Offside (Heller Brothers Hockey) Online - Kelly Jamieson

Chapter One

Things were finally going right for him.

After working his ass off, sweating, groaning through the pain, pushing his body hard, he’d never been in better shape. He was getting closer to being ready to play again.

Matt grinned as he stood in front of his closet trying to decide what to wear.

A suit probably wasn’t necessary, but a business meeting required more than just jeans, so he pulled out a pair of dark dress pants and a button-down shirt. He rubbed his jaw while looking in the mirror and decided against shaving. Once dressed, he grabbed his wallet, cell phone and keys and headed out the door of his luxury beachfront apartment.

This place felt more like a hotel than a home, but it was close to the beach with a great ocean view through a whole wall of windows, and had a huge pool and full gym, so it worked for him.

He took the elevator to the underground parking garage where his Porsche Boxter was parked, the sweet new ride he’d treated himself to when he’d moved to Santa Monica to play for the Condors.

There’d been a while when everyone had been afraid he was never going to walk again, but he’d been determined that was not going to happen. He’d busted his ass in rehab, but it was all worth it.

His mood lifted even more once he was cruising through Santa Monica traffic with the top down on his Boxter, blue sky and sunshine overhead, palm trees lining the streets. He hit the freeway but it didn’t take long to get to the Santa Monica Coliseum. The Condors Community Foundation’s offices were located in the Coliseum along with the offices of team management. He entered and walked down the hall, pausing to greet team owner Steve Holbrook outside his office. Steve was a hockey legend, one of the greatest players ever, who’d bought the Condors about ten years ago after he retired. Of course, every time he saw Steve, Matt couldn’t help remembering the conversation they’d had eight years ago, when Matt had been newly drafted and trying to make an impression at summer development camp. The conversation about Steve’s daughter Honey.

But that was a long time ago.

Thinking about Honey just pissed him off, so he didn’t.

He said hi to a few other office people, including General Manager Rudy Thomas. Then he headed to the boardroom where the meeting was to take place.

“Hey, Matt.” Trent Maitland, Executive Director of the Foundation greeted him. “Grab a coffee if you like. There’re donuts too.”

Matt poured a coffee from the carafe set up on a sideboard, then moved to find an empty seat at the board table. Some general chit-chat ensued as they waited for everyone to arrive. The boardroom wasn’t exactly his comfort zone, but whatever.

He leaned back in the leather chair and sipped his coffee, turning his head at the next person to walk into the room. Then his coffee stuck in his throat and he choked as Honey Holbrook took a seat at the table.

Dressed in a black business suit, blonde hair pulled back into a low ponytail, she calmly set a leather-bound portfolio on the table, opened it to reveal a pad of paper, and picked up a pen. She tucked a piece of hair behind one ear and smiled at the people at the table. Then her eyes fell on him.

Big brown eyes went wide and the smile faded as her pretty lips parted.

Matt was ninety-nine percent sure his own eyes were as bugged out as hers, especially since he was still coughing on his coffee. Fuck.

They stared at each other for what felt like about a year. Heat swept up from beneath Matt’s shirt and into his face. Honey’s cheeks grew pink, probably equally as warm.

“Okay, I think everyone’s here,” Trent said. “Let’s get started. You all know Matt Heller.”

Matt struggled to get control of his breathing and smiled and nodded at everyone as they all made noises of acknowledgement.

“And…” Trent looked at Honey. “You all met Honey this morning.”

More smiles and murmurs of agreement went around the room, but this time the smiles were tight and the murmurs uncomfortable. Matt watched Honey. She still smiled, but her fingers tightened on the pen she held.

“Matt, Honey Holbrook,” Trent completed the introductions, not knowing no introductions were necessary. “Honey has just joined the Foundation as a Programming Coordinator. Dulcie will be going on maternity leave in a few weeks…”

All eyes swung to a very pregnant woman at one