#ThrowbackThursday: Spark by Susan Scott Shelley and Chantal Mer (Love and Rugby #1)


Today, we're looking back with an excerpt from Susan Scott Shelley and Chantal Mer's Spark, the first book in the Love and Rugby series.

From the Blurb:

Spending his fortieth birthday in a club filled with twenty-somethings and members from his brother’s rugby team isn’t Finlay Davidson's idea of fun, but falling into the arms of a sexy stranger who looks as out of place as Finlay feels, entices him to stay. For a decade, he’s partnered with his siblings, focused on building a successful family business and ensuring the well-being of his employees. Romance hasn’t been a priority, but meeting the man, who moonlights as a bouncer and is one of his brother’s teammates, shifts his world and ignites his desire for more.
For the past year and a half, Mateo Rossi Ayala’s life has revolved around working two jobs, bouncing on weekends and doing home remodels during the week. His only respite is the weekly rugby games and practices with teammates who have become like family. Meeting Finlay, his rugby teammate’s brother, is a spark of light in a hectic life consumed by commitments and responsibilities, strong enough for Mateo to believe that the unattainable is possible.
The intensity of their immediate connection outweighs Finlay’s hesitation over dating someone who plays a dangerous sport, and makes Mateo determined to fit their relationship into his life without dropping any balls. When their worlds turn upside down, Finlay’s fears and Mateo’s worst nightmare collide. With their differences and doubts laid bare, can their burgeoning relationship survive the strain or will their bond be severed?


Tequila tucked under my arm, the beers in one hand and half a dozen shot glasses in the other, I begin the trek back to our table on the opposite end of the club. “Excuse me. Pardon me.” It doesn’t matter how loud I say the words, the Saturday night crowd of twenty-somethings is oblivious.

I am too old for this.

Dodging an elbow to the ribs, I scoot to the left, and before I know what’s happening, I trip. Legs intertwine with legs. A slurred, “Yo, dude.” Radiating pain flashes as my thigh bangs into the corner of the table. In an attempt not to drop everything I’m carrying, I over-correct, bumping into someone and lose my balance. The bottles and glasses clutched to my chest, I brace myself for the slam of my ass onto the concrete floor and know my tailbone is going to hurt like hell tomorrow.

But instead of connecting with the filthy floor, two strong hands from behind pull me to standing.

“You okay?” The baritone voice is so close. The warmth of his breath hits my perspiring neck, sending a shiver through me.

“Yeah, I’m good.” When I turn to face the voice, I’m struck by rich brown eyes assessing me. His mouth curves, the corners of his eyes crinkle, and I get the feeling that his assessment is more than making sure I’m okay. “Thank you.”

The large hands that kept me on my feet are still planted on my hips. I glance down at them, and as if realizing he’s still holding me, the dark-haired stranger drops them and steps back. “They can get a little rambunctious.” He jerks his chin toward the crowd surrounding us. “Can I help you with some of that?”

“That would be great. Thanks.” I hand him the shot glasses and remove the bottle of tequila from underneath my arm. As we weave through the crowd, I ask, “Do you come here often?” Because this doesn’t look like the kind of place a guy like him would come to. And when I say a guy like him, I mean someone who is closer to my age than most of the people here.

His chuckle is a low rumble over the din of the crowd and music. “Aren’t you a little old to be using a pickup line?”
Heat rushes from my neck to the top of my head, and I know my Scottish complexion is a shade of ruby that is not becoming. “It wasn’t… I wasn’t…” Inhaling, I will the flutter in my chest to still. The man is sexy, but I honestly wasn’t trying to pick him up. He’s right. I am too old for that shit. Not to mention, how many long-term relationships start from meeting someone at a club? “I was curious because this doesn’t seem like your kind of crowd.”

The black tee that shows off a powerful, broad chest is tucked into black jeans that are molded to thighs I’d kill to have wrapped around me. His black boots look like he could kick the hell out of someone with them. All of it is out of place in a room full of people dressed in colors brighter than a preening peacock. He stands out. Not only because of his clothes but because he doesn’t look like he’s having a particularly good time. The way he’s constantly scanning the room, and his firm mouth only seems to soften when he returns his attention to me.

“You’re right, it’s not. But sometimes…” His gaze falls to me, and for a moment, I feel twenty-three again when I was still excited about life and all of its possibilities. “Sometimes it’s in unexpected places where we find the treasures.”

I swear, I almost swoon.

Let’s be clear, I am not a guy who is easily impressed or falls for false flattery. Being the CEO of a company that employs hundreds of people whose livelihood depends on me making good decisions, I can’t afford to be. But with this man whose arms look like they’ve been chiseled from brown agate and polished to perfection, and the sincerity of his words in a setting where sincerity is as rare as a three-dollar beer, I could be swayed.

“I’m Finlay.” Forgetting about the bottle I’m holding, I stick out my hand to shake his.

Amusement creases the corners of his eyes, and he taps the bottle with one of the shot glasses he’s carrying. “Mateo. Nice to meet you, Finlay.”

As we approach the tables Cam’s group commandeered, Hercules and his crutches are gone, and all that is left of Cam and Aileene is Aileene’s sweater hanging over the back of a chair. “Do you want to join me for a drink, Mateo?” The feel of his name on my lips is like old leather that has been worn and buffed until it’s velvety smooth.

Before he can answer, his attention is snatched by a scuffle on the dance floor. Dancers move to the edge of the floor as some guy in green shorts with whales all over them pushes a shorter man away from his dance partner and starts berating the young woman with the high blond ponytail.

“I’ve got to go.” Setting the glasses on the table, Mateo pushes through the crowd like it’s his job.

Shocked at the suddenness of his departure, I stand staring at his retreat, the condensation of the beers dripping onto my palm, the beating of my heart erratic and speedy.

And then I notice it.

STAFF, written in big white letters, spans the expanse of the back of his black shirt.

The hopeful giddiness of moments ago crashes to the concrete floor, shattering my silly notions. Dropping into the seat next to my sister’s sweater, I twist open the tequila and pour.

In a gulp, I down the shot, welcoming the burn of my throat as it transforms to warmth when it hits my gut. I swig more tequila hoping it will dull the stupidity I feel in thinking that Mateo was doing anything other than his job. What a fool… Why would he be interested in someone as old as me when he can have his pick of hot young men. And women… if that’s his thing.

The sound of whale-shorts yelling about being unfairly treated flutters over the vibration of the music. When I look up, Mateo and another staff person dressed all in black with STAFF on the back of his shirt—how I didn’t notice that earlier is beyond me—are escorting the obnoxious, preppy jerk out of the club. Mouth a firm line, Mateo catches me watching. His eyes flat, they dart away before I have the chance to acknowledge the brief encounter.
I sigh and pour another shot feeling every single one of my forty years.

Spark is available on Amazon and other vendors.