Skating the Line:San Francisco Strikers, book 2(5)

By: Stephanie Kay


They were in playoff contention right now, and Ben was determined to remain solidly in the top three spots of the division. Currently they were swapping places back and forth with Anaheim, between the third spot and the first wild card.

Tonight they were playing Anaheim, and he refused to switch places in the standings with them again. They were up two-one in the beginning of the third. He was determined for Anaheim to walk away with no points tonight, especially since the Strikers play Pittsburgh next, one of the top teams in the league. Anaheim will face Colorado, who were currently hovering in last place. But every team had to win some games.

Ben shook his head, now he was rooting for Colorado?

The goal horn sounded, and it wasn’t the Strikers’ cheer that followed. His head shot up just in time to see the Anaheim players crash into each other in a hug, while their remaining teammates banged their sticks on the outside of their bench.

Shit.

How had he missed that? His focus was off tonight, and he was placing the blame solely on those petite shoulders and that neck he ached to nibble on. And those lips he wanted to taste again.

He shook his head, and watched the goal on the jumbotron. Anaheim had snagged the puck from Westy and scored on a breakaway. Gally, the Strikers’ goalie, never had a chance. Westy was currently up from the minors and centering the fourth line. And that line needed some work. With guys switching in and out from their minor league team, the line lacked the cohesion needed to put up points.

Some guys couldn’t make the jump to the big show, but Ben caught the spark in Westy’s eyes at practice. The guy had the skill to play with the Strikers, he just needed more confidence in his game.

As the TV timeout started and their coach barked at them to listen up, Ben tapped Westy’s helmet.

“Happens to the best of us,” Ben said.

“Fucking sucks,” the kid muttered.

“Yeah. But this game isn’t over yet.” Ben shot Westy a smile. Maybe he’d take some time with the kid after practice to work on stick handling. “If you have time after practice tomorrow, we can go over a few things.”

The kid’s eyes lit up. “Really?”

“Of course. Extra practice never hurt anyone. I have some stuff of my own to work on,” he said.

“Cheesy, if you’re done having your moment, how about you focus on the board,” Rob Malone, known as Bugsy, and the current Strikers’ coach, called out.

Ben caught the approval in his coach’s eyes before Bugsy pointed back to the whiteboard.

They had fifteen minutes to score another goal. Totally doable, as long as Anaheim didn’t get another past Gally.

When the final buzzer sounded, they were still tied at two apiece and headed into overtime. Not the scenario Ben wanted, but as they headed into three-on-three overtime, with Baz on his left and Harty on his right, Ben refused to give Anaheim the extra point.

He won the face-off, sending the puck back to Harty with Anaheim on their tail as they headed toward the net. Harty shot it just wide, and Anaheim’s top center grabbed it, skating back down toward Gally. It rang off the pipes and Ben snagged it. He was running out of steam, but he sped down the ice, the puck on his stick, his sole focus on the goalie. He made a move to go glove side and as soon as the goalie nudged his shoulder up, Ben shot it between the guy’s legs.

The goal horn blared and the crowd roared, as his teammates hopped over the boards and flooded the ice, barreling into him and crashing into the boards in a massive group hug. Ben would never get over the thrill of each goal. The excitement of every single one of his teammates as they won in front of their hometown fans.

Nothing in the world was better than hockey. And he would not look up into the stands and catch Amanda jumping up and down and clapping in front of her seat.

Dammit. Why was she so freaking adorable?

Yep. He was definitely in trouble.





Chapter 2




Traveling as a solo female can be tricky. Don’t trust before you should. Caution is key. It’s not about holding yourself back. It’s about being safe in order to have the best experience possible.

~ Adventurous Amanda, September 2011

“Did you update the blog today? Who’s on my lunch schedule? Did you book my hotel in San Diego? Second floor, facing the pool. And they have a spa, right? And this coffee is too sweet. I said a sprinkle of stevia, not a clump of sugar,” Betsy called out in rapid-fire, and Amanda didn’t miss her boss’s shudder at the word sugar. Betsy was currently steering clear of the sweet goodness, and it made her extra dragony. Luckily, Betsy’s diets changed as rapidly as her mood swings—which probably had something to do with her fad diets to begin with.

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