The Gifted Groom

The Gifted Groom
Buy The Gifted Groom on Amazon
The Gifted Groom
By: Sarah Gay
Release Date: Jan. 29, 2019
Formats: Kindle
Series: Moore Family Romances (Book 1)
Collection: Sarah's Football Collection (Book 3)

Max Moore is known as the most gifted of the Texas Titan Triplets. Having refused to sign with the Titans unless they brought on his triplet brothers, Miles and Mason, Max expected to have a few more years with his brothers to raise their 15-year-old twin sisters.

Max’s job is to protect the quarterback from his blindside, but Max is unable to protect himself from being blindsided when his brothers are traded and cut from the team. When a striking woman purchases a date with him at a benefit auction, he knows his life is about to change.

Rosemary White, a columnist with the popular sports’ tabloid The Daily Sun, is given the assignment to purchase a date with the strapping NFL football star Maximillian Moore with the anticipation of uncovering his dark secrets in a sensational exposé. She needs her job to keep her family from losing their home, but when she finds herself falling in love with the handsome football player, her obligations to her family and employer are put to the test. Will she write the family secrets she’s uncovered, or will she choose to trust that Max’s love will protect her own heart from being blindsided?

Other books in the Sarah's Football Collection collection:

  1. The Forbidden Groom (book 1) by Sarah Gay
  2. The Storybook Groom (book 2) by Sarah Gay
  3. The Gifted Groom (this book)

Excerpt

Chapter 1

"Max Moore," said Rosemary, her fingers resting on the black keys of her keyboard. The guy's photo took up her entire computer monitor. The NFL football player was the size of the Hulk. Were girls really attracted to that?

If she looked past his bulk, he wasn't all bad. She leaned in on her elbow and rested her chin on the palm of her hand as she examined his face. In most of the photographs she'd scrolled through over the past half hour, he had a plastic smile on his face, but there was one photo she kept coming back to—an action shot where he was plowing through two of the other team's defenders with a competitive smile that said, "Try to get past me to sack the quarterback and see what happens."

In his photos off the field, his red hair was cut just long enough for soft curls to form, and his green eyes weren't hideous. She'd imagined him as a troll of sorts when she'd first been given the assignment to write a piece on him. She couldn't deny that his face was handsome, but there had to be something menacing in that beautiful head of his that she could write about. Everyone had a dark side, especially pro athletes. She had to find and exploit that corrupted part of him for her article to make it past her editor.

Rosemary had always dated the artsy type—the guy who played the guitar at lunch or starred in the high school play. She'd never spent more than two minutes in conversation with a guy on the football team during high school or college. How did her editor expect her to write a compelling tabloid about this guy when Rosemary had never even spoken to a conceited jock like him before?

"Why didn't Ginger ask me to write about Maximillian Moore?" Cassie asked with a sultry whistle as she glided to a stop behind Rosemary's office chair. "I have all his stats memorized."

Rosemary twisted her swivel office chair around to face Cassie. "Maybe because you're infatuated with the man and could never write an honest piece about him." Cassie was thirty-four, ten years older than Rosemary, but the age gap didn't stop them from being good friends. "Trade me for the article on the Olympic Committee corruption, and it's yours."

"You can't trade articles!" Ginger screamed from her glass-enclosed office.

"How did she hear us?" whispered Cassie.

"I hear everything. George, get in here. Something amazing just landed in our laps."

Rosemary, known to her readers as George Eliot, stood from her desk in the center of the open office and shook off her nerves. Goose bumps tingled up her back with anticipation. This could be the life-altering assignment she'd been waiting for. This could open new doors for her with other publications. Being a reporter for one of the top sports and celebrity gossip magazines in the nation didn't give Rosemary the opportunity to moisten her chops with riveting political strife. She'd chosen a career in journalism based on her desire to be an advocate for the underdog. For now, she was the dog at the bottom of the pile, but at least the dog pile paid well—and right now, money was what she needed.

"Georgie, Georgie, wait till you hear this," Ginger said in her New York accent, flicking her red pen in the air with a devious twinkle in her eye. Ginger's white hair, vibrant with streaks of midnight blue, lightly brushed her shoulders as she paced behind her desk.

