By: Lily Harlem | Other books by Lily Harlem
Published By: Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc.
Published: Jan 31, 2014
ISBN # 9781419949029
Available in: Epub, Adobe Acrobat, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
Categories: Romance>Erotic Romance
Misconduct (Hot Ice) by Lily Harlem - Romance>Erotic RomanceHot Ice, Book 6
Manage the Vipers hockey team! Me? Well, that’s my role now. Shame a gorgeous, cocky-assed goaltender is testing my patience. Sweet cheeks—really, is that any way to refer to the boss? Dustin “Speed” Reed certainly seems to think so.
It’s okay though. I’ll escape to my billionaire father’s paradise retreat. Except Dustin decides to jump on for the ride. Then the tension really heats up, hotter than the scorching midday sun.
I want to slap him and kiss him. Push him away and rip off his clothes. The feeling is mutual—a potent cocktail of anger mixed with lust. I know we shouldn’t. It can’t end well, especially when I’m going give him the sack as soon as I push him out of it.
But what’s the fun in having rules if no one ever breaks them? I’ll take what I can, give him what he wants and worry about balancing the books tomorrow. Surely my heart will be fine.
A Romantica® contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
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An Excerpt From: MISCONDUCT
Copyright © LILY HARLEM, 2014
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
The bar at the Hotel Penn on Seventh Avenue held a grim atmosphere as the Vipers sat nursing beers and talking quietly amongst themselves. A few skinny, overly made-up girls moved amongst them, vying for attention.
I moved to the bar, feeling like I had a cloak of misery around me. It was heavy and itchy. I didn’t like it but couldn’t take it off.
The final score had been four-three, the Rangers winning thanks to Todd Carty’s four first period goals.
It was clear my team were poor losers. Their mood was dark, though infused in the darkness was fighting talk. They wouldn’t lose again, not if their words of determination were anything to go by.
“Can I buy you a drink, Gina?” Mike asked, leaning on the bar next to me.
“Thank you. I’ll have another white wine.” I spun the stem of my empty glass.
He gestured to the bartender and ordered.
“How is Price?” I asked. “I haven’t had chance to speak to him yet, Brick’s been talking my ear off about the penalty that didn’t go his way.”
“Yeah, that was a bad call. Might have been a different result if it had gone the other way.” He passed me my wine. “Jackson’s okay. Bummed at letting four pucks past him in the first period, but there you go. He’s young, he’ll learn, and it was Carty he was up against. Couldn’t have been any worse.”
That familiar surge of nausea came back to me. The one that had built each time Price had messed up and cost us goals until I actually did want to vomit. Thank God Mike had put Dustin in at a line change and he’d worked his ass off to stop any more shots.
I glanced at him now. He sat in the corner of the room with Phoenix. Dressed all in black, he matched the mood of the team and no doubt the murderous thoughts he was having about me.
He looked up, as though he felt my attention on him, and stared straight at me.
Since he’d come off the ice sweaty and red-faced, from what I could gather, he hadn’t said a word to anyone.
He’d proven his point.
He didn’t need to speak.
Just stop the puck.
I’d been a fool to think I could switch around such a key player. We needed him as goaltender, at least until Price gained more experience. Then perhaps I could consider letting Dustin go. Save myself some money by axing his extortionate wages. But until then I was stuck with feeding his bank balance.
“Cheers. Here’s to better luck next time,” Mike said, tapping his beer bottle to my wineglass and smiling.
“Yep, next time. Can’t win them all.”
“Usually fucking can, excuse my French, Miss Gunner,” Raven said, slamming a shot glass on the bar. “Top me up, buddy,” he said to the bartender. “The kid’s got potential, Mike, and I’ve seen him play well against other teams. But let’s keep his fucking up skills for when we’re not playing Rangers, all right?”
“I agree,” Mike said, taking a deep slug of his drink.
“What’s your father got to say about this?” Raven turned to me.
“I haven’t spoken to him this evening. I’m trying not to worry him about anything. It was a close call, his heart attack. He’s been working too hard for years. He needs to do nothing, get bored, hang out in the sunshine and get himself well again.”
“You think he’ll come back soon?”
“Do you want him to?”
“Hell, yeah.” Raven knocked back a shot. “Not that we don’t enjoy having a bit of eye candy around, Miss Gunner, you know, but having the hottest manager in the league isn’t going to get us lifting the cup.”
