Monday, February 6, 2017

My New Book Hearts on Fire (Destination Billionaire Romance) is now Available

I'm thrilled to announce that my newest book Heart on Fire, a Destination Billionaire Romance is now Available! 

Get Your Copy HERE


This novel is set in beautiful Sonoma Valley, California. I first fell in love with the beautiful rolling vineyards and majestic countryside when my family and I went there on vacation. We've since been back many times. It's a little slice of Italy--a place to relax and savor the moment. I love the culture, food, and architecture. The irony is that I don't even drink alcohol, and I'm enamored with wine country because of all the other aspects of the area! 

I jumped at the chance to write a story about a bed and breakfast in the Sonoma Valley. Of course, considering my love for interior design, I had to also incorporate that. The characters came alive, lighting a fire in me that had me furiously pounding the keyboard until the wee hours of the morning to get the story from my head to the computer screen. I hope you love it as much as I do!

Here's the description:

Rising star Peyton Kelly has her own remodeling show on HGTV. But when her mother dies suddenly, Peyton becomes a partial owner of the rundown bed and breakfast that’s been in the Kelly family for three generations. Located in the center of breath-taking wine country, the bed and breakfast could be a jewel. In a cruel twist of fate, Carter Webster her former fiancé purchases the other half. Peyton wants to revitalize the bed and breakfast, but Carter’s determined to tear it down and build an exclusive resort in its place. 

Sparks fly as Peyton and Carter square off. It doesn’t take long for the flame between them to reignite, and their hearts are drawn together, but their heads have other ideas. Can Peyton and Carter put aside old grudges and yield to the desires of their hearts, or will the secrets of the past consume them?

Here's an excerpt:

Prologue:
Peyton couldn’t help but feel like Cinderella as her gaze took in the opulent surroundings of the courtyard at the Webster Mansion. Twinkling white lights and thin strips of gauzy fabric adorned the gazebo and trellis, adding a dreamlike quality to the warm evening. A live orchestra played soft music in the background, and the tender scent of fresh flowers filled the night air. Stars shimmered brilliantly above, applauding the happy occasion of her upcoming wedding.
Peyton looked down at her exquisite mango-colored dress and couldn’t resist swishing discreetly from side to side, loving how the wind whooshed underneath the silk fabric. She felt as buoyant as a balloon, soaring high and free, where nothing bad could touch her. It was still hard to believe she was marrying Carter tomorrow.
His mother, Kathryn, had been vehemently opposed to the union, but was starting to come around. This party at Kathryn’s sprawling mansion was her gift to Carter and Peyton. It meant the world to Peyton that Kathryn was finally accepting her.
Peyton straightened her shoulders as she nodded and smiled at the mayor and his high-society wife. She straightened her back. A part of her wondered if she’d ever feel completely at home in Carter’s glitzy world of mansions, expensive cars, and spontaneous trips to Europe. It boggled Peyton’s mind that Carter could just up and go anywhere he wanted when it had taken six months of planning, scrimping, and saving for her family to drive nine hours to Disneyland.
Peyton was sure there would be battles to fight when it came to the differences in their upbringing, but she was confident her and Carter’s love was strong enough to see them through the rough spots. They’d weathered their fair share of storms already. She scanned the sea of faces, relieved when her eyes found  a familiar face, Mr. Labrum. Her high school English teacher smiled and waved as he walked over and gave her a one-armed hug.
“Good evening,” he said stiffly. “You look lovely as always.” He pushed his inch-thick glasses back up on his nose and cleared his throat like he was about to deliver an important speech.

“Beauty, sweet Love, is like the morning dew,

Whose short refresh upon the tender green

Cheers for a time, but till the sun doth show,

And straight ’tis gone as it had never been.”


