Authors: Bridget Lang
Copyright © 2016 by Bridget Lang.
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
This book is intended for adult readers only.
Any sexual activity portrayed in these pages occurs between consenting adults over the age of 18 who are not related by blood.
Aiden Cooper is the chiseled center for the Los Angeles Knights.
Also known as the "Bad Boy Brawler of the NHL,"
Aiden likes his hard partying ways.
Drinking, bar fights, a different woman to warm his bed every night.
Hell, his life couldn’t get any better.
Until he meets Skyler…
Skyler Larking has no business being in a relationship.
But, Aiden Cooper is just too delicious to refuse.
She only ever figured he’d be a one-night stand
Then, when one night turns into two,
And two nights turns into mutual feelings,
Skyler realizes that the secret she is carrying could ruin more than just their careers,
Her secret could tear both their hearts to shreds.
I stood outside the locker room for the Los Angeles Knights waiting to get in. The Knights had just lost their third game in a row after Aiden Cooper, their twenty-six-year-old center, and ‘bad boy brawler’ of the team, started a fight with one of the referees. It wasn't the first time that Cooper had started a fight out on the hockey rink, but it was the first time that I was covering such an event. In fact, it was first day on the job as a reporter for a national news station and here I was on the outside. I was a little pissed. I’d put in my dues to get here, and then some. I’d worked my way up through the ranks at local stations, to get noticed by the national news. My work spoke for itself, yet I couldn't even get back there for a damned interview. Sometimes it sucked being a woman in this business.
I watched as male reporter after male reporter was let into the locker room. My camera man, Billy, stood patiently by, waiting for his opportunity to get some video footage. I hated the way he kept looking sympathetically over at me, as if I was a lost child wandering around in a sea of testosterone.
"Want me to go in?" Billy asked.
"No," I said through gritted teeth. My stomach rumbled and I forced it to calm itself. These recent bouts of nausea were driving me crazy.
I knew Billy was just trying to be helpful, but I couldn't send a cameraman in to do my job. This was bullshit. I'd worked too hard to get here. Besides, if the rest of the station found out I couldn't get the interview myself, it would confirm every whispered innuendo about me. They would all assume I'd gotten the job by sleeping with Troy Mannen, the station head. People were ridiculous that way- even other women. Always a judgement laid down on a woman who was comfortable with her own sexuality. I could tell the truth, but it wouldn’t matter. Yeah, I slept with Troy. He’d gotten me drunk and we had a one-nighter. No big fucking deal, and instantly regrettable. It didn’t mean anything to either one of us. Well, it didn’t mean anything to
. The truth wouldn’t matter, though. I mean, the part about a one night stand with the boss would, but not the fact that I'd already signed the contract long before we had sex, or that I had earned this job on my own merit as a reporter plain and simple. Nope. I’d be permanently labelled as the
reporter who slept her way up the ladder. Total bullshit.
"This is ridiculous," I snapped, after Matthew Waters, the sleazy reporter for the country's biggest tabloid, was allowed inside. I turned to the security guard who stood blocking my entrance. "I need to get in there," I told him.
My blue eyes raged with anger. My dark hair, which I had pulled back into a tight bun, began to come loose as my head spun around.
"Sorry Ms. Larkin," the guard said, reading the name on my press badge. "I can't let—"
But I was too tired and too irritated to listen to any more of his excuses. I stormed passed him and burst into the room. All eyes turned to me, the lone woman in a room full of half-naked men. Aiden Cooper stood at the back of the room, a towel wrapped around his waist. He grinned when he saw me. His lips curved up and met the light in his dark brown eyes, which seemed to shine even in the dimness of the locker room.
I couldn't help it. My heart fluttered. Seeing Aiden in nothing but a towel, I realized that the rumors I'd heard regarding his body were woefully inadequate. His chest was not just chiseled with a hard lines of muscle rising and falling in peaks, it was as if some sculptor had carved him out of stone—the perfect specimen of man.
"And who have we here?" he asked, approaching me.
"I'm, um," I shook my head, trying to clear it. "Skyler Larkin, channel 10 news," I finally said, holding out my hand. "Mind if I ask a few questions?"
