Read Checking It Twice (Crashing Book 2) Online
Authors: Samantha Wayland
Tags: #Romance, #Gay Romance, #Gay, #christmas, #holiday romance
Trick Book One: Fair Play
Trick Book Two: Two Man Advantage
Trick Book Three: End Game
of Her League
Copyright © 2015 Samantha Wayland
Published by Loch Awe Press
P.O. Box 5481
Wayland, MA 01778
Edited by Meghan Miller
Cover Art by Caitlin Fry
This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents either are a product of the author imagination
or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
With the exception of quotes used in
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PO Box 5481, Wayland, MA 01778.
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For Stephanie—my writing buddy,
cheerleader, and fellow hockey nut. I’m pretty sure the last three books
wouldn’t have happened without you, so this is long overdue.
As noted above, a special shout out must go
to Stephanie Kay, who has kicked my ass and cheered me on through the last few
books. A big thank you also (always) to Victoria Morgan, who sticks by me even
when I write about stuff that makes her blush.
A huge round of applause to my spectacular
editor, Meghan Miller, who is still putting up with me after all these years.
And to Caitlin Fry, who has taken in stride my sudden (and hopefully temporary)
need to give all kinds of weird input on my covers. And to Cindy, for being the
keenest proofreader I could ever have hoped for!
And lastly, as always, my love and
gratitude to my family. Nine books in and they still think this is as fun as I
do. How’d I get so lucky?
It was a sad state of affairs when the idea
of dumping a couple gallons of lube on some unsuspecting rookie’s head no
longer gave a man a thrill.
The rest of the guys in the locker room cracked
up as the newest Moncton Ice Cat wiped the stream of gunk from his eyes and
grinned at all of them. He seemed genuinely pleased with the attention.
It wasn’t that Alexei
with his efforts to welcome the new guy—lubrication style—but if someone else volunteered
to step up and take over torturing the newbies, Alexei wouldn’t object. He had
other things he wanted to focus on.
He watched their newest right wing leave a
slick trail across the floor on the way to his locker, smiling when Mike
stepped aside to let him pass with a wide margin. Mike caught Alexei’s eye, and,
like always, something tightened in Alexei’s chest, squeezing in response to
the soft affection in Mike’s smile as he quirked an eyebrow.
was what made Alexei happy these days.
Alexei remembered pulling this same prank
on Mike when he’d first shown up in Moncton, more than four years ago. Mike
hadn’t taken it quite as well, though he’d faked it for all he was worth.
Alexei had seen through that façade, though. Had seen right into Mike and been
drawn to him from the first instant.
A lot had changed since then, but not that.
There was never a time Alexei hadn’t been drawn to Mike. Falling in love with
him had been easy. Admitting it had been a little harder, but done long ago.
With a last lingering look, Mike turned for
Alexei startled when someone bumped into
him from behind.
“You going to clean this up, Belov?” Callum,
one of the team’s owners, asked with a pointed look at the congealing puddle by
the door. Anyone who didn’t know Callum would have thought he was pissed.
Alexei knew better.
He grinned. “I already paid the cleaning
crew double their daily rate. In cash.”
“You better have,” Callum said sternly, but
there was no mistaking the twinkle in his eyes. Eyes that widened with alarm
when his husband, Rupert, stepped through the door and directly into the
The squawking that ensued? Now,
“God damn it, Alexei,” Rupert shouted above
the laughter echoing through the room.
“It’s not my fault you always forget when
the new guys are showing up,” Alexei said.
Rupert sighed and frowned at the men
laughing at him. He planted his hands on his hips and glared. “Laugh it up,
guys. I’ll trade every last one of you to Newfoundland by the New Year.” As the
team’s manager, he could do it.
Some of the younger players looked alarmed
for the ten seconds it took for Rupert’s frown to crack into a smile. He tried,
and failed, to turn a severe look on Alexei. “You’re paying to have these shoes
Rupert rolled his eyes, gingerly stepping
out of the puddle.
“Good game tonight. Congratulations on your
third shutout this season,” Callum said while he waited for Rupert to shake off
his foot—which wasn’t helping—and join them.
“Thanks,” Alexei said, trying not to rub
his hip too obviously. By the look Callum gave him, he wasn’t succeeding. “I’m
glad we get to go into the holiday break with that game.”
Rupert nodded, casting a furtive glance
around the room. “Speaking of the holidays, did you—”
“Shhhh…” Alexei hissed quietly.
“I know,” Rupert said even more quietly.
