Authors: Jenni Wilder
Tags: #romance, #hockey, #rich and famous, #love relationships, #passion and love
All of You
Published by Jenni Wilder, Smashwords Edition
Copyright 2014 Jenni Wilder
Cover Art Copyright L.J. Anderson, Mayhem Cover
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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No portion of this book may be reproduced or
distributed in any print or electronic form without permission of
the author. This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to
persons living or dead or any events or occurrences is purely
coincidental. The characters and story lines are fictional. This
book is intended for mature audiences, and the subject matter is
not appropriate for minors. This novel contains profanity and
sexual situations and may not be suitable for everyone.
Table of Contents
I stood in the corner of the heated tent
holding a Styrofoam cup of hot chocolate. My gloved hands wrapped
around the cup in an attempt to leach the warmth into my fingers.
The tent was crowded but even with all the body heat the organizers
had to bring in space heaters to keep those of us in the tent warm
but they only marginally helped. Still, it was better than being
out in the elements. I felt bad for those outside the tent standing
on the curb. They lined the street as far as I could see but there
wasn’t anything I could do for them. I didn’t want to be here in
the first place but my boss had twisted my arm.
I had been told the New Year’s Eve Razzle
Dazzle Parade was something I wouldn’t want to miss. The annual
event was the culmination of the holiday season and you could
almost taste the anticipation from the crowd. Twinkling lights,
colored lights, Christmas trees and light up banners made the
entire downtown area glow. There were semitrucks covered in strands
of multicolored lights and a giant glowing palm tree that you could
see from blocks away. Even the marching band and the parade walkers
had lights attached to their clothing and powered by battery packs
so they flashed and glimmered as they made their way down the
parade route. Even if I didn’t want to be here, I had to admit the
atmosphere was exciting.
The parade itself was a free event organized
by the tourism office in an attempt to draw everyone and anyone to
the downtown area for New Year’s Eve. People from all over the
Chicago area bundled up and braved the cold, lining the street for
blocks, trying to stay warm and get the best view.
The warmed tent I currently occupied, on the
other hand, was an exclusive area for top donors and important
people. Three sides of the tent were normal tent walls, but the
fourth wall, the one facing the street, consisted of huge
see-through Plexiglas that allowed for unobstructed parade
Men and women in winter clothing stood around
the sides of the seating area, laughing, talking, and, I’m sure,
making business and political deals of some sort while the parade
passed by. Even with the layers of winter clothing, it was easy to
see the affluence surrounding these people. I felt it was entirely
possible I was the only one here who did not have a trust fund to
GenChem Labs, where I had my internship, had
donated a large chunk of change to the Downtown Tourism Office. In
return, they received tickets to the exclusive warmed area of
Chicago’s New Year’s Eve Razzle Dazzle Parade. And I,
unfortunately, had been the one the boss designated to use the
I sighed. Anyone else would probably have
jumped at the chance for a spot in the heated tent, but to me it
was an obligation and made me feel like I didn’t fit in. Last
winter I had scored big while out shopping and found my coat on the
clearance rack. I'd splurged and purchased the beautiful white wool
peacoat with three giant black buttons down the front and black
trim on the sleeves. The only place I had worn it last winter was
to the Oriental Theater when my sister had gotten tickets to see
The Phantom of the Opera
I was glad to be wearing it to the parade
tonight, though. It was warm and pretty, and I felt like I might
slightly fit in with this crowd. Although I was probably kidding
myself on that one. If I really thought about it, I figured I stuck
out like a sore thumb. No matter how much I liked my fancy white
peacoat I knew I didn’t fit in with this crowd. But despite feeling
extremely out of place, I was happy to be warm with my cup of hot
chocolately goodness, and I was in for a show.
The lights danced and flashed before my eyes
as the floats paraded down the street, and my cheeks hurt from
smiling so much. But it was worth it. This was simply magical and
full of joy. The little kids in the front were enthralled with the
parade. The lights glowed on their smiling faces, and every float
captivated them as well as me. The parade was pretty spectacular,
and I couldn’t decide what was better—watching the lights or
watching the kids’ reactions.
The kids were balls of energy and excitement,
running all around trying to experience everything. Highly
overstimulated and running on the thrill of being up past their
bedtimes on New Year’s Eve, they zipped around in the tent, weaving
through the legs of the adults. I wished I had their energy. For as
exciting as the parade was, I had been up early and worked all day
in the lab and was exhausted.
But I focused back on the float that was
currently passing in front of the tent, thinking it was good I
wasn’t epileptic because the over-the-top crazy flashing lights on
this float were sure to induce a seizure. Yeah, it was definitely
past my bedtime.
