Authors: Mara Jacobs
Published by 2012 Mara Jacobs
Copyright 2012 Mara Jacobs
Cover design by Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from the author at [email protected]. This book is a work of fiction. The characters, events, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author’s imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
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The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances;
if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
~ Carl Gustav Jung
Alison Jukuri pulled the pillow over her face, trying to block out the rising sun. Wait a minute. Her bedroom window didn’t face the east.
She slowly drew the pillow back and opened her eyes to a blinding light. Oh yeah, the hotel room. She
’d booked a room at the hotel where Katie and Darío were having their wedding reception. She hadn’t wanted to drive home after what would definitely be a fun night of partying. Even if she was the only one in the bridal party not knocked up and therefore able to drink. She smiled thinking about co-maid of honor Lizzie’s water breaking just as the dancing got started.
Good God, how could smiling hurt so much? Why did her head feel as if it had been chopped off and sewn back on to her neck with a rusty needle and barbed wire for thread?
Hangover. Right, of course. She wasn’t twenty-one anymore. She was a respected professor and therapist who had the occasional Scorpion at the Commodore. Not the crazy wild woman she’d become last night.
What exactly happened? She remembered Lizzie and Finn leaving to rush to the hospital. The rest of the wedding guests had been kind of on standby until Finn had texted that it was going to be a long night and all was well, so everybody should just stay and enjoy themselves.
She headed straight to the bar after getting Finn’s text. Holding that cold glass in her hand was basically the last coherent memory Alison had.
Rough, stubbled cheeks scratching her face as hot lips sought hers.
Huh? She gingerly moved an arm—God, even her fingers hurt—and felt her cheek. There was a small tingle of pain and definite abrasion. But there was also a little frisson of pleasure with the pain.
Deep, wet kisses that stole her breath away. Her tongue being sucked on.
Her fingers slid down her cheek to her lips. Her puffy, well-used lips. What the hell happened last night? She tried to get her muddled brain to concentrate, but all she saw were flashes of memory. And flashes of lovely male flesh.
Her nails scratching down a broad, muscular back as she peaked. Grabbing hold of a sculpted-from-granite ass as she peaked. Again.
She must have had one doozy of a sex dream. The aftershocks were still vibrating through her body. But that didn’t explain the puffy lips and stubble-burned cheeks. She shifted her legs slightly. Or her stubble-burned thighs. And other nicely aching things down there.
So, not a dream. She
’d had a drunken hook-up. Alison started to berate herself, but a total of two in her thirty-six years didn’t make her a slut. And given the last one had been eighteen years ago, it—
No. No way. It couldn
’t have been. There was no way she would have been so stupid. She slowly moved her arm behind her, more afraid of what she might touch than of the pain that moving brought. She came into contact with hard washboard abs. She slid her hand up to feel a wonderfully muscled and hairy chest.
A warm hand clamped down on her wrist and brought her hand and arm forward, a strong arm covering her, holding on to her wrist and pulling her back into said washboard abs. Alison looked down at the arm. If she
’d had any doubt—not that she did—it was put to rest when she recognized the watch on his wrist.
She remembered years ago when he
’d shown them all that watch, bragging about buying the crazy expensive thing with part of his signing bonus from the Red Wings. Alison had cracked something about it being too bad it wasn’t digital so he’d be able tell the time instead of it just being a pretty bracelet. They’d all laughed.
Except him. He
’d called her a name. She’d called him one back. Just their typical night out with the gang when he came home.
She started to move from his grasp but he only pulled her tighter against him. She held very still, trying to figure out how this conversation was going to go. Just as she was about to turn in his arms and face the proverbial music, he let out a snore.
Asleep. He was still asleep. Of course it would be second nature to him to pull the naked body he was with against him, even when unconscious.
they called it when an action was repeated so often that the body took over for the mind.
Alison waited a moment, then tried again. This time his grip loosened and she slowly—oh, so slowly—eased out of the bed. She quickly grabbed her discarded bridesmaid
’s dress from the floor to hold in front of her in case he woke. She was relieved to see the condom wrappers (plural?!) on the nightstand.
And on he slept. Dreamt? Of last night? Of her? Or all the others?
She looked down at that glorious body and shook her head.
Alison Jukuri. Valedictorian. Summa cum laude. Genius IQ. Freaking Mensa member.
Or, as she was known all through school, the Smart One. The label was doing her about as much good in adulthood as it did then, which was none at all. Because the actions Alison displayed last night were not smart. They were downright idiotic.
’d slept with the man she least respected in the world.
A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.
~ Author Unknown
Two months later
“Just leave it, honey, I’ll get it.” Petey Ryan’s mom waved him back in his seat as he stood to help her clear the table.
Petey reluctantly sat back down at the dining room table with his father, not relishing the conversation to come.
“Thanks for dinner, Mom. It was great.”
Anytime, honey, you know that. We love having you, even if it’s only for a day or two,” she replied as she made her way into the kitchen. His parents were young compared to his friends’ parents—Petey’d been a shotgun baby. His mother was still trim, with just a touch of gray in her hair, and she moved quickly, efficiently, and with more ease than he did these days.
Next time it’ll be longer. I’ll be here once a week for your cooking if you’ll have me.” As soon as he said it, he regretted it. For a couple of reasons.
Oh, that would be wonderful. I’ll plan on every Sunday,” she said, popping her head around the corner from the kitchen, a look of delight on her familiar face. That was one of the reasons he regretted saying it. He didn’t want to disappoint his mother, even though he loved her cooking and would like nothing better to be fed by her on a regular basis.
You’ll have nothing better to do. Probably need a free meal, too,” his father said.
And that was the other reason.
He loved both his parents. He really did. And he had no doubt they loved him. And were proud of him. Even if his father didn’t always know how to show it.
I think I’ll be able to handle my grocery bill, Dad.”
His father gave a small snort, a signal to Petey to gird his loins—tape his ankles and strap on his pads, in his vernacular—for what was about to come.
“It just doesn’t make sense. You’ve got three, maybe four good years left in you. Why would you hang up your skates now?”
Petey was already shaking his head.
—two or three of those years in me, but they wouldn’t be good ones.” He sighed, smoothing the linen tablecloth. On the rare occasions that he made it home during the season, his mother always served dinner in the dining room with tablecloths and the fancy dishes. When he was in his own house over the summer, if he came for dinner, they would eat in the kitchen, or on the back deck. “I’m old, Dad. In the NHL, I’m ancient.”
It was a full-fledged snort this time.
“You’re thirty-seven. Gordie Howe played until he was fifty-two.”
He gave his father a leveling glance.
“Come on, Dad. I’m no Gordie Howe.”
Dan Ryan seemed to accept that—sadly, a little too easily. But Petey
’s father always was a realist, and most times he appreciated that. So why couldn’t he be that realist now?
Messier. Lemieux. They were well into their forties.”
Wings and centers. You won’t find any defensemen playing that long.” And before his father could pull out a name —and Petey just bet he had one waiting—he continued, “Dad. I’m done after this season. If I want to have any kind of life after hockey, I have to stop doing this to my body.” There was a little bit of pleading in his voice. Was he pleading for his father to understand? Or to give his permission?