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Authors: T. Torrest

Breaking the Ice

BOOK: Breaking the Ice
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BREAKING THE ICE

A Reader-Generated Love Story

 

Zachary McAllister's entire life revolves around hockey and sex, in that order.

When a career-ending injury changes everything, he’s left mourning the life that could have been. Now the owner of a rundown local pub, the ex-NHL star finds himself grappling with his "ordinary" existence, trying to come to terms with a very uncertain future.

 

His former team is on track to win the 2003 Stanley Cup Championship without him, and preparations are being made for a victory party at the bar.

 

Enter Avery Brooks
.

She’s the straitlaced event planner hired to arrange the party, thanks to her father's connections.

Her father who just happens to be the General Manager for the NJ Devils…

and the guy who handed Zac his walking papers four years ago.

 

Suddenly, Avery finds herself face-to-face with her teenage crush.

The two had a minor flirtation going on back in the day, when Zac was just an arrogant, womanizing rookie and Avery was a naive, starry-eyed fan.

 

Their chemistry is undeniable, but both are completely different people than they were all those years ago.

 

In order for this fiery Devil to melt the heart of an ice princess, Zac will need to up his game.

All he needs to do is relearn everything he ever thought he knew about how to play.

 

 

Breaking the Ice was written based on the input and suggestions from readers.

From the characters’ names to their occupations to the years this story takes place, the entirety of this narrative has been created by (and for) readers like
you.

 

 

***This book is intended for readers 18+ due to some offensive language, underage drinking, and graphic sex/sexual situations***

 

 

READ WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR:

Sweet, inspiring, a little funny, a little angsty, a little sexy

 

 

 

 

BREAKING THE ICE

T.TORREST

©2014

 

 

To the readers who made this happen.

 

 

 

 

BREAKING THE ICE

 

 

 

 

PART ONE

 

AVERY

1995

Chapter One

DECEMBER 1995

 

 

   “Avery, so help me God, I’m
this close
to punching you in the boobies. Stop arguing. We’re going out tonight. I’ll pick you up in an hour.”

   I hung up the phone with my best friend Casey and then promptly flopped backwards onto my bed. I wasn’t in any mood to go out that night, but then again, I wasn’t much in the mood to go out
any
night.

   Especially not to
Johnny’s
.

   The bar itself was cool enough. It’s just that Johnny’s was right down the street from the local hockey rink and was a known hangout for the players. It just so happened that our local hockey rink was the Brendan Byrne Arena and the players were the New Jersey Devils.

   My father was their General Manager, so I knew a bunch of those guys personally and was friends with a lot of them. Even the guys I didn’t know too well seemed okay, but a select few were downright assholes. I guess the constant exposure to professional athletes desensitized me to the godlike status some people had bestowed upon them, because ultimately, they weren’t different from any other guys as far as I was concerned.

   Every September, there was a Welcome Back dinner, a chance for all the players, coaches, and their families to get to know each other before the season officially started. It was normally held at some stuffy reception hall, a place where everyone could pretend to be normal, upstanding citizens. I’d missed the dinner this year because I had just reported to my campus, but I’d been to the meet-and-greet practically every year prior.

   After the formal dinner, all the guys would usually go out to Johnny’s for a night on the town. Last year was the first time I’d ever joined them; Casey had some fake I.D.s made for us and we’d been sneaking into places ever since. Prior to that, I was always “The GM’s daughter,” one of the many team mascots who hadn’t yet come of age. Once I turned eighteen, however, it was like I was being let into a secret club.

   The gentle giants I associated with at those civil family dinners turned into absolute lunatics on the ice and even bigger monsters in the bar. A casual night out almost always devolved into a raucous evening of free-flowing booze, exaggerated tales of glory, and all too eager hookups. It was fun for a while, but only one short year later, I was already growing tired of that scene.

   Don’t get me wrong—the guys were essentially very respectful toward me. But seeing the way they were with any of the
other
girls was pretty disturbing. The women would typically lurk around the arena and
always
at the bar, hanging all over the players, some of whom were married. I’m not going to name names, here, but a few of those married guys were more than receptive to the women’s attentions. It was a bit of a rude awakening; I babysat some of their kids, for godsakes.

   The rookies were positively the worst, though. They were all cocky and conceited, every last one of them. Treating the bar like it was their own personal buffet, thinking they were God’s gift, having sex with anything that moved.

