Read Cold as Ice Online

Authors: Charlene Groome

Cold as Ice

COLD AS ICE
“You're not as cold as you make people believe you are,” Carla says.
“I've never been much of a talker.”
“I don't know why. You have a lot to say.”
“Only to you.” He holds her tight. “I don't know how that happened.”
“I'm glad you feel that way,” she says.
“Carla, I feel a lot with you. My life hasn't been the same since I moved to Vancouver. I want you in it.” Devin lifts her chin and brings her lips to his. “I want you; I want us. I don't want to live life passing me by and not do anything about it. I want to start right now. You and me, together,” he says, firming his hand around her back. “You mean too much to me to let you go.”
“Don't ever let me go,” she whispers.
“I won't. You're mine.” Devin kisses her and holds the back of her head to secure the passion he feels for the woman he's always wanted....
Books by Charlene Groome
 
HIS GAME, HER RULES
 
COLD AS ICE
 
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
COLD AS ICE
CHARLENE GROOME
eKENSINGTON BOOKS
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
http://www.kensingtonbooks.com
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to do what fulfills me the most and that is to write romance. It's even better when I can write stories about hockey players falling in love with women they least expect.
As always, I'd like to thank my wonderful literary agent, Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency.
I am most appreciative for the support and guidance I receive from my team at Kensington Books. My extraordinary editor, John Scognamiglio, whose advice and suggestions make me a better writer. My copy editor Randy Ladenheim-Gil; production editor Ross Plotkin; and the design team for making an eye-catching cover. Thank you!
I also want to thank Emily Lawrence, who is always so willing to be my first reader and to give me a little direction when I need it.
Writing and raising a young family are challenging times, so to have the support of family and friends that understand my schedule is beneficial to my career. My husband, Jared; my kids: Kathryn, Samantha and Carsten for fulfilling my life with their love and support; as well as to my mom, dad, Ben and Renie.
Furthermore, thank you to my supportive friends Miranda, Alana, Shauneen, and Jamie. Your friendship means the world to me. xo
Prologue
C
arla Sinclair skims through her notes as the buzzer rings, indicating the end of the second period. The Dome is a loud and exciting place to be for Warriors fans. Eighteen thousand people erupt, cheering them on. Tonight they're playing against Carolina, a team that isn't doing so well, which makes Vancouver's winning streak even longer.
Devin Miller, the Carolina defenseman, who was on the ice for two of the four goals scored against his team, screened his goalie when Vancouver scored the first goal, and the second time he didn't cover his man, which left the net wide open.
Tragic. He's the best defenseman in the league.
Carla shakes her head.
Some defenseman!
The Carolina players head off the ice and strut down the hallway, drawing the banter closer. She throws her notebook into her bag, drops it to the ground and grabs her microphone from Randy, the cameraman. She arranged to meet with Devin in the corridor, where other interviews will be taking place.
Carla stands straighter, lifts the microphone under her chin and wipes her other hand down the length of her pencil skirt. She waits and watches for Devin to walk around the corner. Her mind races with potential questions.
Carla sucks in a breath when a red-and-white jersey comes around the corner. He comes into view without a helmet or gloves on, no hockey stick in hand. A giant in skates—six foot two and two hundred pounds of muscle, Devin is even taller than she imagined. As he approaches, she realizes her five-foot-six-inch height—thanks to heels—only reaches his chest.
“Hi.” Carla flashes him her TV smile. Her stomach flutters and she warms all over. Why is she suddenly nervous? She's used to speaking to male athletes, especially those as attractive as Devin. “You can have this.” She hands him a face towel displaying Channel Five's logo.
He dabs his face, proceeding to run the towel over his short black hair and down the back of his neck.
For a moment, she pictures him drying off after a shower as the water droplets slide over his tightly sculpted muscles.
