The Red Zone | Beth Bolden
The Riptide #3
Release Date: August 11th, 2021
Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood Designs
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 97,000 words
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Spencer’s deep in the Red Zone and it’s time to even the score.
Nine years ago Spencer Evans became the first player out of the closet to be drafted into the NFL. Everyone believed he had aspirations to change the world but all Spencer ever wanted to do was play football for a team that accepted him wholeheartedly. But they never would, and Spencer began to conceal all the parts that made him different.
When a terrible injury forces him to re-evaluate his life and his choices, he realizes there’s only one man who can help him.
The very first gay sports agent, Alec Mitchell has given his life and his career to making queer athletes’ dreams come true. He can’t help but think of Spencer as the one who got away—professionally and personally.
Alec thought he’d buried his desperate longing for Spencer ages ago but it turns out it was just lying dormant, waiting for the right spark. When he begs Alec to take him on as a client, everything they’ve been burying for years surfaces once again.
With Alec’s help, Spencer can change everything about his life he’s come to hate. An extraordinary future—and an undeniably extraordinary man—are waiting for him. The play has been called. All he has to do is catch the ball and score.
“You should try my wine,” Alec said, gesturing towards the bottle. “You said you don’t drink wine, not that you don’t like wine. And this is an easy drinking red, real fruit forward, not too many tannins on the back end.”
“Is this how you want to do this?” Spencer asked suspiciously. “Make me try things I don’t think I’m gonna like?”
“How will you know, if you don’t try?” Alec hesitated, and slid his jacket off, hanging it over the back of one of the barstools. “Come over here. I’m not going to bite.”
Spencer shot him a look, full of heat, and Alec remembered why it was probably better not to take his jacket off and why it was definitely better not to make jokes that could be taken in any kind of sexual context.
Well, he’d done it and he wasn’t going to take it back. If they couldn’t figure out how to make this work, then Spencer wouldn’t get what he needed—and Alec wanted that more than anything else.
“Fine,” Spencer said with a sigh. He skirted around the edge of the kitchen island, approaching hesitantly as Alec tilted the half-full glass in his direction.
“Isn’t there supposed to be a special way I do this?” Spencer asked as he took the glass.
Alec raised his eyebrow. “A special way? You take a sip. Swallow it. Decide if you like it or not. Though, really, you should try it twice. The first sip will clear your palate from that god-awful beer you’ve been drinking.”
“That’s what I mean,” Spencer said. “I don’t want to do it wrong.”
“Not drinking it, that’s doing it wrong,” Alec said, even though he knew what Spencer was referring to. But all of the swirling and the legs and the aroma, all the self-important recital that true wine connoisseurs participated in was only going to confuse Spencer. Alec just wanted him to fucking try it.
“Alright, fine,” Spencer said, grumbling, and lifted the glass to his lips.
Spencer made a face, and Alec said, “Nope, not yet. Don’t tell me you don’t like it yet. You’ve got to clear your palate.”
“How do I do that?”
Alec put his hand on Spencer’s arm, stopping him from handing the glass back. “Take another drink,” he instructed. “In a minute.”
When he pulled his hand back, he could still feel the heat and solid strength from Spencer’s forearm. He was going to have to get used to all this touching and personal connection, and hopefully when he did, it wouldn’t affect him this strongly.
“Alright,” Spencer agreed. “It wasn’t . . . well, it wasn’t what I thought it’d be.”
“You didn’t hate it,” Alec guessed, leaning against the edge of the countertop.
“I thought I would,” Spencer confessed. “Wine’s just so fancy and complicated, and I’m not . . . I’ve never been either of those two things. And beer is fine.”
“Beer is fine, sure. You might not dislike it. But what if you liked something else better?”
“I don’t know,” Spencer agreed. He hesitated, and Alec watched him closely, even though it almost hurt to look at him like this. So unsure and vulnerable and wanting so hard to do the right thing, the best thing. “It’s why I asked you to do this.”
About the Author
A lifelong Pacific Northwester, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just as weird in Raleigh.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published twenty-three novels and seven novellas.
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