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When it comes to romance, Tracy Hayden is not looking for a rematch. She's had epic passion—and problems!—with professional hockey player Ike Jelinek. Brilliant on skates and magic in bed, his too-traditional-for-her views were like a bucket of ice water on their affair.
Then an injury takes Ike out of the game, and everything changes. Suddenly he needs her services-providing business—even though he once claimed it was their biggest problem. Tracy's determined to be professional, despite the sizzling attraction between them that won't go away. Maybe they need a second fling to fix that!
Enjoy an exclusive excerpt:
Ike put his fall out of his mind and focused on seeing the puck as it began to fly at him from all angles, courtesy of his teammates. Strangely, after a dozen shots, he still didn’t feel on his game. Biscuits sailed past him when he should have stopped them.
He frowned, holding up his glove to stop the drill, and took a long drink from his water bottle. After squirting water over his face, he got back into position and nodded to start the routine again.
After another round of shots, he adjusted his stance and his grip. But things still didn’t feel right. He forced himself to focus harder, to visualize success. Gradually, he dragged himself into the right mental zone and settled into a comfortable rhythm. He was satisfied he’d be ready for the game, but something still felt off.
Ike left the ice early and headed back to the locker room. Maybe he needed to start over. He stripped down to bare skin and started to dress again, from the jock up. Right sock, then left. Right pads, then left. Pants. Skates. His trusty old chest-and-arm protector, the one he’d worn ever since he’d come up from the minors. He probably should replace it next season—it had been patched so many times—but he hated breaking in new gear.
Finally, he slipped on a clean jersey and got his mask and gloves ready. He downed his pre-game Sprite as he listened to last-minute instructions from Coach Macarty.
Confident he’d done everything so he could go back out onto the ice with a clear head, Ike began to slip into game mode. As the locker-room clock counted down, his mind became sharper, more focused.
At the three-minute mark, Scotty rose and headed to the front of the locker room. As he had every game since becoming captain, he said, “Let’s go out there and show them the Ice Cats play the best damn hockey in the world.”
Ike joined him, ready to lead the team out. When the doors swung open, he tapped the doorframe for luck and strode forward. The roar of the crowd, along with the announcer’s introduction, welcomed him to the ice. This time, he made it to his crease without mishap. Satisfied, he roughed up the blue paint and repeated his post-to-post sliding ritual.
“Good game, bro.” Bad Boy tapped his stick against Ike’s pads.
He nodded. “You, too.”
The horn sounded and Ike removed his mask for the national anthems.
As the singer began “O Canada,” Ike’s gaze slid over to the family seats. His heart warmed to see his mom and Rory, her husband, and Jake’s parents, with Emily between them. It felt weird to see the gaps for the women who weren’t there. Maggie, who couldn’t leave Joe yet, and Tracy, who always joined her sister and was a staunch Cats’ fan. It was unusual for Tracy to miss a game, even for work. Was she okay?
Not your business.
The singer switched to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Ike forced all thoughts other than those of the players he was about to face from his head.
About the Author: Harlequin SuperRomance author, Anna Sugden, loves reading and writing happy endings as much as hockey! When not reading or watching hockey, she loves football, good food & wine, making simple cross-stitch projects, and collecting memorabilia, penguins and fab shoes!
A former marketing executive and primary teacher, Anna lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and two bossy black cats. Learn more about Anna, her heart-warming romances and her shoes at www.annasugden.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on the Romance Bandits blog.
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