A Perfect Catch
by Anna Sugden
He’s the perfect catch…for now!
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!
By unspoken agreement, they walked back to¬ward Maggie’s hospital room.
“Are you starting in goal again tomorrow night, bro?”
“For sure.” Ike appreciated the change of subject. “What about you? Are you playing? Did the extra practice sessions help?”
Kenny’s confidence had been knocked when Coach Macarty had made him a healthy scratch for the past couple of games. Ike had reassured him that it wasn’t unusual for a player in his first season with an NHL team to struggle—the game was much faster and harder than in the minors—but his brother wouldn’t be happy until he was back in the lineup.
“Coach said he’d let me know in the morning.” Kenny sighed. “It wasn’t so bad. Watching from the press box gave me a different perspective on how the game is played here, so my positioning on the wing should be better. I just need a chance to put what I’ve learned into practice.”
Ike clapped his brother on the back. “Keep at it, kid, and after the All-Star break in January, it’ll click.”
“I hope so. I want to do my part, but I feel like I’m a step slower than everyone else.”
“Right now, we all need to pick up our play, and that includes our big-money guys.”
The Cats’ start to the new season had been okay, but not great. They were fourth in their division and a couple of places out of a playoff spot in the East¬ern Conference. But their points tally masked the real win-loss picture; the extra points they’d gotten for going to overtime or a shoot-out blurred the fact that they’d lost every freaking one.
Man, he hated shoot-outs and not just because he was 0-for-4 so far. Damn skills contest. They might as well toss a freaking coin. The Cats had lost a couple of their shoot-out stars when his brother Tru had moved to Denver and Vlad had returned to Russia, and to date no one else had stepped up. Sure, Ike could do better, too, but he needed a little help from his teammates. Like at least one of them could score. Then again, they weren’t scoring much during regulation, either. Worse, they couldn’t hold on to a one-goal lead. The number of times the Cats had given up the tying goal in the last two minutes of a game was plain crazy.
They were all adjusting to the new coach’s “run and gun” style. The veterans, like Ike, Jake and the captain, Scotty Matthews, preferred a more defen¬sively responsible system, where even their best forwards would back-check to help out. The kids liked the focus on offence, but tended to be a bit wild. Shots on net hadn’t gone up. Goals sure as hell hadn’t, either. Ike had had to play out of his mind to scrape the wins they’d got.
Still, Kenny needed reassurance from his oldest brother, not a lecture. “The season’s only a month old. Things’ll get better. Besides, everyone has to sit out at some point in their career. Even JB Larocque.”
“Sure, but no one’s going to send a superstar like JB down to the minors if he doesn’t deliver. I don’t want to go back to riding the bus now that I’ve made it to the show.”
Jake came out of Maggie’s room in time to hear Kenny’s words. “Hang in there, bro. It’ll work out.”
Kenny grinned. He didn’t stay down about any¬thing too long. “If you old guys say so, I guess I’ll be okay.”
Ike cuffed his brother around the head. “You need to learn to respect your elders and betters, brat.”
“Yeah, but I’m only seeing elders here.”
“We old guys have clout with the boss. You don’t want to be benched because you gave us too much lip.” Despite Ike’s ribbing, he was proud to have Kenny playing alongside him.
“This is why I need Tru here.” Kenny shook his head. “He has a sense of humor.”
“Speaking of which, I called him to give him the news,” Jake said. “He’s going to try to stay an extra day when the Avalanche comes east in December.”
“It’ll be good to see him.” Ike grinned. “It feels weird not to have him skating with us.”
They’d all been shocked when the Cats had shown Tru the door during the off-season instead of re-upping his contract. Hardshaw and Macarty had favored the Canucks’ stud defenseman, Troy David¬son, over the second-oldest Jelinek brother. Unfor¬tunately, Davidson hadn’t yet shown the form he’d had in Vancouver, which had made Tru’s absence more difficult.
“Yeah.” Jake sighed. “At least he’s enjoying Den¬ver. He’s slotted into the team well and the Avs are doing better than anyone expected.”
“That’s because we taught him everything he knows,” Ike said loftily.
They all laughed as they headed back into the hospital room.
Despite his best intentions, Ike’s heart squeezed when he saw Tracy cradling baby Joe.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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 (www.facebook.com/annasugden.romanceauthor), Twitter (www.twitter.com/annasugden) Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/annasugden) and on the Romance Bandits blog (www.romancebandits.com
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-perfect-catch-anna-sugden/1120111934?ean=9781460375983
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