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Van (Cold Fury Hockey #9)
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Score one for the Carolina Cold Fury hockey team as a stone-cold badass melts for a woman who makes his blood run hot.
As one of the league’s toughest enforcers, Van Turner is ruthless on the ice. He plays hard because it’s the only way to channel the rage boiling inside, and a reputation as an A-hole is better than everyone knowing the truth. Van has spent his entire life running from a secret that’s kept him from getting involved in relationships—or accepting lucrative deals with East Coast teams. Then the Carolina Cold Fury makes him an offer he can’t refuse . . . and Van meets a woman he can’t resist.
Simone Fournier is the stubborn one in her family—and that’s saying something, considering her brothers are two of the Cold Fury’s biggest stars. Simone gets what she wants, and what she wants is Van. Still, there’s a part of him Simone can’t reach, no matter how hard she tries. In private, he’s all fire and passion. In public, he freezes her out. Van may want to push her away, but Simone won’t let him go that easily. Because this time, she’s playing for keeps.
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I know I should get up and hit the gym, but I’m feeling too fucking lazy today. We’re in the home stretch of the regular season with the first round of the play-offs starting next week. Our practices have been light since we’ve clinched the top spot and the coaches want us as fresh as possible. I decide to apply that same reasoning to myself—staying fresh as possible. I’m a procrastinator by nature and I fucking hate working out. It’s a necessary evil, but if I can get by missing one without feeling too terribly guilty, I’ll do it.
Lucas comes out of his bedroom and heads into the kitchen. I can tell by the subtle waft of cologne that follows him as he walks by the couch where I’m lying that he’s going out tonight. I assume he’s seeing that woman he met from the museum. He seems pretty taken with her, which works fine by me. He spends a lot of nights at her apartment, so I have this little house to myself much of time. This is good, because I don’t like to be around people that much.
Since Lucas and I both came to the team at the same time, the Cold Fury management asked us if we wanted to room together until we had time to settle into the area. This seemed like a good idea to me—Lucas as well—so we rented this little house for six months. It’s been good so far and we keep out of each other’s way. But I’d been straight up with him a few days ago when he was telling me about this woman he’s seeing—I think Stephanie’s her name. I’d told him I didn’t make a good friend, which is the truth, and since then he’s not shared anything personal with me.
It’s been all, “I’m ordering a pizza, want in on it?”
Or, “Dude, it’s your turn to take the garbage out. It’s starting to smell.”
Like I said…I’m a procrastinator.
I can hear Lucas rustling around in the refrigerator as I keep my eyes on the news. It’s one of the things I’m a little obsessive about, and if I’m around a television at 6 P.M., I’ve got the news on; first to catch the local, then to catch the national. It’s been a habit of mine since I was a little kid, and yes, I was a weird little kid, no thanks to my parents. It’s why I got my ass kicked so much in grade school.
There’s a knock at the door and I don’t even flinch. I’m being lazy, so I can only muster the strength to roll my eyes to look at Lucas. Yeah, he’s definitely got a date tonight. I can tell by the way he’s dressed and his hair is styled. He stares back at me, holding a water bottle in his hand.
“Are you going to get the door?” he asks before taking a sip of the water.
“Why me?” I drawl.
“Um…because you’re closer to it,” he suggests, and that’s true.
With a heavy sigh, I roll off the couch and take three strides to reach the front door. Like I said, this house is tiny, tiny, tiny.
I swing the door open, not knowing if it’s a neighbor, a Jehovah’s Witness, or perhaps even a crazed fan. Don’t give a fuck either…whichever it is, they’re not getting my time.
My entire body seems to lock for a moment, though, when I take in the beautiful woman standing on the doorstep. She’s got several pieces of luggage on the porch at her feet, and I have to admit, this is the craziest stalker incident I’ve ever heard of.
Too bad she’s crazy, because she’s fucking hot as hell. Long brown hair with lighter streaks of caramel, and hazel eyes that sparkle with intense curiosity as she watches me. I’m wondering if her fan crush is on me or Lucas.
But then it hits me…brown hair, hazel eyes.
Fuck, this is Lucas’s sister. I’ve seen the picture of his family on the entertainment unit that houses our living room TV and I recognize her.
Sweeping a hand from Lucas’s direction toward the woman on the front porch, I step back a bit so Lucas can see her and ask him, “Something you’re not telling me?”
“That’s my sister,” he says as he walks toward us.
Yeah, figured that one out on my own. Just not sure why she’s here at our house.
I turn to look back at his sister as Lucas approaches, and I’m momentarily startled by the way she’s checking me out. Eyes actually dragging down my body, and back up again with pure female appreciation. If I didn’t have such a hard shell in place, I’d actually be a little weirded out that one of my teammate’s family members would be so obvious, but truth be told, I just don’t give a fuck.