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Coen (E-Book)

Coen (E-Book)

A grumpy AF hero and the sunshiny neighbor enemies-to-lovers hockey romance

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1,600+ 5 Star Reviews

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Coen Highsmith was a league star, but he lost more than his team the day the Pittsburgh Titans’ plane crashed. Can he be saved from his downward spiral of guilt and regret to become the man he once was?

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I had it all—a successful hockey career, the respect and adoration of the fans, a rotation of beautiful women warming my bed, and a feeling of self-worth and contentment with the direction of my life. But that all changed the day the team plane went down, taking my only chance of redemption with it. Now I’m left with the daily reminder of all my failures and my inability to correct them.

My new teammates are tired of my attitude and following my suspension, I hole up in a mountain cabin to get away from all of it. The isolation is exactly what I need to get out of my own head, and I’m beginning to think I could be content in this quiet forever.

Tillie Marshall isn’t the type of woman who would usually catch my attention, yet she manages to do so for all the wrong reasons. I’m here for the peace and seclusion but the quirky artist is hell-bent on destroying that by cutting down the trees that separate our properties so she can open a pottery studio. If it’s a fight she wants, it’s a fight she’ll get. I have the money and the time and no issues bringing her down through the court system.  While I see flashes of steely determination within her, I’ve found that being a jerk comes naturally these days and she won’t be hard to intimidate.

Unfortunately, that gorgeous and somewhat odd neighbor who has been causing me grief is creating another type of feeling within me. And once that spark is lit, Tillie displays a faith in me that for the first time since the crash I desperately want to believe. Now it’s time for me to step up and become the man—no, a better man than I once was.

Read Chapter One

Coen

Since the crash, the atmosphere in the Titans’ arena has been nothing short of electric. Now that the playoffs are in full swing and the Titans have earned a spot, the energy output from the fans is almost painful to bear.

Especially since I’m sitting in the upper tier of the arena and watching my team from afar.

I have no fucking clue why I’m here.

I’ve made my position clear—I don’t give a fuck about hockey anymore.

And yet… here I am.

Watching my team.

Or is it still my team since I’m suspended through no one’s fault but my own? In the split second before I attacked that ref, I knew it was the end for me this season. I can’t even claim heat of the moment, because I knew what I was doing. More importantly, I knew what the consequences would be before I did it.

Regardless, no one has recognized me. It’s been three weeks since I was suspended for that attack. I’ve grown my beard, not in solidarity with my teammates who have their playoff scruff blooming, but because I don’t give enough of a fuck to shave.

Plus, living in Stone’s cabin in the deep woods, I’ve got this whole mountain-man thing going on.

I’m wearing a hat pulled low and my glasses, not because I think they offer a disguise, but because I didn’t order my replacement contacts in time.

The whole look allows me to sit up here among the throng of fans too amped up on playoff energy and beer to pay me too much attention. But if someone does happen to recognize me, so be it.

I’m just a regular fan like them now.

It’s game three of this first round of the playoffs. The first two games were played against the New Jersey Wildcats who had home ice advantage. They soundly whipped the Titans’ asses both games.

I by no means think it’s because I wasn’t there to help. Yes, it’s been tough on everyone losing me as well as our primary goalie, Jesper Keane, but I wasn’t contributing all that much to begin with.

Some would argue I was hurting the team with my shitty attitude.

Outside of that, it’s just been hard for a team of players to come together after the tragedy of the crash. It’s unrealistic to expect us to have much in the way of synchronization and connection on the ice. Playoff teams have had months to gel in all the ways needed to play at the highest caliber, and the Titans just haven’t had that.

This isn’t shocking or unexpected.

The team’s chances of amounting to much this season after the crash were incredibly slim, and it’s an amazing accomplishment to have even made the playoffs.
They won’t be here long, though.

Currently down three to zero with only five minutes left in the third period, this is going to go down as another loss, and they’ll only be one game away from elimination.

I’m not sad for me, but I do pity those guys down on the ice who are playing their hearts out, trying to eke out a win for the fans. They’re giving all they’ve got, but it won’t be enough.

I consider heading out and beating the mass exodus once the buzzer sounds. I’ve got a little over a three-and-a-half-hour drive to get back to Stone’s cabin. I moved in the day he gave me the keys, and this is the first time I’ve left the small town of Coudersport.

Still not quite sure what possessed me to come to Pittsburgh to watch this game, but fuck if I could help myself.

It’s nothing but torture.

Self-flagellation.

Making myself watch what I’ve willingly given up.
And I have given it up, even though I’m here. The day Brienne and Callum notified me of the suspension, I told them I was done for good.

I was numb, sitting in Brienne’s office. The cool-as-a-cucumber heiress to the Norcross fortune, and now sole owner of the Titans after her brother’s death in the crash, regarded me not with ice in her eyes, but with a warmth and understanding I hadn’t earned.

Yeah, she was mad as hell I attacked the ref, which came on the heels of my arrest in New York for assault and drunk and disorderly. But without words, her gaze told me she understood.

