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Authors: Juliana Stone

Tags: #contemporary romance, #sports romance, #small town romance, #adult contemporary romance

Offside (15 page)

BOOK: Offside
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Connor had partnered with his father in the
family vet clinic, but was on the low end of the totem pole and
usually covered emergencies on the weekends.

She smiled at the thought of him running out
in his Superman costume. He’d dashed through the crowd, like a real
live superhero, sprinting for the back door, cape billowing behind
him, tossing a devilish smile her way before he’d disappeared. She
liked Conner but while she was grateful for the attention, she
didn’t want to date him.

“Why are you hiding in the dark?”

Billie turned as Gerald Dooley appeared at
her side, dressed as Rhett Butler to her sister’s Scarlett. He had
a wary expression on his face and Billie was pretty sure she scared
him. Not that she could blame the poor guy. He was way out of his
league getting involved with the Barkers, and was damn lucky Betty
wasn’t around because he’d really be in trouble. Her absent sister
had a habit of making any situation more volatile, and when it came
to men, the fallout was nasty.

She shrugged, wondering where Bobbi was,
because if she was anywhere in the immediate vicinity, Billie was
outta there. “Connor had an emergency and I’m…”

[i]
Trying to avoid the guys who hate me
and the women who think I’m after their men.

Trying not to think about the fact that
Dad hardly ate dinner. Again
.[i]

“Just taking it easy,” she answered
instead.

Gerald pulled his fake mustache and attempted
to take a drink from his beer mug, but had to move the large facial
hairpiece to the side in order to tip the cup just so.

He looked ridiculous, like a cheesy porn
star.

Guess no one had told the guy that Rhett
hadn’t sported a 70’s handlebar. She watched him wipe an impressive
amount of foam from his fake stash, and tried to keep a straight
face, but was pretty sure she failed miserably—judging by the way
his eyes narrowed.

“Good,” he replied, as he leaned closer and
whispered, like they were buddies or something. “I heard about the,
uh, incident last night.”

Oh, God, was the entire night going to be
like this?

“I’m fine,” she retorted, turning away from
him sharply and hissing as her tender skin rubbed against her
costume.

“Oh, good,” Gerald nodded, smiling at her. “I
heard you took something like fifteen stitches.”

“Twenty stitches,” she deadpanned. “And don’t
forget the pint of blood, either.”

His eyes widened and Billie blew out hot air,
her gaze moving behind the fake stash until she spied Logan
practically drooling over Tracy’s overexposed breasts.

Were all men either stupid or horny?

Just behind Tracy, her sister Bobbi slid
through the crowd, making her way toward Gerald.

“Look, I gotta run.” She stepped to the side.
Bobbi was still giving Billie the silent treatment, and Billie
didn’t have the heart to pretend that it didn’t hurt. She’d tried
apologizing, but Bobbi was having none of it.

She was starting to think this whole night
was one big mistake. She should be at home with Herschel and her
father. She should be anywhere but here.

Besides, her shoes were starting to kill her
and who knew when Connor would return?

Mind made up, Billie slipped past Gerald,
muttered a goodbye, and took two steps forward when Tracy’s shrill
voice rang out.

“Billie!” she waved madly, “Come over here.
You look hot!”

She froze, like a deer caught in the
headlights and when Logan turned around, her stomach did that weird
dive thing again.

His hair was slicked back, which only
emphasized his handsome features—that strong jaw line, high
cheekbones and square chin. Dressed in leather pants, boots, and a
snug fitting black T-shirt that had ‘Fangtasia’ in blood red across
his chest, he made her mouth go dry without even trying.

She wasn’t sure who or what he was supposed
to be, but at the moment, Billie didn’t care.

Her hand nervously went to her hair, which
had been arranged in soft curls that fell over her breasts and down
her back in ringlets. Not for the first time, she cursed the fact
that the only costume available in her size had been a ‘naughty
angel’. The silvery-white dress was nearly transparent, but she
supposed that was the idea. The wings? Made entirely of annoying
little feathers that floated to the ground every time she moved. At
the rate she was going, there’d be nothing left to return.

