by Julie Brannagh
About the Book
Tanner Cole’s football career was over in less than thirty seconds one Sunday afternoon. After a lifetime playing the sport he loves he’s been forced into an early retirement. Between figuring out his plan for the rest of his life and dealing with the pain of his injuries, this grouchy hottie isn’t in the mood for the perky physical therapist who makes him in ache in more than one place.
Jordan Mueller doesn’t have time for a sulky ex-NFL player, even one who looks like Tanner. She’s done with falling for the bad boy without a heart. When she’s forced out of her apartment and offered an opportunity too good to pass up, she agrees to move in with Tanner. She’s only there to speed up his recovery. No funny business, even if her body is telling her otherwise.
As Tanner and Jordan spend more and more time together, they begin to see each other in a new light that threatens to change everything. But when the ghosts of girlfriends past reappear, Tanner must decide if he’s willing to put everything on the line for a shot at a future with Jordan.
Tanner Cole grabbed the remote off the couch cushions and clicked through the two hundred or so channels on his satellite TV. Daytime TV sucked. Even worse: it sucked yesterday, the day before, and the day before that too. But it wasn’t like he had a lot of choices for entertainment right now. His knee was slowly healing, but mostly, he wanted to be left alone while he tried to figure out how he was going to deal with the rest of his life.
He was a professional football player. Well, he used to be. He’d torn both his ACL and MCL and broken his tibia after planting his cleats on some shitty turf in Washington, DC, during the last two minutes of a fucking blowout he shouldn’t have been playing in in the first place. His coach had practically begged him to sit on the bench that afternoon and spend a few minutes powering down some Gatorade while his backup took the risk of injury instead. In the coach’s defense, “practically begging” meant he glanced over at Tanner and said, “why don’t you have a seat, and we’ll finish this one for you?” But Tanner had insisted that cold afternoon in Washington. He’d played anyway. And his career was ended because of a freak hit by a rookie who thought he was making his mark by permanently sidelining one of the best left tackles in the league.
Winners didn’t sit on the bench. Winners went out there and dominated, in football and in life. He remembered every buzzword and cliché-laden locker-room speech he’d heard in his career, typically when he was lying away at three AM and wishing he had that thirty seconds or so before his injury back again. He’d wanted to make the decision when it was time to hang it up. That was taken away from him. He wasn’t happy about it.
People (specifically his ex-girlfriend) were not as willing to put up with his various personality flaws when he wasn’t headline news anymore. He could tick off those shortcomings on his fingers, and he’d done so more than once while alone in the predawn hours. According to his ex, Star, he was too overbearing, too competitive, too impatient, and too insensitive. She didn’t seem to care about his faults when he was ordering $150 bottles of champagne at the club or buying her a little somethin’ somethin’ at the jeweler’s or the latest designer shoes and bags. He’d wanted to believe their breakup was all her fault, but being alone for a few months brought some clarity. He was as much to blame for the end of their relationship. He’d have to man up at some point and make an apology.
Before he met with the surgeon who was putting his knee back together, Tanner had been told by the team’s doctor that he wasn’t going to play football again.
“With your age and these types of injuries, you’re not going to be able to pass any team’s physical, even after rehab. I know this isn’t how you wanted things to end,” the doctor said.
“No, it isn’t,” Tanner said.
“Look at it this way: it’s a great chance to get on with the rest of your life.”
Tanner knew the guy was just doing his job, but he was already sick of people telling him to look on the bright side. He’d be damned lucky if he walked with a limp. Right now, he’d be happy if he could get off the couch and walk to the mailbox without a walker.
About Julie Brannagh
USA Today bestselling author Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.