Mar 20 2017 11:00am
Kristen Callihan Excerpt: The Hot Shot
First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…
What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.
No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.
I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.
Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.
Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?
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“I’m not sleeping with you,” I blurt out.
He halts, which has me stopping too. A laugh leaves him in a huff of breath. “You expect me to beg?”
“No. Of course not. I just… That was easy.”
His big shoulders lift in a shrug. “I’m an easy going guy.”
“At the risk of sounding paranoid, this all feels odd. Like you’re playing me.”
The corner of his mouth quirks. “You do sound paranoid. Tell me, does this paranoia affect all areas of your life, or is it just with men?”
We cross Canal at a brisk pace before the light can turn. “I’ve never been walked home by a man without him expecting something, Dr. Phill.”
Finn glances at me from under the brim of his cap. “You’ve been walking home with the wrong men, Chess.”
No one knows this better than me. But I slow my steps. “Look me in the eye right now,” I say to him. “And tell me that you have walked a woman home without intending to get in her pants.”
Finn comes to a stop, facing me. Guilt skitters over his expression but he tries to hide it. “I have walked a woman home without intending to get into her pants.”
My eyes narrow, and his lips curl in a slow smile. “I’m doing it right now,” he points out.
“You’re impossible,” I tell him with a laugh and pick up walking again.
“Charming,” he counters. “You know, I don’t actually have sex with every woman I talk to, Chess.”
“So dubious.” He nudges me with his shoulder. “I do have some standards.”
“And they are?”
He gives me a cheeky look. “Whether or not I want to have sex with them.”
“Your vetting processes is foolproof, I’ll give you that.”
Finn shrugs again. “Attraction is instant for the most part. Whether it burns and grows or flickers out and dies after you talk to someone is the key.”
“Look at you with your insight. And here I thought you had the all the wisdom of a fortune cookie.”
“My wisdom is worthy of at least a pamphlet.”
“Tell me something…”
“Anything,” he says agreeably.
“If you only have one night stands, how can you possibly talk to someone long enough to know if the attraction will grow?”
He opens his mouth and then shuts it. A reluctant smile tugs at his lips. “Okay, you got me. My criteria basically consists of, can I stand her for the next two to four hours? But it still holds true.”
“I want to call you a pig right now,” I say with a shake of my head. “But you’re honest. I’ll give you that.”
“Most football players are. Our world is fairly blunt.”
I’ve judged him. The realization is a slap to the face and not pleasant. Yes, he is blunt, which I knew from the start. And yes his sex life is fairly shallow; he’s admitted as much. But he’s clearly intelligent and kind. Not the soppy sort of kindness that seems to be more about showing off than actual caring, but a quiet, unobtrusive thoughtfulness that’s unexpected and lovely.
Too soon, we’re at my building. Finn shoves his hands in his pockets and gives me a gentle smile. “Well then.”
“Well…” My voice trails off.
The impact of Finn Mannus is immense. It’s not the way he looks, although he was certainly blessed there; it’s the intensity of his focus, as if you are the most important thing in this golden god’s world. An illusion, but no less potent.
And no less awkward when our stare stretches on, neither of us saying another word.
He looks at me as though he knows exactly what’s going on in my head; which is funny, since I don’t have a clue. I don’t want to leave this spot, and yet I don’t want to invite him in either.
And he isn’t exactly asking to come up. Irritation swells within my chest. For the first time in ages, I’m dithering.
“So,” I say through stiff lips. “Thank you and good night.”
That smile of his returns. The one that’s slow and easy. The one that graces billboards and sells millions in athletic wear. “It’s gonna like that, huh?” he teases. “No, see you around, or let’s have lunch. Just bye?”
I’m facing down the man equivalent of devil’s food cake. But years of shitty hookups and bad dates have given me strength. “I also said thank you.”
The lines of his face go tight for a second, and I wonder if I’m seeing disappointment. “You’re welcome, Chess.” He takes a step back, already becoming part of pedestrian traffic. “Sleep well.”
I go into my building and don’t look back. But I want to.
Copyright © 2017 by Kristen Callihan.
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Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she'd rather be. She is a RITA winner and three-time nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer's Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine's Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher's Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.