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Taking the Handoff (PAPERBACK)

Taking the Handoff (PAPERBACK)

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A steamy brother's best friend football romance.


When my lifelong best friend asked me if his little sister could crash at my place until she got her feet under her in LA, of course I said yes. I’d do anything for Drew. But I was not prepared for the vixen that showed up at my door looking NOTHING like the girl I remember. Now, I’m falling for the one woman who’s completely off-limits to me. I’m trying to behave, I really am, but the longer she stays here, the more tempted I am to take her and make her mine. 


I’ve been desperately in love with Luke Carter for most of my life, but he only ever looked at me like Drew’s adorkable little sister. To be fair, I was. But I’m not that awkward girl anymore. Now, I’m a woman on a mission - not just to make my dreams of becoming a singer come true, but also to make Luke Carter see what’s been right in front of him this whole time. 

But the closer we get, and the harder I fall, the more I wonder if he’ll ever be able to choose me over his loyalty to my brother. 

Taking the Handoff is a steamy standalone sports romance. It is book four in the LA Wolves series. WARNING: This book contains a scene with sexual assault. Read at your own discretion. 

This is the paperback edition.

Main Tropes

  • Brother's Best Friends
  • Roommates/Forced Proximity
  • Curvy Redhead Leading Lady

Read Chapter 1




“No, absolutely not.”

I stare at my brother while he looks around my brand-new apartment in the MacArthur Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. When I researched places to live within my budget a month ago, I stumbled on this modern apartment complex painted a ceramic red. The pictures showed a clean, albeit small studio right near the park. I fell in love with the idea of living here, and after a couple of other searches, I decided to rent out this apartment before someone else snatched it up. It was an exciting new prospect. 

Unfortunately, I can understand my overprotective older brother’s dismay, because the room we’re standing in looks nothing like the pictures online. The walls are stained, the floors are dirty, and the building itself has a vibe that makes you question whether it’s safe or not.

But I’ve come this far. I’m not giving up on my dream now, and this apartment is the first step in making my music dreams come true. 

“It’s not that bad…”

Drew throws me a get real look, and I turn back to the room before us. 

Okay, it is that bad, but at least the neighborhood looks decent, even if the few people we’ve seen seem a little standoffish. But I’m used to that. I come from Seattle, where out-of-towners have aptly named our friendliness the Seattle Freeze because we’re so cold to people we don’t know. It’s sad, but true.  

You know what? It’s fine. This is just a small hiccup. It doesn’t change my plans, and hopefully I won’t have to live here long, but I do have to live here because it’s all I can afford. My parents refused to help because they think I’m chasing after a silly dream that will never make me a living. Truth is, I don’t want their money. I don’t want their judgment to taint this experience for me. I know they’ll never approve of my dreams, so it’s more important to me than ever that I do all this on my own. 

I was desperate to get out of Seattle and away from my overbearing parents. They might not be so judgy if I was a lawyer like my brother or using my expensive business degree the way it was intended, but I’m not. I’m a singer. It’s the only thing I’ve ever really loved to do. I went to college and got a degree in business, but I felt like I was dying the entire time. 

Maybe that’s dramatic, but it’s the truth. 

I have no idea where my creative gene came from because my parents, Mark and Patricia Delaney, don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. They’re clinical, methodical, and disciplined. It’s what makes them such great doctors—my dad an award-winning pediatric surgeon, who discovered a new technique for repairing atrial septal defects in children, and my mom a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon. They were thrilled to have a son who thought similarly to them, even if he chose to practice law instead of medicine. Unfortunately, four years after Drew was born, they were gifted with me, their constant disappointment. 

I was the weird kid who put on a “circus” performance on the playground jungle gym pretending I was some Cirque du Soleil prodigy. Really, I was just sliding down the sloped parallel bars with my hands out and thinking I looked cool because I switched sides while doing it. I had very few friends and probably would’ve been plagued by constant bullies if it weren’t for Drew and his best friend, Luke Carter. 

The thought of Luke awakens butterflies in my stomach that I immediately push aside, opting not to revisit my lifelong crush when there are more important things to worry about. 

I look around my studio apartment, and a spark of creativity zings through my veins as I see all the possibilities of this space come to life in my head. It may be small and not nearly as clean as the listing claimed, but it’s mine and it’s a blank slate ready to be turned into something new and vibrant. A trip to Target and I’ll have this place looking new and homey in no time. 

The steady beats of a new song start in the back of my mind, and I quickly dig in my purse for the notebook I keep for moments just like this. I jot down the few lines that started repeating in my head moments ago before tucking it back in my purse. 

I look up to see Drew staring at me, a small smile on his face. 

“Did this hellhole inspire you?”

I roll my eyes at his exaggeration. It’s not a hellhole. It’s not nice, or as posh as he’s used to, but it’s mine and I’ll make it into my own little oasis. I don’t see any signs of rodents, so that’s a plus. 

“You can’t honestly believe I’m going to let you live here, Emma.”

“Of course you are because it’s not up to you. I’m the one paying the rent. Don’t stress about it, D. It’ll be fine. I’ll spruce it up, and it’ll look cute in no time.”

He shakes his head. “You’re so determined to make this work that you’re willing to live in this shit stain of an apartment?”

“Can you please stop talking about my new home like that? It’s got potential. And it’s in my budget. It’ll be fine.”

It has to be fine. I don’t have a backup plan, and singing is the only thing that’s ever given me true joy and happiness. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career, and I’m not going to let my overprotective brother stand in my way, even if a small part of me worries he might be right about this apartment. I know he means well. He’s always looked out for me and been my biggest supporter. He always stood up for me to our parents, especially when I didn’t have the strength to do it myself, and he pushed me to pursue this crazy dream of mine. He’s the closest thing to a best friend I’ve ever had, and he knows how important this move is to me. 

Drew sees my resolve and then shakes his head in disbelief. “I’m gonna step outside. I’ve got to make a call.”

“Who are you calling?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“You’re not calling Mom and Dad, are you?”

He must hear the hint of worry in my tone because his expression softens, and he shakes his head before coming over and placing his hands on my shoulders. “I’m not calling Mom and Dad. I promise. Don’t worry about them. They’ll come around someday. Keep following your dreams, Squish. You know I’ve always got your back when it comes to them, right?”

I nod and fight back the tears I feel burning behind my eyes. I will not cry, even if my brother’s words soothe the ever-present worry that I will always be a disappointment to my parents. At least I’ll always have Drew.

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