“No, I mean, yes. Well…” I sipped my drink. Raven had a sulky, say-it-how-it-is wildness about him that set me on edge. He was like it on the ice too, his personality spilled into his game, making him a formidable defenseman. “Er, no, well, he’s not coming back soon, ever actually. You’re stuck with me.”
Raven raised his eyebrows. “Permanently.”
“Hey.” He pointed at his glass and caught the attention of the bartender. “You better fill me up again.”
I watched him knock back another drink and swallow with a grimace. “Will you excuse me?” he asked.
“Sure.” Jesus, was it that shocking that I was here to stay that he had to take a shot of vodka, or whatever the hell he was drinking?
He moved away and in his place appeared Vadmir. “Hello, Miss Gunner, I wanted to say how sorry I am that we didn’t win for you today.” He spoke with a heavy Russian accent.
“It was no one’s fault,” I said. “The Rangers are on top form. Perhaps if my father hadn’t traded Todd Carty last season things would have been different.”
“He is very dangerous,” Vadmir said with a nod. “He skates like he has the wind behind him and never misses if he has an opening. I would rather be on his side than not.” He shrugged. “But that is the way of this life. Things happen and we have to get on with it.”
“I agree, Vadmir,” I said, thinking what a strange turn my life had taken of late and how I was trying my best to cope.
He grinned, flashing front teeth that were slightly crossed. “Here,” he said to the bartender. “Two vodka please, er three, Mike, you too?”
“I guess,” Mike said.
The bartender poured three small glasses full to the brim of clear liquid. Clear liquid that I knew would burn.
“To agreeing.” Vadmir grabbed a glass and tipped it my way.
“To agreeing and winning next time,” I said with a smile and reaching for my drink.
“Definitely winning,” Mike agreed, his shoulder brushing mine.
We all touched glasses then downed our drinks.
My throat went on fire. I gasped and wheezed, pulled in air to put out the flames.
“Ha.” Vadmir rested his hand on my forearm. “I can see you need more practice, Miss Gunner. Another, bartender. Fill us up.”
“No, no,” I managed. “Really, I’m fine.”
“One more,” Vadmir said.
The bar guy was already pouring.
Mike reached for his and Vadmir pressed a small full glass into my hand.
“How you say, er…” Vadmir said, “Down the hatchet.” He laughed, threw his drink into his mouth and then looked at me expectantly.
I laughed feebly, braced for the flames and then drank. Again the sharp slap of alcohol hit me. Not just my throat but also my knees. My vision blurred a little and I giggled.
“See you like. I am good teacher, yes?” Vadmir said.
I held the bar to steady myself. The shots were like having an injection of noodles into my legs.
“You all right?” Mike asked.
“Yes, fine, but really no more. In fact it’s getting late. I should go to my room.”
Vadmir looked monumentally hurt. “We are just beginning. The night is young.”
“Oh no,” I said, “You might be just getting started but I’m going to turn in.” I gestured to the door. “It’s been a long day and the night is late enough for me.”
“Would you like me to see you up?” Mike asked.
“No, no, I’ll be fine, really.”
Dustin’s words blustered into my mind about Mike having a crush on me. I didn’t think it was true, not for one minute. But it would be best not to encourage him, especially as there wasn’t any chemistry between us, in my opinion at least. His slightly nervous disposition didn’t do it for me, nor did his keenness to do as I asked, please me with every word and action. There was a certain element missing in his masculinity. I wasn’t sure what, and he would be perfect for someone, but not me.
Vadmir made a show of kissing both of my cheeks and then ambled off, holding another shot and a beer. He found a seat with Raven, Phoenix and Dustin.
“Are you sure?” Mike asked.
“Perfectly. I’ll catch you tomorrow before we head to the airport.”
“Okay.” He looked like he might try to kiss my cheeks the way Vadmir had, but he hesitated and I took the opportunity to step away.
I walked through the bar, nodded to Ramrod who was deep in discussion with Brick, and headed into the lobby. A security man on the door bade me goodnight and I went toward the elevator. It took only a few seconds to arrive, and when it did I stepped in and leaned back against the wall, watched the numbers rise to twenty and wished my legs weren’t so Jell-O-like.
Vodka did strange things to my knees.
