Super Bowl Recipes for a Winning Party!

Is there anything that goes better with football than food? The perfect Super Bowl gathering this Sunday has to include recipes that are delicious, fun and easy to eat. Each dish is the perfect opportunity to score big for the home team!

The top five must-serve football foods for the 2020 season are:

  • Beermosa Let’s face it: mimosas aren’t really football drinks. In those prissy little flutes, they don’t hold up to yelling at theIMG_2732 refs or chest bumps when your team scores. But a beermosa, served in a sturdy mason jar, is just what you need for a Sunday late morning or early afternoon gathering . . . or basically any time.  My recipe is simple: two fingers of orange juice, then fill the jar with my favorite beer. I used Bud Light with Lime, to add a little more citrus kick.
  • Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels Wings are a football party staple, but they’re a mess to make and to eat. These pinwheels give you a taste of buffalo and bleu cheese together without all the napkins! They’re quick and easy to make, and they go a long way. There are many variations, but this is one I like.
  • Roasted Garlic Cheese Dip Football party dips have to possess enough ooomph to knock down a linebacker. This one seems delicate enough, but it packs a punch. The cheese is rich, FullSizeRender 22but it’s the roasted garlic that makes this dish soar like the pigskin through the uprights. Serve this dip with toasted croutons, and you can’t go wrong.  Find the recipe here.
  • Tot Skewers Plain old French fries are so 2014. And even if you dress them up with cheese and bacon, they tend to become soggy–and hard to eat. But these tot skewers are a step up: they stay crispy, and they’re super-yummy, too. The ranch seasoning is the secret here–get the whole story!
  • Bread Bowl Chili Having a football celebration without chili is a definite flag on the play. But serving it up in a way that’s new and fun is the real challenge. That’s why these adorable bread bowls are perfect. They contain just enough chili to satisfy–and these crusty sea salt and rosemary rolls are just the thing to add both flavor and a brand-new way to enjoy it. Pipe a little sour cream over top to form the football stitching and add FullSizeRender 20some creaminess.  Use your own favorite chili recipe, scoop out the rolls and dish it up.

I’ll be serving all these dishes this Sunday as we enjoy the game! I think Leo, Quinn and the rest of the gang would approve of this menu!

Lessons from a garage sale

Over the past three years, since my husband’s ministry launched, we’ve had a lot of garage sales. Honestly, we’ve always been a family who did sales about twice a year, but when having one can mean the difference between eating and not, they tend to take on a different meaning.

I have often been guilty of just dragging out the stuff we’re selling and determining price when someone’s interested, but for today’s sale, I actually spent time organizing it, pricing it and having everything set up on tables so that I could just open the doors at 8 AM. I posted an advertisement on Craig’s List, listing a bit of what we were selling.

This morning at 7:30, I went out to finish up the last few things before opening the garage door. When my husband came in from a quick grocery store trip to get coffee, he told me there were three cars parked outside, and someone had asked him if we were opening at 8 on the dot.

That isn’t entirely unusual; particularly if you advertise certain items, early birds will show up. Still, I decided that since I was all set, I’d go ahead and start opening the door a bit early, at about 7:50.

I was not prepared for what met me. People standing outside the door began pushing in, all of them yelling and asking me where the jewelry was. I had had the foresight to keep the more valuable pieces inside, so no one could get to it, even as they attempted to begin combing through items on the tables, as my husband and I tried to move things out.

It was bedlam. Once I’d moved the tables into place, I brought out the pricier jewelry. And then things really got interesting.

People yelled. They grabbed. I was scratched on the arms as each one tried to snatch up his or her fair share–or more. They fought with each other. They were nasty, mean-spirited.

In the end, while I sold all of the pieces save one, I’m sure I was taken advantage of in terms of price, because I was completely overwhelmed and almost sickened by the entire process.

In all of my years of hosting sales, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve met quirky people; I’ve certainly met pushy customers who have tried to get me to lower the price on things that they knew were valuable. I’ve met those who bordered on rude. But most people who frequent sales are kind, generous, friendly and interesting. We’ve been especially impressed by how many people are supportive of the ministry and eager to help us keep it going, or at least want to know more about our mission.

