As many of you might know, I have a release coming in September: Then Came You. And because I love my readers, I’m offering sneak peeks over the next few months. Here’s a snippet from the first chapter, when Adam Miller (our former pro football player hero) meets Mia DeAngelis (our family-first heroine who is raising her nephew, Ben).
Just a little background – Ben had gotten in trouble at school, got frustrated with his Aunt Mia and disappeared. He ends up with the college football coach, Adam Miller.
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
A door opened and closed and decidedly female footsteps approached.
“That’s my Aunt Mia.”
Adam braced himself. He told himself she was probably a perfectly nice woman, and that he shouldn’t judge, and that she—she—Adam swallowed hard when the librarian entered his office.
This woman blew every librarian stereotype right out the freaking window. She was gorgeous. And she was young.
Her hair was a mane of loose brown curls, the same color as the toffee candy he used to find on his grandfather’s desk. It was pulled loosely off her face, tumbling almost to her waist, and long, dark lashes surrounded her big brown eyes. Adam had to shake off his reaction before he could say something coherent. There had to be something wrong with this. Wasn’t there some librarian rulebook that kept good-looking off the grid?
She swept into the room and went right to Ben.
“Oh Benny, thank God.” Her arms wrapped around the boy and Ben hugged his aunt’s middle.
While the reunion took place, Adam adjusted to the real Aunt Mia. She was beautiful like an angel would be beautiful, soft and gentle. There seemed to be an aura that surrounded her.
Shit. What the… he had to get a hold of himself. It was enough that the surge of blood to his groin was something he hadn’t experienced since he was in his twenties, but auras? What the fuck?
Still, he couldn’t deny that something about her made his heart pound, and the rush in his ears was freaking him out. Thank God her focus was on her nephew, and not him. Adam didn’t need her to see how affected he was.
“I’m sorry,” Ben said.
“Me too. But don’t you ever run off like that again. I’ve been worried sick!”
Ben nodded and Mia finally glanced at Adam. She smiled and extended her hand. “I’m Mia DeAngelis. Thank you so much for taking charge of Ben, Mr.…”
“I mean Miller.” Damn, he thought. She was standing there, grinning, probably thinking he was an idiot. Jesus, he thought. When did he ever react this way around a woman? “Adam Miller,” he said as he took her outstretched hand. “Please call me Adam.”
“He has the same name as your library,” Ben said. “Is it named after you, Coach?”
“Ben, Miller is a fairly common name—” Mia began.
“My grandfather,” Adam interrupted. “The Miller Library is named for my grandfather.”
“Oh. Well,” she said awkwardly. “I stand—um—corrected.” Immediately her back stiffened and Mia looked away, keeping her hand firmly on Ben’s shoulder.
An uncomfortable silence descended, the chill going right through him. Adam had blown this first impression big time. Mentioning his family was obviously a mistake. What a way to sound like a pretentious ass.
Then, just as Adam began to gather his wits, Mia blinked those soft brown eyes, made a little noise in her throat and his vision clouded again. Just like that.
What the hell was going on?
Nodding deferentially in Adam’s direction, Mia pointed Ben toward the door. “Thank you again. We’ll get out of your way.”
Damn. Where was she going? “You’re leaving?” he said quickly.
“Is that a problem?” She stopped, confused, her twitching hands telling him she was nervous. Think fast.
“No, no… of course not. It’s just…” Recover, man. You have to recover. “I’m done here. Let me walk you out.”
She nodded, but Adam could see she was being polite. He watched her twist her hands and noticed her left ring finger was bare. With any other woman, he’d think the nerves were a sign she was interested. But given her earlier reaction, he figured the nerves were about his family name. Then again, maybe she just didn’t like him. He looked at her again and what struck him was how innocent she looked, how young. Maybe she was thirty. Maybe.
The silence between them was once again uncomfortable, and before he could stop himself, Adam stepped on another landmine.
“Ben’s got a great arm,” Adam said as they walked toward the parking lot. Football wasn’t the best choice of subject, but he really wanted to know what Mia had against football. “He could play quarterback right now with the way he throws.”