What would his hard body feel like against hers?
“You, uh, can wear it.” She blinks to return to reality and remembers to close her mouth.
His face is clean shaven and, from what she can see, his teeth are all intact.
“Y-you can wear it around your neck while we interview.”
“Thanks.” He gives her a sturdy glance that weakens her knees.
She turns to face Gary, the cameraman. “Ready?”
He gives her a nod and she begins by bringing the microphone into position and starts with a quick introduction.
“The last two goals were unexpected.” She pauses, looking up to meet Devin's cinnamon eyes. “Can you run us through what happened with the first goal?”
Devin wipes his face again with the end of the towel and puts a hand on his padded hip. “One of those things.” He looks down. “I saw Keller with the puck. He faked a shot.... I tried to block it, but I was too far out and he managed to score on the other side.” He sniffs, wiping the bridge of his nose. “The net was open.”
“And the second goal?”
He shakes his head and takes a few seconds to answer. “Yeah, well, one of those things . . . the puck was loose, and we couldn't get control of it.” He wipes his face again, holding the towel at his collarbone.
“I want to talk to you about your contract. You'll be an unrestricted free agent.” She pauses to think of her question without the distraction of his wet lips. “With the end of the season approaching, are you planning on staying with Carolina or is a trade something you're interested in?”
He looks at the rubber floor and shakes his head. “I don't know.” He chuckles, wiping the sweat from the corner of his mouth.
She waits for him to expand on his answer. Those lips of his are widening as he laughs again. He rubs an eyebrow and looks at her patiently. Carla is sucked into his gaze again. She has to get him talking. There's one more minute left to kill before signing off. Carla wiggles her moist fingertips on the microphone, trying to air them. Her face heats. She gulps. Three seconds of silence wasted. Devin is looking at her now, urging her with a stretch of his eyebrow. Her pulse intensifies as she scrambles to think of something to say. Anything. She doesn't want to look like a fool in front of Devin, or her audience, but she fears the damage is already done.
“Well?” She keeps the microphone up to his face.
“I don't know.”
She inhales, giving herself a chance to ramble out something, anything, so she's not standing in front of him like the worst sports reporter he's ever come across, but Devin is the big deal right now and probably knows it. She swallows to moisten her throat. “Have you been approached by any teams?” She wants to break the story first.
Devin wipes his face with the end of the towel, revealing an eagle tattoo on his forearm. “I can't talk about it.”
“I'm sure you can tell us if a trade is possible.”
“I'll talk about the game, but not my contract.”
She can't let him get away without hinting about his future. She has to know. Wants to know about the best defenseman in the NHL. “I heard a rumor you might be traded to Vancouver. Is there any truth to that?”
He shakes his head. “You're unbelievable, Carla.” He laughs. “What more can I say? I told you, I'm not talking.”
“I'm sure you can tell me something.” She stares into his dreamy eyes.
“No.” He licks his bottom lip. “Are we done?” He steps away. “You're pretty good, Carla. You're pretty good.” He hangs his head as he walks back toward the locker room.
Carla puckers her lips and drops the microphone to her side.
I looked like an idiot.
Devin disappears around the corner.
He's never gonna want me to interview him again.
She pouts and blows out a breath while looking at her cameraman in dismay.
Chapter 1
D
evin sits alone at the bar, cupping his pint of beer as he watches an NHL game on the big screen above. He takes the last swig.
“Another beer?” the bartender asks while pouring an ale from the tap in front of him.
“Sure. One more. Thanks. Two is all I'm having,” he says, taking out his wallet. He lays his money down, more than enough to cover a tip, and slides his empty glass in exchange for the new one. The bartender drops the glass down in front of him.
“Where're your buddies?” the bartender asks, referring to his teammates.
“I don't know. I was planning on being a tourist tonight, drive around, check out the city . . . but I wasn't sure where to go and I ended up here.” Devin gives a half smile.
