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Too Close to Call by Tessa Bailey

Too Close to Call

by Tessa Bailey

Published by 1001 Dark Nights

Book 3.5 in Romancing the Clarksons Series

All-American wide receiver Kyler Tate’s life is about to change.

A fairytale college career skyrocketed him to the NFL draft. Adoration and opportunity are thrown in his direction wherever he goes, thanks to being chosen in the first round by the Los Angeles Rage.

None of the accolades mean anything, though, without his high school sweetheart, Bree Sutton, by his side. Four years ago, she walked away from Kyler, choosing a quiet life over the flash and notoriety his career would someday bring.

Now he’s back in their Indiana hometown, refusing to leave for Los Angeles without her. Demanding she give their life together a shot. Her heart never stopped bleeding for the love of her life, but Bree’s decision was final. Too bad their wild attraction has only been amplified by their separation, and Kyler won’t quit until Bree is wearing his ring.



What a sweet ... and steamy little novella.

I was having trouble deciding what to read a couple of weeks ago, so I told myself I either had to pick up one of the books on my bookshelf, or continue on to a series I haven't finished yet.

This is one of the reasons I have this website, as it's easier than goodreads to look back and see what books I've missed in a series I enjoyed.

While I knew that there was a novella in Tessa Bailey's Romancing the Clarkson's series, I hadn't gotten around to reading it yet.

It was cute!

I love a childhood sweethearts/second chance trope. There is just so much tension and longing - and drama - that I find myself drawn to them.

Add on top of that a man who is willing to fight for the woman he loves? Love it!

I don't have too much to say over this. It's short, it's sweet, with just enough steam. If you like Tessa Bailey, and skipped this story while reading Romancing the Clarkson's, I know you will enjoy it like I did!



Bree slipped her hand into Kyler’s and went up on her toes, whispering in his ear.

Bree: “I’ll meet you out back after your dance.”

Kyler: “You don’t want to stick around and see my oversized head in a crown?”

Bree: “I’ll see you in it later.”

Her slow wink sent warmth sliding into his belly.

Bree: “Whoa there,”

Bree whispered shakily.

Bree: “This is a church dance.”

Her words seemed to bring him back from whatever land he’d been teleported to.

Kyler: “Right. We’re supposed to be setting an example.”

Bree: “Yes.”

Kyler: “So I should definitely stop thinking about sucking on your lower lip.”

Bree’s thighs pressed together, her gasping inhale shivering all the way down into her tummy. Lower.

Bree: “Stop that right now.”

His gaze remained zeroed in on her mouth.

Kyler: “Stop thinking about it or saying it out loud?”

Bree: “Both.”

Trying desperately to remain indignant in the face of that face—and that drawl, those muscles, his familiar scent—Bree warned him with a look.

Bree: “You said we were going to be friends. There’s nothing the least bit friendly about lip sucking.”

Kyler: “I don’t know.”

He hummed in his throat and tightened his hold around her waist.

Kyler: “Seems like letting me do it would be mighty friendly of you.”

Kyler moved in and brushed his lips along her jawline.

Kyler: “Depends on how good of friends we want to be.”

One hand lifted to squeeze her hip, slow and possessive, that low voice directly against her ear.

Kyler: “Me, Bree? All due respect, I want to be the kind of friend who takes your panties home in his pocket. The kind of friend who sucks your lower lip until your fingers start fumbling with his zipper. You need a friend like that?”

His labored breath matched hers.

Kyler: “Because trust me when I say I’ll be your best fucking friend.”

Kyler: “Those girls aren’t waiting around for you to take initiative. They have a whole bunch of initiative all their own if they want to use it. But they’ll appreciate a guy a lot more for trying. And does anyone know what happens when girls appreciate you?”

Teen: “Sex?”

Kyler: “No.”

His genuine outrage made several of them laugh.

Kyler: “No. Not…well, fine. Yes. But kissing was the answer I was looking for. Kissing.”

Bree: “Okay, I’ll bite. Why is this conversation going to be so earth-shattering?”

Heidi: “Oh no. You make me call you thirty-nine times, you’re going to wait for the Tootsie Roll center, baby. Keep licking.”

Heidi: “So you don’t mind if Karen Hawthorne asks him out?”

