Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers #1) – Jared & Tennant
Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters?
First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) – Layton & Adler
Layton wants success, Adler wants family, how can love made both these things possible?
Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers #3) – Trend & Dieter
One man’s passion, another man’s lies. Can love fix even the darkest of hearts?
Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) – Stan & Erik
One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.
Last Defense (Harrisburg Railers #5) – Max & Ben
A hockey player with a medical secret, meets the owner of a no kill shelter. Two men afraid to feel have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love.
Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) – Gatlin & Bryan
Fear and sadness mark Bryan’s life, can Gatlin show him that you have to trust before you can love?
Amazon fans, and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can get to know Tennant, Jared, Stan, Adler, and the rest of the Harrisburg Railers with a KU membership. Act quickly though because the guys are only in KU for a limited time! Just the 90 days…
The bestselling Harrisburg Railers MM hockey romance series follows the lives and loves of a pro hockey team who will win your heart. The complete six-book Railers series is filled with family, humor, team dynamics, hockey action, unforgettable characters, steamy bed play, and happy ever after romance. The series is Amazon exclusive for 90 days only so get ready to binge!
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Now READ ON for a great excerpt!
Ten stared right at me with a look of recognition and even a hint of a smile. He was gorgeous—there was no getting away from that. From his chiseled cheekbones to his green eyes, he was a step away from pretty. My reaction to him was visceral. He was exactly the kind of man I liked to spend time looking at.
Tennant Rowe. On one hand, star center and a team player with excellent hockey sense, and on the other, gorgeous, sexy, and fodder for a million fan fantasies.
I need to focus on the hockey. I have nine years on him, and he’s a family friend. I decided to repeat that until I’d settled down the appreciation that had filtered into my thoughts. So, I focused on the hockey.
Even at eleven or twelve, whatever he’d been when we’d last met, it had been obvious that Tennant had the Rowe hockey genes—the potential to be better than his brothers, even. Not that Brady or Jamie had ever let him be better. Brotherly love had not extended to letting Ten get goals on them, or hell, even get the extra potato at dinner. Their competitiveness would have stifled a lesser kid, but not Ten—he’d thrived on it.
“What do you know about Tennant Rowe?” Head Coach Mike Benning had asked me before the trade. “You played with Brady, right?”
I’d almost felt like my opinion mattered right then, as if my having prior knowledge of Ten’s brother Brady meant that when I spoke, Coach would actually listen. Not that he didn’t listen, don’t get me wrong—he was a good guy underneath the stern-faced iciness. He was just really focused on the forwards. It was one of the things the team was fucking up, not that I was saying that out loud just yet. I had camp to get through yet, finding a core of D-men I could shape. Then I’d be saying exactly what I thought to Coach Benning, and he could like it or not.
It would be too late to get rid of me then.
So yeah, he was right. I’d played with Brady in Juniors, part of the D-pair with him, and we’d been good. More than good. He’d ended up first pick to Boston, and made it to captain so damn quick it had taken even me by surprise. Then again, he’d always been a pushy bastard who’d gone after what he wanted. Me? My rise hadn’t been so fast, but I’d stood out at the Buffalo Sabres, done my part in getting us to the Stanley Cup finals. Only my career was over, and Brady’s star was still shining. Go figure.
“You can’t judge Tennant by his brother,” I’d said, and I’d meant it. Brady was a defenseman; big and ugly in the corners, with a spark that made him the best. Yeah, he was captain, yeah, he had some two-way skills, but he was no kind of forward like Ten, who had all the best top six attributes, like speed and puck smarts.
Ten was still staring, and I guessed that meant I was staring back. I sketched a small wave, and he copied me, then one of the reporters asked him something and he was distracted away from me. That was okay; wasn’t like we had anything to say except that small acknowledgment of familiarity. I’d checked him out on Google when Coach had asked me, seen the standard NHL photos. One, in particular, had caught my eye. Ten in Dallas colors, stick behind his neck, smiling, his lips in a pout, eyes bright. He’d sure grown up all kinds of sexy, but given the number of photos of him and various female models, he was the wrong kind of sexy for me.
