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Kane (E-Book)

Kane (E-Book)

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Are you ready for Kane Bellan’s story?
I have a problem.
Potential problem?
I’m not really sure. Here’s the deal.

Read More
There’s this girl—isn’t that how it always starts?—and her name is Mollie. I like her. I mean really like her. I hope that doesn’t make me seem less manly than my professional hockey player persona implies. But here’s the issue—she’s my best friend. The one person I can count on for everything, who’s been there with me for all the moments, big and small.

When Mollie shows up at my door, travel weary and scared following an incident with an ex, my instinct to protect her goes into overdrive. It’s then that I know she’s more than just my best friend and the skates are swept out from under me when I find out she feels the same way.

Our transition from friends to lovers to potentially something more is seamless, the Arizona Vengeance is back on the ice looking for a repeat championship, and my life has never been better. Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, the realities of us both having careers which keep us on the road put our blossoming relationship on ice.

It feels like the game just went into overtime and I’m on the verge of either the biggest win or most disappointing loss of my life. And losing is never an option.

Read Chapter One

Chapter 1

Kane

“I really need to get going, darling,” Nalia says as she attempts to extricate herself from my arms.

While my body doesn’t have anything left to give her physically because we haven’t left my bed nearly all weekend, I still pull her back in close. Nuzzling her neck, I mutter, “Call in sick. Stay another day.”

Her laugh is husky, but her demeanor is efficient, a product of her British upbringing, as she pats me on the cheek. “I can’t just call in sick, Kane. It doesn’t work that way. Besides, this is the last hop I can get to Raleigh today.”

I loosen my hold, not having intended for her to stay. It’s just the nice thing to do when someone I care about—and I do care about Nalia—is leaving soon. No telling when we’ll see each other again. It could be weeks—maybe even months—but our relationship has worked like this for the past two years.

Not that it could be called a relationship.

We’re nothing more than a periodic booty call, something that worked well when I played for the Carolina Cold Fury and lived in Raleigh. Nalia is a flight attendant. While she works on many international flights, she often has duty on the direct Raleigh to London or vice versa. She would usually stay overnight before the return leg, and she and I would… well, fuck like rabbits in the minuscule amount of time allotted.

As I said, it worked well. Nalia loves traveling, and she’s far too independent to settle down. And as for me, well… I don’t know what in the hell I want. Until I figure it out, a hot hookup and friends with benefits is perfect.

Unfortunately, Nalia and I haven’t seen each other much since I was traded to the Arizona Vengeance a few months ago. We were finally able to plan a weekend trip for her to visit, and we made up for lost time. Not sure I could even manage another hard-on right now, as we thoroughly depleted each other.

Taking the opportunity, Nalia rolls out of bed. I turn onto my side, prop my head in my hand, and unabashedly watch her. She’s a stunning woman—exotic due to her Lebanese heritage—with black hair and almond-shaped eyes, but that British accent and dry humor just amp up her attractiveness.

Naked, she’s beyond words.

I like Nalia.

Quite a lot, but not enough to make this into something more than it is. I think if I made an effort, Nalia would be on board with us discussing exclusivity, but I have to listen to my gut on these things. And every instinct I have screams that she’s not ready, I’m not ready, and our careers wouldn’t provide many opportunities to be together.

No, it’s better we just keep to our little moments together, enjoy them, and realize that’s all there will ever be.

“Want to join me in the shower?” she quips, glancing over her shoulder.

She catches me staring at her ass.

Her lips tip up, but she doesn’t admonish me. Hell, we’ve run around naked this entire weekend. She’s used to me leering.

I consider her invitation because it has merit. While I thought my dick was dead from over-usage this weekend, I bet it would work just fine with a naked, soapy Nalia in my arms.

But she’s on a tight schedule. She needs to catch her free return flight to Raleigh, and I have to head to the arena soon. We have our first team meeting at noon, which will include our team pictures, and training camp starts next week. I wanted to get a quick workout in before then.

During the off-season, I’ve been working out with some of the guys who share the second line with me, so I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been. Five days a week, I meet Jim Steele, Jett Olsson, and Bain Hillridge at the arena gym, and we put in two to three hours of hard work. We haven’t met the other defenseman on our line yet—Riggs Nadeau—as he’s coming to us from the San Diego Renegades in a late-summer move by management. I’ve heard he’s a bit prickly to work with, which kind of sucks, since Jim, Jett, Bain, and I get along well, which always translates into success on the ice.

