touched. She normally wore sweats and a T-shirt when he came over to hang out, so he was probably wondering at the short skirt she wore. "Wow. You look pretty tonight."
Her cheeks heated up. "Thanks."
He came inside and she busied herself closing the door and locking it. The chill of the metal cooled her hunger for him — to some degree. "Is Chris gone?" he asked.
"Of c-course," she stammered. "He's at Brianna's for the night."
Garrett strode into the living room and set the bottle down before unzipping his coat. His black shirt clung to his finely tuned body, and her fingers twitched. Everything from his black hair, to his six-pack, down to his damn boots screamed out for her attention. And those blue eyes were mesmerizing. She could get lost in them for hours.
"That's good." Running a hand over his shirt to smooth it out, he cocked his head. "So we've got the whole place to ourselves, huh? No whispering required."
Excerpted from Play Me by Diane Alberts, Shannon Godwin. Copyright © 2013 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.
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