Ready to heat up your afternoon with a hot Hump Day excerpt? Of course you are! Today we’re taking it back to college for a sexy hook-up with the football coach from Tessa Bailey’s Too Hard to Forget, available next week.
Three years after graduation, Peggy Clarkson returns to her alma mater to reclaim the man that ruined her for all others — Elliott Brooks, the school’s football coach. But propriety and tragedy stand in their way. Will Elliott and Peggy overcome their past in order to claim a brighter future together? To the excerpt!
Peggy couldn’t pinpoint what drew her toward the tunnel. The football game was going to start in just fifteen minutes, and she was supposed to be leading the Bearcat cheerleading squad’s warm-ups. But just like always, she was aware of his absence. On the field, pacing the sideline, terse instructions being delivered into his headset, while eagle eyes watched the team stretch and prepare. And in the same way she never failed to sense him nearby, his absence was having the opposite effect now. Instead of feeling hot and full, her stomach was cold and empty.
Pompoms in hand, Peggy walked on the balls of her feet down the silent, airless hall leading to the football team’s locker room. She had no authorization to be there but couldn’t ignore the pull. She’d find him back there. The man who watched her as if she were the Promised Land one moment, hell the next.
Elliott Brooks. Head coach of the Bearcats. Two-time recipient of the Coach of the Year award. Uncompromising hard ass known for demanding perfection not only from his team, but himself. Devout Catholic. They called him the Kingmaker, because so many of his players had gone on to be first round NFL draft picks. That man. The one who visited her bed nightly.
Well. In her dreams, anyway. In real life, they’d never exchanged a single word. Their long, secretive glances were a language all their own, though. When cheerleading and football practices intersected, his burning coal eyes moved over her like a brush fire.
What are you looking at? His gaze seemed to ask. But in the same glance, she could read the contradicting subtext. Don’t you dare look at anyone on this field but me.
Give me one good reason, she would blink back, cocking a hip.
And he would. Commanding the field with a whip crack command, stalking the sidelines like a predatory creature, seeing all, commenting only when strictly necessary. Those eyes would sneak back to her, though. Without fail. Their message would read, I’m a man among boys. There’s your reason.
Or she’d imagined everything and the telepathic communication was in her head alone. A scary possibility…and one she couldn’t bring herself to believe. Was it finally time to find out?
The crowd’s excitement followed Peggy down the long tunnel, fading the closer she came to the locker room. That’s when she heard the heavy, measured breaths. The forceful clearing of a man’s throat.
Before she could second-guess her sanity, Peggy stepped into the off-limits room, dropping her pompoms and slamming back against the wall under the weight of his attention. It snapped against her skin like an open hand. God, he was gorgeous, even in his sudden fury. Hard bodied, golden from the sun and righteously male, all stubbled and tall and full of might. The muscles of her abdomen squeezed—squeezed—along with her thighs as he stormed over, his words being directed at her for the very first time.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing here?”
Don’t lose your nerve now. Years. She’d been watching him for years. Since she’d entered the university as a freshman. Watched his triumphs from afar. And the horrible tragedy, still so recent. So fresh. “You should be on the field.”
Elliott’s crack of masculine laugher held no humor. “And you thought it was your job to come get me, cheerleader?”
So condescending. But accompanied by his raking glance down her thighs and belly…she couldn’t help but be turned on by it. She loved him addressing her at all. Finally. “Yeah. I did. Everyone else is probably too scared of you.”
Dark eyes narrowing, he stepped closer. So close, she almost whimpered, the fantasies having taken such a deep hold, her longing was on a hair-trigger. “Well, you were wrong. It’s not your job. So pick up your sparkly bullshit and move out.”
“They’re called pompoms and I’ll leave when I’m good and ready.” With an incredulous expression, Elliott started to move away, telling Peggy she needed to work fast. Toward what goal? She’d come with no plan. Had never expected to actually speak to this man in her life. “I’ve seen you watching me.”
He froze, a muscle leaping in his cheek. “You were mistaken.”
“No. I wasn’t. I’m not.” She wet her lips, gaining confidence when his eyes followed the movement and she saw the hunger. The same hunger she’d watched grow, even while he begrudged it, over the course of the last few months. Since the tragedy. “You don’t have to feel ashamed about it. Not now.”
His fists planted on either side of her head with a bash, shaking the lockers, then his face hovered mere inches away. “What would you know about shame?”
Wetness rushed between Peggy’s thighs as his apples and mint scent took hold of her throat like a giant metal hook. “I know the last six months were awful for you. They would be so hard for anyone. But especially you, because you carry everyone on your back. The whole school lives for Saturdays. If you’ll win or lose.” His brow furrowed, his scrutiny so intense, she wondered how her legs kept from giving out. They must have moved closer without realizing, because the tips of Peggy’s breasts grazed Elliott’s chest and he groaned. A harsh, guttural sound that might as well have been a symphony, it was so welcome to her ears.
“You…” His throat flexed. “You don’t know anything about me, Peggy.”
Her pulse went haywire. The wordless communication hadn’t been imaginary. Those hard eyes really had been speaking to her. It was the way he said Peggy. As though he’d tested her name on his tongue a million times. “You know my name.”
