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Imaginary Lines

Allison Parr

  Imaginary Lines

  By Allison Parr

  Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She’d always considered it destiny that they’d end up together...until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and it’s nothing she’ll ever forget.

  Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York’s premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she’s felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

  But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar’s decided to move on, Abe’s realized she’s the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who’s been holding her back all these years.

  Read more about the New York Leopards in Rush Me and Running Back, available now!

  82,000 words

  Dear Reader,

  I’m jumping right into it this month because New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey’s next book in the Kowalski series is out in both digital and print at the end of April. Taken with You is the story of girlie-girl librarian, Hailey. She’s easy to get along with, is a small-town girl who loves where she lives, but she also loves nice clothes and fine dining and is looking for a guy who will be there when she comes home at night, and who will dress up and take her out to something a little more upscale than the local diner. It’s also the story of Matt, a hunky forest ranger who loves the outdoors, loves his dog, and is looking for a woman who doesn’t mind his erratic hours, will take a muddy ride on an ATV and won’t kick him out of the house when he walks in covered in dirt. Needless to say, these two opposites attract when Matt moves in next door to Hailey, and their story will take you on a wonderful romantic rollercoaster that will leave you with that happy-book sigh at the end.

  If you love the TV show Scandal, have I got a new series for you. In Emma Barry’s Washington, D.C.-set, politically charged Special Interests, a shy labor organizer and an arrogant congressional aide clash over the federal budget but find love the more difficult negotiation.

  April also brings a week of sports-related romance releases at Carina Press and we have six fantastic, very different contemporary sports romances being added to our already fantastic sports romance lineup. Allison Parr’s Imaginary Lines continues her new adult series. Tamar fell hopelessly in love with Abraham Krasner at age twelve, but knew he’d never see her as more than the girl next door—until years later, she gets a sports journalist position covering the NFL team Abe plays for...

  Author Michele Mannon follows up Knock Out with Tap Out. Underwear model and playboy extraordinaire Caden Kelly will let nothing stop his come-back as an MMA fighter, especially a red-headed busy-bodied reporter hell bent on ruining his shot at a title. Meanwhile, Kat Latham writes the London Legends series about the world’s hottest rugby team. Book two, Playing It Close, features the team captain and a scandalous woman with whom he spent one passionate night and never thought he’d see again—until she turns out to be his team’s newest sponsor.

  Kate Willoughby brings the on-the-ice action when a hunky hockey player falls helmet over skates for a nurse, but has to convince her he’s not the typical different-puck-bunny-every-day athlete in On the Surface. In a much more warmer-weather sport, professional tennis player Regan Hunter’s temper is as notorious as her unstoppable serve, but love and ambition will go head-to-head when she meets former player-turned-coach Ben Percy. Check out Love in Straight Sets by Rebecca Crowley.

  And because we can’t leave out America’s favorite sport, Rhonda Shaw’s The Ace brings us a sexy baseball romance in a follow-up to her debut, The Changeup. “Love ’em and leave ‘em” is real estate agent Karen Bently’s motto—that is until her longtime crush, ace pitcher Jerry Smutton, sets her in his sights and offers her a proposal she can’t resist.

  But it’s not all contemporary romance all the time in April. We have an eclectic selection of books from a lineup of talented authors (as always, right?). R.L. Naquin is back with her popular Monster Haven series. If you haven’t checked out this fun, sometimes zany, but always adorable series, look for book one, Monster in My Closet, at all of our retail digital partners. This month’s installment, Golem in My Glovebox, finds crazy shenanigans mix with a gruesome, cross-country trail of clues, as Zoey and Riley attempt to save the rest of the country’s Aegises—and ultimately, Zoey’s lost mother.

  PJ Schnyder is wrapping up her London Undead trilogy with Survive to Dawn, in which werewolf and pack medic, Danny, must choose between his Alpha’s orders and the human witch who might have the cure to the zombie plague. And in the second installment of the Once Upon a Red World science fiction romance saga from Jael Wye, the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk unfolds on a devastated Earth 300 years in the future in Ladder to the Red Star.

  A.J. Larrieu debuts with her first full-length paranormal romance novel, Twisted Miracles. A reluctant telekinetic is drawn back to New Orleans’ supernatural underworld when her friend goes missing, but once she’s there, she finds her powers—and her attraction to the sexy ex-boyfriend who trained her—are stronger than ever. Talented fantasy author Angela Highland is back with Rebels of Adalonia book two in her epic fantasy Vengeance of the Hunter. As rebellion ignites across Adalonia, the healer Faanshi must save both the Hawk Kestar Vaarsen and the assassin Julian—the one from magical annihilation at the hands of his Church, and the other from a path of revenge.

  For mystery fans, we welcome author Delynn Royer to Carina Press with her book, It Had to Be You. An ambitious tabloid reporter stumbles upon the story of her career when she joins up with a jaded homicide detective to solve the Central Park murder of a notorious bootlegger in 1920s Manhattan.