Rosemary hated being called Georgie, but she didn't dare tell her editor that. She'd seen what happened to young columnists who upset Ginger, and it wasn't pretty. Rosemary needed this job to keep her family from losing their home in the posh University Park neighborhood she'd grown up in.

Keeping up the appearance of affluence wasn't easy. Nearly all of Rosemary's current income went to sustaining the Whites' lifestyle, but it still wasn't enough. If they didn't come up with fifty grand within the next three months, they'd lose their home—the only home Rosemary had ever known.

Ginger pointed her pen at Rosemary. "I found a way to get an exclusive on the Moore dynasty—or shall we say, the mysterious death of the Moores?"

Rosemary sat in the furry white chair in front of Ginger's glass-topped chrome desk and waited. She knew well enough to simply sit and listen until Ginger finished speaking. With every ticking second, the air in the room grew heavier. Rosemary's heart sped with the anticipation of getting that big assignment, the one that would yank her out of obscurity.

Ginger stopped pacing, slapped her palms down on her desk, and leaned over as if she were about to do a few push-ups off her desk. She narrowed her eyes at Rosemary. "We just received approval for the funds, and your name has been added as a signer for the charity arm of our company. You're going to buy a date with Max Moore at the annual Titans benefit auction tonight."

Rosemary gasped. This wasn't the break she was hoping for; this was a nightmare. She swallowed down the rising lump in her throat and scrunched her nose in disgust. "I am?"

"No objections. You're the prettiest of my columnists, and you have a sharp mind. You'll write the article. We have a chance here to become the number-one-read sports tabloid in the nation. If you give me what I want, George, I'll promote you to associate editor."

Rosemary nearly leapt out of her seat and did a happy dance. As associate editor, her income would double. If Rosemary believed in a higher power the way Cassie and the other ninety-nine percent of Texans did, she would have shouted Amen! Instead, she clapped her hands and jumped up. "I'd better get ready. What do I wear?"

"Think pretty, unintelligent reality television socialite. The opposite of George Eliot. You're going as Rose White tonight, the intoxicatingly beautiful, flighty rich girl."

It stung to hear her given name used so perversely, but she didn't correct Ginger. Her full given name was Rosemary Anne Evans White: Rose after her maternal grandmother, and Mary Anne Evans after the British Victorian writer and social reformer.

Her parents had told her that a name could shape her destiny, as it did with Martin Luther King Jr., the greatest social reformer of the last century. After a tour of Germany in 1934, where Michael King Sr. learned about the great religious reformer, Martin Luther, Michael King Sr. changed his name and his son's from Michael King to Martin Luther King, after the German reformer.

Her mother had hoped that if she named her daughter after a social reformer who helped the progress of women in Great Britain with her literary works, Rosemary would become a voice for reform as well.

Rosemary's altruistic and academic upbringing clashed with the thought of hanging off a football player's arm like a trophy. Her stomach churned. "Is it okay if I vomit?"

"You'll be playing the insecure, materialistic, oblivious debutante—of course you'll purge, but save that for the date itself. I don't want you leaving the room tonight until the bidding has concluded with you holding that golden ticket in your hand."

As much as she hated the idea of acting like a ditzy YouTube celebrity, she couldn't allow her feelings to prevent her from an opportunity that would catapult her career. With this promotion, she'd be one step closer to changing the world and paying off her parents' debt. "Wait." Rosemary raised her arm and wrinkled her forehead, thinking back on what Ginger had said. "You said on a date?"

"Yes. You'll be bidding on Max Moore tonight for a date. You'll win the bid, then you'll interview him on the date." Ginger walked around her desk and positioned herself directly in front of Rosemary. "If you don't get the information you need to write the article on the first date, I'll expect you to continue to see him until you do."

Rosemary hadn't signed up to be an escort. "Why not just pay him for an interview?"

"His family is extremely private." Ginger sighed. "Do you really think he'll divulge the nitty-gritty information we need in a contracted interview? Reporters can barely get three words out of the guy." She arched her right brow. "But he might open up to his pretty girlfriend."

"Whoa." Rosemary waved her hands in front of her chest. "Too intimate. I'll never be able to pull that one off. I don't think I'd be able to convince anyone that I like Max Moore."

