Defending the Backfield (PAPERBACK)
Defending the Backfield (PAPERBACK)
A steamy romantic suspense football romance with a woman on the run and a hero willing to do whatever it takes to protect her.
I’m living the high life as one of the best defensive backs in professional football. During a night out I lock eyes with the mysterious waitress at the bar, and I’m instantly drawn to her. So, when I’m inadvertently responsible for her losing her job, the defender in me does the first thing I can think of–I offer her a job and rent-free housing in my pool house. Falling in love with the woman of my dreams is just a perk. When her past catches up to her, our relationship is put at risk. It's my job to defend the backfield, but will she let me defend her too?
I’m on the run from my abusive ex and quickly running out of options when one chance encounter with hulking football player, Gabe Romero, results in an opportunity too good to turn down. With his offer comes safety and more money than I’d ever make slinging drinks at dingy dive bars. The last thing I expected was to fall in love with him and experience a passion I never knew existed. But I should’ve known this kind of happiness could never last. When my ex finds me, I’m left with only two options: run and keep Gabe safe, or stay and fight for my happily ever after.
Defending the Backfield is a steamy football romance. It is book five in the LA Wolves series and can be read as a standalone.
Content Warning: This book contains discussions of past domestic violence.
This is the paperback edition.
- Woman on the Run
- Protective Hero
- No 3rd Act Break-up
Read Chapter 1
Read Chapter 1
My eyes shift to the rearview mirror, my heart racing as I take a right turn and then another. The headlights that have been behind me for several miles continue straight, and a relieved breath expels from my lungs.
He hasn’t found me.
I continue taking random turns, just in case, before I finally pull up to the garage of the house I’m renting.
I found the listing on Craigslist, which probably wasn’t the safest choice, but anything beats Mitch finding me, and I was sick of always staying in cheap, disgusting motels. The rental belongs to an older couple who travel around the country and use the money to maintain the house should they ever decide to move back into it. They didn’t ask me prying questions and let me pay with cash, so it was a perfect arrangement. But I’ve learned to never get too comfortable anywhere I stay because it’s never for long. If the past year is any indication, it could be anywhere from a week to four months. It just depends on how long it takes him to find me.
And he always finds me.
My breathing accelerates as my heart starts to race again, the edges of my vision going blurry as panic washes over me. I can still feel the phantom ache in my ribs and remember how my face was so swollen I was hardly recognizable.
All because I smiled at the store clerk who packed our groceries for us in the checkout line.
The only reason I’m even alive is because our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Crawford, stopped by with a pie after Mitch had left to go hang out with his friends. She peeked in the window when I didn’t answer the door and saw the blood on the floor in the kitchen. She used the spare key I’d given her in case of emergencies to get in the house and call 911.
Something she paid for dearly.
There’s no proof of course, but when she died a week later, I knew it wasn’t by natural causes like the coroner suggested.
Due to the severity of my injuries, an officer came down to see if I wanted to press charges. But I couldn’t. All pressing charges would do is put me in the spotlight for his rage.
Believe me; I’d already tried.
He beat me so severely afterward, I was forced to take a week’s vacation from my job because there was no way I could hide the damage he’d inflicted.
Of course, the damage on the outside is nothing compared to how he beat me down mentally.
It wasn’t until Mrs. Crawford died that I realized how far he could go.
So, I did the only thing I could think of.
I wrote him a note that it was over, and then I ran.
When I first met Mitchell Westcott III, I thought I’d won the boyfriend lottery. I didn’t know what I’d done to deserve a man who was so charming and generous. He spoiled me and lulled me into his world bit by bit, until the only thing I saw was him.
He was so smooth in his manipulations that I didn’t even notice how isolated I’d become from my friends until it was too late. My family was mostly nonexistent. My mom had died in a car accident when I was eighteen, and I’d never known my dad. I met my grandparents once when I was about five, but they were cold people and my mom had decided it was better for us both if we stayed away from them.
I sometimes wonder if things with Mitch would’ve turned out different if I’d had more family ties. If I had more people who cared about me, would he have taken the time to pursue me the way he did until he controlled every aspect of my life?
I guess it’s silly to live in a world of what if.
