Dare To Love Series: Dare Me Again (Kindle Worlds Novella)

BOOK: Dare To Love Series: Dare Me Again (Kindle Worlds Novella)
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Text copyright ©2015 by the Author.

This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by CP Publishing. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Dare To Love Series remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of CP Publishing, or their affiliates or licensors.

For more information on Kindle Worlds: http://www.amazon.com/kindleworlds

Dare Me Again

By Cora Seton

Other works by Cora Seton
The Cowboys of Chance Creek Series

The Cowboy Inherits a Bride (Volume 0)

The Cowboy’s E-mail Order Bride (Volume 1)

The Cowboy Wins a Bride (Volume 2)

The Cowboy Imports a Bride (Volume 3)

The Cowgirl Ropes a Billionaire (Volume 4)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Volume 5)

The Cowboy Lassos a Bride (Volume 6)

The Cowboy Rescues a Bride (Volume 7)

The Cowboy Earns a Bride (Volume 8)

The Heroes of Chance Creek Series

The Navy SEAL’s E-mail Order Bride (Volume 1)

The Soldier’s E-Mail Order Bride (Volume 2)

The Marine’s E-Mail Order Bride (Volume 3)

The Navy SEAL’s Christmas Bride (Volume 4)

The Airman’s E-Mail Order Bride

The SEALs of Chance Creek Series

A SEAL’s Oath

A SEAL’s Vow

A SEAL’s Pledge

A SEAL’s Consent

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Richmond Rule #1

Set a clear goal.

When a player tucks a football under his arm and turns to run, the yard lines tell him where he is and how far he has to go to score. Life is trickier. It’s up to you to set your goals and chart your progress. Until you do, you’ll run in circles while the defense prepares to pile on…

F
ULLBACK CONNOR WRIGHT smiled as he read Carolina Richmond’s latest post. Her
Go Long
blog taught women how to achieve success in sports and in their careers, but since she mined the exploits of the Miami Thunder each week for her examples, he wasn’t the only player on the team who read her work avidly. He didn’t feature in this week’s post, but sooner or later he’d turn up again. Carolina had a soft spot for him since he’d helped her make her first contact with the team, and she regularly dropped his name on her blog.

She was right on the money this week, as usual. Like most players, he constantly set goals and tracked his progress toward them. Recently he’d hit a big one—in his bank account rather than on the field. He finally had the money he needed to buy a ranch out west in his home state of Colorado, the reason he’d gotten into the game in the first place.

Actually, that wasn’t quite true. He’d gotten into the game because he loved football. He loved everything about it from the base physicality of charging an opponent, to the camaraderie of playing on a team, to the adrenaline rush of stepping out onto the field on game day. He’d miss it when his career ended, but he’d had a good run. Hell, make that a great run.

Now it was time to tackle a new goal—one that would define the next stage of his life. His friend and teammate, Terrence MacKenzie, called it the picket-fence package. House, wife, kids. Although in his case it was ranch, wife, kids.

“What the hell do you want a ranch for?” Terrence had asked him the first time Connor brought it up. The halfback had lived in cities all his life and the thought of a wide-open sky unnerved him.

“I grew up on one. Ranching is what Wrights do.” Connor didn’t mention that the Wrights had never owned a spread. They worked for other folks and could lose their jobs, houses and security at the drop of a hat. He’d only been nine when he decided he wanted far more than to work someone else’s cattle. He’d been fourteen when someone pointed out the answer.

“You keep playing like that, son, and you’ll go pro someday!” William Yates had been an assistant coach at Ohio State and a friend of Connor’s high school coach. The man had encouraged the other players in a similar fashion when he came to visit their team, but Connor took him at his word. If he was pro material, that changed everything. Professional players earned lots of money. It took money to buy a ranch; his father said that all the time. He’d always seen football as a distraction from his need to pay his way. It ate into time he should have spent on chores with his dad, or picking up a part-time job to earn some cash. The idea he could play football all the way to the bank revolutionized his entire approach to life.

Where once he’d trailed in last to practice, far more interested in game day than the drudgery of drills, now he was the first one dressed and ready to play. Where he used to disdain strategy, now he studied the playbook like his future depended on it. His future did depend on it; Connor Wright was aiming for the NFL.

He’d made it, too. First he’d played for Colorado State. Then he’d been drafted. He’d played for a couple of teams out west and spent the last eight years with the Thunder. His career had been everything he’d hoped for and more. He certainly had no regrets. He’d miss just about everything about playing football when he retired, but he’d long ago decided that wasn’t the way to view this change. Everyone had to leave the team sometime. He wanted to go with his head held high and his body intact. He also planned to dive into the second phase of his adult life with as much gusto as he had the first. It wasn’t enough for him to buy a ranch; it had to be a spread worth keeping in the family for generations to come. He wasn’t just going to have kids; he would work with them, play with them, teach them to ride, rope, and catch a pass for a touchdown. He wasn’t just going to marry any woman, either.

He wanted Carolina.

That’s where things got tricky. She’d attracted him from the start with her intelligence, her passion for all things sports-related and her big heart. Not to mention a body that was all delicious curves. The first time he’d laid eyes on her something within him had shifted and he known she was special, but all too soon she’d quickly announced her plans never to marry. She’d been burned before by a man—badly. She refused to be hurt again.

Connor was smart. He’d backed off right away, sure she’d change her tune over time. She hadn’t, though. He’d tried a hundred tricks to convince her he should be the exception to her rule. He’d even dated other women when nothing else worked. Carolina didn’t blink. He’d have thought she simply wasn’t into him if it wasn’t for the way she’d kissed him.

