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Steele (E-Book)

Steele (E-Book)

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A second chance may be just what James Steele needs…

I might be one of the older players on the Arizona Vengeance, but I like to think that also makes me one of the wisest. Or at least I used to.

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Turns out, I’ve been a bit selfish. I’ve been married to hockey and my team for years, which hasn’t left much time for my actual wife, Ella. Now I’m juggling a separation I never wanted, the pressure of being a single dad to our teenage daughter, and the career I sacrificed it all for.

While my game on the ice might be on fire, the game in my personal life is clearly lacking, as evidenced by the fact I just saw my wife on a date with another man. If I have any hope of saving the family I love, I need to re-prioritize, and fast. So it’s time for me to get back to fundamentals, just like I did when I learned how to play hockey. I’ve never backed down from a challenge, and romancing my wife is a challenge I am very much looking forward to.

Time to put on my game face, because I’m in it to win it.

Read Chapter One

Prologue

Steele

Overall, I’d say stalking my wife on her date tonight was a good idea. I kick back in my recliner in the living room of the house I’d rented over five months ago when she kicked me out of our marital home.

I ruminate on the evening.

Somehow, I’d convinced my teammate, and probably my closest friend on the team, Kane Bellan, to sleuth with me. I’d been intent on figuring out just how serious Ella was about this dude she was dating. I can’t deny my blood boiled as I watched them laugh, talk, and hold hands. My earlier satisfaction they had not kissed when he picked her up—yes, I was watching from where I was parked down the block with Kane—had melted way.

And yes, I knew it bordered on downright crazy to be doing that, particularly when Ella has absolutely no reason to take me back. Our marriage had deteriorated—according to her, anyway, as I guess I was oblivious—over the last few years of my professional hockey career. It had been pretty much over—in her mind—by the time I got traded from the Quebec Royals to the Arizona Vengeance last year in the expansion draft. By the time she was asking me to leave the house just about five months ago, I was coming into the playoffs, and our team had a real chance to win it. I wasn’t sure I even understood what was going on, but, next thing I knew, I was living in a rented home away from my family.

But fuck if seeing her by chance last week at a restaurant with that man, who was very attentive, made her laugh, and made her smile more than I can remember doing in years, seemed to awaken some sort of beast inside me. Like an epiphany, I realized I wasn’t ready to let Ella go.

Fast forward to tonight, and yes… I stalked her and her date, with Kane by my side. The mission had been only to watch from a distance while gathering intel. I needed to see if I could glean just how serious they were, because it had been two weeks since I’d seen her with him and a lot could happen in that time.

The mission went south, though, when Ella spotted me peeking around a donut food truck.

Christ, she was glorious. Her golden hair cascaded in waves over her shoulders, flying around in an arc as she snapped into a double-take when she caught sight of me. Blue eyes flashing with fury, she’d glared daggers and, even though she was rightfully pissed and I knew I’d pay for it, I’d never found her to be more beautiful in my life.

I’d tried to walk away, but she’d caught up to me. Her hand on my arm forced me to give her my attention. Her date—a fairly ordinary-looking man in my opinion—hesitantly stood by and watched…

While she chewed me out.

I challenged her. “I want a shot at making you remember the good times.”

“You mean the sex?” she demanded with one side of her upper lip curled in a sneer.

Still, the most beautiful fucking thing I’d ever seen.

I bent my head, murmuring, “It was great sex. And yes, you need a reminder.”

Momentarily, I saw heat in Ella’s eyes as she remembered—and could not deny—that we burned it up between the sheets. Even right until our end, we were carnally attracted to each other and acted on it. That flash in her eyes made me want to beat my chest in victory, but the euphoric feeling was short-lived when she said, “A relationship is about more than sex.”

I wouldn’t be dissuaded. Instead, I tried my charming smile she had once told me was the first thing she’d noticed about me back in high school when we started dating.

“Yes,” I agreed, smile going from charming to slightly wicked. “But it’s a damn good place to start. I’ll stack myself against any guy you want to date, including that dude back there.”

And while I knew by the end of this exchange I was probably going to walk away looking bad, I got one major concession from her. Harshly, she whispered so no one could hear, though I think Kane did. “We’re not having sex, so there’s nothing to compare.”

Yeah… I had to hold myself back from beating my fists to my chest. Ella may have been seeing Mr. Ordinary for a few weeks, but they had not had sex yet, which was crucial in my opinion. While I truly would stack my prowess up against anyone because I have over fifteen years of experience making my wife come, I know Ella wouldn’t get sexually involved with anyone unless her heart was sure. That fact gave me more courage than anything else—it meant she was taking it slow with this guy.

My thoughts divert from earlier events. Lacing my fingers over my stomach, I gaze at the ceiling. I’m a ponderer by nature, so I can stare into space for quite a long time while I mull.

Tonight, I walked away from Ella after declaring I wanted another shot to win her back. While we’ve been separated for several months we’re still legally married, but that in no way makes her mine. I’m going to have to work to regain her trust.

I’m also going to have to accept she has someone else vying for her attention. At least, I think that will continue to be the case. Who knows… maybe seeing two hulking, professional hockey players stalking Ella might give him pause? That would be incredibly lucky on my part if so.

