He breathes football. She shudders at the very mention of the sport.
After a tragedy involving a football player destroyed her family, athletic trainer and graduate student Cassie moves across the country looking for a fresh start, but a change in financial aid lands her in the middle of her worst nightmare. Meanwhile, rookie coach Reed worries his dream career will slip away as injuries plague his players and his star receiver teeters on the brink of ineligibility. As the two work together to salvage the season, sparks fly, and Reed must eventually choose between the game he cherishes and the woman he loves.
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103944/
Kindle - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013Z1S33Q/
Lets enjoy an excerpt from: CATCH OF A LIFETIME
“It’s about time you showed up.”
Cassie Parker stiffened and turned her attention from the retreating receptionist to the silver-haired football coach glaring across his desk.
“I’m sorry, but I only found out an hour ago that the university hired someone to teach aerobics and eliminated my graduate assistantship position. I understood that I wasn’t supposed to report until classes start next Monday.”
“Then I suppose it’s a good thing you decided to report early.” Coach Thomas raised an eyebrow and leaned back in his black leather chair.
He thought it was a good thing to have her hopes crash to the mat? Not exactly. But she’d trained for years to get back up after a fall.
If only getting up wasn’t so hard to face this time.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Just like Mom always said.
She squared her shoulders and removed an envelope from her handbag. “Like your receptionist said, I’m Cassie Parker—a new graduate student in the Health and Exercise Science program.” She unfolded the financial aid packet and slid the paperwork across the desktop.
She swallowed hard as he picked up the papers and read the first page. “You’re our newest academic adviser, since the guy we had lined up left with a family emergency.”
He flipped through the rest of the pages, snatched a pen from his holder, signed the last page with a flourish, and slid the papers back to her. Making the position official.
Feeling a little light-headed, she perched on the edge of a chair with her handbag in her lap. A tension headache pounded in her temples.
Maybe skipping lunch to save her dwindling cash hadn’t been such a good idea.
“So, Coach Thomas, what do I need to know?”
“We’re a Division I football team with a lot of work ahead of us if we’re going to win our conference championship or reach a Bowl game again. As you said, classes start Monday, and the first game against our in-state rival is less than two weeks away. Your primary job will be to help keep our athletes academically eligible.”
She wanted to ask for specifics on how she was expected to keep them “eligible.” Did they even know what a book was? Cassie bit her lip. Sometimes the fine line between being blunt and being mean challenged her.
The head coach rambled on about NCAA rules and regulations while printing out and handing her more papers. Team schedules for the next two weeks. Instructions to have her classes rescheduled for mornings. She hoped to find everything written down somewhere because, as if performing on the balance beam, she still teetered one misstep shy of an emotional collapse. Why had moving across the country to pursue her dream landed her in the middle of a nightmare?
She rubbed a hand over her aching forehead. In exchange for full tuition and a stipend for living expenses, she would be in frequent contact with football players. She glanced around the room in search of a miracle, but framed photographs or autographed footballs covered every surface. The walls crowded in, looming over her.
Just like in Judge Whitworth’s private chambers eighteen months ago. No miracle in sight. Could she really spend hours around jocks with egos the size of Texas and muscles to match? Of all the programs available, why did hers have to be football?
God, why are you doing this to me?
“Not to mention, with your undergrad degree, you can pitch in and help the training staff at practices and games,” Coach Thomas continued.
“Games?” Not even her weekends were safe. Her stomach hurt.
What other information had she missed?
“Yes, games. That’s what we do around here.” The sarcasm in the air threatened to strangle her. “Unless you don’t think you’re qualified.”
“Qualified?” Cassie frowned. “I can tape ankles with the best of them.”
“Hey, Boss?” A blond giant of a man rounded the corner and stopped. His pale blue eyes surveyed the room and widened when they landed on her—as if he’d never seen a girl in a dress before. A flash of appreciation appeared as his gaze swept over her, and a smile slowly formed. Spread.
Her heart thundered in response. Likely in dismay over the source, she decided. While she had wanted to look nice when meeting her new supervisor, she hadn’t felt the need to impress a bunch of football players. Yet here she sat, facing a handsome hulk, who—based on the Front Range University football logo on his dark green polo shirt—unfortunately counted as part of the enemy camp.
She weighed the benefit of the job against the violent impact of her past and decided she must try to get along.
She forced a weak smile and nodded a greeting.
The man seemed to gather his wits and turned toward the head coach. “I wondered—”
“Perfect timing. Cassie?” Coach Thomas stood. “This is Reed Worthington, our receivers’ coach. And, Reed, Cassie is our newest academic adviser and will also be helping the trainers.”
