Authors: Amanda Cowen
Also by Amanda Cowen
(Perfect Series #1)
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or places or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Copyright @ 2016 by Amanda Cowen
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions of thereof in any form whatsoever.
This book wouldn’t have been possible without the fantastic Karen Dale Harris. Thank you a million times over for your amazing attention to detail, exceptional input and brilliant editorial skills.
Thank you to Sarah Hansen for such a sexy cover.
A special thank you to my wonderful friend and personal cheerleader, Angela P. She was the first reader of Cash and Quinn’s story. You kept me going even when I wanted to light my manuscript into flames. Thank you for your ongoing support, and for continuing to read everything I write.
“As we grow up, we realize it is less important to have lots of friends, and more important to have real ones” – Anonymous
Thank you to Alyssa C. and Jessica C. for reading the first drafts of PERFECT SENSE.
Thank you so much for being my number 1 fans ☺
Thank you to all my readers! Your support means the world to me!
Finally, and above all, I must gratefully acknowledge my husband, Sean Trevisanutto. Thank you for your inspiration for Cash and Quinn’s story. Thank you for answering every hockey question and teaching me about the ins and outs of the professional hockey world. Without your expertise and continual love and support I couldn’t’ have done it without you.
For Aaron, with love
And for anyone who has ever loved someone that struggled with an addiction
“Caring about an addict is as complex and fraught and debilitating as addiction itself”
Table of Contents
I am seriously about to slap my sister, Lyndsey. She’s been screaming in my ear for the past fifteen minutes along with every other crazy fan watching the ice hockey game on the rink in front of us. I am trying my hardest to enjoy it, despite that I’m sandwiched between an overeager puck bunny baring her midriff and my horny sister who keeps squishing her face against the glass separating us from the ice. She squeals with delight and looks back at me when two of the players’ slam against the boards in front of us, tangling their sticks before clearing the puck.
Whenever a push turns into a shove or a player happens to be inches away from our section, cheers and claps echo up into the rafters and fill the fifteen-thousand-seat stadium with an absurd amount of noise. I scowl every time I get jabbed from behind or another rowdy hockey nut sways a little too close into my personal space.
It isn’t that I dislike hockey. Hell, I grew up surrounded by it. I loved watching our father, Hilton Ashby, ex-National Hockey League goaltender guard his net. The highlight of my childhood watching his team win the Stanley Cup.
He was my hero.
After he retired from the sport, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Until recently, he worked for many years as a Scout for the National Hockey League. Then two months ago he was promoted to President of Hockey Operations for the Santa Anna Tornados and their affiliate American Hockey League team, the Bexley Bruisers. His acquisition moved him to Santa Anna, leaving my little sister Lyndsey alone in Bexley, California. He made it up to her though, by purchasing her a condo a few blocks west of her college campus.
Until a few weeks ago, I was also absent from her life, half way across the country at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the past four years, my distance hasn’t given me many opportunities to come back home. I’ve been nothing but responsible and focused on my education, making it nearly impossible for her to be angry about my absence. I’ve put my education first and she’s always been supportive. But since my spontaneous return, I’ve done my best to make up for lost time. And it’s not that I don’t want to watch our father’s new beloved team with her. It’s just that I know we could be sitting comfortably in a corporate box, watching this nonsense from a distance like we did when we were kids.
But tonight, my sneaky little sister insisted we sit among this wild and unruly section, because the Bruisers new showstopper—and main reason this stadium is filled tonight with screaming women howling out mating calls—is about to make his appearance on the ice.
On the ride to the game, Lyndsey talked my ear off about this so-called heartthrob who was once a first-round draft pick to the National Hockey League. Cash Brooks played a full three years under a pretty hefty contract. Six months ago he was booted down to the American Hockey League for continual misconduct. I tried to pay attention when Lyndsey rambled on in hockey terms about the ins and outs of contracts and waivers regarding Mr. Brooks. My eyes glazed over. I didn’t care to pay attention to the complicated rules of why he was suddenly booted down to the minors.
What I did gather, was that his lethally sexy looks, playboy attitude and hotheaded temper have made him quite the buzz in the media and a regular spectacle at the games.
Lyndsey nudges me with her elbow, snapping me back to the game. “That’s him, at the end of the bench. Closest to the coach.” She points to the players` bench on the opposite side of the rink.
I look over in his general direction, but everyone wearing a white helmet and red jersey looks about the same to me. I nod, pretending I know whom she is talking about. My interest level in her new man-crush is about nil, considering she has a new male obsession every other week.
“So explain to me why we are sitting on the opposite side of the rink if he is over there parking it on the bench?”
She straightens up a bit and gives me a superior smile. “Because, Quinn, everyone knows that if you want an up-close and personal view of the sexiest man alive, then you have to sit next to the penalty box. Best place to see the hockey Adonis who cracks skulls and causes heavy nose bleeds.”
“Oooh, how attractive. A barbaric hockey player with rocks for brains.” I’m hoping she hears the sarcasm.
“Omigod!” Lyndsey squeals, jumping up and down beside me. “He’s about to come out! I promise you this is going to be so worth it!”
The bench door swings open, unleashing a tornado of man slicing his way across the ice. If I thought the cheers were loud before, nothing could have prepared me for the deafening shrill of hormonal women going crazy the second Cash Brooks steps onto the ice. His strong legs carry his thick athletic build effortlessly into the opposing team’s end zone.
