T.J. Kline launches a brand new series with the charming story of an NFL player who finds love when he least expects it…
Grant McQuaid has dedicated his entire life to his football career. Now an injury threatens his place on the team and he’s forced to return home to rehabilitate. But when he meets his “biggest fan,” a precocious, blue-eyed, hearing impaired boy named James—and his beautiful mother, Bethany—Grant begins to question whether football is the future he still wants.
Bethany Mills has been doing just fine since her husband walked out on them… and she definitely doesn’t need another man to disappoint her—or her son. But when James runs into his hero at the park, Bethany admits there is a void in her son’s life that she just can’t fill. Her attraction to the handsome football star is undeniable, but a man in the limelight is the last thing she wants for herself, or James.
Grant doesn’t want to subject Bethany to the chaos of dating a professional athlete. But the more time he spends with her and James, the harder it is to resist making a play for her heart…
Grant waited at his car for Bethany and James to finish up inside the classroom. He’d spent the rest of lunch recess entertaining nearly forty kids who’d come running over when they realized James knew a professional football player. The smile that lit James’ face when he introduced Grant had been well worth the discomfort he’d faced trying to explain why he was at the school to Bethany.
He couldn’t blame her for being standoffish with him when she first saw him there. What kind of weirdo showed up at your job the day after you told him to take a hike? But something had shifted in her today. He’d seen it in her eyes when he tried to explain why he’d come. Enough that he was willing to push his luck and see if she wasn’t up for having ice cream today.
Grant saw her heading toward her older model sedan in the school parking lot, juggling an armload of books, papers and teaching supplies. James wore a small backpack with a cartoon character he didn’t recognize on his little shoulders but Bethany carried an overfilled tote bag that had to weigh more than she did.
“Hey! Here, let me get that for you.” He hurried to her side, sliding the bag from her shoulder. Apprehension colored her hazel eyes and, for a moment, he wondered if she wasn’t going to tell him to leave again. Instead, she unlocked her car.
Grant wasn’t sure if he should ask but knew it would look far more suspicious if he didn’t now. “What are you guys up to? I thought maybe I could convince you to get that ice cream today.”
James’ face brightened and he looked up at his mother. “Can we?”
Bethany bit her lower lip. “We can’t.”
Grant tried not to take the second rejection to heart and nodded in understanding.
“Our downstairs toilet broke this morning and I had to turn it off. Now I’ve got to run to the store for the part and figure out how to fix it,” she explained.
Relief he hadn’t expected coursed through him. Maybe she wasn’t shooting him down after all. He let the corner of his mouth tip up playfully. “Ms. Mills, that sort of sounds like a load of C-R-A-P,” he spelled, laughing at his bad pun.
Her eyes widened but she smiled at his audacity. “Mr. McQuaid,” she scolded.
James giggled beside her and Grant immediately realized his mistake. “Mom, he spelled a bad word.”
“How did he . . . never mind. I should have known this genius could spell that,” Grant said, trying not to laugh. “How about if I help you fix your toilet?”
She popped open the truck, indicating that he should set her bag inside. “You want to fix my toilet?” Bethany crossed her arms and leaned a hip against the side of the car as she closed the trunk. “Really? That’s the line you want to go with?”
Grant shrugged but the smile never left his lips. What was it about this woman and her kid that made him feel so comfortably at ease? He hadn’t felt this relaxed in a long time. She made it easy for him to forget about his injury, the pressure of his upcoming training camp and his possible job loss.
“What do you say, little man? You think between the two of us men, we can fix the toilet for your mom?”
“Yes!” he yelled cheerfully. James climbed into the back seat of the car and buckled himself into his booster seat.
“I’ll meet you at the hardware store.” Grant turned to walk back to his car.
“I’m not going to get rid of you, am I?”
Grant paused and looked back over his shoulder at her. “Why would you want to?” he asked with a wink and jogged the rest of the way back to his car.
About the Author
T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and Rodeo Queen competitions since the age of 14 and has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She writes contemporary western romance for Avon Romance, including the Rodeo series and the Healing Harts series. She has published a nonfiction health book and two inspirational fiction titles under the name Tina Klinesmith. In her very limited spare time, T.J. can be found laughing hysterically with her husband, children, and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.