  Rounding out the April lineup is a book for all Regency historical romance fans. Wendy Soliman’s Forsters series wraps up with Romancing the Runaway. When Miranda and Gabe discover her childhood home has been stripped of all its valuables, Gabe uncovers more to the old house than either of them had imagined. And with Gabe’s safety hanging in the balance, Miranda is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice...

  I’m confident you’ll find something to love among these books and I hope we provide you with many hours of reading enjoyment and escape from the neverending dishes!

  Coming next month: Fan favorite male/male author Josh Lanyon, an amazing science fiction lineup, more sexy cowboys and hot moments from Leah Braemel and so much more!

  Here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.

  Happy reading!

  ~Angela James

  Editorial Director, Carina Press


  To my readers


  This book was written with the help of good friends and good food. Thanks to everyone who brainstormed with me over brunch, who plotted over drinks and who workshopped ideas as we ate funky ice cream. And thanks to my editor Angela James, and the whole team at Carina for all their hard work. This couldn’t have happened without any of you.


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

r Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  About the Author


  Chapter One

  Four Years Ago

  I splashed cold water on my face before bracing myself on the sink’s edge. Leaning forward, I spoke intently to my reflection. “You can do this.”

  Luckily, my reflection didn’t answer, as that would mean I was completely certifiable, instead of just halfway there. My lungs constricted tightly and my entire body jittered, like I’d imbibed four cups of coffee and not a single piece of food. My toes curled as the tingles wound up from my feet to my calves, like barbed ivy that spiked me with adrenaline. Any moment, I might spontaneously combust and turn this tiny bar bathroom into a scene from Dexter.

  God, I needed to get a hold of myself. I was nineteen years old. Long past time to carpe that diem.

  I smoothed concealer over a fading spot and then gloss over my lips. My wild curly hair didn’t resemble Medusa’s as much as usual, which was a plus, and the wraparound sundress I wore was an attractive departure from my usual T-shirt and sweats, even if I felt a little awkward in a skirt. Plus, the red cotton brought out the copper in my curls. When we were sixteen, Abe had told me red really suited me, and I’d worn it when I saw him ever since.

  With one last sweep of the mirror, I stepped back out into the smoky bar and walked with slow, measured steps to the table. I just had to keep taking even breaths. I wouldn’t have any difficulties unless I forgot to breathe, which, fine, had been known to happen. Especially in eighth-grade health class, when the teacher discussed the ramifications of smoking. I’d passed out and spent the rest of the period eating saltines in the nurse’s office.

  Not that anything like that was about to happen now.

  No, I was going to go up to Abe, and confidently, maturely and seductively tell him that I loved him. I’d been gearing up ever since he came home last week for the Draft party, and I was finally ready after five days of sitting on my hands and freaking out. As though some impending pressure sat on my chest like a giant, suffocating, divine cat that said: This is it. Now or never.

  I’d hopped down to L.A. and crashed with my best friend Gabi. She said the school was so big she never saw Abe, though she heard about him all the time; as the star center linebacker of the UCLA Bruins, he couldn’t avoid being a centerpiece of gossip. I’d once considered following Abe wherever he went for college, but that was before I’d decided that the best way to deal with unrequited love was to try to ignore it. I’d gone to Berkley instead, and never regretted the decision.

  But after seeing Abe last week, after realizing that as soon as he turned twenty-one he’d be whisked off to training camp across the country... This actually was my last chance. He was never going to just realize that he loved me, because we were starting completely different lives.

  He’d invited me out for dinner as soon as I messaged him that I was coming down for two nights. Abraham had always been good-natured, but after being drafted by the New York Leopards, he’d become positively radiant with happiness and good wishes. What better time to confess how much I loved him?

  Unfortunately, as I reached our table, Abe had vanished. Only his football friends remained. I moved up behind them, made awkward and a little shy by these man-boys who hadn’t paid me any attention, and pitched my voice louder than usual. It came out high with nerves. “Hey, where’s Abe?”

  One of them, Jorge, glanced up briefly. “Think he went outside.”

  Okay. So there’d been a slight hitch in my plan. I nodded my thanks and headed past the bouncer who hadn’t bothered to card our group, and into Westwood Village.

  I’d thought I’d been nervous before, but for some reason my stomach tightened when the cool night air rolled over me. My palms began to sweat. Still, I kept forcing myself to take and release deep breaths. I had started on this path and I wouldn’t turn back now. This had been years in the making.

  I turned the corner and Abraham’s broad shoulders came into view. He stood beneath a street lamp, and the dispersed light warmed his faintly curling hair from the color of dark sand to honey.

  And then a giggle floated out, and I stopped.

