Hello, my lovelies! I hope the season is treating you well, wherever you may be. Today, I welcome my friend Susan Scott Shelley back to Fox Friday, this time with her newest release ENAMORED. It’s the third book in her Game of Love series. If baseball is your kink, and you love smart, sexy romance, then this series is for you. ENAMORED is a baseball romance double-header. Two stories in one!
After a Spring Training stunt saddles Liam York with a broken ankle, the League’s Best Mascot is forced to share the spotlight with the team’s solution: a temporary friend for Fin the Shark. But his new co-worker tests the limits of his control.
Claire Devereux spent years caring for her siblings and is more than ready for some fun. She loves every aspect of being Fin’s new friend Fiona and is determined to make the temporary gig permanent.
As romance blooms between their on-field personalities, Liam and Claire give in to their passion off the field too. But curve balls from every direction test whether they’re better as a duo or if it’s every mascot for him/herself.
First baseman Slade MacInnes has a lot of balls in the air. His contract is expiring, he’s just found his birth parents, and his agreement to do some work with a children’s charity has led him to the very sexy and sweet Savanna Soto.
Savanna works hard granting wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses, something her sister never lived to experience. Slade’s no-fear attitude and adrenaline-junkie adventures make her want to break out of her self-imposed safety bubble and live.
Slade figures he’s just the man to help her conquer her fears. Each activity draws them closer together with an attraction that sizzles. But when life pushes their differences to a head, will fear win out or can love save the game?
Susan was nice enough to bring us an excerpt from chapter two, when Claire meets Liam for the first time. Check it out!
Claire caught her breath and rejoined the group, glancing at the men and women around her, sizing up the competition. She sought out Raymond and didn’t know what to make of the Human Resources rep’s raised brows. Was she a lot better than the others… or a lot worse? She hadn’t performed in a while but the jumps and moves were second nature. Maybe she should’ve added a few more. Stretching to her full height, she smiled big enough to show confidence and breathed in the sweet scent of fresh-cut grass.
When she’d dropped off her youngest sister for gymnastics practice that morning, she hadn’t expected to spend her afternoon at the Riptide’s ballpark. The email from her old coach alerting her to the audition couldn’t have come at a better time. And the job promised to be a lot more fun than the thankless sales position at the auto insurance company. Provided she got it.
Raymond typed something into his tablet. “Thank you, Ms. Devereux. If you’ll please come with me. The rest of you, thank you for coming in. Please follow the security guard to the exit.” He turned without waiting for a response.
Claire blinked at his back. She wouldn’t allow herself to believe she was in. This was probably the first hurdle.
She snatched her sunglasses from the grass and followed him toward the two men in front of the dugout. Dressed in jeans and T-shirts, the taller of the two was easily recognizable even out of uniform.
Slade MacInnes had graced the cover of every sports magazine last season. But the man by his side, leaning heavily on crutches and sporting a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, captured her attention.
Dark brown hair tousled by the wind begged for her hands to smooth it. And his eyes, as rich and deep as her favorite triple-chocolate brownies, burned with an intensity that was almost magnetic, daring to draw her in and hold her forever. The nerves zinging her stomach shifted into high alert, buzzing through her blood as she continued to hold his gaze.
Raymond gestured to the man. “Claire, I’d like you to meet Liam York. He’s the resident mascot and will be your go-to person. You’ll be working with him closely. And Liam, Claire here was clearly the best of the try-outs, as I’m sure you agree. She graduated from Anaheim State a few years ago and was their original Anaheim Annie.”
Liam’s brows rose, then he smiled and his eyes danced with laughter. “No way. I didn’t recognize you without the fifty-gallon cowboy hat and pair of six-shooters. Annie was a genius idea. One of the best college mascots I’ve seen.”
She grinned. “I loved that costume. And the job, playing Annie for three semesters was so much fun. I was pretty bummed when I had to turn in the cowboy boots.” She hadn’t had a choice, she’d been needed at home.
Liam adjusted his crutch and extended his right hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“You, too. I get a kick out of Fin’s antics. You’re really good.” She slid her palm against his and then his fingers wrapped around hers, warm and strong and firm. Her pulse ticked faster and awareness skittered through her like a gentle brush of a butterfly’s wings. His grip tightened a fraction before releasing his hold. Her first impression had been right—he radiated heat and intensity. She tilted her head back to hold his gaze. He towered over her five-foot frame by at least a foot. A black T-shirt stretched tight across defined shoulders and strong muscles attained only through hard and frequent work. Work that wouldn’t be quite so frequent now—thanks to the broken ankle. “I’m sorry about your injury.”
“Thanks. I’m going to miss playing Fin. But I hope he’ll be in good hands. Or maybe I should say fins.”
He cracked a smile and she laughed.
Smiling and shaking his head, Slade nudged Liam’s shoulder. “So, Claire. I’m Slade. Where did you learn those moves? You looked like an Olympic gymnast out there.”