"Not at all," Aiden said, but instead of shaking my hand, he dropped his towel and pushed his crotch towards me. Everyone in the room laughed. His coach stood in the background shaking his head, looking embarrassed. Aiden just stood there with a smile on his face, like it was no big deal that he was naked and only a foot away from me.
"I, um..." My mouth ran dry.
I knew my cheeks were burning, but I didn't know how to make them stop. I tried to look away. I didn't want to play into Aiden's hands—he was obviously testing me. I wasn't sure whether he simply wanted to embarrass me or if he wanted to get me to admit that he was the sex God that all the papers and online magazines made him out to be. What was that headline I'd read only last night? BAD BOY BRAWLER OF THE NHL—A GIRL IN EVERY RINK.
Despite knowing that I was playing into his hands, I looked. I couldn't help it. Holy shit. The man was as well-hung as they said he was. A monster of a cock hung down between his tanned, toned thighs. I blinked and forced my eyes back up to his face, only that didn't help much either. His bronzed hair and deep golden eyes bore into me like sunshine through a window pane.
"I, er, just have a few questions," I finally managed to squeak out. Damn, I wanted to be cooler than this.
"Shoot," Aiden said.
"Yeah, okay, um..." But my stomach began to churn. Damned nausea. My nerves were on high alert and the blood that raced to my head wasn’t mixing very well with the cheese enchiladas I'd eaten for lunch. I put my hand on my stomach and stepped back. I had to find a bathroom. Where the hell… but I was too late.
My dinner came up and landed at the base of Aiden's feet, splashing his legs and, um, every other part of him. The shit-eating grin left his face to be replaced by a look of disgust. I ran out of the locker room with the laughter of Aiden's teammates echoing in my ears.
Where the hell was the ladies room?
A half hour later, I exited the restroom.
"Skyler," Billy called, waving me over. "Hey, I've been waiting. Are you alright?"
"Thanks Billy," I said, offering up a weak smile. "I'm fine. Just something I ate I guess."
Billy leaned in, looking much more serious than he had only seconds before. "I also wanted to warn you."
I lifted my eyebrows.
"Troy called. He reamed me a new asshole, and I'm pretty sure you're next."
"Great," I said dryly. My stomach was still doing somersaults. Of course Troy would be calling. Tonight was a total bust. We were supposed to have the spot with Aiden wrapped up and transmitted to the station in plenty of time for the evening news, but of course, instead of
Aiden, I'd vomited all over him. Ten o'clock had come and gone, and the sports segment had broadcast without it.
Great way to start a new job, Skler.
Billy looked on worriedly. He was a kind man, maybe two or three years younger than me. I'd have guessed twenty-two to my twenty-five. He was anxious to please and just sort of anxious in general.
"Don't worry," I told him. "It's my fault we missed the interview. Not yours. I'll make sure Troy knows that."
Billy looked sheepishly at me but his shoulders relaxed. "Thanks," he said. "Are you ready to go then? It's almost ten. I should've had the news van back by now."
I shook my head, digging out a piece of peppermint gum from my purse. "I don't think I can handle being in a car just yet. You go ahead. I need to sit for a few, I'll grab a cab in an hour or so, when my stomach's calmed down."
"Oh, I don't want to leave you here."
"No really, it's fine. This is L.A. Billy, not Smalltown, Iowa. Not hard to get a cab out here, any hour of the day or night."
He looked around, uncertain, then finally conceded. "Alright, feel better."
"Yeah, thanks. See you tomorrow."
Billy drove off and I wandered around the stadium a while, trying to work off the lingering rumbles that continued to flip flop in my belly. I’d always felt at home in a stadium, probably because my dad and I spent so much quality time together at hockey games when I was young. My dad had been a good man. The best, and I was a daddy’s girl. After my mom died when I was 5 years old, dad stepped up and into the role of being both parents to me until the day he died 4 years ago. I couldn’t have asked for a kinder, gentler, more loving parent. I could only hope to do as good a job parenting my little munchkin as he had done for me. I absentmindedly rubbed my belly. Daddy had been a huge hockey fan. I could only imagine how thrilled he’d be if he knew I was now covering sports for a nationally syndicated station. If I still had a job after tonight, that is.