Anyway, let’s face it, Brady would kill me if I went anywhere near his brother. After all, he’d walked in on the threesome thing in Montreal and been faced with me, a busty brunette, and this built-like-a-brick-outhouse guy, both of whom had been… Well, yeah, Brady had sworn he needed eye bleach, since then his opinion of me had placed me firmly in the region of whore.
Pretty accurate for the most part, at least until game five of round three, when I’d had an argument with the boards that had taken me out of a playoff game and then out of professional hockey altogether. Nothing like having your body let you down to stop your whoring ways.
I pulled myself out of thinking about Ten and his brothers when Coach Benning skated up to me.
“And?” he asked under his breath.
“The kid look good to you?”
“Tennant Rowe,” he said with a hint of impatience, like I was stupid.
I could wax lyrical about the lithe body in the obviously brand-new Railers hoodie, or the way his green eyes sparkled in the bright rink lights. Hell, I could even talk about how broad his back had seemed pressed up against the glass before he turned. But that wasn’t what Coach was after; he wanted some instant insight into talent.
I had so much I wanted to say at that point. Something along the lines of the Railers being lucky to have someone with his stats, that the kid was a man now, who had the potential to lead the team into a good year. Maybe even playoffs. I was desperate to say that Coach shouldn’t fuck it up. I didn’t say a word. My shrug was the way I’d started talking to the man who couldn’t tell a good player from a bad one.
Benning muttered something that sounded distinctly like it included the words “asshole” and “fuck.” I was used to that now. We had what the team liked to call an interesting relationship. I called it a fucked-up mess, but I knew it wasn’t all him.
A flurry of cursing and laughter, and the ten rookies I had with me that day were out on the ice. I looked at them objectively as they stretched and skated lazy circles to warm up. We had six spots on the team, four of which were already filled by some of the best D-men I’d seen in a long time. Which left spots for two out of the ten who were there for training. I already had my eye on Travis MacAllister. He’d spent last year on the minor team that fed the Railers, shown promise, been called up a couple of times but not dressed for the game. Mac, as he was known, was so close to making the team proper, and he knew it, cocky son of a bitch. I liked that in a defenseman—confidence in his abilities, that he could push anyone into the boards and walk away smiling.
I put him with this new kid—bright eyed, ruling-the-world kind of confidence radiating from every pore. He was a six-five Swede with a goofy, big-toothed smile, and appeared inoffensive at first look, but Arvid “Arvy” Ulfsson was anything but harmless. He had potential behind that smile and spent a lot of time at the net, scrappy and relentless. His weakness was his desperate need to get in on the attack, and he needed to settle his position with his mark before he got all fancy and tried to take shots at the net.
The rest were a mix of guys who shone and some who didn’t. All of them deserved a place on the minor team, but whether they’d stand up well as part of the Railers was another matter.
I partnered Arvy and Mac in the three-on-two, switched them out, concentrated really hard on the edge work, on the checks they followed through, on the ones they didn’t… or as hard as I could when Ten was sitting and watching.
I wonder what Ten thinks? Is he taking mental notes like me? He’d grown up practicing against his brothers, both NHL stars in their own right. Was he watching this scrimmage and thinking that the defense could be better? Was he judging Arvy and Mac? Is he judging me? Why do I care?
By the end of the practice, I’d mentally crossed five of the guys off the list. Telling them that they weren’t being offered contracts was hard, but they had to learn, right? The NHL was the shining target, the Stanley Cup, the original six, a hundred years of history. Not everyone was guaranteed a seat at the table their first year out. One of them, a hulking bulk of a guy, seemed to want to say something, but I stood my ground, like only the best kind of enforcer could, and he subsided with a rueful grin. I couldn’t blame any of the guys for their disappointment—enforcers were pushy and ultra-confident by trade, and you couldn’t expect them to switch it off as soon as practice ended.