I’m glad she did, because I sure as fuck didn’t.
I didn’t understand a goddamn thing in this world anymore.

“Coen.” My name on her lips was both gentle and unyielding at the same time. “You certainly have the right to appeal this suspension.”

“I won’t,” I’d replied. “I’m done.”

Brienne was unnerved and exchanged a look with our general manager, Callum Derringer, before bringing her attention back to me. I braced, waiting for her to pitch the same shit that Gage, Baden, and Stone had been throwing at me.

You’re too good to walk away from this.

This team needs you.

You can come back from this.

I braced and I waited, ready to deny Brienne’s pleas for me not to give up on this career.

But it never came.

Instead, she nodded. “I’m not going to beg you to stay. I’m not going to tell you that you’re throwing away a Hall of Fame-worthy career. I’m not even going to tell you this team will suffer with you gone, because I’ll find someone to replace you.”

I was so stunned by her words and the matter-of-fact way she laid them out, I know my jaw sagged slightly.

“I won’t try to influence you in any way,” she continued, her eyes locked onto mine with an intensity that punched deep. “But I won’t hear another word about you quitting or giving up until training camp starts in September. You want to leave this behind? Fine. But you are doing a disservice to yourself if you do it now. You need some time away from all this. From the horror of the crash, the guilt I know is consuming you, and the pressures of trying to perform on the ice with a team that isn’t the team you want, nor the team you can have, since they’re all dead.”

I glanced at Callum, who was listening intently but had his gaze averted out the window to the Pittsburgh skyline across the river.

And then she made it impossible for me to not do as she was asking.

“I don’t know you at all, Coen.” Her eyes seemed to mist over a bit, and she smiled sadly. “But my brother was a big fan of yours. He thought you were one of the greatest sports heroes this city had ever seen, and I know you had mutual respect for each other.”

That was just fucking low because I owed my start in this career to him. Had he not been on that plane, if he were the one here asking me to stay with this team, I would’ve been hard-pressed to walk away.

“I’m asking you to honor Adam and not leave this team until you’ve had the summer to think things over.”

Ultimately, I promised her that, but mentally, I was sort of crossing my fingers behind my back. I knew in my heart of hearts I couldn’t step foot on the ice because I didn’t deserve that precious spot. If Brienne didn’t want my answer until training camp, I could hold my tongue until then.

The crowd erupts in a roar that I swear to fuck shakes the building and jolts me out of my memories. Thousands upon thousands of Titans’ fans jump to their feet, screaming as we score.

I don’t even fucking comprehend what’s happened at first and have to look up at the scoreboard for the instant replay while the guys on the ice celebrate.

What do you know?

Boone Rivers scored.

The guy who replaced me.

It’s a sweet move, a floaty backhand off a feed from Gage that toppled right over the goalie’s right shoulder.
Good for him.

The guy next to me pushes at my shoulder, and I glance up at him. I’m the only one seated in this throng. The man is packing a huge beer belly and a walrus mustache that isn’t big enough to hide his joyful grin as he holds out his palm for me to high-five.

I smile—not because I feel like it, but because I don’t want to draw attention to myself for not doing what any sane fan should be doing—and I slap my hand to his.
The man turns to look down at the ice from our nosebleed seats and screams, “Titans, Titans, Titans!” along with the rest of the crowd.

I stand and inch past a handful of people to the staircase that leads down.

I’m genuinely happy that Boone scored. I’m glad that my teammates have this experience. Hell, I’m even proud of what has been accomplished.

And yet this has done nothing but reiterate to me that it isn’t my life anymore.

It takes me a good fifteen minutes to exit the arena and make my way to my Mercedes G-Wagon.

Prior to the crash, this puppy was my pride and joy. I love luxury cars, and in addition to this tank, I have a Maserati.

Such stupid things to adore, and I’ll be unloading these frivolities soon.

Won’t be hard, given that nothing brings me joy these days.

Well, except one thing.

Stone’s cabin.

It’s tucked back on almost twenty acres of remote woodland, a few miles outside of the borough of Coudersport. The tiny town is the seat of the very unpopulated Potter County. It sits in a valley surrounded by the Allegheny Plateau where Mill Creek joins the Allegheny River and flows all the way to Pittsburgh. The town itself holds no more than a few thousand people, and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet more than any man has a right to.

If there’s one thing I’d like to do with my money, it’s secure this peace.

I start my SUV, but before I exit the lot for my long drive northeast, I shoot off a text to Stone. I don’t give him platitudes over the great game he played but cut straight to the point. Interested in selling me the cabin? I’ll pay top dollar.

Pulling up my iTunes, I select a playlist that’s mostly hard rock and metal. I crank the volume and blast the air conditioning. I haven’t been sleeping for shit, and the drive back to the cabin is going to be brutal. I could stay at my condo across the river, but I can’t stomach it.

This city isn’t my home anymore.

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Product Release Date: September 27, 2022

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