“I shouldn’t,” he grated, pressing closer, so she could feel he’d been affected below the belt. Very affected. “Damn you.”
“You only mean that half the time. And I do know things about you. You have a different coaching style for each player based on their strengths and weaknesses. When they changed the coffee lids in the campus coffee shop, you kept ripping off the extra little flap until finally you started drinking without the lid. Because you hate anything loose or unnecessary, don’t you? I can tell your mood by the way you watch me on certain days, because I watch you, too,” she whispered. “Sometimes you’re damning me. The rest of the time, you’re wondering what I’d feel like—”
“Or if I’d let you.” A slow beat passed. “I would. I am. But not because you’re the Kingmaker or some other ridiculous title. Maybe I’m not letting you at all. Maybe this is me begging.” The B word liquefied her knees, as if they wanted to hit the ground and implore him in earnest. “You’ve been so strong and I-I want to feel that strength. Want you to feel mine. You’re taking all the blame for what happened and—”
“Shut your mouth.” His forehead ground against hers. “Shut your beautiful, ripe, little mouth.”
Desire thickening in her blood like oil, Peggy removed one of the hands he’d fisted on the locker, lowering it to the space between her legs. His nostrils flared, hot exhales bathing her face, eyelids slamming to a close. But she didn’t let his massive presence intimidate her. One by one, she smoothed open his curled fingers, then cupped Elliott’s hand at the juncture of her thighs, encouraging him with a roll of her hips to mold the flesh beneath the built-in panties of her cheerleading skirt.
“It’s okay to need this.”
“No.” His denial was a near-roar. “It’s not.”
Before the words had fully fled his mouth, Peggy went up on her toes and fused their lips together, pancake batter folding and folding in her stomach. His mouth was hard, his cheeks rough even though they were shaven. But the taste of apples and mint, and the grudging, restrained returning of the kiss, made him too addictive to stop. The battle inside him only went on a few seconds, until their tongues met, and then Peggy was plastered between his ruthlessly fit body and the lockers, his hand treating the private place between her thighs with nothing short of disrespect.
When he jerked aside the thin, red material and slipped a finger into her heat, shoving it deep with a grunt and a twist, Peggy flew across the bridge toward an orgasm, anticipating it in the tips of her toes, the downward pull in her belly.
“I can’t do this,” Elliott growled, before taking her mouth in another no-holds-barred wrestling of tongues and teeth. “I can’t. You’re too young—you’re a student and I’m…Peggy, I haven’t been thinking clearly.”
Oh God, if he stopped, she would drop dead from disappointment. Her head spun, tummy clenching, lungs seizing with short, desperate breaths. But through it all, his obvious pain permeated, drawing them into the eye of the storm together. “This isn’t wrong. Wanting me isn’t wrong.” Her hands shook between their bodies as she unfastened his tailored, black pants, lowering the zipper. The groan that left his mouth when she gripped his generous length and stroked would stay with her forever; it was so forceful and relieved and miserable, all at once. “Let go of what happened, just for a little while. We’re the only ones here. Just you and me.” She raised her left leg, hooking it around his hip, whispering, “I’m on the pill.”
With a jagged breath, Elliott grabbed up Peggy’s other leg, drawing it high around his waist as she guided his arousal toward her core. He entered her with a biting slam against the locker door, releasing the vilest of epithets into her ear. “Jesus Christ. This is what sin feels like,” he rasped. “Wrong and right, at the same time. Life and death. Blond, long-legged, and tight.” A violent pounding of his erection into her already contracting flesh. “I should start saying my penance now, because it could take years to make up for the thoughts you’ve put in my head. And now I’m acting on them.”
His hips moved faster, pinning Peggy’s bottom to the locker, rattling it…rolling her eyes back in her head until the climax broke like a cresting wave, turning her thighs to conductors of vibration. “Oh…oh my God…please.”
“Don’t talk about God to me.” His sweating forehead wedged into the cradle of her neck. “You’re the reason I’m forsaking him.”
“No,” Peggy breathed, planting kisses on his mouth, his cheeks. “No one is perfect. Not all the time. Not even you.” Her panting breaths were making her ribs ache, but his hardness moving in her body eclipsed any discomfort with bliss. So much bliss. “You don’t have to be…faultless with me. Not right now.”
Hard eyes lifted, snagging hers. “Which way do I have to be?”
The glimpse of vulnerability in Elliott—a man touted as Godlike in his genius and determination—raced through Peggy’s veins like a drug. Had she really been the catalyst that drew out his undiscovered weakness? “Human.”
As soon as she issued the word, she felt it spear him, could almost hear the effect it had. He was looking at her differently now, like she were a new discovery he’d made, but didn’t fully understand. “You feel like ruin…but I can’t stop. Can’t stop.” Coarse hands climbed up Peggy’s thighs, wedging between her body and the locker to grip her backside.
Too Hard to Forget will be available in digital and print on April 25. Digital copies start at $5.99, grab yours here: Amazon | BN | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo. And if more Hump Day excerpts is what you crave (who wouldn’t?) we’ve got you covered.