Today was beyond the pale.

It wasn’t long before all of the ravenous gold buyers had left, and one man who’d arrived later lingered. He’d seen the tail-end of the feeding frenzy and asked me about it. I told him a bit of the bedlam, and then I offered to let him look at the one remaining ring I had, the piece that had been at the center of much of the contention.

He examined it and handed it back to me. “Your price is right on,” he told me. “Don’t let them talk you down.” A few minutes later, he left and then came back with an official gold scale, weighed the ring for me and showed me the value, proving that what I’d been asking for wasn’t unreasonable.

In the face of so much greed and nastiness, he was kind and generous with his time and information.

A little while later, a lady who’s been at my past sales came by. We chatted briefly about the jewelry vulture experience, and then she said, “Well, hopefully you made enough to make your rent.”

I sighed and told her that we hadn’t yet. She nodded.

“I’m not a religious person,” she began. “I don’t really believe in anything. I don’t go to church. But I was here before, and I heard you telling someone that everything works out. You said that God had taken care of you before. I remember you saying that. If he did then, I think he will now, too.”

My breath caught because this woman was saying precisely what I needed to hear, at the moment I needed to hear it. She didn’t buy anything, but she actually gave me more than anyone else did today.

As I sit tonight, considering how the day went, I could focus on the people who swarmed me early in the morning. I could be sad that we didn’t sell more, that my porch is filled with unsold items that will be donated later this week.

Or I could be grateful for the man who reassured me that I hadn’t held out too long on the price of the ring. I could focus on the woman who reminded me that it’s going to be okay, who reminded me of my own words. I could appreciate that we did make something toward the amount we need.

You don’t have to be religious or even spiritual to choose your point of focus. You just have to shift perspective . . . make the choice to see what is positive. I’m not preaching here. I know how hard life can be. Trust me.

But I’m going to do my best to look at the sunny side whenever can. Won’t you join me?

 

A new romantic suspense box set for only 99 cents? Yes, please!

Where can you find a three-book read with romance, suspense, AND characters who leave you wanting more–all for less a buck? How about right here?

Check out my friend Lisa Hughey’s new box set–which is 99 cents for a limited! As a very special preview treat, I happen to have an excerpt below . . . keep scrolling, because I promise, you’ll be hooked once you read this tempting tidbit.

This box set includes the first three books in the ALIAS series: Stalked, Hunted, and Vanished.

Stalked: Opposites attract, unfortunately.

Rule follower, Federal US Deputy Marshal Alex Saunders has been assigned to protect a federal judge after the judge receives death threats. This detail is standard until the judge insists on his son’s PR firm provide backup security, which isn’t even in the rule book. But because Alex is already in hot water, he follows orders to keep the judge happy.

Rulebreaker, and former CIA analyst, Kita Kim reluctantly agrees to go undercover, posing as the judge’s aide slash girlfriend, but in return she expects her boss at ALIAS to help her protect an abused woman and her nieces even though technically keeping the children from their father is against the law.

From the very start, Alex and Kita disagree about everything. But their sizzling attraction continues to grow as the threats against the judge escalate and put them all in danger. Can these two opposites find enough common ground outside the bedroom, or will their diverse philosophies result in disaster?

Hunted: There’s only one thing worse than seeing your unrequited crush every day at the office…and that’s getting trapped with him in a snowy mountain cabin.

Maria Torres has been through hell and back. A former kidnapping victim, she’s used to being famous for all the wrong reasons and having people handle her with kid gloves. And it seems that the man of her dreams, Dwayne Lameko, is no different.

So when an ALIAS client requests her presence on an op, Maria believes she’s ready to spread her wings and prove all her co-workers wrong…especially Dwayne. But when danger follows them into the wilderness, Maria has no choice but to prove to herself and Dwayne that she’s strong enough to handle anything…even his love.

Maria Torres was first introduced in the Family Stone series, Still the One. She finally gets her happily ever after.

Vanished: He’ll do anything to find his brother’s killer….

