Title: Griff Montgomery, Quarterback
Author: Jean C. Joachim
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance/Football Romance
He wants to find a wife. She doesn’t want to marry again. Not exactly a match made in heaven. Or are they? Griff Montgomery, star quarterback of the Kings and a womanizer, became a stand-in father for his widowed sister’s kids. His happy family life collapses when she moves to California. Griff wants his own family. But where does a “player” go to find a mate?
Having sworn off marriage, Lauren Farraday barely keeps her life together after her divorce. With her career shaky and depression closing in, the last thing she needs is a courtroom battle with a sexy athlete.
Forced, by a judge, into an uneasy truce, the pair denies their growing chemistry. Wary of Griff’s womanizing reputation, and hiding a secret, Lauren keeps him at arm’s length. Can the quarterback handle the truth or will he walk away, like he has in the past?
“Fair enough for someone as irresponsible as you.”
“The judge said joint custody. I get equal time.”
Griff’s lawyer shot him a warning look.
“What’s your idea?” Griff shifted his weight. She’s gonna be a pain in the butt.
“Every other week.”
“Nope. Not gonna work for me.”
“Why not?” She looked up, her mouth pouty, distracting him.
“Saturday nights are my late nights. Sometimes, I don’t get home until two or three…or not at all.” He sensed heat rising in his face as Lauren stood quietly, blushing. “Of course, if that’s your late night, too…”
“It isn’t, no. I’m home. Every Saturday night,” she blurted out.
“No social life? Hmm. I can see why.”
“What does that mean?” She fisted her hands and planted them on her hips.
“Nothing? Try again.”
“All right, every other week, but we make the exchange on the weekend.”
“Don’t want you to miss your night out taking advantage of women,” she sneered.
“If you were a man…” Griff clenched his fingers at his sides, his temper barely controlled.
“If I were a man, what? You’d punch me?”
Griff laughed. His gaze swept over Lauren’s curvy body. “I take it back. It’s a shame you’re home on Saturday night. Could be making some man happy.”
“Oh?” Her tone was warmer.
“Some man who’s a glutton for punishment and likes witches.”
Her hand came up and slapped him so fast even Griff couldn’t react quickly enough.
“Holy shit. Did you just assault him in the courthouse?” his lawyer asked.
Lauren’s attorney gasped, grabbed her by the wrist, and escorted her out and down the front steps. “What are you doing?”
“He…he…he called me a witch.”
“You can’t hit people.”
“I didn’t hurt him. He’s twice my size.”
Griff rubbed his cheek, glaring at her, as he descended the stairs.
“Look, if you two can’t agree to a schedule, we will,” his lawyer said, looking at Marcy.
“Okay. I drop him off with you on Sunday afternoon. You give him back to me on Saturday morning,” Lauren said. “I’m sorry I hit you.”
“Fine,” Griff agreed, through gritted teeth.
“Can I say goodbye to Zander?”
He lowered the dog to the sidewalk. Lauren knelt down. When he wagged his tail and licked her, she buried her face in his fur. Griff saw her shoulders move. Oh, no. Shit. Don’t. Don’t cry. Please don’t cry. I can’t take it. Within seconds, Lauren was clutching the pug to her chest, sobbing. People leaving the courthouse stopped to stare. One or two came over to Griff for his autograph.
He scribbled something quickly then took her firmly by the arms and raised her to her feet. “Don’t cry. Okay? I can’t stand it.” Griff’s heart melted as he watched her cling to the canine. Memories of comforting his niece and nephew during their bouts of tears after a bad day tore at his guts. Tempted to let her have the dog, he remembered the lonely nights made better by Spike’s presence.
She fished a tissue out of her purse and dabbed her eyes and nose. “I don’t care.”
“Come on, lady. Please.”
“My name is Lauren.”
“Okay, Lauren. No tears. All right?”
She sniffled twice, blew her nose, and then nodded. “I’m okay. He’s been mine for three years.”
“He’s a great little guy.”
“Warm on a cold night. Cuddles with me when I watch television. Always by my side.”
She looked up at him with full eyes. “You love him, too, don’t you?”
“I wouldn’t say love…maybe ‘like a lot.’ I’m used to him. That’s all.”
“You wouldn’t fight so hard to keep him if you didn’t love him.”
Though she spoke softly, out of earshot of the crowd forming, her words stripped him bare. She saw through his façade, saw how much the little pooch meant to him. He looked at the ground and shuffled his feet.
Two more people approached for autographs, and he was relieved to have the distraction.
“Drop him at my house,” she said, scribbling on a piece of paper. “On Saturday morning.”
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BARNES & NOBLE