He kept me in the dark about his true character until I had no one but him. Sometimes, I look back on our early days together, and the self-loathing nearly swallows me whole. How did I not see it coming? How did I not notice him controlling my life? Yes, it was in small ways, but still.
I should’ve noticed. I should’ve seen the red flags. They were all there. Looking back now, I can see them clearly. But I guess what they say is true; hindsight is 20/20.
I glance behind me, checking the neighborhood for any signs of being followed before I enter the house and lock the deadbolt. I quickly make sure all the blinds are closed. I miss having daylight stream across my skin while I’m inside, but I can’t risk him seeing me if he were to drive by. Who knows how long I have before he finds me this time, but I’m not about to make it any easier for him.
I start putting away the groceries I just picked up and then get started on dinner, my gaze periodically scanning the room, my body half-braced for the possibility of seeing Mitch standing there.
I thought by now it would get easier, but after eighteen months on the run from him, I’ve learned that the panic thrumming just underneath the surface of my skin will probably never completely go away.
Maybe it’s safer to always have the adrenaline of fear sizzling in me. It keeps my senses sharp and focused on staying one step ahead of him.
I’m halfway through eating dinner when my phone rings. My grip tightens on my fork and the blood in my veins freezes as the ringing continues. Goose bumps break out across my skin as my fear spikes.
Only one person has that phone number, and she was instructed only to use it in case of a life-and-death emergency.
I drop my fork and jump up from my chair to the phone charging on the side table. The unfamiliar sound sends both fear and excitement shooting through my body. It’s an odd sensation that I don’t have time to process. I press accept and bring the phone to my ear. I don’t speak, waiting to hear my cousin’s voice. Mitch never knew about her, and she and I had rarely talked, so I’d thought she’d be safe.
But all I hear is silence, and that feeling of dread increases until it’s nearly suffocating.
I tip the phone so whoever’s on the other end can’t hear how my breath is coming out in terrified pants. If Mitch got to my cousin, then he’s escalating, and he’s found the only person I had left.
I’m right on the verge of saying Amy’s name when I hear a heavy exhale and the clicking of a tongue.
“You should’ve stopped running in Houston, baby girl.”
His voice sends ice straight to my heart, freezing my body.
“Where’s Amy?” My voice cracks, giving away that he still commands this fear which never leaves me alone. But I can’t focus on that until I know my cousin’s safe.
She’s stayed off his radar all this time. Why now?
His silence worries me.
“Mitch, where’s Amy?”
He chuckles. “God, baby girl, I’ve missed hearing you say my name. I can’t wait to hear you scream it again as I watch the light in your eyes fade away.”
I grit my teeth—this isn’t his first death threat. “Where the fuck is Amy?”
“Don’t worry, baby girl. You’ll be joining her soon. I hear Boston is nice this time of year.”
Whatever strength I had left evaporates in an instant. He knows where I am.
I quickly hang up the phone, fingers shaking and tears streaming down my cheeks. My body collapses against the wall as his words land heavy on top of me.
He’s killed Amy. I’m sure of it. His threat made that perfectly clear.
With unsteady limbs, I push myself up and race through the house, picking up the few items I left out and grabbing my always-packed bag. I send an email to the owner of the house explaining that my situation has changed and I’m terminating our agreement. With one last glance at the house I’d hoped would be home for a little longer, I summon as much strength as I can muster and walk to the nearest gas station, leaving my now-useless cell phone on the counter—there’s no need for it anymore. I have no one else to rely on but myself. It’s a two-mile walk, and I’m freezing by the time I make it inside and ask the gas station attendant if I can use his phone.
I call a random cab company and ask for them to take me to the airport. At the ticket counter, I ask the agent for the next domestic flight out of Boston.
She scans her computer. “It looks like we have a flight to New York, but”—she squints at the screen and then checks the delicate watch on her wrist—“I don’t think you’d make that one by the time you got through security.” She types on her computer, and I have to actively fight against my body’s desire to fidget and look around at the people behind me to make sure familiar ice-blue eyes aren’t watching my every move.
Her eyes light up. “I’ve got a flight to LA that leaves in an hour. Does that work?”
“I’ll take it.”