He watched her walk away, enjoying the view of her very fine ass as she disappeared down the hall.

She’d taken his breath away. And his heart, too.



It was obvious that the Cassidys took their football very seriously.

Amelia expected a lackadaisical football game, kind of half-assing it, maybe more like touch or flag football.

Oh, no. This was no-holds-barred, might-as-well-be-a-real-game kind of football with tackling in the dirt and everything.

Neighbors had showed up as well, so it was clearly some kind of annual event. Some young guys, some not so young and some in between, so they’d fielded two entire teams.

After they’d had breakfast, Lydia had already started to prepare lunch. There were leftovers from yesterday, along with a ham and some steaks Lydia said they were going to throw on the grill. Lydia was also making potato salad. They’d all pitched in and some of the neighbors brought food, too.

Amelia had met a lot of people and she’d never remember all their names, but now she sat outside in a chair next to Mia, who explained to her that the Cassidy Thanksgiving football game had started out small, but had quickly become an annual event.

“At first it was just the family. Then a few of the guys’ friends wandered over. Then some neighbors. Before long, we had fielded enough players that we had teams.”

“Obviously it’s a serious thing.”

“You have no idea.”

“You even have team shirts. Green and white. This is like . . . an actual game.”

Mia laughed. “All thanks to my dad. I think he misses playing, so this is his chance to get back in the game. He quarterbacks for the green team, of course, and Grant for the white team. Then they do schoolyard picks for the rest.”

Amelia looked over the teams as they all put their shirts on. Flynn and Barrett were on Grant’s team. Tucker was on Easton’s team. Two of Easton’s brothers, Elijah and Eddie, were on his team. His other brother, Eldon, was on Grant’s team.

“They don’t really pick by favorites, do they?” Amelia asked.

“Nah. They just switch it up every year. For example, last year Flynn and Barrett were on Dad’s team and Tucker was on Grant’s. So this year they swapped. Same with all the family friends and neighbors. Dad and Grant know exactly who was on whose team last year and they just swap. And whoever got picked first last year? They get chosen last this year. That way no one gets their feelings hurt.”

“I see. And it keeps things fair that way.”

“Right. It’s just for fun. Until they start playing. Then it’s no-holds-barred, at least to a certain extent. Flynn, Barrett and Grant have games this weekend and everyone knows that. No one wants them to get hurt.”

Amelia looked over at Flynn, who had hiked up his sweats and was currently getting ready for his dad’s team to have the ball.

“I don’t know. Flynn looks like he’s tougher than a lot of these guys here. And Barrett looks huge and mean, too.”

“Oh, they are. And they know it. Which is why they all gang up on these guys.”

Amelia laughed. “Should I be concerned for Flynn’s safety?”

“No. Like I said, they’ll go after him, but no one wants him to get hurt. They root for him every weekend.”

Before she knew it, Easton had hiked the ball. She held her breath as Flynn rushed off the line. He was covered by a swarm of tall, farmhand-type boys who were about ten years younger than he was, and taken to the ground. She was certain Flynn was at the bottom of that pile.

People were cheering, Amelia had no idea where the ball was or who had it because she was concentrating on that Flynn pile. And when they all got up, there was Flynn, laughing, taking the hand that was extended to him by one of the boys.

“Your ass is mine next time, Bennett.”

One of the kids, tall and muscular, shot Flynn a smirk. “Good luck trying, Cassidy.”

Then it all started over again. This time Flynn got the best of the kid, shoving him out of the way and getting so close to his father that Amelia thought for sure Flynn was going to pile drive Easton right into the ground. But Flynn only grabbed his father around his middle, then the play was blown dead.

Easton patted Flynn on the head. “Do it just like that this weekend, kid.”

Flynn grinned. “You know I will.”

Amelia must have held her breath for the entire hour the game was played, until Lydia said it was time for lunch.

Then everyone filed into the house, hands and faces were washed and plates were loaded with food. The guys, of course, piled their plates high, no doubt having worked up appetites with all that game play.

Flynn threw an arm around her shoulders. “So, what did you think?”

“I think you’re all crazy. But it was so much fun to watch.”

“Watch? Oh, no. Second half we bring the women in.”

She laughed. “I don’t think so.”

“He’s not kidding,” Aubry said. “They’re much gentler when we play.”

Amelia looked from Aubry to Flynn, who nodded. “We really are. And if someone gets hurt, we have a doctor on board.”

“This is true,” Aubry said, taking a bite of potato salad. “Providing you don’t lay the doctor flat.”

“Would we do that?” Tucker asked.

“Given half a chance, yes.” Aubry cast a shifty look toward Tucker.

Amelia made sure to stock up on protein over lunch. She was certain she was going to need it.