Portland Storm defenseman Cody “Harry” Williams owes his coach everything—especially for bailing him out of trouble in the past. It’s up to Cody to repay him by keeping his hands to himself around the coach’s sensual and mischievous daughter. All signs point to this task being easier said than done…
Up-and-coming fashion designer Dani Weber always gets what she wants—and she wants Cody Williams. Cody’s sexy, geeky-chic bowties and hard-to-get attitude only make her want him more, and Cody’s resistance is fading…fast.
One call is all it would take to land Cody on the trading block, ending their flirtation before it gains any traction. Cody is squarely in the Defensive Zone, but the only way for Cody and Dani to obtain what they really want is to go on the offensive—together.
“My Patronus has a first name, it’s D-I-R-T-Y. My Patronus has a second name, it’s H-A-R-R-Y.” The tune fell from my lips like a greeting for an old friend, despite the words being brand new and entirely of my own making. Mine were better than the original, anyway. Because Harry was hella better than bologna, no matter which way you sliced things.
There wasn’t a chance I’d stop singing to myself anytime soon. Not on a day like today. I kept humming the tune as I measured and cut fabric in the spare-bedroom-turned-fashion-design-headquarters in my sister’s house. My excitement was palpable, practically oozing from my pores, so there was absolutely no point trying to contain it. Besides, no one was here to witness my idiocy, so it wasn’t like it mattered how ridiculously I acted. I could sing and dance to my heart’s content, and no one else need ever know.
What was so great about today, though? Today was Dirty Harry Day, whether he realized it or not.
I kept humming the ditty while having difficulty not doing a jig as I worked. Visions of Cody “Dirty Harry” Williams—the sexiest ginger-haired-and-bearded hockey player alive—kept bouncing around in my head. And then there were his eyes. They were as dark as the midnight sky, especially when he glared at me. It wasn’t exactly a glare, per se. More of a lusty, needy, not-sure-what-to-do-with-me look that made me wet and achy with wanting him. Good Lord, that man did a number on me.
For the purpose of full disclosure, he was only known as Dirty Harry to me. Everyone else just called him Harry, a moniker he’d earned in his rookie season with the Portland Storm due to his resemblance to the British royal, a man who was—quite literally, in my esteemed opinion—sex on a stick.
Both of them were, for that matter.
But my Harry was somehow even hotter than the prince, which was saying something. Probably because of the air of mystery surrounding him. And I just knew he was a dirty, dirty bird, an idea that turned me on like none other.
Something about Harry just did it for me.
There was no way his bow-tie-and-sweater-vest routine was for real. This guy was not your friendly neighborhood Mr. Rogers. Not even close. I didn’t know what his particular filthy persuasions might be, but I’d be damned if he didn’t have a few.
And I intended to learn, firsthand, what they might be. The sooner, the better, too.
According to my intel, he was due to return to Portland sometime today.
The new National Hockey League season would be getting underway in a few weeks’ time, which meant that the Storm’s training camp was just around the corner. Most of the married guys and those with families had already returned well before now in order to get settled in so their kids could start the new school year, but now the singletons were starting to trickle back into town.
As a matter of fact, Harry might already be here. None of my sources had been able to track down what flight he would be on, so we were just operating on guesswork. They only wanted to stalk him at the airport and maybe get him to sign their boobs or something. I wanted a hell of a lot more than that. Which meant I needed to finish my workday soon.
Whether he’d already stepped foot in the city or not, as soon as I finished up for the day, I’d be checking my sources one more time before going out on a recon mission.
The sad truth was that he’d been trying to avoid me for months, and I’d had more than enough of that for one lifetime, thank you very much. It was time to put an end to his shenanigans once and for all. The guy had even gone so far as to present a fictional girlfriend to the world, and I could only imagine he’d stooped to that level in order to throw me off the scent. After some hot and heavy flirtation between the two of us last season, during the times I’d been home from school, all of a sudden he’d decided he had to steer clear of me because of some stupid promise he’d made to my father.
Well, fuck that shit. My father didn’t get to have any sort of say in my love life, and he got even less of a say in my sex life. And frankly, sex was what I really wanted from Harry.
I didn’t have any delusions of grandeur about riding off into the sunset toward a wedding or making babies with him or anything. I was only twenty years old. I wasn’t ready for eternal monogamy or anything like that, and I was nowhere close to thinking about making babies. I was having way too much fun discovering what I liked—and I liked Harry.