  Abe shifted, and I saw what his shoulders had blocked before: a girl in a trendy top and skinny jeans, her hair impeccably cut and highlighted. She fluttered her sooty lashes with great mastery, and her voice floated clearly down the sidewalk. “But what about that girl you were with earlier?”

  Leave now, my gut told me, a direct contrast to the orders from the cat on my chest. Nothing good comes to eavesdroppers.

  But my feet were bolted to the pavement.

  “What, Tamar?” Abe’s tone was light and playful, his voice a melodic baritone. “She’s just a family friend.”

  The girl spoke goadingly. “She’s pretty.”

  Abe’s voice dropped an octave. “Not as pretty as you.” His head lowered and my breath caught in a hard, condensed pit.

  But the girl outmaneuvered him, her shiny locks spinning in the lamplight. Her hand came up to rest against Abe’s chest in a flirtatious protest. “She seemed to like you.”

  The pit acted like a dark hole, sucking my chest into the cavity of emotion.

  Abe let out an exasperated groan, tilting his head enough that I could see his perfect profile, his strong jaw and Roman nose, his skin kissed by the strong sun. He was youth and strength and everything I’d ever wanted. “Trust me, I’m not interested in Tamar. She’s like a little sister.”

  A high-pitched squeak cut through the night, and the couple froze. As did I, hand to throat, berating my vocal cords for betraying me. Straight ahead, the girl’s eyes widened and fastened on mine. Her lips neared Abe’s ear as she whispered to him.

  He started, and spun around, surprisingly light on his feet for a linebacker. The full force of surprise on his beautiful, good-natured face slammed into me like the discordant screech of an orchestra. “Tamar.”

  I shook my head like I could negate my presence, and turned and fled.

  Other bars, loud with laughter and music, lined the street, and I passed groups of students flying high with the successes of the night. The triumph of the UCLA Bruins was everywhere; here, they didn’t paint the town red, but blue and gold.

  Why had I worn my new wedges? The back of my heel chafed enough that I could picture the blister tomorrow, and it made me limp and lose momentum. Stupid. I was so, so stupid.

  “Tamar. Tamar!”

  I didn’t turn around until he caught my wrist, and then affected surprise when he spun me to face him. “Oh. Abe. Hi.”

  We’d lived down the street from each other for most our lives, and I recognized most of his expressions. It wasn’t difficult: Abe’s friendly face had always been the definition of an open book, and now I easily read frustration and chagrin.

  I swallowed, wanting to head this off before it started. “I am so sorry I interrupted you two—”

  His eyes were dark pools of empathy, framed by disarmingly long lashes. “Tamar. Stop.”

  I did, but only for a second. “What?”

  “I didn’t mean for you to hear that.”

  I raised my hands, which conveniently pulled my wrist out of his grip. “No worries. I mean, it was a little awkward, but when am I not awkward, right? I mean, remember that time in tenth grade—”


  I stopped.

  Abraham licked his lips, and my gaze switched to his mouth. I’d imagined kissing him so many times. The force of those daydreams felt as real as memories, except they were tinged with pain from wishing too hard.

  “Tamar.” He loo
ked like he didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t want him to. I didn’t want him to keep saying my name with that strange note, either. “I don’t want you to feel bad.”

  My gut twisted. My head felt light and my throat dry. I might just float off any second. Or maybe fold up into a neat little package, tiny and flat and easily packed away and hidden.

  My heartbeat accelerated.

  His steady eyes never left mine. “But you know—you know we’re not—”

  “I know you think of me as a sister,” I said rapidly. “You just said that.”

  Unhappiness crossed his beautiful face. “That’s not what I meant.”

  No. No, he didn’t think of me as a sister, because why would he ever bother thinking of me?

  My feet tingled, like they did whenever I stood at a height. I associated that tingle with danger. My body’s sign to get out of a dangerous situation.

  I had two choices. I could say something.

  Or I could smile and walk away.

  It would be so much easier to do the latter, but I was afraid it would cause a cancerous sore inside me, a knot of regret and disappointment in myself that would linger and fester until I could think of nothing else.

  So I took a deep breath and kept my own gaze as steady as his. “Abraham. I like you.”

  He closed his eyes. His dusky lashes lay still against dusky skin and the high cheekbones that would have looked foolish if the rest of him wasn’t so relentlessly masculine, like a statue at the Getty Villa. “Tamar, don’t.”

  I took a tiny step closer. “I really like you. I have always liked you.” Now that I’d started, the words tumbled out over each other, gathering force. They battled with oxygen for room in my throat and came out garbled and breathless. “And I guess I thought that you would realize it if I just waited long enough, if I was there, and I listened and I did all the right things. And you make me laugh and you are so smart and brilliant and gorgeous and every time I look at you I can feel it in my chest and I love you.”

  He opened his eyes. They were the same deep brown of my own, the color of polished oak, and pain filled them. “Tammy...”