Title: Worth the Trade
Series: More Than a Game #2
Author: Kristina Mathews
Word/Page count: 77,606 Words
A ballplayer and a team owner would give anything for a championship—even their hearts…
After inheriting majority ownership of the San Francisco Goliaths baseball team, Hunter Collins wants to prove to herself—and the rest of the league—that she’s got what it takes to build a champion. Her first move is to trade for a hot left-fielder. He’s got it all, speed, power, and a desire to win. Not to mention undeniable charm.
Marco Santiago is tired of being the new player in town. After four teams in six years, he’s facing free agency at the end of the season. He wants nothing more than a long-term contract and a World Series win. Hitting on his new owner probably isn’t the best way to get it, but love may be the most powerful challenger either of them has ever faced...
Warning: Strong language, consummated love scenes, and some baseball clichés.
This wasn’t the first time Marco had experienced lust at first sight. But usually it was for a woman who had all her feminine assets on display. Showcased in tight, revealing clothing. Flashing tons of makeup and broadcasting her availability for a night or two of fun.
Hunter was the opposite. The way she dressed was the least of it. She wore hardly any makeup. Her lips were bare. Pink, soft, and lush enough to make him wonder what she’d taste like. No artificial cherry-vanilla flavoring, or glossy chemical taste. Just pure, unenhanced woman.
Who was one hundred percent off limits.
“Well, thanks for picking me up.” He winced. Every word out of his mouth tonight dripped with sexual undertones.
“From the airport. And…uh…thank you for bringing me to San Francisco. I’ll make it worth your while. You’ll see.”
“I’m counting on it.” She glanced down at his lap and quickly turned away, color spreading across her cheeks. Damn.
She’d noticed the effect she had on him. “Are you going to get out of the car? Or should I tell the driver you’ve changed your mind?”
“I’m going. I’m going.” He slid away from her. Reached for the door to make his exit, but he couldn’t quite pull the handle.
“Have dinner with me?” Maybe it was jet lag. Sleep deprivation. Or some seismic anomaly affecting his brain waves. Maybe going more than six months without sex had been a really bad idea.
“I’m sure you’ll find plenty to eat at the post-game spread.” Did her hesitation mean she was rattled? “We have an excellent caterer.”
“No. I want you to have dinner with me.” He leaned toward her, knowing she’d deny him, but he wanted to linger near her a little bit longer.
“I can’t.” She squirmed, avoiding his gaze. “It would be a conflict of interest.”
“You’re only conflicted because you’re interested.” He kept his smile to himself. He was getting to her. Almost as much as she was getting to him. Even though she wasn’t at all his type. Or maybe she was, she just worked so damn hard trying to hide it.
“I’m only interested in winning the division and making a strong run in the postseason.” She turned her head to look out the window as if to show she was unaffected by the chemistry between them.
“Aren’t you a rotten liar?” He chuckled softly. Oh yeah, he was definitely getting to her. “Don’t join in the poker game at the next owners’ retreat. You’ll be wiped out.”
She whipped her head around so fast the car shook. “I happen to be a very good poker player. I can hold my own against anyone. Anytime.”
Interesting. Her strong reaction told him two things. She was insecure about her place among her fellow owners. And yes, she was interested in him on more than a professional level.
“That explains your wardrobe.” He leaned back, not ready to leave her just yet. “You dress like you do to fit in with the old boys’ club. But you can’t hide the fact that you are all woman.”
“And you can’t hide the fact that you don’t want to be here.” She dared look him straight in the eye, but couldn’t hold his gaze.
“I’m starting to come around.” He gave her one last smile. “I think I’m going to like San Francisco. I think I’m really going to like it here.”
Marco slid out of the seat and headed into the ballpark acting like he owned the place.
Kristina Mathews doesn't remember a time when she didn't have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn't until 2010 that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing romance novels.
While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she's remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, Parent Club member or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books.
Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of twenty years, two sons and a black lab. A veteran road tripper, amateur renovator and sports fanatic. She hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors and serve as a “Ball Dudette” for the San Francisco Giants.
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