Release Date: February 28, 2017
One kiss can change everything. Fun and flirty Monica Stevens lives for chocolate, fashion, and boys … in that order. And she doesn’t take life too seriously, especially when it comes to dating. When a night of innocent banter with Seattle’s hottest NFL quarterback turns passionate, she fears that everything she once managed to protect will soon be destroyed. Seattle’s most eligible bachelor, Zachary Ryan, is a workaholic by nature, an undercover entrepreneur, and passionate about the organizations he supports. He’s also addicted to Monica, the curvy brunette with a sassy mouth—and not just because she tastes like strawberries and chocolate. She’s as challenging as she is decadent, as witty as she is charming, and she's the perfect distraction from the daily grind. While Monica comes to a crossroads in her life, Zachary becomes an unavoidable obstacle, forcing her to stop hiding under the bleachers and confront the demons of her past. But as their connection grows stronger, she knows it only brings them closer to their end. It’s time to let go. To have a future, we must first deal with our pasts. But what if the two are connected?
When it comes to beauty, Monica Stevens takes the cake. Pun intended. The girl does love her desserts. In fact, it might be her one and only weakness, if you can even call it that. Otherwise, she’s the most strong-willed, confident, sexy, stubborn, and feisty woman I have ever met.
Somehow, I’ve managed to convince her that dancing with me for the rest of the night is her best option. Three songs after the song and a half she agreed to, and she’s still in my arms. Stepping perfectly to every beat, giggling and batting those sexy lashes at me like she owns this interaction. As if she has control enough to walk away whenever she wants.
I love it.
I love that she’s acting as if she has the upper hand when she’s already given in. I love the way she reacts when I hint at who really has control—as evidenced by the tiny bumps that rise on her skin every single time I speak into her ear.
“Tonight has been a magical night,” booms a female’s voice through the speakers.
The song that’s been playing fades into the background. Monica and I stop dancing and turn our attention to Sandra Spencer, the CEO of BelleCurve Creative, who’s just taken the stage.
Monica makes a move to dash away, but I take advantage of the hand that still embraces her tiny waist, instinctively pulling her closer and tightening my grip. I’m not ready for her to escape just yet.
She freezes, and I can feel her tense beneath my hold before relaxing back into her stance.
“To everyone who made tonight possible, you should feel incredibly proud of what you’ve been a part of. I know I am.” Her eyes wander around the room, softening when they land on me. I give her a nod in return.
Sandra, or Sandy, as I call her, is a longtime friend of my coach’s wife. When she found out I’d been drafted to Seattle, she contacted me immediately to congratulate me. And then with a simple phone call to a leading travel company, she helped me land my first endorsement deal. Before I knew it, BelleCurve assigned me a publicist, and they’ve been helping me ever since.
It was a wild ride, that first year, being a rookie on a fierce but struggling NFL team. The worst part? Being doubted by so many. During my third year of an accelerated college program, I was on track to graduate early and decided to enter the draft. The naysayers didn’t stop me. Not even close. I managed to learn the ropes and set multiple rookie records.
My second year only got better. I was technically considered a veteran at that point, but most of the team was new to the league—all hungry and very much naïve to the system. We pissed off a lot of people with our undefeated home wins and unprecedented crowd. It was a Division win that season, and a Conference Championship the next—but once we got a taste for winning, once we figured out a formula that worked for us, once we learned to trust in one another, we went on to win our first Super Bowl. We hope to do it again this year.
Sandra leaves the stage after announcing they’ll play one more song before ending the night. When I turn to Monica, I can already see the rejection forming on her lips. With the amount of flirting we’ve done over the past month, I would have never thought I’d have to work so hard to keep her attention.
But the truth is, I’ve never wanted to work so hard to keep a girl’s attention. It usually comes so easy. A simple look, a mutual smile—that’s all the confidence I need to ask someone out. But for some reason, Monica’s resistance only adds to the list of what intrigues me about her.
“What time do you have to run off and save the world?”
She looks confused for a second and then surprises me by laughing. She knows I’m referring to her Superwoman getup, complete with suspenders, a tight blue shirt with an S proudly displayed in the center, and a skirt that shows off the natural curves of her hips. “I should be heading home.”
One look in her caramel eyes, and I know she’s bluffing. I see the war between her desires and her conscience. I’m trained to read my opponents, and right now I have no qualms about using that skill to my advantage.
“Did you bring your car?”
She nods, her eyes exploring mine as if she’s considering something. I don’t give her any more time to find an excuse to leave.
“I’m hungry. And you never did get a chance to eat your dessert. If the way you were taking down that strawberry is any indication of your appetite, I think you should come with me. I know a place.”
The way her cheeks darken a shade as I hold her eyes with mine fills me with need.
“Is this your clever way of asking me out?”
I cock my head, studying her. Does she want me to ask her out? Taking a gamble, I shake my head with mock arrogance. “Definitely not.”
Her slowly spreading smile is all I need to know I’ve won this battle. “Okay, then,” she concedes. “Dessert first. And then dinner.”
“No way!” I argue. “That’s breaking the rules, and my momma taught me better than that.” I deepen my drawl on purpose, knowing what it does to most women.
She giggles, and I think I might want to bury my face in her throat just so I can hear that sound again. Then maybe I can get a whiff of that wild strawberry and mint body spray I saw on her desk at work.
“What’s the difference?” she asks. “I’m having dessert either way.”
“Is that a promise?”
“I don’t lie about food.”
“In that case, dinner is definitely first. I’ll need the sustenance to handle watching you and your foodgasms.”
Without a beat lost between us, I gesture for her to walk in front of me, guiding her toward the valet with my palm on her back. My black Jeep sits at the curb. When the teen at the valet booth sees me, he scrambles into the driver seat, starts it, and then hands me the keys.
I give him a tip, thank him, and help Monica into the passenger seat. “I’ll drive you to your car later.”
“Are you sure?” she frowns. “I could meet you wherever we’re going.” Pretty silly of her to say this now that she’s already strapped into the passenger seat.
I lean forward, my hands clutching the frame of my Jeep with my fingertips. I don’t miss the subtle way her eyes drift over my body. “Your car is safe here. But if you’d rather drive, you can follow me.” I make no move to let her leave, hoping she’ll take the hint. The last thing I want is to give Monica an easy escape. I’m going to need all the time I can get with this one.
She hesitates for a few seconds and then leans back in her seat. “Parking around here is insane. One car is fine.”
With a pleased smile, I pull back and shut the passenger door. Tonight, I finally make my move. Certainly the saying is wrong, because I fully intend on having my cake and eating it too.
One of Five ARC's for Under the Bleachers
About the Author
K.K. Allen is the author of Contemporary Fantasy and New Adult Romance stories. She loves manatees, learned to swim for the mere purpose of pretending she was a mermaid, and adores the beach so much she promises to one day live on one (in a tent if she has to) in Hawaii and serve shaved ice on the side of the road. K.K.'s upcoming Contemporary Romance, Under the Bleachers will release on February 28, 2017. Make sure to secure your preorder!
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