Second chances are always the best; just ask Olivia and Hatch

Today is the last day to vote for the Book of the Year…and here are a few little taste for you.


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Tasty tidbit #1

Every move after that, to her, seemed to have some kind of sexual connotation.

The air between them vibrated with the electricity sparking back and forth. By the time he paid the check and they left the restaurant, every pulse in her body pounded, her breasts ached, and her teeny tiny thong was soaked. She wanted to hurry home and take a cold shower before she did something really stupid.

In the truck, he turned on the radio and found a station playing oldies rock music that he tuned low. They rode in a silence that was more electric than uncomfortable, especially when he reached over and took her hand in his, giving it a gentle squeeze. When they reached her townhouse, he again lifted her from the cab and walked her to the door, holding her hand. When she had the door open, he turned her to face him and studied her face for a long time. She waited, wondering if she had the willpower not to cross that line from professional to personal and how much damage she’d do if she did.

“You have to be the sexiest sports reporter I’ve ever met. I would really like to kiss you. Would that be okay with you?”

She should have turned away, but she couldn’t find the willpower. The kiss was soft and gentle, a mere brush of lips, a touch of flesh. Then it was over, but she wanted more. A lot more. She could feel this spinning out of control, and she was powerless to stop it.

“If you invite me in, I’m not going to turn you down.”

Tasty tidbit #2

Hatch winced at the memory of how goofy he must have sounded to the lovely woman he was going to be having a fair bit of contact with this season. Olivia Grant was, without a doubt, beautiful, not to mention sexy as hell. She was a natural reporter, putting him at ease, even in the face of his high-school-ish reaction to her at first. But dear Lord, the crap he’d said? That shit about her being “better than she thought” at the race? And “looking for a foot in the door”? He’d sounded about as slick as the grandpas he’d been named for.

He groaned and pressed his forehead to the leather blotter on his new desk. After his divorce, he’d made a point not to notice women, something that was a bit of a self-imposed penalty. But there was no not noticing Olivia. Her soft, dark blonde hair that kept dropping over one of her deep green eyes as she’d look down at her notes, then back up at him. That smile, and those full, barely lip-sticked lips. And there was no denying she had a body that would be hard to shake out of his brain. Scott had told him she used to play soccer here, a few years behind him as an undergrad. How he’d not known her… Granted, he hadn’t been a big partier then, kept mostly to himself and his close group of friends and, as always, focused on the game.

But damn. He’d missed out on something then, without a doubt. He felt his face flush red and his entire body begin to react in ways that didn’t really serve him well as a fully grown man, with plenty of experience under his belt, so to speak.

Thankfully, she’d left before he could embarrass himself any more.

Home. Shower. Beer. Stare at a string of old movies on the giant television screen. Anything to get the lovely Olivia Grant and all her many attributes out of his head. She was, after all, the media. And everyone knew how he felt about the media.

It was get a grip time—on all parts of himself.

This was his chance at redemption. The opportunity was a godsend, considering the sorry state he’d left his life in on the west coast, and he didn’t intend to do anything to screw it up. He couldn’t afford to get distracted by a single thing. But how the hell was he going to do that when Olivia Grant might prove to be the biggest distraction of all?

Tasty Tidbit #3

Setting aside the high tech, Hatch tugged his well-worn comp book from under a stack of files and flipped it open. “Okay, where are we with the team today?”

George heaved a long sigh, his typical response Hatch had learned after an initial flash of panic when he’d heard it the first morning in response to this question.

“Well, a couple of them are in a bit of…personal conflict,” George began.

The table groaned in unison. They were a room full of overgrown boys who were lucky enough to get paid to coach a sport they’d never been able to let go of. Himself included. They all knew what “personal conflict” meant. He leaned on his elbows and met George’s gaze. “Let me guess. Tony and Josh are still at it over…”

“Yeah. Her,” George said. “Anyway, last night was a doozy. I dealt with it.”

