Authors: Shanna Hatfield
Love at the 20-Yard Line
Copyright © 2014 by Shanna Hatfield
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. Please purchase only authorized editions.
For permission requests, please contact the author, with a subject line of "permission request” at the email address below or through her website.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Special thanks to Travis Vance and the
TriCities Fever Football
team for answering my many questions!
Love at the 20-Yard Line…
"This is a clean romance, so there is no detailed descriptions of them being together, but this book doesn't need all that. Shanna Hatfield did a marvelous job at making me fall in love with her characters and I didn't feel as though I was missing anything. I was a little worried how the characters were going to survive as a couple, but this author gave me a perfect ending. Overall, LOVE AT THE 20-YARD LINE is an enjoyable read that will keep you occupied for a couple hours."
The Romance Reviews
“This is Shanna's best book yet. Her characters are a little edgier, and the passion is closer to the surface.”
“The story is fun but the characters make the story happen. I can get lost in her world for a day or two and really enjoy the break from my worries or troubles.”
“It was a delicious clean romance.”
“I couldn't put this book down! The characters were interesting and the story kept me hooked from the beginning.”
To those who surrender to love
“I need you to take care of this.”
Haven Haggarty lifted her gaze from the report in front of her, wondering what could possibly be so important her boss delivered his request to her office in person.
“What is it, Mr. Young?” Haven hoped he wasn’t sending her out on another assignment. She often worked long, hard hours as one of the top consultants at the brand analysis company Frank Young owned and operated. With close to sixty hours of work already completed that week, she planned to spend the weekend relaxing.
However, with her boss hovering in front of her desk holding an envelope in his hand late on a Friday afternoon, it didn’t bode well for a peaceful start to her weekend.
“Tickets. We’re an event sponsor and someone needs to represent us tonight. I forgot about it until a few minutes ago and since you’re still here…” Frank Young dropped the envelope on Haven’s desk along with an encouraging glance. He turned and left her office before she could verbalize an objection.
“But, sir, I…” Haven snapped her mouth shut as she watched him stride back to his office.
She prayed this event wouldn’t turn out like the time he made her go to what they both thought was a networking event and ended up being an exclusive preview for a new adult-only store. To make up for the humiliating debacle, he’d given her an entire month of free evenings and weekends.
Fortified with a deep breath, she opened the envelope and removed four packets of season tickets. Her neck muscles tightened and her stomach clenched with nerves as she read the details.
Mr. Young expected her to attend an arena football game that would begin in less than two hours. And not just her, he wanted four bodies warming the seats that he’d purchased.
Nearly overcome by the urge to scream in frustration, Haven quickly scanned the letter accompanying the tickets. It appeared Mr. Young was a sponsor for the entire season. She certainly hoped he didn’t expect her to attend every home game.
Haven glanced at her watch and grabbed her phone, calling her oldest brother. Maybe Wes and his wife, Tammy, would go with her. While she waited for someone to answer, she stuffed the report she’d been reading into her bag with a few other projects she planned to review before Monday.
As the phone rang for the fifth time, she gave up and dialed her middle brother.
“Please pick up, please pick up,” Haven chanted, willing Hale to answer the call.
“Hey, sis, what’s up?” Hale asked, sounding out of breath. His pounding footsteps confirmed he was on his evening run.
“Hale, I need the hugest, biggest favor tonight,” Haven said, sounding desperate as she gathered her things and turned off her computer.
“I’ve got a date with Abby. What could possibly be more important than that?”
“Mr. Young gave me four tickets to something tonight and expects me and my guests to be there. He just now gave them to me and I really, really need you to go with me. You can bring Abby.” Haven locked her desk and looked around her office to make sure she wasn’t forgetting anything.
“Where are you going?” Hale asked, maintaining a neutral tone. From experience, he knew to ask questions before he consented to accompany Haven to one of her work-required functions. The last time he blindly agreed, he ended up as the only male at an all-women luncheon and fashion show.
“A football game.” Haven attempted to shove her arm in her coat sleeve, hold the phone to her ear, and not drop the stack of files in her other hand.
“You’re kidding, right? It’s February. In case you and your boss aren’t aware of the fact, football season is long gone.”
“Arena football, dork. Tonight’s the first game.”
“Name calling won’t help your cause, baby girl.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just I had plans to… never mind.” Haven swallowed another sigh. “Can you go or not?”
“Sure. Sounds like fun. How about if Abby and I meet you there?”
“Great, I owe you one.” Haven gave her brother directions and the game start time. “I’ll meet you about twenty minutes before the kickoff.”
“And you’ll buy us dinner.” Hale knew Haven would go along with anything he suggested as long as she didn’t have to attend the game alone.
“Fine.” She disconnected the call. On her way out the door, she left a stack of paperwork on the receptionist’s desk to file on Monday. She rushed outside, wrapping a scarf around her neck against the cold.
In a hurry, she didn’t take time to let the car warm up before pulling into evening traffic.
Haven swung by the grocery store to pick up a few things on her way home. If she picked up what she’d need for the weekend now, she could spend the entire day Saturday tucked away in her cozy apartment enjoying quiet solitude and a good book.
She raced down the aisles of the store and filled her cart debating if she should resort to begging her brother Tom to go with her to the game. A year her senior, he seemed to think his mission in life was to torment his younger sister.
