Gideon Maynard is football royalty. Generations of his family have played the game, owned the teams, run the leagues . . . and so it’s no surprise that Gideon is the starting quarterback and star player for the Richmond Rebels. But underneath his aloof yet drool-worthy exterior, he’s nursing a bruised and skittish heart.
Sarah Jenkins swore off dating athletes years ago. She’s completely committed to her career in politics and public relations and to life as a single woman, and that’s the way she likes it, thank you very much.
When the two meet through friends, the attraction is instant and undeniable, but both Gideon and Sarah are smart enough to know that a relationship isn’t in the cards for them. Slowly, though, they find a way to friendship . . . and eventually, to something even deeper.
But just as playing football takes more than talent and hard work, a lasting love requires more than steamy nights and passionate kisses. Forever means believing in scary ideas like trust and forgiveness.
Is a happily-ever-after possible for two hurting, broken souls who are willing to risk it all for a love that won’t end?
A sneak peek!
“Gideon.” I stopped in front of him, the side of my leg brushing against the skirt of the chair upon which he was leaning. “I’m so glad to see you here tonight. I wanted to talk to you.”
His eyes met mine, that vivid blue slicing through me, traveling down the length of my body and then returning to my face.
His voice was a rumble, low and intimate, and I nearly lost my nerve. But . . . in for a penny, in for a pound.
“I needed to see you tonight . . . to tell you that I’m carrying your child.” I pressed the hand not holding my beer to my flat abdomen. “You’re going to be a daddy in a few months.”
It had been a gamble, using this preposterous lie to shock Gideon into relaxing a little and chatting with me, and for a terrifying moment, I was afraid I’d overplayed my hand. His face went as white as his dress shirt, and his eyes were blank with shock. Those full, sensuous lips that had brought me so much pleasure parted as he gaped at me.
I couldn’t torture him any longer. Doubling over, I snorted in laughter before I raised my beer bottle to my lips and took a long swig.
“Breathe, QB.” I lowered the bottle and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. “Oh, my sweet Jesus, you should’ve seen your face.”
Color was returning to his cheeks, and along with it, a flare of anger in his eyes. “That wasn’t funny, Sarah. Not one damn bit.”
“Oh, it was just a little funny.” I held up my finger and my thumb about half an inch apart. “If you had stopped to think one minute before you reacted, you would have realized that, for one, we practiced safe sex, and two, here I am, drinking a beer. Not exactly expectant mommy behavior.” I poked his ribs. “Besides which, what kind of woman would do that? I would hope you’d think better of me than that, Gideon, even if we’ve only known each other a little while.”
“You have no idea.” Gideon tilted back his head and drained his glass. “That kind of thing . . . it’s the subject of too many cautionary tales to make it a joke. From the time I was in high school, my parents have been warning me about safe sex and not putting myself into a position where a woman could claim I was the father of her child. That’s why hookups and one-night stands are so dangerous. No wonder they were so happy when I was with—” He broke off abruptly. “Anyway, safe sex or not, accidents happen. So no, that wasn’t at all a funny joke, Sarah.”
I rolled my eyes. “Point taken, but honestly, you deserved it.”
“Oh?” He quirked one eyebrow in that way that made him look like the lord of the manner. “How so, exactly? What have I done to you to earn that kind of treatment?”
I set one hand on my hip and tilted my head, giving him my best scolding stare. “You totally ignored me from the minute you got here today. You cut me dead earlier, before the ceremony. You didn’t even bother to stop by my table and say hello during the cocktail hour. Which, okay, well, that’s your prerogative, if you’re going to insist on being anti-social. But I finally walk right up to you, and all you can say is, ‘Hey, Sarah’? Seriously?”
Gideon flushed and rubbed one hand over his jaw. “What did you want from me? Was I supposed to sweep you into a kiss or some shit like that?” He shook his head. “This is why women make me crazy. You say one thing, but really, you have a completely different agenda in mind. A whole other set of expectations.”
“Oh, pul-ease.” I pretended to gag. “That’s utter bullshit—and you’re spouting it off because you know I’m right. If I was a guy who you spent the night with four months ago—”
“Never would’ve happened, princess. I don’t swing that way.”
I ignored his snarky interruption. “—a guy you hung out with at a party and then had a drink with at a bar after, then you would’ve waved the first time you saw me today, and you would’ve made sure to say hello at some point this evening. We would’ve tossed back some beers and caught up.”
A tick in his cheek twitched. “Maybe. You could be right. But we’ll never know, because you’re not a guy, and we did a hell of a lot more than hang out.” He shifted, and I sensed how uneasy he seemed, how uncomfortable he was—and that wasn’t just because of me.
Of course—he hated parties, and here he was, stuck at this one, forced to give the appearance of socializing . . . and too far from home to sneak away to his own space. I caught my bottom lip between my teeth, considering my options here.
“Hey.” I reached down and picked up his hand, holding it loosely in mine. It was just a friendly gesture, nothing seductive or romantic, but Gideon stared at our touching fingers as though we held a ticking bomb between us.
Still, I didn’t let go or move away. I couldn’t articulate, even to myself, why this mattered to me—but it did. Gideon Maynard, football legacy, sizzling hot and gifted quarterback with a bright and shiny future ahead of him, was the most alone man I’d ever met. It wasn’t my job to care, but I found myself in that place anyway.
“Hey,” I repeated. “It’s warm in here, isn’t it? I was thinking that I’d like to get out of the tent and maybe walk on the beach a little.” I pointed to the opening that led into the velvety darkness. “But I probably shouldn’t go by myself. The boogeyman might snatch me.”
Gideon’s lip curled. “I have a feeling he wouldn’t keep you long.”
Pretending I didn’t hear him, I tugged his hand. “C’mon. Keep me safe. I promise that I won’t compromise you out there.”
Still he hesitated, until I blew out a long breath of exasperation. “Gideon. Listen to me. I don’t have designs on you. I don’t want a reprise of our night in Richmond. But you promised to be my friend of convenience at stuff like this, and I’m holding you to that. Friends of convenience go for walks on the beach when the other friend needs it.”
“And you really need to go on a walk, out there in the sand?” Gideon wore an expression of long-suffering tolerance.
“No, QB, you need to go for a walk out there in the sand.” I pulled him again. “Come on. Trust me.”