He swore at me and said he didn’t do groupies. And just like that, our friendship was off to a great start.
Reese Forster was the starting point guard for the Seattle Thunder.
Gorgeous. Cocky. Loved by the nation.
He’s also attending preseason basketball training camp where I used to work.
Correction: where I work again, because I was fired from my last job.
And I might have a tiny bit of baggage, but that’s normal. Right?
Reese and I shouldn’t have become friends. We shouldn’t have become roommates.
And we really shouldn’t have started sleeping together … (Except we did.)
I’m adorably psychotic. He’s in the NBA. This is not a disaster waiting to happen, at all. Teardrop Shot is a 107k standalone with brand new characters.
I’m a huge sports romance junkie, and a big fan of Tijan’s writing and storytelling, so I couldn’t wait to read Teardrop Shot and immerse myself in the writer’s new world and characters, and by the time I finished Charlie and Reese’s story, my appreciation for how Tijan crafts and creates grew tenfold because this book was so much more than I thought it would be and it took readers on one hell of an emotional journey – one where Charlie struggles to live again…where she hides behind her techniques of deflection and where she gets a second chance to share who she truly is with someone who accepts her, her baggage, and her lack of a filter in stressful or overwhelming situations.
Before I go further in my review, I have to be honest about my initial reaction to Charlie’s story. I struggled in the beginning to truly understand all the things that Charlie was dealing with, and I’m not sure if it was because the things that happened to her were only vaguely introduced or if it dealt more with the way she cut off her lifeline, her friends, in what seemed to be a rather easy decision. But as I continued to read and learn more about Charlie’s struggles and the reasons behind her vanishing act for the past 8 years, a much clearer picture formed, and I was able to see what coping mechanisms she used so that she could continue surviving, continue existing and hopefully, some day, be able to move on an move forward without her broken pieces keeping her plagued by the past.
I adored Charlie’s group of friends; they were so understanding and had her back regardless of how much her ghosting them hurt. There was just something so special about their friendship – it was more like they were family and family stayed together even when one of their own went off course a bit and needed to be reminded that she always had a safe place with them.
The progression of Charlie and Reese’s friendship/relationship was most definitely not a linear path, which given what both of them had already endured due to other people’s decisions and actions, made complete sense. There were going to be highs and lows, breakthroughs and setbacks, complications and simple acts, but the fact that from the very beginning Reese answered every last one of Charlie’s less than appropriate questions spoke to exactly what these two could become.
Reese is instrumental in Charlie’s recovery, in her ability to show him just how tormented her heart is, but this story is more so about Charlie’s re-awakening, and while Reese is tantamount to her progression, Charlie has to be the one to begin her healing, to take her pain, her heartache, and her grief and maybe not let them go but find a way through them, to release them enough that she can reclaim her life and be somewhat at peace with the past in order to live in the present and have a future that is as rare and beautiful as a teardrop shot.
4.5 Poison Apples
There was Garth Carzoni.
I almost fell down into the dishwasher.
I should stop gawking, but I couldn’t.
I made a weird sounding gurgle. It started as a sigh, but I caught myself and barked out an alien something again. I wasn’t sure myself what it was.
He’d been traded the last year to help–I couldn’t breathe. Literally. My heart stopped working as he leaned over and whispered something to Matthew Crusky.
Matthew Crusky, everyone! The Cruskinator. The Cruskimachine.
Double-down on the weird alien sigh.
I sagged again, but grabbed for the sink and caught myself.
Look away. Brain walls. Brain walls. They needed to be erect.
Standing upright and ready.
I felt my knees going.
I couldn’t stop myself.
I went back to my stalker/gawking mode.
Crowd surges to their feet and makes a standing ovation. Ahhhh. Ahhhhh.
And he was sitting next to Juan Cartion.
Juan Cartion. Juan the Speedster Cartion! His other nickname was the Chia Pet because his hair would frizz up during every game. The announcers loved teasing him about it. He wasn’t the Chia Pet here, though. His hair was slicked down and combed to the side. He was the shooting guard, and–I was about to embark into Pure Insanity Mode so I had to guard myself, ram up the shields–he was Reese Forster’s best friend.
My mouth dried up, just thinking of him, thinking his best friend was in that room. His best friend was twenty feet from me.
Me. From me!
“Settle down, Cherry Popper.”
“Cherry Popper?” I turned around, and raised an eyebrow. “Are you using reverse psychology on me? Hoping I’ll want to pop your cherry.”
Trent laughed. “I was hoping for projection. I’m projecting my fantasies onto you.”
I snorted. “Hate to break it to you, but my cherry was popped long agooo…oo…oh shit.” My boss was standing on the other side of the dish window, a scowl on his face.
The dirty bastard was going to take it and run. I knew how he worked–
He just shook his head, and sighed. “Trent, we’re going to start.”
Damn. He was all business. I was slightly disappointed… slightly. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.
I couldn’t help myself. “Hey, Keith?”
He started to head for the doorway, but paused and looked back.
I deadpanned, “If you were five years old right now, in that body, what’s the first thing you’d do?”
“Keep it up, Manning. We have other alumni staff we can call.” He started back.
“Oh yeah? How many of them can ask you–” A hand clapped around my mouth.
Trent spoke over my head, “Keep walking, Boss. I got her handled.”
No one handled me.
Well, except that Trent did just now and that I needed it.
I gulped down some oxygen once he lifted his hand and sagged forward. “Thank you. I almost lost a second job just there.”
He moved back, but his chuckle was strained. “I gotta go, but you need to get yourself in check. I mean it. I have to leave tomorrow for another speaking event, and I won’t be back for another week and a half. You going to be okay till then?”
Once the camp weeks started, it wouldn’t be hard to avoid Keith. He tended to only show up for meals, for the evening meetings if there were any, and that was it. He’d stay in the office after that, so as long as he wasn’t poking his nose in the gym courts, I would be fine. I could do the dishes and that’d squirrel me away a plate of food so I didn’t actually have to see Keith then.
Trent said to Hadley, who was walking by him at that second, “You’ll help reign her in if she needs it?”
Hadley threw him a smile over her shoulder, not stopping. She went out, picked up a steamer and brought it back in. She said as she passed by again, “No problem, though I’ve always enjoyed Charlie’s feisty side.”
I bit back a laugh. She liked to egg it on.
“For some reason, I’m not reassured.”
I slapped him on the arm. “Get on. I’ll be fine. And if anything else, I’ll whisper my random questions.”
He gave me a dry look. “Right. Because that’s not creepy.”
I shrugged, going back to the dishes.
The players had started to migrate out the doors, leaving all their dishes on the table.
Normal camps had a process where they were told how to collect plates on one tray, silverware on another, trash etc. Adult camps were just told to take their dishes to the dish window, but these guys were none of those. I wasn’t surprised to see not one of them brought their stuff to the window. That meant an added thirty minutes to the clean-up, just collecting everything. But as I was thinking it, Owen was whipping through with a cart.
I guess if they couldn’t bring the dishes to the window, Owen was bringing the window to their dishes? He had a soaking tub on there for the silverware even.
“Okay. I’m going to go.” Trent still lingered. “You haven’t asked about your baller crush.”
Then I heard Trent say, “He’s not here. He’s coming tomorrow.”
Oh good God.
Bennett Mafia website: www.tijansbooks.com/bennett-mafia.html
Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TijansFanPage/