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Welcome to the blog of Catherine Gayle, USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Regency Romance.

Another Sneak Peek: Defensive Zone!

March 20, 2017

Chapter Two

                                         Cody

After (finally) getting Dani to drop me off at my house with my bags that afternoon—somehow she’d dragged me into going out for coffee with her, an outing she clearly intended to be along the lines of a date—I needed to blow off some steam like nobody’s business. She’d all but thrown herself at me, despite my reminders that I’d promised her father to stay away from her. In the end, I’d had to resort to lying to her face in order to get her to take me home.

I’m not interested. Not now and not ever. You’re not my type, Dani, so you might as well just give it up as a lost cause. Those words kept playing in my head for an hour while I tried to get her sexy-as-hell pouting lips out of my mind. But the fiery look in her eyes as she’d stalked out my front door hadn’t given off the look of a woman who’d just been flat-out rejected. It was the look of a woman who was more determined than ever to get what she wanted.

Despite my good intentions, I might have made things worse. And I hadn’t been able to stop myself from staring at her ass as she’d left, which only served to leave me with a stiffy.

The sad truth was that the irony of the situation wasn’t lost on me. Not even close. I was more into Dani than was healthy; she very clearly wanted me.

We just couldn’t be together, no matter what either of us wanted.

Everything about her was exactly what I desired in a woman. She wasn’t too skinny, she had curves galore that I was desperate to sink my hands into, she’d tasted like the sinful side of heaven when she’d kissed me months ago… She was smart, spirited, and driven. She wasn’t into me solely because of my career, and she was already fully aware of the way playing professional hockey could strain a relationship because she’d grown up with it.

In a fair world, she could have any man she wanted. But this world wasn’t fair, and she didn’t want just any man. She wanted me.

This thing between us, whatever it might be, should be easy. Instead, it was hell. Because she was the forbidden fruit. And she was constantly dangling herself in front of me like a carrot.

I wanted to take a bite out of her.

As long as I’d been in the NHL, there had been tons of women who followed me and some of the other guys around, hoping to hook up. They were rampant throughout the league, thicker on the ground in some cities than others. Puck bunnies.

But that wasn’t Dani. She’d grown up around hockey and hockey players. Her father had played for a couple of decades, and he’d been coaching since his retirement. She was part of the family, so she wasn’t some wide-eyed, star-struck chick who just wanted to bag an athlete who had a hefty bank account. If I could fit her into the puck bunny column in my head, I might be in better shape.

But she didn’t belong there any more than she belonged with me, and sitting around my house with images of her flashing through my head wasn’t helping. If anything, I was only getting harder.

There was only one thing I could do to help the situation, and I knew it.

So I took a shower and got dressed, making sure to put on a bow tie and a sweater vest so I’d fit the role expected of me. Then I headed off to the club, Leather & Lace, with my mask in hand.

It didn’t matter that it was a weeknight. Surely some of the regulars would be there, including a naughty schoolgirl who would want nerdy Professor OTK to give her a good spanking.

And if that wasn’t enough to get Dani Weber out of my head, I doubted there was anything in the world that would do the trick.

There’d always been something unique for me about the experience of spanking a willing woman. Yeah, it was kinky, and spanking and other similar fetishes were definitely not for everyone. But I’d always gotten off on it before. Watching the skin pink up. Feeling the heat under my palm. Watching her writhe and squirm beneath me, but only because she was enjoying the hell out of herself and wanted more.

I wasn’t exactly a sadist in the truest sense of the word. I didn’t get off on spanking because of causing pain. My fascination had always been more with the role playing, the exchange of power.

There was a place somewhere before reaching true pain, when a submissive could experience a certain sense of euphoria that was unlike anything else on this earth. Over the years, I’d learned to take a woman over the brink into a mind-blowing orgasm, and it had nothing to do with sex. She and I could both be fully clothed. No sexual contact at all. Hell, the climaxes a woman might reach through a sound spanking could be far better than sex. And that was my true kink—watching a woman come and knowing I’d been the one to cause it.

I knew about the intensity of these kinds of orgasms firsthand, because I’d allowed myself to submit before discovering I was more of a dominant at heart. In my early days coming to Leather & Lace, back when I was a fresh-faced kid getting my start in the NHL, I’d thought I wanted to give up control. I wanted someone else to be in charge, because learning to be a pro meant that every aspect of my life had to be fully regimented—what, when, and how much I ate; when, where, and how long I slept; how much I lifted and what types of cardio I did in the gym—and I needed a way to let go of it all.

Turned out that even when I was bent over a Domme’s lap with her paddling my ass, I was still the one in charge.

