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Authors: Sheryl Lister

Places in My Heart

BOOK: Places in My Heart
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He's got all the right moves

Omar Drummond is a pro football superstar with a body that's a pure work of art. But Morgan Gray is forbidden to act on their chemistry, or repeat their impulsive kiss. Proving her worth as a sports agent means securing the notorious celebrity as a client, not a lover. Yet between flowers, sweet notes and heady hotel interludes, Omar is shamelessly seducing her...

Other agents—and exes—have tried using Omar as a meal ticket, and he's closed himself off from emotional entanglements. With Morgan, it's a whole new playbook. Smart and tough, she can negotiate a contract and turn him on all in one go, and he craves more. But in matters of trust, he's just fumbled badly. To win her, he has to show her the man he can be away from the pitch and the limelight, and hope that this time they're both playing for keeps.

Their eyes met. “Stunning.”

What have I gotten myself into?
Morgan didn't see how she would be able to resist him for the next two months. She didn't know if she'd make it through the night. “Thanks. You clean up pretty well yourself.” Instead of all black, he had opted for a white jacket. His tuxedo caressed his tall, lean frame, and she had visions of undoing—

Abruptly halting her erotic fantasy, she chastised herself again. She had never lost her mind over a man before and had no intentions of starting now. “I'm ready.” Morgan slung the thin strap of her silver evening bag over her shoulder and started for the door. Omar caught her hand. The contact sent an electric current up her arm.

“Morgan, I just want you to know how much I appreciate you taking a chance on me.” He bent and placed a soft kiss on her cheek.

She ignored the potency of his cologne and the sensations flowing through her that his kiss invoked and said, “You're welcome. I could say the same for you.” They shared a smile. The intensity of his stare made her pulse skip, and she turned away.

Dear Reader,

I had a blast writing Morgan and Omar's story! Morgan loves all things football (as do I). So of course she couldn't resist Omar Drummond's offer or the man himself. But he's having a little trouble keeping things professional, too. Any guesses as to who succumbs first?

In this story, I also touch briefly on PTSD and its effects on Omar's family. In my research, I came across many stories from veterans and their family members, ranging from heartbreaking to hopeful. I also had an eye-opening conversation with my army veteran sister, who graciously shared part of her story. I hope you will consider donating to your local veterans organization.

Thank you for all of your emails and messages. I love hearing from you!

You all have asked about Brandon's story. He's up next and I can't wait for the woman who can take his mind off work.

Much love,

Sheryl

Website:
www.SherylLister.com

Email:
[email protected]

Facebook:
Author Sheryl Lister

Sheryl Lister
has enjoyed reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She writes contemporary and inspirational romance and romantic suspense. She was nominated for a 2015 Emma Award and a 2015 RT Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award, and was named BRAB's 2015 Best New Author. When she's not reading, writing or playing chauffeur, Sheryl can be found on a date with her husband or in the kitchen creating appetizers and bite-size desserts. Sheryl resides in California and is a wife, mother of three daughters and a son-in-love, and grandmother to two very special little boys.

Books by Sheryl Lister

Harlequin Kimani Romance

Just to Be with You
All of Me
It's Only You
Tender Kisses
Places in My Heart
Unwrapping the Holidays
with Nana Malone

Visit the Author Profile page at
Harlequin.com
for more titles.

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For my sister, Sgt. Ramona L. Robinson, US Army veteran.

Acknowledgments

My Heavenly Father, thank you for my life.

To my husband, Lance, my children, family and friends, thank you for your continued support. I appreciate and love you!

Gina Golly, you always bring a smile to my face! Love you much.

A special thank you to the readers and authors I've met on this journey. You continue to enrich my life.

Thank you to the men and women who serve in our armed forces. I am grateful for your sacrifice.

Thank you to my editor, Patience Bloom, for your editorial guidance and support.

A very special thank you to my agent, Sarah E. Younger. I appreciate you more than words can say.