But he’d gone on Eye of the Storm, a behind-the-scenes web show about the team, during the playoffs last season and claimed that this Jasinda chick was his soul mate.
Lies. Complete and total bullshit.
The Internet had practically exploded with the news, before a handful of other pseudostalkers and I had uncovered the truth about his fake significant other. Turned out she was a regular at several Portland hot spots for the lesbian crowd, and she was almost always seen with this one other chick in particular. Oh, yeah. And those two liked to suck one another’s faces off in public all the time.
Not Jasinda and Harry. Jasinda and the other chick.
I wasn’t sure what he was trying to pull by making out that she was his girlfriend, but I hadn’t bought it, and I’d let him know what a lying liar he was.
That hadn’t convinced him to ignore the promise he’d made to my dad. Yet. But now I was back in Portland to stay, so he was going to have to try a hell of a lot harder to shake me off if that was what he truly wanted.
Based on the way he’d kissed me—back before Dad had tried to run him off—I wasn’t buying that for a second. So I had no doubt I’d be able to convince him we needed to have a little fling. We just had to get past his hang-ups, whatever they might be. Not a big deal. After that? Smooth sailing, and all the orgasms we could handle. Easy peasy.
I glanced up at the clock. Almost lunchtime. Definitely almost time to knock off for the day to do some Harry stalking. I still had a fitting scheduled for late afternoon, but that wouldn’t take long, and I could do some recon between now and then. I measured my fabric one more time before making the cut, just to be sure I had everything right.
My cell phone pinged with a message, so I dropped my scissors and swiped the screen. It was from Bea Castillo, my absolute, most favoritest client in the history of ever. She also happened to be my only client, currently. Which meant she had been my first client, so she would always be my favorite. That was just how it was going to work.
Bea: Need to reschedule. A parent begged for a meeting after school today because her son’s being bullied. I have to do this.
I’d never tell her this, but I danced around the room in victory. If we weren’t meeting this afternoon, I could start my Harry stalking ASAP and probably finagle a way to run into him.
Me: No problem. This weekend? Next week? You tell me when and I’ll work it out.
Bea: Sunday afternoon? I can be there around two, if that works.
Me: Done deal. See you then!
Score! I finished cutting the pieces I’d measured, but as soon as that was done, I started clearing everything away. I had enough finished designs ready to go for Bea’s fitting, and if she wasn’t coming this afternoon, there was no reason for me to keep slaving away. I could get started on Operation: Harry Watch sooner than planned.
But first, I needed sustenance.
My sister, Katie, and her husband, Jamie, lived in the house they owned next door. Back before they’d gotten married, they’d bought these his-and-hers houses right next to each other. But Katie had never gotten around to selling hers after the wedding even though they lived in his.
Sometimes she still came over to write music in her recording studio or sit in the swing out in the backyard while she tried to work through songwriter’s block. Since the wedding, they had occasionally offered it up to one of Jamie’s Portland Storm teammates if a guy got called up from the minors unexpectedly and didn’t want to live in a hotel or if there was a mid-season trade and the new guy needed time to find a place of his own. Jamie was the team captain, so I supposed it was kind of his duty to be sure all the newbies were looked after or something. But when I’d needed a place to work over my summer break from school—and to get out from under our parents’ watchful eyes—she’d offered me this house and said I could use one of the guest bedrooms for my workspace.
Granted, she hadn’t been counting on me deciding not to go back to school this semester and starting up my own fashion design business out of her house, but I didn’t think she minded.
At least not too much.
The fact that I was constantly barging into their house and raiding their fridge probably stuck in her craw more than me commandeering her house for my own purposes. But, while I had no doubts that my new fashion line would take off and sell like hotcakes, and I’d be rolling in the dough someday in the not-too-distant future—confidence had never been an issue for me, after all, and particularly not when it came to my vision and skills—the truth was that so far, I was putting a lot more into the start-up than I was earning, even with my business loans (thank you, Dad, for co-signing) covering most of my expenses to date.
The bigger reason for me mooching their food, though, was that I hated grocery shopping with the fire of a thousand suns. And since Jamie was almost always hungry because he burned more calories in a single day than my sister and I combined could consume in a week, they never had a shortage of things for me to munch on.
