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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

“No, no, no,” I whisper-yelled as she dragged me by the arm to the group of guys. “Mel, stop. We can’t just…” She gave me a gentle shove, and I teetered in my heels, careening right into the back of the Greek God himself. I was going to kill her for this later. That was if I didn’t die from embarrassment first.

Mister Dreamy turned. The confusion on his face vanished as his face split into a wide grin, his perfectly straight teeth gleaming, that dimple in his cheek becoming so deep that I wanted to get lost in it.

“Woah, you okay?” he asked, his deep voice sending a shiver down my spine.

I nodded, a flush creeping up my neck as my mouth refused to cooperate with my brain.

He dipped his chin in a silent dismissal before giving me his back.

Ooooookay. That was fun… and a touch mortifying.

Why had I agreed to this trip again?

I turned, ready to call it a night and plot Mel’s untimely demise when I felt a hand grab my arm.

“Hey, where ya goin’?”

I paused, looking at the large hand that engulfed my elbow, and peeked over my shoulder. “Uh…”

Stupid brain! Work already!

I glanced to Mel laughing with one of Dreamy’s entourage. Her hand was resting on his large bicep as she winked at me before turning her attention back to the group of guys. She said something that made them all bellow with laughter, and I rolled my eyes. It was just like her to turn a group of men into putty in under a minute.

A waitress materialized with a glass of wine, and I knew that it was Mel’s doing. She wanted me to talk to this guy almost as much as I wanted to, so I sucked in a deep breath, painted on a wide smile, and turned to the man who was still holding my elbow.

“Sorry about that,” I told him on a nervous laugh.

One side of his mouth lifted adorably, as if such a thing should have been possible on a man that gorgeous. “It’s okay. I’ve taken worse hits than that.” Dropping my elbow, he grasped my hand instead and brought it to his lips. When they brushed across my knuckles, my knees buckled, and I worked to stand upright.

Jesus, it really had been too long since the last time I’d had a man if I was getting faint over a light kiss on my hand.

“I’m Griff.”

“Brooke,” I replied.

“Well, Brooke, it’s nice to meet you. Are you from around here?”

I laughed. “Is anyone actually from Vegas?”

He shrugged, that dimple making its third heart-stopping appearance of the evening. “No one I’ve met. So, what are you doing here if you’re not a local?” His hand was still gripping mine, and the longer he held it, the less I wanted him to let go.

“Celebrating my friend’s birthday.” I tilted my head to where Mel was still shamelessly flirting with the Chris Hemsworth look-alike and finished, “My best friend over there kidnapped me, dragged me on a plane, and we ended up here a few days ago. It’s a surprisingly similar story to how we made our way from the poker table to over here.”

He laughed. “Sounds like a good friend.”

I nodded. “Everyone needs a Mel in their life.”

He tipped his chin to look down at me, his blue eyes sparkling with humor. “It’s her twenty-first birthday? No better place to celebrate it than Vegas.”

I nodded. “Definitely, but we’re not twenty-one.”

He put his free hand up and said, “Wait, let me guess.” He stroked his chin and made a show of looking me over, pretending to really think about it.

“Are we at a carnival, and if you guess wrong, I get a prize?” I looked around the smoky room. “I’m really disappointed there are no giant bears here for me to choose from.”

His lips cracked in a smile. “You look like you’re my age. I’m gonna say twenty-three.”

I choked on the sip of wine I’d just taken. “You’re twenty-three?”

“Well, I will be next month.”

“Twenty-two then?” I squeaked.

He nodded as my heart pounded.

I was a damn cradle robber. Twenty-two was still a kid. Jesus, what was I doing?

“Am I right?” he asked, his voice filled with excitement.

I took another slug of my wine. I needed to get out of here. Instead of excusing myself and making a mad dash to anywhere but this gorgeous guy’s presence, I quipped, “Where’s my prize?”


About the Author

A.S. Teague enjoys the warmth of South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. The stereotypes about peach cobbler and sweet tea are not overstated. After years in the medical field, she is now enjoying every minute of being a stay-at-home mom. She loves wine, the beach, wine on the beach, and crying at Disney movies. When she doesn’t have a book in her hand, she can be found pestering her husband with pictures of animals she wants to rescue, as well as debating whether to exercise or take a nap.

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Our Review

“I’m asking you to choose the hardest route so that we can spend the rest of our lives dancing in the end zone.”

The Hardest Route was our first read by A.S. Teague and we’ll be exploring more of her work following this sports romance which took us in a direction towards the end which we didn’t see coming! Oh, the emotions in this unexpected pregnancy, friends to lovers’ story between a successful woman and a young man on the cusp of football greatness.

“I’m not giving up, Brooke.”
“Well, I’m not giving in.”

Brooke Spires is on a Vegas trip with her friend, Mel, when she does something completely out of character. She sleeps with a guy she meets in a bar, who happens to be twenty-two year old Griffin Rockwell a talented player recruited by the Chicago Bears as their wide receiver. Being totally clueless about sport, especially football, Brooke isn’t starry-eyed over his potential fame, though she is totally smitten with his looks and his personality, not to mention how he later rocks her world! Brooke sneaks out of his room the next morning doing the walk of shame, never to see Griff again, or so she thought. What she didn’t count on was a little surprise from that night, and that surprise is that she’s pregnant and the baby is Griffs. Queue the awkward stalking via Facebook to contact the now, somewhat famous Griff, telling him he’s her baby Daddy. Just how will that go down? Well, we’re not going to tell you that, you’ll have to find out for yourselves!

“We can’t.”
“Why can’t we?”
“Because I’m afraid.”

We enjoyed this sweet and easy to read story and thought the epilogue was a superb ending to Brooke and Griff’s somewhat arduous slow burn love story. Arduous in that Brooke could certainly be stubborn! Griff’s heart was in the right place, he may have missed the mark now and then, but his thoughts were always for his girls. We did want to urge Brooke to let her guard down and give Griff a chance, this man was more than ready and certainly mature enough to take on the responsibilities he shouldered. If you enjoy a friends to lovers that will test the heartstrings, The Hardest Route is one to check out!

“I don’t care what it takes. We are going to be the two best parents this baby will ever know.”

Synopsis

My friends used to tell me ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’ Clearly, they lied because a few months later, I found out my one-night stand was pregnant.
I couldn’t handle a baby. I was Griffin Rockwell, the best wide receiver the league had ever seen. But what choice did I have? My baby girl was coming whether I was ready for her or not.

Brooke turned out to be an amazing woman and mother. For seven years, we were the MVP of co-parenting—and even better friends.

That all changed when tragedy struck our makeshift family and I was faced with the terrifying possibility of losing the one woman I was quickly realizing I couldn’t live without.

I was at the height of my career and on the path to becoming the greatest of all time.

But keeping my family together, with Brooke by my side, might prove to be the hardest route of all.

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