Making His Play - Mari Carr

Chapter One

“That’s some pretty impressive stick handling there, hotshot.”

Alex Stone glanced at the blonde sitting next to him, perfectly aware her comment was a pickup line. One he’d heard at least a million times before.

She lifted her head toward the TV, pointing out the highlights from last night’s playoff game, the one they’d lost in a double overtime, the one that kept them out of the Stanley Cup finals.

He didn’t bother to look at the screen.

Why pour salt in that wound?

He was there. He’d been on fire, bringing the heat, leaving it all on the ice.

Playing like he always did.

King of the Ice.

Lord of the Rink.

He’d played the best game of his life.

Then…there was that fucking penalty.

He ran his hand over his smooth face, missing the beard he’d shaved off at one a.m. this morning, after the eternally painful interviews and the “we’ll get ’em next year” speech from his coach. If Coach had been trying to boost Alex’s spirit, he’d fallen way short.

The season was over for him. Shaving the beard forced him to acknowledge that. Coming to the bar tonight was supposed to get him out of his very empty, very quiet house and help him forget.

Of course, picking Pat’s Pub might have been a bit shortsighted of him. He’d found the local Baltimore establishment the first year he’d moved to the city after being recruited by the team. The members of the Collins family were huge sports fans, true to the home team and they never failed to make him feel welcome…special.

He’d actually become really good friends with the bartender, Padraig, and his twin brother, Colm.

Paddy had given him an understanding smile when he’d first walked in with a few of his teammates—even setting them up with a round on the house—but neither the Guinness nor the empathy was helping.

“Think you’d be interested in a private exhibition tonight?” she asked.

The blonde had been shooting him smoldering, fuck-me-now looks ever since he’d walked into the bar an hour earlier, anxious to drown his sorrows with a few of his teammates. She smiled as she offered the invitation, leaning closer, giving him an eyeful of her very generous cleavage. “I’d be very interested in showing you my stick handling,” she purred.

He studied her.

She looked like every other plastic rink bunny he’d ever met, which was actually his primary reason for coming out tonight. He needed to fuck away this shitty feeling.

She was panting.

Hot.

Ready.

His ego had taken the mother of all hits last night, and this woman looked like she was more than ready to build it back up.

“Your place close?” he asked.

Drinking wasn’t cheering him up.

Time to see if fucking did the trick.

“Unfortunately my roommate is home. Why don’t we go to your place instead?”

He shrugged noncommittally, even though there was no way in hell he was taking this woman back to his house. He’d learned a long time ago, never let your opponent into your fortress.

And while Blondie was smoking hot, there was pure barracuda in her eyes. He’d met too many of her type in the past, women willing to do anything to score an engagement ring from a successful professional athlete. His ten-million-a-year contract made him a hot commodity with women like her.

He might be down in the dumps, but he hadn’t lost his fucking mind.

He didn’t do relationships.

Period.

It was his one hard-and-fast rule for a successful, unencumbered life.

Then he glanced up just in time to see the replay of him skating toward the penalty box.

Fuck.

Padraig caught him looking and changed the channel on the big screen. Not quick enough, but he appreciated the effort.

Alex was a big fan of the one-night hookup—the only kind of hookup he indulged in—but he was struggling to work up enthusiasm for anything at the moment. Booze and sex—his go-tos—were both failing him.

Barracuda ran her hand over his upper thigh. “What do you say?”

He glanced down at her perfectly manicured fingernails. Ordinarily he’d already have a chick like this in the cab, the two of them groping the whole way back to her place.

Tonight, his cock didn’t even twitch.

Maybe he needed something a little wilder. “Is your roommate as hot as you? The more the merrier in my book.”

The seductive smile she sent his way told him he hadn’t offended her. In fact, if he was a betting man, he’d say she and the roommate had double-teamed a time or two before.

Even so, that didn’t seem to be her plan tonight.

“Trust me. I’m more than woman enough to handle you on