Meet Jake , the sexy, brooding NHL player and Miranda, "the fire to his ice" in this first look.
The glasses are unexpectedly hot.
“Good morning,” I say, feeling awkward. “Want me to come back later?”
“No, come in. I’m just reviewing a contract before I go to practice.”
“You have to do that yourself? Don’t you have an agent or an attorney?”
“Yeah, but I like to read through all my contracts myself. It’s the only time I get to put my business degree to use.”
I look at the screen and see he’s marked several questions on the document.
“Business? That’s what I’m studying.”
“What are you hoping to do when you’re done?”
I shrug. “No idea. Just something besides this. I won’t be done for four or five more years anyway because I can only afford to go part-time.”
I pick up a dirty T-shirt from the couch and an empty water bottle from the coffee table. His room service tray from breakfast is sitting off to the side of the room. Just once in my life, I’d like to get room service. I can’t even imagine having a tray of food delivered to the luxurious suite I’m staying in.
“Just one sec,” Jake says, his eyes fixed on his laptop screen. He saves the document he’s working on, closes the computer screen and gets up, taking off his glasses and leaving them on the desk.
I want him to put them back on, but I don’t say so.
He pushes the room service cart to the door, opens it and leaves the cart in the hallway, then comes back in and picks up a pair of pants from the floor.
“You don’t need to do any of this,” I say. “I’ve got it.”
“I don’t mind.” He gives me a serious look. “Hey, there’s a pair of socks in the bedroom that I need kept out of the dirty laundry until we lose.”
I give him a puzzled look. “Your team, you mean?”
“Yeah. We won Monday night, so I need to wear the same socks I wore that night for every game now.”
“Because . . . it was the socks that did it for you?”
“I’ve got my superstitions.”
“You’ll change your underwear, I hope?”
He grins. “Who says I’m not freeballin’?”
“I don’t even want to know.”
“It’s just the socks,” he says. “And I also won’t shave during our streak.”
“Just wait ’til the playoffs. I’ll have a caveman beard then.”
When are the playoffs? Will he still be around here then? I don’t want to ask, but at the same time, I do.
“So . . .” He clears his throat. “Speaking of my superstitions, it’s game day, and I’ve gotta get to the rink to start my pregame stuff.”
“Is that why you’re nervous?”
He lowers his brows, considering. “I wouldn’t call it nervous, exactly. I just have a game-day mindset. It really starts when I get to the rink, but I kind of start getting myself mentally prepared when I first wake up.”
I don’t understand any of this, but then, I’ve never played a sport. And Jake plays at the highest level. I never considered that he doesn’t just play hockey, he’s expected to play it well. That has to be nerve-wracking.
“So I wanted to ask you,” he says, clearing his throat again, “do you have plans tomorrow night?”
My heart stops beating. I swear it does. I can’t even breathe for a couple seconds. Is he asking me out?
“I have to study for a test I have coming up.”
Nice, Miranda. You could have made something up so it at least sounds like you have a social life.
“Can you maybe study another time?”
Ask me out, please. Even though I should say no, I want to remember what it feels like.
“I need to pick out flooring for my apartment. The contractor’s leaving some samples for me, and I wondered if you might help me pick one.”
“Me? I know nothing about that stuff.”
He shrugs. “There’s no wrong choice. It’s just a bunch of different shades of hardwood.”
“And I was thinking we could get dinner, too.” He meets my gaze seriously. “I feel like a real asshole over Friday night. You must’ve paid for the cab. And God knows what I said in my drunken stupor.”
I smile at him. “You admitted that you have an unusually small dick.”
“Bullshit,” he scoffs.
“No, it was fine. We had a moment over it. The cab driver said he’s got one, too.”
Jake rolls his eyes. “Stop or I’ll whip it out right now and prove you wrong.”
My cheeks warm at the thought. I kind of want to not stop, but I do.
“It was fine, really. Helping out the occasional drunk is part of a bartender’s job.”
“Jake, you don’t need to take me out to dinner to thank me, okay?”
He sighs softly. “You’re not making this easy.”
“I just made it super easy. We’re square, okay? Just hold back some of your bitching when I clean your room and I’ll be forever grateful.”
“I want to take you out to dinner,” he says, his eyes holding mine in a serious way that makes my stomach flip. “And I want to show you my place. It’s not about repaying anything. I want you to see that I’m not just an asshole.”
“So you admit that you are, in part, an asshole?”
He grins sheepishly. “I do.”
God, I want to say yes. I want to fix my hair and have a reason to wear Paige’s Dior perfume that I love. I want to feel pretty—maybe even sexy for the first time in forever. I want to talk to Jake while I’m not cleaning his suite and feel like we have more than a guest-maid flirtation happening.
But I swore off dating. I promised myself I’d focus on school and work free from the distractions and emotional ups and downs caused by men.
“Just say yes, Miranda.”
“I really can’t.”
“Sure you can.”
Reluctantly, I meet his cloudy-sky eyes across the room. “Jake . . .”
“You want me to end up with shitty floors? I’ll think of you every time I look at them, you know. About how you couldn’t spare one evening for your favorite drunken neurotic.”
He can be so charming when he wants to. Dangerously charming. And really, what’s one evening?
Want to read more of this sultry, holiday romance?
Read chapter 1-4 HERE
From the author of the On the Line and Fire on Ice hockey romance series comes a sultry novel featuring a brooding NHL player who’s hell on skates—and the no-nonsense woman who forces him to clean up his act.
Miranda: Even though I’m broke, putting myself through college, and working two jobs, I’m trying to make the best of it. Meanwhile, Jake Birch, hockey’s hottest bad boy, lives in a luxury hotel in downtown Chicago--and still complains about every little thing in his penthouse. But after I tell him off, instead of getting me fired, Jake requests me as his personal housekeeper. Then he starts flirting with me. Only I’m not flirting back . . . at least, I’m trying not to. Did I mention that he’s hockey’s hottest bad boy?
Jake: I’ve met the best woman at the worst possible time. Miranda is the fire to my ice—a sexy, charmingly candid spark who breaks down my walls and reminds me what it’s like to feel again. But I’m being forced to date my team owner’s daughter to keep my job, so I can’t be caught with Miranda. Still, we’re getting closer—until Miranda finds out about my “girlfriend.” And that’s not the only secret I’ve been keeping. But Miranda’s the one I want . . . even if she doesn’t believe me.
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