We had to agree to everything we were going to do before it was done. I had a safe word and could wield it at any time, and then everything would stop. And I do mean everything. If it was too much, all I had to do was tap out, and it was over. Took me a while to realize I was still the one in control when I was subbing, but once I did…everything changed for me.

So one night, she’d suggested we flip the script and do a little role play. She said she’d be a naughty schoolgirl in need of a punishment, and I could be the principal with nothing but the palm of my hand to teach her a lesson. We had both been fully clothed the whole time—there wasn’t anything sexual about the scene—but she’d come harder than anything I’d ever witnessed before.

And that was all it took. I was hooked. I finally really understood what got me off—getting women off. But not in the way people normally expected.

So that was what I’d done tonight, in an effort to get Dani Weber out of my head. I went to the club and spanked a couple of women until they climaxed like never before.

It didn’t work. For them it did, but not for me.

Two of the regulars came to me at Leather & Lace, and I happily gave them what they asked me for. They both got their rocks off. I headed home with a sore hand and the boner to end all boners, because I’d spent the entire night imagining it was Dani’s curvy ass turning pink and hot, jiggling under my palm.

Now I was home again, lying in bed and trying to jerk one off so I could get some sleep.

Not that I really thought it would be enough, but it was worth a try. I had to do something to get that woman out of my mind.

My phone buzzed on the nightstand. At first, I thought to ignore it. It might be one of the women from the club looking for more than what I’d given her. Not that I ever took them up on the offers, and I never gave out my number to anyone there, but some of them still managed to get their hands on it from time to time. That was one of the perils of being something of a local celebrity or whatever we were as professional athletes. Chicks were constantly managing to track us down no matter how private we tried to be.

Some of those women wanted our scenes to become sexual hookups, something more than just a spanking. Not going to happen, no matter how much they wanted it. I had a strict no-sex policy when it came to anyone I met at the club, and I led a very private life. I didn’t need to have my lifestyle choices getting out in public.

Anytime I visited Leather & Lace, I wore a mask that completely covered my head and even kept the color of my hair a secret, and I went by a different name. This was all in an effort to keep the truth of my identity tightly under wraps.

And now, I’d learned my lesson about attending private parties instead of going to the club.

The hard way.

But after thinking about it for a moment, I doubted this message was coming from anyone I knew through Leather & Lace.

Dani was a more likely candidate—a thought that had me immediately reaching for my phone when it buzzed again with another message. Further proof that I was a complete head case over this girl.

Both of my guesses proved to be wrong, though. Jamie “Babs” Babcock, the team captain, was the one trying to get hold of me.

Welcome back party at my place on Saturday. Be there at 7.

Katie said to remind you to bring Jasinda because all the WAGs want to meet her.

Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. I’d been stupid to think that I could fool Dani into thinking I had a girlfriend…and now all my teammates wanted to get to know her, but it was all a lie. One that Dani hadn’t bought for even a second. We’d been on the road when that episode of Eye of the Storm had aired. The day we flew back to Portland, Dani had met me at the airport and given me an earful about how if I wanted to get rid of her, I should just tell her as much.

Which I had. I’d laid it out in no uncertain terms that I wanted nothing to do with any sort of relationship with her. Yeah, it was a lie, but she didn’t need to know that.

Clearly, the message hadn’t sunk in yet.

But there wasn’t much point in continuing with the charade of Jasinda being my girlfriend. I’d have to come up with something else. In the meantime, getting together with the guys sounded like a solid plan. At least with all of them around, even if Dani was there, she wouldn’t try anything.

I punched in a quick response to let Babs know I’d be there, then tossed the phone aside and went back to attempting to get Dani Weber out of my head.

Miraculously, I didn’t see or hear anything else from Dani before Babs’s party. I took that as a hopeful sign of her finally coming to accept that there could never be anything between us. She’d never been one to give up easily—not as long as I’d known her, at least—but her efforts were typically in my face and virtually nonstop. She wasn’t one to just disappear when she hadn’t yet gotten her way.

She was the epitome of the obnoxious youngest sibling, through and through.

Like last season. She’d been visiting her family in Portland over a long weekend, and she’d come to one of our home games. After the game, out of nowhere, she’d come right up to me and planted one hell of a kiss on me. No warning. No asking for permission. No hesitancy, in case it wasn’t something I wanted. Nothing. Just bam, kissing me like there was nothing else in the world she should be doing, and in front of all sorts of people, no less.

Her father just so happened to be one of those people.

I’d been so stunned I didn’t have a clue how to react, and I’d stupidly kissed her back without realizing Webs was watching. Granted, that was before he’d had to bail me out of jail. At the time that she’d kissed me, he didn’t want me to have anything to do with his younger daughter, but he didn’t yet know about my particular kinks, either.

