Release Date: April 26, 2021
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Moo U Hockey: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/moo-u-hockey/
Cover Design: Christine Coffey
Hotshot hockey star Patrick Graham has been groomed for the pros since before he could walk. Fast forward to his junior year of college, and he’s having the time of his life. What could be better than pucks, partying, and having his pick of campus women? But if Patrick doesn’t buckle down and get his grades up, he could find himself benched for the championships. Could a beautiful brainiac be the solution to his problems?
Nineteen-year-old Master’s student Ellie McGinn could do so many things with her biology degree, but her mother is pushing her toward a future she doesn’t want. Tutoring a hockey hottie seems like the perfect opportunity to start making her own choices and living life on her own terms.
When learning turns to yearning, will they be ready to face the heat and heartache that love can bring?
I hoped he wouldn’t run screaming from the restaurant at the serious turn our conversation had taken, but he was so easy to talk to. We had a lot in common, which I never would have imagined. His overbearing father, my overbearing mother, and a lot of concern about this whole idea of adulting. He was twenty-one, and hadn’t been nearly as sheltered as I had, but I heard a lot of the same insecurities in his voice that I often felt in myself.
We talked and drank soda until we were the last people in the restaurant and we finally paid the bill and walked out to my car. I didn’t want this night to end but he had another game tomorrow and I needed to spend the whole day working on my research paper if I was going to go out again tomorrow night.
“Where do you live?” I asked him when we got into the car. It was a frigid January night and I shivered as I waited for the heat to kick in.
“In the apartments on Bellamy,” he said.
I knew just where those apartments were located since a lot of Moo U students lived there and it wasn’t far. I’d considered living there too but I got my room and board for free between being a resident assistant in the dorm and my teaching, and I liked the fact that I didn’t have to count on my parents for housing. They already paid for my car, insurance, and phone, so I’d been willing to suck it up for the tiniest bit of freedom.
He told me where to drop him off and I pulled up to the curb.
“Tonight was great,” he said, turning to me. “I’m really looking forward to doing it again tomorrow night.”
“You are?” The words slipped out before I could stop them, and I mentally grimaced, wishing I knew how to be a little coy, a little flirty, instead of insecure and out of my league.
“Well, yeah.” He frowned. “Aren’t you?”
“I haven’t dated anyone since I came to college,” I blurted out. “I was only fifteen then, so I was too young for college guys, and now that I’m legal, most guys think I’m dorky. So I don’t know how this works. If you’re just trying to be nice so I’ll tutor you, you don’t have to because I’d do it anyway. As a favor to Paxton.”
“You think this is about tutoring?” He looked both a little mad and a little sad, which confused me even more.
“I don’t know why the captain of the hockey team—who can and does sleep with everything that moves—is interested in me when not a single guy on campus ever has been before.”
There. I’d said it. It was out in the open now and if nothing else, he’d know I wasn’t naïve enough to think he really wanted to date me.
“You haven’t gone out on a single date the whole time you’ve been here?” he asked, ignoring everything else I’d said.
I shook my head. “Not a real date, like we had tonight. I’ve met guys at the library or for coffee, but never like this.”
“Their loss is my gain.” He reached out and pushed one side of my hair behind my ear. “I thought we had a connection,” he said softly. “That night at the party. I think you’re pretty and smart and sweet. It has nothing to do with tutoring or anything like that. I don’t know what other guys see when they look at you, but I’ll be honest and say that someone as smart as you is probably a little intimidating.”
“And you’re not, um, intimidated?” Why did I say “um” all the time? I sounded like a nervous twelve-year-old.
“No.” He leaned forward, his eyes locked with mine. “Not even a little. And I think maybe the best way to prove that to you is like this.”
Oh-shit-oh-shit-oh-shit—he was kissing me. His lips were lightly pressed to mine, caressing them as if they were made of glass. Gentle whispers of skin against my mouth, nothing like I’d imagined kissing a hottie like Patrick would be. I’d only been kissed a handful of times before and it had always been sloppy and wet; this was ridiculously sweet. And definitely not sloppy.
Not even when he slid his tongue along the seam of my lips, gently prying them apart. My mouth opened of its own volition, anxious for more, because nothing had prepared me for this. When our tongues finally met one another, it was like a magnetic force had drawn them together and I couldn’t do anything but go along for the ride. It felt like my whole body was involved, instead of just my mouth, and I let myself get swept away.
I might have whimpered in protest when he finally pulled away, and the look in his eyes was one I’d only ever read about in books. I didn’t know men actually looked at women that way. It didn’t have to be love or anything that deep, but sheer, unadulterated desire? I’d never seen it outside of movies and this was way, way better because it was directed at me. The fact that I turned him on enough to put that look there, well, that was something new to me and it did all kinds of things to my nether regions.
“I should go,” he said softly, still watching my face with that look that made me shiver all over.
“It’s late,” I said out loud, though I really wanted to sit here long enough for him to kiss me again.
“I had fun tonight. And I’d like to go out with you again after the game tomorrow…if you want to.”
“I…yes.” I almost said “um” again but caught myself. “Yes, I’d like to.”
“Good night, Ellie.” He pressed his lips to mine, chastely this time, and then got out of the car and bounded up the steps of his building.
I was in so much trouble.