Determined to overcome a dark and tragic past, college student Everly Wallace is only months away from earning her degree in physical therapy. She’s consumed with school, caring for her ailing grandfather, and figuring out how to pay the next bill. The last thing she wants is a relationship, but it just might be the one thing she needs.
Major League pitcher Cole Parker hasn’t fought for anything in his life. He went from a privileged upbringing to a multimillion dollar All-Star career. But when his pitching shoulder starts to give him trouble at only twenty-four years old, he faces the possibility of his injury becoming public knowledge and costing him everything.
In a desperate bid to save his career, Cole decides to hire someone to treat his injury, someone who will keep things off the record and out of the media. He finds the perfect solution in Everly. As mysterious as she is beautiful, she provides an enticing distraction from his pain. Soon, physical therapy is the last thing on his mind.
When an act of betrayal brings the truths they both fear to light, Cole will have to fight for the first time in his life…not just for his career, but for Everly’s love.
Thirty minutes later, she finally arrived at the restaurant. Between traffic and the unfamiliar area of town, it took her longer than she expected to get there. She thought she had given herself extra time, but she was still five minutes late. When she pulled up, she found herself at a valet stand. Rolling down her window, she flagged the valet who eyed her car as though it had just broken down at his feet. He approached with notable reluctance.
Waving at the twenty-dollar valet fee posted on a nearby folding sign, she asked, “Is there self-parking?”
“No, ma’am,” he replied stiffly.
She swallowed and nodded, getting out of her car so he could park it. She only had twenty dollars in cash, and she had intended to pay for her lunch with it. She knew the bank account was low until she got paid again on Friday, but she’d have to risk debiting her meal. Why hadn’t she thought to set some parameters when Cole suggested the restaurant?
Her headache ballooned as she hurried through the front door of the restaurant and looked around without spotting Cole. Frowning, she approached the maître d.
“Miss Wallace?” he greeted her.
Surprised, she nodded.
“Welcome. Mr. Parker is waiting at your table. It would be my pleasure to escort you there. May I take your coat?”
Damn. She probably couldn’t even afford the free bread at this place.
Giving the maître d a wan smile, she shrugged out of her coat, putting her gloves in the pockets and wrapping her scarf around one of her purse straps. She was sure she was imagining it, but she swore the maître d held her Target-brand garment a few inches away from his body as he turned to hand it off to whoever guarded the coat room.
Shifting uncomfortably when he gave her a quick once-over and lingered disapprovingly on her jeans, she took a deep breath and followed him into the dining room. There wasn’t anything she could do about how she was dressed, was there?
Lord, what a hot mess this was.
As she spotted Cole across the dining room at a table with a beautiful view of the outside terrace, another thought occurred to her. How should she greet him? Should she shake his hand since this was a business meeting? Go in for the awkward hug since she was good friends with his brother?
Bow because he looked like a god in his simple black V-neck sweater and gray pants?
She caught his gaze when she was still about ten feet from the table. A variety of expressions crossed his features, so many that she couldn’t read them all. She definitely caught irritation, though, and was puzzled when he ended up smiling.
He stood up. The maître d deposited her with a slight bow, so she ruled out that form of greeting. Then it was just her and Cole.
“Hello, Everly,” he said, his voice as smooth as a buttered biscuit.
Had that been her voice that came out all breathy? She prayed it hadn’t sounded as ridiculous as she thought.
She started to lift her right hand for a shake, then realized he was tilting in for the awkward hug. To avoid hitting him in the crotch, she adjusted her trajectory. He smoothly used his left hand to continue her forward motion so that her hand ended up encircling his neck.
Then before she knew what was happening, her lips were pressed against his.
Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of a series of YA Fantasy/Romance novels about the Estilorian plane, including the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy and the Firstborn Trilogy, and a New Adult Contemporary Romance, For Everly. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of America and is a contributing blogger to The Writer’s Voice. When she isn’t planning weddings, writing, or glued to social networking sites, she can usually be found on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches with her husband and daughter or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.
The author is hosting a Release Giveaway of (2) signed paperbacks of For Everly, a custom For Everly inspired bracelet worth $35, and a $10 Amazon Gift Card. This is open to the U.S. and Canada. Just click the cute little ‘copter below for your chance to enter to win 🙂