Everyone knows the girl is off limits. But it’s so good to be bad.
There’s this girl…
Heidi and I have been trading hungry looks all year, and everything she does makes me smile. But I don’t do girlfriends, and I certainly can’t get involved with the league commissioner’s daughter. I need shots on goal, not a hookup and a widely misunderstood paparazzi photo.
Can I resist her, though? The way she teases me should be a game penalty for interference with my libido.
There’s this guy…
Jason wants me, but he won’t admit it. That man looks at me the way a hockey player eyes the lunch buffet after practice–and I love it.
But when victory is finally within my grasp, I blow it and humiliate myself. Even then I can’t even avoid him–as the team intern, I’m in constant view of his hard body and cocky smile.
I need another chance. Jason Castro is about to learn the true meaning of an overnight sensation.
I’m used to being a good girl. I never refuse Daddy’s calls, and I never drink shots of tequila with the team in the bar.
Tonight, though? It’s time for a change. Take that, Daddy. And who knew I could slug back tequila like a party girl?
The problem is that I don’t know what to do next. I’ve never had a one-night stand. And every time Jason looks me up and down with those sinful eyes, I feel a little thrill of excitement.
And—fine—nerves. Although the tequila will help with that.
Besides, when you need a job done right, you’re supposed to hire an expert. And that’s what I want from Jason Castro. He’s the most notorious hookup artist on the team. He’s hot as blazes, and a real smooth-talker. I like everything about him, from his rich, bronze-toned skin to his hypnotic brown eyes.
He can talk me through it. I’m a quick study.
And I’m not a virgin. There have been boyfriends—four of them. But not one of them ever managed to… There’s no polite way to say it. Nice Southern girls aren’t supposed to speak in detail about sex. But let’s just say I’ve never been very satisfied by my sexual experiences so far.
So this is not an opportunity to be squandered. In fact, it’s time to up the ante. Just because I don’t have a whole lot of experience seducing men doesn’t mean I’m clueless about life in general.
Slowly, I ease my body a little closer to his. Two inches, maybe. Then I smile at him.
And—holy heck—the results are instantaneous. His eyes sweep down my body. And it’s almost as if he touched me with his hands, too. I feel that gaze burning me up everywhere it lands. Then he looks up again and gives me a hot smile. We’re having an entire conversation without words.
This is a revelation. I feel bold and a little wild.
“So what happens next, Hot Pepper?” he asks.
Oh my. That thumping sound is my heart taking off like a jackrabbit running a fifty-yard dash. I thought I had some more time to get used to the idea before we actually made our move.
“Are you gonna stay in Brooklyn and finish your internship, even if it causes family strife?”
“Oh,” I say slowly, because, whoops! I’m the one who’s gotten ahead. “I’ll stick with the internship. Heck, yes. I have no marketable skills.” My internship doesn’t pay very much. But I can live in Daddy’s Manhattan apartment and ride the subway to work.
“Good for you,” Jason says.
“It’s an easy decision,” I agree. “I need to start living differently, or I’m in danger of spending the rest of my life trying to please other people.”
“That’s no good,” he agrees. We’re still standing way too close together, and we’re still flirting. But I can tell he’s actually listening.
“I was deeply unhappy at school last year. And my parents didn’t care. You know what’s funny?” I can hear myself talking too much, but his attentiveness encourages me. “When I was a teenager I actually took classes on how to please people. It’s called charm school.”
His deep laugh vibrates through my belly. “To learn to be charming? I can already tell you got an A-plus.”
“That’s natural ability,” I tease. “But they taught us etiquette—which fork to use first and how to set a table for six courses. How to daintily remove an olive pit from your mouth. How to introduce two people when there’s an imbalance of power.”
“How do you do that?” he asks, leaning in just a few millimeters closer.
“You’re supposed to address the person of higher rank first. ‘Mr. Important Person, I would like to introduce Mr. Lesser-person.’ And then you offer any further details that are appropriate to the situation.” I can smell his aftershave. It’s clean and spicy. I have the strangest urge to lean in and kiss his angular jaw.
“Who knew?” He moves imperceptibly closer. “And now I’m wondering how many times I’ve been put in my place like that without realizing it.”
“Oh, please,” I tease him. “Try being the office intern for a day. I might as well wear a nametag that says, Hello My Name Is Lesser Person.”
“What else did they teach you at charm school?”
“How to foxtrot. The proper way to phrase a wedding invitation. Penmanship. How to dance with a boy you don’t like in order to save his feelings. In other words, how to be a good girl even when you don’t want to be.” The more I think about it, the more it sounds like brainwashing.
“Hmm,” Jason whispers. We’re so close together now that the word vibrates against my cheek. And then he leans in and lets his lips coast past my temple. It’s so faint that it can’t even be called a kiss. But it makes me shiver just the same.
No wonder this man gets any woman he wants. I’m practically quivering for him, and he hasn’t even kissed me.
Then his voice drops low, and he asks, “Would you rather be a bad girl, Heidi?”
Holy heck in a handbag! It’s the cheesiest line ever, but my girl parts shimmy all the same.
And then he puts his mouth right beside my ear. “Are you—” He drops his voice to barely a whisper. “—thinking of wearing white after Labor Day?
About Sarina Bowen
Her Ivy Years and Brooklyn Bruisers books are hockey romance novels. These two connected series began breaking hearts in 2014 with The Year We Fell Down. See http://www.sarinabowen.com for updates.
HIM and US are the bestselling, hockey LGBT novels co-written with Elle Kennedy. HIM is also a finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® Award.
For lovers of angsty snowboarders, Sarina also writes the Gravity series, featuring snow sports heroes.
Sarina enjoys skiing, coffee products and a nice glass of wine. She lives with her family, six chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.
She would be honored to connect with you at http://www.sarinabowen.com.