My floor came and I wandered along the carpeted hallway, searching in my purse for my keycard. I knew it was in there somewhere.
I sighed when I reached my room, trapped my purse between the wall and my stomach and resigned myself to having to hunt through all of the zippered compartments. Where had I put the damn thing?
“You got a problem?”
I turned, startled by a deep voice behind me.
“You got a problem?” Dustin asked again, nodding at my purse that was now spilling its contents onto the floor.
“Er, no, just can’t find my key.” What the hell was he doing here? Following me?
He reached and straightened my bag, scooped my wallet off the floor along with a lipstick and dropped them in the open zipper with a clatter. “Have you checked your back pocket?”
“No, I’m sure I put it in here.” Why the hell was a flush spreading over my chest and up my neck? I resumed my rummage, trying not to look at him standing there all dark and brooding and gorgeous in front of me.
Whatever the hell it was that Mike was lacking, Dustin had it in bucket loads. He practically oozed masculinity and that was a dangerous thing for a sex-starved woman like me. Especially when he was so damn full of himself and such an egotistical pig.
“Only when your sweet cheeks were turned my way down at the bar, I could have sworn I saw the outline of a keycard in your pocket, like the ones they use in this hotel.” He shrugged. “You know, through the material.”
Flustered, I tapped my butt. Sure enough, I felt the credit-card-sized bit of plastic through my tight black pants and suddenly remembered shoving it in there on my way into the bar.
“Oh, yes, thanks,” I said, retrieving it.
He stepped a little closer.
I backed up to prevent my nose from hitting his chest. My shoulders lodged against the wall.
“Can I help you with something?” I asked, dismayed that my voice had come out so timid like, because he wasn’t intimidating.
Not one bit.
He stared into my eyes and swallowed tightly.
I waited for the rant to begin about my huge, colossal mistake at suggesting starting Jackson Price in a game against the Rangers.
“Help me with something?” he repeated quietly. “Yes, I guess you can.”
“What?” My purse and the key slipped to the floor, but I didn’t bother to reach for them. I was becoming lost in him. In his dark eyes, in that delicious cologne he wore, and the shape of his bottom lip, its slight imperfection. I couldn’t help but wonder what he’d be like to kiss.
No, damn it. I pushed away. Determined to stop all these foolish thoughts about a man who presumed it was okay to call his boss sweet cheeks. He was just annoying, annoying and, I had to admit, damn sexy.
“Where you going?” he asked, pressing into me with his body and flattening his palms on either side of me on the wall.
“To my room.” I too pushed my hands against the flocked wallpaper, it was that or rest them on his chest and I didn’t want to do that. “It’s late.”
“Now there’s a word,” he said. “Late, because it’s too damn late for us to win tonight, isn’t it? That chance has been and gone.”
“I guess that’s the name of the game.”
“Oh no, you don’t get to use that excuse. You know damn well why we lost.”
I tightened my lips.
“You just won’t admit it, not to me anyway,” he said.
“What do you want me to say?” I tilted my chin.
“That you were wrong. That you should never have put the stupid idea of Jackson Price starting into Mike’s lovesick head.”
“Well I did, and it’s done now. Mike and I will both take responsibility for it. Ramrod too, he was involved in the discussion, and we’ve all learned from it.” I frowned. “And Mike is not lovesick.”
He dipped his head lower and his breath washed over me. “I’ve been watching you all evening in the bar. You have them all wrapped around your cute little finger, don’t you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yeah you do. One woman, a room full of men. You just played them all tonight, working your way around the room, flirting, smiling, drinking, looking good enough to eat.”
Good enough to eat?
“I was not flirting,” I said indignantly. “And besides, I wasn’t the only woman in there, but I was the only one working. Debriefing.”
“That’s what you call it, eh?” He raised his eyebrows. “Vadmir would happily take you to his lair. I just watched him trying to get you drunk. Have you any idea what he’d do to a little girl like you? He’d have you for supper, chew you up and spit you out.”
“Two shots does not make me drunk, and besides, I wouldn’t exactly be interested in Vadmir or in any chewing up and…and spitting out.”
“Two shots and two glasses of wine.”
“Oh, you were watching me, weren’t you?”
“I don’t deny that. And why wouldn’t you be interested in Vadmir?”
“He’s not my type.”
His mouth twitched, as if he were holding in a smile. “What is your type?”
