Fallon Parker’s dream has always been to turn her family’s wine company into a runaway success and eventually start a cellar of her own. Since graduating from college, she has worked relentlessly to make that dream a reality, especially after taking a chance on love—and losing. By the time Fallon becomes an official sponsor of the Nashville Assassins, she feels like all her hard work is finally paying off. And then the man who broke her heart skates back into her life.
On the ice, Lucas Brooks is the NHL’s leading scorer—at least when he’s not in the box. Off the ice, he’s a mess, with all his anger and misery bottled up inside. He threw away the most important person in his life and has regretted it ever since. But when Lucas returns to Nashville in a trade, he’s determined to convince Fallon that he’s a changed man. The attraction is still there. The tension is electrifying. But the odds are stacked against them—especially after Lucas finds out that Fallon has been keeping a devastating secret.
Praise for Toni Aleo’s Nashville Assassins romances
“Aleo melts the ice and hits it into the net with her Assassins series.”—Award-winning author Jami Davenport
“Taking Shots is really the whole package. You get romance, humor, steamy sex, drama, and then it all wraps up with a great conclusion. I am amazed that this is Toni’s first book. She has come out in a huge way. I can’t wait to read more from her. Don’t hesitate for a moment to grab this book.”—Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
“A little steamy, a little heartbreaking, and a whole lot of fanning yourself are in order this time around, readers. Are your cheeks feeling a little pink yet? Get used to the feeling.”—Dreaming in the Pages, on Trying to Score
“Empty Net is an honest, heartwarming, endearing story. . . . Toni Aleo doesn’t just write a story. She gives you the ability to experience the journey of her characters right along with them. Her stories are enveloped with passion, emotion, humor, love; and let me tell you, that girl knows how to write a sex scene that just makes you sweat!”—Guilty Pleasures Book Review
“Sexy and riveting . . . the perfect combination of love and lust.”—USA Today bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, on Blue Lines
“Funny, charming, sweet, sexy . . . [Falling for the Backup] has everything you want in a story.”—Blushing Reader
Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
“Hey, sis,” Audrey said over the phone in her happy-go-lucky tone.
Fallon was far from happy. More like devastated. She sat in her bathroom, phone pressed to her ear, with nineteen boxes of pregnancy tests around her, all of them saying the same thing—pregnant. What was she gonna do? How was she gonna make it? It was her senior year, how was she supposed to raise a baby and go to college with no help from anyone? Her dad would flip. Oh, God, Lucas was gonna flip.
“Audrey.” Fallon tried to talk without breaking down, but a sob tore through her and she started crying.
“Fallon, what’s wrong?”
“Pregnant?” Audrey repeated, after a brief silence.
“My thoughts exactly,” Fallon agreed, as she started to gather all the sticks that confirmed her pregnancy.
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know, but I can’t stay here.”
“I know that, but Dad is gonna freak, like seriously flip out,” Audrey said, softly crying.
“Oh, Audrey don’t cry, I didn’t call to upset you.”
“I know that, I’m scared for you.”
“Me too,” Fallon said, and she started crying again. They sat talking on the phone, crying, racking their brains, trying to figure out what to do. Finally, Audrey came up with an idea.
“Clean out your bank account, take it all.”
“Audrey, that’s over ten thousand dollars! Where am I supposed to put that kind of cash?”
“In your suitcase. After you do that, call Mom and Dad. Tell them. They are gonna freak and demand you come home.”
“I know, but why am I cleaning out my bank account?” Fallon asked, confused.
“Because you and I both know that Dad is gonna cut you off, and you’re gonna need that money to survive on. Remember I’ve been through this.”
Oh yeah, Fallon thought. Audrey had become pregnant her senior year in high school. Like always, Audrey did just as their father asked and had an abortion. But Audrey knew that wasn’t an option for Fallon, that her sister couldn’t do it, regardless of whether the father was going to help out or not. This was Audrey’s chance to help Fallon keep the baby that she wasn’t allowed to.
“You need to apply to Vanderbilt, like, today. Make sure you get in before you call Dad.”
“Audrey, I can’t go to school and raise a baby!” Fallon said, distressed. She was already freaking out about having to come back home a failure, and now Audrey wanted her to go back to school?
“You have to, Fallon, or he will disown you, or worse. Please, just believe me. I’ll help you,” Audrey pleaded.
Fallon sat for a moment, tears gushing down her cheeks as she tried to figure out how she could have let this happen. How was she going to ask her sister to help her raise a baby? Audrey needed to have a life, too. This was her and Lucas’s problem, there was no reason to bring Audrey into it. She needed Lucas’s help, but how was she gonna tell him?
“Whose baby is it?” Audrey asked.
“You don’t know him,” Fallon answered.
“Okay, have you told him?”
“No, we aren’t together.”
“Why?” Audrey asked.
“ ‘Cause he’s a cheating coward.”
“Okay then, are you going to tell him?”
Fallon sat for a moment. Was she gonna tell Lucas? She couldn’t even look him in the eye, never mind talking to him. How was she gonna tell him they were having a baby?
“No, I’m not.”
Fallon hadn’t realized she had started crying until tears fell on Aiden’s head. He looked up and made a face just as Audrey said, “Why are you crying?”
“I’m not, something got in my eye,” Fallon said, playing it off as she wiped her eyes. “Now, come on, Aiden, let’s get to bed.”
“All right, Mommy,” Aiden said as he skipped up the stairs, giving Audrey a kiss then heading into the house.
Fallon picked up her things and started up the stairs, but Audrey grabbed her free hand.
“You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine,” Fallon said, putting on a fake smile for her sister as she started into the house.
Fallon put her things down on her brown suede couch and headed up the stairs to Aiden’s room. With every step she took, a picture of Audrey, Aiden, and herself smiled back at her. When she was nine months pregnant, she had made sure to take a picture with Audrey, then of the three of them when Aiden was born, and the three of them each year for the last six years. It always had been just her and Audrey with Aiden against the world. Fallon couldn’t thank her sister enough for the sacrifices she had made for them; and she could honestly say that she couldn’t have done it without Audrey.
When Fallon had made the call home to tell her parents about the little baby that was growing inside her belly, her father had freaked. He told her to get an abortion and, of course, Fallon said no. As Audrey had predicted, he then threatened to take everything, but, thanks to her sister’s foresight, she had emptied her account and was somewhat secure.
After packing up everything in California, Fallon flew back home, moved into an apartment with Audrey, and started attending Vanderbilt. It turned out to be easier than she thought it would, all because of Audrey. She did everything to make sure Fallon was taken care of, which made Fallon sometimes wonder which one of them was the older. Audrey was the one running things while Fallon was a basket case—pregnant and trying to mend a broken heart. A hard feat for a pregnant woman.
It took three months for their father to find out that Fallon was living with Audrey, when he paid them a surprise visit. He became angry once again, saying that Fallon was dead to the family, and that if Audrey didn’t kick Fallon out, she would be dead to him, too. Audrey argued that Fallon was still in school, working hard to support herself, but he wouldn’t even talk to Fallon to find out the details. He left that afternoon in a huff and didn’t talk to either one of them until the day Aiden was born.
It seemed like a lifetime ago. . . . Thinking about the past, Fallon shook her head as she reached her baby boy’s bright blue door. Although her father still didn’t talk to her much, he did trust her enough to be the senior chief public relations manager, and he loved Aiden something crazy. So what else could she ask for? She sometimes wondered. Her trust fund, for one, would be great.