Chasing Sunsets -- Available Now
Six months ago, Zack's life fell apart. When he gets a call to be on the reality show Chasing Sunsets, he jumps at the chance. Staring at the curtain separating him from his partner, he hopes to win the prize money. At the very least, the race will provide a distraction and take his mind off his wife, off his life, and off all that's happened.
Nothing will ease Sadie's memories or give her back everything she's lost. But if she and the person on the other side of the drape are successful and win this competition, at least the prize money will pay off her debts.
When the curtain falls, Zack and Sadie are face to face. In an unexpected twist on the norm, instead of competing with a complete stranger, all the couples this season are separated. They agree to participate, while
refusing to explain why they split up. Will ten days racing around Texas together be long enough for them to repair their marriage, mend their broken hearts, and forgive the impossible decisions that were made?
Chasing Sunsets is Book 1 in the Chasing Series. All the books in this heartfelt contemporary series stand alone, but might be more enjoyable read in sequence.
“The great thing about football is that after a while, you become more than teammates, you become … brothers.” ~ Unknown
Playing football during August in southeast Texas felt like working out with the sun in a sauna—humid and sweltering hot. Accustomed to this kind of weather having lived in Texas all his life hadn’t made this first day of freshman practice any easier for Zackary Truex.
Players took off their helmets, sweat pouring off their red faces. Everyone was out of breath since they’d just run the length of the field twice as fast as possible. God help them when they started wearing pads in this furnace.
Coach Landry, a huge man built like a refrigerator, told them to huddle when he called their names. He sectioned them off into groups of three. “Andre Biel, Kasey Hunter, and Zackary Truex.”
Confused, Zack eyed the other guys in his grouping wondering why they’d been put together. He assumed they’d be broken into sections with players trying out for the same positions, but these players weren’t going out for quarterback like he was.
After assigning everyone to a group, Coach Landry blew his whistle three times. Coach Calvin Banks ran over from the adjacent practice field. Why would the varsity coach be at freshman practice?
He loathed the day everyone found out Coach Banks was his new stepdad. His mom and Cal had dated long distance for over two years. Last spring, Cal asked her to marry him and move to Katy. Zack and his mom argued non-stop the three months prior to the wedding. He didn’t want to move. His friends lived in Orange, two long hours away from Katy. He still played online video games with them most nights, but it didn’t compare to hanging out in person.
“I requested Coach Landry break you into groups so you can watch out for each other,” Cal began. “Never leave practice or a game unless all three of you leave together. When one of you needs tutoring, a ride, or support, work it out and help each other. Now introduce yourselves.”
Andre held out his hand. He’d be the first-string running back if the coaches didn’t move him up to junior varsity or maybe even varsity. It only took watching him one practice to realize the guy’s exceptional talent. With dark features and light brown eyes, he stood no taller than five-six, which might be the only reason the coaches didn’t move him to an upper-level squad. His hair was shaved around his head with short dreads on the top. “I’m Dre.”
“Kasey.” The blond dude, who caught every pass thrown in his vicinity, said, “I went to Gingham and remember playing you last year. You ran a hundred and twenty-five yards on us.”
They turned toward Zack.
He cleared his throat, feeling like his stepdad set him up to make friends and hating him for it. “I’m Zack. Moved from Orange, Texas, this year.”
“The Gateway to Texas,” Kasey said.
Zack smirked. “How the hell do you know that?”
“My mom’s from Bridge City. The Shuberts are my cousins.” Bridge City was the next town over from Orange, and everyone in both towns knew the Shuberts.
Yep, a friendship setup if he ever saw one.
The twelfth day of practice, the first day in full pads, Zack waited on the sideline next to Kasey watching the play being run on the field. Dre cradled the ball and dodged three tackles before sprinting into the end zone. No surprise. It’d be interesting to watch Dre against their opponents. If he stayed healthy, he’d rush for at least a thousand-yard season.
“What’s wrong with you, Marshall? You in love or something? Hit somebody.” Coach Landry smacked Mike Marshall’s helmet with his whistle. Coaches had done the same thing to everyone. It made a piercing, deafening sound. Mike, a bruiser at six-two and over two-hundred and fifty pounds, shook his head.
“If Coach doesn’t stop hammering Mike’s helmet, he’s going to drive him crazy.” Kasey grasped a bottle with a ninety-degree spout and squeezed, filling his mouth with green Gatorade.
“It’s hotter than Satan’s balls.”
After the next series of downs, Zack and Kasey jogged onto the field while putting on their helmets. Zack took the quarterback position and called the play. Seconds later, he yelled, “Hut, hut,” and shuffled backward. He faked a hand-off to Dre and checked for open receivers. The offensive lineman crept backward, trying to keep the defense at bay. Kasey cut across the field only five yards away. Zack threw the football where Kasey would be in three more strides.
A crushing blow rammed into his chest.
His body crashed to the turf.
Pinned under players, trying to inhale or move proved impossible. He stared at the cloudless, blue sky. At least he’d gotten the pass off. Had Kasey caught it?
The guys rolled off of Zack. Even without their weight, his chest still felt tight.
He couldn’t breathe.
His every cell screamed as he turned onto his side.
“Enough for today,” Coach Landry shouted.
With herculean effort, Zack struggled to his feet. Bent over, hands on his thighs, he spit on the ground.
Was the blood from his mouth or his insides? He stared at the red-stained grass, concentrating on drawing air into his lungs.
“You okay, man?” He only saw a pair of cleats, but he recognized Dre’s voice.
Another set of cleats came into view. “Perfect pass, Zack,” Kasey said.
Good, he’d caught it.
Zack gathered his strength and tried to straighten. His chest stung like an angry hive of bees was attacking him for stealing their honey. He hunched back over and clutched his chest.
“Kneel down.” Dre used slight pressure on his shoulder.
Not needing to be told twice, Zack dropped to his hands and knees. He spit again, more blood.
“I’ll get a trainer,” Kasey murmured.
Don’t. The word didn’t make it to his mouth. His stepdad didn’t need to come out to check on him and everyone learn he and Cal were related. He wasn’t foolish enough to believe people wouldn’t eventually find out, yet he enjoyed simply being Zack for now.
“Zack!” Cal shouted from somewhere in the distance. He must’ve seen what happened from the varsity practice field.
Zack closed his eyes and collapsed face-first to the ground, helmet still on.
“Football player down at Montgomery High School.” Cal’s voice became louder. The air changed around him before his stepfather sounded close. “Zack, son, can you hear me?” He must be kneeling. “An ambulance is on the way. Where do you hurt?”
Light-headed, he feared he might lose consciousness, but it was impossible with Cal’s chattering. “Why aren’t you talking? Are you awake?”
After a pause, Dre softly uttered, “He’s spitting blood, sir.”
“Blood? Shit. Zack, talk to me.”
Didn’t the man understand he couldn’t speak?