He’d been offered the chance to enter the draft in his junior year at Texas, but his mom wouldn’t have it. Education had been more important to her than football. His coach had told him it wasn’t a good year for quarterbacks in the draft that year anyway.

It turned out they were both right. He’d finished up his degrees, and he’d been drafted in the second round by his dad’s team.

It was all good now.

His phone buzzed. He grinned when he saw Jamal’s name.


Jamal laughed. “Chillin’. You?”

“Doing some paperwork. Hey, I went to the stadium today. Talked to coach.”

“You did, huh? That’s cuz you’re the hot-shit new quarterback, so you’re special as fuck.”

Nathan laughed. “Yeah, baby, that’s me. And you can’t wait for me to throw you a pass since you’re the hot-shit wide receiver.”

“You know it. And now that the other hot-shit receiver is gone, it’s my time to shine.”

“’Bout damn time, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. And I’ve been waitin’ on you for a year now. You as good as your dad?”

That was the million-dollar question, wasn’t it? Or the multimillion-dollar one. “You caught passes from me for three years in Texas. What do you think? You’ve seen my awesome rocket arm.”

He heard Jamal’s infectious laugh. “We’re gonna blow it up this year, Riley.”

Jamal was exactly what he needed right now. He was so damn glad his best friend was on the same team. “Hell yes we are.”

“Now get your ass over here and let’s play some games.”

He looked down at his phone. He had a few hours to kill before he met Mia. He looked over at his computer and the bills he needed to pay. Yeah, that could wait.

“Be right there.”

MIA WAS WIPED OUT. THE FURNITURE HAD BEEN PUT in place just in time for her three o’clock appointment with one of the hottest new cornerbacks in the league. She left all the details about office stuff to Monique, and brought Clyde Motts into their “Oh my God we finished setting this up thirty minutes ago” fantastic conference room. And then she sold him on how amazing her company was and what they could do for him from a management standpoint. That part, at least, she had together, from financial to contractual to promotion. She already had Clyde’s agent as part of her company, so she sat with them. Mia brought in her finance and marketing team to do one hell of a presentation, and thank God the tech team had managed to hook everything up, because the video was a knock-you-right-out-of-your-cleats demonstration.

She name-dropped a high-profile basketball player and hockey player who they’d already signed, along with an award-winning pitcher. Then she added on the tight end she’d signed, also a huge name. She could tell Clyde was trying to play it cool, but he was impressed. By the time he left the office, she knew he’d sign with MHC Management.

She still smiled whenever she looked at the letterhead with those initials. MHC. Mia Helene Cassidy. It was her. Her baby. Her company. She sucked in a breath. So much pressure to succeed.

She could do this. She would do this.

She found Monique in her office, and leaned against the open doorway.

Monique looked up and pulled off her tortoise-frame glasses. “Well?”

“He didn’t commit, but he will.”

“If he’s smart he will. And that boy is smart as hell. What did Victoria say?”

“I haven’t heard back from her yet. I’m sure she’ll text me after she has a chat with Clyde.”

“He’ll sign with us. Why wouldn’t he?”

“And yet another reason I need you with me, Monique. That positive attitude.”

“I’m just a ray of sunshine and utter beauty in your life, Mia.”

Mia laughed. “That you are.”

“Hey, do you want to have dinner tonight? I have a date and he has a really gorgeous friend. We’re going to try out this new Korean place that everyone’s talking about.”

She shook her head. “Thanks, but I already have plans.”

“Ooh, a hot date?”

“No. Dinner with Nathan Riley.”

Monique arched a perfect brow. “So it is a hot date.”

The only person she’d ever told about her onetime hookup with Nathan was Monique, because she was the only person Mia trusted with all her secrets. “Not ever going to happen again.”

Monique leaned back in her chair and shoved her pen into her gorgeous afro. “I don’t know why. The man is delicious.”

“The why is because we’re friends.”

“Oh, and you can’t fuck a friend?”

Fortunately, Monique’s office was at the other end of the hall, away from everyone else, so no one could hear them. “No, I can’t. My friendship with Nathan means too much to me.”

“Pff. Bullshit. You’re just afraid it was too hot for you and you might fall in love with him.”

“I am not afraid, and falling in love with Nathan is the last thing on my mind.” She walked in and slid into the chair across from Monique’s desk. “Though it was very hot sex. But love? I don’t have time for love. I’m building a dynasty here.”

“Uh-huh. You can build all the dynasties you want. But you can still jump on Nathan Riley.”

She shook her head. “What if I want to bring him on board MHC?”

“Do you?”

“I don’t know. The thought just popped into my head. But if I did, I can’t have sex with him and then sign him as a client, too.”

“Why not? Wouldn’t that be just an added incentive, like a fringe benefit?”

She rolled her eyes. “Monique. You have like . . . zero boundaries.”

Monique grinned. “I know. Isn’t it great? How do you think I landed a date with third-floor hottie?”

Mia arched a brow. “Your date tonight is with elevator guy?”

Monique nodded. “Yes. Hot business-suit elevator guy.”

“He is extremely sexy.”

“Yes he is, in that buttoned-up, tie-wearing, you want to take all his clothes off kind of way.”

Mia laughed. “Been thinking about that, have you?”

“I have. I intend to explore him in depth after dinner tonight. Maybe loosen up that designer necktie he wears, along with some of his other clothes.”

Mia shook her head. “I can’t wait for the details.”

She got up and went back to her office. She finished up for the day, and she and Monique locked up the office. They took the elevator downstairs and walked outside.

“You sure you don’t want me and elevator guy to come to dinner with you? I could point out Nathan’s fine ass and remind you of how great he was in the sack.”

Mia turned Monique in the opposite direction. “Oh my God no. Enjoy dinner alone with hot elevator guy. Try to call him by his real name.”

“Are you sure?” Monique asked as she started to walk away. “I can recall you damn near reciting poetry about all of Nathan’s fine attributes. Don’t forget about his enormous—”

Fortunately, whatever Monique said was drowned out by traffic sounds.

Mia slid into her jacket, loving the feel of the cool, crisp July evening breeze. Having grown up in Texas, summers were always hot and humid. San Francisco summers were entirely different. She loved everything about it. She could get out and walk, and there were always people around. There was a pulse to this city like it was a living, breathing thing, and she enjoyed all of it, from the clanging of the trolleys whisking their way down the street to the honking of the boats in the bay to the fast hustle of people going to and from their jobs. It was high energy while somehow also being laid-back.

The first time she’d visited Flynn several years ago, he’d taken her sightseeing through the city and she’d known she had to live here someday. She just fit here.

She got on the train at the BART station, rode a couple of stops and got off, then walked the block to her town house, a charming Victorian she’d fallen madly in love with on first sight.

The location was perfect, near Dolores Park, with a variety of restaurants and plenty of shops nearby. She adored everything about it, from the original brick steps to the gorgeous forest green front door with its stained-glass inserts. Inside was a beautiful original oak floor and plenty of living space. The owners had renovated the place so it was fresh and modern while still retaining its eighteen hundreds charm. She had fallen instantly in love with the bay window in the living room that let in so much light, the lovely stone fireplace and the small garden out back. San Francisco was tight on space, so to get even a smidgen of an outdoor area was a bonus.