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Player on ice, p.1
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       Player on Ice, p.1

           S. R. Grey
 
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Player on Ice


  Boys of Winter #5

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  About Player on Ice

  Other Books by S.R. Grey

  Chapter One: I Fuck Up Royally

  Chapter Two: Mr. Hockeypants

  Chapter Three: Wanna Get Away?

  Chapter Four: Island Surprise

  Chapter Five: Fantasy Girl

  Chapter Six: I Think I Just Killed Jaxon freaking Holland

  Chapter Seven: Doing Her and Dumping Her

  Chapter Eight: He Must Never Know I’m Mr. Hockeypants

  Chapter Nine: Can We Start Over?

  Chapter Ten: I Almost Take Out Holland Again

  Chapter Eleven: Give Me Back My Effing Balls

  Chapter Twelve: Men Are So Weird

  Chapter Thirteen: Mr. Hockeypants Kills my Boner

  Chapter Fourteen: Choosing My Words Carefully

  Chapter Fifteen: It’s Over Before It Ever Even Began

  Chapter Sixteen: I Just Effed Myself

  Chapter Seventeen: This is War

  Chapter Eighteen: Sunburned and Burned

  Chapter Nineteen: Side Boob Action and a Thong

  Chapter Twenty: A Worthy Adversary

  Chapter Twenty-One: I Don’t Smell!

  Chapter Twenty-Two: Never Will I Ever…

  Chapter Twenty-Three: Lizard Rescue 911

  Chapter Twenty-Four: Who Needs Food When You Have Love?

  Chapter Twenty-Five: Better than Fighting

  Chapter Twenty-Six: Regrets, I Have a Few

  Chapter Twenty-Seven: Stanley Cup Blues

  Chapter Twenty-Eight: A Cake to Bake

  Chapter Twenty-Nine: Naked Birthdays are the Best

  Chapter Thirty: Love is in the Air

  Chapter Thirty-One: I Can’t F*cking Believe This

  Chapter Thirty-Two: Mr. Hockeypants Revealed

  Chapter Thirty-Three: Hockey, the Only Thing Left

  Chapter Thirty-Four: There’s My Heart, Lying on the Floor

  Chapter Thirty-Five: Schooled by Dylan Culderway

  Chapter Thirty-Six: Passion Reignited and Sputtered

  Chapter Thirty-Seven: Welcome to the World of Love

  Chapter Thirty-Eight: Ms. Hockeypants

  Chapter Thirty-Nine: Topping Naked Birthdays

  Chapter Forty: Wow, the Wolves Look Freaking Great

  Chapter Forty-One: The Switch

  Chapter Forty-Two: Surprise!

  Chapter Forty-Three: Our Own Little World

  Chapter Forty-Four: The Hockey Life

  Epilogue: Full Circle

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  Resistance on Ice

  Copyright Notice

  Jaxon Holland is more than a top-scoring center for the Las Vegas Wolves—he’s also the biggest “player” on the team. Women love him, flock to him, lust for his sculpted body.

  Yeah, life is good for this hockey player.

  Or it was until lately.

  After blowing a key play in what may have been the biggest game of the season, the fans sour on Jaxon. Good thing memories are short, right? Uh, they’re not when a widely popular sports blogger, known simply as Mr. Hockeypants, calls Jaxon out and places all the blame for the loss on him.

  Life goes from bad to worse, and Jaxon wants to get away.

  Good thing one of his teammates has a beautiful, secluded beach house he can escape to. Sand, sun, surf, and lots of alone time sound good to this disgruntled centerman.

  Only problem is the beach house is already occupied—by beautiful and spunky Cara Milne.

  Cara and Jaxon are off to a rocky start after an extremely awkward first meeting. Yeah, these two pretty much hate each other. But Jaxon, forever a “player” at heart, vows to win his housemate over.

  What he doesn’t know is Cara is Mr. Hockeypants! His worst enemy, the bane of his existence!

  And she’s determined that he never finds out.

  Too bad keeping a secret is more slippery than ice, especially when you start falling in love with the guy you almost destroyed.