Chapter 1

H
e couldn't take his eyes off her. His gaze traveled from her small feet in bright pink tennis shoes, up her long, smooth honey-brown legs and lingered briefly on an apple-round bottom that would make a grown man lose his mind. He continued upward to the grass-stained oversize T-shirt tied at the waist, giving him a glimpse of the gemstone in her belly ring. A ragged ponytail sat at the top of her head with bits of grass and weeds littering the strands that flowed in disarray around her mud-smudged face. Omar Drummond edged closer to the woman. She smelled like...dirt. She was stunning.

A dull thump in the center of his chest jarred him out of his thoughts.

“Yo, Drummond. Get your head in the game,” one of his teammates yelled.

“Yeah, Drummond. The object of the game is to catch the football with your hands, not your chest.”

He shifted his gaze back to the woman speaking, the focus of his musings. Morgan Gray.

“If this is any indication of your skills,” she continued, “the Cobras are in for a long season.”

“This is just a backyard scrimmage,” Omar said mildly. “My game on the field is just fine. I'm always in the zone. Check last year's stats.” He was one of the best tight ends in the league, but his LA Cobras team had lost the conference championship game by one point last season, costing them a coveted trip to the national championship. The loss had nagged at him for weeks, and he vowed that next season they'd bring home the trophy. “Better yet, ask your brother.” Morgan's twin brother, Malcolm, was the team's star running back.

Morgan merely smiled while several of the guys snickered.

He moved into his position. “Are we playing or not?”

The game ended a short time later with Omar making the winning touchdown for his team. More good-natured ribbing ensued as everyone traipsed over to recover and relax in the chairs and loungers set up in Malcolm's yard. Malcolm hosted the barbecue for his teammates and their significant others every year before the new season began.

Malcolm handed Omar a beer and lowered himself into the lounger next to him. “You redeemed yourself nicely at the end of the game.”

Omar chuckled. “Yeah. Couldn't let your sister call me out like that.”

“Morgan has no problems speaking her mind, especially when it comes to football. She's been critiquing my game since I was eight.” They laughed. “Your contract is coming up soon, isn't it?”

“In about six weeks.”

“Well, with the way you've stepped in as receiver after Colin's injury, Roland should be able to negotiate one hell of a deal.” Colin Rush had gone down with a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus two games into last season.

Omar's stomach rolled at the mention of his current agent's name, and he set the beer aside. “We'll see,” he murmured. Roland Foster had come highly recommended by several athletes as someone who could secure the best contracts around. After two disappointing experiences with agents, Omar had counted himself lucky when the man had offered representation. True to his reputation, Roland had hammered out a deal that topped the news for weeks. But that was then.

Omar scanned the yard and saw Morgan laughing with another player's wife. They were the only two women who had joined in the otherwise all-male football game. She had impressed him with her offensive and defensive skills. Not many women—and none he'd dated—would subject themselves to a light tackle football game and not care about being dirty or having messy hair. But Morgan was different, and that turned him on.

“Man, you don't have anything to worry about,” Malcolm said. “Roland will make sure you stay with the Cobras as long as you want.” When Omar didn't comment, Malcolm leaned forward. “What's up, Drummond?”

“I can't go into details, but I think it's time for a change. And this time, I want to steer clear of anybody involved in league politics. I need somebody else, Mal.”

Malcolm studied him for a moment and then said, “My sister is looking to get into the business.”

“Is that right? She's an attorney?”

“Yeah. And she's about as far away from
league politics
as you can get.”

“So, she knows the game well, huh?”

“As if she's played it all her life,” Malcolm said.

Omar had thought that was the case, but hearing Malcolm confirm it solidified in his mind that she might be exactly the person he needed to help him.

“Food's ready,” Omar heard someone say.