Once.

A kiss that pushed his body into overdrive.

Afterward she blamed it on the booze, the crowd, the night, but Connor knew better. Carolina wanted him too.

She was just too stubborn to admit it.

CAROLINA RICHMOND SAT uncomfortably on the paper liner that covered the padded examination table and crossed her bare ankles. “Are we done?”

“Not so fast.” Dr. Marjorie Sharp smiled over her shoulder. “I’m going to order up some tests for you.”

“Tests?” Carolina didn’t like the sound of that. She was as healthy as a horse. Always had been. She only came to these annual appointments to be a good example to the young women she mentored.

“You’re thirty-five,” Dr. Sharp said. “You’ve moved into a new age bracket. You need to keep a closer watch on your cholesterol and blood pressure, among other things.”

“Wait a minute, are you calling me old?” She was far from old. Carolina jogged ten miles four times a week. She worked out with weights three times a week. Took exercise classes as often as she could. Women half her age didn’t look as good.

“I’m calling you thirty-five. Now let’s talk about birth control. You’ve been on the Pill for a number of years. Is that still working for you?”

“Yes.”

“You’re using condoms with new partners?”

What new partners? She was too busy for dating. “Yes.”

Dr. Sharp raised an eyebrow. “What about kids? Have you ruled them out?”

Carolina blinked. “Of course I haven’t ruled them out. I’m going to have a family.”

“When?”

Dr. Sharp waited for an answer, and for the first time ever Carolina was at a loss for words. When
was
she going to have a family?

“I don’t know. Someday.”

Dr. Sharp pursed her lips. “I understand this is an uncomfortable topic for many women. You think you have plenty of time to have a child, and maybe you’re right. Science is doing all kinds of wonderful things that can prolong a woman’s child-bearing years.”

“I don’t need to prolong them. Women don’t hit menopause until fifty, right? I’ve got tons of time!”

“Maybe. Maybe not.” She shrugged. “At your age it begins to be a crap shoot. Some women get pregnant easily in their forties. Others don’t. If you wait too much longer you could face IVF and charts and shots and things like that.” She held up a hand to stop Carolina’s protests. “I’m not saying you have to make up your mind today. I want you to think about it before you slide into your forties. If you want a child, and especially if you want several, now is the time to make a plan. Go ahead and get dressed. You can pick up your test orders at the front desk.”

Carolina stood up slowly after the door closed behind the doctor. She’d love to think about children, but thinking about them meant thinking about men. And that meant thinking about commitment, something she wasn’t good at. Give her a project and she’d see it through to the end. Give her a cause to fight for and she’d champion it from start to finish.

But ask her to commit to a man?

Nope. That required trusting one. She’d learned five years ago not to do that when Sam Powell dumped her—right after she finished paying his way through medical school. She’d sacrificed her dream of a run at the Olympics as a first base player on the women’s softball team in order to help him become a surgeon. Broke and alone once he’d ditched her, Carolina had vowed never to make that mistake again. She also vowed she’d do what she could to stop other women from putting their own dreams last. She was a tireless fundraiser for girls’ and women’s athletics programs, and her blog,
Go Long
, espoused her ten
Richmond Rules for Success
. Since playing nice had gotten her nowhere, she’d decided to be audacious in her new career. She’d chosen the Thunder purposefully to illustrate her
Rules
each week. The audacity of using an all-male football team to teach women about success had guaranteed her notoriety overnight, and that notoriety fueled a following that had grown ever since. Now she was a respected presence at any professional sport activity.

If only she could have a child without involving a man. She supposed she could look up sperm donor clinics, but she was nothing if not a control freak. The idea of picking a random man left her dissatisfied.

Once dressed, she slung her purse over her shoulder, opened the door of the examining room, and headed toward the front desk to pick up her paperwork, lost in thought. She didn’t have to depend on a clinic; she could choose a man of her acquaintance and ask him to donate his sperm. Since she’d made a career out of convincing people to donate to her pet causes, she shouldn’t have a problem accomplishing that. All she needed was to choose the man. His genes had to be superior. She wanted someone smart, successful and healthy, with a great sense of humor. Someone she wouldn’t mind spending a night or two with.

A wicked smile tugged up the corner of her mouth. She knew just the man.

Connor Wright.

The thought of sleeping with the sexy fullback made her weak in the knees. He’d been her fantasy-fodder since the day they met, even though she’d resisted his advances at every turn. The fact that he was as intelligent as he was hot had made it all the harder to keep her distance. It was a good thing Connor couldn’t read her mind. If he knew how many times she’d made love to him in her dreams he’d redouble his efforts to date her. If she chose him as the father for her child, she could get pregnant and quench her thirst for him all at once.

After that it would be easy to walk away for good.

Richmond Rule #2

Find a coach you trust to bring out the best in you.

You’re fabulous as you are, but the right coach will help you discover your true potential. You might curse and gripe at them all the way, but they’ll be the first person you thank when you win the Super Bowl…

“S
HOW HER THE balance in your bank account. That ought to grab Carolina’s attention.” Connor’s older brother, Daley, shot him a devious grin.

“I don’t think that will do it.” Connor leaned against the deck railing and took a sip of beer. Daley’s beachside house was everything his own modest bungalow wasn’t, but Connor didn’t envy him. Daley meant to stay in Florida, while Colorado was calling Connor’s name. He’d kept his spending modest throughout his career on purpose, but when he bought his ranch, he wouldn’t stint. “Carolina’s not interested in marriage.”

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