Peyton laughed. “Thanks … I think.”
“A sonnet by Samuel Daniel, born in 1562.”
“Oh, I haven’t heard that one,” said Payton. A self-confirmed, lifelong bachelor, Art Labrum spent his life buried in a book. Socially awkward, with a ruler-straight part in his oiled hair, he reminded Peyton of George McFly from the movie Back to the Future. Mr. Labrum’s eccentricities made him an easy target for the meaner kids in high school, but Peyton had always liked him. She found his quirks endearing, and he was kind and helpful to his students.
 “You know, Peyton, I had a feeling you and Carter would end up together the first time I caught you locking lips in the supply cabinet.” He wagged a finger, a smile creeping over his lips.
Peyton chuckled. “Yeah, you weren’t too happy about that. Made us do two rounds of detention, if I remember correctly.”
He snorted. “Oh, the foibles of youth. To be—” He stopped mid-sentence, looking thoughtful. “You know, the two of you remind me a little of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. You have my sincerest congratulations. It’s not often that people have the fortitude to defy convention and follow their hearts.”
“There she is … the lady of the hour,” a female voice squealed.
Peyton turned to see two girls about her age approaching.
“How sweet you look tonight,” the pretty blonde bubbled. Her dress was poured on—so tight Peyton doubted she could sit down.
“I’m sorry. Do we know each other?”
The girl touched Peyton’s arm. “I’m Claire and this is Mindy.”
Mr. Labrum shrank into himself. “Well, I must be going,” he said in a formal tone. He gave Peyton a slight bow before shuffling away.
Peyton turned her attention to the two girls, her mood dampening slightly. She’d rather endure Mr. Labrum’s long quotes a hundred times over than be forced into making small talk with strangers. Then again, maybe she was missing out on a friendship. They were part of Carter’s world, and she was about to marry into it. She’d better start developing her own contacts. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said, in a voice that sounded falsely cheerful to her own ears. “Are you friends of Carter’s?”
Claire smirked. “You could say that. Carter and I used to date.”
Peyton tensed. “Really? He never mentioned you.”
An easy laugh escaped Claire’s lips. “You know how Carter is. He probably didn’t want to upset you.” She waved a hand. “Anyway, it was a thousand years ago. Water under the bridge.”
Peyton lifted an eyebrow. And yet she chose to mention it now. Interesting.
“You’re so lucky,” Claire chirped, turning to Mindy. “Doesn’t she look darling?” She zeroed in on Peyton. “I’ll bet you look good in any old thing. I saw your same dress on the clearance rack at Dillard’s last season. Only a short girl like you could pull off wearing it. I had to have something specially made by my designer to fit my tiny waist.”
Mindy sniggered while Claire fluffed her curls, her lips forming a sultry pout. “I always wondered what kind of girl had enough torque to lasso Carter Webster.” She looked Peyton up and down. “Huh,” she mused softly. “Just goes to show, you never can tell what’s going to make love click.”
Mindy giggled and lurched forward. “Funny!” she gasped, wiping at her eyes.
Peyton’s cheeks warmed. All right—I’m done playing nice. She looked Claire in the eye and smiled brightly as if she were in a toothpaste commercial. “And sometimes, dresses are like clunker cars—no matter how much money you pour into them, they’ll never be a classic.”
Claire’s face turned scarlet like she might have a heat stroke.
Peyton was about to excuse herself when strong arms encircled her waist from behind. She looked back as Carter leaned in, tickling her ear with his warm breath.
“Hey, I’ve been looking for you. We’re about ready to do the toast.”
“Oh, I’ve just been getting acquainted with your old girlfriend.”
He jerked. “My what?”
Peyton motioned. “Claire. According to her, the two of you were thick as thieves.”
Carter’s eyes went large, and Claire suddenly took interest in someone across the way as she caught hold of Mindy’s arm. “Oh, look, there’s Steven.” With a sniff, she cut her eyes at Peyton and Carter. “Well, it was great to see you both. Congratulations again,” she quipped, as she and Mindy scattered.
Peyton chuckled dryly. “Yeah, just as I thought.”
Carter shook his head, amusement twinkling in his gray eyes. “Peyton,” he hummed in a low tone, “what’ve you been up to?”
She laughed. “She started it.”
He pulled her close, gazing into her eyes. “I have no doubt. Poor Claire got more than she bargained for when she tangled with you.”
The corners of her lips turned down. “Poor Claire, my eye!” She spiked an eyebrow. “So you did date her?”
“We might’ve gone out once or twice.” A devilish glint lit his eyes. “Not jealous, are you?”
She scowled. “Hardly.”
“Don’t worry. I only have eyes for you.” He leaned in, his voice going husky. “You are so beautiful. I can’t wait to get you to myself.”
She laughed, a tingle of anticipation circling down her spine. “The minute we say I do, I’m all yours.”
“I’m counting on it.” Carter pulled her closer, swaying to the beat of the music, his eyes locking with hers. “I love you, Peyton Kelly. I always have, and I always will.”
“I love you too.” Peyton felt her heart swell to the point of exploding. She’d never been this happy. He was so handsome she could hardly breathe when running her fingers through his thick mane of dark blond hair. She loved his strong jaw, with just enough stubble to give him a rough-and-tumble charm, and his kind eyes lit up and flowed warmth when he smiled. He was smart, attentive, witty, and—miracle of miracles—he loved her!
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to make a toast.”
Peyton and Carter looked toward the portable stage where Carter’s mother, Kathryn, stood, looking regal in a sleek black dress, hair twisted in a chignon. She held a glass of wine in one hand and a microphone in the other.
