Title: ONE ON ONE
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Bounce the ball twice. Tuck it into chest. Breathe.
It was a mantra ingrained into Gigi’s brain.
Practiced before each free throw and said aloud, those words were supposed to help her sink the basketball into the hoop.
Thirty percent of the time, the mantra worked. Somehow, three out of ten times she was called to the line, it quelled her fear of the spotlight, and she showed the basket who was boss.
Now, as she unfolded herself out of her father’s Passat, in wrinkled clothing and with a crick in her neck, she hoped it worked off the court, too. With nothing between her and the white farmhouse but an uneven brick path and the basketball she clutched at her belly, she inhaled. Then exhaled.
The driver’s side door slammed from behind her and her dad’s mammoth shadow swallowed hers. His fingers found their place on her shoulders and massaged down just as he would right before a game. His pep talk should’ve been next, along with a planned curse word or two to fire her up in prep to face the opponent. He’d always said the right words to bring her heart rate down from flight to fight. But this wasn’t a game. They were far from the courts, from everything she called home. And the two strangers at the end of the walkway were supposed to be on her side—they were family.
He said, “Now, you don’t need to be nervous.”