by Elle Kennedy
Book 4 in the Off-Campus series
She’s good at achieving her goals…
College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.
But the game just got a whole lot more complicated...
Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy New Adult Sweet & HOT
The Goal is the fourth book, in Elle Kennedy's Off-Campus series, and centers around the last single roommate in the house - Tucker, and Sabrina, the super driven, Harvard Law bound student, who just happens to be Dean's (The Score) nemesis. When Tucker and Sabrina's eyes meet across the bar, there are sparks. Sabrina wants a one night thing. Tucker wants more. What neither of them expect is Sabrina getting pregnant. Sabrina's desire to leave behind her shameful past has her locking down her emotions. She doesn't want to ruin Tuck's life anymore than she feels she already has. Tucker is not the type to sit back and let her take care of everything, and the fact that she is insanely smart, drop dead gorgeous, and sweet, it doesn't take much for him to fall head over heels for her. But can Sabrina let herself succumb to her growing feelings for Tucker? And will this baby change their lives for the better, or worse?
I was a little worried going into this book. Tucker in the other books is quiet and laid back, so I didn't feel as connected to this character as I did the others. And every interaction with Sabrina in The Score places her in bitch category. But I loved the other books, so I felt like if anyone can get me to like these characters, its Elle Kennedy. I really liked the story. It's not an original concept, but it didn't make it less likeable for me. The chemistry between Tucker and Sabrina is great, and while the banter is no where near as awesome as the other books, it's clear they respect one another a lot. One of the things I appreciated, was how realistic Elle Kennedy wrote about motherhood. Loving your child with all your heart - but it's not all bliss and sweet baby cuddles. It's not easy. Add being a student in a competitive program, and trying to get a business built, it's brutal. I have three children, and was a student when my youngest was born (and somewhat when my twins were babies), and it's almost impossible to study, do assignments, and care for a human being. Actually, forget that. It WAS impossible. I was in high school when I had my twins, and I tried to continue part time, but as the girls got older I just couldn't do it. So, big respect to Elle Kennedy for not glamorizing motherhood, like a lot of these books do. My only issue was Logan's dialect. I remember it being mentioned in other books that he was from the south, but the whole "darlin'" thing really got to me. Like, where the fuck did that come from?
If you don't mind children being introduced to your romance, you probably won't enjoy this. I know that many romance readers - including those with children - don't like that trope. That being said, if you don't mind it - you will enjoy it. The sex is hot between these two, and the romance is sweet. We get the rare combination where the man is the romantic, and the woman is the skeptic, and it works great with their characters arcs. And while this was not my favorite in the Off-Campus series, I can't deny I couldn't put it down.
Tuck hitting on Sabrina in the bar
Car sex. Holy shit it was hot.
Sabrina agreeing to a date finally
Tuck telling Sabrina she can do whatever she needs to, and he will support her
The guys talking about labor
Sabrina and Tuck finding out they are having a girl
Logan and Garrett's competition to be godfather, and Logan's homemade teddy bear
NEWBORN CPR HAHAHA
Tuck's patience with Sabrina when she was in labor
Tucker freaking out about driving with his daughter
Tuck talking to his daughter while taking her for a walk
Their first time after Jamie was born
Sabrina standing up to Tuck's mother, and them finally admitting they love one another
Sabrina: "I'm not sleeping with you because you bought me a drink."
Tuck: "I hope not. I have higher standards than that."
Tuck: "I never really wanted it. And I think it's one of those things you have to really want to pursue."
Sabrina: "So what do you want these days?"
Tuck: "I hate to tell you this, Sabrina. But you've made a big mistake."
Sabrina: "What? Why?"
Tuck: "Because I'm going to ruin you for all future guys. I apologize in advance."
Sabrina: "Why? I mean, I know we rocked each other's worlds, but why are you so hard up on seeing me again?"
Tuck: "Do you believe in love at first sight?"
Oh my fucking God.
I start to shoot to my feet.
He tugs me back onto the bench with a deep chuckle.
Tuck: "Chill, Sabrina. I'm not saying I'm in love with you."
Sabrina: "Then what are you saying?"