A waiter offered Peyton and Carter a glass. Peyton was about to decline when Carter whispered in her ear, “It’s sparkling water.” He winked. “I got your back.” Carter knew how much Peyton detested alcohol on account of her alcoholic stepfather.
“Thank you,” she mouthed.
“I so appreciate all of you joining us this evening to celebrate the union of my son Carter and the lovely Peyton Kelly.” Kathryn paused as if collecting her thoughts. “I’m not ashamed to admit that at first I wasn’t sure how Carter and Peyton’s relationship would work.”
Peyton stiffened, not sure where this was going. She saw Carter’s jaw clench and his arm tightened protectively around her waist.
A magnanimous smile stretched over Kathryn’s lips. “But seeing them together, it’s obvious the two of you love each other very much.” Her eyes went misty. “And I suppose that’s what it’s all about—true love.” She lifted her glass. “May you have a lifetime of happiness and joy.”
Applause broke out around them. “Speech!” a man bellowed from behind.
“Speech!” another man repeated, and then the crowd started chanting it.
Carter held up a hand to quiet the crowd. “Okay, a speech it is.” He clasped Peyton’s hand and pulled her to the stage, where Kathryn handed him the microphone.
Carter peered over the crowd. “Is someone here getting married?” he asked dubiously, eliciting ripples of laughter.
Peyton gave him a playful shove.
“Seriously, I’m the luckiest man alive. Tomorrow, I’m marrying the woman of my dreams.” His voice caught as he turned to Peyton, sincerity shining in his gray eyes. “Thank you for taking a chance on me. I promise I won’t let you down.”
Peyton’s eyes teared up as she nodded.
Carter handed Peyton the microphone. “Your turn.”
A commotion went through the crowd. Peyton looked toward the back to see what was happening. Her heart lurched when she saw Harold, her stepfather, staggering through the guests. He mumbled incoherently and pointed toward the stage.
For a second, Peyton was paralyzed with humiliation. Her fairy-tale evening had suddenly turned into a nightmare as she thrust the microphone at Carter and rushed down the steps of the stage to Harold’s side. The crowd parted, equal looks of horror and disgust carpeting her way.
“What’re you doing?” she seethed. “You need to leave!”
Check and courtyard were the only two words Peyton could make out of his garbled speech. She tried to take his arm, but he jerked out of her grasp. Pushing her away, he sent her sprawling backwards, where she landed on her rear end, her beautiful mango dress bunched around her legs.
“Hey!” Carter jumped off the stage and put Harold in a chokehold. Harold tried to resist, but his efforts were futile. Two security guards ran in, took Harold from Carter, and dragged him off the grounds.
“Are you all right?” Carter asked, helping Peyton to her feet.
Tears stung her eyes as she nodded. The twinkling lights, so romantic earlier, now blared. The place was spinning, menacing faces closing in around her. She caught sight of Claire and Mindy’s triumphant sneers. Peyton could only imagine what they must be thinking. “I need to go to the bathroom,” she hiccupped.
Carter took her arm. “Okay, I’ll go with you.”
The overseer of the wineries, a silver-haired man with hard eyes, stepped up to Carter. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but can I talk to you for a moment …” He lowered his voice. “About the incident.”
Carter looked like he might protest until Peyton put a hand on his arm. “It’s okay,” she said quickly. “I’ll be right back.” She needed a little space to pull herself together.
Carter searched her face. “You sure?”
She offered a tight smile. “Yeah.”
“Okay,” Carter said reluctantly. “I’ll be right here.”
***
Peyton attempted to go to the guest bathroom off the foyer, but it was occupied. A maid directed her to another, more private bathroom in the back section of the mansion.
After Peyton composed herself, she had to fight the temptation to head home. Instinctively, she knew if she didn’t go back out and show her face tonight, she’d never be able to look these people in the eye again. There’d never been any love lost between Peyton and Harold, even though she’d never outright hated him. But at this moment, she did.
And she was super ticked at her mother. Her mom refused to come to tonight’s party because she detested Kathryn Webster. The last Peyton heard, Harold was staying home, too. Why did he have to pick tonight, of all nights, to show up here? Had Peyton’s mother come to the party, she might’ve been able to keep Harold in check before he made a buffoon of himself.
When Peyton left the bathroom, she heard voices coming from the nearby study. She almost walked on by when she heard her name. She halted in her tracks, easing toward the door.
Carter was sitting in the overstuffed chair, his back towards Peyton. Kathryn was standing over him, her expression livid. A catering cart was parked just outside the double French doors, preventing Peyton from getting closer. She attempted to push it aside, but it wouldn’t budge. Peyton craned her neck to see inside, without being seen.
Kathryn’s voice was harsh, her face pinched. “I’ve never been so humiliated in my entire life. I told you, it’s never going to work with Peyton. She’s not like us. You come from two different worlds. I know you feel obligated to her.” She held up a finger. “Don’t try to deny it, because I can see it in your eyes. That’s the problem with you, Carter: you’re too good-hearted. You feel sorry for Peyton, but this can’t continue. Otherwise, you’ll end up resenting her in the end.”
Heat stung Peyton’s face as she waited for Carter to respond.
What Peyton saw and heard next would be branded in her mind forever as her world shattered to pieces. A tremor started in her hands and rippled through her body. Tears sprang to her eyes as she gulped down a sob and ran the other direction. Her only thought was to get as far away from Carter Webster as possible.