She extended her hand as good manners dictated. Reed’s huge palm squeezed her tiny bones. “Ouch.”
“Oops. Sorry.” Reed released her hand. Well-defined muscles bulged from his short sleeves.
Cassie rubbed the sting out of her crumpled fingers while trying to ignore the tingle of awareness his touch sparked. He probably spent hours in the weight room—and equal time staring at himself in the mirror. Probably had girls fawning all over him to ogle his bodybuilder physique. Likely all brawn, no brains.
“Reed? I need you to give Cassie a tour so she can find the academic center and training facilities. Then you can finish up that practice film before our staff meeting later.”
“No problem, Boss.” Reed’s deep voice was too cheery to fit her mood.
The man behind the desk found his first smile. “I told you to stop calling me that.”
“Sure thing … Boss.”
Another glance at the giant—who seemed so unlike a reed—revealed twinkling blue eyes and a dimpled cheek, as if he hid a smile. An expression that almost made her want to like him.
Candee, When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve loved stories since I first learned to read at age four, but I think the first time I discovered I was more than an academic-papers-for-school writer was in a college English class. I still remember feeling a buzz of energy as my imagination tackled a creative writing assignment and I couldn’t wait to write the short story that was playing out in my head. Of course, my writing skill wasn’t yet equal to the task of capturing the emotion of the scene, but despite my professor’s critique, I knew I’d found my sweet spot.
How much of yourself do you write into your characters?
Because I try to really get inside my characters and show the story through their eyes, I find a lot of my personal reactions and emotions from similar situations being poured out onto the page. In Catch of a Lifetime, Cassie dates a football coach who is a sore loser after one particular game. As she tries to cheer him up, I found myself echoing years of conversations I’ve had with my husband. In other aspects, I think I write my fantasies into the lives of my characters. After all, what little girl didn’t dream of being an Olympic gymnast while watching a television broadcast?
What is your favorite food?
Anything Italian with lots of cheese and garlic. Manicotti, lasagna, or even chicken parmesan with a side of hot breadsticks and a Caesar salad.
Of all the current technological marvels, which is your favorite and why?
I love my iPad mini. With the Kindle app, I have great books at my fingertips without losing my place. All of my social media platforms are there with one tap of the screen and I can jump in to interact with others quickly and easily. I use the notepad app to write drafts of blog posts and the reminders app to keep up with my to-do list. And when my brain needs a break, I love doing a jigsaw puzzle without losing or needing to turn over the pieces.
What is your favorite season of the year? What’s special about it for you?
My favorite season is Spring. Maybe it because of the long winter seasons in Colorado, but I’m always eager for the first hint of color from the bulbs in my flower bed or green leaves on the trees. I also like Spring because it feels like a re-birth of possibilities and opportunities and new growth. Somehow as the weather warms up, I find new energy for even the most ordinary tasks.
What is the hardest part in writing a story?
The first page of the first chapter is the hardest part for me. I love brainstorming and usually have a good framework for the characters and the pivotal scenes in the story before I start. But there’s just something about that first blank page that feels like climbing Mt. Everest. What I’ve tried most recently is to start writing the story about ten minutes before I think it should really start and use that time to get into character with a free-writing exercise of sorts. Once the juice is flowing and I’ve plowed ahead into the opening scene, often I’ll stumble upon that perfect opening line and cut everything before it.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle right now is my special needs daughter. Since she graduated from high school and moved into a job training program, she’s around the house more and my interruption-free hours have dwindled. I’ve tried to reserve those precious hours for creating new stories and the other times for editing and marketing, but there are days where I simply want to enjoy the quiet hours and recharge my internal batteries instead. I’m still trying to figure out a balance that will keep the necessary word count growing.
What can you tell us about your next project?
My next contracted book is tentatively titled Dance Over Me and is scheduled to release in September 2016. Set in a dinner theater, it tells the story of a fledgling actress searching for her long lost brother and her place on the stage. Of course, the hero hopes she’s the missing piece to his heart but fears the bright lights of fame will steal her away. Imagine tap dancing, Big Band trumpet playing, and a mixture of Broadway meets small town.
Candee, is giving away a copy of CATCH OF A LIFETIME at the end of the week. Please answer this question in your comment:
Since Catch of a Lifetime is about a football team, which team do you root for (could be high school up to the professionals) or do you prefer a different sport to play or follow?
Please, please, please leave some contact into in your comment. The blog must receive at lease 5 comments for the giveaway to progress. Print books limited to US addresses.
Candee Fick is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at football, basketball, baseball, and Special Olympics games. In what little free time remains, she enjoys exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.