One of these days, I’d try one of those grocery delivery services. In the meantime, I’d just keep raiding their stash. At least for however long they allowed me to get away with it.
My stomach growled. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. For breakfast, I’d made coffee. With milk! But that had been all I’d put inside my body all day other than oodles of water. I’d been too caught up in creating this latest flowy tunic with a built-in tummy smoother for Bea to think about taking a break for food. Probably not my brightest move, but when I was focused on my work, unless a plate of hot, steaming, delicious food passed under my nose, I tended to forget all about it.
Once everything had been carefully put away, I dug my cell phone out again and scanned for the latest Dirty Harry sighting info.
I wasn’t particularly high-tech in gathering my information. I was, however, a Twitter ninja, an Instagram junkie, and a Snapchat fiend. There were some hardcore puck bunnies on all of those social media platforms who stalked lots of pro hockey players like Harry. And while they typically didn’t have any true insider info, like I did, they were pretty handy in terms of knowing a player’s general whereabouts.
Sure enough, @luv8harry was able to help me out. She lived in Kelowna, British Columbia—Harry’s hometown—and had seen him making his way into the airport about four hours ago. I did a quick Google search on today’s flights. Most likely he was on the one due to land just after two. The next flight after that wouldn’t arrive until seven, and I couldn’t imagine he’d have been at the airport anywhere near that early for such a late flight.
Which meant I had more than enough time to crash lunch at Jamie and Katie’s house. Excellent.
Shoving my phone in my pocket, I headed out the back door and through the gate between the two properties. The back door at Jamie’s house was unlocked, as usual. They’d given up on trying to keep it locked, because I was always barging in like this at all hours of the day and night. Easier to just let me come and go as I pleased.
Oreo, Katie’s black-and-white tuxedo cat, gave me an indignant meow as soon as I came through the door. I bent down to scratch her behind the ears, which satisfied her long enough to let me close the door.
Jamie glanced up from the kitchen. He had on some Under Armour athletic gear, the moisture-wicking sort, and a towel draped around his shoulders like he’d just come in from the gym. His cat, Blackbeard, was on top of the towel and making himself at home. That cat was always on Jamie’s shoulders, but he really loved it when Jamie was sweaty and stinky. Craziest thing I’d ever seen, but whatever. Cats were weird.
Jamie raised a brow and laughed. “You couldn’t possibly smell lunch yet since I just got home to start cooking.”
“What, you mean Katie didn’t have your food waiting for you? Bad wifey.”
“She had a meeting with a couple of the guys from The End of All Things this morning,” he reminded me.
Which, yes, I’d known about that. I’d just forgotten. Probably because it didn’t have anything to do with Harry, and I had been more than just a bit preoccupied lately. Katie might not be a bad wifey, but I might very well be a bad sister. “Right. When’s she due home?”
Jamie picked up a butcher knife and started to chop a bell pepper. “Not until dinner. They’re in the studio. Working on a song for the new album. So that means it’s just the two of us. Good thing I’m prepping enough food for you to eat.” He winked to let me know he was teasing.
I joined him in the kitchen, Oreo weaving her way between my feet with every step. When I got there, he nodded toward another cutting board, knife, and some veggies—a clear indication that if I wanted to eat, I could damn well help with the prep work. I shrugged and started chopping a cucumber. “So did you work out with Levi this morning?” I asked. Levi was Jamie’s younger brother, as well as one of the defensemen on the team.
Jamie shook his head. “Nah. Levi and Cadence had a thing with Jonny, Sara, and the kids. It’s Connor’s birthday.”
“So you were on your own today?”
“I wish. Hammer and Soupy kicked my ass hard-core. Those two are like freaks in the gym.”
I shrugged. “It’s because they’re old. Can’t keep up with you.”
“I’m the one who can’t keep up.”
Jamie raised a brow like he was entirely serious.
Huh. Maybe he meant it. I supposed they had managed to stay in the league as long as they had due to their obsessive workouts or something. Kind of like Jagr, although I doubted either of them would keep playing as long as Jagr had.
“Your dad said Luke signed with a team in Germany,” Jamie said conversationally.
Luke was my older brother. He was a hockey player, too. He’d played in college, hoping that he’d get signed by an NHL team after graduation, but that hadn’t happened—and he was almost positive it was because he’d officially come out of the closet at the end of last season. I wasn’t sure that was the only reason no one had signed him, but in the end, the reason didn’t matter. He was heading off to Europe to try to reach his dreams the hard way.
