Ice Cold Rival – Sample

Chapter One


The duck was right—I should have stayed home. My head was pounding with the music, and for once, I wasn’t in the mood for a random hookup. Coach had sent me a conditioning spreadsheet from hell for this week’s torture, resulting in my ass being bone tired on a Saturday night.

Kappa house was busting at the seams with drunk college kids trying to hold on to the last weekend of summer. Every other year, I’d been one of them. I rubbed a hand over my face and wondered when I’d started thinking of my peers as kids.

I was a senior in college, not a crotchety old man. When Sunny, my roommate’s duck, had stood directly in my way when I’d tried to leave, I’d laughed. She was only shin high and her imperious quacks were no match for Sellers pounding on the door. But now, sipping a warm beer I didn’t want, I was over it.

Sellers bumped my shoulder with his and nodded at Tobias Kane and his new cronies lording over the couch. “That’s some shit, right? Six months ago, we were smearing this asshole all over the ice in regionals, and now we’re supposed to play nice with him.”

“Says who?”

“Says Coach. One school, one team, blah blah blah. Didn’t you read his email?”

I gave a slow shake of my head as I watched Kane escort two girls up the stairs. I’d been avoiding my email because my grandma was doing her yearly push to come work at the family business. Family business, my ass.

She made it sound like I was needed to run the shop, but Loretta Anastasia Tanner was a stubborn, vicious CEO of one of the leading pharmaceutical firms in the world. Dad worked under her in some VP role that only required him to show up and be charming.

As her only grandchild, I was her last great hope to continue her legacy. Despite the business degree I was finishing up, the thought of spending the rest of my life fighting to make my filthy rich family more money sounded horrible.

 Right up there with playing hockey next to Tobias Kane.

As if he could read my mind, Sellers scoffed in Kane’s direction. “Don’t know what Coach was thinking after the shit with Avery last spring. Kane might as well have been involved, and he still made it on the team. And now Gavin isn’t here to keep things under control. Who do you think we’ll end up with as captain?”


The thought came out of nowhere, so I tipped back the bottle and tried it on before I said it aloud. Gavin was our former captain, my former roommate, and one of my current best friends. He’d been a fantastic leader, and the idea of stepping into his role terrified me.

What if I fucked everything up? “Don’t try, don’t fail” was my dad’s motto. He lived his life putting in as little effort as possible. I preferred “work hard, play harder”, but I’d promised Gavin we’d make it back to the Frozen Four this year and win the whole fucking thing. How could we possibly do that with me at the helm?

Buuut… something deep inside asked how would I know unless I tried?

Yeah. I was up for the challenge. “What about me?”

Sellers laughed, going so far as to bend over and slap his knee like a jackass. “You? Coach would never pick you. And Kane would sure as hell not vote for you.”

My jaw clenched as I glared at him. “Who the fuck cares what Kane would do?”

He shrugged, his eyes following a group of scantily dressed ladies moving around in a pack. “Some of the younger guys. They know if they want a good time, you’re their guy, but to run practices and keep us in line? Nah, man. You’re no Gavin.”

The description burned me. I could be more than a fun time. “Gavin is one of a kind, but he’s not here anymore.”

Sellers clapped me on the shoulder. “True. Gavin’s not here, but we are and so are the lovely ladies of Kappa house. Don’t need to be captain to score.”

I followed his gaze to a group of three puck bunnies staring at us. How did I know they were puck bunnies rather than the usual party girls? Because Sellers always struck out with anyone not blinded by his position on the hockey team. These three were practically licking their lips as they stared at us.

And I didn’t feel a single urge to join them. Fuck. Something was definitely wrong with me.

“You go ahead,” I told him. “I’m going to find another beer.”

Sellers sauntered up to them and spread his arms wide. “Who wants to see my new tattoo?”

I shook my head at Sellers’ antics—the tattoo was his jersey number on his upper thigh—and pulled out my phone to order an Uber. He’d be busy for hours, and I wanted to get home to put together an email for Coach. I didn’t see the short brunette until she bounced off my chest.

Out of habit, I caught her arm, but she wasn’t teetering like the girls usually did when they bowled into me to get my attention. Instead, she sucked in a breath and glared up at me with wide blue eyes.

Her hair fell in loose curls past her shoulders, and she had curves for days. I could still feel the press of her lush body from our collision. Unlike most of the women at the party who showed up as if they were going to a club, she wore khaki shorts under a pink tank top. No makeup, no spiky heels, no calculating glance around to see who was watching—this girl didn’t belong at a Kappa party.

Even better, she seemed annoyed to see me. It was a nice change from the constant ass kissing, and I was suddenly way less eager to head home.

“Watch where you’re going,” she growled.

“You ran into me, sweetheart,” I pointed out, maintaining my grip on her in case she was one of the crazy ones.

“Sorry.” The tone was basically an insult, but I knew how to deal with beautiful women who were upset through no fault of my own. Flirting was my primary form of communication.

“You don’t sound sorry. How about this… tell me your name and we’ll be even.”

Her expression transformed from annoyed to speculative to determined, and I was fucking mesmerized. Every thought was broadcast across her face. I’d never seen someone so expressive before, and a dark part of me wondered what she’d look like when she came.

A group of puck bunnies who might as well have been the ones Sellers ran off with tried to squeeze past us in the foyer, sending us dirty looks. Not us, actually. Her—the only woman to get my attention in ages. Specifically, they glared at my hand on her arm.

I ushered her to the side, closer to the stairs, and blocked the mean girl energy with my body. They could scowl at my back for all I cared. The girl in front of me licked her lips and leaned closer.

“You can call me Kay. Are you here with someone?”

She chewed on her bottom lip, clearly nervous, and I grinned. All my previous reticence for a hookup vanished at the prospect of getting a taste of this girl.

“No. I came alone, and I’m leaving alone. Are you looking for some company?”

Her gaze flitted to the stairs, then back to me, and I swear her eyes ignited into blue flames. “Yeah, I am.”

With a deep breath and another fascinating shift of expression on her face, she grabbed my hand to lead me up the stairs. She was powering through despite her nervousness. Not the usual reaction for me, but Kay wasn’t a Kappa party girl or a puck bunny. I got the feeling she was a good girl looking to be a little bad. I’d happily give her that experience.

The email to Coach could wait until tomorrow.

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