   I grew up around the game, basically breathing hockey from the day that I was born. I liked the sport well enough, but Casey was practically rabid with her fanaticism. I knew she’d been spending a lot of time at Johnny’s lately, because her letters to me at school always talked about her adventures at the place. She’d recruited our mutual friend Dana for her missions while I was away, but I’d been there with her a bunch of times myself, if for no other reason than it was a fun place to hang out.

   And now she wanted to head there to play jersey-chaser.

   It was my first night home from college, on leave for Christmas break. I still had unpacking to do, and after a four-hour drive, I wasn’t much in the mood to play wingwoman for my friend. I’d called Casey soon after I got in, under the mistaken delusion that she would be content to just come over and watch a movie or something. I was excited to see her, and I couldn’t care less what we did so long as we were together. But it was Friday night, and she was not only astounded that I wanted to stay in, but insistent that we hit the bar. She wouldn’t take no for an answer.

   The thing was, I’d just
come
from Party Central; I was in my freshman year at Penn State. It’s not as though I indulged my inner wild child every minute or anything, but there was no escaping that atmosphere even when a girl like me went out of her way to avoid it.

   Let me be clear, here: It’s not that I was anti-social. I had lots of friends and managed to get out amongst the living on a fairly regular basis. I just didn’t
major
in partying the way some other kids did.

   That mindset went out the window whenever Casey came to visit. She never went away to school, a fact which she bemoaned at every opportunity. Because of that, she’d visited me on campus quite a bit, and when she did, I knew she expected me to put my boogie shoes on. And when she wasn’t out road-tripping to Pennsylvania, she was waiting for me to come home to continue the party here.

   Basically, there was no way to get out of going to Johnny’s tonight.

   I hauled myself off my bed and started to get ready. I grabbed a quick shower, then debated what to wear. It was the first day of winter, but the weather was fairly mild, not cold enough to require a pair of jeans. Johnny’s was always so hot and stuffy anyway. I threw on a black miniskirt and a stretchy, vee-neck top that displayed my Y-necklace to perfection. Pairing such a borderline skimpy outfit with my knee-high black boots was a bit out of my comfort zone, but they looked really cute, so I went for it. Besides, if I knew anything about the kind of girls that went to Johnny’s, I figured I’d fit right in.

   I switched out my huge satchel purse for my black wristlet, just packing the necessities:

   Fake I.D.? Check.

   Lipstick? Check.

   Cash?

   Hmmm. Probably not enough.

   Casey was due any minute, and I didn’t want to hear her gripe about having to stop at the MAC machine. I went into my parents’ room and swiped twenty bucks out of the cash box my father kept in his nightstand drawer, replacing it with a signed I.O.U. Dad was always pretty cool about letting me borrow money, provided I could account for it and pay him back in a timely fashion. I wasn’t exactly raking in the millions at my coffee shop job near campus, but I normally made enough to fund a decent social life.

   By the time I finished getting ready and Casey picked me up, we didn’t roll into Johnny’s until after eleven. The smell of the night air was crisp and smoky, with only the slightest chill. Kind of weird for December in New Jersey, but I wasn’t going to complain. I pulled my leather jacket a little tighter around myself as we made our way across the parking lot.

   One step inside the front door, my ears practically exploded from the noise. Johnny’s was a huge bar, but on the nights when the Devils had a win, it was packed wall to wall. We sliced through the dark, hazy room, trying not to lose one another, unable to hear ourselves think over the blaring music. Johnny’s was a peanut-shell-on-the-floor type of club, and I almost twisted an ankle on my way across the crowded room to the bar. I was usually much better thought-out than to wear spiky heels to this place.

   We got a couple beers and managed to nab a table on the edge of the ruckus, in the raised platform area near the dance floor. The brass rails that surrounded it turned that section of the club into a giant playpen. Fitting, because the people contained within it normally acted like toddlers. A few of the players were right nearby, whooping it up and toasting their win. I recognized some of them, but even if I didn’t, it would’ve been easy to pick the NHL guys out from the crowd. All you had to do was look for a random pocket of squealing girls and
poof!
There they were.

   Casey had been eyeing up Simon Sorensen ever since the beginning of the season. He’d knocked around the minors for a couple of years waiting to be called up, and we’d finally acquired him in the spring. She figured she had a decent chance with him, since he wasn’t yet as famous as some of the more seasoned guys who had shot to the top of the groupie wishlist.

   “You are such a puck bunny,” I said once we were situated.

   “I am not!” Case shouted back at me in open-mouthed shock. “Just because I love hockey, and just because the majority of hockey players happen to be extremely hot… that doesn’t make me a puck bunny.”

