Ice Cold Heart – Sample

Chapter One


Red lipstick. I stared down at my book, not seeing the words past the memory of scarlet lips on a fuck you face. The same problem I’d been having since I’d seen her weeks ago—a beautiful moment of calm in the chaos of the team’s celebration. Hockey players weren’t subtle about our wins, and she’d walked right through all of us to talk to Coach as if we weren’t there.

Lucky bastard.

I scrubbed a hand down my face and pushed the book away. Might as well take a break since none of the words were registering anyway. My fingers tapped out a random rhythm on the scarred table as I let the visual play out. I’d only caught a glimpse of the girl, less than a minute before she’d disappeared down the tunnel on her heeled boots.

Oh yeah, I’d committed her to memory. Tight jeans cupping a full ass, hips swaying, long dark hair brushing her back. My dick perked up at the image, and I sighed. She might as well have stepped out of my dreams. Even if she hadn’t sported an invisible do not touch sign, even if she hadn’t spoken only to Coach, I doubted I’d ever see her again. What were the chances?

I leaned back in the uncomfortable padded chair, wincing at the pain in my lower back and wishing the school wasn’t so stingy. Teagan University was an expensive private university boasting some of the best sports teams in college athletics, but they sucked at providing for the average students. A rich alumnus had donated enough to build a state-of-the-art hockey arena, which resulted in TU developing a D1 hockey team on the way to the Frozen Four.  

And the chairs in the library had to be at least twenty years old.

I stretched my arms over my head, twisting to pop my back, and surveyed the crowded room. Finals week was the worst time to find a quiet spot in the library. Every table was full of students with crazed eyes quizzing each other. Loudly. I’d carved out a space on the second floor, but my small table was at the edge of the main study area.

My gaze snagged on a girl sitting alone several tables down, nearly hidden in the corner. The fall of her straight dark hair blocked most of her face, but I caught a hint of red lipstick. And I’d recognize those boots anywhere.  

No fucking way.

I blinked a couple of times, half expecting my dream girl to disappear, but she tilted her head back to take a sip from the disposable coffee cup next to her. My heart raced at the sight of the girl I couldn’t get out of my mind. Sheer disbelief rooted me to my chair. TU had to have something like ten thousand students, and luck had shined down on me.

If my roommate, Reece, hadn’t been blasting his music like a dumbass, I wouldn’t have ventured out to the library and found her again. I could never tell him that. His ego would become unwieldy, and we’d have to shave his head like we’d done to Jaden after the naked footrace incident.

Before I could figure out a way to go over there without looking like a stalker, another guy approached her table. Medium height and build, no backpack, cocky smile—he wasn’t looking for somewhere to study. I crossed my arms and tried not to glare in their direction.

The guy tried to pull the chair next to her out, but she caught it with her leg, preventing it from going anywhere. She didn’t even look up from the textbook in front of her.

Despite the volume level, I could hear her clearly. “Nope.”

He leaned down into her face to say something I didn’t catch, and I almost shot from my seat. Slowly, her eyes rose, green and gorgeous and full of disdain. Her red lips moved, quietly, and the guy jerked back like she’d slapped him.

Apparently, she didn’t need my help after all. A quick shot of pride had me settling back into my chair.

With a bored look, she gathered her books and drink, then slung her bag over her shoulder. The guy smirked at her and moved in again. I had a brief moment of insanity where I considered tossing the asshole off the balcony in the middle of the room. If I could slam guys twice his size into the glass, I could definitely heft him.

Dream Girl turned on her heel and walked away, completely ignoring him. Instead of following her, he sat down at her table, forcing me to abandon my plan. Attempted murder probably wasn’t the best way to get her attention. I surreptitiously watched her leave, wishing I’d taken the time to look around the room earlier. The urge to chase after her was strong, but she’d already been accosted once today. I didn’t like my chances.

Besides, I’d caught a glimpse of the logo on her coffee cup. Market Street Coffee. I knew the place. Hell, our house was only a couple of blocks from there.

Dream Girl wasn’t entirely a mystery anymore. She was a student, she knew Coach, and she went to Market Street for her coffee. I’d see her again—if I could ever get through the damn book for my upcoming English class.

I unclenched from the encounter I hadn’t even been a part of and picked up the offending text. Most of the students around me were focused on their finals, but I’d already finished mine. My stress stemmed from my schedule for next semester and the last required course for my junior year—English lit.

Whoever had decided a psychology degree needed an extra English class could kiss my ass. I’d dropped twice already, and this was my last chance according to the university’s rules. The degree wasn’t necessary to play professional hockey—I’d already been drafted by Denver—but I’d promised my parents I’d finish school. And I’d promised myself I’d help our team win the Frozen Four.