Thankfully, the dress had come with a nude
body suit to wear underneath or she’d have nixed the idea and worn
an old pair of jeans instead. Which, now that she thought about it,
didn’t sound like a bad idea after all.

The thigh high white boots she wore were
Tracy’s—who’d been more than happy to do Billie’s hair and makeup.
Tracy, it seemed, had no qualms about going out half dressed, but
Billie wasn’t exactly used to such a small dress. Or the attention,
said small dress generated. And, this outfit was worse than the one
Tracy had dressed her in for her birthday a few weeks back. Billie
didn’t do dresses. It wasn’t a jock thing, it was personal
taste.

So why was she so keen on trying them out
now?

[i]
Because I wanted Logan to see me in
one
.[i]

“Shut up,” she murmured, banishing her inside
voice.

Logan started toward her and she panicked.
Her mouth was so dry she could barely swallow. Billie tipped her
cup back and downed the rest of her drink, eyeing Logan warily as
he stopped a few inches away.

Gerald nodded to Logan and went off to find
Bobbi, who’d done a 180 as soon as she’d spied Billie near her
boyfriend.

Logan’s dark eyes studied her so intensely
that Billie was sure he could see right through her dress—all the
way to the fast beating heart that was making her dizzy.

She exhaled and attempted a smile, hating how
this man could reduce her to a fifteen year old version of herself
in less than two seconds. Why couldn’t she just be normal around
him?

For a few seconds the party went on without
them. The dizziness she’d felt seemed to center itself, and spin
until everyone other than Logan was nothing but a blur. The music
faded, the noise, the people. There was only him.

His hot leather outfit. Those eyes. And that
mouth.

“So, you’re supposed to be…” she paused. What
the hell was up with her voice? She sounded like a breathless,
dimwit. It was annoying. This whole situation was annoying.

Logan shrugged and took a step closer. She
could smell him now. That scent—whatever the heck it was—that was
all his own, and oh so intoxicating.

“I have no clue.” He made a face. “My Mom is
behind all of it and I have a hard time saying no to her.”

He smiled—and God help her—it was a genuine,
wonderful, sexy smile that sent her heart into overdrive. It left
her lightheaded. Hot. Flushed.

And Billie’s breath [i]
did
[i] catch at
the back of her throat. She made a weird chortling sound, though
she managed to keep a straight face.

“Gallagher got you home safe last night?”

Billie nodded, afraid to answer because she
was sure the damn frog caught in her throat was still there. She
put the back of her hand to her face and tried to clear her throat
as covertly as she could.

“Ah, yes, I got home all right.”

“How’s your side?”

“It’s good,” she answered quickly—awkwardly.
“A little sore, but I should be able to play next week.”

Logan didn’t respond for a moment and when he
did, his voice was lower, thicker, and the sound of it sent shivers
rolling along her skin. Shivers that liquefied. Shivers that made
her ache.

“So, about last night…” he took another step
toward her and then paused.

He was so close right now that she could see
the way his muscles bunched along his shoulders. The tendons
strained in his biceps, like he was nervous or anxious, or maybe, a
little pissed. He had warned her last night and she hadn’t
listened. She hadn’t played smart. She’d goaded Longwood and his
teammates because she’d wanted to prove something to them. She’d
wanted them to know that she was better than they were. She’d
wanted to pound that home. She’d hot-dogged it out there on the
ice, and now had nothing to show for it but a group of men who
disliked her more than they had before, and ten stitches in her
side.

“Last night shouldn’t have happened,” Logan
said quietly.

Something pierced her inside, a pain that
brought tears to the corners of her eyes. It smarted and she
blinked rapidly, hating the fake eyelashes Tracy had insisted she
wear. Hating everything in that moment—everything that had brought
her here, back to New Waterford.

Did Logan think it was a mistake she was
playing in the league? Was he going to ask her to quit?

[i]
I can’t
.[i] She had to make him
understand. Hockey was her life. It was all she had—as pathetic as
that sounded—and she couldn’t give it up. She wouldn’t.

