Rules of the game:
1) Never underestimate your opponent
2) Avoid personal fouls
3) Score early and often
4) Play or get played
Coach Marcus Leon has always played by the rules…until he meets Addaline Grace, the seventeen-year-old senior transfer on his Oak Crest High water polo team. Addie changes all the rules, mostly because she doesn’t play any games. But as off limits as she is, the more Marcus discovers about Addie, the more he finds himself…and the more he questions whether Addie might just be worth risking everything for.
For Addie, water polo is anger management. She’s driven and focused because it keeps her mind off other things…like the fact she destroyed her family. Her game plan is to keep her head down and graduate so she can leave her father and the crappy town he dragged her to in her wake. But when what starts as friendly completion with Marcus turns into more than a game, Addie has to decide if she’s willing to face down her demons…and possibly ruin the man she may or may not be falling in love with in the process.
What happens when the only thing you need is the one thing you can’t have?
“One more thing I can check off my bucket list,” he says with a grin, then shoves half the slice into his mouth.
“What else is on your list?” I ask.
He gives me a long look as he chews. “I don’t really have one, now that you mention it.”
“They’re stupid anyway,” I say with a shrug. “It’s a waste of time thinking about all the things you want to do before you die. You could die tomorrow and a bucket list isn’t going to mean squat.”
I only realize how bitter that sounded when his gaze locks on mine and sharpens, as if he’s lasering in on my thoughts.
I shake myself loose from those eyes that could compel me to spill my darkest secrets if I were to gaze into them too long and take a bite of pizza. “But whatever. If you want a bucket list, go for it.”
“You don’t have anything you want to do before you check out?” he asks with raised eyebrows.
“Haven’t thought about it.”
“Well you should,” he says, going for another slice. “I want a bucket list.”
“Then make one.”
He leans back and takes a bite. “So where should we start?”
“You already have,” I say with a wave of my slice toward his.
He holds his up. “And you’ve gotten me off to a fine one. So now we need something to top anchovies.”
“We?” I ask. “I told you I don’t want any part of this.”
“Tough, because what if your idea turns out the be the Best Thing Ever and I would have missed it because I never thought of it.” He tears off a hunk of pizza with his teeth. “Like anchovies.”
I look at him a long second as he chews and a hot tingle runs under my skin. “So we’d do stuff from the list together?”
He nods as he swallows. “That would be the general plan. Call it moral support, call it peer pressure, all I know is we’re more likely to check stuff off the list if we’re both doing it.”
My heart starts to pound as the possibilities scroll in my head. “How are we going to do this?”
“A collaboration. We’ll each throw ideas out until we have a list, then we can rank them together.”
“How do you know I won’t put something like ‘lose my virginity’ on the list?” Heat radiates from my face, but I force myself to hold his gaze.
There’s a second that he just stares at me, but then his eyes grows softer. “I’d expect you would.”
For several beats of my racing heart, we sit here staring at each other, then he clears his throat. “I want to try one new food a week. And I’m open to suggestions.” He says with a nod at the pizza box. “Your turn.”
“I have to come up with another one right here on the spot?” I say.
He cocks his head in a question, but then the light dawns in his eyes. “Ah…virginity. Right…” He pulls out his phone and starts typing it like it’s no big thing, then shifts and hooks an elbow over the back of the bench as he thinks. “Swim with dolphins.”
I nod. “That’s a good one. Put that on top.”
He raises his eyebrows as she shoots me a glance out from under those long, thick lashes. “Above virginity?”
All the muscles south of my waist contract. “I guess I’ll leave that up to you, since I’ve never done either.”
About the Author:
Mia Storm is a hopeless romantic who is always searching for her happy ending. Sometimes she’s forced to make one up. When that happens, she’s thrilled to be able to share those stories with her readers. She lives in California and spends much of her time in the sun with a book in one hand and a mug of black coffee in the other, or hiking the trails in Yosemite. Connect with her online at MiaStormAuthor.blogspot.com , on Twitter at @MiaStormAuthor, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MiaStormAuthor