Just as I was about to turn and make my way
to the exit, I felt a presence move up next to me. “Enjoying the
parade?” a male voice said in my direction. I was sure he wasn’t
speaking to me, but his warm, inviting voice made me turn to look
He was looking down at me with a small smile
and a look of anticipation. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach,
and my breath caught as I analyzed the man. He was drop-dead
gorgeous. His face was rugged and solid, lean but not gaunt, and
his chin was covered in a short, rugged beard that made him look
like a sexy wild man, enhancing the beauty of his friendly smile.
His dark brown hair was short and beautifully styled in a messy,
sexy kind of way.
But the thing that made my mouth dry,
rendering me speechless, was the width of his shoulders. I couldn’t
see details under his thick, dark gray winter coat, but he had to
be strong. My eyes flicked back to his face, and he raised his
eyebrows, obviously waiting for an answer.
I turned my attention away from his body and
back to the parade where a giant glowing lobster was sitting atop
the current float passing in front of the tent. “Um… yeah, it’s
really neat. I’ve never seen anything like it,” I finally replied,
fumbling a sentence together. I wasn’t prepared to have to make
conversation. I figured no one here would waste their time talking
to me when I obviously couldn’t help them leverage a business deal
or make a political connection.
“I’ve never been able to figure out what
lobsters have to do with New Year’s Eve, but this float is one of
the crowd favorites every year.” The man indicated to the float and
then to the crowd outside that was currently hooting and hollering
at the beaming crustacean.
“Oh, you’ve seen the parade before?” I asked,
not sure why I was engaging him in conversation.
The man turned toward me and nodded. “My
family attends this event every year. It’s kind of an obligation,”
he said with a shrug before taking a drink of his hot
“It’s kind of an obligation for me too,” I
said smiling. “But I’m really enjoying it.”
The man grinned wide. “I can tell. You have
the biggest smile in this whole tent. I noticed it right away. It’s
beautiful,” he said in a rush and took a small step closer to
Alarm bells sounded in my head. His bluntness
made me automatically pull into myself as the blush set into my
cheeks. “Um… thanks.” I didn’t know what else to say. What do you
say to that?
The man gave a small chuckle as if enjoying
my unease. “Sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I’m Lincoln,” he
said as he extended his hand and gave me a friendly smile. Social
pressures made me unable to resist offering my hand back to him. We
shook hands, but it only made me feel slightly less uneasy around
this man. “And your name is…?” he prompted.
“Oh, sorry. I’m Chloe,” I lied. I gave him my
standard fake name I used whenever a man made moves as if to hit on
me. There was no reason to give a guy my real name when my only
intention was to end the conversation as quickly as possible
without being rude and/or looking like a freak.
Lincoln smiled. “So what are you doing
I froze. I knew it was obvious I didn’t
belong in this rich people’s crowd, but I hoped I could just enjoy
the parade without being insulted.
“I… um… I have a ticket,” I stuttered, trying
to defend my presence in the elite tent. I pulled the tickets out
of my coat pocket as proof.
“You actually have two tickets there. Where’s
your date?” he asked.
“Oh, I don’t… it’s just an extra ticket,” I
admitted and looked away, feeling foolish like I always did when
anyone asked anything about my nonexistent love life.
“No date? How does someone as beautiful as
you not have a date on New Year’s Eve?” he asked.
Wow. This man was forward. How did people go
through life acting that way toward other people? Does that
normally work on women? I supposed it did for him, considering how
attractive he was.
I locked eyes with him and felt the blush
rush to my cheeks. Yeah, he was gorgeous and I needed to shut him
down. “I’m here for work,” I stated briskly and focused my
attention back to the parade.
“Oh?” he inquired with his focus on me. “Must
be a nice job to get you tickets to this.” He hinted for more
information, but I hesitated. That was too personal.
“Mmhmm… “ I said vaguely and focused on the
parade, determined not to let this man get to me. What was the
point of flirting with him if there was only one way this was going
to end? I knew better than to hope for something I would never
“Is that a yes?” he pressed, but I’d had
enough. No matter how incredibly handsome this man was, I wasn’t
going to let my guard down. There was no point in continuing this
idle small talk.
I turned toward him. “It was nice to meet
you. I hope you enjoy the parade,” I said briskly and started
toward the exit of the tent.
“Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. Don’t leave,”
Lincoln said, extending his hand toward my shoulder in an attempt
to stop me from fleeing.
My eyes zeroed in on his hand, and I quickly
sidestepped out of his reach. But that move had turned me back
toward him so we were now face-to-face.
“You can’t shoot me down that quickly. I was
just trying to make conversation. I didn’t mean to scare you
I let out a frustrated sigh. “I’m sorry. I
just… I mean, I’m not trying to be rude. There’s just no