Authors: Cora Lee Gill
New Game in Town
There’s a new game in town, and Gina is writing all the rules. Or so she thinks. She’s taking some drastic personal measures to turn up the heat during Canada’s icy cold hockey season. She’s set on sampling life’s finer pleasures. But where’s a girl to start? With a list, of course. Creating a spreadsheet with her sexual wish list is just the beginning. Now she needs to cast the starring role. What Gina doesn’t count on is accidently emailing her secret list to Connor, the captain of the Vancouver Reign Warriors hockey team.
Imagine her shock at Connor’s determination to make every item on her list a reality.
Not happening, Gina promises herself. But Connor has different ideas.
contemporary erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
New Game in Town
Cora Lee Gill
As a proud Canadian, I grew up watching hockey—it was a huge part of my childhood TV entertainment. Now I share the experience with my children. As dedicated hockey parents, my husband and I spend three quarters of the year lugging hockey bags and our children around from rink to rink. And we wouldn’t change it for the world! So when I began working on
New Game in Town
it only seemed natural that my hero was a professional hockey player.
I came up with the fictitious name of the Vancouver Reign Warriors for my hockey team. Yes, the pun is intended! For those of you familiar with the city of Vancouver, you’ll know that we get a lot,
and I mean a lot
, of rain during the winter.
Please know that all my characters are created from my imagination and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental.
Wiping the tears from her already puffy red eyes, Gina smoothed a trembling hand over her crumpled blouse, pushing the ends back into the waistband of her wrinkled, ill-fitting slacks. Rushing out of the elevator, she searched for the executive boardroom she had been hastily summoned to. Having only worked for the Vancouver Reign Warriors hockey team for two weeks, Gina was still learning her way around. Stumbling to her destination, she slowly opened the door to find the room completely dark except for the projector illuminating a screen on one of the walls. The meeting was already in progress, but her entrance had the moderator and everyone else seated at the large boardroom table turning in her direction, clearly interrupted by her tardiness.
Mumbling “Sorry” Gina closed the door carefully behind her. She needed a couple of seconds for her eyes to adjust to the lack of light, but the room was eerily quiet. Clearly they were waiting for her to take a seat before they continued. Shuffling along the oblong table, she was horrified to see that every seat she came along was occupied.
What a way to make an entrance!
Either the moderator took pity on her or he just wanted to continue with the meeting, for he pointed to the end of the table, saying, “There’s an empty chair over there.” He turned to someone behind her, asking, “Brian, would you get the lights for me?”
A timid “Thanks” was all she managed to squeak out as she made her way to the vacant seat. The sudden glaring lights momentarily blinded her, making her stumble as she pulled out her chair. One minute she was taking her seat and the next her chair had been tipped over, leaving her stunned and lying on her back.
All she had heard was a booming roar from high above her, “My foot!”
Even in her daze, she recognized the face of the giant looming over her, his features contorted in pain.
Without realizing it, she had positioned a leg of her chair on Connor Waters’ foot. The same foot that had been broken in the middle of the season. The foot that had benched the captain for six weeks. The foot that was in the final stages of healing. In less than a minute of being in the same room as him, she had managed to injure one of the team’s star players!
Gina was unable to utter a coherent word as anonymous hands reached out to help her up. Her face burned with shame, an emotion she was unfortunately becoming all too familiar with.
It was then that Connor turned to her with agony etched into his face. “Shit—I didn’t mean to knock you over.” Even with his strong jaw clenched in pain, his eyes held concern. “You okay?”
At that exact moment, she felt every eye in the room turn to her. Many of the people gathered were still trying to figure out what had just happened, while others stared at her in accusation.
“Damn, someone get the doc in here
,” the team manager bellowed. “Connor, sit down until the doc checks out that foot!” Then she heard him mutter, “Who in the hell is she?”
After that, the room erupted in further chaos. People were all talking at once, crowding around Connor, asking if he was okay.
Not a single person paid her any attention. Unable to speak a word, Gina tried to get a look at Connor to see if he was all right. But the entourage only grew around him as medical staff and trainers rushed in to examine one of their key veteran players.
Oh. My. God!
Gina fought to squeeze air into her tightening lungs.
Just this morning, she had woken up from a fitful sleep after spending most of the night crying into her pillow, bemoaning her broken engagement. Or as her beautifully coifed mother had pointed out only weeks before, her
Burning her mouth on her morning coffee, Gina had cursed out loud, “
Could my life get any worse?
Why had she tempted the fickle God of Fate with that question?
Turning now, Gina numbly stumbled out of the boardroom to hide in her little cubical two floors down. No one noticed her departure.
And that about sums up my life.
Hours later, an email from her boss popped up on her screen, telling her that she had bruised Connor’s foot, but that he would be on the ice as scheduled. Relief poured through her. The great game of hockey would go on and she wouldn’t be crucified by the fans for injuring their star player.
Now if only the rest of her life would fix itself.
Five Months Later
Walking into the meeting room, Gina became aware of conversations beginning to stop as people took notice of her entrance. The old Gina would have lowered her gaze to inspect herself for her latest fashion disaster. Today there was no need for her to glance down to understand why the boardroom grew noticeably quiet at her entrance.
Remarkable what a killer new wardrobe, a little artfully applied makeup and a sexy new haircut to tame her auburn curls could do for a woman, thought Gina, her gloss-covered lips curving into a smile rivaling that of Mona Lisa’s.