“But did you—?”
“Yes,” Alexei whispered furiously.
“So, tonight?” Callum asked, his eyes
Alexei recalled what he had planned for that
night and couldn’t help his slow smile. “No, not tonight.”
Callum and Rupert cast each other amused
and slightly alarmed looks. Rupert arched an eyebrow at Alexei. “Now I know why
you wanted to know if we’d be out this evening.”
Alexei shrugged innocently. He wasn’t even going
to give details—not that Rupert or Callum would ever ask—and he wasn’t sure if anything
would happen anyway.
“Forget about that. I want to know when
you’re going to do it,” Callum pressed.
Alexei was perfectly aware Callum wasn’t
referring to his little surprise for Mike that night, but another gift altogether.
“I don’t know. Not Christmas Eve Eve or whatever tonight is called.”
“But Christmas?” Rupert asked, so
enthusiastically he sounded as if the gift were for
Alexei frowned and rubbed his chin
thoughtfully. “In Russia, the big holiday for gifts is New Year’s Day. Maybe
I’ll wait until then.”
This had the desired impact. Rupert looked
like he might die if he had to wait that long. Callum didn’t look much better. Alexei
could barely hold in his laughter.
more than a week away
Alexei did laugh now. “You sound like
Rupert’s expression made it clear what he
thought of the comparison to his five-year-old brother, whom Rupert and Callum
Before Alexei could tease him further, Callum
cleared his throat loudly. And really fucking obviously.
Alexei refused to turn around. He had no
doubt Mike was coming out of the shower room. He cast a baleful look at his
ridiculous friends and their innocent expressions.
Mike stared into his locker until he was
sure he could contain his grin, then calmly went about the business of getting
dressed and ready to head out. If Alexei didn’t hurry up, he’d be left behind. They’d
played a good game that night, and Mike was tired and really looking forward to
The schedule had worked out well this year—their
last game before the Christmas break was not only at home, but against Erik Larsson’s
team. This meant that they finally had a chance to have Erik, their friend and
Alexei’s ex, over for dinner. Usually they were lucky if they managed to sneak
in a drink together before Erik or they were on the road again.
Mike wasn’t going to leave their guest
lingering in the hallway outside their locker room all afternoon just because
Alexei was gossiping about Christmas presents with Rupert and Callum.
Mike had to bite his lips to keep from
laughing when another bout of furious whispering broke out on the other side of
He’d seen the three of them standing with
their heads together from the shower room and purposely hung back, hoping
they’d wrap it up before the rest of the team started to wonder what the hell
Mike was doing. He had no desire to ruin any surprises he had coming his way.
In fact, he had a big one of his own up his
sleeve. It was going to be an interesting Christmas.
Glancing down at his bag, Mike checked that
the front pocket was still zipped shut. As security measures went, it wasn’t
great, but he knew that Alexei wouldn’t find it there.
Mike didn’t want Alexei to have any clue of
what Mike had gotten him until he opened it on Christmas morning. He wished
that was because Alexei was going to be so delighted, but Mike didn’t have any
such delusions. There was a very real chance Alexei would balk when he saw
Mike’s gift. And Mike was fully prepared to out-stubborn him about it.
Alexei might not want to admit it, but Mike
knew in his heart this was a perfect gift for Alexei. And once he was done
arguing about it and Mike got his way, Alexei was going to love it.
By the time Mike was fully dressed, Alexei
was just stripping off the last of his gear. Mike peeked out the door when one
of the guys left, shouting “Merry Christmas” as he went. Erik hovered just
outside in the hallway.
Mike went over to Alexei’s stall. “Erik’s
No one would think anything of it—how close
he was, or that they spoke quietly. Everyone knew they were best friends. And
most knew they lived together—though they likely assumed Mike had his own room.
As far as Mike and Alexei knew, no one had figured out that they had been
lovers for years. Though, as Mike caught Tim eyeing them, he did wonder if
there were some who were starting to suspect.
It was remarkable how little that bothered
Callum and Rupert were gay, and so far out
of the closet that their wedding had appeared in
the most part, though, their coming out hadn’t caused nearly as much of a stir
within the team or the league as Mike would have predicted beforehand.
Of course, that didn’t mean he and Alexei
could come out. Or would. Being players was different than being an owner, like
Callum, or even the manager, like Rupert.
“I’ll be ready in ten minutes,” Alexei
promised, grabbing his stuff for the shower. He stopped to look at Mike
carefully. “Are you okay keeping him company until I’m done?”
