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Dare to Embrace

I have a decision to make—family or my career.

Enjoy this angsty family saga series romance by bestselling author S.B. Alexander…

Lacey

I have a decision to make—family or my career. The problem is I want both, and I don’t know how to choose.

I promised Kade we would start a family when my baseball contract is up. But now a Triple-A ball club is interested in me. If I sign with them, getting pregnant is not an option.

The last thing I want to do is disappoint my husband but moving up in the major leagues is vital to me.

I can’t give up what I worked so hard to achieve. But I can’t live without the man who is my everything, and if I do this, I know I risk losing him forever.

Kade

I hardly see Lacey during baseball season, but with the All-Star break in full swing, I have four blissful days to spend with my beautiful wife.

I have plans that will keep us locked away with no distractions. It will be her and me, our king size bed, and a chance to make up for lost time.

But when her agent calls, the four days turn into a shit storm.

Now, our future plans are in jeopardy.

And our marriage is on the line.

Dare to Embrace is the seventh book and is a novella in the Maxwell Series and is another story on Kade and Lacey from Dare to Kiss, Dare to Dream, and Dare to Breathe. For a better reading experience, it’s recommended to read the books in order. Be prepared for all the feels, a family of brothers who put their hearts on the line, the women who snag their attention, steamy times, romantic stories, family drama, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

 ABOUT THE SERIES:

  1. Dare to Kiss
  2. Dare to Dream
  3. Dare to Love
  4. Dare to Dance
  5. Dare to Live
  6. Dare to Breathe
  7. Dare to Embrace
S.B. Alexander once again fills her characters with raw emotions and their journey is filled with tough decisions and heartwarming endings. Lacey and Kade have overcome so much and there are not many roadblocks that can stop them from moving forward. A wonderful addition to the series.
The Overflowing Bookcase

Chapter 1

KADE

The aroma of roast and potatoes filled our spacious kitchen as I turned the oven down to warm. Then I lowered the recessed lighting, set the table, opened a bottle of red wine, and flicked on the stereo.

Beethoven floated out of the built-in speakers overhead, setting the mood for the night I had planned with my beautiful wife.

Once I was done, I ambled into our master bathroom and lit the candles around the Jacuzzi-style tub, which could fit two grown adults easily. I debated whether to fill the tub but decided to wait. The water wouldn’t be hot, and Lacey loved to soak in the hot, soapy water.

All I needed now was Lacey. I checked my watch. She was fifteen minutes late.

Don’t panic, dude. It’s rush hour, and she’s coming in from Portland. So that means she has to drive through Boston.

Still, I tapped on her name. I had to know where she was. The last text I’d gotten from her was when she was leaving Portland a few hours ago.

The line went directly to her voice mail.

She was probably in a bad spot with no coverage.

After I left her a message, I made my way back into the kitchen, when the doorbell rang. My mind instantly went to the dark side—something had happened to Lacey.

My pulse was erratic as I wound my way through our large first floor, passing an open high-ceiling living room before answering the door.

When I laid eyes on Maiken, my heart rate slowed, and I swallowed a growl. With Lacey due home, the last thing I wanted were distractions. We only had four days together before she had to return to Portland. My agenda was to lock us in our house, shut out the world, and make love to her nonstop. I wanted to christen every room—something we hadn’t done yet because whenever she’d been home on a break during the last year, we’d had teenagers living with us, including the one standing before me.

Maiken beamed up at me like a lost puppy, his blue eyes filled with struggle and confusion. “Can I come in?”

I didn’t see a suitcase, so that was good. I wasn’t one to turn my back on family, but I wasn’t ready to deal with more drama. I’d had enough when Maiken and his siblings, Ethan, Emma, and Marcus were living with us. I’d stepped up to lend a hand when his mom needed help while she took care of her sister, who had recently passed from breast cancer.

Four teenagers living with Lacey and me had been maddening and frustrating. Not a moment’s peace. Not a moment to myself. Not a moment to make love to my wife in privacy.

I now understood what my old man had gone through when Kelton, Kross, Kody, and I had been in high school, although my brothers and I had been harder to tame than my cousins. Well, maybe not Marcus, who was quite the rebellious one out of his siblings.

I waved Maiken in, but fuck, my cousin had better have a good excuse for being at my house. I scanned the yard and driveway before I closed the door. “Where’s your car?” He lived about three miles from me.

“I jogged over.” He ran a hand through his sandy-blond hair. “Do you have a minute?”

I really didn’t, but Lacey hadn’t pulled in yet, and I could use a distraction so I didn’t give myself a heart attack over worrying about my wife.

I padded into the kitchen. “A minute. Lacey is due home.”