There was no question that she now dressed to draw attention to herself. The exquisite black jacket and matching pencil skirt fitted her like a glove, and the glimmer of her red silk camisole drew attention to a hint of cleavage. Gina luxuriated in the feel of the fine silk stockings covering her legs as she entered the boardroom with a practiced glide. As far as business suits went, hers met all professional requirements of decency. But what gave her the added sexual allure was the transformation that had taken place on the inside, one painstaking step at a time.
She felt sexy thanks to her life makeover, going beyond the superficial outer layers. The last few months had been like a rebirth for Gina. A metamorphosis of the proverbial ugly duckling into the graceful swan.
Her practiced stride faltered for just a moment as her gaze caught the eyes of the one man who threatened her hard-won poise. A familiar feeling of anxiety radiated from her gut, making her heart beat a little faster.
Connor held her gaze, raising an eyebrow in—what? Interest? Recognition? Mockery?
He couldn’t have recognized her from their brief, yet disastrous, meeting last season, she reassured herself.
Gina hadn’t seen Connor since last spring’s Stanley Cup semifinals. As the captain of his hockey team, he had led his teammates with determination and unbound skill. Unfortunately, they hadn’t made it to the final match-up for the coveted Cup, but the team had represented their city, fans and the sport of hockey well.
Many Vancouver women had been rumored to have jokingly said that the fact that Connor didn’t make it to the finals only gave him more time to come out and play. Clearly they hadn’t been referring to hockey!
At well over six feet, with well-honed muscles and chiseled features arranged with precise symmetry, he was a heartthrob for most women with a pulse. And he knew it.
The closer her Jimmy Choos got to the head of the large conference table where her laptop lay at the ready, the more she became aware of Connor’s openly inquisitive look cataloguing every infinitesimal detail of her appearance.
Lowering her eyelids sedately, Gina gave herself a moment to regain her equilibrium by taking a small, steady breath. She reminded herself that there was no way that he would know who she was, they hadn’t exactly been formally introduced to each other.
Not glancing in Connor’s direction again, she continued to her chair at the table, while greeting her colleagues along the way.
Two large hands landed on opposite sides of her chair’s headrest, ready to pull it out for her. She was getting used to this type of chivalry, thanks to her new look.
Ever since her extreme makeover culminated in the new Gina, she’d learned how to take it in stride when random men stopped to open doors, pull out chairs or hold the elevator for her, all the while throwing openly admiring glances her way. The privileges that beautiful, sexy women had been enjoying for eons were finally hers to savor.
What she hadn’t expected was the heavy weight of a well-placed hand on the small of her back. Or her body’s instant reaction to the innocent touch. The fine hairs on her nape stood at attention, her heartbeat kicking up a notch.
“I’ll take care of it, Matt.” The quiet command was directed at the man the other hand belonged to. “Please, allow me,” came the pronouncement from over her shoulder.
Dread filled her. Connor. She would know that voice anywhere. Memories from the last time they ran into each other in a similar boardroom made her want to curl into a ball, but she controlled the impulse and ordered herself to keep on course. Gina had known that she would be seeing Connor at today’s meeting. But she had planned on avoiding any direct communication with him. She had been apprehensive when she had accepted her new promotion, knowing that she would be running into Connor, and in some cases, might even be working with him.
Instead of turning to acknowledge him directly, Gina murmured a casually polite, yet dismissive, “Thank you” over her shoulder.
Gina’s breath caught in her tight chest as his strong hand slipped to the curve of her hip, guiding her back a few inches so that he could finish pulling her chair farther back from the table. She was hard-pressed not to notice the solid muscles of his chest pressing against her back. She swore she felt him inhale deeply before he moved away.
Guiding her into her seat, he leaned down and drawled close to her ear, “After all, I’m going to need both of my feet to play this season.”
Mortifying heat crept up her neck as her eyes widened in shock. He did remember her! It was hard for her own mother to recognize her now, yet this man who she had barely spoken two words to last year was able to place her.
Gina felt dread infuse her as memories of what was jokingly referred to as the “unfortunate incident” made her morning coffee churn in her gut.
“Mr. Waters.” Gina greeted him now, forcing herself to turn in her chair and meet his twinkling blue gaze over her shoulder. She could see him registering all the differences in her appearance, trying to reconcile the woman he just helped seat to the one who had nearly reinjured him last season.
Connor couldn’t help but be slightly taken aback at the cool greeting. And by his body’s instant reaction to the woman staring up at him as if he was of no consequence. Not wanting to toot his own horn, but he didn’t exactly lack female adoration or attention.
He hadn’t recognized Gina right away. She definitely looked different from the last time they had seen each other. It had been her eyes that had tugged at his memory. Even while in pain when she had accidently bruised his injured foot, he still remembered staring into her panicked gaze. He had felt like shit for knocking her over and had wanted to sooth away the frightened look from her tear-filled eyes, but he had been instantly surrounded by management, coaches and medical personnel, all concerned with his injured foot.
Damn, the woman was fine. Who knew what had lain under the drab clothes he vaguely recalled her being in last season.
“Let’s get started, people,” a voice called out, shaking Connor out of his personal musings.
Gina welcomed the interruption and turned her back on Connor in a clear dismissal.
It was time to get down and dirty and get to work. And for Gina, in more ways than one.