Ginger wove her fingers together and leaned down to Rosemary's ear. As Ginger's hair tickled the side of Rosemary's face, Rosemary could almost taste fresh lemonade as she breathed in Ginger's fresh citrus scent.

Ginger's voice was soft and slow. "We need this article, or we'll all be replaced." She sat up and glanced over at Cassie. "All of us. You can do this, George. To hide your distaste for the man, play up the good Christian girl bit. According to everything I've read about Max, he's an honorable Christian boy."

"But I wasn't raised to be religious."

"Neither was I," Ginger said. "But do you think I shout that to the hills in this town?" She rested her hand on Rosemary's shoulder. "I have full confidence in you, Georgie. Now go do some serious undercover investigating."

Chapter 2

"Max Moore," said Rosemary, her fingers resting on the black keys of her keyboard. The guy's photo took up her entire computer monitor. The NFL football player was the size of the Hulk. Were girls really attracted to that?

If she looked past his bulk, he wasn't all bad. She leaned in on her elbow and rested her chin on the palm of her hand as she examined his face. In most of the photographs she'd scrolled through over the past half hour, he had a plastic smile on his face, but there was one photo she kept coming back to—an action shot where he was plowing through two of the other team's defenders with a competitive smile that said, "Try to get past me to sack the quarterback and see what happens."

In his photos off the field, his red hair was cut just long enough for soft curls to form, and his green eyes weren't hideous. She'd imagined him as a troll of sorts when she'd first been given the assignment to write a piece on him. She couldn't deny that his face was handsome, but there had to be something menacing in that beautiful head of his that she could write about. Everyone had a dark side, especially pro athletes. She had to find and exploit that corrupted part of him for her article to make it past her editor.

Rosemary had always dated the artsy type—the guy who played the guitar at lunch or starred in the high school play. She'd never spent more than two minutes in conversation with a guy on the football team during high school or college. How did her editor expect her to write a compelling tabloid about this guy when Rosemary had never even spoken to a conceited jock like him before?

"Why didn't Ginger ask me to write about Maximillian Moore?" Cassie asked with a sultry whistle as she glided to a stop behind Rosemary's office chair. "I have all his stats memorized."

Rosemary twisted her swivel office chair around to face Cassie. "Maybe because you're infatuated with the man and could never write an honest piece about him." Cassie was thirty-four, ten years older than Rosemary, but the age gap didn't stop them from being good friends. "Trade me for the article on the Olympic Committee corruption, and it's yours."

"You can't trade articles!" Ginger screamed from her glass-enclosed office.

"How did she hear us?" whispered Cassie.

"I hear everything. George, get in here. Something amazing just landed in our laps."

Rosemary, known to her readers as George Eliot, stood from her desk in the center of the open office and shook off her nerves. Goose bumps tingled up her back with anticipation. This could be the life-altering assignment she'd been waiting for. This could open new doors for her with other publications. Being a reporter for one of the top sports and celebrity gossip magazines in the nation didn't give Rosemary the opportunity to moisten her chops with riveting political strife. She'd chosen a career in journalism based on her desire to be an advocate for the underdog. For now, she was the dog at the bottom of the pile, but at least the dog pile paid well—and right now, money was what she needed.

"Georgie, Georgie, wait till you hear this," Ginger said in her New York accent, flicking her red pen in the air with a devious twinkle in her eye. Ginger's white hair, vibrant with streaks of midnight blue, lightly brushed her shoulders as she paced behind her desk.

Rosemary hated being called Georgie, but she didn't dare tell her editor that. She'd seen what happened to young columnists who upset Ginger, and it wasn't pretty. Rosemary needed this job to keep her family from losing their home in the posh University Park neighborhood she'd grown up in.

Keeping up the appearance of affluence wasn't easy. Nearly all of Rosemary's current income went to sustaining the Whites' lifestyle, but it still wasn't enough. If they didn't come up with fifty grand within the next three months, they'd lose their home—the only home Rosemary had ever known.

Ginger pointed her pen at Rosemary. "I found a way to get an exclusive on the Moore dynasty—or shall we say, the mysterious death of the Moores?"

