He trusts his gut, she trusts her numbers, and neither trusts the other, as a billionaire’s mission to bring hockey to Seattle clashes with his passion for the woman who holds his heart.
Ethan Parker, a billionaire determined to bring a professional hockey to Seattle, will stop at nothing to realize his dream. After signing an agreement to purchase another city’s team, Ethan is anxious to make the move to Seattle, but a gag order by the League forces him to keep the sale a secret until the season ends, leaving him no choice but to go undercover as a consultant to study his team during the playoffs.
Lauren Schneider, Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the Giants hockey team, gets no respect from the team’s testosterone-loaded staff. When Ethan bursts onto the scene, full of charm and genuinely interested in her opinions, she shares the team’s weaknesses and discovers a weakness of her own–for Ethan. But when his true identity is revealed, and he starts cleaning house based on her unwitting input, his betrayal cuts deeply on both a professional and personal level. Bound by an employment contract, Lauren reluctantly moves to Seattle to work for the newly christened Seattle Sockeyes and her sexy, infuriating boss.
Lauren and Ethan must come to terms with their passions–for the team, for hockey, and for each other. Will their situation build a frozen wall between them, or will their love burn hot enough to melt the ice shielding their hearts?
This is the story I have been waiting for! In CRASHING THE BOARDS (Seattle Sockeyes 1.5), which was part of the Seduced by the Game Anthology that supported the Fight against cancer, we first meet Ethan and Lauren as the new owners and hosts for the party that Cooper attends.
This story is the prequel to that. Here is the story of how they fell in love and how and why the Sockeyes came to Seattle. I knew I was in love with Ethan in CTB, now it is cemented. He has a heart of gold and a passion for hockey and for Seattle. Lauren loves hockey, she is thrilled when Ethan takes her opinions seriously.
Reading this story I was pleased that they didn’t just jump into bed minutes after meeting. They truly became friends first.
I love how Jami tells a story. It is realistic yet passionate. I cannot wait to see what comes next!
An advocate of happy endings, Jami Davenport writes sexy contemporary and sports romances, including her two new indie endeavors: the Game On in Seattle Series and the Madrona Island Series. Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her Green Beret-turned-plumber husband, a Newfoundland cross with a tennis ball fetish, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and an opinionated Hanoverian mare. She works in computer support in her day job and juggles too many balls, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lauren followed Ethan to the arena concourse. The Giants lost a heartbreaking game, and thinking about it made Lauren sick to her stomach.
Right now she should be thinking life didn’t get better than this. Despite their first loss, they were still in it, skating in their first playoff series in years; next to her stood a man who might well be the team’s savior, and he was an incredibly attractive man.
His eyes lit up with unbridled enthusiasm every time they discussed the team and its potential, almost as if he had a personal stake in the Giants, rather than being a hired consultant. She loved the interest he showed in all aspects of the team; hopefully, his employers shared his enthusiasm.
Yet, his level of enthusiasm and involvement didn’t quite fit, and niggling suspicions that things weren’t as they seemed prevented Lauren’s complete trust in the man, not that she trusted easily. She’d been burned too many times from family members to friends to lovers to one cheating husband. It made a girl cautious as to whom she granted that precious trust. Ethan would need to earn it by his actions and his words. For now, she’d enjoy looking at him, because that was purely a joy, and feeding him positive tidbits about the team and staff. That very team who’d lost its first playoff game by one goal.
“I want to see how the coach and team handle the loss,” Ethan said, grim determination etched on his handsome face.
“The coach doesn’t like anyone in the locker room directly after the game.”
Ethan gave her one of those looks which clearly said he didn’t give a shit what the coach did or didn’t like, but he’d damn well do as he pleased. Turning, he showed security his badge and headed down the tunnel with Lauren on his heels.
“Ethan, this isn’t a good idea.” The infuriating man kept walking, which really pissed her off. He barged into the locker room with her hot on his heels then stopped so abruptly that she bumped into his backside.
The players sat around the locker room on benches, heads hanging, frowns on their faces, and in various states of undress. Lauren had seen the men many times before in this situation, but this was sacred ground, and Ethan did not belong in here.
Coach Ferrar, fondly known as Coach Fur by staff and team alike, stopped mid-sentence and glared at the unwelcome intruders. While Coach wanted the Sleezers out of team ownership, he, like Lauren, didn’t exactly trust Ethan either, and even worse, he hated change. As Lauren saw it, the coach figured the devil he knew—the Sleezers—was better than the devil he didn’t, in the form of Ethan and his anonymous employers.
At the coach’s silence, every player glanced up, their gazes shifting from Coach to Ethan and back to Coach. They held their collective breaths, as if sensing a good fight in the making, and Lauren bet all the money was on Coach.
She glanced at Ethan, who didn’t seem the least bit affected by the coach’s laser sharp gaze. “Just pretend I’m not here.”
“It’d be better if you weren’t,” Coach Fur growled.
Ethan didn’t move. Instead he smiled as if Coach couldn’t possibly be referring to him.
“Look, I know we’ve been ordered to cater to you, and God knows we want the Sleezers out of ownership, but that doesn’t mean you can walk in here like you own the place. This is private business between the team and coaches.”
A muscle ticked in Ethan’s strong jaw, but his calm voice echoed through the silent room. “I’m examining all aspects of this team for the prospective owners, including the locker room atmosphere.”
The team captain, Cooper Black, muttered something to his buddy, Cedric.
“What was that, Black? You got something to say, say it so I can hear it.”
Coop’s eyes narrowed, and he met Ethan’s direct gaze with a challenging one of his own. “I said since when do owners—prospective or otherwise—give a shit about what goes on in the locker room as long as we win on the ice?”
“This group does. They’re very hands-on.”
“Great, just what I fucking need. Owners who think they can tell me how to coach.”
Coach slapped his clipboard against his thigh, obviously beyond annoyed. Several of the guys nodded their heads in agreement.
“And me how to play,” Cooper didn’t seem impressed with Ethan or his billionaire employers.
“I’ve interrupted enough. I’ll fade into the background. Continue as if I’m not here.” Ethan wasn’t the least bit moved by their words, or put off. He just shrugged and took a seat as if he was one of the guys. Lauren wrung her hands and tried to think of a way to get him out of there. No one came into the locker room directly after the game. No one. Coach would have her head for letting Ethan in, as if she could have stopped him.
Ethan sat back as if he were in a movie theatre and the show was about to begin. Lauren wanted to throttle the man with her bare hands.
Realizing their unwelcome guest wasn’t leaving, the coach turned to his team. “It’s only game one. We know a lot more about our opponents than we did yesterday. We’ll get them tomorrow. That’s it, guys. Meet back here in the morning, usual time.”
He purposely didn’t say what time to keep Ethan out of the loop. The team stood, going back to their post-game routines. Ethan met Lauren’s gaze and raised a decidedly amused eyebrow.
“Don’t you think we should leave now?”
Ethan sighed and stood. He held the door open for her and she gladly exited from the locker room. As soon as they were in the hallway, she turned on him. “What the fuck did you think you were doing?”
“I told you. I’m evaluating the team and its operations.” His calm voice infuriated her even more, and she did have a bit of her father’s temper.
“And that includes invading the sacred sanctuary of the coach’s post-game speech?”
“It especially means that. I wanted to see how coaches and players handled the loss. How a team handles losing is more important than how they handle winning. Do they mope, do they get fired up, do they hang their heads in defeat, or do they immediately look to the next game and what they can do better?”
“They handled the loss fine, but they didn’t handle you fine.”