Hey hey it’s release day! My second full-length novel with Carina Press, Love in Straight Sets, is now available wherever digital books are sold! To celebrate I’m sharing a fun excerpt, in which the tennis pro-turned-coach hero, Ben Percy, comes upon his tempestuous, professional tennis-playing charge, Regan Hunter in the supermarket.
“Excuse me,” chimed a voice from behind her. “Can I have your autograph?”
Dammit. There were so many professional tennis players and golfers living in this area that usually the fans left well enough alone, but she knew it never paid to be rude to her supporters. One autograph in a supermarket could lead to the purchase of one of her signature girls’ rackets, three T-shirts printed by one of her sponsors, or the limited edition Hunter ladies’ watch as a Mother’s Day gift…
Her hard-won smile vanished as soon as she turned around. “Oh, it’s you.”
Ben’s grin faltered right along with hers. “What’s wrong? I didn’t startle you, did I? It occurred to me about two seconds too late that you might have a creepy stalker or something. I was bracing myself for the pepper spray.”
“Nope, never had a stalker. I hear they’re all the rage, though. Maybe I’ll hold auditions. Did you ever have one?”
For the first time, Regan took in the bike helmet in his plastic grocery basket, the padded fingerless gloves unraveling over his knuckles and the black spandex shorts that left little to the imagination. His rock-hard thighs bulged beneath the taut hems. Despite herself, she licked her lips.
“Nice getup, but you know the Tour de France is timed, right? You’re supposed to beat your competitors across the finish line, not stop off to pick up some orange juice.”
“No wonder I keep coming in last.” He shifted his basket to the other hand, his posture relaxed. “Cycling saves on petrol, plus I hate shopping so the promise of an evening ride is the only thing that can motivate me to face the grocery store.”
“Anyway,” Regan said, suddenly uncomfortable with their easy accord given the power struggle that awaited them on the court tomorrow, “I’d better finish up. The store is closing soon.”
“Right, of course.” He glanced at the dingy tiles on the floor and back. “I could walk you to your car. I don’t mind waiting.”
Even as her eyes widened with surprise, her heart skipped a hopeful beat. “You don’t need—”
“I mean, we joked about it, but you’re a very famous and very beautiful athlete. It’s late, the parking lot is empty and there are a lot of psycho fans out there. I’m not saying I’m bodyguard material, but if it made you feel—”
“Beautiful?” The word leaped from her tongue before she could stop it, and only the fact that Ben looked as sheepish as she felt kept her from slapping her hands over her mouth.
“And famous,” he repeated evasively.
“I bet you say that to all your clients.”
“Actually no, considering most of them have been under the age of seventeen.” That winning grin was back on his face. “I don’t particularly want a police record.”
“I appreciate the offer.” She decided to cut her losses before anything more embarrassing tumbled from her lips. “But I’ll be fine. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Regan spun back to the bins of vegetables, taking an intense interest in the cucumbers while she waited for him to walk away. When his departing footsteps paused, she stole a surreptitious glance at one of the big, circular security mirrors mounted high on the wall.
Half-turned, he frowned in indecision. After a second he seemed to give himself a shake and pivoted, walking toward the checkout.
Regan stared into the mirror for several long moments after he departed, studying her own reflection and wondering what in the world had been going through his mind. If she didn’t know better, she could’ve sworn that the clear, full-signal broadcast emotion on his face was something it couldn’t possibly be—hot, naked desire.
In fact, the only reason she recognized it at all was because it echoed the simmering yearning that threatened to boil her traitorous blood.
Regan Hunter came to tennis late in life, but she’s worked hard to become one of the world’s top players. Beating the odds has made her unstoppable on the court and neurotically controlling off of it. So when her manager hires a new coach, a has-been who left the sport after a scandal, Regan wants him gone, fast.
Ben Percy, a former Grand Slam winner, is well aware of Regan’s reputation for driving coaches away—usually screaming. But working with the notoriously mercurial Regan could be just the break he needs to take his career to the next level, and he’s never been one to scare easily. He must stick to only one rule: hands off Regan.
Keeping his distance from Regan is more difficult than Ben ever imagined. Behind her tough, sexy exterior is a woman he wants to get to know better. And Regan feels a connection with her patient, easy-on-the-eyes coach that’s hard to ignore. But with the biggest championship of all on the line, romance may be completely out of bounds…