The rugged men of the Carolina Cold Fury hockey team are winning hearts once again in another scorching novel from New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett.The stakes have never been higher for Carolina Cold Fury goalie Ryker Evans. With his contract running out, he’s got a year left to prove he’s still at the top of his game. And since his wife left him, Ryker has been balancing life as a pro-hockey star and a single parent to two daughters. Management is waiting for him to screw up. The fans are ready to pounce. Everybody’s taking dirty shots—except for the fiery redhead whose faith in Ryker gives him a fresh start.As the league’s only female general manager, Gray Brannon has learned not to mix business with pleasure. And yet even this tough, talented career woman can’t help breaking her own rules as she gives Ryker everything she’s got. She hopes their hot streak will last forever, but with Ryker’s conniving ex plotting to reclaim her man, the pressure is on Gray to step up and save a tender new love before it’s too late.
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My phone gives a short chime and I pull it out of my pocket. I can’t help the curl of slight disgust that comes to my lips when I see an email from Hensley. Most people would agree: A man is allowed to be disgusted by his wife when she sleeps with another man. Even more so when that other man is a teammate.
But that’s not why I curl my lips and wrinkle my nose. No, I’m pretty much past that, and I know I’m past it because I just don’t think about it anymore. In fact, I’m expecting the final divorce decree in the mail any day now. Our hearing was last month in Boston and my lawyer assured me it would sail through with no hitches, mainly because Hensley and I were able to agree on a division of our assets and custody of the girls coming to me.
No . . . there is absolutely not a single remaining bitter feeling left in me about the loss of my wife and her betrayal to our marriage. It’s over and I’m ready to move on.
I am, however, completely affronted by Hensley’s attitude toward her daughters. Those precious silver-eyed beauties whom she dumped on my doorstep before she checked out of their lives so she could run around the country with her boy toy during hockey season.
A quick glance at her email and my stomach knots up. A simple reminder that she’ll be in town next week when the Boston Eagles—my former team—will be here in Raleigh to play the Cold Fury. Because Hensley is still currently fucking my former Eagle teammate Patric Sutter, and living with him on the road, she’ll be here for a visit. Obviously, she wants to spend some time with Violet and Ruby.
I hit Reply, but before my fingers can even begin to type what I hope will be a fairly calm response—because let’s face it, I’m not going to keep her away from the girls—my phone starts ringing, immediately followed by a picture of Zack popping up.
My teammate. My best friend.
Boyfriend to Kate Francis, my girls’ part-time nanny and the angel who helped me get grounded when I needed it most.
“What’s up?” I say, leaning back against the hallway wall. I keep an eye on the space below the bathroom door, making sure the spider doesn’t come prowling out. I have my foot poised to strike out and stomp the little fucker if it shows.
“Dude . . . turn on the TV right now to channel thirty-three,” he says in a rush.
I don’t think to question the urgency in Zack’s voice and quickly step into Violet and Ruby’s room to grab the remote. I deftly change the channel to the sports news network as I sit on the end of Violet’s little twin bed decorated in purple flowers and white lace.
“. . . while this is still very much speculation, it appears the wheels are in motion for the league to see its first female general manager in its ninety-eight-year existence. Sources inside the Cold Fury office will do nothing more than confirm that while Brian Brannon has stepped down from his position as the team’s general manager, he will still retain his position as president and CEO of the organization. A more formal statement is expected later today.”
The male reporter turns to his co-anchor at the desk, a beautiful blonde who looks more like a beauty queen than a sports reporter and says, “So, Jessica . . . potentially historic news coming out of Raleigh, North Carolina, today.”
The blonde nods seriously and turns to face the camera. “Very historic and also controversial. If these rumors are true, Grayson Brannon, daughter and heir to the Brannon fortune, will become the first female general manager of a professional hockey team. I’m sure this is going to spark a lot of heated debate over her capabilities, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.”
The male reporter nods sagely and looks down at a digital tablet sitting before him on the desk. “Already, Twitter is blowing up with comments about the potential change in management.”
A news graphic appears to the left of the reporter on the TV screen, showing some of the tweets as he reads them out loud. “Here’s one from @FuryFan4Life . . . What the hell is @Carolina_Cold_Fury thinking? A woman general manager? Ridiculous.”
The blond reporter props her chin in the palm of her hand, watching her co-anchor as he reads the tweets, her face the perfect mask of concerned interest.
“Gray Brannon is more than qualified. Give her a chance,” he reads aloud. “That’s from @carolina_girl_87.”
“There’s going to be a lot of polarized opinions about this,” the blonde says, and the camera zooms in on her. “But everyone needs to remember, Gray Brannon may be young, but she has the experience needed—”
I hit the mute button on the TV, not needing to hear all about Gray Brannon. I know plenty already.
“Think it’s true?” I ask Zack as I put him on speakerphone.
“No idea. I was just watching TV and this breaking news came on.”
Almost as if by eerie design, my phone chimes and a text appears. It’s from the Cold Fury office and simply says, Team Meeting 5PM.
“Did you just get that text?” Zack asks.
“Yup, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s true.”
Zack gives a low whistle. “Ballsy move for Brannon.”
That it is.
Moving his daughter into the position of the team’s general manager. Fucking ballsy as hell and I’m guessing it’s going to cause some dissension in the ranks.
Not from me, though. I personally think Gray Brannon can do the job. She is, after all, the one personally responsible for getting me traded to the Cold Fury, and for that alone she has my support.
USA Today bestselling author Sawyer Bennett USA Today Best-Selling Author, Sawyer Bennett is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.
Sawyer is the author of several contemporary romances including the popular Off Series, the Legal Affairs Series and the Last Call Series. She will be releasing her second book in the Cold Fury Hockey Series with Random House Loveswept, February 2015.
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