A sudden jab to my shoulder and I am blinded by a girl waving a pair of red pompoms. I swat them away, until another swift jab attacks my backside. This time it’s a chick with a homemade sign. I spin around to scold them both, irritated by their lack of respect for my personal space, when I realize it isn’t just the two crazy girls behind us who have lost their minds. Every girl in this arena is in a heated frenzy, pushing and shoving, scampering their way down the steps to catch a glimpse of this hot headed man on skates.
Lyndsey is watching in awe, her lips parted, drool practically trickling from her mouth as he slams one of the opposing team’s defenders into the boards. The heavy bang of two professional hockey players in full gear and full testosterone-mode smashing into the glass nearly knocks me off my seat. Lyndsey’s hero skates away like a maniac, leaving his victim ass-backward on the ice. A bunch of girls to my right start screaming how hot he is. One even rips off her T-shirt, wearing nothing but a sports bra underneath, and whips her shirt in a helicopter motion around her head.
Like seriously? What the hell is wrong with these women? This goes way beyond normal fandom. Plus, ice rinks are cold. I’m glad I wore a sweater.
“This is crazy,” I shout at Lyndsey. “I hate you for making me sit down here. My God, he’s just a guy.”
“Wait till his helmet gets ripped off during a fight. Get ready for it, Quinn. He’s so dreamy.” When he ferociously digs against another player, fighting along the boards for control of the puck, Lyndsey grips my arm, her nails digging through my sweater. “He’s like an alpha from the heavens. Thank me right now for making Dad get us these prime seats.”
“No way. This is insane.” I pull my phone out from my purse to check my email. I’m done ogling a dense hockey player who thinks his shit doesn’t stink. I have more important things to worry about, like receiving my electronic offer of admission from Harvard.
I graduated a semester early with my undergrad this winter, top of my class with a concentration in marketing and communications. It’s always been my dream to attend Harvard grad school for their prestigious MBA program. I’ve already received early acceptance into Colombia University and University of Southern California, but I’ve been waitlisted for Harvard. Now I am forced to play the waiting game.
God. I shouldn’t even be in California.
Don’t get me wrong. I love California. But my original post-graduation plan was to stay in Pennsylvania with my now ex-boyfriend William; even though Lyndsey begged me to move back home. I told her I couldn’t justify moving back when I’d already secured a decent internship at a marketing firm. Plus, William was finishing his last year of pre-law
he asked me to move in with him. I felt guilty for choosing him over her, but the convenience of staying in Pennsylvania and close to Harvard tempted me to stay and domesticate with him.
Then on New Year’s Eve, I walked in on William and some girl having sex at our new apartment. Even though I was devastated, it was a blessing in disguise. Most girls would have spent days wallowing in sweat pants and eating ice cream, but instead I was relieved. It gave me an excuse to walk away from a relationship I felt was holding me back. We broke up and I re-evaluated my priorities. I moved back to California to spend time with my sister while I continued to wait on an offer from Harvard. Now all I needed was to secure another internship. That’s part of the reason why I even agreed to attend the Bruisers game tonight with Lyndsey. It gave me the opportunity to pay attention to the sponsors advertised on the boards for marketing internship ideas.
“Stop surfing the net.” Lyndsey rips my phone out of my hand. “Pay attention. The player he’s about to fight knocked one of the rookies on the Bruisers. Cash hates it when someone on the opposing team messes with his teammates. Now they’re about to fight and Cash’s helmet is about to come off. You need to look at him. You won’t regret it. He’s gorgeous.”
“Give me my phone back.”
“Not until you promise to watch.”
“Fine.” I stuff my phone in my purse and trade it for a pair of mittens.
I lift my gaze and study the guy with BROOKS on the back of his jersey. He’s over six feet tall and covered from head to toe in protective pads and gear. A hulking mass of muscle, he looks like every other hockey player to me. But Lyndsey’s right. He’s about to fight. The other player, who is about to get his face crushed in, is slightly taller with a thinner build, almost trembling as he stares back at his opponent. When Cash rips off his gloves, the crowd goes wild, screaming and cheering.
In his terrifying intensity, he doesn’t even flinch.
In one swift motion, his huge hands ball into fists, connecting with the other player’s helmet, knocking it right off his head. The sound of the bone splitting impact sends a chill right up my spine and makes me wince. The opponent swings back at Cash, who ducks the punch, yanking off his own helmet, unleashing the cold raw beauty of his perfect face.
My breath is stolen when his icy blue eyes and wavy honey brown hair are freed from underneath his helmet. I have to remind myself to breathe as I study his five o’clock shadow growing in along his tanned and flawless skin. He smirks briefly into the crowd of beauties rooting for him. I let out my first real breath of air and scold myself for being so captivated by his insanely good looks.
“Oooh! He is so fucking hot!” Lyndsey squeals. “Hit him, Cash!”
Like a roaring savage, Cash Brooks makes repetitive pounding contact with his opponent, whose jersey is pulled up to his neck, squishing up his name up on the back of his jersey. When he shoots back up from Cash’s ten or so blows, his nose is bloody and his lip is split in two. Three referees swarm their hot and thick bodies, yanking Cash and the other player apart.