“Football, again?” Her already icy manner cooled about another ten degrees. Wow.
Okay, maybe he was wrong about her not fitting the stereotype. The woman may not look like the blue-haired librarian of his nightmares, but she sure acted like her. “What’s wrong with football?” He shouldn’t have baited her, but he couldn’t stop himself.
Mia slowed, straightened her back, and turned to him with narrowed eyes. Now she was on the defensive. “Right now, everything.”
“He told me you don’t want him to play,” Adam said, recounting what Ben told him before she arrived.
He knew a lot of moms were nervous about contact sports. Sure there were risks. Anything worth doing had some risk associated with it, but at Ben’s level they were small. Now, though, as he watched her face tighten, he knew he’d pissed her off. Mia started to say something and then stopped, allowing him to continue. Like an idiot, he did.
“It’s good exercise and a great way to channel a kid’s energy.”
Adam looked away for a second, blew out a breath, and then looked back at her. “When a player is properly trained, and has the right equipment, at his age it’s as safe as riding a bike.”
“A bike? Are you kidding?” Yeah, she was mad. “I wonder if all the players with permanent brain damage, or their families, might disagree with you.”
“That’s not the same thing,” he grumbled.
“No? Well, is playing tackle football on a playground with no equipment, no coaching, and no supervision safe? Is it? Is that as safe as ‘riding a bike’?”
“I don’t have a bike either,” Ben shot out, but just as quickly, he snapped his mouth shut. The kid realized that after running away, and scaring her so bad, he shouldn’t say too much.
“Oh, don’t start.” Her temper flared, and Adam liked seeing her lose a little bit of that control. “I didn’t want you riding around our old neighborhood. I don’t have a problem with you riding a bike here.”
“Then why don’t I have one?”
“What? A bike?” She stopped at a very sensible small car. “Oh, gee… I don’t know,” she snipped. “Getting us settled in a whole new place has taken up a lot of my time, but once we get you one I’m thinking I’ll need a degree in engineering to figure out how to put it together.”
Adam grinned. He shouldn’t do this. He shouldn’t. It wasn’t any of his business, but he couldn’t just pass up an opportunity to look at her for an entire afternoon. “I could give you a hand.”
“What? Oh, no. Truly, that’s not necessary…”
“Really?” Ben’s smile flashed like a thousand-watt bulb. Gorgeous aunt or not, that sealed it. Adam wanted to help the kid out and there was no way a bike was coming home in that compact.
“It’s no trouble,” Adam said. “We have a game Saturday, but Sunday I’m free. We could grab lunch and go bike shopping. There are a couple of good shops in town.”
“I don’t know…” Mia held her keys in a death grip while she examined him very carefully. Based on her expression, she didn’t know what to make of what was going on between them any more than he did. God, she was something. Beautiful and smart.
Adam smiled. “It’ll be fun. I’ll show you around.”
“Please, Aunt Mia?” When she looked at her nephew, Adam knew she was going to cave. Mia’s shoulders relaxed, her eyes brightened—her whole demeanor softened. Ben’s sad look was obviously her weakness. She might try to act tough, but the woman was mush where the kid was concerned, and Adam felt his opinion of her click up a couple of notches.
“Okay,” she sighed. Adam almost felt bad as he watched a defeated Mia fish a piece of paper and a pen out of her purse and proceed to scribble some information before he could even offer to let her add the information to his phone. “Here’s our address. And if you need to get in touch with me, calling the library would be your best bet. But here’s my cell number, too. I don’t get great reception on campus.” She handed him the slip of paper and he smiled, hoping to crack the veneer.
“Fine.” Mia swallowed hard and opened the rear passenger door.
As Ben got in, Adam reached out and gave him a fist bump. “Later, Ben.”
“See ya, Coach.”
The back door shut and Adam looked over. “Nice meeting you, Mia.”
She barely said good-bye, mumbling something as she got into her car, and he walked toward his truck. Man, she was tough, but Adam smiled anyway. Saturday’s game was probably going to be a bloodbath, but Sunday was definitely looking up.
Then Came You releases on September 26, 2017. Preorder links are coming soon!