  Player on Ice is the fifth standalone novel in the bestselling Boys of Winter hockey romance series.

  **STANDALONE**

  **EACH BOOK IN THE BOYS OF WINTER SERIES FEATURES A DIFFERENT SMOKING-HOT HOCKEY PLAYER'S STORY**

  Boys of Winter series

  Destiny on Ice

  Resistance on Ice

  Complications on Ice

  Caution on Ice

  Judge Me Not series

  I Stand Before You

  Never Doubt Me

  Just Let Me Love You

  The After of Us

  Inevitability duology

  Inevitable Detour

  Inevitable Circumstances

  Promises series

  Tomorrow’s Lies

  Today’s Promises

  A Harbour Falls Mystery trilogy

  Harbour Falls

  Willow Point

  Wickingham Way

  Laid Bare novella series

  Exposed: Laid Bare 1

  Unveiled: Laid Bare 2

  Spellbound: Laid Bare 3

  Sacrifice: Laid Bare 4

  I Fuck Up Royally

  With three minutes left in the final period of an elimination game, our hockey team—the Las Vegas Wolves—is down 2-1.

  “Don’t worry, boys!” I yell to my left and right wingers as we hop over the boards and onto the ice for our shift. “We got this.”

  I’m excited that my line could save the day. With me centering, where I can make key passes to my linemates, we have an excellent chance of scoring and sending this game into overtime. Hell, we’d better score, and soon, or our second run in two years for the holy grail of hockey, the motherfucking Stanley Cup, is over.

  Done, finito—as in this is it.

  That’s right, this is game number seven, the second round of the playoffs, and we must win in order to stay alive. Otherwise, we Wolves are looking at a summer spent on the links.

  No way. I don’t even fucking like golf!

  “Heads up,” Noel Sandlund, a defenseman and good friend of mine, calls out. “Quit fucking daydreaming, Jaxon.”

  Shit, he’s right. I’m not focused.

  What’s wrong with me?

  And just like that, it goes from bad to worse. Everything feels like it’s happening in slow motion, though not in any kind of good way. No, this is more like those nightmares where things move all sludgy-like and you can’t react in time to anything.

  Like now—the puck’s heading my way, and my stick’s on the ice, but I’m at a weird angle and can’t correct in time.

  Of course, the puck zooms right past me.

  Fuck, this is worse than a nightmare.

  Capitalizing on my screw-up, a forward from the Edmonton Oilers—that’s the team we’re playing against—skates off with the puck meant for me.

  And with that, I just fucked up royally.

  But wait, I can still fix this.

  Spinning around, I skate off as quickly as I can to catch up with Puck Stealer.

  Shit, the bastard’s heading straight for our unprotected net.

  We pulled the goaltender seconds ago and this prick somehow just evaded a winger and Dylan Culderway, a really good defenseman who’s now on the ice.

  No worries, I’ll save the day.

  I’ll back-check this prick and regain control. The puck needs to be back in their zone, not ours, since time is ticking away like sand through an hourglass.

  Speaking of which, how much time is left?

  I glance up at the Jumbotron and find there’s 1:47 left in the game.

  Better move quickly.

  But wait, I lost seconds peering up at the board and now my guy’s getting away.

  That can’t happen!
r />
  I skate fast, reaching for Puck Stealer with my stick and praying I don’t get called for hooking this late in the game.

  But when my blade gets hung up in the opponent’s jersey the whistle blows.

  Great, I’m getting called for a penalty.

  I, Jaxon Holland, have singlehandedly just fucked up any chance of the Wolves tying the game.

  Angry at my own stupidity, I skate over to the penalty box, unable to meet any of my teammates’ accusing eyes.

  Slamming my stick down once I’m in the box, I grind out a disgruntled, “Shit, fuck, damn.”

  Like that’s going to help.

  It won’t, and now that I’m here in the sin bin, I’m pretty much helpless for the rest of the game. Cringing, I have to watch as the Oilers go on a power play, thanks to me.

  Of course, they score a fucking goal.

  My penalty is over, but it’s too late.