Claire dragged her focus to Slade. What was the first baseman doing at a mascot audition? She shook his hand. “I was in gymnastics from the time I was six until I graduated from high school. Then I worked part-time as a coach at my gym through college.”
Raymond nodded and added more notes to his tablet. “I know you have experience performing in front of a crowd, but our games frequently sell out. It’ll be more than you experienced at your college football games.”
“Our team was terrible and we weren’t in a good division, so I didn’t feel a lot of pressure out there. But I have competed in large gymnastics competitions where I had a lot of pressure to keep myself together and execute a detailed routine. I won’t choke in front of the Riptide fans.”
“Still. You’ve been away from performing for, what, six years?” Raymond waited while she nodded. “Being our mascot is a big responsibility. Liam will teach you everything you need to know. During games, you’ll have a head set. He’ll be there to talk you through it if you need help. I know it’s a lot to ask you to jump right into the job, but I feel with your resume, you’ll be the best fit.”
“I won’t let you down.” She didn’t fail at things. Ever. Except romance. “Does that mean I officially have the job?”
“Yes. Welcome to the team.”
She wanted to cheer and turn cartwheels across the field. Instead, she clasped her hands together and stayed in place. “Thank you. I’m excited to get started.”
Raymond typed in another note and then pulled his phone from his pocket. “We only have a day and a half until the home opener. If you can stick around today to fill out paperwork and work with Liam, I’d appreciate it. We don’t have much time to create the shark costume. I’ll call our costume designer and ask her to come in now to do your fitting. She’ll need to make everything. No part of Liam’s costume will fit you.”
Claire glanced from Raymond to Liam. Her new co-worker’s smile was gone, replaced by stoic features.
Slade rested a hand on Liam’s shoulder. “If you’re making a new costume anyway, Liam could still wear his and help out.”
Liam’s brows shot high and the spark returned to his eyes. “I can’t do the stunts, but I can still walk around and greet people here. Or drive around in the golf car or ATV so people don’t bang into me.” He gestured to his cast and crutches. “And I can keep my commitments to the hospital and charity.”
Raymond shook his head. “We can’t have two Fins running around at the same time.”
“Not two Fins. Create a new character.” Slade’s voice was like steel but he winked at Claire. “Can’t Fin have a friend?”
She didn’t think that was such a bad idea, especially knowing how much pressure she’d be under to do as good a job as Liam did. “As Fin’s friend, I could shadow Liam until I have a better idea of what to do and gain more experience. It might be easier than him watching and directing me from someplace in the ballpark.” Although, the idea of him watching her sent a tingle through her blood.
Liam’s gaze met hers. “I promise I can play well with others.”
“A new character would be a new marketing and merchandising opportunity.” Raymond stuffed his phone away and began typing like mad into his tablet. “The public knows you’re hurt, Liam, so we should play that up.”
“No offense, Ray, but I’m not injuring myself further.”
“Of course not. In the first game, Fin can come out like usual, but with his crutches. Still try to do his stunts, but falls.” Pausing, Raymond lifted a brow. “Falls carefully, where your leg won’t be compromised. And that’s when the new character comes in.”
“I’ve got it,” Claire blurted then patted Liam on the shoulder. “If you want to keep with the shark theme, my character could be a nurse shark. And we can make her like a real nurse, wearing scrubs and a stethoscope. She can come over and reprimand Fin and point him off the field. Then the announcer can say something about how I’ll be taking over while Fin recovers.”
Liam nodded and a crooked smile lit his face. “Only, Fin isn’t following directions. He keeps trying to sneak onto the field during games.”
Laughing, she bounced a few times on the balls of her feet, unable to check her enthusiasm. She shifted closer to Liam, caught up in the full power of his smile, and how it deepened when it landed on her. “I love it. And my character can chase him off and play up her frustration to the crowd. It’ll be great.”
Raymond nodded, typing faster. “We can do recorded scenes with you two in costume, too. Videos one or two minutes long, showing the nurse shark taking care of Fin, with him doing antics and being a bad patient. And they’ll go up on the website the following day. If this pans out the way I think it could, we’ll sell more tickets.”
Liam frowned. “How? I mean, I like the idea. I’m all for any way I can still be Fin. But I don’t see how this will sell more seats than usual.”
Raymond stroked his beard, eyes focused on the stands before his gaze settled on Liam and Claire.
“Because it’s going to become a romance.”
Also, today is the last day to grab 29 books for FREE! That’s right, free. No sign-ups, no strings attached. Titles include my Hollywood saga, FALLING STARS, as well as REKINDLED, book one of Susan’s Game of Love Series. Go get ’em!
Susan Scott Shelley is a USA Today bestselling author. She lives in Philadelphia with her very own Superhero and spends her days writing stories filled with heat and heart, where love always wins.
In addition to writing romances, she is also a professional voiceover artist. Her favorite things include running, sports, hard rock, and old Hollywood movies. She believes life should be lived with laughter, enthusiasm, and a sense of wonder.
Visit Susan at http://susanscottshelley.com