Icing (Aces Hockey #1)(7)

By: Kelly Jamieson

Hopefully. Finding that full-time job was another issue. Thinking about what would happen if she didn’t find one could also induce a panic attack. So that was another thing she pushed to the back of her mind.

“Waitressing here’s a part-time job while you’re going to school?”

“Yeah.” She smiled. “Gotta pay the bills.”

“I hear ya.”

Maybe he worked in construction, or something like that.

“What are you taking in school?”

“Sociology and Urban Studies.”

He gazed at her. “Urban Studies?”

“Yeah. It’s my adjunct major. Like I said, I’m a city girl.” She hitched a shoulder. “I’ve always been fascinated by cities and urban life. And I love Chicago.”

“Jesus,” he muttered. “Seriously?”

Curious at his reaction, she tilted her head. “Seriously. What’s wrong with that?”

“Remember, I grew up on a farm.”

“Right. Farm boy. You don’t like living in the big city?”

“Ah. It’s okay. I’m getting used to it. Sometimes all the people and cars and tall buildings make me feel closed in. I like getting out of the city. Somewhere open and green and peaceful. I have a place on Browns Lake where I like to spend my summers.”

She drew her chin down. “Summers? Are you a teacher?” That surprised her. She wasn’t sure why.

“No.” His eyes dropped to the beer he held and he mumbled another curse. “So you study cities.”

“Right. I mean, some people study cities, as in their physical form, like ecology, architecture, streets and sidewalks, transit systems, housing. I’m more interested in the people and neighborhoods. Urban sociology.”

“What do you do with that kind of education?”

“I’m really hoping I’ll get hired by the nonprofit group I’ve interned with.” She bit her lip. “My thesis is on whether green spaces in neighborhoods reduce crime, or increase it.”

“Wow. That’s impressive.”

“Don’t encourage me.” She made a face. “When I get started talking about it, there’s no stopping me.”

“That’s cool,” he said slowly. “It’s good to have something you’re passionate about.”

“Yeah.” Their eyes met again. Warmth curled low down inside her. “What are you passionate about?”

“Right now? Beer.”

She laughed, even though his answer disappointed her a little. She really wanted to know what he cared about. But that was crazy because he was a customer in the bar she worked in and…darn, break time was over.

“I have to get back to work.” She slid off the stool. “Nice talking to you.”

“Yeah, you too. Guess I’ll see if I can find out where my friends are.”

She got back to work, checking her tables. The four guys who’d been there all evening were getting louder, huge bursts of laughter coming from their direction. She held in a wince as she headed their way to see if they needed another round. Make that wanted another round. They clearly didn’t need more drinks.

A bunch of guys entered the bar and headed straight to a table at the back. Amber recognized one of them as her boss, Jared Rupp. He was the owner of the restaurant, although the day-to-day management was handled by Elliott Smith. Elliott was the one who’d hired her, but she’d quickly learned that Jared was a professional hockey player and this restaurant was something he did on the side.

She eyed his companions, all big, tall guys like him.

“Army!” one of the guys yelled.

She watched Duncan look around and then jump off his stool.

“Man, where the hell you been?” Duncan grabbed his beer and joined them.

She frowned. He was a friend of Jared’s? A teammate?

That meant he was a professional hockey player.

Well, shit.

She grabbed a cloth and started scrubbing the bar, focusing on the countertop. Heat built inside her chest. She’d been attracted to him, had even flirted a little. She was too busy for a relationship, but a little hot sex once in a while was a good thing, and he was hot. But damn, there was no way she was getting involved with a professional athlete.

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