Release date: July 18, 2016
Sports journalist Melanie Foster has achieved most of her goals: Bomb.com job—check. Tomboy-to-smoking-hottie makeover—check. Convince her best friend, Damien Richards, to slide a ring on her finger and father her two-point-five kids—not so much. When she activates Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, she never imagines her BFF already has plans to stroll down the wedding aisle with another woman.
Damien’s in the middle of crisis mode. The non-profit for young athletes at which he volunteers is in financial trouble. He’ll pull out all the stops to rescue the organization that saved his life after his career-ending injury—even if it means sacrificing his personal happiness.
But when he finally wakes up to love and the very non-brotherly feelings he’s long held for Mel, it just might be too late. Damien must convince her that he’s worth the risk and turn the tables to show her he’s the one ready to be a fool for love.
by Rina Gray
Rina Gray has been writing and singing for as long as she can remember. She never had a talent for singing outside the shower, but her writing flourished. When she’s not writing, she can be found with her head stuck in a book, kickboxing, or dominating game night with friends and family. Rina resides in Atlanta with her husband.
An excerpt from Fool for You:
If Wile E. Coyote ever successfully trapped the Road Runner, he’d have the same just-won-the-lotto grin as Melanie Foster.
She texted her best friend, Damien, the thumbs-up, prayer hands, and dancing hippo emojis—he’d get that she had good news to share. He always got her. Striding up to the receptionist counter at her brand-spanking-new job, she glanced at the woman’s nameplate. Meena. No last name. Just Meena.
“Meena, you are now looking at the new associate editor for SportsFanatic.com. I got the job!” Melanie sang and moonwalked backward in her stilettos. Well, she tried and tripped. Not smart considering she wasn’t much of a high-heel enthusiast. Luckily, she managed to grab the counter for balance before the hardwood floor became the most action she’d had in eighteen months.
“Good for you.” The receptionist rolled her brown, Betty Boop eyes and resumed her clicking and clacking on the keyboard.
Melanie gave her a strained smile. Seriously? This chick didn’t get how awesome this was. Not only had Melanie scored the associate editor position at SportsFanatic.com, but she was also the first African-American female editor for the online magazine. And, to make her dream job even more amazing—like triple-fudge-brownie-with-hazelnuts-and-caramel amazing—she would be the exclusive writer for the Yankees. The freakin’ New. York. Yankees.
The receptionist leaned away from the desk and folded her slender arms. “You haven’t started the job yet so … bye?”
“Let’s do lunch when I start. My treat. See you soon!” Melanie pivoted toward the elevator, all smiles on the outside but mentally flipping the finger with both hands on the inside. Meena would not kill her vibe.
Pressing the down button, Melanie slid her wire-framed glasses back on her nose, tapped her toes, and waited. Under her breath, she hummed a celebratory got-the-job song. This needed to be celebrated. Nearly all her goals had been achieved. Bomb.com job: Check. Next item: Convince her best friend to be the father of her two-point-five kids and live in a brownstone in Chelsea. Is there such a thing as half a check? A ding from the arriving elevator answered her.
But she wasn’t worried. If she could beat out eighty-seven candidates for her dream job, she could win the heart of her dream man. The elevator doors slid shut, and she let loose.
“I just got the jooob. I just got the joooob! Happy job dance, happy job dance!” She diva-fied her dancing with a hip swirl that would make the founders of Zumba proud.
The elevator dinged, groaned, and stopped on the ground floor. She walked out of the ancient elevator and, with each step, closer to her best friend.
Damien. Damien. Damien. Just thinking of his Georgia-pecan eyes and quiet storm voice made her palms slick and her heart beat strong and funky like an old Motown bass line.
Writing kick-ass articles about kick-ass athletes? That she could do. The tall task of convincing her BFF to fall in love with her and do the tangled tango? That loomed over her like the Empire State Building.
A needle of fear popped her optimistic bubble. Sifting through the deep grooves of her memories, she desperately sought where she could’ve gotten the wrong impression. Had she imagined their connection—the hungry stares, the almost kisses, the soul-tingling touches?
Their soul-mate bond was the reason why she couldn’t move on. So she’d bided her time, kept it casual with other men, until she couldn’t bear the thought of another woman in his arms.
There was a hole at the bottom of her heart, and no other man’s kiss, or touch, or words could fill it. It was only and always Damien. The boy who’d defended her from neighborhood bullies, taught her how to field a ground ball, and took her to senior prom when her date had bailed at the last minute.
The boy who eventually grew into a man who cooked her favorite meals when she came into town, gave her autographed memorabilia from her favorite athletes, and flew her up to New York when her favorite boy bands, one of her guilty pleasures, were in concert.
His deep voice whispered in her head. “Babe, you don’t know what you’re asking. You’re upset about breaking up with your boyfriend, and you want me because I’m familiar.”
Pausing before the door of the building, she opened her large purse and rubbed her thumbs over the familiar frayed seams of the baseball cap Damien had placed onto her head before she hit her first home run. Her lucky hat instantly unraveled the double fisherman knots of doubt that had settled in the bottom of her stomach.
Damien loves me. He’s just scared.
Pulling out her phone, she opened the notes app to review the list she’d created for Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me. She tapped the screen to mark off the first step: get the job in New York. Now, she need ed to find a place near his condo and figure out a way to spend time with him.
Easy. She grinned down at her phone. There was always a game on television, and if their favorite team wasn’t playing, there were action flicks or the obscure kung fu movies they’d both collected over the sixteen years they’d known each other. And if she was lucky, she could convince him to watch an occasional rom-com. Her eyes froze at the next item on her list: Vanessa. Not so easy.
Damien was currently dating his boss’s daughter. But from the few conversations Melanie had had with her best friend about the woman, it didn’t seem serious.
You’ve got this. Feeling confident about her next steps, she shoved her phone into her purse and smiled.
Melanie pushed open the front door and walked into a cacophony of car horns, skipping over a slush puddle and sidestepping a Chinese deliveryman. Everyone looked rushed and hurried like contestants on The Amazing Race. And she absolutely loved it. She’d miss her friends in Atlanta, but New York would be her new home. Her pulse skyrocketed at the thought of finally living within minutes of her best friend. Taking a cue from her new city, she picked up the pace to share her good news with Damien. Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me was now in action.