Neither of them have time or the desire for anyone else in their lives.
This fake relationship they have to act out to put an evil man behind bars could be just enough for them.
Will lines get blurred? Will they catch the child-kidnapper?
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“He looks like the fuckin’ Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.” Luca shakes his head and laughs as
Victor makes his way onto the ice.
He does, and I bust out laughing, too.
“What the fuck, man?” I ask my teammate. “If you fall on your ass, you’re not gonna be able to get back up.”
Vic glares at the group of us standing near the goal on the ice. Practice ended a few minutes ago, and since he lost a bet about whether the first or second line would score more goals during a drill, he has to goaltend while every player shoots three pucks at him.
“Yeah, well I know you fuckers are going to try to knock my dick off so I had to put on extra padding,” he says, sulking.
Knox gives him an incredulous look. “You’ve got a dick? I’ve never seen it in the shower. I thought you were the first female NHL player.”
“Laugh it up, assholes,” Vic says, skating over to his spot in front of the goal.
Anton’s first in line to shoot, and he says, “Don’t bitch, man. That bet was your idea.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think you’d shoot like my fucking grandma when I made it. You’re supposed to be on the first line for a reason.”
Anton grins. “I’m not saying I deliberately missed shots so I could see you get knocked on your ass, but…I’m not saying I didn’t, either.”
He fires a puck, and as Victor slides down to block it, he loses his footing and goes down. I feel a twinge of satisfaction. As goalie, I take shit from the guys often about how it’s not as difficult or as exerting as what they do.
Bullshit. I started out playing offense as a center as a kid. In high school, my coach asked me to learn to play goalie as a backup, and I ended up loving it. Hockey is a team sport, and I’ve always liked being part of a team. But as a goalie, I have more control. I don’t have to rely on getting good passes or deal with puck hogs. I get into my own mental zone and escape everyone else during games.
I feel a lot more pressure playing as a goaltender than I did as a center. If I play well, it’s all on me, but if I don’t…that’s all on me, too.
My teammates fire at Vic, pucks hitting his padded chest or getting past him into the goal. He’s scowling, because while he’s a happy-go-lucky guy, he doesn’t like being the butt of anyone’sjoke. He totally brought this on himself, though. Vic runs his mouth too much.
“You suck!” a defender named Pike yells as a puck slides through an opening between Vic’s legs.
“You get over here and try, motherfucker,” Vic calls back, waving his stick in the air.
I see movement up in the owner’s box, and I look up to see our team owner, Olivier Durand, sitting there watching us. He’s wearing a dark suit and a huge grin. I raise a hand in a wave and he waves back.
Durand’s a good guy. He bought the Chicago Blaze because he loves hockey, and he’s been willing to invest in the team and trust his coaching staff. Other teams have micromanaging owners or worse, cheap ones.
I don’t do relationships. A federal agent whose life revolves around rescuing kidnapped children, I’ve got no interest in catching any man who’s not a criminal. So when my new assignment in Chicago requires me to get closer to a VIP Chicago Blaze fan, Blaze goalie Jonah West is the perfect cover. Like me, he’s too focused on his career to make time for love, dates or even hookups.
I had my great love, and I lost her. No woman will ever compare to the blond ray of sunshine who left me half a man three years ago. And even though I help out my police officer brother by pretending to be head over heels for Reyna, it’s just a farce to put an evil man behind bars. Reyna is a fierce, raven-haired cop with steely eyes and a foul mouth—not my type in the slightest. But when lines get blurred, my fake feelings for Reyna become more real than anything I thought my beat-up heart could ever feel again.
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Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, chocolate, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.
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