Bree: “What?”

Bree’s stomach plummeted.

Bree: “When did Karen Hawthorne come into the picture?”

Heidi: “Since now.”

Satisfaction weighed down Heidi’s tone over successfully getting Bree’s attention.

Heidi: “I can see that hen in the fox house from here. She’s parked at the curb, fixing her mascara in the rearview. That’s as good as confirmation in my book.”

A pressure formed on top of Bree’s lungs, pushing down.

Bree: “So…she should go ahead and ask him.”

She tried to swallow, but her throat was as dry as the desert.

Bree: “It’s none of my business.”

Heidi: “No, I suppose not.”

Bree could hear Heidi’s manicured fingernails tapping the reception desk. Clack. Clack. Clack.

Heidi: “Hell. You can’t really blame the woman, can you? Kyler Tate, soon to be professional NFL receiver, rolls up into the local gym looking like something out of Sports Illustrated. He runs so fast and so long, he soaks his T-shirt right through with sweat. It’s so wet, he has to take it off and—”

Bree dropped the cone, straightening in the truck’s front seat.

Bree: “Kyler…it’s…he took his shirt off?”

Heidi: “That’s exactly what I said.”

Smug. Heidi was so smug.

Heidi: “Now, you know I have a man and I do not have a wandering eye, but Bree, when an unattached man walks into your town looking so mighty, so heavy with muscle, like he could grind a woman’s vagina to fine powder, ladies start fixing their mascara. It’s just the nature of the beast.”

She blew out at a breath.

Heidi: “Good thing he ain’t your man, huh?”

Bree: “Stall her. I’ll be there in ten.”

Heidi: “Consider it done.”

Heidi: “Y’all, I’m going to—”

Heidi popped her head around the corner, turning into the cat who caught the canary when she glimpsed Bree’s attire.

Heidi: “I’m going to run out for an iced coffee, so I should be gone about twenty minutes. I’ll be locking the door behind me, should that information be of any interest to you.”

Bree: “It’s not,”

Kyler: “Thank you, Heidi,”

Kyler said at the same time.

Bree: “You wore that cologne on purpose. Admit it.”

His grin flashed.

Kyler: “Guilty as charged and unrepentant as a sinner.”

Her gasp only widened his smile.

Bree: “Bragging about sinning now, are you, Kyler?”

Kyler: “You say my name all shaken up and sexy like that when you want me to kiss your pretty mouth.”

Hunger made his tone sound like two knives sharpening each other.

Kyler: “I reckon nothing has changed.”

Bree: “I-in the name of being friendly and all.”

Kyler rolled his hips and Bree saw stars.

Kyler: “It’s just good manners making your pussy wet, is that right?”

Bree: “Yes?”

Kyler: “Hush up, Bree.”

Kyler: “I would trade anything that happened on the field over the last four years…”

He spoke in a rough whisper against her ear.

Kyler: “…to keep that kiss we just had from fading away. You hear me, Bree Caroline?”

Kyler: “I need her. I love her. She’s mine and I’m hers. Her stubbornness is why I love her most of all, so I’m going about this in a language only she and I know.”

Kyler: “I’m back in town to make your daughter my wife. My life won’t ever be complete without her. I have to believe hers won’t be complete without me, either. Just for my sanity.”

Inside, Bree turned to look at him through the window and his pulse started knocking around.

Kyler: “She’s not going to make this easy. Neither are you. But all due respect, sir, this time around, I’m looking forward to the test.”

Bree: “Speaking of, I’m surprised you didn’t eat half on the drive over.”

Flirting. She was flirting. In her own dining room, for heaven’s sake.

Bree: “Are you finally learning to control yourself?”

His voice dropped, along with his gaze, where it lingered on her double-lifted breasts.

Kyler: “Leaning to control myself?”

He made a low sound.

Kyler: “Just barely.”

Bree’s face heated.

Bree: “Kyler Joseph Tate.”

Kyler: “Stop tempting me when your daddy is nearby.”

Kyler nodded, then reached out to slip a stray curl behind her ear.

Kyler: “They’re taking bets in town on whether or not your daddy is planning to poison me.”

Samuel: “I haven’t decided yet,”

Samuel said behind them, letting the kitchen door slam.

