Back In The Game is the follow-up to Playing By The Rules. It follows Caleb’s best friend, Becky, as she gets back in the dating game, the volleyball game, and the game of life.
Becky’s been going through the motions of life since her husband, Brian, was killed by a drunk driver five and a half years ago. Becky lost herself in depression when Brian died, only to be pulled out over and over again by Caleb. She finally joined the living when she realized she had to be there for her daughters, only two and four when their daddy died.
Becky never wanted to live again. She went through the motions, but it was all a facade for her. She was there for her girls, but other than that, she was just there.
Watching Caleb find love with Amber made Becky reevaluate her life and she started thinking about moving on. If she was honest, she was lonely. But she wasn’t interested in falling in love again, just in finding companionship.
Matt Davoli watched Becky for years, wishing he could have a woman like her. She was a great mom and always had a smile for everyone, not to mention she was hotter than the pizza oven in the back of the restaurant.
There was only one problem – Becky was married. Or at least that’s what Matt thought.
When he tells her how sorry he is that her asshole husband left her, Becky’s feisty friend straightens him out telling him not only is she single, but the asshole husband was killed by a drunk driver and the guy Matt thought was such a jerk was really her best friend who’d helped her keep her life together.
Matt didn’t think he’d ever screwed up so spectacularly.
He spent days thinking about the pained expression on her face after she ran out on him and took whatever chance he had to make it up to her, including free dinner, pizza for her whole family, and sharing his most embarrassing story. Ever.
The sparks that flew between Matt and Becky kept them both coming back for more, even though neither wanted anything other than someone to spend time with. As their time together started to mean more to both of them they had a choice to make, come clean and admit how they feel or cut their losses and part ways.
Excerpt from Back In The Game
Lost in her thoughts about Chloe, and dating again, Becky didn’t notice Matt walking over to their table. When he set the food down in front of Becky she jumped.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said. His voice was smooth and rich, like the cheese heavily applied to the pizza in front of her. Her mouth watered, although she was pretty sure it was from him and not the delicious smell of pizza wafting over her.
“It’s okay,” Becky mumbled. She didn’t want to talk to him. She knew nothing good could come of hearing his voice more than she had to. It would only haunt her dreams and make her think about him when he wasn’t there.
“Listen,” Matt said. He slid into the seat opposite Becky and glanced behind him toward the bathroom. Chloe still wasn’t in sight and they were relatively alone. Becky watched as he took a deep breath and seemed to gain confidence from the air. “I know it’s none of my business, but I wanted to tell you I’m sorry about your husband. It eats me up inside whenever I see you in here and I just couldn’t keep quiet any longer.”
“Thanks,” Becky said. She knew he was being polite, but he made it sound like Brian died a week ago instead of over five years ago.
“I mean it. I just think he’s such a jerk for leaving you the way he did. So public. It just made me sick that he did that to you.”
Becky sat and stared at him, astonished and pissed. How dare he? Brian didn’t do it on purpose and he’s making it sound like he chose to die. Like he stepped in front of that drunk driver. The nerve of that guy!
Chloe walked up and looked back and forth between them. Matt jumped up and let her have her seat. He gave Becky a half-smile and headed back behind the counter.
“What was that all about?” Chloe asked with a sly smile. She must have seen the horror, anger, and sorrow on Becky’s face because she quickly changed her tune. “Whoa. What did he say to you?”
Becky swiped angrily at the tears running down her cheeks. “He told me he’s sorry Brian left me like he did. He said he was a jerk.”
“What?” Chloe bellowed. Her hands balled into fists as she stood up. “Go to the car. I’ll get boxes and meet you at the beach. We’re not going to stay here and take that shit.”
Becky stood and felt her legs move to the door. She vaguely heard Chloe behind her and pushed her way through the door, barely able to move to her car. She started her car and drove toward the beach, putting that asshole behind her.
Matt nearly ran into the back when he saw Chloe coming straight for the counter. He’d just dropped their pizza off and said something to Becky Callahan. He’d been watching her for years, with her husband and two daughters. And he couldn’t take it anymore that she was alone with her kids. She’d been haunting his fantasies, but since he found out she was single again she’d taken up the starring role. But he knew better than to mess around with a single mom, especially one who was still dealing with her husband leaving her.
“What the fuck is your problem?” Chloe’s voice brought him back to the reality in front of him. “Who do you think you are talking to her like that?”
He fixed her with a glare that should have had her peeing her pants. Instead, she stood tall, looking up at him from nearly a foot below. Her nostrils flared and her chest heaved with the anger inside her. Her green eyes burned bright, almost like she was trying to burn him.
“I just told her I was sorry. Her ex is an asshole. That he left her with the two girls and has the nerve to run around with another woman all over town. I’ve nearly punched him a few times, but I knew it wouldn’t solve anything. Still, he’s an ass.”
Chloe shook her head and recognition dawned on her. “Actually, you’re the ass. Are you talking about the guy with close-cut dark brown hair, brown eyes, always comes here after softball games and is now dating the pretty woman with long brown hair and striking blue eyes?”
Matt was confused. He nodded and waited for the explanation that seemed to be right behind the description of Becky’s cheating husband.
“You shithead. That’s not her husband, that’s her friend. Actually her husband’s best friend. Her husband was a cop. And he was killed, five years ago, by a drunk driver. So the cheating asshole you’ve been pissed at wasn’t doing anything wrong. And the man you just insulted, was a devoted, loving husband until his life was stolen from him.”
Matt felt like someone had taken all the air out of the restaurant. He wondered how he could have been so wrong. Instantly he knew. They’d all been two years younger than him in high school and he’d never given any of them much thought. It was only in the last year or two he’d noticed Becky. Obviously he’d only seen her with Caleb, so he assumed.
“Oh, shit. I had no idea. Fuck, she must think I’m such an ass.”
“Actually, yeah, that’s exactly what she said.”
“Shit,” Matt looked out the door and saw Becky pull out. “I need to go talk to her. Do you know where she went?”
Chloe smiled and tilted her head at him. “Yeah, I know exactly where she’s going. But I’m not telling you. You stay the hell away from her.”
And with that Chloe stormed away from him. Matt stood watching her as she boxed up their pizza. He felt like a complete shit. It figures he would piss off the only woman to get his motor going in months, hell maybe years. ‘Fuck,’ he thought, ‘she’ll never talk to me now.’