Now he knew. And while he might believe that kinks of a certain persuasion were fine and dandy when they took place between consenting adults, there wasn’t a chance in hell he wanted his baby girl to be one of those consenting adults. Whether she was of legal age or not, it didn’t appear he believed she was old enough to give consent. In his eyes, his consent was what mattered, and he had made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t ever going to give it.

So it was better for me to keep my distance—which was exactly what I intended to do tonight.

I didn’t see any sign of Webs’s car out front when I parked, but I knew better than to think that meant he wouldn’t be around. The coaches and other people in the Storm’s front office were all part of the family, so there was a decent chance that a few of them might be here. Babs was the sort of guy who would invite everyone, not just the team. The good news was that I didn’t see Dani’s car. Not that I’d fool myself into thinking she wasn’t here. The driveway spaces in front of the house next door were full, too.

When I headed for the door to Babs’s house, Nate Golston and Riley Jezek joined me along with their significant others.

RJ slapped me on the back. “No Jasinda tonight?” he asked, winking as he came up alongside me. “How’d you manage to get away with that?”

His fiancée, Amanda, elbowed him in the ribs and rolled her eyes, muttering something uncomplimentary beneath her breath as she hurried past us to ring the bell. Babs opened the door to let us in before RJ could do anything but rub his side where she’d nailed him.

I ducked inside after the rest of them, nodding at Babs as I passed through the door. “She had something else going on tonight,” I said evasively.

“She has something else going on every night,” Ghost said. “Maybe you should give RJ some pointers, though. He could use a break from Amanda.”

“Everyone could use a break from Amanda,” Ghost’s fiancée, Anne, whispered as she caught my eye and winked. As the producer of Eye of the Storm, she was in on my secret. And apparently she was good at keeping secrets if she hadn’t filled Ghost in on the finer details. She hooked her arm through his and dragged him to a corner, where Aaron Ludwiczak and his girlfriend were seated. RJ followed them; Amanda went off on her own.

“Help yourself to whatever food and drinks you find in the kitchen,” Babs told me, but then the doorbell rang again. He hurried off to answer it, leaving me alone.

Something smelled good, so I decided to take him up on the offer and head for the kitchen. I’d barely arrived in there before I wished I’d gone a different direction. His wife, Katie, was standing at the island, setting out a buffet on platters. Katie wasn’t alone, though. Her sister, Dani, was helping her.

The second I stepped foot in the kitchen, Dani’s head shot up, and she grinned at me. “Hey, stranger.”

Yeah, stranger. Whatever. She sure didn’t want us to be strangers.

Katie passed me a beer. “Tell me you brought Jasinda, because I really want to get her involved in some of the WAG charity events, and—”

“He didn’t bring her because she isn’t really his girlfriend,” Dani cut in as I popped the top of my beer, wishing I could get the hell out of there. She grabbed the bottle out of my hands and took a long swig of it, daring me with her eyes to contradict her. Or to take back my beer.

I wasn’t in the mood for any of it. At all.

If she were any other woman, I’d march her out of that house, take her somewhere private, and give her a proper spanking for behaving like a brat. And then, I’d probably make her come.

But she wasn’t any other woman. She was Dani fucking Weber, and I couldn’t do anything of the sort, so I turned to her sister and did my best to keep my head on straight. “Things with Jasinda didn’t work out. She won’t be able to help you with the charity stuff.”

Katie scowled at her sister before turning apologetic eyes on me. “That’s too bad. But you know, I bet we could find you some—”

“You’re not hooking him up with anyone unless that someone’s me,” Dani interrupted again.

And…yeah. I’d had about enough of that. I gave Dani a look that should have told her exactly what I thought about how she was acting. Then I grabbed another beer from the ice chest on the counter and winked at Katie. “I don’t think I’m in a good spot to be set up with anyone right now, but thanks for the thought.” Then I stalked out of the kitchen.

Babs’s younger brother, 501, was hanging out with Blake Kozlow and Austin Cooper in the den. They weren’t my usual crowd among the guys—they were all quite a bit younger than me, and Koz was one hell of a son of a bitch even on a good day—but there was only one open seat with them, so Dani wouldn’t be able to edge her way in with us very easily. I figured it would give me some breathing room while I debated what the fuck I could do about that girl.

I took the empty seat, facing the guys and away from the entryway, as Koz busted a gut laughing.

“Told you it wouldn’t be your only tattoo for long,” he said to Coop.

“You got more ink?” I asked. During the playoffs last season, Koz had somehow talked both Coop and Axel Johansson into getting their first tattoos. They weren’t quite matching, but they were both pinups on their biceps. Could’ve been much worse.

