Eight novellas compiled into one collection, featuring some of the best hockey romance writers in the biz, for one price. And 100% of the list price gets donated to Hockey Fights Cancer*.
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I'm giving you an exclusive sneak peek at my story for the anthology, "A Valuable Trade." Here it is:
“Dallas.” Fuck.“We’ll pack up your things and send them along for you. Thank you for your years of dedication, Bryan. Good luck with your new team.” The general manager of the Tornadoes stretches out his hand, which I reluctantly shake. Then I shake my coach’s hand—well, my ex-coach’s hand. I can’t look either of them in the eye.As I leave the GM’s office and head for the exit, the threshold from my old life to my new one, I run into a couple of my teammates. My former teammates now. They express their regrets regarding my trade and say they’re sorry to see me go. That they’ll miss me. But it’s not like that matters.Soon after my conversation with my old GM, I get a call from my new GM of the Dallas Comets. He’s excited to bring me on board and talks a lot about how I’m going to fit in with their team and help them make the play-offs. He lets me know that they’re going to take care of everything for me and help arrange my move; that way, I only have to focus on my play.I don’t want to go, but I don’t really have a choice. So I head home to my girlfriend Corinne to break the news to her. Somehow, though, she already knows. As soon as I walk through the door, she stands and asks, “Is it true? Are they sending you to Dallas?”My shoulders fall. “Yeah. Just got the news.”“How can they do that? How can the Tornadoes just give you away?”“It’s the business side of hockey,” I explain to her. “The Tornadoes needed a forward, and the Comets needed a defenseman. Unfortunately, I’m the guy caught in the middle.”Corinne frowns and crosses her arms over her chest. “Don’t be selfish, Bry. You’re not the only one involved in this. What am I supposed to do?”“Come with me, of course. I’m flying out tonight.”“I can’t! I have to pack everything up, arrange to move it all, get this place listed...” Her voice fades out as she thinks about all the things that need to be done.“The Comets’ll take care of all that. Cory, baby,” I say, grabbing her hand and pulling her body into mine. I need the comfort more than ever now. “I just need you with me. Please come with me to Dallas.”She takes a deep breath; I feel her body expand and then shrink back down. “I think I should stay, though. Oversee everything. And then I’ll follow you down.”It makes sense, but that doesn’t mean I like it. I’m getting traded, and I could use the familiarity of a friendly face to keep me company in a new place. But what else am I supposed to say? I’m saddened that she won’t be joining me on my flight. “Okay.”“Texas,” she spits out. “I can’t believe we’re going to Texas. Why couldn’t they have traded you to the Rangers? I would’ve loved New York City.”I wish I had an answer for her—or yet, a better locale to take her to. Dallas is a great sports town in general but not necessarily a great market for hockey. Corinne doesn’t sound very pleased with it either. She and I met our freshman year at the University of North Dakota, where I had been playing with the Fighting Sioux. Once I went pro and started playing for the Tornadoes, she kept up with her studies and graduated with great grades. She wanted to move to New York to start her career, but I persuaded her to come with me to Raleigh by telling her that long-distance relationships don’t work. I don’t think she ever really adjusted to North Carolina.Because of a freak snowstorm in Raleigh that lays down more snow than anyone expected, I’m stuck here until the following morning. I know I won’t have a chance to make it to the morning skate before the game they’re playing tonight, so I’ll have to play without getting a practice under my belt. It’s bad enough getting traded...but how am I supposed to make a good first impression when I have no practice and no chance to learn the new systems?The flight feels both too short and too long. I want it to be over, but I want it to never end, either. But I can’t have it both ways. When I get off the plane and pick up my bag, I keep my head down and head toward the taxi stand. As I navigate through the crowd, though, I see my name scrawled on a poster board and tentatively head toward the holder of the sign. It’s got to be a joke, though. The person picking me up is a caricature of a Texan. She’s wearing dark jeans with a hole in the knee, a clingy white tank top, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. Or is it a cowgirl hat? Is there a difference?“Hi, Bryan, I’m Georgiana Pierson. I’m from the Comets. Welcome to Dallas! We’re so excited to have you.” She has a southern drawl, but it’s anything but slow. The smile on her face is wide and genuine. She extends a well-manicured hand. I expect a weak handshake, but she surprises me with a firm grip and vigorous pump. “We’ve got housing set up for you, and I’m going to help you get settled in before tonight’s game. If you need anything as you get acclimated here—and I do mean anything—then I’m your girl. Let me help you with your bag.”I’m kind of overwhelmed by her. She talks fast and moves even faster; before I can tell her that I’m more than capable of handling my own stuff, she takes the duffel bag of mine and hoists it over her shoulder. The sight is reminiscent of something out of a rodeo, the way she manhandles it. She’s solidly built, but not in a masculine kind of way. No, she’s all woman, with curves and dark brown curly hair that spills out of her hat almost like a wig. Her brown eyes smile just like her mouth. It’s kind of catching, except I don’t feel like smiling. As we head for the door, I wonder if she’s picking me up from the airport on a horse.
Want to check out some other excerpts of the other stories? Find them here:
Toni Aleo - "Tangled in the Laces"
Cassandra Carr with Cindy Carr - "Hooking Hannah"
Jami Davenport - "Crashing the Boards"
Catherine Gayle - "Taking a Shot"
V.L. Locey - "Heir Apparent"
Bianca Sommerland - "Blind Pass"
Nikki Worrell - "Captain, My Captain"
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*Seduced by the Game is no way affiliated with the NHL, NHLPA, and Hockey Fights Cancer.