All I had to do was pass one damn class. The rest was easy.

A giggle interrupted my musing, and I made the mistake of absently glancing toward a group of girls two tables over. They smiled at me, and I recognized their predatory expressions. Puck bunnies in disguise.

I didn’t hate the attention. Most of the girls I met were nice once they realized I had no interest in a hookup. But today wasn’t a good day. We had two and a half weeks off, then my hockey schedule was going to explode. At my best, I was a slow reader. With practice and games and other classes… and the occasional duck-sitting, I didn’t have time to read slow.

Frustration threatened to choke me when I thought about possibly failing and losing my scholarship and my chance to play at TU. Prepping for next semester needed to come before everything else. I couldn’t bring myself to be a dick to the girls, so I picked up the book, hoping they’d take the hint and leave me be.

A subtly sweet scent hit me seconds before the chair next to mine scraped out on the industrial tile. My gaze snapped up, and I saw red, red lips before meeting a pair of vibrant green eyes fringed by thick lashes.

Dream Girl winked and sat down as if she belonged there, our legs nearly touching. Behind her, I saw one of the puck bunnies resume her seat with a pinched expression. Clearly, the hint wasn’t going to work if she’d already been on her way over.

“Sorry I’m late, I didn’t see you over here,” Dream Girl said loudly enough to carry to all the tables.

Amusement—and pure lust—had me smiling at the game she was playing. “I’d wait for you all day…” I trailed off, hoping she’d fill in her name.

“Avery,” she whispered, leaning in close.

“Cole,” I responded in the same hushed tone.

We didn’t move for a long moment with our eyes locked and a secret passing between us. I told myself to say something, but her nearness short-circuited my brain making me blurt out the first question that crossed my mind.

“What are you doing?”

Avery laughed. “Giving them a reason not to come over here. You have to help me sell it though. Talk to me like you’re fascinated by me. Tell me what you’re doing over the break.”

I snorted, struggling to get a handle on my racing heart. “Probably reading.”

She tilted her head. “What did the poor books do to you?”

“I’m sure they’re fine.” I lied, and the truth spilled out of me. “I was supposed to go home to my grandpa’s farm, but I have too many responsibilities here.”

Her brows shot up. “A farm boy, huh? You look the part. Broad shoulders and all those muscles. You should really get into sports.”

There was a small chance she didn’t know I was a starter on the TU hockey team, but if she knew Coach, I doubted it. Still, I didn’t like beginning with a lie. I tried to work out a way to tell her I was a star hockey player without sounding like a jackass, but the words wouldn’t come. Luckily, Avery saved me the trouble.

She leaned in to pat my cheek. “I’m fucking with you. I know who you are.”

I caught her wrist before she could pull away, and my thumb picked up her rapid pulse. Maybe I wasn’t the only one affected. She tugged gently, and I released her.

“Why are you helping me?” I asked.

Avery shrugged. “You looked ready to defend my honor earlier. I thought I’d return the favor.”

“You noticed me?”

She chuckled. “You’re hard to miss, farm boy. Half the women in here are salivating over you while glaring at me. If looks could kill, I’d be dead on the floor from your fan club over there.”

A loud thud came from the puck bunny table, followed by a snicker and a whistle from behind me.

“Don’t look their way,” she warned.

“No chance.” I couldn’t wrench my attention away from Avery even if I’d wanted to. As far as I was concerned, we were alone in the library.

Avery’s hair brushed my skin when she turned her head to study my expression. At some point, I’d stretched my arm across the back of her chair. Not exactly smooth, but she hadn’t drawn away. Something must have passed muster because the tension she’d been carrying since I spotted her relaxed. Her shoulders dropped, and she shifted closer to me.

Only inches separated her pretty face from mine. The air between us heated, and I tried not to groan when she wet her lips. I would not hit on her while she was trying to help me. My dick didn’t get the message, and I hoped she wouldn’t glance down any time soon.

Avery reached out for the book I’d forgotten, examining it as she turned it over in her hands. “Is it always like this when you’re trying to study?”

“It’s a real problem,” I murmured.

She set the book down carefully, and a slow grin curled her lips. “Well then, let’s give them a reason to stay away.”

My breath caught at the mischief in her green eyes as she quirked an eyebrow for permission. I dropped my chin in a tiny nod, praying she’d do something crazy like climb into my lap right there in the study area.

As if she could hear my thoughts, the girl of my dreams closed the distance and pressed her red lips against mine.

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