He came to his feet, eager to end the conversation. Omar got in line with the rest of the guests, filled his plate and crossed the yard to where Morgan sat with her food. His intention had been to talk to her about a business proposition, but as soon as he sat and opened his mouth, two other women joined them and started a conversation about some popular television show. He promptly tuned out and dug into his meal.

“What about you, Drummond?”

His head popped up, and he met Morgan's expectant gaze. “I'm sorry. What did you ask?”

“I asked which show was your favorite—
Scandal
or
How to Get Away with Murder
?”

“I don't watch either show.”

Morgan slanted him a look. “Let me guess. You only watch sports or sports news.”

“No. I enjoy a good comedy or action movie, but I prefer reading to television.”

Surprise lit her eyes. “Reading?”

“Yeah, you know...books.”

“Wow, really, Omar? I would've never figured that out,” she said teasingly and rolled her eyes. The group laughed.

Omar smiled. She'd called him by his first name, something she had never done before. Their easy rapport gave him hope that she would be receptive to his plan. They finished eating while talking, and afterward, three other guys convinced Omar to join them in a card game. He kept one eye on his cards and the other on Morgan, waiting for a chance to get her alone.

His opportunity came three hands later when he saw her go inside. It took some serious patience to finish the game, especially since his partner seemed to contemplate every round. In Omar's mind it was simple—you either had the card or you didn't.

Marcus Dupree, wide receiver, threw up his hands. “Grant, do you think we could finish this game
before
the season starts? We only have a month.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Omar mumbled.

“Patience, my brothers,” Lucas Grant said. “I have to get my strategy together.” The middle linebacker employed the same tactics when watching plays develop and stopping runs between the tackles. Though effective on the field, today it only irritated Omar.

Omar shook his head. Minutes later, he tossed out his last card and stood. “Somebody else can take my spot. I'm done.” Without waiting for a reply, he headed for the sliding glass door that led to the kitchen and stepped inside. The sight of Morgan's long bare legs stopped him in his tracks. She had changed into another pair of shorts that stretched taut over her backside as she reached for something in a cabinet. If he could just get one touch... Omar shook himself and quickly dismissed the notion.

“I see you changed.”

Morgan whirled around. “Oh. Drummond, you scared me.”

Back to last names again. “Sorry.”

She set the glass she had gotten on the counter and went to the refrigerator. “That's okay. I had to shower. I can only take feeling grimy for so long.”

It took him a moment to realize she had commented on his previous statement. “I hear you. But you played a good game.”

“Are you referring to the interception or the touchdown?” she asked as she poured what looked like iced tea into the glass.

“A little cocky, aren't you?”

She leaned against the counter, wrapped one arm around her middle and took a sip of her drink. “My game speaks for itself. Yours, on the other hand, can use some work.”

Omar closed the distance between them and braced his hands on the counter on either side of her. “Is that a challenge?”

She tilted her chin and stared at him intently. “You tell me.”

Their faces were inches apart. Common sense told him he should back up, but he couldn't. Not when her full, gloss-slicked lips were calling to him. Without thinking about the ramifications, he crushed his mouth against hers and slid his tongue inside when her lips parted on a startled gasp. She came up on tiptoe and met him stroke for stroke, causing him to groan.

A second later Morgan stiffened and tore her mouth away. She pushed against his chest. “Move.”

Omar dropped his arms. “Morgan, I—” She brushed past him, and he reached out to stop her.

She slapped his hand away and kept walking.

“Morgan, wait. I need to talk to you.”

“I think you've said enough,” she called over her shoulder.

He stared at her retreating back as she stormed out of the kitchen. He cursed under his breath and slammed his hand on the counter. “Brilliant, Drummond. Just brilliant,” he muttered. After that stupid move, she most likely wouldn't listen to a word he had to say about his contract now. What had possessed him to kiss her? He had never been able to resist a challenge, and when she got in his face, her sexy, full lips and intoxicating fragrance had stripped him of his good judgment. As much as he wanted a repeat of one of the hottest kisses he'd ever experienced, he needed her expertise more. His desire would have to take a backseat. For now.