"Heeey!" a voice called. I looked up and saw one of the players on the Knights opposing team, Rory Shelton, walking towards me. "Hey hey pretty lady, what are you doing out here all by your lonesome?"
Rory was not someone I wanted to see, and definitely not someone I wanted to be alone with if the rumors surrounding him were in any way true. I quickly glanced around the stadium. Yep, we were pretty much alone. I'd been so preoccupied with daydreams and getting my stomach under control I hadn't realized how quickly the stadium had emptied out.
Rory's breath reeked of booze. His team had probably been celebrating their victory in the locker room. Against the rules, certainly, but apparently the rules were bent once in a while. He reached out one hand and brushed a stray strand of hair out of my face. I involuntarily flinched.
Rory had a bit of reputation as an asshole when it came to women. He'd been in jail a few times and there'd been certain allegations of harassment thrown at him by several women. Nothing concrete, and the allegations seemed to evaporate after a short while, but I’d been in this business long enough to strongly suspect that that only meant the women had been paid to keep quiet.
"I'm fine," I said, rising from the bench.
"Yes, you certainly are fine,” he said as his eyes raked up and down my body stopping at my breasts. I swear the asshole was drooling.
"Just waiting for my ride. Should be here any minute. Good game tonight." I took a step away from him but he reached out one hand and grabbed my wrist. My heart jumped into my throat.
"No, no, baby, you're not leaving so soon. Why don't you come with me? Let me show you a good time."
leaving, and you’re going to get your hands off me. Now.” My voice was loud, and I hoped I sounded more confident than I felt.
I tried to pry his fingers loose from my wrist but he had a firm grasp.
"Let me go," I shouted trying to pull loose from his iron grip. But my anger wasn’t working the way I intended, in fact, it seemed to have the opposite effect. The angrier I became, the more encouraged he seemed.
"Not until you give me a kiss," he said, tugging me hard so that I nearly fell into him. His other hand wrapped around my waist.
"I'm not kissing you, you piece of shit. I don't even like you touching me. Let me fucking go!" I managed to pry one of his fingers free but it didn't make any difference, the other hand only gripped me that much tighter. "You're hurting me," I told him, a little louder. "Let go!"
In the near distance, a car door slammed. "Hey!" A man's voice screamed across the lot. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
I looked over and saw Aiden Cooper running towards us. Rory let go of me so quickly that I fell back and landed on my butt. When I looked up again, Aiden was in Rory’s face.
"What the fuck is the matter with you, man?" Aiden screamed, pushing Rory's chest. "I heard her saying no from a hundred yards away."
Rory shrugged, a smirk on his face. "Sometimes a woman don't know what she wants till it's already in her, know what I mean?" He pushed Aiden back and before I knew it the two of them were scuffling on the pavement.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I go look for someone to break it up? When I saw that Aiden had the upper hand, I figured maybe I’d just let it play out. It didn't exactly bother me to see Rory get a taste of his own medicine. Aiden slammed his fist against Rory's nose and blood gushed out. Aiden let him go and Rory scrambled out from under him looking a bit dazed. He seemed to come to his senses a little, though, and instead of throwing another blow, he held his hands up in a gesture of surrender and backed away. Aiden and I watched him until he turned the corner out of sight.
Aiden took several deep breaths and turned towards me.
"You ok?" he asked, holding out his hand to help me up. I took it and warm electricity surged through my fingers and up my arm.
"Yeah," I replied. "Thanks."
"No problem. It felt pretty good to hit that asswipe. Can I give you a ride home?”
I didn't know what was wrong with me. My body was responding to the narcotic power of his voice and eyes with an overwhelming onslaught of raw physical desire. His voice was like a warm rain pounding against my skin causing moisture to pool between my legs. I wasn't sure I could trust myself around him.
"Sure. Thanks.” I wondered if there was the remotest chance that he didn’t recognize me from earlier.
“My car is just over there," he said, pointing towards a cherry red Porsche. "Just promise not to puke all over it."
He recognizes me.
"I’ll do my best," I mumbled, blushing. Would I ever live down the embarrassment of throwing up all over Aiden Cooper? He opened the passenger door for me and I slipped into the seat beside him.