His final opportunity…

On an unsanctioned mission, Scottish NCA officer Hamish Ballard tracks his brother’s killer across the ocean…until he hits a dead end at Adams-Larsen Inc and Associates, a supposed PR company. Owner Jillian Larsen knows more than she admits, and he’ll do anything to uncover her secrets, even fake an interest her. He’s got one week to complete his goal. But his attraction is all too real and using her when she was just a name in a report was easy, but now he’s falling hard for his foe.

Her first responsibility…

Jillian Larsen’s purpose in life is helping people who are in jeopardy disappear and she has never betrayed a client. When a Scottish hottie accuses her company of hiding a criminal, she has no intention of revealing her client’s whereabouts or giving in to her inconvenient attraction for the sexy pain in her ass. But what does she do if the woman she relocated turns out to be a criminal? When her business partner vanishes along with their complicit client, can she use Hamish to track them down without risking her heart?

Their only chance…

He needs her resources. She needs his intelligence. Working together is the only logical choice, but it means jeopardizing everything.

Now enjoy this sneak peek from the first book in the box set!

Excerpt from Stalked

Alex Saunders already hated this job.

Federal judge Robert “call me Bobby” Adams was a pain in the ass. He’d agreed to protection and then demanded a backup. A private backup. From everything Alex could ascertain, the judge was throwing his son a bone, tossing cash to the son’s firm, Adams-Larsen Inc. and Associates. The judge insisted on hiring them as secondary security protection. A service that as far as Alex could tell, the firm was ill-equipped to provide.

Adams-Larsen was an image consulting firm. He tried to keep an open mind…although in his opinion if you lived a clean life, you shouldn’t need help cleaning up your image.

So far, he’d seen a chick dressed as a giant mugger assaulting a frail woman that a strong gust of October wind would blow away. He couldn’t say why he thought the mugger was a woman, except that there’d been something in her stance….

She’d been watching him and he’d had a vision of stripping away the mugger outfit to reveal what lay beneath. Her gaze had pierced the armor of his self-control and for a moment, he’d been tempted to stand by the floor-to-ceiling windows and just…watch.

Mentally he gave himself a slap. He was acting just like the guy harassing the judge. Except something hinky was definitely going on with the judge and his stalker. Alex just didn’t know what. Yet.

They stopped by a receptionist’s desk. The judge halted, bent to the Latina woman who guarded the inner sanctum of this business.

“Maria.” The judge’s voice had softened, gentled.

Ho now. What was that all about?

“Hello, Judge Adams.”

“Now, darlin’, I’ve told you to call me Bobby.” He reached out to clasp one of her hands, but after she pulled back subtly, the judge patted her hand. “How are you?”

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat, her smile uneasy. “I’m doing…good.”

“I’m very pleased to hear that.” Judge Adams beetled his brows. “You need anything, you call me.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The weirdest part of the whole exchange was the way the judge acted almost fatherly toward the woman. In the two hours Alex had observed him relating to women, he hadn’t once displayed this kind of behavior. And he’d watched Judge Adams interact with a lot of women.

“Gentlemen.” A smoky contralto interrupted his thoughts. Alex turned toward the sexy voice and stopped.

She was freaking gorgeous.

Slender, stacked, and elegant. She wore a suit with a pencil skirt in a bold patriotic red, glossy lips matched her skirt and demanded attention, and a pair of heels made her legs look fantastic. She had classic Scandinavian coloring, white-blond hair, pale skin, and high cheekbones with unusual dark gray eyes.

The judge straightened. “Jillian, dear.”

So this was Jillian Larsen. The judge’s son’s business partner. For some reason her name sounded familiar. The judge smiled and clasped Jillian Larsen around the shoulders, embracing her in a hug that went on just a little too long.

Her smile was absolutely, politely professional as she eased away. “Nice to see you again, Judge.”

“Where’s Marsh?”

“Marsh is on assignment right now.” She was lying through her perfectly straight, unnaturally white teeth. “He sent his regrets.”

“Not a problem.” The judge dismissed the statement, either not knowing or not caring that she’d lied. “I had planned to request a favor from you in any event.”

“Why don’t you both come into my office.” Jillian Larsen led them toward a set of tall mahogany doors. “And you can tell me all about it.”

