Authors: Kat Latham
Tags: #london, #rugby, #christmas romance, #sports romance, #christmas and holiday, #romance novella, #plussize heroine, #christmas novella, #rugby sex, #rugby romance
A London Legends Christmas Novella
Published by Kat Latham
Copyright © 2014 by Kat Latham
Cover by Jessica Cantor
This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This book or any portion
thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher except for
the use of brief quotations in a book review. To obtain permission
to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at
All characters in this book are fiction and
figments of the author’s imagination. www.katlatham.com
For my mom. I want to be like you when I grow
And for Bobbie Fenton, a reader who said she
would love a story about Gwen and Little John. Bobbie, this one’s
Table of Contents
I’d like to thank Dr. Laurence Grey for
fact-checking my hospital scenes. Sorry I made you blush,
My editor, Deb Nemeth, and my agent, Laura
Bradford, both steered this story in the right direction when I
lost my way.
My friends and writing buddies helped me so
much. Lia Riley, Kelsey Browning, Brighton Walsh, Alison Packard,
Christi Barth, Suzanne Johnson, Moriah Densley and Elise Rome—you
Jessica Cantor designed a gorgeous cover for
me. Thank you for being an absolute delight to work with.
Virginie Blaty, thank you for fixing my
terrible French and helping me with the French cultural
My mom, Cindy Crew, became my administrative
assistant and learned all about self-publishing so we could bring
this story to readers. Mom, I hope you don’t regret saying, “I need
something to do now that I’m retired.” Thank you for your help!
Last but certainly not least, a huge
thank-you to the readers who let me know how much they love my
Legends. I hope you enjoy John and Gwen’s story!
You should be able to enjoy this book without
knowing anything about rugby—or knowing British slang—but here are
a few things it might be helpful to know before you read.
In rugby, players don’t get to choose a
uniform number just because it’s their favorite or has sentimental
meaning. Rugby uniform numbers show a player’s position (unless he
or she comes on as a substitute). So when John tells Gwen that he’s
number five, he’s telling her his position as well as his uniform
number. A number 5 is also called a
. These players are often the biggest on the pitch and
Here’s some British slang and rugby terms
readers might not be familiar with.
Chat someone up:
hit on someone.
: very pleased.
a mild expletive, like
Kick the ball into touch:
ball out of bounds.
a rugby term. After the
ball goes into touch (out of bounds), players from both teams form
two lines and lift their tallest teammates into the air to try to
catch the ball when it is thrown back in. Because it can be very
dangerous, players are not allowed to tackle anyone who is lifting
a player off the ground.
a rugby term. In a ruck,
players from both teams try to gain possession of the ball by
moving it with their feet to their teammates behind them. There are
a lot of rules governing rucks—for example, players have to stay on
their feet—but it can look like a chaotic pile of players crashing
into each other.
wives and girlfriends of
professional sports players.
The goddess wore a rugby shirt with the wrong
number on it.
John Sheldon watched the woman walk through
the door of the stadium’s hospitality suite, where he and his
London Legends teammates would soon be auctioned off for charity.
Outside, snow blanketed the rugby pitch while green and white
Christmas lights strung around the stadium blazed with the team’s
colors. Inside, rich people were getting pissed on mulled wine and
whisky he’d never be able to afford under normal circumstances.
John had been trying not to yawn when the woman entered the
Her height drew his notice first. How could
it not, when the next-tallest woman in the room came to her
shoulders? She was the only woman here who wouldn’t make him feel
like a towering giant. Her face was angled away from him, and her
wheat-blond locks of hair had been twisted and clamped behind her
head in one of those casually elegant styles that begged to be
undone, mussed up by big, clumsy fingers. Her neck was slender, her
shoulders broad, and her rugby shirt had the number ten on it. His
An elbow jabbed him between the ribs,
jostling the tumbler of Islay whisky he held and splashing the
amber liquid across his hand. “I count three for me, a dozen for
the skipper and nil for you, Shelly. What do you make of that?”
John set his tumbler on a table, tempted to
lick the alcohol off his hand so it didn’t go to waste. Opting
instead for a classiness he usually failed to achieve, he wiped his
wet hand on a cloth serviette and looked down—a good eight inches
down—at Matt Ogden, who’d recently become the team’s starting
fullback. “Nil what?”
“Bidders.” Oggie raised his brows and nodded
at the crowd gathered in the suite.
