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Third and Long by Kata Cuic

*~🏈~*~RELEASE BLITZ~*~🏈~*
Book 3 in the Moving the Chains Series
is live and available for purchase!

Not everyone plays by the rules.

Eva Papageorgiou has it all: the popularity that always felt so elusive in high school, looks that men can’t ignore, and a boyfriend that other women covet. She’s gorgeous, powerful; she has the world at her fingertips.

And it’s all a lie. 

The problem with living a lie is how easy it is to forget who you’re lying to. Eva’s time to withdraw into the shadows has expired, courtesy of Rob’s rising fame. Her only option is to hide in plain sight.
Amid all the chaos, Rob is her safe escape from it all. They continue to be stronger together than they ever could be on their own. 
Until being together is what tears them apart. 

Rob Falls has everything he’s ever wanted: his dream girl, a winning team, respect from everyone. He’s at the top of his game, with a Heisman nod on the horizon, and the potential to be a first-round draft pick.

And it’s all crumbling before his eyes.

The mounting pressure of being an athlete at the next level while doing all he can to protect Eva takes its toll. He doesn’t sleep enough, he worries constantly, and he’s torn wanting to be in two places at once.
Rob never imagined the day he’d have to choose between fame and love. 

Sometimes life makes choices for us.

With the game and their hearts on the line, will Rob and Eva keep their secrets hidden? Or will they reveal everything to each other, to themselves, to the world…only to lose it all?

Grab First and Goal, on sale for $.99 until April 20. This is the first book in the Moving the Chains series, which must be read in order.

Second Down, the second book in the Moving the Chains series, is on sale for $1.99 until April 20.

Chapter 1
Ever After

It’s freshman move-in day on State’s campus. This place is a freaking zoo. I lost Mama and the rest of my family in her minivan a few lights back. Pedestrians are as much a danger to the cars as the cars are to them. There’s no way my manual transmission skills would’ve held up to this amount of idling a few months ago. The Lady and I are mutually respecting mistresses to one Robert Falls these days.
Speak of the devil.
Maneuvering the Mustang into an empty parking spot near my dorm, I spy the larger than life form of my boyfriend across the street. He’s a sight for sore eyes, perched on a low brick wall, talking and laughing animatedly with the guy next to him though his gaze is trained on me. I suspect he noticed The Lady crawling through traffic before I ever saw him.
I open the door, not breaking eye contact. He leaps through the congested street, dodging cars like some deranged real life version of a video game. My heart pounds a little harder in my chest with every millimeter of distance he covers. It’s clear his athleticism has grown during these last few weeks. Although his build seems smaller than I remember, his movements are agile, almost dancer-like in their grace. That might be from all the dance lessons in middle school, though. By the time I have the door closed, he’s in a full-on sprint through the parking lot.
His buddy is on his heels, calling to him in confusion.
“There are my girls!” Rob yells in response.
Then he’s here.
The overwhelming joy at being reunited with my best friend courses through my body like an electrical current. For a split second, my brain misfires and goes offline. I throw myself at him, not caring about any possible spectacle we might make. He catches me easily, hoisting me up to his waist as I wrap my arms and legs around him. I bury my face in his neck, inhaling deep his familiar calming scent. For better or worse, he smells like home and safety. Rob has a death grip on me, his face buried in my hair.
Being in Rob’s arms once again is akin to having a severed limb restored. No more phantom pain. No more dreaming of its existence. I’m whole again.
“God, I missed you so much,” he mumbles into my ear.
I peel myself away from his comfort to study his face. My eyes drink him up, thirsty for a long-denied quenching. His hair is lighter after so many days spent practicing in the sun. He desperately needs a haircut. His skin is a golden brown; his chameleon eyes I love so much sparkle with happiness. The wide smile on his face deepens the dimple in his right cheek.
He looks so genuinely good and happy.
“Evie, if you don’t kiss me soon, I’m going to completely lose it.”
“Well, we can’t have that now, can we?” I tip my face to him and become lost to everything else.
The sensations are blinding in their brilliance—his taste, the feel of his lips on mine, our tongues dancing together in a rhythm that is both slow and sweet while simultaneously fraught with intensity. I press my hands against his smooth cheeks as he drives his tongue deeper into my mouth, making up for lost time. He finally breaks the kiss, but never pulls his lips away.
“Evie, if you don’t stop kissing me soon, I’m going to be humping The Lady’s door. And we definitely can’t have that.” His mouth spreads into a smile against my own. Mutual laughter rumbles through our entwined bodies.
He might just be joking around for my sake. My legs are wrapped around his waist, so it’s impossible for me to feel if he’s as aroused as he claims. It’s only been a few weeks since we’ve seen each other. The hope it was enough time to heal him is a fragile but living thing that takes up residence in my heart.
“I don’t see what the problem is, Superjock. You’ve probably humped her before.”
“Oh my God. Not ever.” His laughter is contagious.
Rob left The Lady in my care when he went to training camp since he wasn’t allowed to bring his car to campus. His reasoning for not keeping her safely tucked away in his parents’ garage? Tini had just gotten her driver’s license and we would’ve been sharing my car. And he absolutely couldn’t have his beloved Mustang collecting dust in the garage. He explained that to keep the engine in pristine working order, she needed to be loved at least once a day. It was a win for everyone.
In all honesty, I think it was just another way for Rob to stick it to his dad and make it clear to him that I’m a part of Rob’s life for good. Everyone knows Rob loves that car and doesn’t trust it to just anyone.
“Did you treat my girl right?” he asks in all seriousness.
I blink at him slowly. “I’m quite proficient at making love to your girl now, thank you very much.”
Rob places a quick kiss on the tip of my nose. “Ssh. I was talking to The Lady.”
“Jesus, Falls. You always just take what you want, don’t ya?”
Rob’s muscles tense under my hands and instantly his expression turns cold. “No,” he whispers so only I can hear. “Never that.”
Our heads turn in the direction of the killjoy.
All right, who is this jerk and why did he have to go and ruin Rob’s mood so spectacularly?
I hop down from my perch, waiting in silence until Rob makes with the introductions.
The smile he has plastered on his face is real, but less intense. “Evie, meet TJ Kaminski, our starting tight end. He’s another true freshman. TJ, this is Evie.”
TJ extends his hand, which I take grudgingly. “I’ve heard a lot about you, Evie. Nice to finally meet you in person.”
I cross my arms over my chest. “I’ve also heard a lot about you, TJ.”
“Been talkin’ about me to your girl, Falls?” TJ shoots Rob a mega-watt grin.
Rob quirks an eyebrow at him. “Nope.”
“My knowledge comes courtesy of the internet.”
TJ laughs. “Don’t believe everything on there, sweetheart. Only half of it is true.”
Leaning back against the car, my mind is working overtime to get a beat on this guy. Sure, he made a lousy first impression by dousing Rob’s joy, but he seems okay. Time will tell, I suppose. “Numbers don’t lie, Mr. Kaminski. And yours are pretty good.”
“Straight shooter, huh? I like that. I think you and Harper are gonna get along just fine.”
I cut my gaze to Rob. “Who’s Harper?”
“Harper is TJ’s girlfriend. She’s moving in today, too. Figure you two will probably be spending a lot of time together during the season.” He brings his lips to my ear to whisper, “And I haven’t even met her, but I’m sure she’s way nicer than Chelsie.”
“Yep, and my baby should be arriving any minute, so I’ll leave you to it. We should all head out to dinner together after we’re done unpacking,” TJ offers.
Rob looks past me into his car, which is stuffed to the gills with boxes, crates, and clothes. “This might take a while.”
“Yeah, I’m sure it will. God only knows what Harper’s bringing.” He rolls his eyes even as he chuckles.
Both of their phones ding with incoming texts at the same time, and they exchange worried glances.
“Fuck. I thought this shit would end with training camp,” TJ moans.
TJ isn’t a bad looking guy, but his handsome face morphs into a furious expression as he reads. His hazel eyes snap up to Rob. Both men have similar builds and heights. Where Rob’s usually sandy brown hair has been sun bleached to nearly blonde, TJ’s brown hair is shot with red. They’re both practically vibrating with anger.
“You think they did this to all the new recruits or just a select few of us?” TJ bites out.
“I think we both know the answer to that,” Rob returns.
TJ paces back and forth a few steps, clasping his hands behind his neck. “Harper’s gonna be here any minute. What am I supposed to tell her, man?” He stops, then looks at us with a hopeful expression. “Maybe they won’t know. We can just make up a bunch of numbers and turn those in.”
“You know they’re watchin’ us, TJ. Don’t be stupid. We’ve just gotta jump through the hoops until things settle down and the team gels. Text Harper and let her know something came up, and that you’ll meet her when we’re done.”
While Rob is busy talking to his teammate, I snatch his cell out of his hand. Something’s got them both worked up.

