RUSHING INTO LOVE
Peachtree Grove #1
by Kara Kendrick
Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Release Date: September 1, 2021
Kari March Designs
Genre: Contemporary romance
Trope: Small town, second-chance-at-love
Parent. Work. Football. That’s my life summed up in three words.
Sure, I used to be a pro NFL baller, but now I’m perfectly content with a quiet life in my small hometown of Peachtree Grove, Georgia.
That is until Bree, a beautiful blonde dating expert, gets tackled at my Pee Wee football practice, knocking me off my game.
I swore I’d never get involved again after my messy divorce left me reeling, but one date with Bree and I’m dropping all my hesitations—along with my jersey.
Now she has me rethinking my plays.
But will the tabloids, my ex, and Bree’s complicated past keep us in the friendzone?
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“Aunt Bee! Aunt Bee!” Across the field, Alexa jumped up and down, waving me over.
“Coming!” I waved back to her and bounced off the bleachers, taking the steps as quickly as I could. Most of the other moms were already gathered around Ryder, hanging on his every word. I hoped whatever he was saying wasn’t critical; I wanted to make sure I got all the information for Brooks. She’d get an email about it, though, right?
Just as I was closing in on our team’s huddle, a sharp pain hit me in my left knee. Next thing I knew, I was flat on my back in the soft grass, staring up at the blue sky. Hmmm, very few clouds today…
“Are you alright?”
I blinked several times; I wasn’t sure if the blurriness was from the sun beaming directly into my eyes or from the blow to the back of my head. Eventually, Ryder’s eyes came into focus, tiny wrinkles of concern forming around them. Cute…
“Uh, yeah, I think so.” I tried to sit up, but Ryder put his hand on my shoulder, gently keeping me still.
“Wait a few seconds. Trust me on this, lots of experience getting tackled.” He winked and my cheeks flushed crimson.
“K,” I murmured. “Um, what happened? Did I really get tackled?”
“Yeah. A nine-year-old laid you out. Not sure you’re gonna make the first-round draft picks this year. You may need a little more work on your game,” he chuckled, guiding me up by my elbow.
“How’s that feel? Are you dizzy at all?” He gazed deep into my eyes, trying to gauge my concussion risk, I supposed. “Aunt Bee, are you okay?” Alexa stood by my side, furrows creasing her brow.
“No, not dizzy. I’m fine. I’ll be okay, Alexa.” I waved my hands to brush off their concern and demonstrate my fineness. I bent my knees to try to stand and involuntarily let out a tiny whimper. “Ouch,” I whispered under my breath.
“Let me take a look, I’m a physical therapist by day.” He poked and prodded my knee, bending it this way and that. “You’re going to need to ice that when you get home. That will minimize the swelling.”
“Swelling?” I asked in a panicky voice.
“Yeah. That kid ran straight into your knee.” He pointed to the side of my left kneecap. “You’ll probably be okay, but it’s going to bruise and you could have a microtear. Why don’t you come into the clinic tomorrow and I’ll take a closer look, reassess the situation?” Ryder tilted his head, waiting for my response.
“I’ll be fine.” I waved my hand again, brushing off his concern.
“I insist. Plus, I have a knee brace, or at the very least, a wrap to decrease swelling.” He touched the side of my knee to demonstrate the wrapping motion and a tingle ran up my leg. That was a good sign, no numbness or loss of feeling. And clearly my libido hadn’t sustained any injury.
“Okay, I’ll come in,” I said.
“Great. I’ll give you my card and you can drop in around lunchtime. We’re usually pretty slow then.”
“Cool. I mean, great, thanks.” I blushed, stumbling over my words. Maybe I did have a slight concussion.
Some of the other moms were shooting me dirty looks, like I’d ruined practice, and the kids were getting rowdy since the coach wasn’t looking.
“You better get back.” I nodded my head towards the group.
“Let me help you up.” Deftly, Ryder leaned in and scooped me up, wrapping one of his arms around my waist and putting almost all my bodyweight onto his strong shoulders. The kids cheered; several of the blonde moms rolled their eyes. So much for good sportsmanship , I thought.
He gave them a wave with his right hand and together we limped to my rental car, Alexa trotting behind. My close proximity to Ryder helped block out the shooting pain in my knee. He smelled fantastic, crisp and clean, despite having run practice in eight-five-degree weather. I’d been right about his hands—they were large and strong, supporting me at my waist. His pec muscles were straining underneath his shirt, yet he moved effortlessly through the parking lot, as if I weighed nothing. I tried not to swoon.
“This is it.” I nodded at the white Malibu, fumbling in my purse for the keys. I had to lean into him to get to my purse and I fully appreciated his strong, muscled chest against my side. He gripped my waist tighter while I searched, so I wouldn’t topple over.
“Here they are.” I dangled the keys, unlocked the car.
“Are you alright to drive?” Ryder asked, concern clouding his eyes.
“Yep, perfectly fine,” I nodded, stifling a wince. He opened Alex’s door first, then mine, easing me down gently into the seat. His face was so close to mine, I saw his five-o-clock shadow. My breath hitched and we locked eyes for a moment. A frisson of heat shimmered down my body as I gazed at the darker navy flecks in his eyes.
“Sure you’re okay?”
“Right as rain,” I sing-songed in my most cheerful voice, nodding.
In reality, I could barely hear him over the thumping of my racing heartbeat. No, I was definitely not okay.
I was crushing hard on Peachtree Grove’s most eligible bachelor, Ryder McCauliffe, former NFL football player and hot-as-hell single dad.
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About the Author
Kara Kendrick writes fun and flirty Contemporary Romance destined to give you all the feels. A reformed English major, she also has a master’s in counseling and was an elementary school counselor in her pre-mom life.
She loves the beach, wine, and rock hard abs, not necessarily in that order. When she’s not dreaming up Happily Ever After’s, you can find her chasing after her boy-girl twins, working out semi-hardish, or walking her adorable Shiba pup with her husband, who’s not too bad himself.
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