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Authors: Crista McHugh

In the Red Zone

BOOK: In the Red Zone
7.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Table of Contents

Title Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

A Note to Readers

Books by Crista McHugh

Copyright and Bio

In the Red Zone

The Kelly Brothers, Book 6


Crista McHugh

All-Star linebacker Frank Kelly is as well-known for his off-the-field hits as he is for his on-field ones. When a dance club brawl ends with him in handcuffs again, he’s rescued by a well-connected woman who can get the charges dropped in exchange for a small favor. If he’ll agree to play the part of a doting boyfriend for two months, she’ll keep him out of the slammer and help restore his reputation.
Kiana Dyer may be the daughter of a Hall of Fame football player, but the charity organization she took over when he died isn’t getting the media attention she’d hoped for. A staged romance with Frank Kelly is just the ticket she needs to get in the spotlight. As the lines between fake and real start to blur, she begins to wonder if bailing him out was the best call she’s ever made. Just when everything seems to be falling perfectly in place, scandal surrounds her charity, and she’s the one left scrambling to clear her name.
Recommended for those who like:
Sports Romance
Interracial or Multicultural Romance

The Kelly Brothers

The Sweetest Seduction
, Book 1

Breakaway Hearts
, Book 2

Falling for the Wingman
, Book 3

The Heart’s Game
, Book 4

A Seductive Melody
, Book 5

In the Red Zone
, Book 6

Here All Along
, Book 7 (June 2015)


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Chapter One


“Damn!” Frank Kelly drew the word out into two syllables, a habit he’d picked up since moving to Atlanta four years ago. “Would you look at the ass on the hot thing that just walked in?”

His teammate, Treson Dyer, didn’t even bother to look up from the text message he was typing out on his phone. “In a minute. It’s last call for placing bets on the West Coast games.”

“No, you really need to check this woman out.” As it was, it was taking all the strength Frank could muster not to drool at the set of curves that had just walked into the club. He’d always been an ass man, but she took bootylicious to a whole new level. The way her dress hugged her body made him long to touch the tempting flesh covered by the thin material. She stood near the entrance, craning her neck to peer above the dancers as though she was trying to find someone.

Frank rose from his table in the VIP section and patted his friend on the chest. “On second thought, you stay right there and keep betting on basketball games. I want her all to myself.”

“Have fun, Romeo,” Tre replied, his gaze never leaving his phone.

Frank used the excuse of smoothing out his shirt to wipe the sweat from his palms. On the field, he was the epitome of confidence. Nothing got to him—not loud crowds, extreme weather, or the reputation of the future Hall of Fame quarterback hunched across the line from him. He just zeroed in on his target and went after it.

Women, on the other hand, were an entirely different matter. His teammates may have called him Romeo, but they never knew how tied up in knots his stomach became when he approached a woman for the first time. He hid it well behind a cocky attitude and cheeky grin, but there was still a part of him that remained a gawky teenager with fiery red hair and braces, working up the courage to ask a girl to dance.

He swallowed back his fear and slipped his trademark grin in place as he approached the woman. “Looking for me?”

Dark curls framed an angelic face and honey-colored eyes, all surrounded by flawless skin the color of coffee and cream. She arched one perfectly groomed brow. “Excuse me?”

Her reply was almost the equivalent of a slap in the face, so he decided to change tactics. Assistance replaced arrogance, and he lowered the wattage on his charm. “You just seemed to be looking for someone, and I thought I’d be able to help.”

The corner of her mouth rose into a wry smile, drawing his attention to the dark ruby color of her full lips. She was even more tempting up close.

“I know you from somewhere,” she said after staring at him for what felt like an eternity. “You’re Frank Kelly, aren’t you?”

“The one and only.” He didn’t wait for permission to take her hand and tuck it into the crook of his elbow. “And I’d love to have you join me at my table.”

She unwound herself from him. “Oh, no, Romeo. I’ve heard about you and the ladies.”

Warning bells went off when she used his teammate’s nickname for him.

But he continued to grin at her like she was playing right along with his plan. “Are you going to believe the rumors? Or are you tempted to find out if they’re true?”

The arched brow returned, this time with a healthy dose of
Are you fucking kidding me?
attitude. But the corner of her mouth twitched, and finally, laughter bubbled out. “I’m looking for my brother, Tre. Have you seen him?”

And just like that, the proverbial bucket of ice water doused his desire. It was one thing to hit on a stranger, but his friend’s sister? Even he knew better than to dig himself into that hole.

Time to change the game plan. He offered his arm to her again, this time more as a gentleman than a prospective lover. “This way, lovely lady.”

She linked her arm with his and allowed him to lead her into the VIP section. Not the way he wanted to bring her back there, but it was better than getting smacked for his advances.