   “You’re right. You’re not sleeping with any of them,” I said. “I guess you’re only an
aspiring
puck bunny.”

   She rolled her eyes. “We’re hockey fans. Plain and simple.”

   “Correction,” I shot back. “
I
am a fan.
You
are a stalker.”

   “I am not a— Oh shit. He just looked at me.”

   I busted a gut laughing at my friend. We’d arranged our positions so that my back was toward Simon’s table, allowing Casey to spy at him over my shoulder. Apparently, her covert ops were paying off.

   “Oh my God. Avery. He’s waving me over. Oh my God. What should I do?”

   “You should go over and talk to him, weirdo. What do you
think
you should do?”

   “Marry him and have his babies?”

   “Let’s go, crazy girl.”

   I couldn’t understand why she was being so hesitant. Talking to Simon was the whole reason we came out tonight, wasn’t it? Yet, I had to physically grab her purse to get her to follow me. I plunked it down at his table, saying, “Hi Simon.”

   “Hey Avery. Hi Case. You ladies are looking rather lovely tonight.” Simon leaned back in his chair and checked us out from head to toe. God. I really hated the frozen foods section of the meat market. Hockey players could be so…
blunt
. I wasn’t necessarily an extroverted kind of gal, exacerbated by the fact that I’d spent the majority of the past three months in my little college bubble. I was learning to deal with the party crowd there, but I was out of practice with how to run with the even faster crowd here. Thank God I only had to deal with this scene while I was home.

   We took over the unoccupied stools at his table just as a waitress came by to take our drink orders. I was only half-finished with my beer, but figured it might be a long wait before I had the chance to order another one, so I took advantage while I could. “I’ll have another Coors Light, thanks.” I turned toward my friend and asked, “Case?”

   She just nodded her head and offered a barely-audible, “Yes.”

   God. What was
with
her tonight?

   Simon said, “Okay, so that’s two Coors Lights, I’ll take a Bud, and… hang on.”

   He leaned back on his stool, twisting around to consult the crowd standing behind him. The group was one of the aforementioned pockets of girls, surrounding some dark-haired guy I could only see from the back. I watched the guy give a thumbs up, and Simon turned back toward the waitress, holding up two fingers. “Let’s make that two Buds. Thanks.”

   Simon put his forearms against the table and leaned in to face Casey. “You left early last week.”

  Her eyes lit up at his words, and I knew she was probably freaking out at Simon’s acknowledgement. She’d told me all about their encounter last Saturday night. After weeks of hanging around hoping he’d notice her, he finally did. They apparently spent a good portion of the night chit-chatting, and Simon had asked for her number before she left. He hadn’t called her yet, though.

   I waited for Casey to say something, but when she didn’t, I filled the space. “Sooo… great win tonight, Simon. I only caught the end of the game, but you guys looked good out there.”

   “Thanks.”

   It was kind of an awkward conversation to have. Simon wasn’t seeing much time on the ice, so I didn’t know if I should be congratulating him on a win he didn’t have anything to do with. Couple that with the fact that my father was the particular general manager who had hired him to seemingly do nothing more than sit the bench, and I felt that maybe Simon would have had reason to view me as the enemy.

   Not that you’d know it by the way he was staring at my legs.

   He saw my raised eyebrows and knew that he’d been caught. “Nice boots.”

   “Thanks. They’re Casey’s,” I burbled out in a moment of inspiration, trying to give her an opening.

   “Oh yeah?” he asked, while my friend sat on the stool next to me like a lump, completely clueless as to how to act like a normal human being. Jeez. She must’ve really had it bad for this guy. Casey wasn’t normally the reserved type. That was my job.

   I gave her a snap-out-of-it kick under the table, but the only thing she added to the conversation was, “Ouch!”

   Like I said: clueless.

   At least I was able to divert Simon’s attention back in her direction. “You okay?” he asked.

   Case finally found her voice. “Yes. I just hit my shin on something under the table.” She shot me a dirty look and then leaned down to give a rub to one of her skinny, little legs.

   Casey was a tiny sprite of a girl. Tiny frame, tiny hands, tiny feet. Huge brown eyes, short brown hair. She was like a smaller-scaled version of a regular person, like Jada Pinkett or Cheri Oteri or Prince. Not just short or skinny, but
downsized
. Whenever I referred to her as a “seven-eighths person,” she was not amused.

BOOK: Breaking the Ice
3.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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