Bree: “You…”

she started in a shaky whisper.

Bree: “Y-you’re…”

Kyler: “Sad. Happy. Horny. Miserable. Confident. Worried. Horny. Did I say that last one twice?”

As soon as he reached the grassy bank surrounding the creek, Kyler dropped to his knees with Bree still cradled in his arms. And then she was on her back beneath him, twin reflections of the moon lighting up her eyes.

Kyler: “You. You make me everything on that fucking list.”

Bree: “Oh yeah?”

Baring her teeth, she took hold of either side of his shirt and ripped it straight down the middle, sending buttons flying in every direction.

Bree: “If I make you so crazy, what do you want with me?”

Kyler: “Everything.”

Kyler: “Bree, I’m a mess. I’ve been a mess since the last time we stood beside this creek. You want to know if I need you? Just look at me. All you ever have to do is look at me and you’ll see it.”

Bree used a mental machete to slash a pathway out of her head… And once she stood on the other side, it was like stumbling into a vivid, Technicolor dream. So much pent-up passion ran circles in Kyler’s eyes, she couldn’t believe she hadn’t seen it before. At least not since he’d come home to visit.

Bree: “Oh.”

She swallowed hard.

Bree: “You are a mess.”

He dropped his face into the crook of her neck and rolled those powerful hips, denim dragging over cotton, enticing the flesh beneath.

Kyler: “Heal me. Please.”

Kyler: “How come you took off your bra, but you’ve still got one on?”

Bree: “Oh th-that.”

She got busy unhooking the second bra.

Bree: “Would you believe it was an honest mistake?”

His lips jumped at one corner.

Kyler: “Nope.”

Bree: “I didn’t want my hard nipples showing at dinner. You happy?”

Kyler: “Blissful.”

Without taking his gaze off Bree longer than necessary, Kyler stooped down to retrieve his shirt, pulling it on. First off, if she ran, he didn’t want to chase her naked. Second, a man ought to have his nipples covered when a woman’s claws came out.

Kyler: “You know I want more with you, Bree Caroline. You know I want it all. And I’m not going to stop until I get it.”

Kyler: “I’ve loved you as far back as my memory reaches. I will never fucking stop. I came to town for one damn reason, Bree. So I could leave here with my wife. You.”

Bree: “Kyler,”

she breathed, her cheeks growing more and more damp, every tear doing its best to slay him.

Bree: “That’s…crazy. We haven’t been together in four years.”

Holding back or being delicate was out the window. Cinder and ash and truth poured out of him, scorching him on the way out.

Kyler: “And yet I’ve been faithful. My hands are meant for you alone and I haven’t laid them on a single other person.”

He held them up, palms out, as if the proof was visible.

Kyler: “Tell me you haven’t been faithful right back, so I can kiss your lying mouth.”

Kyler: “You’re my girl. You always have been.”

His voice shook.

Kyler: “That’s why you run and hide every time I come to town, because your heart wouldn’t let you forget it.”

Kyler: "I got called to the stage on Draft Day and all I could think about was you. How none of it meant shit unless you were standing beside me.”

It made him want to tear out his hair, the disbelief she turned on him.

Bree: “This is my home, Kyler. Nothing has changed. I won’t leave it or my family.”

Kyler: “Well, you’re my home and I won’t leave you behind, either.”

Bree: “Behave yourself, Kyler Joseph, or I’ll take a bite out of you.”

Kyler: “Promise?”

A chuckle burst free of Bree’s lips.

Bree: “What’s wrong with the name Mitch?”

Kyler: “Nothing. It’s perfect. It’s exactly what I would name the man I had to battle for your favor.”

Bree: “But you didn’t battle him,”

He winked at her over the top of the mare’s head.

Kyler: “Didn’t I?”

Kyler: “It matters.”

He ground their foreheads together, beginning to pump in earnest, one forceful drive after the other.

Kyler: “Where I fuck the love of my life matters. I want to buy sheets together, bring them home, and lick you until they’re drenched. I don’t want time limits or worrying if we’ll get caught. I’m a goddamn man and I want my woman beside me when I sleep, Bree.”

Kyler: “You’ll always be mine, won’t you?”

Bree: “Same as you’ll always be mine.”


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