Tuck: "I'd seen you around campus before the night at Malone's. And yeah, I thought you were hot, but it's not like I was desperate to find out who you were."
Sabrina: "Gee, thanks."
Tuck: "Make up your mind, darlin'. Do you want me to be infatuated with ou, or so you want me to not give a shit?"
Garrett: The hells, D?
Dean: It's not what you think!!
Logan: It's hard to mistake ur romantic bath with that giant pink thing in ur ass!
Dean: It wasn't in my ass!
Garrett: I'm not even going to ask where it was.
Dean: I had a girl over.
Dean: I hate you guys.
Tuck: Wait ... what did I miss?
Since we have practice in twenty minutes, the guys are already awake and clearly on their phone. Two photos pop up simultaneously. Garrett and Logan have both sent me pics of pink dildos. I'm even more confused now.
Dean: Why do you guys have dildo pics handy?
Garrett: At Least It's Not In My Butt
Logan: Nice, G! U got that on the first try!
Garrett: We spend too much time 2gether.
Tuck: PLEASE tell me u caught D playing w/ dildos.
Logan: Sure did.
Dean: I HAD A GIRL OVER!
Tuck: Mornin', sunshine. Want me to make you some coffee?"
Fitzy: "God. Yes. Please."
Chuckling, I duck out of the bathroom and walk the four or so steps into his kitchenette. When he finally emerges, I shove a cup of coffee in his hand, sip my own, and say,
Tuck: "Dean shoved a dildo up his ass last night."
Fitzy: "Makes sense."
I snicker mid-sip
Tuck: "It really does, huh?"
Sabrina: I'm bringing my friends Carin and u need to bring the hottest guy u know.
Tuck: I'm the hottest guy I know. Will look for 2nd hottest guy on campus. She have any preferences?
Sabrina: Someone who knows how to use his tongue.
Tuck: Again, that'd be me, Not sure how I'll find out how good the other guys are w/ their equipment. Not a topic that comes up a lot.
Sabrina: That's the price of my time.
Tuck: On it.
Sabrina: "So there are pics of Tucker's mighty wang on the internet?"
Tuck: "I haven't been tagged on Instagram yet, so I'm hopeful they aren't out there. But thanks for calling my dick mighty. We appreciate that."
Sabrina: "We? As in you and your penis?"
Then he takes off the robe.
I choke on a gasp, because oh my God, his penis is right there. And it's impressive.
Beside me, Carin is also quick to examine the goods.
Carin: "Now that's what I'm talking about! Well, hello there, Manaconda! Ladies, I think Spector deserves a slow clap right now, no?"
Dani: "Jesus, she's hot! Are you sure she's not bi? Because it's a crime that she has to suffer through life with a man."
Sabrina: "I'm pretty sure everyone here thinks I'm a prostitute."
Tuck: "If they do, it's because that's the only way someone as hot as you is allowing me to put my grubby mitts all over your body."
Logan's lips are twitching, as if he's trying not to laugh.
Tuck: "What's so funny?"
Logan: "Dude. Do you even realize all the gross things coming your way?"
I blink in confusion.
Logan: "Go look up childbirth videos on YouTube. We had to watch some for the women's studies class I took freshman year. They're goddamn horrifying. Did you know that eighty percent of chicks shit on the table?""
Garrett: "you're totally making that up that stat."
Logan: "Okay, maybe not eighty percent. But it fucking happens, and it's gross. Oh, and the placenta? A huge bloody sac that just drops on the floor after the kid pops out? After you see that, I guarantee you'll never want to stick your dick in there again."
Garrett: "I suddenly feel really sorry for Grace."
Tuck: "How about this? We'll Rock, Paper, Scissors for it."
Yeah, we're going to make great parents, all right.
A loud snort sounds from Garrett's vicinity.
Garrett: "You decided to bow out? Is that what we're calling it?"
Logan glowers at him
Logan: It's what we're calling it because it's true."
Garrett: "Yeah? Be right back."
Sabrina and I exchange puzzles glances as he steps out of the kitchen. I hear him moving around in the living room. A moment later he pops back into sight nd whips up his hands in front of Logan's face.
Garrett: "Then how do you explain this?"
