Football is everything, but love is the only game that matters.
Tate Durham, the newest Philadelphia football hottie, has been in love with Gia Capri since the moment he laid eyes on her back in college. Unfortunately, that happened the same night her destructive and doomed relationship with the troubled Matt Lampert began. Tate didn’t stand a chance.
In the year since Matt took his own life, Gia’s been sleep-walking through her days and just barely surviving her nights. She’s not sure that she’s capable of anything else . . . until Tate finds her sitting on the floor of a grocery store, crying over potato chips.
Tate’s patience and honesty begins to heal what’s broken in Gia’s soul. Still, no matter how hard he tries—or how much he loves her—making her whole again might take more than he can give.
But love never gives up. And neither will Tate.
If you’ve read the first three Keeping Score books, you might know a little bit about how Nate, Quinn and Leo’s story came to be. It was based loosely on three people I knew, although what happened ultimately with these three characters was different in real life than it happened in the books.
I never intended for there to be more than three books. But as seems to happen frequently with me, the side characters took on a life of their own. Matt Lampert, who was supposed to represent the majority of bullying kids in Nate’s life, became more important when he went to college with Leo. And when he met Gia Capri, one of Quinn’s best friends, something happened that I hadn’t expected. It wasn’t necessarily a good thing, because I already knew Matt was bad news. Since I liked Gia–a lot!–I was more than a little worried about what might happen in the long run.
Gia had come into existence because Quinn needed a friend who wasn’t part of the Trio. She needed a girlfriend who could give her insight into boys, and she needed someone who helped her to have a life beyond Nate and Leo.
It was also at the point that Gia and Matt met that I realized Gia was going to have her own book, mostly because another side character had also become important. Tate Durham came into the story at the end of When We Were Us, when he drove Leo back to Eatonboro after some devastating news. Tate was special, and he came to me with an involved back story that melted my heart. I’ll admit that I kind of fell for him right away.
After I’d finished writing Days of You and Me, I had even more insight into Tate–and then I lived with him for a year before I really dove in to writing his story. I found out that Tate was the kind of guy who seems like he’s too good to be true–but he really is that great.
Writing Tate and Gia’s story has been grueling. As I recently shared with a reader friend, Gia just bleeds all over the place. She’s hurting and she’s still devastated, and there’s more to her story than you know. But Tate has waited a long time for her, and he’s not giving up.
“Hey.” I twisted so that I could see her face more fully. “You’re not spoiled, Gia. Not by a long shot. You and I both come into this—into being us—in different ways, but that’s okay. Our paths might not have been the same, but that doesn’t make where we are any less valid. We are who we are, and I wouldn’t change a damn thing about that, even if I could. Everything that you’ve been through make up the Gia you are now. And I happen to think that Gia is pretty wonderful.” I kissed her forehead, just because I could. “I probably shouldn’t show my cards this early, but you know, I can’t hide anything from you. In case you haven’t noticed, the truth is that I’m pretty crazy about you. I’d do anything for you, babe. Anything at all.”
All during the process of giving Tate and Gia the story they deserve, music has fueled my motivation. I’ve been creating their playlist since I conceived of their book, and along the way, we’ve picked up a few more perfect numbers to help express how they feel and why they struggle. I invite you to enjoy their playlist even before you read their story.
I don’t think I’ll ever hear these songs again without thinking about this couple.
When Gia Met Tate (An excerpt from Hanging By A Moment)
“Hey, Durham. I was beginning to think you got lost.”
The guy who’d just approached our booth was as tall as Leo and built like a brick wall. His blond hair was cropped close to his head, and wide green eyes crinkled in the corners as he grinned at us.
“Nah, just got held up helping a buddy.” His eyes moved to me, and his smile broadened. “You must be Quinn. I’m really glad to meet you.” He nudged Leo’s shoulder. “I hear about you. All the time.”
Gladness swelled in my heart. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Leo or his love for me, but hearing that he talked about me to his friends gave me a big happy.
And Leo seemed to agree. He lifted one big shoulder and nodded. “It’s true. I have no shame. Quinn, this is Tate Durham. I told you about him this summer, remember?”
“Of course. Tate, it’s really good to finally meet you.”
He offered me his hand, and when I took it, he gripped my fingers. “Same here.” His gaze flitted to Gia, still standing next to me, and I spied a spark of interest there.
“Tate, this is my friend Gia Capri. She goes to Birch with me, and she was sweet enough to play navigator for me today.”
He shifted his attention and his hands to Gia. “Hey. Welcome to Carolina.”
Gia nodded. “Thanks.” She flickered a glance up and down his body. “You’re a football player, too?”
Tate shifted his weight and hooked his thumbs in the belt loops at the front of his jeans. “Guilty. You a fan?”
Her brows shot up. “Of you? Seriously, dude. I don’t know who you are. I didn’t even hear your name.”
If that put-down was meant to be a killing shot, it missed entirely. Tate only cocked his head, one side of his mouth curling into a half-smile. “I meant a fan of the game. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur, sugar.”
Gia’s cheeks flushed. “I appreciate football as a sport, yeah. I think most of the people who play it are assholes, though.” She looked at Leo and added, “With a few possible exceptions.”
“Hey.” Tate spread his hands in front of him. “No arguments here. No one knows better than football players what dicks we can all be.” He grinned, and an adorable dimple popped up on his left cheek. “But not all of us are that way all the time.”
“Yeah? In my experience, you’re all nice eye-candy and decent dancing partners. You’re good for fun, as far as that goes.”
“And some of us might be able to take it farther than fun.” Tate’s gaze was level and fastened on Gia’s face. “If we had the right incentives.”
I glanced at the two of them: Tate with his relaxed stance and steady eyes, and Gia, who stood defiant, her hands tucked into the back pockets of her jeans, a frown on her face. Electricity buzzed between them, and they both seemed to be hyper-aware of it.
Next to me, Leo whispered, “I’m not sure whether to send them back to their corners or suggest they get a room.”