Get Your Copy HERE



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Announcing the great Kindles and Kisses Giveaway!

I'm so excited to announce our Kindle and Kisses Giveaway!



Since February is the month of love, we thought it was the
perfect time to release our Love and Romance Boxed set.

This set, featuring 15 sweet contemporary romance novels, is on pre-sale now for just 99¢ on Amazon B&N, Kobo, and ibooks. To celebrate, we're giving away a Kindle Fire Tablet. But hurry quick, this giveaway ends Feb 9th!

*Note: Winners outside of US will win a $40 Amazon gift card in place of the Kindle Fire (which is the value of the tablet).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you haven't pre-ordered your copy of Love and Romance, here's a list of the authors and books included. Good luck on the giveaway!

Dangerous Lies by Christine Kersey
A handsome stranger moves next door to Amethyst Fox, but as she begins to fall for him she discovers he's not all that he seems.

The Masquerading Groom by Taylor Hart
When Sterling Pennington, movie star and billionaire, gets stuck with a paid date at a masquerade party, he’s not happy. But Sayla Jones might be exactly who he needs to remove his masks.

Feels Like Love by Jeanette Lewis
April Winston brings her new fiancé home for Christmas, but her childhood sweetheart, Wade Hardley, isn't ready to let her go.

His Personal Relationship Manager by Jennifer Peel
After suffering a public humiliation, Kenadie Marshall realizes that love shouldn't be left to personal judgement. But Jason Hadley is determined to prove that love isn't over for this relationship guru, even if it means joining her computer dating service to get closer to her.

The Academic Bride by Lucy McConnell
Janel Fendrick's dream excavation is within reach—until the funding is pulled . A surprise employment opportunity comes with a proposal...and a groom!

The Resilient One by Cami Checketts
Alyssa Armsworth escapes to Maui and finds herself spending days on the ocean with Beckham Taylor, a handsome ex-NHL star. Alyssa must redeem her past to have a chance at a future with Beck.

Candlelight Kisses by Jennifer Youngblood & Sandra Poole
Gracie Andrews led an ordinary life—right up until the day she died and became an angel ... err ... almost an angel. She’s given the task of helping others find love and quite possibly find love along the way.

Meet Me in Myrtle Beach by Brooke St. James
Paige Spears accepts an unexpected job offer, hoping for one last summer adventure before joining the work force. She had no idea the trip would change her life forever.

Under a Georgia Moon by Cindy Roland Anderson
Addie Heywood wants to avoid her aunt’s matchmaking schemes and Chase Nichols wants to avoid his ex-girlfriend. They team up to fool the world by pretending to date. What neither of them counts on is actually falling in love.

