When I Need You

Book 4 of the Need You Series

Rules are tossed aside when a pro football player join forces with a spitfire cheerleading coach in New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James’s brand-new romance…

Heir to Lund Enterprises and ladies’ man Jensen “The Rocket” Lund has three conditions when it comes to dating:

1) No single mothers
2) No cheerleaders
3) No medical personnel

So it makes no sense that he’s wildly attracted to Rowan Michaels, who breaks all three.

Rowan Michaels didn’t pass the rigorous requirements to become an athletic trainer and Vikings cheerleader in the hopes of landing a pro athlete: been there, done that, and she has a young son as proof that football players and fidelity don’t go hand in hand. When Rowan learns her new neighbor is Jensen Lund, the smoking-hot tight end who takes being neighborly to a whole new level, she’s grateful for the team’s strict “no fraternization” policy because the sexy man defines temptation.

But Jensen is intent on rushing straight to the goal line to prove to Rowan he’s much more than just a player…on and off the field.

Excerpt »

Rowan

Jensen Lund didn’t have the first freakin’ clue who I was.

Not that I should’ve been surprised. He was exactly like every other high-achieving jock I’d dealt with: exuding an air of entitlement and ignoring the “little people” outside his sports stratosphere.

“Who are you?” Jensen demanded again.

I’d had a crap day and all I wanted was a few moments of peace while my son watched Netflix. I didn’t owe this man anything. Especially given his rude behavior.

“I’m none of your damn business. Don’t bother me again or I’ll call the building manager and report you.”

I slammed the door in his face.

It felt good. Maybe more dramatic than the situation called for, but good nonetheless.

Still . . . it did surprise me that The Rocket lived in this apartment complex.

Maybe he’s slumming while construction on his mansion is underway.

That had to be it.

Besides, my brother would’ve told me that the lauded Vikings tight end was his neighbor. Then again, my rocky past with another football player might’ve convinced Martin not to even mention it to me.

No matter. We’d probably never see each other, and that suited me just fine.

As a single mother with two jobs, I needed a mental reset at the end of my workday to switch from dealing with college students to becoming Mommy to my six-year-old son. I felt zero guilt for letting Calder watch cartoons for fifteen or twenty minutes while my transformation took place.

After I slipped on my wireless headphones and hit play on my cell phone, I opened the sliding glass doors and stepped onto the balcony. Spring had definitely arrived in Minneapolis. Buds on the trees. Tulips, crocus, hyacinth and peonies poking up from the ground. Grass greening up. Birds twittering. I drew in several deep breaths. Music. Fresh air. I could feel the tension seeping out from my pores.

I’d already started dinner when Calder finished his TV show and scrambled onto the barstool, setting his elbows on the breakfast bar. “What’s for supper?”

I finished chopping the onions and slid them into the pan. “Right now it’s just cooked hamburger so the options are endless. Spanish rice, goulash, tacos, beef and rice or sloppy joes.”

“Sloppy joes.”

“Excellent choice, Chef Michaels.”

He giggled.

That sound always made me smile. I glanced up, noticing for the first time what he had on. “Why are you wearing that?”

He shrugged. “I was playing ninja-samurai.”

“With who? Alicia?” Alicia worked for me as a nanny during the week, picking Calder up from school and staying with him until I got home.

“Didja know these pants make a cool flapping noise when I run really fast?”

“I imagine so, but where were you running really fast?” A beat of silence. Then he answered, “Uh, around.”

“Around where?” This apartment was much smaller than our last one and there wasn’t room to run.

When my son avoided my eyes, I knew something was up. “Calder Adam Michaels. Tell me where you were. Right now.”

His words rushed out. “Alicia was on her phone again and I was bored so I went out into the hallway and ran the whole thing like three times. Then the last time this giant came around the corner and I ran into him with my head—bam!—right in his pee-shooter. He yelled a bunch of grown-up words and closed his eyes real tight. So I ran to the end of the hall and hid behind the door to the outside but he didn’t find me so I musta hid real good, huh?”

There were so many, many, many things wrong with this scenario I didn’t know where to start.

Stay calm. Do not yell.

“Did Alicia know you were gone?”

Calder shook his head.

All sorts of worst-case scenarios ran through my head, and I fought back my panic. How could I let it slide that she’d ignored Calder—he’d snuck out and she hadn’t noticed?—when her only job was to watch him?

“Oh, and the guy called me a girl too,” Calder added.

“What do you mean he called you a girl? I thought you ran and hid?”

“Umm, after I started to get away from him he said, ‘Hey little girl’ and I turned to tell him that I wasn’t a girl.”

“What did this guy look like?”

“A giant. With lots of muscles.”

“Light hair? Dark hair?”

“Light hair. Long, kinda like mine.”

No wonder Jensen Lund had knocked on my door looking so pissed off. “Did you apologize?”

Calder lowered his chin. “I forgot.”

“Did you happen to see where he lives?”

“Right across the hall.”

“First thing after supper you’re going to apologize to him.”

“Okay.”

“Second thing: Is being bored an excuse to break my house rules?”

His head dipped again. “No.”

“We’ve lived in this apartment building a week, Calder. Everyone is a stranger. You know better than to go anywhere by yourself.”

He glanced up at me, his pale brown eyes full of remorse. “I’m sorry, Mommy.”

“We’ll figure out your consequences after we eat. The last question . . .” I paused. “Since when do you call your penis a pee-shooter?”

“Uncle Martin said to call it a pee-shooter when I’m a little dude because all it’s good for is shooting pee. He said when I’m a big dude, I can call it a love gun.”

Jesus, Martin, really? You had to break it down that much for your nephew? “In our house, it is not called a pee-shooter.”

Calder’s eyes took on a defiant glint. “Uncle Martin said you’d say that. He told me that since I have one—and you don’t—I should get to call it whatever I want.”

Seriously. Martin had to have been high during that conversation. But now wasn’t the time to argue terminology with a hungry six-year-old. “We’ll talk later.” I pointed at the hallway. “Wash your hands.”

Sagging against the counter, I considered my options with the Alicia situation. Did I call her now or wait until I’d calmed down? Would I be calmer before or after I marched my son across the hall to face Jensen Lund?

I wasn’t looking forward to that.

For International Readers »

Penguin Group (USA) LLC
(July 25, 2017)
368 pages
ISBN: 9780698410916

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