“Nice,” he said. “Something smells good.” He made himself comfortable on a stool at the island as though he were living here again.

“Is your mom okay?” I felt compelled to ask. His family had been plagued with bad luck since his father had passed almost two years ago.

“She’s fine.”

I turned off the oven. “Is it Quinn?”

He lowered his gaze to his hands.

Shit. Did they break up?

I sat down across from him. “What happened?” I remembered the day Lacey had broken up with me like it was yesterday.

“I’ve been a complete ass to you during this Pitt and Lorenzino mess.”

“Kade?”

“No, it’s my turn to talk.” If I don’t, you’ll be naked in the span of a minute.

She crossed her legs and gave me her full attention.

“You said some things that day in my theater room that I’ve been turning over and over in my head. I know the pain from the death of a loved one. I also know how far you’ve come in the six months we’ve been together. I’m not perfect either. We’ll both have nightmares and memories of our turmoil. But, Lace, I don’t have PTSD. I’m learning about the symptoms and how to support you. I want to protect you from everything, including your PTSD. I know I can’t. I know it’s up to you to heal. I also know I need to support you and not shut you out.” I exhaled. “Baby, please, never for one second believe that I think you’re pathetic. I’m sorry if I made you feel that way and for everything else.” My practiced speech came out easily.

She folded the corners of the pages of her chemistry book. Her eyes were downcast. A brittle silence dangled.

Say something. Anything. The quietness drove the nausea to churn inside my stomach.

“It’s…” Her voice broke. “This is hard for me.” She kept her eyes on her book.

My pulse went into overdrive. I’d so fucked up. My heart skipped several beats. I couldn’t lose this girl.

She lifted her soft green eyes, worrying her bottom lip. “I have so much going on that I don’t know how to process it all. I could be in danger. I have a new family, albeit a mob family. I have baseball. I want that baseball scholarship to ASU. I have an illness that stops me in my tracks and causes others to freak out along with me. I don’t want anyone’s pity or sympathy. The only way I can do that is to tackle a couple of things at a time.” She pushed out all the air in her lungs as her cheeks puffed.

Please don’t say it. Please don’t say it. I was squeezing the energy out of every one of my muscles.

“But…” She held my gaze. “I know you’re sorry. I know you love me. But until my other problems are behind me, I can’t work on a relationship. I just can’t.”

“So that’s it? You’re breaking up with me?”

Her shoulder came up to her ear. “I guess. I guess I am.”

Maiken snapped his fingers, shattering the memory of when I’d walked into Lacey’s bedroom seven years ago. “You checked out, man.”

I blinked. “Sorry. What were you saying?”

He picked at the skin on one of his fingers. “Sex.”

My eyes widened. “You two broke up because of sex?” I didn’t mean to sound surprised.

He lifted his head quickly. “Oh no. We didn’t break up.”

I relaxed my features. Quinn was a great girl, and she was good for Maiken. He seemed happy with her in his life.

So he wanted to talk sex. Since his father had passed, I’d become his mentor of sorts, which I enjoyed unless I was bailing him or any of his siblings out of the principal’s office at Kensington High.

“I’m listening.” I wasn’t sure I could give him much advice on the topic other than to make sure he practiced safe sex.

“I think Quinn and I are ready, but what if I don’t please her? What if it’s not what I thought sex would be? Or if afterwards, she doesn’t want anything to do with me?”

I rubbed my chin, dipping back to my first time having sex with a girl in the tenth grade. We’d both wanted to get our first time out of the way. We hadn’t been in love either. I couldn’t recall, though, if I’d been expecting much. Actually, I’d been too nervous to think that night. Afterward, the girl and I had laughed at how weird the experience had been.

“Did you feel apprehensive with Lacey?” Maiken asked. “I don’t want details, just…” His attention was fixated on me like I had all the answers.

I studied his desperate plea for advice. I never thought I would be giving anyone pointers on sex, at least not until Lacey and I had our own kids. Even then I wasn’t sure what I would tell my son or daughter. Although if we had girls, I would kill the fucker who dared to put his hands on my baby girl.

Maiken tapped on the island counter. “Man, it looks like you’ve seen a ghost. It’s okay. We don’t have to talk about sex.”

Blinking, I chuckled. “It’s cool. My first time with a chick was awkward. I’m not going to lie. But I wasn’t in love with her.”

“You mean Lacey wasn’t your first?” Horror etched his tone.

“No, and I wasn’t her first either. But we didn’t meet until our senior year. Look, Maiken, I suggest you and Quinn talk about your feelings before you have sex. Make sure you’re both ready. And above all else, practice safe sex. You and her have a future to think about with college.”

