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Illegal Use of Hands

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Blurb

Quarterback Sneak

When Stacy Halligan is dumped by her boyfriend just before Valentine’s Day, she’s in desperate need of a date of the office party—where her ex will be front and center with his new hot babe. Max, the hot quarterback next door who secretly loves her and sees this as his chance. But he only has until Valentine’s Day to score a touchdown.

Unnecessary Roughness

Ryan McCabe, sexy football star, is hiding from a media disaster, while Kaitlyn Ross is trying to resurrect her career as a magazine writer. Renting side by side cottages on the Gulf of Mexico, neither is prepared for the electricity that sparks between them…until Ryan discovers Kaitlyn’s profession, and, convinced she’s there to chase him for a story, cuts her out of his life. Getting past this will take the football play of the century.

Sideline Infraction

Sarah York has tried her best to forget her hot one night stand with football star Beau Perini. When she accepts the job as In House counsel for the Tampa Bay Sharks, the last person she expects to see is their newest hot star—none other than Beau. The spark is definitely still there but Beau has a personal life with a host of challenges. Is their love strong enough to overcome them all?

USA Today best-selling and award-winning author Desiree Holt

writes everything from romantic suspense and paranormal to erotic. and has been referred to by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance, and is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications.

Illegal Use of Hands is created by Desiree Holt, an EGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.

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Chapter 1

PART ONE: Quarterback Sneak

"All men are assholes."

Stacy Halligan slouched in a corner of her couch, feet propped up on the coffee table. A half-finished glass of wine—her third—rested on the side table by her hand. Somehow, the smooth flavor of the merlot hadn't eased the sharp edge of pain she rode. Instead, it tasted more like vinegar.

"I assume present company excepted?" Max Sullivan, stretched out in her big armchair, grinned at her, and took a swallow of beer.

"You're just a man in the generic meaning of the word," she grumped.

His smile disappeared. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Don't get your shorts in a twist." Stacy levered herself up and took a sip of the wine, making a face. "I mean, you have all the right equipment." She ran her gaze over his tall, muscular body. "At least, I assume you do, since I haven't seen it firsthand. But I never think of you as a man. Exactly."

He frowned. "And exactly how do you think of me?"

"You're my best friend. My bud. My comfort zone." She flopped a hand at him. "You know. We hang out together. Drink beer and eat pizza. Tell each other s**t. I don't have to worry if my makeup's messed up or I'm wearing the right clothes."

"Yeah?" Max c****d his head. "I'm not sure if I should be flattered or insulted."

Stacy scowled. What bothered him tonight? Usually he sat there listening while she vented about her latest romantic disaster, making appropriate comments. At least, appropriate to her.

They'd been neighbors for three years, ever since she bought the condo next to his. When he came over to introduce himself and she learned he was a football player, backup quarterback for the city's NFL team, the Warriors, she blew him off. She had been ready to write him off as a muscle-bound jerk who used and discarded women and barely had room to fit himself and his ego in the same room.

Max, however, was persistent in his and actually turned out to be a nice guy with a great sense of humor. Since neither of them seemed to fit the other's dating profile, they didn't have to do the usual mating dance. Instead, they became very comfortable together, hanging out on weekends when they had no other plans, helping out when circumstances called for it.

Like now, when her latest so-called romance crashed and burned like a comet falling from the sky.

She liked Max. Really liked him. He made no demands on her except to take in his mail and keep an eye on his place when he traveled with the team. In return, he provided refreshments on nights like tonight when her life fragmented again and she needed someone to help her pick up the pieces.

How did she make such consistently poor choices where men were concerned? You'd think the feature writer for a woman's magazine would have a better grasp of what men were all about. Would have a stronger bullshit meter. But no, she simply kept going from one disaster to another. Maybe it came from being the gray dove to a peacock of an older sister. Or a hangover from college where her roommate barely passed her classes yet scored very high in hot men. So she'd concentrated on her writing, her career, secretly hoping some man would come along and coax her out of her bland environment.

Unfortunately, she chose men very unwisely.

Assholes.

Why couldn't she fall for someone like Max? And why suddenly think of Max and romance in the same breath?

She had to admit he was damn appealing, with his tall, muscular athlete's body. Mouthwatering, even in the ragged T-shirt and worn jeans he wore. His midnight black hair, the thick kind women loved to run their fingers through, and his ocean blue eyes, framed by equally dark eyebrows and lashes, were what romance novels would call mesmerizing. Lips that looked as if they knew their way around a woman's mouth.

Jeez, Stacy. Get over it. What's with you? This is Max. Solid, comfortable, dependable Max. My brain must be cooked because of my latest self-inflicted disaster.

"Stacy?"

She blinked, suddenly aware he spoke to her.

"Huh?" She blinked again. "What?"

"Where did you go in that pretty head of yours? You zoned right out on me."

Giving herself a mental shake, she reached for the wine again. One word stuck in her mind.

"You think I'm pretty?"

Max tilted his head, studying her. "Of course I do. You're a damn fine looking woman."

"Oh, great. Damn fine looking. You sound like you're describing my mother. Or worse, my grandmother." She lifted her wine glass then set it back down. It had truly lost its flavor for her tonight.

Max set his beer on the floor beside him and hitched forward in his chair.

"What's this really all about, Stace? Is it that jerk, Kurt? I told you he was a loser. You should have listened to me."

"You say that about every man I introduce you to," she pointed out.

"Maybe you take up with the wrong men," he suggested.

"What?" She gritted her teeth. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Don't get your panties in a twist. It's just that ever since I've known you, the men you hook up with have been asswipes."

"Asswipes? Good word. I like that better than assholes."

"Anyway, you've had breakups before. Plenty since I've known you. What's so bad about the latest one that it's got you all uptight?"

She chewed on her bottom lip. How could she explain it to him? She shared the blame. She obviously didn't put thought into the men she chose or the relationships that developed with them. She spent so much time on assignments for the magazine she just hadn't put the right kind of effort into her dating situation.

She already knew the other females at work thought her a dating loser. When they talked about hot weekends, she slugged down nonfat decaf lattes and wrapped herself in the misery of her latest breakup. She'd stopped contributing to their dating adventure stories since hers always had such pathetic endings. Why couldn't she hold onto a man?

Kurt was merely the latest mistake, but also the worst. She never should have dated someone on the staff, especially the hot marketing guy everyone lusted over. Her problem? Flattered he asked her out, she'd ignored the warnings from her colleagues that she was not his type and she'd just get hurt. Not his type? What the hell did that mean? Did they have such a low opinion of her because she didn't flaunt her body and make an ass of herself the way a lot of the other females did? Well, whatever. Now, not only had she been dumped but she'd also been exposed to a humiliation way too public for her satisfaction. She did her best to ignore the I-told-you-so looks even as she imagined all the whispered comments.

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