  I skate dejectedly over to the bench, feeling so guilty, so horrible. Everyone is quiet, even Coach Townsend, who usually has plenty to say.

  Watching the remaining time tick away is pure torture.

  Our top line of Brent Oliver, Nolan Solvenson, and Benny Perry are out on the ice. But it’s a lost cause. There just isn’t enough time to make something happen, especially because the Oilers have gone into full lockdown defensive mode.

  When they win the game, they celebrate like crazy on the ice.

  Shit, that should be us, I think to myself.

  I hate that we have to wait around to shake hands. It’s worse because we’re in Edmonton and their fans are going nuts.

  Me, I just want to disappear to the locker room. But since I can’t, I peer up into the stands to pass the time.

  Bad move.

  First thing I see is a sign someone has already made that reads The Fans Thank Jaxon Holland for Zoning Out. Not Once but Twice!

  No!

  There’s even a little stick drawing of me, hooking the Oiler.

  Then I catch sight of another sign. This one has a stick-figure of me staring up at the Jumbotron, looking lost in thought.

  Ugh!

  There’s no doubt that these signs are of me, seeing as both little cartoon guys are wearing number 23.

  And to think I’ve really loved this season that that number was mine, only because I’m 23 years-old.

  Get it, 23 on 23?

  Oh, never mind.

  Just then I spot yet another sign mocking my screw-up, this one depicting me bungling the puck.

  What the hell?

  Do these fans carry markers and poster board around with them? I always thought the signs were made at home and then brought to the arena. I guess not all fans do it that way.

  In any case, fuck my life.

  And fuck it even more since I’m now noticing teammates of mine looking up, reading those very same signs.

  Great.

  Like they need another reminder of who flaked out and failed the team.

  When we finally make it back to the locker room, after a handshake session that seems to last forever, things go from bad to worse. Strangers hating on me is one thing, but my own teammates ignoring me like I’m a pariah hurts like hell.

  I want so badly to tell them I’m sorry. But why bother? Words mean nothing and they know it. My time to shine was when I was on the ice. Too bad I flaked and blew the game.

  I deserve this silent treatment.

  So I take it like a man.

  Finally, though, someone does talk to me—Noel Sandlund. He’s Dylan’s defensive partner, my friend, and a pretty cool guy overall.

  He’s taking his gear off in the stall next to me when he quietly states, “Hey, buck up, Holland. The guys will get over this.”

  I snort out a yeah-right guffaw. “Sure they will. Hell, I won’t be surprised if they petition over the summer to have me traded.”

  Snorting, Noel counters, “No way, man. You’re the best second-line center around. And we all know it.”

  “Thanks,” I sigh. “That means a lot. Too bad I wasn’t at my best tonight, though, not when it mattered.”

  “Hey, shit happens.”

  “It sure does. But it’s always at the worst times, eh?”

  “That’s just the way it goes, Holland.”

  “You’re not kidding.”

  Some other guys take notice of us talking and, to my relief, the ice begins to thaw. Pun totally intended.

  By the time we’re boarding the team jet, things are almost back to normal.

  During the flight back to Las Vegas, a few guys ask me if I’d like to play cards with them.

  I say yes, and though it’s a little tense at first, soon we’re all laughing and joking like old times.

  Phew!

  I breathe a sigh of relief.

  Everything is going to be okay.

  But then we touch down, and all hell breaks loose.

  Mr. Hockeypants

  “Noooo, how can you be so stupid, Jaxon Holland?”

  That’s me, screaming at the TV. Why? Because the Las Vegas Wolves’ usually hockey-smart center just did the dumbest thing—he hooked a player and got called for a penalty…with less than two minutes left in this playoff elimination game!

  “What in the world was he thinking?” I smack my head, like maybe this might telepathically knock some sense into Jaxon. “This is a do-or-die game, dude,” I ramble on. “Are you high? Taking a dumb penalty like that?”

  I know Holland’s not impaired in any way, but zoning out at the most critical point in the game does make him look like he might be trying out to be an extra in a new Cheech & Chong remake.

  Plus, this is not his first airhead mistake.