Rough Edges by Kimberly Krey
When divorced mother, Allie Emerson, seeks employment with her old high school flame, Braden Fox, sparks fly. But will resentment from the past prevent them from sharing a future?

Blissfully Married by Victorine E. Lieske
Sidney wears a fake engagement ring to ward off Blake, her childhood crush that broke her heart. When Blake finds out the beautiful Sidney's lying, he makes it his goal to get her to tell him the truth.

The Neighbor's Secret by Kimberley Montpetit
Allie Strickland returns home to Heartland Cove after being left at the altar. When an intruder breaks into her house, Allie has to figure out what secrets Ethan Smith is hiding. Is the man friend or foe—enemy or lover?

Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen
With the unwanted help of a divorce lawyer who's too good looking to ignore and a detective who has an eye for murder, Adrielle Pyper must race to uncover a secret hidden within the yards of satin and lace before she becomes the next victim.

House Without Lies by Rachel Branton
Lily fills her tiny apartment with endangered teens who don’t have everything they need, but together they have enough. Or so she thinks—until she meets Jameson. But will he be one more thing Lily has to give up to protect the girls?

Before the Leap by Liz Isaacson
Scorned by his ex-fiancé, Jace Lovell isn't ready for a new relationship with someone as fiery and beautiful as Belle Edmunds. Can she employ her patience while he figures out how to forgive so they can find their happily-ever-after?

Pre-order now:
Amazon:
B&N Nook:
Kobo:
ibooks (link to come)

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Big Release Party Continues ...

The Big Release Party continues with the release of Cami Checkett's new book, Pass Interference. 

Those who know me, know about my family's long-standing love affair with football! I was especially excited about this book because it combines football and romance. You can't go wrong with that, right? I was hooked from the first page of Pass Interference and know you'll love it
too!

Taylor Hart's book, The Christmas Groom is coming next week.

If you haven't gotten your copy of Love on the Rebound, you can get it HERE.

Get your copy of Pass Interference HERE.







Hyde Metcalf, wide receiver for the Denver Storm, is recovering from pneumonia and needs the best personal trainer in Colorado to get him in shape for the season. With his dad missing again and his mom fighting Alzheimer’s, it's crucial he stays close to home.
Lily Udy idolizes Hyde Metcalf and the Denver Storm. Her dream is to be a team trainer someday. When Hyde walks into the gym she’s working at and her boss gives her the opportunity to train him, it’s more than a dream come true. 
Hyde thinks he may have found the perfect trainer and maybe more with Lily, until another man who wants Lily for himself, the media, his mom, and a horrible accident come between them. Happily ever after may be a pass that neither of them can jump high enough to reach.