I nodded. “Too bad he doesn’t speak a lick of German.”
“He’ll figure out the important stuff soon enough.”
Which likely meant the awful curse words and insults, and maybe a few hockey terms. Although, as long as he could pronounce his teammates’ names and raise his stick in the air, he’d probably be fine. Hockey was relatively universal.
Jamie moved to the other counter and heated up the waffle iron.
“What are we making, anyway?” I asked cautiously. Knowing my brother-in-law, there wouldn’t be waffles cooking in that waffle iron. He had some interesting alternative cooking methods. His food tasted good, but getting to the finished product was sometimes a confusing prospect, particularly for someone like me, who actually did know how to cook.
“Chopping up a salad to go with a waffled ham-and-cheese omelet.”
Waffled omelets. Allrighty then. I ducked my head and concentrated on my cucumber chopping to avoid laughing in his face. Besides, beggars can’t be choosers, and don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Or something.
“So,” he said when he returned to his pepper chopping. “Most of the guys’ll be back by this weekend. Katie thinks we need to throw a party Saturday night to kick off the season.”
Saturday night. That was only two days from now. My mind kicked into overdrive.
“At Burnzie’s house?” I asked without trying to sound too interested, even though I was already racking my brain to figure out how I’d finagle my invitation. The truth was that I didn’t truly belong if this party was for the players and their significant others, but since Katie was married to Jamie, and my father was one of the coaches, I could probably sneak in without anyone saying anything. And Harry would almost definitely be there.
Keith Burns, Harry’s usual defensive partner, had an enormous mansion on the river, and for years, he’d hosted all sorts of parties for the guys. I’d been to a few of them, back when I was still a kid living with my parents. I doubted he and his wife, Brie, would care if I tagged along.
But Jamie shook his head. “We wanted to do it here. Brie’s pregnant again, so we didn’t want to ask her to do all the work of getting ready for it. Especially not last minute.”
Here? I had to bite my tongue to keep from squealing in celebration. There wasn’t any chance Jamie and Katie would try to keep me away.
Harry wouldn’t know what hit him.
Damn it all to hell and back if Dani Weber wasn’t parked in the pickup lane when I walked out of baggage claim to find a cab. She was more annoying and determined than a blood-sucking mosquito, now that she’d gotten a taste of me.
That girl needed someone to set her straight. Fuck, but I wanted that someone to be me, even though that couldn’t happen. Not now and not ever.
I tugged my cap down lower and hoped she hadn’t seen me, walking on by. Maybe she was here to pick up a girlfriend from school, or maybe her brother was flying into town for the weekend. Lord only knew why she was here, but it was shitty timing, as far as I was concerned. I’d only been back in Portland for about twelve minutes, and I’d already practically walked straight into her.
She honked her horn and crept up alongside me, rolling down her window. “Hey! Need a ride?” So much for that small glimmer of hope. Her bright-red lips curled up in a seductive smile that made me think all sorts of things that were inappropriate, considering the promise I’d made to Webs.
To stay the fuck away from his baby girl. To keep my hands off her.
This girl turned me on like no other, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was I’d royally fucked up, and Webs had been the one to bail me out, so I owed him. There were only two things he’d asked of me: to keep my nose clean, and to stay away from Dani. Because he knew way too much about my private life, and he didn’t want me getting his younger daughter tangled up in it.
Granted, what she chose to do with her private life wasn’t any of his business, but he didn’t exactly see things that way. And he was in a position to turn my life on its head if he wanted to. So, out of respect for him, and out of a desire to keep my head down and my nose out of trouble, I’d agreed. I might not like it, but I’d agreed.
Too bad no one had managed to get her to read the memo. It wasn’t for lack of trying on my part. I’d told her outright that there couldn’t be anything between us. I’d done my best to brush her off without completely hurting her feelings. Hell, I’d even tried to convince the world—including my teammates—that I had a longtime girlfriend, but we’d tried to keep our relationship private.
None of it had worked. At all. The more I tried to push Dani away, the more she kept coming back.
And good lord, if she wasn’t looking hotter than ever with the way her sweater was hugging her chest. That only made me think of those curvy hips and that tight, round ass. God, I wanted to get my hands on her ass.
And this wasn’t helping at all.
