The Puck Charmer
The Puck Charmer
There was a time when I got off on the instant recognition, the endless flow of puck bunnies, and media exposure. That was then. Now, after a successful NHL season, I’m just looking for some down time. To slide under the radar, kick back and soak up some peace and quiet in Vermont…until I accidently hit another vehicle and meet the driver. With her amber hair tied back in a ponytail, and dirt on the knees of her coveralls, she’s different from any woman I’ve ever met, and the best part? She has no idea who I am.
All I want is to build my landscaping business and take care of my grandmother. But when some hot out-of-towner rams his vehicle into mine, and doesn’t have the funds to pay for repairs, we come to a compromise. He works off the damage by working for me. When a touch leads to a kiss, I quickly learn that while he might not have a green thumb, he certainly has a magical touch.
Who knew a collision would lead to a crash course on love, but after I discover the secret he’s hiding, will our feelings for one another wither or will they bloom into something more?
Both on and off the ice, I’m known as the Wingman. When it comes to my teammates, I’m the ice breaker, happy to help them look good with the ladies, and once I set the play in motion, my job is to disappear. I have zero problems fading into the background. Hell, being invisible saved my ass more than once in foster care. Now, a hot little nurse has asked me to be her wingman, but the uncertainty in her big, brown eyes slay me. I know that feeling—the fear of rejection—all to well, and for once, watching from the sideline is a no go.
When it comes to relationships, I need all the help I can get. When Rider agrees to be my buffer, I happily put myself in his capable hands. It isn’t his fault my date goes south, but the tough as nails hockey player takes it personal. Under his wing, I find the freedom to let go, and the joy of having it accepted. But can two people, one afraid he’s unlovable and the other afraid to love, trust in themselves enough to realize this could be their shot at happily ever after?
The Risk Taker
In the NHL, I’m known as the Risk Taker, and I happily lived up to that handle, especially in my private life, until tragedy struck and turned my world inside out. I still play hard on the ice, take chances in every game and reap the rewards when they pay off, but when the buzzer sounds, ending the game, The Risk Taker takes the bench. Off the ice, I’m cautious. No commitments, no tomorrows. Then my late brother’s wife returns to Seattle with her four-year-old son, asking me for help. Fallon an I used to be best friends. Used to be. I don’t want to get close. I’ll only end up hurting her again. But how can I say no to the woman I’ve secretly loved for as long as I can remember? The woman who is a widow because of me. Or do I let down my guard and take the biggest risk of my life?
Coming back to Seattle and facing Jamie is the second hardest thing I’ve done in my life. The first was burying his brother and then walking away. But my son needs a positive male role model, and there’s no one I trust for the job but his Uncle Jamie. I ran away from him after the fatal car accident—not because I blamed him, but to protect him. He’s agreed to help us, opened his home to us, and for the first time in my life, I feel I’m finally where I was always meant to be. When I’m in his arms, I’m sure of it. When I learn he blames himself for the accident, I know I must tell him the truth, but will knowing the real reason behind the crash give him the freedom to forgive himself and move on, or will it destroy everything he’s believed in, including me? For Jamie’s sake, it’s a risk I have to take.
THe Hard Hitter
In the NHL, I’m known as the Hard Hitter but my puck-handling skill isn’t my greatest accomplishment. That would be my four-year-old daughter Daisy and I’ll do anything to protect her. I’m careful who I let into our lives, but the more I’m around Samantha, my daughter’s speech pathologist, the more I’m reminded of how long I’ve been functioning solely as a dad. I don’t want to trust her, don’t want to get close. I don’t want to fall in love with her or her big, welcoming family but sometimes, don’ts have a way of becoming dos, no matter how hard you fight it.
Getting involved with a client’s father is a strict “no,” but when Zander shows me how good he is at talking bad, it sets off a firestorm of need hot enough to melt the ice in the rink he plays on. I’m not good at relationships and have basically given up on men, but a brief fling with a dirty talking hockey player sounds pretty good at the moment. I didn’t expect to actually fall for him and his daughter, or that it would be so good, but leave it to me to do the one and only thing that taps into his darkest fears and incinerate the fragile trust that’s built between us.
The Body Checker
I’m the NHL’s toughest enforcer, the Body Checker, and I earned that title the hard way. I’m all about the game, a no attachment, no strings kind of guy, so when a puck bunny shows up at my door, shoves a pink bundle into my hands and drives off into the sunset, it turns my world upside down. I’m not cut out to be a family man. I know nothing about babies and I’m the last guy who should be taking care of one. But I do know someone who is equipped for the job—Quinn Reed, my best friend’s kid sister. Problem is, she kind of…hates me.
Jonah Long…a father? Move in and help take care of his daughter? Crazy as that sounds, I agree to the temporary arrangement, for the child’s sake. Problem is, living with the guy I’ve crushed on since forever, is messing with my body as well as my brain. And now, watching him grow as a man, seeing the bond between father and daughter build, I can’t help but want this family for myself. But we’re just playing house, and Jonah isn’t interested in making this ready-made family the real deal…right?
The Stick Handler
I’m known in the NHL as The Stick Handler, but according to a conversation I accidently overheard between my fiancé and her friend, I’m The Money Maker, and marrying me will get her daddy—who just happens to own the hockey team I play for—off her back and secure her financial future, whether the marriage lasts or not. Now, call me a prick for canceling our Valentine’ wedding at the eleventh hour, but when she threatens to ruin my career and reputation, it’s the icing on the uncut wedding cake. She gives me a week to reconsider, and I take it—at the Italian resort booked for the honeymoon that will never be, and there’s no one I’d rather take with me than Katee, the girl who has held a special place in my heart since forever. When the concierge mistakes her for the bride, we go with it. Only problem is, the place reeks of romance and keeping my hands to myself might prove to be the toughest game I’ve ever played.
A honeymoon in Italy and I’m not the bride? How can I say no when Luke needs a shoulder to cry on, and no matter what, I’ll always be there for him. The problem is, none of my imaginary kisses come close to the reality of Luke’s mouth on mine, even if it’s just for show, and it’s going to take more space than a king-size bed provides to keep things in the friend zone. I’m weak, I admit it, but this is Luke, and the more we pretend, the more real it feels. Will our make-believe honeymoon be the end of a lifelong friendship? Will returning home mean the end of his career, or the beginning of something so much more?
My only goal is to heal from this concussion and get back on the ice—until Nina Callaghan shows up at my door asking for hockey lessons. She’s my best friend’s kid sister, which puts her in the hands-off zone, so I used to tease her without mercy—the ballerina on ice—until a knee injury grounded her. But little Nina is all grown up now, and wants something from me, and I sure as hell want something back. Now it's game on, and I'm pulling out all the plays.
Asking my old nemesis for a favor is the last thing I want to do, but when my editor charges me with writing a romantic series about hot hockey players, I have no choice but to turn to Cocky Cole Cannon, and he didn’t earn that handle from flashing his infamous grin. When he agrees to teach me, little did I know he’d have a hidden agenda. I want to say no, but when the Playmakers introduces me to his off-ice moves, the only words on my lips are yes.
No way can I fall for the girl I’ve been crushing on since…forever. Not only will her brother kill me, we don't belong in each other’s world. I should have kept things in the neutral zone, but when one sweet taste becomes a game changer, I fear it could uncover everything I spent years hiding, and destroy Nina right along with it.