Pass Interference: A Last Play Romance by Cami Checketts

“Lily.” Ike interrupted her as she demonstrated to the six a.m. group training session how to do a proper dropping pushup. Several of them were cheating and she knew they could do it correctly and would thank, or possibly cuss, her tomorrow when their chest muscles felt like they’d been ripped apart.
“Malee needs you,” Ike said.
“I’m in the middle of a session here.”
“I’ll take over.”
She hesitated.
“She said it’s really important.” Ike winked. “Like maybe as important as you going out with me Saturday night.”
“Not happening, Ike.”
Several of the class members overheard and snickered at Lily shooting down the body-building trainer. His looks weren’t the problem, it was his attitude toward women. Like they were beneath him in the professional realm, but he would forgive them for that if they fawned all over him and dated him. Ick. He asked Lily out so often she’d become an expert at rejecting him.
“You’ll give in someday.”
She laughed. “I highly doubt that.”
“You really need to go talk to Malee now.”
Lily noted that he was actually being serious and acquiesced. “Okay. The workout’s all on the board.”
Ike squeezed her arm as she walked past.
“Thanks,” she muttered. He was an okay guy, but always too cocky and flirtatious. She was at the gym to work or workout, not to flirt, but that was a hard concept for some of the men.
A few of her class participants gave her desperate looks. They liked her to be there to motivate them through the boot camp style class. Ike did a good job. He just wasn’t as intense as she was, tended to start talking with the clients rather than pushing and motivating them the entire hour.
Lily always made sure that her clients got their money and time’s worth and then some. She’d lived through lean times growing up with six siblings and fighting her way through college with a scholarship, grants, and a full-time waitressing job. She worked in the fanciest gym in Golden, Colorado, the Fitness Academy. It was nice and had all the equipment a trainer or gym goer could hope for. It might not be as ritzy as some of the gyms in downtown Denver, but it was closer to her home and family in Georgetown, and the rent in Golden was much cheaper than Denver. Some trainers, Ike, would claim she shouldn’t feel guilty about taking rich people’s money, but she refused to take advantage of a client’s time or money, no matter how much of it they seemed to have.
She walked down the hallway and the stairs to the personal training office across from the main weight room. Poking her head in, she saw a tall, well-formed man with his back to her. Some men were just built right and this guy definitely had some good genes. The broad shoulders and sculpted lines of his neck, back, and arms, right down to his glutes and legs. The soft cotton of his T-shirt and fleece of his sweats couldn’t hide any of his musculature from her trained eye.
Was he applying to be a new trainer? Lily immediately felt the competition swell in her. She was fighting to get enough clients as it was. Giving deals for training and trying to prove she was every bit as good as any male trainer. With her specialty in sports-specific training, she was building up a great clientele of high school athletes, and even some from the local college. Her dream was to someday work for the Denver Storm. A girl had to have dreams, even if they were monstrously big.
Her boss, Malee, stared at the man as if he was a superstar. That didn’t bode well if she was hiring him to train here. Lily really liked Malee and she was great to shuttle clients Lily’s way, but this guy could steal her clientele just by being a walking billboard. Maybe he was a future client, though he didn’t look like he needed any body sculpting help, that was for sure. Their low conversation didn’t carry, so sadly Lily wasn’t getting any clues ahead of time.
Lily stepped into the office all the way. Malee’s head popped up and the man turned to face her. Lily’s jaw dropped. That good-looking face was not one anybody who had an electronic device of any kind wouldn’t recognize. “You’re, holy Toledo, you’re Hyde Metcalf!”
He smiled and she honestly wanted to swoon right then and there. “Holy Toledo?”
She blushed.
On camera, Hyde Metcalf always seemed to have half a smile on his face, like he knew a joke everybody wanted to be privy to. But when he really smiled, wow, it was a good one. She didn’t have as much insight as she wanted to about his personal life because she tried diligently not to become obsessive about him, but she knew he had an African American father who’d also played for the Storm back in his day and a beautiful, blonde mother. He was the perfect blend of his parents. His eyes were dark with long lashes framing them and his face was just nice—the right amount of manly lines with enough softness to make him real.
Just because she didn’t allow herself to Google his personal life any more than once a week, or read every article put out by the gossip magazines about him, didn’t mean she didn’t know his every stat, watch his games faithfully, and follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, really wherever he had an account. Okay, she was pathetically star struck by him.
Her hands were trembling with nervous excitement and she wasn’t sure what her face was doing. She wanted to touch him and make sure he was real.
“And I hear you’re Lily Udy,” Hyde said, extending his hand to shake hers.
“The one and only.” Lily gave him a firm handshake, liking the size of his hands. Of course they had to be big to snatch the ball out of the air like he did. Oh, my, goodness, he was real. She wanted to jump up and down, take a selfie with him, and call her brothers to tell them how amazing this was—she was meeting Hyde Metcalf and he knew her name. Her youngest brother, Josh, would go completely berserk.
