Author: Collette West
Publication: October 17th, 2014
Pitching phenom Bruce "Jilly" Gillette has a hard time talking to women. His hulking presence of tattoos and muscles is what makes him an intimidating closer on the mound, yet off the field, he's painfully shy, uncomfortable in his own skin.
Desperate to revamp his loner image, the New York Kings hold a dream date contest, granting the lucky winner a night on the town with their surly reliever, doing whatever it takes to force Jilly out of his comfort zone.
Hailey Halpert enters the contest on a whim, looking for answers as to why her high school relationship with Jilly hit the skids. Now she’s a popular romance author writing under a pen name, and her reappearance in Jilly's life is no accident. It turns out that her novels are all about the sexy players on the Kings, and Jilly has no clue that he's about to become her new leading man.
His clumsy attempt to show his feelings started off as something beautiful, something I'll never forget, and I want him to know that.
"Jilly…" I say tentatively, and his eyes instantly snap to mine. "The way you held me all through the night, felt so…right. The way you touched me, running your hand up and down my arm, and later when you were stroking the inside of my palm with your thumb. God…it felt so good. You didn't have to say anything. I could feel it."
"You don't know how long I'd wanted to do that," he whispers softly, his face turning red.
I smile, breaking eye contact because I'm completely overwhelmed. He's saying the words I've always wanted him to say. This is the talk we should've had a long time ago, and I want him to know everything that's in my heart.
I meet his eyes again. "What made it even better was that…you didn't have to touch me in all of those places…any other guy would have to make me want you. Your fingers on my arm were enough. I was in agony being so close to you and not being able to do anything more. I wanted you to take me somewhere, anywhere, to finish what you started—upstairs to one of the bedrooms, outside on the porch, in the back seat of the car—so I could kiss you everywhere I wanted to—but you didn't."
He's staring at me so intently that I'm afraid to go on, but I have to. I'm almost there.
"I know neither of us got much sleep that night because all I could feel was your hand caressing my body from my neck to my fingertips. But the next morning, as soon as it got light, you couldn't wait to get out of there. You started muttering to yourself about being late for something, propped me up on the side of the couch, and left me there. You didn't even say goodbye. Do you have any idea what that felt like?"
He meets my eyes for a second before looking away. "If you were tightly wound, you can imagine how I felt. You don't remember what you were doing right before that, do you? How you were running your leg up and down mine? Your knee at my—” He stops, burying his head in his hands. “I had to get out of there because I—"
I swallow, realizing now why he did what he did.
"But I could've…" I stammer. "Helped you…with that."
He pushes himself away from the table, and I'm afraid he's going to leave me sitting there all alone again. "I didn't know what to do. I—"
"Jilly, I was yours for the taking."
"Are you still?" His gaze burns into me.
I look into his soulful, brown eyes, which are holding nothing back from me. He's taking a giant leap for me now, even if he couldn't do it back when we were kids. Things could've turned out so differently if he had, but here we are, in New York City, sitting across a table from each other, four years older, four years wiser.
I’d thought he was lost to me forever, never to be a part of my life again. But he's here, offering me a second chance at what I've always wanted—to be with him.
Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball's biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette's impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.
Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she's not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at email@example.com.
She is the author of NIGHT GAMES, GAME CHANGER and GAME ON.
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