football team with this sixth book in her Game On in Seattle sports romance series.
Seattle Steelheads, Tanner Wolfe, Emma’s long-time crush.
Tanner is caught in a lie and tells a bigger one to get out of it. Now he’s shoulder-pads deep in a temporary marriage while struggling to resurrect his disastrous career and reunite his broken family. As time passes, Tanner begins to wonder if temporary is good enough, but he’s made a promise to Emma, one which has nothing to do with marriage vows and everything to do with her Nashville singing career and the end of their relationship.
Emma was mad—at herself. She’d revealed her biggest weakness to Tanner of all people. And for what reason? Heaven only knew. She sure as heck didn’t. He wasn’t the One, and she had no business telling him her secrets because he didn’t really care.
“Are you okay?” Tanner stared at her, his mouth set in a grim line, while a lone muscle jerked in his jaw.
Emma shook her head. His concern wrenched another bout of sobs from her. How stupid and ridiculous and weak? She was crying over karaoke for heaven’s sake. Except she knew it was more than that. She was crying because she wasn’t strong enough to follow her dreams like Avery or willing to give up the safe and known for the dangerous and unknown. Emma liked everything lined up in neat little lines, liked her life mapped out, all the way down to her someday wedding dress she’d clipped out of a bride’s magazine and stored in what she called her Notebook of Dreams. Tanner was in there, too, as her dream man—the guy she measured every other guy against. Of course, she didn’t really know him, only his public persona as a guy who did lots of charity work and was known for his easygoing, generous lifestyle with a lot of partying thrown in.
“Oh, man, sweetheart, I’m sorry.” He wrapped his strong arms around her. She stiffened briefly, but couldn’t resist him no matter how hard she tried. Emma relaxed into him, letting his warmth seep into her cold places, comforting her in ways she’d only imagined. She’d certainly never been comforted by her parents as a child. Izzy tried, but Izzy wasn’t exactly into warm-fuzzies. Yet, this man she barely knew made her feel better with just a hug because he was good at this. Really good. She reminded herself she meant nothing to him. He was not the One, she repeated over and over in her head. Only her heart had donned noise-cancelling headphones and was picking out wedding music.
Sniffling, Emma pulled back. “No one in my family knows I sing karaoke, and they can’t know.”
“Why?” Confusion spread across his handsome face.
“We have a pact—my sisters and I.”
“A pact? Not to sing karaoke? Seriously?” His brow creased in confusion and made him look so adorable, his expression helped staunch the flow of tears.
“No. We have a pact to never follow in our parents’ footsteps and become entertainers. We’ve lived that story of being on top, crashing to the bottom, and spending the rest of their lives trying to get back to the top again. The drugs, the drinking, the late nights, the complete and total disregard for anything but the music, especially your children.” And why was she telling him all this?
“Oh,” he seemed at a loss for words. “But you sing at the parties you crash?”
“Because Izzy approves of it?” he guessed, and Emma nodded slowly. “So you come here once a week to sing?”
She nodded again, surprised at how perceptive he was.
He rubbed his chin as if deep in thought then refocused those deep green eyes on her. “Your secret is safe with me.”
“Yeah,” he said softly, his voice deep and husky, a voice that instantly made her panties wet and brought forth thoughts of steamy nights and naked bodies.
Oh my. Her hands flew to her mouth as she inwardly cringed at her wayward thoughts.
He patted her back, wrongly assuming it had to do with her broken dreams. He had no idea he was a large part of them. The DJ called him to sing, and she sat back, relieved to have a reprieve and happy to have an excuse to watch him without coming across as a stalker or a desperate woman with an even more desperate crush.
He had to be the hottest man in the room. Judging by the other women hungrily watching him, she wasn’t the only one who thought so. Tanner picked up the mic, nodded to the DJ, and grinned straight at Emma, making her feel as if she were the only woman in the large bar. She expected harsh music or even rap, only he pulled another surprise out of his bag of tricks.
Tanner’s gaze held hers captive as he started to croon a classic country ballad made famous by George Strait. It happened to be one of Emma’s personal favorites, and Tanner sang “The Chair” as well as George Strait had himself.
Emma couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t form a coherent thought as Tanner expertly wound a cocoon around the two of them with a song he sang as if he sung it just for her. His voice rolled over her like a warm ocean breeze, gentle and mesmerizing.
The man could sing, and Emma went from a crush to being hopelessly, undeniably in love with the man before he got to the chorus.
“Don’t look so shocked,” Tanner said after he sauntered back to his seat and sat down next to her. With a satisfied smirk on his face, he sipped his beer, the same one he’d been nursing all night.
Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her Green Beret-turned-plumber husband, a Newfoundland cross with a tennis ball fetish, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and an opinionated Hanoverian mare. She works in computer support in her day job and juggles too many balls, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.