(Face-Off Series #1)
Publication date: February 15th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Former collegiate athlete and successful sports agent, Charlotte “Coach” Coachman, is a straight shooter who has a very strict policy—no dating clients. The loves of her life are coaching little league basketball and managing the careers of her players, leaving no room for men.
Coach hasn’t met an athlete she couldn’t handle and a deal she couldn’t close—until she meets Alex Parker—the NHL’s most notorious bad boy both on and off the ice.
Alex is the best defenseman in the league, breaking records along with hearts. He’s made a name for himself as a womanizer, and after a scandal involving the owner’s granddaughter, Alex is traded to Philadelphia. Still reeling from the loss of his father, Alex is on a downward spiral, drowning himself in booze and women, until Coach takes him under her wing.
She might be attracted to the sexy hockey star, and certainly not immune to his charms, but Coach can see that Alex needs her help, and coaching players is what she does best. Now that the lines are blurred and the passion between them is too strong to deny, Coach has to decide if Alex is worth making an exception to her rules.
I hear the elevator doors close behind us. Spinning around with Rico on my back, I find one of the hottest men I have ever laid eyes on. He’s taller than me by a few inches, putting him around six feet four inches, give or take.
As he scratches the bit of stubble along his angular jaw, I see a tiny smile forming at the corner of his mouth. This man is studying me, as if we know each other, with a curious look in his grayish-blue eyes. And I think I know him.
For a second, I contemplate why his face looks so familiar and why his strong arms and toned body make me think of him slamming me against the wall. That’s because he’s Alex Parker. He looks different in person—hotter even. During games, he always looks so angry, and in the videos I’ve seen online, the ones where he was drunk out of his skull, he looks disheveled.
Alex pushes a hand through his shaggy brown hair, moving it off his forehead, with a grin. “I thought I recognized that move,” he says with a wink.
“Coach has skills that pay the bills,” Rico says, tapping me on the shoulder.
I chuckle and set Rico on the floor. “You’ve got that right, kid.” Then, I look at Alex, confused. “I thought you weren’t moving into the apartment until tomorrow night.”
He slides his big hands into his jean pockets and shrugs. “Mickey said it wouldn’t be a problem if I came early. I had to get out of DC. I didn’t see the point in sticking around any longer than I had to. Is that a problem?”
I shake my head. “No, it’s not a problem. I just wasn’t expecting you, is all.”
Scanning the hall, I notice he has an oversize hockey equipment bag on the floor behind him. Talk about being a minimalist.
“Where’s Kayla? Did you come here by yourself?”
“She said she’d meet me here.”
I slip my cell phone out of my pocket and tap out a text message to Kayla. There’s no reason for my secretary to come all the way over here from the suburbs when I have extra sets of keys to all my apartments.
Rico tugs on my track pants, and I look down at him. “Is that the famous hockey player you told me about?” he whispers, his hand covering the side of his mouth.
I smile and give him a quick nod.
A squeal escapes Rico’s lips. “This is so cool.”
“Do you like ice hockey?” Alex asks Rico, bending down to match his height.
Rico glances in Alex’s direction, wide-eyed. “I’ve watched a few games with Coach before, and I like it, but my mom can’t afford to let me play on a team. She says hockey is too expensive.”
Alex puts his hands on his kneecaps, making it look effortless at his size, dwarfing Rico with his thick body. I didn’t expect the NHL’s biggest playboy to like children, not with the disrespect I’ve heard he shows to women, players, and managers. He might be one of Mickey’s favorite clients, but he’s also the one who is the most hassle. And, now, I’ve been assigned as his babysitter.
“I think we can fix that.”
Alex looks up and into my eyes, and I practically melt under his gaze. Those eyes, that smirk—everything about him makes it hard for me to focus.
“Why don’t you two come to the game on Saturday afternoon? I can leave tickets at the box office for you.”
“Are you serious?” Rico jumps up and down next to me. “Can we go, Coach? Can we? Please!”
I get free tickets to the games all the time. That’s one of the perks of being a sports agent, but this is for Rico, and for once, it’s not a guise to lure me there for a business meeting.
“I have to visit one of my players in New Jersey on Saturday morning, and we have to ask your mom first if it’s okay. But I can have Jamie pick you up, and I’ll meet you there.”
Normally, my best friend since childhood and assistant coach, Jameson O’Connor, would have been at tonight’s game, but he had to work late again.
Rico wraps his arms around my stomach. “Thanks, Coach.”
I shoot Alex a quick smile and mouth, Thank you. This is the last thing I ever expected from him. Maybe he’s not as much of a jerk as the papers portray.
Jillian loves Mafia men, sports, bad boys, dirty talkers, strong female characters, and books with plenty of heat, all of which you will find in her books. As a lover of all things bookish, she has a serious book hoarding problem and runs a book blog in her free time. When she’s not reading, writing, or blogging, she’s obsessively fangirling over hockey players and can be found wherever she can catch the next hockey game.