Authors: Mackenzie Crowne
Can she trust this player with her heart?
Ever since experiencing a childhood trauma, reclusive artist CC Calhoun has suffered from panic attacks. But when a fateful kiss from handsome wide receiver Kevin “Tuck” Tucker is enough to stop one of those episodes cold, she wonders if guarding her heart has been the right choice. Will going on a test date with Tuck open her to trusting someone for the first time in years? Or will she wind up being just another notch in the football player’s bedpost?
Tuck has a reputation for charming women into bed, but after his kiss with CC, he’s left aching for more. When he proposes a second date, his attraction to the sexy blonde looks like the makings of true love—something he’s never quite believed in—until now. But when Tuck discovers CC’s childhood secrets, will the pro athlete be tough enough to stay by her side—or will he betray her hard-earned trust?
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Books by Mackenzie Crowne
The Players Series
To Win Her Love
To Win Her Trust
To Win Her Heart
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
To Win Her Trust
A Players Series Novel
Kensington Publishing Corp.
Lyrical Press books are published by
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Copyright © 2015 by Mackenzie Crowne
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First Electronic Edition: January 2015
First Print Edition: January 2015
Printed in the United States of America
Dedicated to my fellow football chicks who, like me, love the game and believe in happily ever after.
“Hey, Romeo! Would you mind hurrying this along? Some of us have appointments to keep.”
CC Calhoun darted a glance over her shoulder at the next customer in line. Lips twisted with displeasure, the disgruntled blonde huffed her impatience. CC offered the woman a pained smile and faced forward once more. The Romeo in question broke off his flirting with the pretty coffee clerk and straightened from his negligent slouch against the counter. On a lazy pivot, he turned. Shaggy, sun-streaked blond hair stuck out from beneath the faded ball cap worn low on his forehead. Dark lenses concealed his eyes—until he dipped his head enough to study CC over the rim of his glasses.
She blinked and suppressed a helpless shiver.
could understand why the clerk had been buying his ridiculous excuse for not calling. Topping six feet by several inches, his tall frame was the stuff of women’s dreams, with wide shoulders and a muscled chest wrapped up perfectly in a dark blue T-shirt. Time-washed jeans rode low on his lean hips and molded to thick thighs and long legs. Despite the slight bump in his nose and the jagged scar bisecting his right eyebrow, his cobalt blue eyes were enough to melt a woman’s circuits. The dimples creasing his all-American, bad-boy-next-door face only added to the mega wattage of his grin.
With an abbreviated bob of her head, she indicated the woman at her back who’d voiced the complaint and interrupted his flirtation. Romeo didn’t take the hint. The heat of a flush warmed CC’s cheeks, and she fought the urge to squirm as his gaze traveled down to her feet and up again to zero in on her face. She swallowed and punched a thumb over her shoulder.
The scarred brow arched, and he cocked his head in silent question. She bared her teeth in a taunting smile and nodded. Unfazed, he shifted his gaze to a spot over her shoulder, and she waited for him to turn the charm on the impatient blonde. Men like him were experts at that type of thing, after all. A slow smile, a knowing look, and even the most grievous of crimes would be forgiven and forgotten. He didn’t disappoint.
Straight, white teeth flashed in a smile capable of lighting up Times Square. Eyes bright with a you-know-you-can’t-resist-me twinkle, he addressed the annoyed woman in a sharp New England accent. “Sweetheart, why don’t you step right up and cut the line? I’m sure the rest of us won’t mind.”
The woman’s derisive snort didn’t prevent her from taking him up on his offer. Her three-inch heels clicked out an angry beat as she stepped around CC to the counter and demanded a large, black coffee. Romeo received a pointed glare as she spoke into the smart phone pressed to her ear. “I’ll be there in five minutes. A Beantown Gigolo threw me off schedule.”
Several of the customers behind CC snickered, and she braced for a heated exchange. This was New York. Murders had occurred for much less than a snarky insult. To her surprise, his smile widened, accompanied by a soft chuckle.
The flustered clerk splashed coffee into a to-go cup with impressive speed. She set the order down in front of the blonde, who tossed down a ten and scooped up the cup. With a perfectly manicured fingernail, she flicked the dark sunglasses down her pert nose. She pinned Romeo with piercing gray eyes, and her cultured tone cut with the sharp edge of sarcasm. “You’re cute,
but do us all a favor and save the seducing for your own time.”
More snickers sounded, and CC twisted her lips against a helpless smile. She’d chosen to live in Manhattan because of the anonymity factor, but sharing the city with close to eight million people also provided some entertaining side benefits, like the frankness of her fellow citizens. New Yorkers had no patience for polite acceptance of the unacceptable and weren’t afraid to say so.
All eyes followed as the snarky diva brushed by the line of waiting customers to flounce out into the early morning sunlight. CC sank her teeth into her bottom lip as the woman approached Walter. Berating a flirt was one thing, turning her impatience on an innocent dog was another altogether. Preoccupied by his attempt to chew through the parking meter to which he was tied, the Rottweiler paid her no mind. CC’s shoulders slumped in relief when the diva hailed a cab without giving her dog a single glance.
“Ouch.” The low complaint rumbled in her ear. “Some women just don’t appreciate romance.”
CC jolted and spun around.
Romeo’s boyish grin reignited the burn in her cheeks, and she drew a bracing breath. A lifetime of painful lessons normally provided a healthy immunity to handsome flirts, but faced with his crooked smile, even the most cynical of women would suffer a rush of giddiness. Thankfully, those lessons also taught her how to handle overblown egos.
She flattened her lips in a smirk. “Maybe she found your excuse of a dog eating Lisa’s telephone number as ridiculous as the rest of us.”
He didn’t bite on the insult. “Lisa?”
She rolled her eyes. Typical. The guy didn’t even know the name of the woman he’d been schmoozing. She jerked her chin toward the counter. “Lisa. The clerk you were flirting up.”
Behind him, color spread across Lisa’s high cheekbones. She thumped a large cup to the counter. “Your order is ready.
He winced and dipped his head closer to whisper, “Does she look as mad as she sounds?”
CC popped her head to the side to check, then offered him a bland smile. “She looks like she’s imagining you wearing your order.”
“Not a good sign.” He shook his head and straightened. “Is she a friend of yours?”
The unexpected question made CC frown. “No. Why?”
“You know her name.”
Apparently brains hadn’t been included in his gift-from-God package. “She’s wearing a name tag.”
“Well, damn. How’d I miss that?”
Considering Lisa’s impressive chest, CC had a pretty good idea how he’d missed the bright red badge clipped to the clerk’s crisp white shirt. “Maybe if you’d been looking a few inches higher…”
Dimples bracketed his sharp grin.
Horror and stunned disbelief heated her cheeks to a flash point.
Crap. Did I say that out loud? And since when do I insult complete strangers—or even
to them? I must be coming down with something.
Lisa cleared her throat. “Next?”
Another wince. CC took solace in his discomfort.
Serves you right, pal.
Wry acceptance did nothing to diminish his handsome features. He shrugged and surprised her by spinning around to face Lisa. Handing over payment, he picked up his order. “I truly am sorry. Please forgive me?” The genuine regret in his low voice was as unexpected as the apology itself.
In CC’s experience, most men in his position—and women, for that matter—would be too embarrassed to bother with an apology, despite one being warranted. He didn’t seem the least bit concerned over doing so in front of half a dozen witnesses. A surprising seed of respect bloomed in her belly, then immediately withered when he reverted to form.
“And, sweetheart, I still say your smile packs more of a wallop than your double espressos.” With that, he turned, winked at CC, and sauntered toward the exit with a carefree whistle.