“Malee is telling me you’re the best sports specific trainer in Golden,” he said.
Lily cocked her head and tried to appear confident, though he could probably see the pulse in her neck jumping. “Maybe in the state of Colorado.”
He chuckled. “Oh, I like confidence. This is the girl I need.”
Need for what? Because she was totally up for whatever he needed. Lily! Her mother’s voice in her head told her not to be infatuated with him just because the guy was a big time star. But come on, she loved him. Well, not loved him, loved him, but he was the best wide receiver to play the game. He had 1871 receiving yards last year. Plus, he was always just doing cool things. Coordinating an event to raise money for juvenile diabetes research and, from the video footage she saw, spending time with many of the children one on one. Helping a single mom whose daughter had cancer with medical bills. The media captured all of it and she knew famous people had a hard time hiding nowadays.
The only bad media he got was when his mother was interviewed, an older blonde lady who was a bit rotund, but still beautiful. It was interesting that they involved his mom so much, but she always said hilarious things, usually bragging about her “sweet, little boy”, but she always seemed to somehow cut his girlfriends down and whether it was intentional or not, it came out pretty funny, but not exactly good PR. The other day she’d told a reporter, “That girl’s shorts were so short I saw her tush.” The reporter had goaded her and she’d continued with, “Well, I shouldn’t say the word tramp, but if you saw her tush what would you think?” Last year, she’d called one of his girlfriends a “floozie” then she’d been horrified when the reporter looked shocked and she kept repeating, “I meant frou-frou because she dresses so … fancy all the time.” The press had a field day laughing about that one.
Okay, so maybe she Googled Hyde more often than once a week and knew a few things about his personal life.
“Hyde wanted to meet you before we signed the contract,” Malee said.
“Contract?” Oh my, calm down, heart. Hyde Metcalf is looking at me and smiling!
“You probably heard about the pneumonia?” Hyde asked.
“Follow you on Twitter,” she admitted.
“Nice. I like a girl who’s informed.” He cocked an eyebrow and folded those beautiful arms across his chest. Yum, what she wouldn’t do to work with biceps like that, or touch them, touching them would be a little creepy though, right?
“I’ve recently been cleared to return to physical activity,” Hyde was saying and she tried to keep up, “and I’ve got two months until practice starts full bore for the season. I’d like you to train me.”
Lily had to grab onto a nearby chair. “Your team trainers are some of the best in the nation.”
“Hey, what happened to that confidence?” He cocked an eyebrow at her. “You’re the best in the state of Colorado.”
“I am. But I’m a year out of college, I don’t have the experience your trainers have.” She had to be honest with him, even if it killed her if he decided to walk away.
“So you should have all the most recent training info,” Hyde said.
Lily gave him a grateful smile and tried to find that confidence again. She was a specialist in sports training and she could do this. She could do a fabulous job of training this man to be ready for the season, but truly he did have some amazing trainers at his disposal.
“Yes, that’s right,” she said, “but why did you choose our gym?” Shut up, Lily, and sign the stinking contract before he gets away.
“I wanted to stay close to home,” Hyde admitted, ducking his head.
Lily raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to explain. She knew he was from Golden, everyone in the town knew and were more proud of that fact than Livability.com listing Golden as a top small town. But Hyde didn’t live here anymore, did he? She tried to remember all the places he had homes—a coastal place in California, some island in the Caribbean, and maybe Park City, Utah. She’d have to check, but he also had a penthouse in downtown Denver. I mean, come on, the man made over fourteen million dollars a year and who knew how much in endorsements? Who wouldn’t want that face selling cologne on television? She’d buy whatever he sold, if she could afford it.
“My mom needed some help so I had her house remodeled a few months back and I’m staying with her.”
Whoa. He obviously didn’t need to share that information with two basically strangers. She could see why he kept it on the down low. The press would have a heyday with the mega-stud moving back in with Mom, no matter what the reason.
“That’s so sweet,” Malee gushed.
Lily stared at her friend. It was sweet and Malee was obviously as infatuated with him as Lily was. Lily couldn’t blame her.
“I wanted a trainer and gym close by so I don’t have to drive into Denver every day for workouts until practice and team training officially start. My agent got great recommendations for The Fitness Academy.”
Lily nodded. “Well, you made a good choice.”
He smiled again, looking relieved. “I hope so.” He sobered. “But you really do have to be the best. I’ll give you one week to prove yourself. If I’m satisfied with your workouts and my progress, I’ll keep working with you and give you a ten thousand dollar bonus at the end of June. If I’m not satisfied, I’ll pay off the training for May, but I’ll have to go with the team trainers.”
Lily gulped. A ten thousand dollar bonus? Oh, she loved this guy so much.