When they got to the table, his teammate was still furiously typing away.

The woman placed her hand on her hip. “Hey, Tre, put that thing down for five seconds and say hello to me.”

Tre jerked and blinked several times when he looked up. “Kiana, you made it.” He tucked the phone into his pocket long enough to stand and give his sister a hug. “What took so long?”

She glanced over at Frank. “Romeo here was trying to make a move on me.”

“Dude, you were hitting on my sister?” Tre smacked the back of Frank’s head and gave him a warning glare that clearly said
hands off

“I didn’t know.” Frank rubbed the spot on his head. Tre had never even mentioned having a sister, much less that she would be joining them tonight.

He slumped back into his chair and studied the siblings. They had the same shape of eyes, both fringed by thick lashes. The same chins. The same foreheads. Enough to hint at a family resemblance, even though she had a much lighter complexion.

“Treating me like the dirty family secret again?” she asked lightheartedly and took the seat beside Tre.

“No, just busy.”

Even though her brother brushed off her question, Frank was intrigued. He leaned forward. “I can’t imagine how someone as lovely as you could be considered a dirty secret.”

“Believe it, man,” Tre snapped. “I’m her brother from another mother.”

Kiana rolled her eyes. “What he means to say is that our father had a problem keeping his zipper up. I’m his half-sister.”

“Enough said.” Frank’s spidey senses told him that was one topic they didn’t need to continue.

“But I still love you, Kiki.” Tre placed a kiss on Kiana’s cheek and went back to his phone.

An awkward silence followed that made Frank squirm in his seat. Tre obviously was more interested in watching basketball scores roll in and estimating his winnings for the night than hanging out with his sister. But if Frank dared to ask her out on the dance floor, he might open himself up to more than just a warning glance from his friend. A wise man might have found some excuse to leave the table, but Frank had never been accused of being wise.

Especially when it came to women.

An older song from Pitbull blasted through the speakers of the club, and Frank rose from his seat and approached Kiana. “Care to dance?”

A flicker of amusement shone from her golden-brown eyes. “Depends.”

“On what?”

“On how well you can dance.” She raked her gaze over him, her expression one of challenge.

Frank chuckled and rolled his hips in time to the Latin rhythm. “I’ve got plenty of moves.”

More laughter rose from that tempting mouth, and his chest tightened. He didn’t dare breathe until she held out her hand.

“Not bad for a white boy,” she teased.

“You might find I’m full of surprises.” He took her hand and cast one more glance at her brother to make sure it was safe to take her out. When Tre didn’t look up, he led her to the packed dance floor.

The music throbbed through the sound system, and flashing lights illuminated the sea of writhing bodies with shadows that concealed faces and highlighted sexy silhouettes. Once they were deep enough into the crowd, Frank grew brave enough to rest his hands on the curve of her hips. She danced along with the beat, each sensuous sway of her body heightening the fire flowing through his veins. He followed her lead and lowered his mouth to her ear, singing some of the lyrics of the song.

I know you want me. You know I want you

Her grin widened. “You can dance, but you can’t sing.”

And another blow to his pride. At least this time, she softened it by wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him closer her.

He dropped his hands to the top of that luscious ass that had called to him the moment he’d first spotted her. Now it was his turn to take the lead. Once again, he found himself thanking his mother for insisting he take ballroom dance classes when he was in junior high. The experience revived the salsa moves like an old memory. He pressed her against him and guided her movements, watching for any sign that he’d overstepped his bounds. Instead, he was rewarded with heavily hooded eyes and a seductive smile that made his dick ache with desire.

They don’t call me “Romeo” for nothing

And he wanted her. Badly.

Too bad she was Tre’s sister. If she weren’t, he’d be all too ready to invite her back to his place after a few more songs.

The song faded into the next one, but she didn’t move away from him. Instead, she coyly met his gaze and ran her fingers up and down his neck.

He found himself staring at her lips, longing to taste them. Sweat prickled along his spine. He tried to divert his attention to the music, the lights, the people around him, but he kept coming back to the siren in his arms. So tempting, and yet so dangerous. And he knew if he gave into her, he’d be lost.

He was spared from falling into her snare when she stiffened in his arms.

“Shit,” she hissed under her breath, staring at something behind him. “Let’s get out of here.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t ask.” She took his hand and pulled him toward the VIP section.

He’d managed to take one step before a hand clamped on his shoulder and spun him around. His hand reflexively curled into a fist, but he’d had enough run-ins with the law not to swing blindly.

A black man a few inches shorter than him stood less than a foot away, surrounded by an entourage of his buddies. The expression on his face spoke of pure trouble, and Frank started calculating his odds if he took him on.

“Kiana,” the man said with a subtle lift of his chin. “I thought that was you.”

BOOK: In the Red Zone
7.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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