“Good choice,” he says, holding steady as he pours whiskey into a shot glass.
Buckley's Bar and Grill is uptown, with brick walls and track lighting. Music is always playing and a continuous ray of loud conversations are what keeps the place lively.
It's taken Devin a couple of days to settle in to his new city. For the first time since his teammate Mark Buckley invited him and some of the guys out for a beer, Devin's making an appearance by himself.
“What's good to see around here?” Devin asks.
“You'll need a guide to show you around,” the bartender says, placing a vibrant blue concoction down on a tray. He wipes his hands on his white apron and gets started on another drink.
Devin takes a sip of his beer, tapping his lips together. He understood why his dad loved his beer so much; the settling taste filled him with satisfaction, knowing he could have a drink and forget about things. Although he never got out of control, never having more than three or four drinks. He feared ending up like his dad, where alcohol played a role in his life. Devin focused on hockey and being as great as he could at the sport he loved the most.
“Depends what you're in to. There's stand-up comedy shows, a playhouse if you like live theater . . . Granville Island. Concerts . . .”
The bartender walks to the opposite end to take a couple's order. Roaring laughter is coming from a booth at the end of the bar. It gets Devin's attention. He smiles, expecting to see college girls having a good time, but he takes a second look and to his surprise, he notices Carla Sinclair sitting at the booth across from two women. It's that reporter who interviewed him last year. His heartbeat quickens and his chest tightens, like he's just completed a set of push-ups. Her wave of blond hair lay past her shoulders and he watches as she talks with her hands, telling a funny story, he's sure. Devin turns away and takes a gulp of beer.
Should I talk to her? What does she care? She just wants to interview me, but she's so damn hot.
He glances her way again, hoping to catch her eye. Carla's long legs are angled so that her shiny black heels are tipped sideways. She loosens her shoe, revealing a bare foot, and then puts it back into place, repeating the motion in rhythm with her excitement.
“What's that blonde over there in the booth drinking?” Devin asks with a raised chin and using his eyes as a pointer. “I want to buy her a drink.”
“Whoa! You know who that is?” the bartender asks. His eyebrows lift at the same time as his jerky grin.
“Yeah.” Devin takes out his wallet and puts down another bill. “That should cover it.”
“Do you know her?” The bartender places a drink down and starts mixing another.
“We've met before.”
“Not giving up, then?” he asks, his lip curling.
“What do you mean?” Devin asks, knowing well what he's hinting at. Carla must be a big deal in this city. What guy wouldn't want to get with her? She's pretty, knows sports and can obviously relax and have a good time. She probably has a huge Twitter following too.
The bartender concentrates on pouring shots into a glass. “Has she turned you down?” He chuckles.
“I haven't tried,” Devin says with an honest gaze, watching the smirk on the guy's face get bigger. “I'm not trying to score a date with her, although I wouldn't turn her down.”
The bartender pours vodka into a cocktail shaker. “She's divorced.”
“Is that right?”
“You didn't know? She was married to some television producer. They were featured in the newspaper, got lots of publicity. It's been a few years now.” He pours the drink into a cocktail glass. “She's kept a low profile lately. Don't hear much about her.”
“Is she dating anyone?”
The bartender laughs. “No idea, but she's pretty to look at. Makes the evening sports report a lot more interesting.” He garnishes the glass with an olive. Then talks to the waitress about the drink, and she carries it over to the booth. “From what I've heard, she's not easy to get along with. One of those I-can-do-it-myself kind. A real professional, though.” He takes a white towel and wipes down the bar. “Not many women are as tough as Carla, at least that's how she comes across.”
“Tough?”
“Sure. She's a small thing, but she must be tough, working with guys.”
“Oh.” Devin laughs. “Not the kind of tough I was thinking.”
“I wouldn't let looks fool you. I heard she works her ass off; that's how she got the job.”
“How do you know so much?”
“Ah.” He shrugs. “Everyone knows that.”
“I see. Word gets around.”
 