* * *

Morgan Gray jogged up the stairs, entered the bedroom she always used when she came to her brother's house and closed the door. She slumped against it, closed her eyes and willed her trembling body calm. She couldn't believe Omar had kissed her. Or that she'd kissed him back. It had lasted mere seconds, but the man had managed to unnerve her, something not easily done.
And what a kiss.
She reached up to touch her lips and then snatched her hand away. The man was fine as all get out, and she had seen the legions of women falling at his feet. If he was expecting her to act the same way, he had another think coming.

Morgan jumped slightly when she heard the knock on the door behind her.

“Morgan?”

She opened the door. “Hey, Mal.”

Malcolm's brows knitted together. “What's wrong?”

“Nothing. Why?”

“I don't know. I just felt something.”

She waved him off and started past him. “I think you make up half this stuff so you can be nosy.” No matter how much she tried to discount the whole psychic twin thing, her brother always knew when she was upset or bothered.

He caught her arm. “You know better than that.”

“There's nothing wrong. I came up to shower and recover from my awesome game.”

Malcolm scrutinized her a long moment, then nodded. “If you say so.”

“I say so.” Morgan preceded him out of the room and back downstairs, where everyone still sat relaxing and chatting. She walked over to a small group engaged in a domino game and asked to play.

Several times during the rest of the afternoon and into the early evening, she caught Omar staring her way and did her best to ignore him. He'd said he wanted to talk to her, and for a split second Morgan contemplated going over to ask about it. However, memories of that kiss kept her away. She'd have to be dead not to be attracted to him, but she wasn't in the market for a relationship. Especially with another athlete.

Finally the guests trickled out one by one, and she busied herself with retrieving purses and bags, hoping that Omar would be among the first to leave. But he stayed around until only he and one other teammate remained. She went to the kitchen to put away the food and begin the long cleanup process that always followed these gatherings. Not hearing any noise coming from the family room, she ventured out, thinking everyone had gone.

“Oh, I thought everybody was gone,” she said upon seeing Omar and Malcolm engaged in a seemingly serious discussion. “I didn't mean to interrupt.”

Omar stood. “You aren't. You're more than welcome to join us.”

“Um...that's okay. I'm going upstairs.” Their eyes met, silently communicating that they had unfinished business, but she'd had enough for one evening. Morgan turned toward her brother, who slowly came to his feet and divided a speculative glance between her and Omar. “Malcolm, I put away most of the food, but you'll have to tell me where you want the rest when you two are done. Come get me when you're ready.”

Malcolm nodded. “We shouldn't be too long.”

She tried to keep her eyes focused solely on Malcolm but failed.

Omar smiled. “It was good to see you again, Morgan.”

“Same here,” she mumbled and fled. She didn't stop until she reached the safety of her bedroom. Once there, Morgan flopped down on the bed and blew out a long breath. Though she shouldn't even have let her mind go there, the only thing she could think about was kissing him again. The demanding way his mouth moved over hers came back with vivid clarity—pillow-soft lips, scorching hot tongue—and every inch of his lean, muscular body had been pressed against hers while his strong hands caressed her back. She wanted to wrap her hands around his sexy locs and keep right on kissing him.

She sat up abruptly at the sound of knocking on the door. Malcolm poked his head inside. “Did I wake you?”

She swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood. “No. Drummond gone?”

“Yeah. It's getting kind of late, so you should stay the night. We can go riding tomorrow.”

“Okay.” She hadn't planned to spend the night, but Malcolm knew the offer of going for a ride on his motorcycle would definitely make her stay. And clothes weren't a problem since all five siblings kept a stash at each other's houses. All three of her brothers were protective of Morgan and her sister, Siobhan, and didn't like them to be out at night alone. But since Siobhan had gotten married last weekend, responsibility for her safety now fell to her new husband.

BOOK: Places in My Heart
12.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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