“Do you think she’s on the pill?” he asked, sounding like his question was directed at himself rather than me. “Don’t answer that. I’m so nervous. But it’s getting to the point that anytime I’m around her, I want to…”

“I get it,” I said. “Believe me, when you’re in love with someone, that feeling of wanting to lock yourself in a room with her is always there.” Like now. I checked the time again.

Where the fuck was Lacey?

Suddenly, pain gripped my temples, and I winced.

What the fuck? I hadn’t had a migraine since my tumor was removed three years ago.

Tumor? No fucking way. The surgeon had removed all of the benign mass, but he’d also said it was possible another mass could grow back. I’d had scans done every year since. No, you haven’t, dude. It’s been over a year since your last one.

“Kade, you’re seeing a ghost again,” Maiken drawled in a lazy Southern accent, which I hadn’t heard from him in a while. “Are you okay?”

My vision blurred for a split second as my gaze rounded on him. “Just the onset of a headache.”

I blew out a breath when I heard the front door open. Then Lacey’s voice peppered the air. I took in another breath, more to help the knot in my stomach unwind at the fact that she was home.

I plastered on a smile, albeit a fake one since the pain in my head was throbbing.

Lacey glided in, dressed in shorts, showing off her toned legs. A tight T-shirt accentuated her beautiful breasts, and her long, wavy brown hair was piled up on her head. But what had my dick throbbing were those green eyes of hers that had a way of sucking me in each and every time.

She swung her gaze from Maiken to me. “What’s wrong?”

Maiken rose. “I was asking Kade for some advice. But then his head started hurting.”

Lacey rushed over to me. “Headache? Like a migraine?” Her voice faltered.

Fuck. I knew what she was thinking.

I pulled her to me and kissed her on the lips. “It’s nothing.”

“I’m out of here,” Maiken said. “I’ll let myself out.” His shoes squeaked on the floor as he left.

Once I heard the door click, I buried my hands in Lacey’s thick hair. “Hi.”

She cupped my face, her chest rising and falling as she studied me. “When was the last time you had a headache?”

I chuckled. “Seriously, it’s nothing to worry about.”

“You said that last time, and it turned out to be a tumor,” she complained. “It’s been a while since you had a checkup.”

I hadn’t had a moment to myself with teenagers in my life. “I know. And I’ll make an appointment with the doc.”

She sighed as she threw her arms around me. “Sorry, I’m late. Traffic was brutal.”

I shaped her hips before my hands landed on her ass. “Did you get my voice mail?”

“I did. I should’ve called, but I was set on getting home.” Her tongue darted out.

My dick jumped. “I made a roast.”

She flattened her hands on my chest. “Maybe later.” Then her hands were expertly and slowly dancing down my abs until she was unbuckling my belt. “I’m all yours for four days.”

Suddenly, that throbbing pain in my head settled in my groin. I scooped her up and into my arms then carried her into our bedroom. No amount of pain was going to ruin our evening.

Once in our bedroom, I set her down on our king bed. “I’ll start the bathwater. Be right back.” I hurried into the en suite bathroom, turned on the hot water, poured in a copious amount of bubble bath soap, and added some eucalyptus crystals she loved.

On the way back into the bedroom, I began stripping, but when I laid eyes on her, I came to an abrupt halt.

She was propped up on a pillow, naked, legs open, massaging her breasts.

Fuuuuck!

I wasn’t a pubescent teenager, but suddenly I felt like I was about to lose my load. It had been too fucking long since I’d seen Lacey naked. It had been a lifetime since I’d seen her tweaking her nipples or licked that sweet-tasting pussy of hers.

“You gonna stare or do something about Mr. Steel?” She pointed at my dick straining to get out of my boxer briefs.

I shucked the rest of my clothes, and when my cock sprang free, her green eyes went wide, drowning me in love and lust.

She crooked her finger. “I want to taste Mr. Steel first.”

My dick was steel, all right.

I dug my bare feet into the plush carpet as I closed the distance between us. By the time I reached the bed, she’d scooted to the edge and tugged my underwear down, and before I could say anything, her mouth was around my dick.

I growled, loud and deep, as my eyes rolled back in my head. Then I burrowed my fingers into her hair as her hands wrapped around my shaft.

Holy fuck!

I wasn’t going to last a damn second.

She sucked hard as she played with my balls.

Reality started to fade when I remembered the water. “The bath.” My voice was weak at best.

She giggled.

I lifted her in my arms. “Let’s continue this in the bathtub.”

Please excuse me while I wipe away my happy tears, because this book has made me feel all the feelings. If you love the Maxwells, then this book is the perfect little treat to get you back into the lives of Kade and Lacey because let's face it we all want to know what's up.
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