“Shower?” Nalia says, snapping her fingers to get my attention from the doorway of the bathroom.

I blink and grin, giving my head a quick shake. “How about I make us both a quick breakfast?”

“Lovely,” she replies as she moves into the bathroom. “Make it portable for me, please. I do need to get going.”

“You got it,” I reply, nabbing a pair of sweatpants out of my dresser and slipping them on. Naked time in my condo is over for now.

In my kitchen, I grab eggs and a pack of English muffins from the fridge. A quick breakfast sandwich should meet her portability requirement, and I happen to know Nalia likes eggs. Ironically, I’d only learned that this weekend, as this has been the most time we’ve spent together in one visit. In Raleigh, our hookups were overnights. She’d have to rush to catch an early flight the next morning, often slipping out of bed while I was still asleep.

I command Alexa to play my favorite’s list, feeling inspired by the Arctic Monkeys. After I crack open six eggs, I scramble them with a fork and add salt and pepper while my skillet heats up. I spray the pan with olive oil before tossing the English muffins into my toaster to crisp, then set coffee to brew in my Keurig. By the time I pour eggs into the pan, Nalia walks out of my bedroom, rolling her carry-on case behind her. She’d put her dark hair in a messy bun, and she didn’t bother with makeup except something on her eyes that makes them pop. Dressed casually in a pair of white jeans and a navy tank top, she looks like she’s ready to jet off for a fun weekend rather than just finishing one.

I study her while I stir the eggs, realizing I like her just the way she is. Just the way we are. Hookups when we can, with no expectations beyond that.

“Coffee’s ready,” I say, nodding at the Keurig.

Wrinkling her nose, she admonishes me as she moves that way. “I expect you to have a decent tea stocked the next time I’m in town.”

“I promise,” I assure her with a grin, giving the eggs a last scramble before pulling them off the heat.

“And when might that be?” she inquires, opening my fridge. She grabs the milk and turns my way, letting the door swing shut on its own. “I mean… when would you like me to return for another visit? Or maybe my flight schedule might mesh with the dates you’ll be in Raleigh playing the Cold Fury. You have your schedule already, right?”

Her request gives me pause. Usually, we aren’t the “let’s make plans” type of people. We typically kiss goodbye with vague promises to let each other know our schedules to see if we can make something work. But right now, Nalia is asking for a date.

She pours some milk in her coffee, pulls the cup to her mouth, and blows across the steaming surface. Her eyes meet mine over the edge of the cup as she takes a tentative sip.

“This is okay?” I ask hesitantly, waving my spatula to indicate the space between us. “The way things are between us?”

Nalia tilts her head. “What do you mean?”

For some reason, it embarrasses me to say it aloud—not on my behalf, but because I don’t want Nalia to think she’s less than by the loose nature of our relationship.

When I don’t answer right away, she takes a stab. “You mean, with being just a booty call?”

I grimace. She’s not wrong, though, so I nod. “It works for us, right?”

“It totally works, darling,” she murmurs, giving me a confident smile. “I guess I just missed that amazing cock of yours these past months since you moved, and I can’t wait to get on that ride again.”

I roll my eyes, but she’s not wrong about that either. We’re excellent in bed.

“I’ll pull up my schedule later, then send you the dates I’ll be in Raleigh. I’ll also let you know some free weekends I might have once the season starts, but they’ll be few and far between.”

Which is yet another reason this could never work. Trying to mesh Nalia’s schedule with mine is a nightmare. Long-distance relationships don’t work, especially with our incompatible careers.

Nalia glances pointedly at her watch. I hastily make her a sandwich while she orders an Uber to take her to the airport. By the time I have her breakfast wrapped in a paper towel, she’s putting her empty coffee mug in my dishwasher.

She takes the sandwich I hold out, puts it on the counter near her purse, and sidles closer. Sliding her hands behind my neck, she tips her head back. “Thank you for a lovely weekend.”

“My pleasure,” I reply with a smile, dipping to kiss her. “And I promise… tea will be in stock next time.”

“Until next time then,” she replies, pulling away from me.

Yes, this is the best type of relationship to have, especially since I can honestly say I’m not the slightest bit sad to see her walk out the door. I like Nalia, but I’m not going to pine for her. That lack of pining is what a man should want when a woman walks away, right?

I give a mental shrug. What the fuck do I know about it? I’m happy the way I am, and that’s all that matters.

