Friendship Chronicles, Book 7
Ambition trumps love and romance, doesn’t it?
Holly sucks when it comes to choosing the perfect man, and at three duds for three, she’s turning her back on the dating game. Instead, she’ll embrace ambition, concentrate on her favored sport and her promise to her deceased mother—she’ll do her utmost to earn a place in New Zealand’s netball team, the Silver Ferns.
Burned by a rough divorce rugby player, Angus, isn’t interested in anything but casual relationships. That’s until he meets Holly. With common mindsets, they’re perfect together, but Holly is running scared and refuses to see their potential.
Given his public persona, wooing isn’t something Angus usually needs to practice. With Holly, he’s willing to work for each passionate kiss. If only the real world and their romantic histories didn’t keep creating roadblocks…
You’ll love this sports romance because it contains a talented but man-shy heroine, an alpha hero with a playboy reputation, their tentative friendship, and enough exes coming out of the woodwork to create their own sports team. Go, Holly! Go, Angus!
Other Books in the Friendship Chronicles series
Read an Excerpt
Music blared, a bouncy pop tune filling every corner of the private room at the pub. Shouts and laughter carried to where Angus O’Neil sat at a secluded table with his date, the lighting low and intimate. The perfect setting.
But instead of getting to know Brooke during this first date, Angus couldn’t keep his eyes off Brooke’s sister, Holly Blackwood. The woman in her figure-hugging black camisole top and matching black mini skirt danced with abandon, her body moving to the beat. The blonde was tall with Vegas showgirl legs, her moves on the dancefloor attracting more than his attention.
Angus forced himself to glance away and take a sip of his beer, but his single-track mind kept yammering about her naked, those sexy limbs twined around his hips while he fucked her.
Then there was his second favorite fantasy. Holly on her knees with that decadent red-painted mouth stretched around his cock, her blue eyes trained on his face. Oh yeah, it had been a busy night in Fantasy Land.
A problem since he was here at the party with Holly’s older sister.
But hell, the way Holly grooved on the dance floor gave a guy ideas.
His breath gusted out, and he shifted to ease the fit of his black trousers. While Brooke was a knockout, it had been Holly with her extra height who drew him. She’d grabbed his attention from their introduction with her incredible blue eyes and long honey blonde hair. That hair he’d love to wrap around his fingers to control her mouth—
Mind out of the gutter, O’Neil.
He was here on a date with Holly’s sister—half-sister according to Brooke. Other guys might consider ditching a woman and pursuing another—he’d seen them in action—but he wasn’t that man.
Angus grabbed a bottle of beer and focused on the conversation around him. Sports-related since ninety-nine percent of the party attendees were part of the rugby scene—either player or cheerleader.
Brooke leaned closer. Her perfume was full of Oriental spices and reminded him of his grandmother’s apple pie—a sophisticated version, of course. Her breath warmed his ear, and that pushed his mind toward satin sheets. To his shame, the petite and curvy blonde wasn’t the woman spread-eagle and naked on the middle of the mattress in his daydream vision.
“I’m off to the restroom,” Brooke told him.
She drew back, flashed him a flirtatious smile, and he nodded in acknowledgment.
As a newcomer to the Auckland Dragons, he found the crowd welcoming, and with sports in common, conversation flowed easily. Joking and laughter rang out from throats lubricated with drinks. The sense of a job well done permeated the room since the Dragons had beaten the top-ranked Crows in front of a home crowd earlier in the day.
“Great try, dude,” a man he recognized as a prominent rugby league player said.
“Thanks.” He’d dotted down after intercepting the ball and running almost the length of the field. “We had an excellent result today. It was a team effort.”
Holly appeared flushed and attractive after dancing, her shiny blonde hair tousled and leading his thoughts straight to sex again. Was that how she’d look after lovemaking?
There was an empty seat beside him—Brooke’s seat.
“Where’s Brooke?” Holly visibly hesitated, studying him as if he might take a bite.
God, he’d love to suck her succulent flesh and leave a lover’s mark. Heat rushed through him, leaving him almost dizzy after the redirection of blood to his groin. He shook himself back to the party.
Damn, his mind sailed in one direction tonight. He had it bad. “She’s gone to the restrooms. Take her seat. I’m sure she won’t mind. Here’s your drink. I’ve kept an eye on it for you.”
After wavering for another beat, she dropped onto the wooden chair. Her weight shifted until she perched like a bird prepared to take off at the first hint of danger. Angus wanted to smile but worried he’d resemble the predator that stalked through his mind.
If anyone had informed him this morning he’d have an urgent and instant reaction to a woman, he would’ve called bullshit.
No denying it now. Her scent washed over him—an old-fashioned lavender with a hint of orange. Another interesting contrast between the sisters since Brooke’s perfume reeked of sophistication.
Aware of his understated—okay, not so subtle observation—she swallowed and fanned her face. Without taking his attention from her, he handed over her wine. She took a healthy swig, knocking back the remains.
Her gaze darted to him, and she gave a breathless laugh. “It’s hot on the dance floor.”
Her chuckle, husky and low, rocked him and had his body reacting yet again. This time he was the one to swallow. “Want some of my beer?”
“Yuck, disgusting. Beer is only good for bread. My mother makes fantastic beer bread.” She paused, took a quick breath, and Angus couldn’t fail to notice the rise and fall of her breasts. “Ah…I hear the Dragons had a win today.”