Rosemary sat in the furry white chair in front of Ginger's glass-topped chrome desk and waited. She knew well enough to simply sit and listen until Ginger finished speaking. With every ticking second, the air in the room grew heavier. Rosemary's heart sped with the anticipation of getting that big assignment, the one that would yank her out of obscurity.

Ginger stopped pacing, slapped her palms down on her desk, and leaned over as if she were about to do a few push-ups off her desk. She narrowed her eyes at Rosemary. "We just received approval for the funds, and your name has been added as a signer for the charity arm of our company. You're going to buy a date with Max Moore at the annual Titans benefit auction tonight."

Rosemary gasped. This wasn't the break she was hoping for; this was a nightmare. She swallowed down the rising lump in her throat and scrunched her nose in disgust. "I am?"

"No objections. You're the prettiest of my columnists, and you have a sharp mind. You'll write the article. We have a chance here to become the number-one-read sports tabloid in the nation. If you give me what I want, George, I'll promote you to associate editor."

Rosemary nearly leapt out of her seat and did a happy dance. As associate editor, her income would double. If Rosemary believed in a higher power the way Cassie and the other ninety-nine percent of Texans did, she would have shouted Amen! Instead, she clapped her hands and jumped up. "I'd better get ready. What do I wear?"

"Think pretty, unintelligent reality television socialite. The opposite of George Eliot. You're going as Rose White tonight, the intoxicatingly beautiful, flighty rich girl."

It stung to hear her given name used so perversely, but she didn't correct Ginger. Her full given name was Rosemary Anne Evans White: Rose after her maternal grandmother, and Mary Anne Evans after the British Victorian writer and social reformer.

Her parents had told her that a name could shape her destiny, as it did with Martin Luther King Jr., the greatest social reformer of the last century. After a tour of Germany in 1934, where Michael King Sr. learned about the great religious reformer, Martin Luther, Michael King Sr. changed his name and his son's from Michael King to Martin Luther King, after the German reformer.

Her mother had hoped that if she named her daughter after a social reformer who helped the progress of women in Great Britain with her literary works, Rosemary would become a voice for reform as well.

Rosemary's altruistic and academic upbringing clashed with the thought of hanging off a football player's arm like a trophy. Her stomach churned. "Is it okay if I vomit?"

"You'll be playing the insecure, materialistic, oblivious debutante—of course you'll purge, but save that for the date itself. I don't want you leaving the room tonight until the bidding has concluded with you holding that golden ticket in your hand."

As much as she hated the idea of acting like a ditzy YouTube celebrity, she couldn't allow her feelings to prevent her from an opportunity that would catapult her career. With this promotion, she'd be one step closer to changing the world and paying off her parents' debt. "Wait." Rosemary raised her arm and wrinkled her forehead, thinking back on what Ginger had said. "You said on a date?"

"Yes. You'll be bidding on Max Moore tonight for a date. You'll win the bid, then you'll interview him on the date." Ginger walked around her desk and positioned herself directly in front of Rosemary. "If you don't get the information you need to write the article on the first date, I'll expect you to continue to see him until you do."

Rosemary hadn't signed up to be an escort. "Why not just pay him for an interview?"

"His family is extremely private." Ginger sighed. "Do you really think he'll divulge the nitty-gritty information we need in a contracted interview? Reporters can barely get three words out of the guy." She arched her right brow. "But he might open up to his pretty girlfriend."

"Whoa." Rosemary waved her hands in front of her chest. "Too intimate. I'll never be able to pull that one off. I don't think I'd be able to convince anyone that I like Max Moore."

Ginger wove her fingers together and leaned down to Rosemary's ear. As Ginger's hair tickled the side of Rosemary's face, Rosemary could almost taste fresh lemonade as she breathed in Ginger's fresh citrus scent.

Ginger's voice was soft and slow. "We need this article, or we'll all be replaced." She sat up and glanced over at Cassie. "All of us. You can do this, George. To hide your distaste for the man, play up the good Christian girl bit. According to everything I've read about Max, he's an honorable Christian boy."

"But I wasn't raised to be religious."

"Neither was I," Ginger said. "But do you think I shout that to the hills in this town?" She rested her hand on Rosemary's shoulder. "I have full confidence in you, Georgie. Now go do some serious undercover investigating."