Mike smiled. He and Erik hadn’t exactly
gotten off on the right foot when they’d first met a few years back. They’d
both logged quite a few minutes in the penalty box that night thanks to Erik attempting
to get Alexei’s attention, and Mike making it very, very clear that Alexei was
no longer on the market.
“Sure, I can hang with your ex for a while.
Maybe we’ll trade stories,” Mike said quietly, but with a mischievous wink.
Alexei rolled his eyes. “If you didn’t
share them all when you got drunk together last season, I don’t think they’re
going to come out now.”
“We’ll see,” Mike murmured, bumping
Alexei’s shoulder on his way to the door. “You might want to hurry up, just in
case,” he called back a moment before the door shut.
Erik gave him a curious look. “Should I
Mike shook his head and pulled Erik in for
a quick hug. “Probably not.”
For all that Alexei had been playing it
cool, he somehow managed to get his ass out to the hallway in under seven
minutes. Mike didn’t even try to hide his laughter.
Alexei didn’t really have anything to worry
about. Mike liked Erik just fine, and now that Erik had made it clear he
respected their relationships and boundaries, Mike had no beef with him. That
Erik had been dumb enough to walk away from Alexei made Mike almost feel sorry
But then, that was to Mike’s benefit in the
end, so he also felt grateful Erik was that stupid. Mike couldn’t stand going
even a few days without seeing Alexei. The idea of leaving him forever made his
The ride home was quick with Alexei
driving. Mike sat in the back seat of the huge pick-up and let Erik ride
shotgun, mostly so Erik got a good view as they pulled up before the huge
rolling doors to what appeared to be a slightly run-down, unassuming warehouse.
With a press of a button, the doors parted before them.
“What the fuck is this place?” Erik
whispered in awe.
“Home,” Mike said with a smile.
Alexei parked inside the huge, empty first
floor and Mike jumped from the truck and grabbed their bags. He noticed that Callum’s
car wasn’t there, and wondered where their neighbors had gone off to for the
Shrugging, he led Erik to the elevator,
chatting about how Alexei had bought the building years ago and the plans they
had in the works. He knew he was being a dork, talking about it so
enthusiastically, but he loved giving tours of their unusual space. He
shamelessly let his pride in Alexei’s cleverness and their combined hard work
show while their guest looked around in wonder.
He continued the tour when they got to the
fourth floor, waving at Callum and Rupert’s door before leading Erik to theirs,
the only other unit on the floor.
He threw open the door with enough of a
flourish that Alexei smiled, his hand warm and comforting at the small of
“You’re showing off,” Alexei admonished,
though Mike could see he didn’t really mean it as a rebuke.
“I am. I can’t help it.”
Alexei moved in closer, subtly pinning Mike
to the doorframe while Erik moved into the apartment and exclaimed over the
high ceilings and brightly lit kitchen.
A shiver worked down Mike’s spine.
“You aren’t worried about Erik, are you?”
Alexei asked quietly.
For a moment, Mike was far too distracted
by the press of Alexei’s hips to parse what he’d just said. Then it clicked.
“God, no,” he said, his lips brushing
Alexei’s ear. “I’m not showing off because I feel threatened. I’m showing off
because I love our home. I’m proud of it. And you.”
Alexei pressed just a little closer.
“Good,” he murmured, then captured Mike’s lips in a kiss.
For a long moment, Alexei lost himself in
the taste and texture of Mike’s lips. He might have stood there all night if he
hadn’t been subtly nudged back.
He arched an eyebrow at Mike, surprised.
Normally, Alexei decided when these things began and ended.
Mike cast a pointed look toward the
kitchen. When Alexei turned his head, he found Erik watching them.
A lick of nerves tickled down Alexei’s spine,
along with a frisson of anticipation. This could work, but he had to convince
“Come,” he said brusquely, easing away from
Mike a little. “Finish showing Erik around while I get us some beers.”
Mike slid out from between Alexei and the
door, his hand lingering on Alexei’s hip as he went. Alexei smiled, perfectly
attuned to all the subtle signs that Mike was aroused and how he tried to hide
Alexei grabbed the promised beverages, giving
Mike time to finish the tour and show Erik to the couch, and himself a moment
to press one of the bottles to his face, cooling his cheeks before going into
the living room.
“Erik, if you’re okay here for a minute,
Mike and I will go drop our bags in the bedroom and get changed.”
Mike looked at Alexei, his expression
passive and accepting, and didn’t ask why the hell he had to change out of his
perfectly acceptable clothing.