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Authors: Rachel Gibson

Any Man Of Mine

BOOK: Any Man Of Mine
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Any Man of Mine


Rachel Gibson







Any Man of Mine:

No Professional Athletes


am LeClaire was a good-looking son of a bitch. Everyone thought so. Everyone from sports writers to soccer moms.

The girl wrapped up in his sheets thought so, too. Although she really wasn’t a girl. She was a woman.

“I don’t see why I can’t go.”

Sam glanced up from the knot in his blue-striped tie and looked in the mirror at the supermodel in his bed. Her name was Veronica Del Toro, but she was known by just her first name. Like Tyra and Heidi and Gisele.

“Because I didn’t know you were going to be in town,” he explained for the tenth time. “Bringing a guest at this late date would be rude.” Which wasn’t the real reason.

“But I’m Veronica.”

Now, there. There was the real reason. She was rude
narcissistic. Not that he held that against anyone. He could be rude and narcissistic himself; but, unlike the stories written about him, he really did know when to behave.

“I won’t eat much.”

Try not at all. That was one of the things that irritated him about Veronica. She never ate. She ordered food like she was starving, but she pushed it around her plate.

Sam slid up the knot and tilted his chin to one side as he buttoned down the collar. “I already called you a cab.” In the mirror he watched Veronica rise from his bed and walk toward him. She moved across his carpet as if she was on the catwalk. All long legs and arms, big breasts yet hardly a jiggle.

“When are you going to be back?” she asked as she wrapped her arms around his waist. She rested her chin on his shoulder and looked at him through dark brown eyes.

“Late.” He tilted his head to the other side and, as he buttoned the other collar point, he glanced at the big Stanley Cup champion ring on the dresser. The white- and yellow-gold ring had 160 diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires fashioned into the team logo on its face. On one side the Stanley Cup and the year had been engraved. On the other, his name and number. He’d had it out to show Veronica, but he didn’t plan to put it on. Even if he had been a guy who wore jewelry, which he wasn’t, the huge ring covered the finger on his right hand to his knuckle and was over-the-top. Even for a guy who liked over-the-top.

“How late?”

Looking in the mirror, he slid his gaze to the clock on his nightstand. It was already half past six, and the wedding started at seven. He really hadn’t had the time to meet Veronica. But she wasn’t in town that often, and she’d promised a quickie. He should have known better. She was Veronica and wasn’t quick about anything. “Real late. When do you fly out?”

“In the morning.” She sighed and slid her long hands up his dress shirt to his hard pecs. “I could wait.”

He turned, and her palms slid to his waist. “I don’t know when I’ll get back. This thing could run real late.” Although with the regular season opener in just five days, he doubted it. He pushed her dark hair behind her shoulder. “Call me the next time you’re in Seattle.”

“That could be months, and by then you’ll be on the road playing hockey.” She dropped her hands and moved toward the bed.

He watched her skinny behind as she stepped into her tiny panties. There were a lot of things to like about Veronica. Her face. Her body. The fact that she was superficial, and there was nothing deep going on in her pretty head. There was nothing wrong with being superficial. Nothing wrong with living on the surface and avoiding lapses into deep thought. It made life easier. “We can always meet up on the road again.”

“True.” She reached for a red T-shirt and pulled it over her head before stepping into a pair of jeans. “But by then you’ll have a black eye.”

He grinned. “True.” He grabbed his suit jacket and slid his arms inside. Last season, he’d hooked up with her in Pittsburgh. That night against the Penguins, he’d scored a goal, spent four minutes in the sin bin for a double minor, and got his first major shiner of the season. Maybe she’d bring him the same sort of luck this year. He reached for his wallet and shoved it into the back pocket of his khaki trousers.

“Last season your beautiful face was a mess,” Veronica said as she slid her feet into a pair of pumps.

It hadn’t been that bad. Just a few stitches and minor bruises. He’d certainly suffered worse during his sixteen years in the NHL.

“You should model.”

“No. Thanks.” A few years ago, he’d done an underwear ad for Diesel, and he’d found the whole process a colossal bore. He’d spent most of an entire day sitting around in white briefs while the crew set up for different shots. The end result had been huge billboards and magazine ads of him with his junk practically hanging out and looking particularly enormous. The guys on the team had razzed him endlessly, and his mother had been afraid to show her face in church for a month. After that experience, he decided to leave modeling to the guys who liked that sort of attention. Guys like Beckham.

Together, he and Veronica walked from the bedroom of Sam’s downtown loft. Within the open interior, gray shadow hugged the leather furnishings as fading sunlight cast dull patterns across the wood floor.