John scanned the people who’d paid
five-hundred quid each to be here tonight. They’d come to raise
money for several charities by bidding on a player to do pretty
much whatever they wanted for a day. Last year John had been “won”
to teach a kid rugby skills. That was a lot better than the year
before, when he’d had to show up at a stockbroker’s office and
pretend to be his best mate. How he’d got through it without
lamping the arsehole was a mystery.
And Oggie was right—not a single person wore
his number. At the start of the evening, guests received a replica
Legends rugby shirt, and they pinned on it the number of the player
they intended to bid for. It was an ice-breaker that gave the
players a chance to change people’s minds before bidding started. A
good dozen guests, including the goddess, wore the number ten—not
surprising, since his captain Liam Callaghan was one of the
best-known rugby players in the world. But why in God’s green
England would three people want to bid for Oggie when he’d barely
played until last month, while John had started every match?
Okay, so Oggie was a little above average
height, while John was six-nine. He could see how that might
intimidate people. And Oggie was apparently good looking—if you
asked him—so that explained why all of his bidders were female.
“Fucking hell,” John muttered, the potential
for humiliation sinking in. “I’m not standing up there and having
no one bid on me.”
“Looks like that’s
doing. Meanwhile, I’ll have to let those three ladies down gently,”
Oggie said, his voice betraying the fact that he might be here
physically but mentally he was back home, shagging his best friend
The specter of a crushing defeat loomed over
John, and his determination to come out on top finally kicked in.
“I may not get as many bidders as you, mate, but I bet I can raise
“Really?” Oggie laughed and stretched out his
hand. “You’re on. What does the winner get?”
“Pride. Bragging rights.” He held up his
tumbler. “And a bottle of this whisky.”
“Done. Now go do what you do best. Knock some
John knew right where to start. The goddess
might’ve started the evening wearing his captain’s number, but by
the end of the night she would be calling out his.
Wonder if I could wedge those windows open
enough to throw myself out,
Gwen Chambers thought as another of
the women standing near her droned on about her stock portfolio.
Gwen had never considered investments a weapon before, but after
five minutes she felt like she was being battered into a long,
She’d only joined the group so she didn’t
look like a loser, standing alone in a corner or hovering by the
drinks table. This definitely wasn’t her crowd, though. After she’d
spent a twelve-hour shift sprinting from one end to the other of
East London’s busiest Casualty department, inserting IVs, shifting
patients from gurneys to beds, and dealing with a suspected addict
who refused to take no for an answer, these women’s conversation
about their retirement funds had the same effect as chloroform.
The women barely glanced at her as she
excused herself and turned away in search of a different
anesthetic—alcohol. She hadn’t gone far when the air around her
sizzled to life. Tingles shimmied down her back, as if the pin her
sister had used to attach the number ten to her shirt was rubbing
against her skin. The sensation rose, though, from her back to the
base of her skull, stroking along her neck and skimming the top of
Someone was watching her. Someone whose gaze
could reach over her head.
She fought the urge to hunch her shoulders,
make herself smaller. Disappear before she became the arse of
someone’s jokes. But she’d battled that instinct for years and
refused to give in to it now. As nervous energy bubbled beneath her
surface, she carefully focused on composing herself.
A man cleared his throat behind her.
her, actually. The sound had her turning and—
brought her face-to-shoulders with the tallest man she’d
ever seen. She actually had to look up to meet his warm brown gaze,
a gaze made even more brown by the bruises shadowing the delicate
skin under one of his eyes.
At six-one, she’d never felt anything but
massive. Overgrown. Freakzilla, as the kids at school had
not-so-affectionately called her.
This man gave her a brief taste of what it
must be like to be normal. Dainty, petite and feminine. This must
be how her sister Tess felt around everyone she met.
The man stuck out his hand. “John Sheldon.
She placed her hand in his. Currents of
adrenaline made her fingers pulse with a sensation bordering on
pain. “Gwen Chambers. Bidding on number ten.”
“Let me get you a drink and tell you why
that’s a terrible mistake.” Before she could respond to his
flirtatious words, he snapped his fingers. “
related to Tess Chambers?”
“She’s my little big sister,” she said
automatically before noting the deepening confusion on his face. “I
mean, she’s my older sister but she’s a lot littler than me. It’s
something we always say to—you know what? Never mind.”
just shut up, you fool.