Nabbing her suitcase, I carry it to the door for her. She turns her body into mine for one last kiss goodbye. This one lingers a bit, silently conveying this was a good weekend and maybe we’ll have one equally so in the future.

Vague works for us.

I open the front door, intent on letting her exit first before I set her rolling case down, but there’s already someone standing there.

Not just someone.

The one.

Mollie Callister.

Her hand is raised as if she were getting ready to knock. Apparently, I catch her by surprise, evidenced by her little yip and jump backward. Her dog, Samson, is by her side, sitting on his haunches and entirely in tune with her. He’s rarely walked on a leash, and he’s the best-trained dog I’ve ever seen.

And God… Mollie looks great, like a fucking breath of fresh air. But then again, she always does. Like sunshine and warm ocean tides and new daffodils in the spring.

Yes, my inner dork waxes poetic about this woman—my best friend in the entire world.

I let out a whoop of surprise, drop Nalia’s case on my foyer floor, and lunge out the door to snag Mollie by the waist. When I pick her up, her arms come around my shoulders as I swing her around in a welcome hug.

“What are you doing here?” I exclaim in surprise, not really caring. I’m incredibly happy to see her. It’s been almost nine months since we last saw each other at one of my games she flew into Raleigh to watch.

Mollie laughs, and fuck… that smile. Bright white with perfect fucking dimples on either side of her mouth.

As I bend to let her feet touch the ground, movement catches my attention. I’ve completely forgotten about Nalia. When I turn, I find her watching us with a genuine smile. It’s how I know there’s never going to be anything more than a hookup between us. After we just spent all weekend fornicating, she doesn’t even show the slightest bit of insult that I’m hugging another woman.

Still, I feel a little awkward with Mollie showing up right as another woman is leaving. Not that Mollie would think badly of me. We’re best friends… and, over the years, we’ve shared stories of our dalliances with other people.

It’s what friends do, right?

I make the introductions, emphasizing what Mollie is to me in case Nalia was wondering. “Nalia… this is Mollie Callister, my best friend from college. And Mollie… this is Nalia Raymond. She’s… um…”

“A friend,” Nalia says genially, holding her hand out to Mollie.

“Really great to meet you,” Mollie replies as they shake. She nods down to her dog. “This is Samson.”

“Well, hello, Samson,” Nalia says cordially, offering him one hand while the other holds her egg sandwich out of reach. Samson leans in and licks her palm, but his eyes go to the sandwich. It’s safe, though. He’s too well trained to make a jump at it.

Nalia swivels toward me, goes to her tiptoes, and presses a quick peck on my cheek. “Take care, Kane. Hope to see you soon.”

“Yeah, sure. Take care.”

Nalia offers Mollie a smile, then turns to go. We watch as Nalia grabs her wheeled carry-on and walks down the hallway toward the bank of elevators that will take her to the downtown streets of Phoenix.

“She’s beautiful,” Mollie says slyly.

“Yup,” is all I respond, then make a jerking motion with my thumb. “Now, tell me what the fuck you’re doing here. You said you were coming to visit in October.”

It’s barely the second week of September, yet she shows up on my doorstep without any warning. Not that I mind. Few people rank this position, but Mollie has an open-door policy into my home.

Making a slight motion with her hand, she releases Samson from his sit, and he trots into my condo. Mollie follows, and the minute she crosses the threshold, I notice her shoulders sag just a tiny bit.

I shut the door, turning to face her. “Seriously, Molls… I love surprises, but this isn’t like you. What’s going on?”

The smile slides off that beautiful tanned face, her crystal blue eyes pinching a little. With a sigh, she admits, “I’m just tired, Kane. I’ve been on the go and traveling for so long. I’m exhausted, and I need to rest.”

Bewildered, I survey her. This isn’t like Mollie. She’s a travel blogger. Traversing the open highway in search of adventure is inherent to her nature. She thrives on the thrill of not knowing what the next day will bring. Lives from one moment to the next. She has more energy than any person I know, and her zest is unparalleled.

But as I take her in, noting the dark circles under her eyes and her tanned skin that looks pale, now that I think about it, I start to wonder if she’s broken somehow.

Managing a reassuring smile, I snag her in a hug again. This time, though, I bring her to my chest so I can hold her tight. “Well, you came to the right place then, Noodle. I have a great guest room with your name on it, and you can rest for as long as you like.”

The sigh she lets out this time makes my chest constrict because I can tell by the sound that had I given any other answer, she might have shattered.

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Product Release Date: September 15, 2020

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