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The whole world might be in love with him. But all he’s ever loved is her.
Grant Turner’s name is synonymous with football. The fans and media can’t get enough of the player known as The Invincible Man, a nickname he earned while growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country and the nickname he’s kept by being one of the best players in professional football today. No one can take him down. He’s unstoppable.
But even a suit of armor has its weak point, and Grant’s has always been Ryan Hale.
They were a couple of kids when they fell in love, and just when it looked like the happy ending neither expected was within reach, Ryan disappeared. No explanations. No good-byes.
Grant coped by throwing himself into the game for seven years, and he’s finally moved on. Or so he thinks.
When she walks back into his life, all of those feelings come crashing back, despite the warnings in his head that tell him she’ll leave him again. Grant can withstand the league’s toughest defensive line, but he’s always been weak where she’s concerned.
No man can take Grant Turner down.
But one woman certainly can.
One woman will.
How had I gotten here?
That was the question still cycling through my head when I heard the shower turn off. In the minute that followed, I did everything I could not to think about what was behind that closed bathroom door. What being a wet and naked Grant Turner.
What being the only man I’d ever loved and the only man I ever would. My life felt like it was ending, but his was only really getting started. There’d be more for him, despite whatever he said or thought. There’d be love, heartache, and more love. For Grant, I would be one of the many. For me, he was the one of them all.
When the bathroom door opened, a fog of steam burst into the bedroom. It wasn’t a plume; it was a thick fog.
“Do you have any skin left after that scalding shower?” I asked, turning toward the dresser so my back was to the bathroom. Grant fresh from a shower had always been a weakness for me, and I guessed nothing about that had changed.
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
I saw him from the corner of my eyes, standing beside me. When my gaze shifted to confirm whether he had or had not scalded off his skin, my breath caught.
“Why are you naked?” I blinked a few times to keep my eyes facing north. It was a chore though. I felt as though two metal weights dangled from my eyeballs and were trying to draw them downward.
Grant chuckled, pulling open the bottom drawer. “I’m not naked.”
“Why are you mostly naked?” When the fight against gravity became too much and my eyes dropped below his navel, I literally felt flames licking up my throat. Fuck me. That man had always had an amazing body, but now . . . I knew women who’d auction off their souls for a chance to be entertained by a body like that for a night.
“Because I figured you wouldn’t prefer the alternative of me being fully naked.” Grant pinched at the white towel tied around his waist as he pulled a pair of light grey sweats from the drawer. “But since I can tell from your shock I was wrong, what the hell.” In one flick of a finger, the towel fell to the floor.
“Grant!” It came out as more of a shriek than I’d intended, but he was standing two feet in front of me, fully naked.
“What?” His voice was innocent, but his smirk was the opposite. “Nothing you haven’t seen before.” His muscles rippled when he shrugged, tugging on his sweats. “Just seven years older is all.”
When he turned to pick up his abandoned towel, I got the full view of his back which, like this, looked as wide as the span of my arms.
“And seven years bigger,” I muttered, still unable to believe he’d just bared it all like that. Actually, the more I thought about it, I shouldn’t have been so shocked. Grant wasn’t exactly modest.
Glancing back at me, he winked. “Why thank you. Glad you noticed.”
When I caught what he was getting at, heat settled beneath my cheeks. “That’s not what I was talking about.”
“Maybe. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t what you were thinking about.” He slid the waistband of his sweats around until he found a comfortable spot. Which happened to be a good half foot below his navel.
“In your hurry to make me uncomfortable, you forgot to put on underwear.” I flattened my expression to give the impression that I was not half as shook up as he thought I was.
The truth was, I was probably twice as shook up as he thought.
“I don’t believe in them,” he said simply.
“You don’t believe in what? Underwear?” I felt my forehead crease.
“You know how some people are anti-gun or anti-abortion? Well, I’m anti-underwear,” he explained with a shrug. “But are you?”
My arms folded and I looked across the room. “Am I what?”
“Uncomfortable?” He moved a step closer, when he’d already been five steps too close.
Now, it wasn’t just the image of him clouding my mind. It was the way he smelled. The sound of his breath. The feel of the warmth cascading off of his body.
Sealing my eyes closed, I focused. I imagined the most Zen, peaceful place on the planet.
“No,” I said as firmly as I was capable.
“Liar.” I heard the twisted smile in his voice. After a moment, I felt him move closer. “Why do I make you uncomfortable? I never used to.”
My eyes opened right into his. As dark as Grant’s eyes were, a person would never notice the flecks of light in them if they didn’t get close enough to see them. Up close, his eyes were more light than dark.
“You don’t make me uncomfortable.” I could hear the lie in my voice like it was a shout.
One by one, Grant’s hands formed around the outsides of my elbows, his fingers circling around my arms. His body pressed closer until his chest touched mine each time he inhaled. “Then why are you trembling?” His head dropped, his mouth moving just outside of my ear. “Why do I make you uncomfortable, Ryan?”
His voice, his body. His words, his touch. He was wrecking my resolve, one moment at a time, until I could feel the last of it about to crumble.
“It’s been a long day, Grant.”
“It has.” His head nodded beside mine. “Let’s keep up this trend and make it a long night too.”
My heart started to echo in my eardrums as a growing ache pulsed inside me.
“We should get to bed.” My voice was trembling now too.
“We should.” His head dropped lower to my neck. He took in a long breath, like he was trying to take me inside him. “Yours or mine?”
Despite my resolve, I smiled. “They’re all yours technically.”
“They’re whatever you want them to be just as long a you say which one you want me to carry you into. Or feel free to point in the general area too. I can figure it out.”
Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.