Deep down, though, I know it won’t be that easy. Our marriage was crap in the end, and I let Ella down over and over again. Worse, I had let down our thirteen-year-old daughter Lucy because I was never quite able to make either of my girls my highest priority over hockey.

Every bit of it was my fault, and when Ella asked me to leave our home, I couldn’t even argue. I was a shitty husband, and I deserved no less.

My vision going a bit hazy, I realize it’s not just a matter of winning Ella over, but our daughter as well. I can’t say Lucy is totally against me, but if she had to choose a side, it would be Ella’s. Not that Ella would ever let her do that. Quite the opposite, Ella has had to have some stern talks with Lucy when she gives me attitude or tries to refuse to spend time with me. We never did a formal separation agreement as I made it easy on Ella when we split. I didn’t argue over visitation, already knowing she’d have primary custody given my travel schedule. Money wasn’t an issue, and we still used the same joint checking and savings account as we always did, except now we pay the mortgage on our marital home where she currently resides, as well as rent on the house I moved into.

I thought about moving into an apartment, but I figured Lucy would like a house better as she’s an outdoor type of girl and loves having a yard. That didn’t seem to matter in the end, though. When I have visitation with her, she spends most of her time ignoring me in her bedroom.

Sighing, I’m aware there are two women I have to win over. I’m up to the task, though.

Lucy’s going to be the easiest because deep down she’s a sweet kid who loves her daddy deeply. She has a lot of teenage attitude going on, but part of my game plan is to devote more attention to her. It will work because I’ve never given her enough on a consistent basis.

Ella will be more difficult because I actually crushed her heart. She may have been the one to request the separation, but it was because I’d already broken her.

I start drumming my fingers on my stomach. Ella will never fall for things like flowers or gifts. It’s going to take a concerted effort to show my interest in her is real. It will be like starting all over again, and I’ll have to win her over in the same manner I had to back in high school.

On top of that, she’s seeing someone else who, while I deem him to be quite ordinary, clearly has something about him that makes her happy. God, it fucking hurt to see her laugh with him tonight, even though at the same time, there was a small part of me that was happy for her.

I don’t have the ability to make her laugh like that anymore. That’s going to take some rebuilding of trust, but… I do have an edge.

She may have sneered when I insinuated I’d be glad to remind her of the good times—and by that, we were totally talking about sex—but I saw it in her eyes. There was still a slight burn, and that might just have to be my angle.

Yeah, say whatever about all the bad things between us, but even right up until the time she asked me to move out, we still fucked like we were madly in love.

Ella is so sexually liberated, and she has been from the start of our relationship. The relief I’d felt upon hearing she had not slept with Mr. Ordinary meant we still had something intact that was uniquely our own.

With a wife who loves your touch and loves to touch in return, my life should have been fucking perfect, right? Christ, I don’t know how many times Ella was the one to initiate things between us because she craved me as much as I did her.

Not even three damn days before she asked me to leave, I came home midmorning from a team meeting and light skate to find her lying in our bed, clad in sexy lingerie that instantly made me hard. Lucy was at a friend’s house and there was my beautiful wife, opening her arms—and her legs—to me.

Best believe I took it. I had my mouth on every inch of her, a good deal of time between her legs, but that was after she had my cock in her mouth. After, we fucked like wild animals.

I get hard now just thinking about it, but I restrain from moving my hand from my stomach downward. Because I continue to think about how two people can be that intimately connected one moment, but the next, be separated.

I don’t even feel like touching my dick because I remember what happened after that last time we made stupendous love in our marital bed.

Ella cuddled in close, and we talked for a long time. She seemed happy and content.

Yet, her voice had been hesitant when she said, “I have a great idea. How about you and I spend all day in bed, eat junk food, and watch movies? We can fuck in between.”

I mean, what man in his right mind would say no to that? The kid was gone, I had a lusciously gorgeous wife naked and wanting more of that beauty we just had…

Yet, I’d said no. “Sorry, babe, but I’m meeting the guys for a pickup game of hockey in a few hours. I need to carb load before then.”

I remember giving her a hard kiss and taking a moment to nuzzle her neck before rolling out of bed. Maybe I didn’t see it then, but all this ruminating about how I managed to fuck things up makes me remember it clear as day now.

That look on her face—it had been blank.

There wasn’t even disappointment like she would usually show me. She hadn’t tried to get me to change my mind. There hadn’t even been a guilt-laden frown to give me pause.

I realize now what it was.

It was the moment Ella finally gave up on me.

In hindsight, I have to believe that many of the times my wife beckoned me to bed were so she could have my attention, not necessarily because she craved the intimacy. I’m the asshole who, after I gave it to her, figured it was enough.

How many times had I left her like that because my hockey buds were more important than a lazy afternoon watching movies and eating junk food with my wife?

My chest constricts as it finally dawns on me the pain she must have been feeling, and I’m not just talking about that day. That had been our life for several years.

It’s no wonder she asked me to leave.

It’s no wonder she’s moving on with Mr. Ordinary.

It’s no wonder that, at this moment, I realize I have a lot of work to do because sex isn’t going to be the answer in winning Ella back.

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Product Release Date: December 8, 2020

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