I was beginning to wish I wasn’t having this conversation hemmed in by a man who was physically just my type. It was making thinking awkward and my brain had been a little fudged anyway from drink.
“Not a hockey player,” I said. “I don’t want to be like those girls who throw themselves at you, leave lipstick on your cheek and wear hotpants that show the crease of their asses.”
“Damn shame that. They’d suit you, those hotpants. Perhaps I’ll buy you a pair for when you give your next little pregame pep talk. That’d get pulses racing. Get the guys ready for action, you know what I mean?”
Okay, now he’d gone too far. He was completely forgetting who he was talking to. I pushed at his chest and gave a good shove to get him out of my way.
He didn’t budge.
“Move,” I said.
I glared up at him, pushed again but he didn’t shift. Damn, I wished he would, my body was starting to respond to his nearness. My breasts were aching, there was a definite hum between my legs—why the hell were my hormones being so traitorous?
I shoved again with no luck.
“I said no,” he repeated. “Not until you admit something.”
I sighed and stilled. I couldn’t move someone as solid as a slab of concrete. “Admit what?”
He lowered his head so that his mouth was by my ear and his chin touched my jawline when he spoke. “Admit that you want me…sweet cheeks.”
I bunched his shirt in my hands. His breath had sent a wave of sensation down my neck and over my scalp.
Want him . No.
His body. Oh yes. I could have some fun with that.
“Why the hell would you think I want you?” I whispered, studying the way his short hair was neatly clipped around his ear.
“Maybe because right now you’re physically hanging on to me. Maybe because you didn’t go off with Vadmir or Mike tonight, you came to bed alone, hoping I would follow.”
“No, I didn’t, that’s ridiculous, I…”
“What?” He looked into my eyes, his nose just an inch from mine. “You what, Miss Gunner?”
“I didn’t hope you’d follow. You annoy the hell out of me.” I frowned, but as I did so my lips puckered, and I moved my head a little nearer to his. The urge to feel his mouth on mine was becoming overwhelming.
“And you annoy the fuck out of me,” he said, also drawing a fraction nearer. “Not least because you lost us the game tonight.”
“I didn’t,” I whispered.
He kind of growled and a tug in my belly told me that noise turned me the hell on, even though I knew it shouldn’t.
“And,” he murmured, “you annoy me because you won’t admit you need me.”
I was a little breathless. He was stealing my breath and my rational thoughts. His rich, low voice was almost hypnotic. “I don’t need you.”
“Yeah, you do.”
His mouth hit down on mine and he yanked me close. It was a kiss that was ravenous and furious and made my head spin. I was trapped in his arms, feeding him kiss for kiss. Our tongues at war and our teeth touching as he slanted his head to drive deeper.
I wanted to climb up him, get in him, have him in me. Fuck, the guy could kiss as well as he could stop a puck. It was intoxicating and a sudden desperation to get naked stormed through me.
“Dustin,” I managed against his mouth.
He was panting, so was I.
“We should—” I said, glancing at my room door.
“No.” He released me as suddenly as he’d grabbed me and I faltered for a second to regain my balance. “No, we should do nothing.” He flicked his hand between us. The teasing humor had left his eyes, now they were cloudy, defensive. “Fucking nothing. Nothing at all.”
Oh God, he regretted the hottest kiss I’d ever had.
Well, that was okay, because I regretted it too. Even though I could taste him, feel him. Even though my blood was boiling for him. I regretted it.
He crowded me again, backing me into the wall. His lips were shiny and his chest was rising and falling rapidly.
I didn’t speak, just stared up at his rugged, flushed face and wondered what the heck was going on.
“One day soon,” he said, his mouth almost touching mine and his body pressing into my chest. “You will admit that not only do you want me but also that you need me.”
I parted my lips, wanting his tongue, needing his heat and taste. Oh God, my head was spinning with it all—lust, confusion, desire, hell to the consequences.
“And I’m not talking about your bed,” he said gruffly, “I mean on the goddamn ice.”
Suddenly he pushed away, turned and strode down the corridor.
I watched him go with a sense of acute disappointment mixing with fury.
How dare he? Just because I had a moment of madness thinking I might do dirty deeds with his athletically honed body, it didn’t mean I was prepared to sign on the dotted line for another multimillion-dollar contract.