A Game Changer by Nikky Kaye

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A GAME CHANGER by Nikky Kaye

Available Now | Standalone novella

Book Blurb:

Love the game, not the player.

It’s always a bad sign at an interview when your would-be employer orders you to strip—especially if the job is as the nanny to a grieving little girl. It’s even worse if you’re tempted to do it. Zach Pennington is a football star and now, suddenly, a single dad to a niece he barely knows. He’s also the most arrogant, clueless, vulnerable, sexy, stubborn, big-hearted man I’ve ever met, but Payton needs me, and I know what it feels like to be orphaned. I just have to remember Rule Number One. Zach might be a great player, on the field and off, but I know better than to fall for your boss. By the way, I’m proud to say that I didn’t strip for him—then.

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EXCERPT:

Zach

Winning was the best feeling in the world—whether it was on the football field or in bed. Right now, I was still basking in the glory of a truly epic win. And it was the off-season.

Someone stirred beside me and I groaned, reaching a hand to yank her back to bed. I heard the soft giggle as I snuggled closer to her, breathing in the scent of whoever this girl was. When I reached out to snake my arms around her waist, she squirmed under my touch.

“You’re so sexy, Zach,” she whispered, leaning closer to me.

It wasn’t exactly poetry, but I hadn’t brought her to my room for her huge… brain. She kissed me with such heated intensity that I couldn’t repress my grin.

“Was I good?” It was a rhetorical question, but I wasn’t above soliciting a little ego-stroking. Hell, I liked a lot of ego-stroking.

“The best,” she murmured, shifting herself to straddle me. I moaned when she arched against me, leaning in to kiss me again when my phone rang.

“Fuck. Ignore it, baby,” I muttered, reaching for her face and guiding it to mine.

But the stupid thing continued to ring and the more we tried to ignore it, the louder it seemed to get. With a growl of frustration, I grabbed the phone.

“Hello?”

“Zach, I’m sorry for, uh, waking you, but this is really important.” My assistant’s voice was polite, as it always was. But there was something in his tone that set the hair on my arms on end.

“Anderson, this better be good because I’ll fire you if it isn’t,” I growled into the phone. The laughter of the pretty blonde straddling me vibrated through my groin, and I threw her a smirk.

“Zach, I think you need to go to Denver. I’ve booked your flight. It leaves in an hour, so you’d better hurry.” Anderson said.

My eyebrows furrowed and I motioned for the girl to get off of me.

“What the hell is going on, Anderson?”

A long sigh came over the line. “Something happened to Dean and Margaret.”

My stomach dropped. My insides churned as I swung my legs around and planted my feet on the floor. I wedged the phone between my shoulder and ear as I grabbed my jeans from the floor and pulled them on.

I walked to the floor to ceiling window in my high-rise condo. When I looked out at the view of Tampa, I told myself that the weakness in my knees was due to the diligent work ethic of the blonde. I startled when I felt her arms wrapping around my waist.

“Give me a minute, Anderson,” I mumbled and then placed my hand to cover the phone before turning to the groupie. Her sexy pout was souring. “I had fun last night, but I have a busy day ahead of me.”

She frowned. “That’s it? You’re not even getting my number?”

I simply shrugged and returned my attention to the phone call. When she let out a dramatic huff, I glanced back to see her putting on her clothes. Fun time was over. It was going to end anyhow, though—what had she expected?

“What happened to Dean and Margaret?” I demanded.

Again, I heard Anderson sigh. “They got into an accident. Payton’s also in the hospital but she’s okay. Dean’s in critical condition and Maggie… Maggie’s gone.”

I leaned forward, my forehead hitting the cool glass of the window. “Shit.”

My eyes closing, my mind immediately flashed to an image of my beautiful and wonderful sister-in-law. I’d known her since she and Dean began to date in their junior year of high school. She became the mother figure I needed when our mother died of cancer and had been my shoulder to cry on when our father died a year after.

That was the worst time of my life. Until now.

“I’ll see you at the airport, Anderson. You’re coming with me. I’ll be there as fast as I can.”

I rinsed off, changed and then stuffed all my clothes in my duffel bag. It was only when I was in the cab heading to the airport that I realized I hadn’t stopped to let Coach or the manager know I was leaving.

“I took care of that,” Anderson assured me as we boarded the plane.

I gave him a curt nod, too distracted by my own fear to even say “thank you.” Hopefully he understood. I was practically vibrating with anxiety for the entire flight. Usually that was Anderson’s thing. When we finally arrived in Denver, we headed straight to the hospital, our bags slung over our shoulders.

The triage nurse in the Emergency Room wasn’t impressed by my celebrity, or the fact that I’d bypassed the line of sick and injured people. “Sir, you have to—”

Fuck waiting. “Dean Pennington, I’m here for Dean Pennington. They were in an accident.” My hand shook as I rubbed my forehead.

“Are you related to the patient, sir?”

“I’m his brother!” I almost shouted.

It took another ten minutes and the threat of a security guard intervention to locate Dean in the ICU. I didn’t even know where the fuck that was, but I ran up the stairs, doubling my speed and ignoring Anderson shouting at me to slow down. Eventually I had to wait for him, because he knew where to go and I didn’t.

At the fifth floor, I burst into the bubble of Intensive Care, and jogged past glass walls, searching for my brother’s smile. His hair. Anything. I couldn’t see shit, but something made me stop in front of a room with a lot of activity.

“What’s going on?” I asked someone rushing in.

But he only shook his head. “Check in at the desk.”

I tried to stop someone else. “Can you tell me where Dean Pennington is?”

But she didn’t even stop to answer me, she just plowed past me.

My assistant appeared at my side, breathless from running up the stairs. “Zach…”

I shook my head. “It’s not Dean. It can’t be Dean. He won’t leave Payton.”

Anderson patted my shoulder, and I let him steer me to a chair while he talked to someone at the desk at the heart of the unit. My stomach flipped as I noticed the clerk and Anderson both looking pointedly at the room six feet away, full of medical personnel.

An eternity later, a doctor and some nurses piled out of the room. I jumped up. “Doctor, Dean Pennington?”

He paused. “Are you a relative?”

“I’m his brother.”

The doctor sighed, his eyes red and tired-looking behind his thick glasses. “Let’s talk.”

He ushered me over to a tiny room off the hallway near the doors to the ICU. There was nothing hopeful about the look on his face, or the tiny fucking room with some flower paintings on the walls.

“Dean arrived here five hours ago with multiple injuries from an MVA.”

I stared at him blankly.

“Multiple vehicle accident,” he explained. “It was pretty serious. His wife died on impact.”

I nodded. “I know.” Jesus, I was going to have to call Maggie’s parents, wasn’t I? “Is Dean going to be okay?” I asked, my voice cracking.

Something in me already knew, but the extra pause the doctor took before answering was like the proverbial nail in the coffin. Shit, bad analogy.

With sorrowful eyes, he said, “I’m sorry. We did everything we could, but his injuries were just too severe.” He waited, maybe wondering if I had follow-up questions.

I didn’t.

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Nikky Kaye likes to read and write feverish, fearless books for your funny boner, such as A Model Fiancé and the Billionaire Book Club series. A former college professor, she has worked with movie stars and the United Nations—but prefers happy endings. She has young twin boys, loves living where there are four distinct seasons but loathes getting out of bed, has a terrible addiction to diet cola, and hates talking about herself in the third person.

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Author: etheljo

Wife, mom, advid reader You can reach me at kjkmking@me.com

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