CONSUMED BY THE DARE
RELEASE JANUARY 26TH
London Abbott, head librarian of the Bronx Public Library, is determined to turn a reading initiative into a raving success, solidifying the career and financial security she craves. Adding the burden of a tag-along playboy trying to improve his tarnished image is a stressor London doesn’t need, but when a trusted friend calls in a favor, she’s saddled with bad-boy football star Ryker Christiansen.
Ryker never imagined his lucrative contract with the Miami Thunder would ever be at risk, but after too many nights of partying he’s told to repair his tattered reputation or be terminated. Sent to New York to preen for the media and show his altruistic side by working with children and seniors, he’s committed to sitting in a Bookmobile with antsy kids, ornery seniors, and taking orders from a snotty librarian.
Unsympathetic, London tests Ryker’s mettle without mercy. He earns her respect by meeting every challenge she creates, proving he’s more than just one more overindulged athlete. But there is one more prize he’s determined to win, so he dares London to step out of her carefully constructed world for a walk with him on the wild side.
London expects to bring Ryker down a notch or two, but as their slow-burning heat erupts into sexual flames, the intensity of the fire threatens to either destroy their hearts or forge them together. Discovering which comes with a price. Will they emerge stronger? Or are they destined to be…Consumed by the Dare.
She led them to a bright yellow rec room with several sitting areas and three large screen televisions, all with closed captions turned on. A group of ladies wearing a colorful variety of track suits sat at a large table in front of the far wall made up of large windows. They held cards in their hands and in the middle of the table were…well, he didn’t know what, but those weren’t poker chips, real money, or pretzel sticks.
“They’re all yours. Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Diane said before heading back the way she’d brought them in.
Ryker shrugged. “They look perfectly harmless to me.”
“Harmless they are not.”
Just as she finished her statement, he spotted a group of men in the corner. One was in a wheelchair, another with a cane, and the third so stooped he looked to be almost bent in half. Then the stooped man grabbed at the prosthetic leg of the man with the cane and ran with it when it pulled free.
“Ha…do your worst now, Cliff!” he yelled, waving the leg in the air like a club.
“Bring that back here, you son of a—”
“Hey, none of that, you old farts, there’s a young lady present!” This came from the lady in the red track suit, who had since stood and worked her way toward them.
“London! So good to see you dear!” one of the ladies at the table called out.
“You too, Miss Gertie. You look radiant today!”
Red track suit stopped before Ryker and gave him an assessing look. “Well, aren’t you a handsome specimen!”
She then turned to London and enveloped her in a suffocating hug. “Good to see you, honey. Did you bring them?”
London pulled back and straightened her shirt. “I sure did, Miss Maggie.”
“You’re such a dear heart! Thank you! I swear if I had to spend one more afternoon whipping ass at poker, I was going to lose what’s left of my addled mind. How much hemorrhoid cream can one person win before it’s enough already?”
“Well, I don’t know,” London said.
“86!” She pointed a wrinkled finger right in Ryker’s face. “The answer is 86 damn tubes of hemorrhoid cream. I don’t even need the stuff. Now, Cliff, that old shit, needs all the hemorrhoid cream he can get. He’ll need even more if Warren doesn’t give him his damn leg back.” She turned to Cliff. “You hear that, Cliff? I’ve got just what you need. Five bucks a tube!”
Ryker leaned to whisper into London’s ear, “Holy shit.”
She grinned, her eyes gleaming with mischief. “Still think you’ve got this, Ryker?”
She introduced him to “The Crew,” as they were called; eleven in all. Seven women and four men. The poor men. Lou stepped in with a look and, just like that, Warren returned Cliff’s leg.
Lou commanded the crew. An old mafia boss-looking type with a cool stare and deep crevices on his face that testified to a lifetime of struggles. Ryker imagined he was of the same ilk as the man sweeping his stoop from the day before. He’d probably worked harder in one year than Ryker’s own father had in his whole life.
Maggie, the mouthpiece of the ladies and hoarder of the hemorrhoid cream, took great pleasure in introducing her partners in crime.
“Would you be so kind and pull down Connect Four for us?” Miss Gertie smiled; the kind of smile that made him think of grandmas who baked fresh cookies and filled their grandkids’ bellies with hot chocolate. He’d always wanted a grandmother like that.
Just as he pulled the box out from under the stack, he jumped.
“Holy hell!” he said as he looked over at London. “Was that what I think it was?”
“Well, shit, honey, if you aren’t clear on what that was, I didn’t do it right. Come here!” Miss Gertie said.
He jumped back before the not-so-sweet grandma of the group could get another go at his ass. Jesus.
Maggie gathered the small tubes and stuffed them in her purse. “Where did you find this one, London?”
“His services were offered by my friend, Meg. You remember her, right?”
“Teacher, right? A little light in the boob department, but a comely girl, that one.”
Ryker didn’t miss how London glanced down at her own chest and crossed her arms.
“Yes, that’s her. She’s friends with Olivia Dare Rhodes, the executive director for the Miami Thunder football team. Ryker Christiansen is their best tight-end.”
“I can vouch for that!” Miss Gertie called out.
“Gertie, give the poor guy a break. Clearly, he’s not used to fast women,” Maggie said.
London snorted at that.
“London,” Ryker warned.
“I didn’t say a word.”
“Is it time to pick books yet?” he asked.
By soon she meant another two hours. Two freaking hours of poker with the ladies. This time with Efferdent. Ryker left the facility with two pockets full of the tablets.
Casey Hagen is a debut contemporary romance author releasing her first book, Falling in Fiji, in October. She writes her stories from the dense, green wilderness of the Delaware National Forest, Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. She’s a born and raised Vermont native with Ben & Jerry’s in her heart and real Vermont maple syrup pumping through her veins.
Over the years, Casey has dabbled in a wide variety of professions. She worked in the States Attorney’s office, created beautiful works of art as a florist, slaved to the public in retail, taught preschool (and potty trained eleven two-year-olds at the same time), and finally, she owned and operated her own residential cleaning business for over a decade. She is also the new Vice President of the Penn Jersey Women Writers Guild.
Casey is the proud mother of three girls, two of which are successful college students…yay! She resides with her youngest daughter, husband, and two cats. Her days are spent in her new office that she proudly admits they would need dynamite to blast her out of! When she’s not working she can be found chasing after her youngest with a camera (much to her youngest daughter’s embarrassment) or on the golf course with her real life hero!