Coop was already pushing up the sleeve of his shirt to show me. “Working on getting a full sleeve on this arm,” he said, and he wasn’t kidding. The pinup was now surrounded by all sorts of other artwork.

I chuckled, shaking my head. “So I guess you caught the bug.”

“I’m going to get the other sleeve done, too. But I’m going to be a lot smarter about when I do it. Mainly in the off-season.”

“Good,” 501 said. “Because you fucking stunk up the joint in the first game after that one.”

“Wasn’t bad enough that anyone was making a hashtag cursing my name on Twitter,” Coop pointed out, then ducked before 501 could take a friendly swipe at him.

“Takes someone special to earn a hashtag,” I said, winking.

“Yeah.” Koz cracked himself up so much that he snorted in laughter before he even told the punch line. “Short-bus special.”

I was about to tell him he was being an asswipe again, which didn’t even come close to covering how hearing my teammate make jokes like that made me feel, but someone else beat me to it.

“You’re not being funny, Koz,” Dani said, somehow standing directly behind me, and I whipped my head around so fast I was lucky I didn’t pull a muscle in my neck. She scowled at him, though, ignoring me at least for the moment. “You’re being a jackass.”

“If any fucker here should know about riding the short bus, it’s me,” he argued.

“Still doesn’t make it funny,” she countered.

He rolled his eyes. “You wouldn’t know funny if it hit you over the head. What the fuck’s got your panties in a twist?”

Koz was just digging himself a deeper hole, but I wasn’t sure he knew it. While Dani was otherwise occupied with ripping him a new one, I thought I’d try to sneak away. I’d rather have her giving him a hard time than trying to get into my pants. Well…actually, no, I wouldn’t, but still.

She planted her hands on her hips and started shouting. “Why’re you worried about my panties, anyway? You’re never going to get into them, or anyone else’s if you keep saying shit like that. And how the hell do you get off saying things like that when Bergy’s stepdaughter has Down syndrome? Has he heard you talking like that, because if either he or my father does, you can bet your ass is going to be riding the pine this season. Fucking jackass.”

She seemed like she was just starting to work up a head of steam at this point, so I took the opportunity to slip out of my seat and try to sneak out of the den without her noticing my disappearing act.

Apparently I wasn’t as smooth as I’d like. Without even taking a breath, she spun around and started railing on me. “And you! Where the hell do you think you’re going? I just came in here to talk to you.”

“Seems like you’re doing plenty of talking without needing my help,” I muttered. Then I walked out without giving her a chance to stop me. Besides, she was yelling. Not talking, as she’d put it. At the moment, I couldn’t figure out what it was about her that kept drawing me to her—but it was definitely pulling me in. Because even though I was doing like I should and getting the fuck away from her as fast as I could, all I wanted to do was turn around, toss her over my shoulder, and teach her what a mouth like that could get her.

She was one hundred percent correct about Koz, mind you, but the way she was going about letting her feelings be known…

Dani Weber was a fucking spitfire. And damn if I didn’t want her to be my spitfire.

Somehow, I ended up in the game room. I flopped into an armchair across from the massive flat-screen TV. Brenden “Soupy” Campbell and Dylan Poplawski had a college football game on, and Babs and Katie were curled up together on a couch across from me looking like they’d rather be alone than surrounded by the whole team, even though it was their party.

I’d barely been seated for two seconds before Dani stalked in after me, her hands still on her hips. “Would you stop running away from me already?” she demanded.

“Maybe you should stop chasing after me,” I shot back. Good God, I was enjoying this a hell of a lot more than I should be, too. The way Dani’s eyes flashed when she was mad got me hard as a spike. Bad news. Seriously bad news, but I’d be damned if I didn’t want to keep arguing with her. “I already told you. I’m not interested.”

I felt half a dozen pairs of eyes on us, openly staring. A few others poked their heads around the corner to see what was going on. Good thing Anne hadn’t brought any of her camera guys with her tonight, or this would be all over the Internet next week.

“The hell you’re not,” Dani said. And before I had a clue what she intended, she closed the rest of the distance between us and determinedly took a seat on my lap.

Her ass was soft and warm and perfect. She nestled it back against me, and I got even harder. Fucking hell, this was the most exquisite torture. Especially when she reached back, grabbed my hands, and wrapped my arms around her waist, making herself at home.

I’d never felt anything I liked better or wanted more. She might as well have wrapped her fingers around my dick, because she could definitely drag me around like this, and I’d follow her like a fucking lovesick puppy.

This couldn’t happen. It didn’t matter how much I wanted it or how right it felt. I had to get away from her before I did something stupid.

I pushed her off my lap, abruptly and unceremoniously. Then, ignoring her shout of dismay, I headed for the door.

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