Sabrina yelps out in horror.
Me, I'm just really curious to hear why Garrett is holding a tiny newborn doll.
Which is missing it's head, by the way.
Logan: "You fucking took it home?"
Logan sounds outraged.
Garrett: "Hell yeah I did. What use were they going to have to it there? It doesn't have a head, bro."
Logan: "Where's 'there'?"
Garrett: "Newborn CPR. We took a course at the campus health center this morning."
Sabrina: "Newborn CPR?"
Garrett: "It was the grace under pressure test. Which he failed. I of course, passed with flying colors."
Logan: "Is it my fault I don't know my own strength?"
Garrett says in a spurt of laughter.
Garrett: "That is totally your fault. Show me on the doll where your brain is. Oh right, you can't. Because you fucking decapitated it."
Sabrina: "Can we go upstairs and pack now?"
Hannah: "You guys are scaring Sabrina. Babe, put that doll away. And Logan, remind me to never let you babysit my future children."
Hope: "I want to feel her kick. Wake her up."
Sabrina: "How am I supposed to do that? Jumping jacks?"
Carin: "Would that make the baby fall out? Like if you were near your due date, could you shake shake shake it out?"
Carin wriggles her arms like she's a member of Taylor Swift's dance squad.
I stare at her.
Sabrina: "Please tell me that whatever science field you end up in grad school, it won't be important."
The lights dim and Stacy moves deeper into the room, hands still folded in prayer.
Tucker: "I think she knows something we don't. That's why she's praying all the time."
Sabrina: "She knows that no amount of meditation is ever going to make childbirth pain free."
Every time I try to encourage Sabrina to do her breathing, she glares at me like I slaughtered her treasured family pet. When I offer her some ice chips to chew on, she tells me to shove them up my ass. The one time I peeked over Doctor Laura's shoulder at Sabrina's lady parts, she told me that if I did that one more time, she'd break my hockey stick and stab me with it.
The mother of my child, folks.
Sabrina: "I want the epidural. Fuck, I'll even take the forceps of doom. Just get this baby out of my body!"
Tuck: "Okay. We'll tell Doctor Laura when she comes back to -"
Sabrina: "Now! Go tell her now."
Tuck: "She'll be here any minute, baby, And the contractions are three minutes apart. We still have time before the next -"
Before I can finish, there's a lethal little hand bunching up my shirt. Sabrina hisses like a cornered jungle cat and murders me with her eyes.
Sabrina: "I swear to God, Tucker, if you don't go find her right now, I will rip your stupid head off your stupid neck and FEED IT TO THE BABY!"
Nodding calmly, I pry her fingers off my collar and drop a kiss on her forehead. Then I get the fuck out of there and look for the doctor.
Sabrina: "Why aren't we moving?"
Tuck: "We have a baby in this truck, Sabrina."
Sabrina: "I know."
He swallows hard.
Tuck: "This is fucked up. We shouldn't be allowed to leave the hospital with a kid. I've never even had a pet before."
Sabrina: "I love that you're the one freaking out. Start the car, Tuck. The family behind us wants to leave."
Tuck: "They already have two kids. Let's follow them home."
Sabrina: "I'm surprised that even the Boston cop flipping you off and honking didn't make you drive faster."
Tuck: "That asshole should be written up."
Sabrina: "What happens when one of those fuckers comes to your door wanting to take Jamie out on a date?"
Tucker stops abruptly, causing me to collide with this stiff back,
Tuck: "She's going to an all-girls school."
Sabrina: "Okay, so what happens if one of those fuckers is a female wanting to take Jamie out on a date?"
Tuck: "None of this would be a problem if we stayed in the hospital like I suggested."
Sabrina: "I heard you once had a threesome."
He nearly trips on a non-existent crack in the sidewalk. A light cough precedes his query.
Tuck: "A threesome? Who'd you hear that from?"
Ha! He doesn't even deny it. Amused, I brush by him to get the front door.
Sabrina: "Carin heard it. Said it was always the quiet ones."
Tuck: "No threesomes for Jamie. Maybe we should homeschool her until she's thirty."
Sabrina: "We're turning into hypocrites."
