Bree Novak is so close to earning her Ph.D. she can taste it, but she’s supposed to be writing her dissertation, not giving lectures while her advisor slacks off. The semester gets even crazier when veteran tight end Marcus James—Bree’s celebrity crush—enrolls in her “Intro to Physics” class. The man’s even hotter in person than he looks on Sunday Night Football. So why is Bree hoping he drops out? Maybe it’s because Marcus, with his cocky smile and chiseled body, is the ultimate distraction. . . .
Drafted out of college years ago by the Milwaukee Dragons, Marcus is taking advantage of a season-ending knee injury to finish his bachelor’s degree. Plus, thanks to a required science credit, he’s also getting to know the geek goddess who teaches physics. With brains and beauty, Bree is living proof that opposites attract. She’s even kind enough to give Marcus extra help with the material, as if she didn’t have anything better to do. And the more time Marcus spends with her, the more he realizes he’s not just crushing on his teacher—he’s falling for her.
Don’t miss any of Liz Lincoln’s mouthwatering Milwaukee Dragons novels, which can be read together or separately:
ON THE LINE • SWAGGER • HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
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Read an Excerpt
Oh no, oh no, oh no. No no no nononononoooooo.
Panic bubbled up the back of Bree Novak’s throat. Her graphs couldn’t be gone. She’d just spent the past six hours cleaning the data and configuring the damn things.
She smacked the side of her laptop. “I hate you, you stupid antique.” Her ancient work computer was glitchy as hell, but of course she’d been in a rush this morning and left her own computer at home.
Frustrated tears burned the backs of her eyes and clogged her throat. Along with it, the ever-present anxiety pressed on her chest, making it hard to breathe.
She was not going to have a panic attack in the middle of the coffee shop. She couldn’t afford to. She still had to go back to the science building and survive her office hours, then she could go home and re-create six hours of work from the comfort of her couch. No big deal.
“Screw you,” she hissed at the blank spreadsheet glaring at her. She slammed the machine shut and shoved it into her bag. Slinging the strap over her shoulder, she rose from the table and grabbed her travel mug.
As she hurried for the door, she pulled out her phone to text to her best friend. Reina had a Midas touch with computers; maybe she could make the data reappear as magically as it had disappeared. As Bree’s right thumb flew over the touch screen, she barely paid attention to the people around her.
Until she ran into a wall.
A wall that stepped back with an oof. A wall that jabbed her in the forehead and kicked her leg. What the hell?
Before she could make sense of things, something hooked her ankle, pulling her foot out from under her. She fell to the ground, bumping the wall on her way down. A startled “Oh!” flew out of her mouth as she landed with a bounce against something that had a surprising amount of give.
She lifted her head to find herself looking into the warmest, darkest eyes she’d ever seen. A shiver ran down her spine, while warmth flooded her system.
As her mind raced to catch up, she could only stare at the face of the beautiful black man she’d landed on.
Oh shit. She was in the middle of a coffee shop sprawled on top of an incredibly sexy man. She couldn’t see anything past his face, but his smile was wide and friendlier than she deserved considering she’d plowed him over. The body beneath hers was solid, hard in all the best ways. The hand on her back was big and warm, and sent tingles all over her body.
She should be mortified by the situation. She would be in a second, when everything clicked in her brain. But for the moment, she wanted to keep looking at this man, at the dark eyes she could get lost in. Hide a second longer in the tiny shelter her long dark hair created by falling around their faces.
He removed his hand from her back and fingered a strand of her hair. “You have blue in your hair.” His voice was rich and smooth.
She pulled back to get a better look at his entire face. It took a moment to sink in; his bald head threw her off. She still thought of him with the signature dreadlocks he’d shaved off for charity a few months ago. But when her brain caught up and she recognized the man spread out beneath her, her body went cold and stiff. A new sort of panic sizzled over her nerves. She was hallucinating; that was the only explanation. She’d cracked from the stress.
There was no way in hell that Marcus James, star tight end for the Milwaukee Dragons and the hottest player on the team, was in the campus coffee shop, his big body pressed intimately against hers. This guy had to be a different breathtakingly gorgeous man.
“I’m so—” she managed to squeeze out as she scrambled backward, off and away from him. Her voice sounded like a mouse that’d sucked helium. She swallowed hard and tried again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”
“No worries.” He sat up and wiped at a spot of coffee on his red athletic shirt. A shirt that hugged the very tight muscles underneath. Damn, the man was ripped.
He must be a Marcus James sound- and look-alike. Any other possibility was too surreal. Or maybe her entire day was a bizarre dream. At least then she wouldn’t have lost all her work. God, the tedium of going over all those data points a second time was disheartening.
Who was she kidding? It was Marcus James. And she’d just tackled him to the ground like she was the opposing team’s linebacker and he’d just caught the ball.
She shook off the mortifying thought and scurried to her feet. The side of her ankle stung where he’d clearly not kicked her but stumbled and hit her with his crutches. The ones he was using to lever himself off the ground. One of them bowed under his weight.
Oh hell, could this get any more embarrassing? He was recovering from surgery and she’d run into him hard enough to knock him to the ground, no easy feat considering he weighed upwards of 250 pounds—yes, she knew—and spill her coffee on him.
She forced herself to stay focused on him and not look at the small crowd she could feel staring at them. She would be downright mortified if she thought about the people who’d just witnessed her humiliation. Of all the ways to actually meet her favorite player, of course she did it by shoving him to the ground when he was already injured.
Scrambling to hold the door for him, she said, “Is your knee OK? Really, I’m so sorry.”
“Thanks.” He followed her into the afternoon sunshine. “My knee’s fine. Really.” His eyes shone with good humor as they fell into step together.
Marcus James, her celebrity crush, was walking down the sidewalk next to her, chatting. She needed some smelling salts so she wouldn’t faint.
Bree tried not to stare, but she couldn’t stop herself from shooting sideways glances at him. His crutches looked like little more than twigs under his powerful arms. He’d torn his right ACL a few weeks ago during the Dragons’ final preseason game, landing him on injured reserve for the entire season. Bree had been seriously bummed when she read that news, but figured it was better if her favorite player was out, since she needed all her focus this semester to be on finishing her doctoral dissertation. She was scheduled to graduate in December.
Marcus turned to look at her, and when their eyes met, a sizzle of awareness ran over her skin. The right side of his mouth curled up just a little. Did he feel it too?
Yeah, an NFL star was attracted to her. OK. Much more likely she was cracking under the pressure of finishing her dissertation and the embarrassment of being distracted enough to knock him over.
“So, um . . .” Conversational genius that she was, she didn’t have anything else to say.
“Hey, I need to find the science building.” Marcus saved her with his implied question. “And the campus map makes no sense. Any chance you can point me in the right direction?”