“Logan, I know I asked for it. I mean, I
stole the puck off Seth more times than I can count, and I shot at
Cronkwright real steady, and not just [i]
at
[i] Cronkwright,”
she licked her lips but was unable to stop the train wreck that was
her mouth. “I mean, I hit his helmet at least a dozen times. Hard.
A dozen hard shots to the head and, well, at least five or six at
his crotch. I…”

He was staring down at her like she’d lost
her mind. And maybe she had, but damn if she was going to leave
before he knew how sorry she was.

“Logan, I…”

She didn’t get a chance to finish her
sentence because his hands were on her. Those long, warm, fingers
wrapped around her wrists, pulling her closer to that delicious
scent that clung to him. That delicious scent that could only screw
her up more than she already was.

He bent down and the spike of heat inside her
tripled. She held her breath, not knowing what to expect, and when
the warmth from his mouth fell over her neck, she nearly sagged
into him. The only thing holding her steady and away from him was
the express knowledge that every single set of eyes in the
immediate area was focused on the two of them.

“Billie, you’ve got nothing to be sorry
about. Last night was unacceptable. The behavior of the guys on
that team was unacceptable. But trust me, I paid a visit to
Longwood this afternoon and it won’t happen again, not if that
asshole wants to stay in one piece.”

She pulled her head back—which might have
been a bad decision because now she was gazing at his mouth—at lips
that were parted slightly. Lips that were perfect. Kissable.

Really, really, kissable.

Dragging her eyes up to Logan’s she exhaled a
shaky breath, aware that his gaze had dropped down to the low
neckline and her straining cleavage. Maybe there was something to
this whole dress thing after all.

His eyes moved up to hers and something tight
twisted inside her. He looked so fierce and sexy, ready to kick
ass—all for her.

“What he did was dirty and the league won’t
stand for that kind of crap.” He paused, “I won’t stand for
it.”

“I,” she started to speak but a shot of
feedback ripped through the air just as the lights went up.

“I’d like everyone’s attention for a moment,
please.”

Billie turned and watched Logan’s mother beam
down at them from the stage, her vivid red costume a stunning
contrast to the gray, black and white zombies who made up Ike’s
band.

“We’re going to take a few minutes and run
our live auction so that we can get the business out of the way
before the band starts playing.”

Several cheers greeted her announcement as
she introduced the auctioneer, Pat-something or other. The man was
small and appropriately dressed as a hobbit, though he’d doffed his
wig earlier and his bald head glistened beneath the overhead
lights.

That low buzz of panic that had dodged her
all night settled in her gut and Billie rubbed clammy palms against
her upper thighs.

The live auction was supposed to happen at
midnight. Shit, she’d not planned on sticking around for it. Damn,
Connor and his stupid ass ideas.

For twenty minutes, Billie stood beside Logan
as various items were offered up for bids—trips to wine country,
his and her massages, cottage getaways and a free legal
consultation at Gerald’s firm. After each item, the knot in
Billie’s stomach grew larger. Sweat broke out along her forehead
and tendrils of hair stuck to the back of her neck.

It was hot. Christ, she was as hot as Logan
looked.

She leaned toward him. “I think I’m going to
go get some fresh air, I don’t feel so good.”

He didn’t hear her, because the auctioneer
had just announced a “fabulous opportunity for one on one hockey
coaching with New Waterford’s very own Billie-Jo Barker.”

Silence greeted his words. Not total silence
mind you since there were a few snickers that rang out.

Billie stared up at the auctioneer wishing a
big black hole would appear and suck her into an alternate realm.
One where nobody stared. Or gossiped. Or shot daggers into her
back.

“Billie-Jo has generously offered four
private coaching sessions to some lucky winner. And considering
she’s an Olympic medal champion and a former professional player,
what a great opportunity!” The auctioneer beamed down at her and
pointed—just in case no one knew that the skanky angel in front,
was in fact, her. He winked at Billie. “I hear she’s causing a bit
of excitement in the men’s league.”

Wrong thing to say.

Laughter followed his declaration, the kind
that was mean spirited—hidden behind hands—or not. Sabrina Fairfax
made no effort to hide the loud guffaw that fell from her lips.

Aware of the many eyes turned her way, she
kept her gaze focused on the auctioneer. [i]
Just keep staring at
him. It will be all right
.[i]

BOOK: Offside
4.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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