Impatiently waiting in the checkout line, she called her brother before she could change her mind and even thanked him when he agreed to go.
“But you have to come pick me up, feed me whatever I want to eat, and make sure I get home safely,” Tom said, knowing it would annoy Haven to drive out of her way to run by his apartment.
She bit her tongue to keep from telling him she didn’t need him to go after all and forced herself to remain calm. “I’ll be there as soon as I run home and change.”
Haven left the store and entered the busy after-work traffic. Since it seemed to be moving at a snail’s pace, it took twice as long to drive home than she’d planned. Finally reaching her apartment, she filled her arms with groceries and work projects, managing to get inside and the door closed behind her by nudging it shut with the toe of her shoe.
Quickly putting away any groceries that might spoil before she got home, she left the rest of her purchases on the counter and glanced at the clock on the wall in panic. If she ran out the door and sped to Tom’s apartment, she might get to the game before it started.
High heels sailed through the air as she kicked them off and jammed her feet into a pair of flats she kept by the door. She ran back to her car and made it in record time to Tom’s place. When she pulled into the parking lot, she started to call to let him know he needed to hurry, but he jogged toward her car.
“Hey,” he said, climbing in and buckling his seatbelt. “Thanks for inviting me. You know I love football and totally forgot about the arena games.”
“You’re welcome.” Haven drove toward the arena. “You can thank Mr. Young. He demanded I go at the eleventh hour.”
“Cool. It’s not like you have a life or anything,” Tom teased, giving his sister a mischievous look.
Haven speculated, as she had so many times, about the possibility of a secret adoption. Perhaps her parents got the wrong baby at the hospital when they brought her home.
Her mother and all three of her brothers had brown hair with hazel eyes and olive-toned skin. They loved to joke and tease, and she often wondered if they had a serious bone in their bodies.
She, however, was blonde with blue eyes and fair skin that burned if she even thought about going outside. Her dad had blue eyes, but his hair was dark and his skin bore a permanent tan from working outside on their potato farm. Like her brothers, he was big and tall, and a terrible tease.
Wes, Hale, and Tom all looked so much alike, there was no denying the fact they were brothers. If it weren’t for the difference in their ages, they’d probably be mistaken for triplets.
That’s all the world needed, a triple dose of her three ornery brothers. It was going to be bad enough sitting between two of them during the football game.
Haven took a shortcut into the parking lot at the event venue. She found an empty space far from the door and parked the car.
“What’s the deal? You can’t even drop me at the door?” Tom whined as he got out of the car and waited for Haven to walk around to his side. “I think I should get curb service.”
“No way, lazy bones. You can hoof it. Besides, you wouldn’t want me to walk across this parking lot all by myself, would you?” Haven grabbed her brother’s arm when her foot slid on a spot of ice.
“Steady there, kiddo.” Tom took her hand in his and kept her upright. He shook his head with disapproval at her dress coat, skirt, and ballet flats. “What are you wearing?”
“Work clothes. Didn’t have time to change,” Haven said, glad they were almost to the door. She looked up to see Hale waving at them. “You know Hale’s current girl of the month, don’t you?”
“Can’t say that I do. How long has he been dating her?” Tom asked, studying the tiny redhead standing next to his brother. The three Haggarty boys all topped six-feet and the petite girl standing next to Hale might make five if she stretched.
“I don’t know. A couple weeks, I think.” Haven dug in her bag for the tickets and clasped them in her hand as she stepped next to Hale.
“Thanks for coming, Hale. You are a lifesaver,” Haven whispered as her favorite brother engulfed her in a hug.
“Anytime, baby girl.” Hale turned to introduce Abby to Tom.
The four of them proceeded inside with Tom and Hale making a beeline for the concession stand selling pizza.
Haven stood with Abby, making small talk, until the guys were ready to order. Tom gave Haven a look that let her know he fully expected her to make good on the promise to buy his dinner. She paid for the food then led the way to their seats close to the twenty-yard line. The location gave them a great view of the playing field.
“Why is the field so small?” she asked, turning to Hale as he settled into a seat between her and Abby.
“It’s arena football. The field is about half the size of a regular football field and they only use eight players instead of eleven,” Hale explained, pointing to the end zone nearest their seats.
Haven didn’t really care about the field size, the number of players, or anything else related to football. Her biggest concern was if they would have to stay for the whole game.
A headache began pounded behind her left eye with relentless force. She wanted to go home where she could indulge in some hot chocolate, a good book, and a peaceful weekend alone.
“Do they play four quarters, like regular football?” Haven looked up at the digital scoreboard, catching a glimpse of her company’s logo as it flashed across the screen.
“You bet they do. I heard they have a great halftime show, too. Dancing girls, drummers, and giveaways,” Tom said, winking at Haven.
“Fantastic.” Haven’s mock enthusiasm went unnoticed by her brothers.
Haven removed her coat, tugged down the hem of her skirt, and straightened her sweater before glancing around. She noticed a banner with their company name stretched over the stands on the far end of the arena. Pleased to see Mr. Young’s business well represented, she made a mental note to tell him about it Monday.
She accepted the breadstick Tom held out to her along with a bottle of water, mumbling a word of thanks. Startled, she gasped when the arena lights went off and loud music began pounding over the speakers.
Frantically digging in her bag for some pain reliever, she decided it was going to be a long, long evening.