Sam held the front door open for Veronica, then locked it behind him. He moved down the hall, and his thoughts turned to the game in less than a week against San Jose. The Sharks had been knocked out of the first round of playoffs last season, but that didn’t guarantee a win for the Chinooks in this season’s opener. Not by a long shot. The Sharks would be hungry, and some of the Chinooks had partied a little too hard during the off-season. Sam had done his share of partying, but he hadn’t gone to fat, and his liver was still in good shape. Johan and Logan were each carrying ten extra pounds around the middle, and Vlad was drinking like a sailor on leave. The organization had just given the captaincy to Walker Brooks. No shock there. Walker had been the alternate for the past few years.

“I love weddings,” Veronica said through a sigh as they moved to the elevator.

Everyone assumed that Alexander Devereaux would put the A on his jersey, but nothing had been announced. They’d kind of floated the alternate captaincy in Sam’s direction, but he hadn’t taken the bait. Sam wasn’t the most responsible guy, and that’s how he liked it.

The elevator doors opened, and they stepped inside. “Don’t you?”

“Don’t I what?” He pushed the button to the lobby.

“Love weddings.”

“Not particularly.” Weddings were about as much fun as getting his cup rung.

They rode to the bottom floor in silence, and Sam placed his hand in the small of Veronica’s back as they walked across the lobby. Two heavy glass-and-stainless-steel doors slid open, and a yellow cab waited by the curb.

He kissed her good-bye. “Call me the next time you’re in town. I really want to see you again,” he said as he shut her inside the taxi.

Misty clouds clung to the darkening Seattle skyline as Sam walked to the corner and headed two blocks toward Fourth Avenue and the Rainier Club. The sounds of the city bounced off the buildings around him, and he glanced at his image reflected in storefront windows. A slight breeze lifted his lapels and teased the lock of blond hair touching his forehead. He slid one hand to the front of his blazer and buttoned it against the damp, chilly air.

He turned his attention to the crowded sidewalk, and within a few short blocks, he caught sight of the exclusive old club with its aged brick façade and carefully trimmed lawn that reeked of money. As he moved down the street, he was aware of people turning to watch him. Several shouted out his name. He raised his hand in acknowledgment but kept on walking. That sort of constant recognition was new to him. Oh, he had his fans. Lots of them. Those who followed his career and wore his name and number on their jerseys. Since winning the Cup last July, his notoriety had increased a hundredfold, and he was fine with it. Fans just wanted an autograph or a handshake, and he could handle that.

In the middle of the block, he looked up the street and cut across. Life was good for Sam. Last season, the Seattle Chinooks had won the Stanley Cup, and his name would forever be inscribed on hockey’s highest prize. The memory of holding the Cup over his head as he skated in front of the hometown crowd brought a smile to his lips.

His professional life was on a high. Through blood, sweat, and hard work, he’d reached every goal he’d ever set for himself. He had more money then he’d ever thought he’d make in one lifetime, and he loved spending it on real estate, designer suits, fine wine, and finer women.

He walked beneath the Rainier Club’s black awning, and a doorman greeted him. His personal life was pretty good, too. He didn’t have one special lady in his life, which was how he liked it. Women loved him, and he loved them back. Probably a little too much sometimes.

The inside of the exclusive club was so stuffy, he had a sudden urge to take off his shoes just like when he’d been a kid, and his mom got a new carpet. A few of the guys were hanging out at the bottom of a wide staircase looking a little uneasy, but otherwise good in their expensive suits and summer tans. In another two months, several of them would be sporting black eyes and a few stitches.

“Nice of you to make it,” forward Daniel Holstrom said as he approached.

Harp music drifted down the stairs as Sam peeled back the cuff of his dress shirt and looked at his TAG Heuer watch. “Ten minutes to spare,” he said. “What are you all waiting for?”

“Vlad and Logan aren’t here yet,” goalie Marty Darche answered.

“Savage make it?” Sam asked, referring to the groom and Chinooks’ former captain, Ty Savage.

“I saw him about ten minutes ago,” Daniel answered. “First time I’ve ever seen him break a sweat off the ice. He’s probably afraid the bride has come to her senses and is halfway to Vancouver.”

Marty lowered his voice a fraction. “There are at least four Playmates upstairs.”

Which wasn’t surprising given that the bride was not only the owner of the Seattle Chinooks, but had been a
Playmate of the Year. “Should be a good party,” Sam said through a laugh, as a shiny auburn ponytail and smooth profile caught the corner of his eye. He turned, and his laughter got stuck in his throat. Everything inside him stilled as his gaze followed the woman with the ponytail moving across the lobby toward the front doors. She had on a headset and talked into the tiny microphone in front of her mouth. A black sweater hugged her body, and a little battery pack was clipped to her black pants. Sam’s brows lowered, and acid settled in the pit of his stomach. If there was one woman on the planet who did
love him, and in fact hated his guts, it was the woman disappearing through the front doors.

BOOK: Any Man Of Mine
9.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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