After rushing to the altar and moving across the country, Harper Duquaine (or is it MacLaughlin, now?) is in uncharted territory. What once seemed like a promising opportunity to advance her husband’s career while giving her some much-needed independence and adventure has proven to be a bust. By the time fall rolls around again, she’s back in a boring job by day and overstocking her inventory of crocheted scarves by night. Not even the prospect of a new football season holds much excitement.
At least that’s what she thought. Harper suddenly finds herself the manager of not one but two fantasy football teams—each with its own set of drama. Between the added pressure of her new marriage, an unexpected career prospect, and the hiccups created by people from her past and present worlds, Harper quickly finds herself going from bored to overwhelmed.
Can she hold up under the pressure, or will Harper learn the hard way that the turf isn’t always greener on the other field?
Read an Excerpt from Three & Out
Brook waits for J.J. to take his turn drafting before turning his eyes back to me. He taps his chin three times but says nothing. His blue eyes pierce mine.
I cave in ten seconds flat.
“Okay, J.J. is right. I’m drafting a team of dicks. I’m sure this seems juvenile. Or crazy. It’s probably both, but I’m doing it this way. For fun.”
I gulp and finally raise my gaze to his. Sheesh. Our future kids are in for some serious trouble. If I ever suspect them of lying or sneaking around, I’ll just have Brook stare them straight.
“Why dicks?” J.J. asks.
“Between the names and personality types, I figured the NFL would have more than enough to give my team a full roster.”
“Not all football players are dicks.” J.J.’s tone takes on a sharp edge.
“I agree. Just the ones I’m drafting.”
Brook’s eyes crease around the edges, and his shoulders shake. My stomach instantly settles. Good. I’m glad he found his sense of humor.
“Whatever.” J.J. sighs. “I’m not going to stop you. It’s in my best interest for you to draft a crappy team. But as league commissioner, I needed to make sure you were cleared of any wrongdoing. For all I know, you’re helping your husband secure a playoff spot.”
“I assure you, my intentions are entirely pure.”
For some reason, this sets Brook off, and I disconnect the call before J.J. can take offense to Brook’s laughter.
“I’ve got to hand it to you, babe,” he says, once he finally regains some control. “When you decide to throw the game in the pre-season, you don’t mess around.”
My jaw drops, but I pause to draft my next player—Arney Walker, a known jerk who is constantly in trouble for attitude problems—before addressing his comment.
“Why would you think I’m throwing the game?”
He gives me his “let’s be serious” look, before pointing out the lack of consistency with most of the players I’ve already drafted. I again tap my fingers on the desk impatiently while he rattles off every reason my team won’t succeed until I’ve had enough.
“I have complete faith in my team. In fact, I’m guessing my pack of boners will outperform your so-called talent.”
“Want to place a side bet?”
“What are the terms?” I have to know what’s at stake because I don’t actually think my team will come close to beating his. This is probably the finest roster I’ve seen him draft, and he’s right about my team. They suck.
“That’s up for negotiation.”
Brook rips a Post-it off of a pad and hands it to me along with a pen. He grabs a second one and scribbles on it, motioning for me to do the same. I write “get a dog” above “wins head-to-head.” We fold our pieces of paper. I hand mine over and reach for Brook’s, but he pulls it out of reach.
“Do you actually want to know what’s at stake or just discuss the terms?”
Pursing my lips, I consider the possibilities. Knowing Brook, he probably wrote something like “try my world-famous steak,” which he still hasn’t convinced me to do in the two years we’ve known each other. He respects my pescetarianism, but he still talks about the steak ad nauseam. Plus, I’d rather he not see my terms. He’s told me we can’t get a dog. Several times. He claims our apartment is too small and that our cat, Blitz, would probably traumatize any poor pup.
With steaks and dogs on the line, maybe it’s better if we don’t know what’s at risk until the last possible moment.
“Let’s go for the surprise. You hold on to your terms, I’ll hold on to mine, and we’ll reveal the prize later.”
He nods and tucks his piece of paper into his wallet. “Want to go for most wins or something else?”
“How about whoever wins when we play against each other in week six?”
“I like it. So we have a wager?”
I thrust my hand across the desk. “We have a deal.”
To his credit, Brook doesn’t gloat over his inevitable victory. He doesn’t even smirk. Instead, we shake hands and withdraw into our respective rosters as our league goes round after round in the draft.
*** BARGAIN ALERT *** To celebrate the new release, for a limited time, you can pick up the first two stories in the series for only 99 cents each. EBooks First & Goal and Going for Two are available for only 99 cents each. ***
Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, Going for Two, Three & Out, and The Marrying Type. Her holiday novellas Making Christmas and What Happens at Midnight will be released on November 8, and are now available for pre-order. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Connect with her online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and on her website at www.laurachapmanbooks.com.