Big Daddy: It’s move in day, pussies!
Go help some fresh bitches.
Score some digits.
Ur not done til you got 20.
Bonus points 4 more.
Punishments 4 less.

A laugh bubbles out of my throat. It’s the only thing tamping down my rage. “Who the hell is Big Daddy?”
“Someone who suddenly has too much time on his hands,” Rob mutters. He pockets his phone when I hand it back to him, then places his hands on my shoulders. “I’m sorry, honey. This is probably gonna take forever, but I gotta go.” He runs a hand through his hair. “I couldn’t even ask you for your phone number all those years. Not sure how I’m gonna get twenty of them I don’t even want.”
More stupid laughter from me. “Please, Rob. You won’t have to ask. They’ll give them freely.”
“Hey, I gotta split. Harper just got here. I’m gonna go explain.” TJ takes off before either of us can respond.
Rob turns his sorrowful blue eyes back to me. “You know it doesn’t mean anything to me, Evie. It’s just some stupid hazing.” He plants a soft kiss on my lips. “And when I get back? You can personally delete them all.”
I watch as he walks away, shaking his head, his shoulders squared.
And so it begins.

***Author Bio and links for blog posts are below.***

Kata lives in the greater Pittsburgh, PA region with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing or rewriting or editing or staring at the infuriating blinking cursor on her screen, she’s reading. This tends to be a point of contention with the aforementioned family since Kata can’t put a book down once she reads the first line. It’s all or nothing in a matter of hours. Binge reading tends to be detrimental to domestic goddess/supermom duties. Caffeine, wine, and natural insomnia are constant bolsters in the pursuit of getting everything done.
She has a degree in Linguistics and is, in fact, fluent in several American English dialects including Pittsburghese and sarcasm. She’s eternally grateful to be a part of the last generation to go through college without social media documenting the entire ordeal.
All she wanted was to write a story she couldn’t get out of her head. Unfortunately, things in life tend to snowball faster than her husband on the mountain at a ski resort. After penning her first book which turned into three separate manuscripts in a series, she realized she might have a problem. Life hasn’t been the same since.
She loves long walks on the beach, romantic candlelight dinners, and holding hands. Just kidding. Her true loves are football, steak and Buffalo wings, the occasional blizzard, bonfires with friends and family, and learning new things.
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