“You should’ve called me,” Hatch said. A flash of anger hit his brain. He’d insisted that his staff deal with all low-level problems, but that he be notified of them immediately. He didn’t want plausible deniability. He wanted to know everything, even if he didn’t deal with it directly.

“I did, Hatch,” George, said, his lips pressed into a firm line. “You check your phone or were you too busy on a…date?”

The briefest of pauses between the last two words of George’s sentence made him snap to attention and realize something he’d forgotten. Avon, Michigan, was a damn small town. Anchored as it was by Lakeview U and tourism, the city revolved around sports, wind conditions on Lake Michigan, and how the fish were biting in the smaller lakes surrounding the immediate area, which had inspired the name of his alma mater.

And he’d taken Olivia to what was easily the nicest restaurant in town. The key words being “in town.” Jesus, he was an idiot. And in his idiocy had jeopardized her, professionally and otherwise. He resisted the temptation to slap his forehead.

“Uh, right.” He pulled the device from his pocket and noted the four missed calls and string of texts outlining how George and Marc had had to go to the dorms and break up Fight Night, Jaguars-style. Since the team had broken down into two camps, they were going at it so hard, several of them were going to show up to practice with black eyes and fat lips.

“Shit,” he muttered under his breath. When he looked up, every set of eyes was on him. None of them accusatory, but all of them curious. He put the phone face down on the table.

“Yes, George, I was out to dinner…and it went…ah…late.”

The loud whoops of delight that hit his ears made him lean back. He held up both hands and waited while George collected the dollars tossed at him. Boys. Boys in men’s bodies. He bit back the smile and kept his expression stern while George made a show of counting the money before folding it and tucking it into his pocket.

“Do you mind? We have a team to prepare.” He pointed at the whiteboard. The men around the table got back to work with only a few more high fives and smirks.

Tasty tidbit #4

She grinned. “Were you watching for me?”

“As a matter of fact, yes.” He reached for her hand. “Come on in.”

Olivia stepped into a small foyer that led into a wide living room. A huge bay window looked out on the front lawn, the drapes drawn to block the view to any passersby. Table lamps poured soft light into the room that opened to the dining room and kitchen, like a huge family room. Comfortable furniture and soft colors gave the whole space a warm, relaxing feeling.

“Nice decorating job,” she told him.

He laughed. “You can thank my mother. Yes, even at my age, my mother doesn’t trust me to pick out a chair. When I bought the house, she spent a week creating what she called a home befitting my position in life.”

“She did a good job.” She laughed. “Except for the big whiteboard on the wall. What did she say about that?”

“That I’m obsessed and too old to change.” He still had hold of her hand, the contact sending warm tingles up her arm.

“At least she knows you’re focused.”

“How about a drink? Your choices are beer, wine, bourbon, or iced tea.”

“Um, wine, please. White, if you’ve got it.”

“Chilling in the fridge, as a matter of fact. Every possible version of white.”

She smiled. A man going out of his way to make sure she had what she wanted was such a pleasant change. “Sauvignon blanc, please.”

He got down a wine glass, opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc, and filled the glass for her. He grabbed a beer for himself, popped the top, and touched the bottle to her glass. “To a great evening.”

“I’ll definitely drink to that.”

He took a long swallow but kept his eyes on her, the dark chocolate of his irises warm with heat and the flare of hunger. An answering heat rushed through her. She sipped her wine, pulling herself together.

“Like I told you,” he reminded her, “a simple meal tonight. Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, and a salad.” He winked. “I make a mean salad.”

Olivia laughed. “A talent I appreciate. I’m a big fan of salads.”

They were standing barely two inches away from each other. Hatch put his bottle down on the counter, took her wine glass, and set it down next to it. Then he wrapped his fingers around her wrists and pulled her those last couple of inches until their bodies were pressed together.

“Come here, you.” The words were soft but full of meaning.