“Yeah.” She was aware of him too. Interesting. “It’s great to have a win on the board after our last loss in Australia.” He didn’t want to talk rugby, not when his curiosity centered on learning more about Holly Blackwood. “Are you a cheerleader like your sister?”
“Me?” Astonishment, chased swiftly by amusement, sparkled in her blue eyes. A dimple flashed at the right corner of her mouth, charming him. “No way.”
“So, what do you do?”
“I work for a bank, and in my spare time, I play netball for the Blue Dynamos.”
Her words made him scrutinize her with even greater interest. Everything he uncovered about her fascinated him more. “How long have you been playing for them?”
“This is my first season.” She flashed him a proud grin, passion for her sport shining in her features. “Still can’t believe I made the squad. I have to keep pinching myself.”
“What position do you play?”
“Defense—goal keep and goal defense mainly, but I’ve played on the wing too.”
He noted she relaxed once she talked about netball. “Are you in the starting team?”
“I was last week.” Her dimple blinked into prominence again.
He nodded, understanding the thrill of making the top team. “My sister used to play netball before she had kids. She played at the attack end of the court—on the wing.”
“You know netball?” Holly glanced at the table and pointed at the jug of margarita mix and the half-full glass. “Is that Brooke’s?”
“Yup. I don’t know what’s happened to her.”
Not that he was worried about his date’s absence. He was positive Brooke recognized the lack of spark between them too. While he liked Brooke and her open manner, they’d make much better friends than lovers.
Angus smiled at Holly and took pleasure in the slight widening of her blue eyes. “I used to watch my sister train. My rugby practice finished earlier than her netball, so I’d end up waiting. Let me see.” He pretended to ponder when he knew the game backward. Knowledge of netball and attending a game or two worked great for a guy wanting to meet the opposite sex. All those short uniforms and long legs didn’t hurt either. “There are seven players per team. The court is divided into thirds, and the object is to score the most goals. A goal is worth one point. Each player position is only allowed in part of the court, and the ball is thrown from player to player to travel the court. There—how’d I do?”
Holly sipped her sister’s drink. “You do know more than the average person.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling you. When is your next game?”
“We have a game on Monday night. The coach picks on form every week. Hopefully, I’ve done enough to make the team.”
A note of apprehension slipped into her expression, a feeling he understood all too well. No player showcased their skill by watching from the sideline. “How much training do you do?”
“I run every morning, and we have—” She glanced over his shoulder, her faint smile fading abruptly.
He followed her gaze and couldn’t see anything to promote her reaction. “What’s wrong?”
“Brooke is dancing with Sebastian.”
“Brooke’s ex. They broke up last week.”
Angus twisted on his chair to face the dance floor. His brows rose. “They’re not together anymore?”
Brooke had plastered her body against the dude. As he and Holly watched, Brooke linked her hands behind Sebastian’s neck, and the pair kissed.
“I don’t believe it,” Holly murmured. “She swore they were finished.”
“It appears they’ve changed their minds.” He kept his voice mild, not even minor annoyance making an appearance since inwardly he cheered.
Holly tensed and ripped her gaze off her sister to eye him. “You won’t make a scene?” She swallowed the last of her sister’s margarita and poured another glass.
“No, I’m gonna have another drink, and I might ask you to dance. And maybe we can stand as close as your sister and her…man,” Angus said.
Her mouth rounded a little before she pressed her scarlet lips together again. “You want to dance with me?”
“Yes, after we have a drink. Would you like another glass of wine?”
“Why not?” Holly wrinkled her nose at her margarita. “I’ll have a glass of sauvignon blanc, please.”
“Be right back,” Angus said, and giving in to temptation, he ran his fingers across the dimple near her mouth. Her skin was even silkier than he’d imagined, and her eyes turned big and wide at the intimacy. Grinning, he headed for the bar with real pep in his step.
She’d poured herself another margarita and consumed half of it before he returned. Her foot tapped to the beat of a recent pop song while she chatted with a giggly blonde.
Holly straightened, her expression wary. “Angus, this is Marcia. She’s on the cheer squad with Brooke.”
“Nice to meet you, Marcia.” This awareness wasn’t just him. Holly was conscious of him too and running scared. The thrill of the hunt simmered through Angus as he considered his next move.
“I saw you score your try this afternoon,” Marcia said with a flirty giggle and a toss of her head.
“You’re talented. Oh, and I saw the article about you in the Women’s Daily. Great pics.”
“Thanks,” Angus said and wished she’d go away. He wanted to talk with Holly. Alone. Hell, he wanted to whisk her back to his apartment and explore the chemistry that sizzled between them. They’d have coffee if Holly wanted, but he’d prefer her in his king-size bed, naked.
Angus glanced up to see his team captain.
“Hulme is here. I’ll introduce you,” the captain said. “It’s good to meet the selectors in person.”
“Go ahead.” Relief slid into Holly’s eyes. “I’ll be fine.”
Boom! That was his ego popping. “Back in a minute,” Angus said and took undue pleasure in the guardedness that slotted back into place on Holly Blackwood’s face. The woman didn’t know it, but she’d issued a silent dare.
Angus O’Neil didn’t back away from challenges. He relished them.