Carla takes a drink of her semi-sweet martini and holds her glass to her mouth, ready to take another sip. “Would you go back to the playhouse and watch another show?”
“I don't know,” Michelle says. “The acting was so bad! It wasn't like the movie at all.”
“Well, at least it wasn't boring,” Gabby chimes in. “I'll give them that. It could have been worse.”
“It could have been,” Michelle says. “But at least the actors weren't trying to be perfect.”
“They were making fun of themselves when they screwed up a line. Like when that girl took pills to settle herself down on the plane, had a drink and closed her eyes, and the other passenger whispered, ‘Aren't you supposed to be obnoxious and dance around?' Now that was funny,” Carla says with a giggle and points her finger. Perhaps two martinis was too much for her. She licks her lips.
“That was the best part!” Michelle screeches. “Don't you think?”
“Maybe next time we'll hit the movie theater,” Carla suggests. She sips her drink, letting her fingers slide down the smooth stem. It was going down too good. Thankfully, she didn't have to work the next day, giving herself permission to sleep in.
“This was good for a change. It was more fun. Didn't that actor guy look like Timothy?” Gabby asks.
“My Timothy—I mean, my ex, Timothy?” Carla asks, putting down her drink, fixated on her best friend.
“Yeah. Don't you think? His body language? He stood with his hand in his front pocket—”
“Timothy does that?” Carla asks, perplexed.
“He has a stance, you know? Relaxed. And the way he talks? Totally like Timothy.”
Gabby's green eyes and mouth are wide open.
“For sure!” Michelle says, slapping her hands on the table, exposing her painted pink nails.
“I guess a little,” Carla admits.
“I can't believe you two still work together after your divorce,” Michelle says.
Carla shrugs. “He's harmless. He keeps to himself.”
“And it doesn't bother you that you know about his personal life? Who he dates?”
“He hasn't dated—”
“That you know of!” Gabby says. “You know he has.”
“What does it matter?” Carla says. “We don't associate with each other, anyway.”
“I guess if you don't talk to him, much,” Gabby says.
“We talk. Mostly about work.” Carla twirls her glass, her eyes dropping down to her drink. “We're adults. It's not like we don't get along.”
“What's wrong?” Gabby asks softly, extending her hand across the table, trying to reach her friend's arm. “Should I not have mentioned Timothy? I thought it was okay to say . . . you've been your old self again, and well—”
“No, I'm fine. It's not that.” She lifts one shoulder. “I was thinking about what my mom said the other night. I haven't forgotten or talked to her about it.”
“Now what happened?” Gabby asks, her bangs falling forward, enough to cover her glittery eye shadow. “Last time she insulted you by telling you about her single neighbor guy.”
“Curtis?” Carla asks.
“I think that was him. She told him you were single, that's all I remember.”
“Yes. And he's old!” Carla says, making a face.
“She needs to mind her own business,” Gabby tells her.
“I went over to her house for dinner and she said I work too much and if I didn't settle down soon, I'd be a lost cause.”
“Your mom said that?” Gabby asks, picking up her glass. “What does she want from you?”
Carla flicks up her hand. “She knows what she's saying. She doesn't care.”
“That's not fair!” Michelle says. “She's your mother! Of course she cares!”
“She thinks by putting pressure on me that it's like reverse psychology, I'm going to find some random guy to have a baby with.” Carla rolls her eyes. “As if it's not hard enough being divorced and now single at thirty-one. How many women do you know who are divorced?” Her girlfriends stare blankly across the table.
“Besides me!”
“There's a fifty percent divorce rate,” Michelle says. “It happens. Don't beat yourself up over it.”
“It wasn't supposed to happen!” Carla bellows. “I was supposed to be married to Timothy, have his babies and live happily ever after.” She blows out a breath and buries her head in her hands. “My mom's right; maybe I blew my chance.”
Gabby lowers her face. “No! Don't listen to her!”
Carla pouts.
“I didn't know you were still upset about it,” Gabby says, toning down her voice. “Sweetie, I had no idea. Aw, I'm sorry.”
“I'm okay, really.” Carla rubs her forehead and wipes her eyes. “It's not about Timothy. I mean, I loved him.”
“You married him, of course you did!” Michelle says, patting Carla's arm.
“I always wanted to have a husband and kids, and now that I'm thirty-one and single again, my chances are slim.” Carla sniffles. She will not cry. She can't cry, not about Timothy. Not about their costly wedding. Not about the cat he had to have and she bought for him as a birthday present. Timothy's not crying over her. So why is she so upset about being single and starting over?
“You're still young!” Gabby says, flashing her a glossy pink smile. “You have plenty of time to find someone again to start a family with. That's if it's what you want.”
Carla nods from side to side. “I'm not looking and I'm certainly not looking to be knocked up just to please my mom.” Carla bites her bottom lip and twirls her glass between her fingers, although she wouldn't be upset if it happened.
“You shouldn't.”
“I won't!” Carla snaps.
“What are you going to do?”
“About what?” Carla twirls her glass.
“Meeting someone,” Gabby says, sipping her drink. “It's time!”
“You think?”
“Yes! Of course! You're not going to marry the first guy you date. Come on! You need to start building relationships with guys. Get out and meet someone!”
Gabby slams down her hand. “I've got it! You should make up a story and tell your mom you're dating a guy from another country and that he wants to get married and have a baby really bad.”
Carla puckers her lips thinking about the idea. “That,” she says with the point of a finger, “could go either way. My mom might be a detective and find out everything there is to know about this fake guy, or she just might love the idea.”
“Are you kidding? What mom would think that's okay?” Michelle asks, tucking a long, dark brown strand of hair behind her ear. “She'll want to meet this guy, won't she? And where did you meet this future husband?”
Carla lifts an eyebrow.
“He's a reporter from overseas, visiting . . .” Gabby says.
“That won't work,” Carla says with a little shake of her head. “My mom has the potential to be a crazy lady. I don't know what's gotten into her lately, but because my sister is married—happily married, I might add—and has a baby, my mom is putting pressure on me to settle down again. She doesn't realize how annoying it is. It's all I hear from her.
Are you dating anyone?”
Carla mimics her mom. “
Why haven't you found anyone? What's wrong with asking someone out from work?
” Carla tightens her lips before continuing. “It's like she's forgotten that Timothy and I met at work, and look where we ended up!”
“Maybe she needs something to do,” Michelle says and sips her drink. “She's thinking too much about your personal life and not enough about her own.”
“She does that a lot,” Carla admits.
“What about your brother? Any pressure on him?” Gabby asks. “He's still single.”
“Gavin can do no wrong.” Her eyes bounce from one friend to the other. “Besides, he's been with Mia for something like two years.” She takes a sip and swallows hard. Her eyes squint from the sweetness of her drink. “As far as I know, he's doing fine. He doesn't say much. What about you? Still with what's his name? Cracker?”

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