Authors: Emma Hart
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary
The CALL series:
The WILD series:
The GAME series:
The Love Game
Playing for Keeps
The Right Moves
Worth the Risk
The MEMORIES series:
The BURKE BROTHERS series:
For my husband, who sat (and still sits) for hours, painstakingly teaching me all the rules of American Football, and never doubting that I could write a book on something I knew nothing about when I typed the first words.
Love you, honey.
un, dammit. Run!” I glance up from my drawing pad. “Go ahead, fumble it. Why wouldn’t you?” I lean back against the sofa. “And this is supposed to be good preseason form. Good, my ass!”
“Leah? Why are you shouting? Are we being attacked?”
I look over at my elderly aunt as she enters the front room, her cane clicking against the floor with each step. “No. It’s just the football. That’s all.”
“It’s the what? The wall?”
“Football,” I repeat, my eyes following the play on screen. “Are you wearing your hearing aid?”
“Oh!” She slides her hand into her pocket and removes the tiny device. “There,” she says as she fits it.
“Is it turned on?”
She fiddles with it. “It is now.”
I shoot her a fond smile. “Oh, go! Go!” I point my pencil at the screen. “Run, you useless—”
My mom interrupts me. “Shouldn’t you be working?” My mom interrupts me.
“Um, I am. Kind of.” I wave my pencil lamely in her direction and keep my eyes on the game.
She leans against the doorframe to remove her shoes. “I still don’t understand how you love football so much.” She sets them in the hallway then enters the front room.
“Butts,” Aunt Ada answers her. “It’s the butts, am I right, Lele?”
“Yeah, that’s it. I watch hours upon hours of football because of their butts. Hey!”
Mom waves the remote. “You have to get those designs submitted before Quinn sends you all your Fashion Week designs to finalize.”
“I know.” I swallow the bitterness that rises at the mention of New York Fashion Week. “It still sucks that I have to miss it.”
“You could be honest.”
“No.” I fill in some detail on the shirt on my pad. “I told you before. I want to be successful for my work, not because my mom is Hollywood’s sweetheart.”
“And I respect that, honey, but you should be there for your show.”
“Are they winning?” Aunt Ada butts in, perching on the sofa next to me. “What colors are they in?”
“Red and black, and”—I glance up—“yes, they’re winning. Only just.”
“Oooh, who’s that?”
“Corey Jackson,” Mom answers. “He’s the Vipers’ quarterback.”
“He’s a handsome young man, isn’t he?”
“Aunt Ada!” I snap my head up. “Are you seriously crushing on him? Don’t you have bingo or something to go to?”
She cackles. “Not tonight, dear. Where can I find him?”
“Oh my God!” I smack the pencil down and look at her. “You are not going cougar on me!”
Mom laughs. “He’ll be at the premiere tomorrow night. It’s a shame your bingo will interfere with that, Aunt Ada.”
“What? Since when?” I look at Mom.
“Since the invitations were sent out.” She fixes her blue eyes on me. “Have you listened to anything I’ve told you about the premiere?”
“I, er… Not exactly.”
“What? I’ve been real busy. Plus, I am
interested in being asked when my big acting debut is going to be. If I have to tell everyone one more time that there isn’t going to be one, someone’s gonna get hurt.” I raise my eyebrows and go back to my design.
Mom sighs, but it’s obviously fake. “You know the drill. Turn up, humor them, watch the movie, hang around for an hour. Then you can escape out of the back door.”
“Let’s swap,” Aunt Ada announces loudly. “I’ll go in your place, Lele. You can stay here and work.”
My eyes follow her line of sight to where Corey Jackson has a close-up on TV. “I hate to tell you this, but he puts out more than your friends on trash day.”
“He’s a young, handsome man. They all do.”
“What do you know about young, handsome men?” Mom scoffs, walking into the kitchen. She opens the fridge and pours herself a glass of white wine.
“I was young once, Grace. And I knew a lot of young, handsome men.”
“Whoa! Okay. TMI!” I shudder. “Let’s move on. Crap. What’s the time?”
Mom looks at her watch. “Six o’clock. Why?”
Dammit, I forgot to eat again. And dammit, I have to get dressed. I sigh. “Macey and Ryann are dragging me out for my birthday.”
“Remind Ryann that she has an audition tomorrow,” Mom says as I shut my sketchpad and get up.
“Sure.” I tuck it under my arm and head for the stairs.
“Did you eat dinner?”
“Are you lying to me, young lady?”
“Young lady? I’m twenty-two!” I holler down. “And no, Mom!”
I twist my bedroom door lock shut then dart into the bathroom. Reaching into the shower and turning the knob, I yell, “What was that? Sorry, the shower’s on!”
I’m so not getting away with that.
“My feet are killing me,” I groan, leaning against the bar. “This is why I don’t wear heels!”
“Nah, you’re fine. You just need another drink.” Ryann raps her knuckles against the top of the bar and flicks her hair. The bartender shoots down to us like a baby after candy. “Three tequila shots please.”
“Aw, shit,” Macey mutters. “Not tequila. Anything but the devil drink! That should only be drunk in the safety of my apartment.”
I hold the tiny glass in front of my face. “It’ll stop my feet hurting. I don’t give a shit.”
“I’ll remind you that you said that when you call me tomorrow with a hangover.”
“I promise I’ll drink some water before I go to bed. My mom will kill me if I’m hungover tomorrow.” I bring the glass to my lips and tip it back. “Holy shit.” The tequila lights a fiery trail from my throat to my stomach. “Another.”