Her stride hitched for a barely perceptible moment, then she led them away from the giant desk situated in front of a wall of bookshelves and toward a more casual sitting area with wing chairs and a small sofa. She strode easily and confidently, leaving the men in her wake, while the judge stared at her butt for just a little too long.

She was young enough be to his daughter. But that didn’t seem to matter to the man. He was an equal opportunity dawg. With the very bizarre exception of the receptionist.

Jillian Larsen sat in a wing chair, leaving another chair and a settee for Alex and the judge.

Quickly Judge Adams introduced Alex, only by name, not mentioning the reason he was accompanied, then skimmed over the details of his problem.

Jillian Larsen didn’t say a word as the judge glossed over the specifics of receiving very detailed emails, expertly encoded letters no less, with explicit death threats. No cut-and-paste pictures out of magazines for this guy. The US Marshals’ computer guys were still trying to de-code the high-tech encryption. And they still hadn’t determined where the emails originated from.

Jillian listened intently, her mouth pursed and her unusual gray eyes flat.

The judge wound up, “So you see my dear, I’m hoping that we can hire you to be an additional…pair of eyes until this nonsense stops.”

Without even glancing at Alex, she demurred. “You’re asking us to engage out of our area of expertise, Judge. You are not our typical agency client.” She pulled out a smartphone and started thumbing through her contacts. “I can recommend several good security—”

“Jillian. Cut the horseshit.” The judge’s affable, good-old-boy demeanor had been replaced by the guy who’d managed to survive the Congressional vetting process unscathed and made difficult decisions to send traitors and high-level criminals to federal prison for life. “I need you to make this happen.”

Alex was pretty sure there was a threat in Judge Adams’s words but damned if he could figure out that underlying warning.

“You’re in a precarious position as it is after the debacle last month with the FBI.”

Maybe that was why her name sounded familiar. Memories finally clicked. A prominent Russian businessman with shady connections had been killed in a shootout right here at Adams-Larsen. The story in the press was that the Russian had a love interest in DC and had entered the country illegally. Something had gone awry and he’d taken a hostage. Congress was set to hold private hearings on the situation, wanting to know how the man got into the country and why he ended up dead. Alex had thought there was a whole hell of a lot of logistical things left out of that story.

“It would be embarrassing if you ended up with more negative press. Not great for a…PR agency.”

Mentally Alex perked up. Forget the prior veiled warning, the judge had just very clearly and overtly bullied Jillian Larsen, his son’s business partner. Although Alex still had no idea what the judge was talking about.

Jillian blinked, never once losing her composure. “With Bliss and Rissa mostly on the West Coast these days, I’m shorthanded right now.”

“You’ll do.”

Denial in her gaze was swift but her comeback was smooth and unhurried. “I’m sorry but I’m needed here at the moment. Perhaps Dwayne.”

“Need a woman.” The judge was shaking his head. “She can pose as my personal aide.”

Finally the reason they were here clicked in Alex’s brain. The judge didn’t want an additional bodyguard, he wanted a playmate. Or he wanted a bodyguard who looked like a playmate.

“Ms. Larsen, perhaps it would ease your mind to know that the US Marshals will be running point on Judge Adams’s case and he will be under their protection.”

“That would be you?” she asked coolly.

Alex nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”

Her eyes went flat again, almost as if his being a deputy marshal worked against him. Alex could practically see her brain synapses firing as she considered then rejected options. But she didn’t shut the judge down. Did that mean she didn’t trust the US Marshals? The United States Marshals office was the best personal protection security in the world. Certainly head and shoulders above some Beltway spin doctors who were so bad at PR they were going to be part of a congressional hearing.

This detail was a freaking train wreck.

But on his last job, after loudly protesting the authenticity and suitability of the US Marshal’s witness he’d been charged with protecting, Alex had received an official reprimand from HR. It didn’t matter that his instincts had been right on target. The fucking idiot had violated the terms of WitSec within a week of being relocated, and in another week he’d been dead.

Killed by the very people he was supposed to be hiding from.

Alex had a bad feeling about this job. But the ding in his personnel file didn’t give a shit, and he could not afford to fuck up this assignment.