  He missed a perfectly passed puck from Brent Oliver seconds ago, and then lost track of the guy who capitalized on it. And why would Jaxon do that? Because Stoner Boy was too busy peering up at the Jumbotron.

  But this—a hooking penalty, with hardly any time left in regulation?

  If that’s not the act of someone who’s high, I don’t know what is.

  “Seriously, dude, put down the bong,” I mutter.

  Hey, wait!

  I think I just came up with the perfect angle for my next blog post, something that’ll grab the attention of my followers. You have to keep things interesting, you know, and a hook like that is sure to please.

  That’s why my blog is a success.

  That’s right. I’m not just a rabid Wolves fan; I’m also the secret mastermind behind a super-successful hockey blog known as Mr. Hockeypants.

  And it’s time to write tonight’s post, while it’s still fresh in my mind.

  Hurrying off to the only bedroom in my small but cozy apartment, I retrieve my tablet.

  By the time I return to the living room, the opposing team has scored.

  “Noooo…” I slump down on the sofa.

  Just like that, the Wolves’ season is over.

  “That’s just great,” I grumble. “Game over. Stoner-wannabe Jaxon Holland has officially lost it for us.”

  Okay, maybe it wasn’t his fault entirely. The whole team was flat tonight. But those critical errors he made in the final minutes are all I can think about. Every fan out there will be looking for a scapegoat, so it may as well be Holland.

  Anger and irritation fuel my every move, as evidenced with the way I roughly pin up my long auburn hair and bang on the screen to log in.

  This post is going to be a doozy, as I plan to skewer the hell out of Holland.

  I do feel a little bad. I like Jaxon. I don’t know him personally or anything, but he seems nice enough in interviews. Plus, and this may be the most important reason of all, he’s über cute. If I had to vote for the hottest player on the Wolves, I’d definitely cast my ballot for Jaxon.

  I like his sandy brown hair and how it always appears mussed up, like he just rolled out of bed. And his striking emerald green eyes are stunning. Everyone talks about how pretty they are. Add in his firm, muscular body and Jaxon is the perfe
ct fantasy man.

  Well, he’s my perfect fantasy man.

  Too bad for him I’m not writing the blog post. Mr. Hockeypants, my secret alter ego, is. And he lusts for no one.

  He also doesn’t pull any punches. He tells it like it is. He posts about all the teams, but mostly he writes about the Wolves since they’re based in Las Vegas, where I live.

  Mr. Hockeypants is hard on the players, no doubt about that. And as a result, many of the Wolves’ players don’t like him or the blog.

  Oh, well, too bad. The things they hate are what people love.

  Before I get started on composing tonight’s sure-to-be-scathing post, I check out a few hockey-centric message boards to get a feel for the prevailing sentiment on the game.

  Not surprisingly, the fans are as angry as I am at Jaxon.

  That’s fine. It’s my duty to vent for them. If I rile them up in the process, so be it.

  I’m not this harsh in real life. I’m actually pretty nice. This is just my shtick for the blog. That’s why nobody would ever suspect that I’m Mr. Hockeypants. When people think of me, they think oh, that sweet, friendly Cara Milne.

  Ha, if they only knew the truth.

  And just what does Mr. Hockeypants have to say about tonight’s debacle of a game?

  Oh, a lot.

  And it starts like this…

  Hey, how about putting down the bong, #23. Not to accuse you of toking up or anything, before or during the game, but hell, it’s the only reason Mr. Hockeypants can think of for why you screwed up all over the ice tonight.

  Zoning out on a critical pass and being so enamored of the big bright Jumbotron above you, so much so that you let the guy you were responsible for get away with the puck, is just unacceptable.

  And don’t even get me started on that stupid penalty you brought onto yourself!

  What’s a fan supposed to think?

  I’ll tell you, bud. <-- “bud,” hee-hee.

  This fan suspects you took one hit too many, and I don’t mean out on the ice. Now sure, we can all agree the illuminated big screen can look really pretty, and be distracting, but you’d think with you living in Las Vegas, you’d be immune to bright lights.

 
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