“Malee informed me that your hourly rate is a hundred. That’s reasonable.”
A hundred? She charged sixty at the very most, quite often less, and usually was doing package deals where her clients got an hour free for every three hours they trained. Malee was giving her the glare, telling her not to reveal any of what she was thinking. Lily’s breath caught. Tick off her boss and maybe lose her dream client or be honest?
“I don’t usually charge that much,” she said in a rush.
Hyde looked her over and nodded. “That’s okay. I’ll pay a hundred.”
Lily exhaled, grateful she’d spoken up and even more grateful he’d dealt with her revelation so well.
“I’d like to do two hours a day, six days a week,” Hyde continued.
Lily appreciated that he was a get things done kind of a guy, but seemed like he could joke and make things fun as well. He was every bit as cool as his media persona, maybe more, and she got to train him for two hours a day, six days a week, for the next two months. Her brothers were going to be insane with jealousy. Her little brothers idolized Hyde Metcalf, especially the youngest, Josh. She wondered if there was any way she could arrange a meeting. It would be the highlight of Josh’s life.
“When do you want to start?” she asked.
“Right now.”
“You’re cleared for all activity?” She was already planning the workout she’d put him through.
“Malee has the doc’s note.”
She put out her hand and grinned. “Let’s do it.”
He stepped closer and grasped her hand again, but this time it wasn’t a nice to meet you handshake, more like—you passed the test and now you get the privilege of shaking my hand good and long. Lily noticed that his hands were not only big, but tingly. Wait, were they tingly or was she? The scent of fabric softener and musky man smell wafted over her.
“Snuggle?” she asked.
“Excuse me?”
“Do you use Snuggle fabric softener?”
He laughed. “I think so. My mom insists on doing the laundry rather than sending it out.”
He came from a different world than her obviously, and she wondered what the media would do to him when they found out he was living with his mom again. The momma’s boy taunts would probably be horrid, but she thought it was pretty honorable. Moving back home to take care of his mom. She wondered what was wrong with his mom and she wondered if she needed to let go of his hand now.
She forced herself to release the clasp and he looked down quickly, as if he wasn’t ready to be done touching her either. Okay. She had to keep this professional no matter how smitten she was. This was a huge paycheck for her and the gym, and also a huge advertising tool. She could imagine Malee was planning all kinds of scoops on that one.
“Obviously people are going to know I’m coming here, but I’d like you to wait on using me for advertising until after July first.” He looked at Malee. “Can you add that to the contract?”
Malee nodded, sat at her computer and typed away.
“We have a private room upstairs where we do personal training,” Lily said. “If you’re okay with seven to nine in the morning or any time between eleven and four we could workout in there and not many people would see you.”
“Do you have all the equipment we need?”
“Yes, or I’ll bring it in from the main weight room. I’d also like to do some workouts outside.”
His smile crinkled his cheeks. “I’d like that too. Let’s go for the morning time slot.”
Malee pulled the printed pages from the copier. “Can you look this over, Mr. Metcalf, then sign at the bottom. I’ll also need a credit card for billing purposes.”
“I’m going to run quick and check on my class while you sign the paperwork,” Lily said. “They should be finishing up, but I don’t want them to think I left them hanging.”
“Okay.” Hyde nodded to her.
Lily bounced upstairs and down the hallway. She could not believe this blessing that had fallen from heaven. She wanted to scream and dance, but forced herself to be somewhat calm.
Ike was talking to a couple of the girls from her class, but everyone else was gone. “Are they already done?” she asked.
“I let them out early for good behavior.” Ike winked. “I’d do more than that for you if you could demonstrate a little good behavior.”
Lily glared at him. “Stop, Ike.”
The girls giggled and said their goodbyes as Ike strode right up to her.
She stood her ground, not willing to back away and let him think he could bully her. “I don’t like you making my class too easy,” she said.
“I could make things real easy with you.” Ike had the nerve to brush his fingers up her arm.
Lily whirled from him and ran right into Hyde Metcalf. Hyde held onto her arms to steady her and she was amazed at the difference of his solid, entrancing touch and Ike’s touch that felt like creepy spiders on her skin.
“You okay?” Hyde asked in a low tone. He lifted his eyes over her head and pinned them on Ike.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
Ike smirked as he walked around them. If he knew who Hyde was, he didn’t acknowledge it. “See you later, sweetheart,” Ike said to Lily.
Lily ignored him, trying to hide the shudder that ran through her. She didn’t want to be unprofessional with Hyde watching.
Hyde kept his eyes on Ike until the trainer rounded the corner then he turned back to Lily.
“You ready?” she asked.
“Sure.” He grinned at her. “Put me to work.”
Lily rubbed her hands together, putting Ike completely from her mind. She was training Hyde Metcalf. Super athlete extraordinaire. It was better than being a Denver Storm trainer. She got Hyde one-on-one and this paycheck was going to make a huge difference for her family, especially her sister just younger than her. Life had just taken an enormous upswing.


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