The immediate consequence of speaking up on his last case had been a transfer to the Judicial Protection branch of the Marshals, and the protection of one ornery Judge Robert “call me Bobby” Adams.

Right away the judge had put him in an awkward position by requesting the addition of an Adams-Larsen employee. But Alex’s new boss told him to do whatever the judge wanted to keep him happy. Having additional backup outside the assigned Marshals—namely him and his partner, Shep—was highly unusual.

“I may have one person.” She was so reluctant that Alex couldn’t imagine her choice would be acceptable.

“Well, go get her,” the judge ordered.

Jillian Larsen moved elegantly, crossing her legs, and pressed a button on her cell phone, turning it into a two-way comm system. “Maria, can you page Kita for me?”

The judge glanced at his diamond-rimmed, 14-carat gold Rolex. “I’ve got an important pretrial meeting in an hour.”

Alex was an expert at reading people. Jillian Larsen wanted desperately to tell Judge Adams to go to hell, but she pasted a very polite smile on her lips and held back the harsh words.
“Maria, have her come up right away.”

Alex made a mental note to check into the background of the employees of this agency. He hadn’t had a chance to do more than find out they did image consulting since Judge Adams dropped this bomb on him.

“But, Jill.” They could all hear the hesitation in her assistant’s voice. “She’s in the sparring room.”

“Right. Away.”

“Okay.” You asked for it was implicitly implied in the receptionist’s dubious tone.
#

Kita rushed up the stairs. Was something wrong with Marsh? She couldn’t believe that thought hadn’t occurred to her when the judge walked in.

They needed to see her right away.

She’d removed the padded assailant suit, stripped down to a tight wicking sleeveless top and a pair of skimpy spandex shorts. She’d tugged on a pair of running shoes and splashed water on her face and skimmed over her pony. The temp inside the assailant suit got damn hot and her face felt like she’d sat in the sun at a Nationals game in the dead of summer. She also smelled a little funky and the quick spritz of Dwayne’s Axe didn’t really mask the odor. She’d have preferred a cold shower. But Jillian had said, “Right away.”

Kita burst into the reception area. “Everything okay? Something wrong with Marsh?”

“Not as far as I know,” Maria Torres said softly. She was still finding her confidence. She’d been abducted as a teenager and spent eight years in a solitary prison before she’d managed to escape. Kita couldn’t even imagine the fortitude it had taken for her to not crumble up and wither away. But she hadn’t. And slowly but surely Maria was coming out of her shell and growing into the woman she was meant to be.

Relief washed over Kita.

“When you ask for right away, this is what you get, stinky and sweaty.” Kita grinned.

“Apparently they couldn’t wait for you.” Maria rolled her eyes and Kita loved that little bit of ’tude. “Go on in.”

She strode into Jillian Larsen’s office, then felt as if she’d walked into an alternative dimension.

Three people, elegantly dressed, sipping beverages out of delicate china cups, turned at the same time as if choreographed. They were having a tea party and she’d just crashed it.

“You wanted to see me.” Right away. They sure hadn’t given her time to clean up.

“Kita, thanks for coming so quickly.” Jillian put down her cup, the clatter of china loud in the suddenly silent room.

In her St. John suit and matching pumps, with her perfectly smooth blond hair and expertly applied makeup, Jill was the epitome of polished and poised. Kita was the unkempt homeless girl compared to Jillian’s high society princess.

Both men rose to their feet. If she hadn’t been distracted by the sheer power of the man to her right she might have been amused at their old-fashioned gesture.

Immediately her gaze went to the unknown man. Up close his presence was even more compelling. Blue-black hair, a leanly chiseled, uncompromising face, and the stoic expression in his reserved pale blue eyes captivated her.

Like the magnetic pull of the moon, she couldn’t stop staring at him. She was drawn to him. Power. He’d exuded it merely sitting in the effeminate chair.

His shoulders were broad, and although his button-down cotton shirt was just a little too loose to reveal the muscles beneath, she sensed his strength. And she wondered again who he was and what he wanted with her.

She knew what she wanted with him.

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Sway: Keeping Score Book 6

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?

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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.

“Hey, Sarah.”

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.”

 

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