“Just grabbing a cab,” I said, forcing my thoughts back into line and trying once again to give her the brush-off.
“I can take you wherever you need to go. Got nothing else to do this afternoon, anyway.”
“Shouldn’t you wait for your friend or whoever you’re picking up? I don’t want to intrude.” That might not be enough excuse for her, though. Dani was as persistent a woman as I’d ever met when she got it in her head that she wanted something.
And lately, she wanted me. If only she were anyone else… I’d take her up on anything she offered if her last name wasn’t Weber.
In a flash.
This girl checked all of my boxes and had me itching to give her what she seemed to want from me, and more.
“I’m here to give you a ride, silly.” She put the car in park and climbed out, coming around to try to take one of my bags from me.
My eyes flared at her calling me silly. There wasn’t anything silly about the things she did to me. And there wasn’t a chance in hell I could let her put my luggage in her car. The last thing I needed right now was to find myself alone with this woman. Because then I might end up doing exactly what I shouldn’t—grabbing her ass, pushing her against the wall, slamming my cock inside her…
I tightened my grip and held on. “Uh, thanks?” I said, continuing toward the cab stand. “Already paid in advance for a cab, though, so…”
But her hand closed over mine on the handle of my wheeled suitcase. It was warm and soft, and she was a hell of a lot stronger than she ought to be, considering how petite and curvy she was.
There was no denying it: Dani Weber made me nervous. And I didn’t like it. No woman had exerted a similar effect on me, not since I was about fourteen and fumbling around with my first girlfriend. But I wanted to back Dani up against her car and kiss the hell out of those pouty lips until they were as red underneath as her lipstick made them, and the fact that I couldn’t do that made me nervous.
Because she was right here. And she was pushing all the right—wrong?—buttons. And I was afraid I was going to give in.
Her fingers twisted until she curled her hand around the handle, somehow beneath mine, and she gave my bag a solid tug. Those nerves were the only reason she managed to get the suitcase away from me, or so I wanted to believe. Either way, she had my carry-on and was wheeling it toward her car, so I had no choice but to follow her.
She popped her trunk and hefted the bag inside before I caught up with her.
“Aren’t you supposed to be back in Seattle by now?” I grumbled, debating whether to take the suitcase out again. The new semester at her fashion design school should have started up in the last couple of weeks, I would have assumed. I hadn’t even given a thought to the fact that she’d still be around Portland when I arrived. I wasn’t prepared to fend her off right away, because I’d thought I’d have at least a few weeks before she came back to visit her family for a long weekend or some school holiday or another. But here she was, and I wasn’t even close to ready for whatever she had planned.
“Dropped out. I’m starting up my own fashion line, so I’ll be sticking around home for good now.”
Talk about dropping a bomb on me. Having her around town all season was going to do a real number on my resolve, especially if she continued to behave in such a determined manner all the time. She picked up my larger bag, grinning like the Cheshire cat. That one was far too heavy for her, though, so even though I should be taking all of my things out of her car and leaving, I found myself lifting the suitcase away from her and settling it into her trunk.
“Come on,” she said, slamming the trunk closed before heading back toward the driver’s-side door and leaving me staring after her, watching the sway of her ass while I tried to remember how to put my tongue back in my mouth. She winked over her shoulder at me. “Let’s get out of here. You hungry? We can stop for a bite to eat before I drop you off at your place…” She sat down, still chattering away like she didn’t care if I heard a word she’d said or not because she just wanted to hear herself talk.
There wasn’t any getting around it now. She had my stuff in her trunk, so even though I’d promised her father I’d keep my distance, I had no choice but to let her drive me to my house.
And then, I could go inside and shut her out.
I had to if I wanted to stick around Portland this season. David Weber might not be the general manager, but we were due to have a logjam on defense this season, at least if Jens managed to get healthy, and I was the most likely candidate to get shipped out of town if that were to happen. If I put one toe out of line, Webs would be shouting from the rooftops for the team to send me elsewhere.
With that firmly in mind, I let myself into his daughter’s car and did my damnedest not to notice the way her blue-green sweater was hugging her tits, or how her sleek brown hair curled around her shoulders, and definitely not how she kept licking those impossibly kissable red lips.
Because it didn’t matter how much she wanted me or I wanted her. This wasn’t about a flirtation—harmless or otherwise.
This was about my future.
I couldn’t fuck this up.