India Jackson’s star is on the rise. It’s taken forty years and a drawn-out divorce, but she’s finally proud of who she is and how life is treating her. Now, she’s setting her sights on the future. There is big snag, though — how people react when they find out her boyfriend Matt, one of the year’s hottest soccer talents, is only twenty-seven. She wonders how long it’ll be before he’s had enough of the gossip and call it quits.
The second half of any game is fraught with tension, and errors are likely. In soccer — and in life — an Own Goal happens when you screw up and score for the other team. When Matt racks up a personal one, India wonders if her future is with a different man… or if she’s making an unforced error of her own.
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Copyright ©2021 D. S. Dehel
“Aargh.” India chucked her pencil across the room, and Matt ducked, even though it came nowhere close to where he perched on the sofa.
“I’m annoyed that Bayern Munich missed the shot, but even I’m not throwing things.” She could hear the tease in his voice. “What’s up? Can’t find the right shade of pink?”
She appreciated that he was trying to coax her out of her mood, but it wouldn’t work this time. Maida had delayed their meeting yet again. At this rate, she would never get the singer’s gown done in time for the award ceremony, and with it went her best chance of launching a new career. “Luella just texted that there’s a problem.”
“Uh-oh. Another cancellation?” He pointed the remote at the television and the cheers of the German fans faded.
“Yeah. Probably.” She put her head in her hands. “I can’t believe this.” She could feel her dream slipping away.
Arms circled her. Matt must have come over. “I’m sorry, babe.”
He’s never called me that before. Having nothing to say, she shrugged.
He knelt down beside the chair. “Tell you what, tonight I’m going to cook you dinner.”
She stroked his face, enjoying the scratchy stubble. “You don’t have to do that. We can cook together.”
“Okay, we can do that, but I choose the recipe.”
“What are you up to?”
“I want to make my favorite dish.” He put his hands on her knees. “It always made me feel better when I had a bad day.”
“That’s really sweet.” She kissed his cheek. “Thank you. I will gladly be your sous chef.”
He gestured toward the kitchen with his head. “I’m going to go see what you have and make a list of what we need. Then we’ll go shopping.”
Shopping was always an adventure with him. Last time, he’d nearly gotten them kicked out of the store by insisting they race carts down the frozen vegetable aisle. “I’m going to put the finishing touches on this.” She pointed at the sketch in front of her. In fact, she really should probably leave it alone and quit fussing.
Within twenty minutes, they stood in the vegetable aisle of the nearest market searching for the best carrots and turnips. “Turnips?” India wrinkled her nose. “Ugh.”
“Well, you haven’t had mine.” He held up two small purple and white globes, waggling his eyebrows.
“I am quite familiar with your turnips.”
He smirked. “And we need little ones because they’re sweeter.”
“I’m not going to touch that.”
“Not touch my turnips?” He pretended to pout as he held them out.
“You’re incorrigible.” She grabbed the vegetables and put them in the basket. “What else?”
“Carrots.” He dug through the stack, rejecting them one by one. “Too small. Too thin.” He gave a wicked glance over his shoulder. “You can only really cook with big, thick ones.”
India rolled her eyes, and was summoning up a witty riposte when her phone vibrated. She pulled it out of her pocket, and once she read the message, she nearly dropped the phone on the floor. “Oh!”
Matt turned, a look of alarm on his face. “What?”
“She still wants to meet.” India’s heart was pounding. “Maida wants to have a video conference this afternoon.”
“That’s brilliant. When?”
“Three.” She glanced at her phone. “We have an hour.”
“I guess we better get a move on.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
D. S. Dehel is a lover of literature, good food, and the Oxford comma. When she is not immersed in a book, she is mom to her kids and spoiling her rather pampered feline, Mr. Darcy or her equally pampered puppy, Jameson, and her slightly psychotic Australian Shepherd, Piper. Having finally retire, she spends her days dreaming up new plotlines. She adores literary allusions, writing sex scenes, and British men. Actually, make that hot men in general. Her devoted husband is still convinced she writes children’s books. Please don’t enlighten him.