Tucker nods enthusiastically
Tuck: "Yup, and no guilt here."
Tuck: "See that over there? That's a swing set. When you're a bit older, Daddy's gonna take you there and push you on the swing."
I walk two more blocks, speeding up when we near an adult toy store.
Tuck: "And that's a place you'll never go into. Because you're never, ever doing to have sex, right princess?"
Grace: "You coming?"
Sabrina: "Yup. Want me to take her?"
Dean: "No way. You can't take her away from us! She's barely spent any time with her uncles!"
He plucks Jamie out of the BabyBjorn and snuggles her up against his chest.
Dean: "Give your Uncle Dean a kiss, princess."
Sabrina rolls her eyes as Dean presses our daughter's mouth to his cheek and proceeds to make kissing noises as if she's actually smacking him a good one.
Sabrina: "I'll be over there with the normal people."
Garrett: "Jesus, that's one cute kid."
Logan: "Right? I swear, I was so fucking worried he'd end up with an ugly baby and then I'd have to fake it. Day before I met her, I was practicing 'Awwwwwwww! She's so cute!"' for an hour in the mirror."
I flip him off.
Logan: "It's true - ask Gracie. And relax, man. I didn't have to lie, did I? She's fucking precious."
Dean: "Tuck's got magic sperm."
Hollis: "No, Tuck's got a smokin' hot baby mama. Genes, bro."
Dean: "Hey, I keep forgetting to text you, but I should probably give you a heads up about something."
Fitzy: "A heads up about what?"
Dean: "Remember Summer?"
Fitzy: "What about it?"
Dean: "Not it. Her. My sister Summer."
I hide a grin when I see Fitzy narrow his eyes. It's no secret Summer Di Laurentis's visit last winder had freaked him out. I wasn't there to witness it, but apparently Dean's incredibly forward sister had all but thrown herself at the big guy.
Fitzy: "What about her?"
Dean: "She's transferring to Briar next semester."
Fitzy's face turns as white as Jamie's spit-up. Which is pooling on the sleeve of his T-shirt. He hasn't noticed it yet, and I'm hoping someone else points it out so I don't have to.
Dean: "She officially got kicked out of Brown. Or rather, politely asked to leave, as she likes to phrase it. But yeah, my dad is friends with the head of admissions at Briar, so he called in a favor. Summer will be there starting January."
Hollis: "Does she still want to see Fitzy's dick?"
The owner of said dick passes my baby back to me, then picks up his beer bottle and chugs the entire thing.
Sabrina: "I love you."
Tuck: "Since when?"
Sabrina: "Since fucking always."
When my mom winces, Sabrina gives her a sheepish look.
Sabrina: "Sorry. Tuck and I are still going through a language transition. We don't always remember to say 'fudge' and 'sugar,' okay? Are you going to lecture me about that too?"
Mom: "No. I'm not. In fact ... I think I'll take a walk around the block. I love looking at all the snow."
I cough into my hands. My mom despises winter and we both know it.
She glares at me on her way to the door.
Mom: "Please speed up this language transition, John."
Sabrina: "I didn't want you to wake up one day and hate me."
Tuck: "Hate you? Jesus, woman. You still don't get it, so you?"
Sabrina: "Get what?"
Tuck: "You. Me. Us. This. You're the one, Sabrina. There's no one else for me in this world, nobody but you. If I was driving and saw you on the side of the road? You better believe I'd rip out a spark plug or two if it meant getting to spend even five seconds in your presence. You're the fucking one. Even if y ou didn't give me Jamie - which is the greatest goddamn gift in the world, by the way - I'd still want to be with you. Even if you hadn't said you loved me back, I'd take whatever scraps you were willing to give me as long as I could be with you. I don't give a shit if that makes me pathetic -"
Sabrina: "You're not pathetic. You could never be pathetic."
Tuck: "I wouldn't care if you thought I was. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, Sabrina James."
Sabrina: "No. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Before I can lead down to kiss her, a hearty cry waits through the apartment.
Tuck: "And that, is the best thing that's ever happened to either one of us."
Sabrina: "Yes. It is."
Check out the rest of the Off-Campus series below