By the end of session one, I had five left, and the uneasy feeling that Ten was staring at my every move. I excused it as being because I was familiar to him, a family friend, someone he used to shoot against as a teenager on the odd occasions I would stay at the Rowe house and we’d play pick up hockey. When I casually skated a loop to bring myself up against the goalie coach, I glanced up at the seats where Ten and the rest had been sitting, but there was only empty space. They’d left, and for a second I was disappointed. I’d kind of hoped to have a chat with him afterward. What about, I didn’t know.
The last thing you did was ask Tennant Rowe how his brothers were, or make a comment about the most recent Brady/Jamie success. Not that he wasn’t proud, I was sure—they were a close family, and one I had envied as an only kid with an absent mother, but still… Ten had spent a long time making his own name.
I knew that, because I’d followed him. Not like a stalker, or with a Google alert set up or anything like that. I mean, I’d listened for the scraps of information out of Dallas, the mentions of Ten often as an addendum to what the great Tate Collins, Savior of the NHL, was doing. I’d seen photos of skinny Ten growing up, holding that Dallas second line with a tenacity that had got him an eighty-nine points average over the three years. I’d seen interviews after games where the reporters had wanted to ask Ten questions about his brothers. He always smiled at those, and answered as best he could, but anyone who knew him could see the frustration in his expression.
“You looking at Arvy and Mac?” Alain Gagnon, goalie coach extraordinaire, a twenty-year veteran from the Canucks, interrupted my thought process. Arvy. Mac. Work.
Gagnon huffed. “Mac’s a definite. Arvy doesn’t finish his checks and wants to score goals.”
“Nothing wrong with a two-way defenseman,” I said. I was aiming for sarcastic, but actually it was nice to have validation from someone I respected that things weren’t quite right with Arvy.
“He’s good, has potential there. So, you’ll work with him,” Gagnon said, and skated off.
He did that a lot. The skating off thing. Goalies are just weird, if you ask me—funny, talking to their posts kind of weird. But then, if you’re the type of man who’s happy standing still with a puck heading for you at a hundred miles an hour, you’re a long way past weird. The Railers weren’t looking for a new goalie this year—the two we had were what kept us from falling to the bottom of the tables. In fact, they and a few of our more sparky forwards were the ones who’d left us only eight points away from a playoffs place in the first year since expansion.
“My office,” Coach called, and I skated slowly toward the door.
Part of me didn’t want to leave the ice. This was my home. I felt good on the ice. Everything was soft and smooth and cold, not jagged and ruined like my life outside. And yeah, I’m aware that sounds dramatic, but the ice was, and will always be, my refuge. That first jarring step when skate hits the rubber of the walkway, you feel the entire weight of your body on that tiny blade and everything is wrong for the shortest of seconds. I didn’t know if any other skaters felt that way—I’d never asked them, limited as I was mostly to being fierce and chirping the guys I was shadowing. I could just imagine it—up against an elite center, checking them into the boards and then asking them how they felt about the ice.
The meeting was shorter than normal, thank fuck—Benning had a way of talking until he was blue in the face and the rest of the room was losing the will to stay awake. He was all team dynamics, pressure points, forecheck, backcheck, Xs and Os. I was all “Let’s get lunch, because breakfast was a mess and I didn’t manage more than one bite of a cold Pop-Tart.” Apparently, the meeting was short because he had a very important, official meeting with the new forward, Tennant Rowe, shining star, part of the Rowe dynasty, and so on. He was looking at me the whole time he said that, and I think he was probably trying to say without words that even though I knew Ten, he was in charge. Who knows.
I share an office with Gagnon, but that’s okay, because he’s never in there. Probably off doing goalie-type weird stuff. That meant I got a chance to eat in peace, get a coffee, and scroll through my inbox. The email from Brady was expected. Not that we email a lot—hardly at all since the accident that ended my career with brutal finality. I placed my hand on my chest, a habit I had when I was thinking about my heart. One hit into the boards, one normal concussion protocol, and then I’d collapsed in the medical bay.
The beginning of the end.
Brady had been one of the first people I’d pushed away. The fucker had tried contacting me for the longest time out of all my friends, but finally even he’d given up.
Like I’d wanted friends still playing hockey when my heart condition wouldn’t even allow me to play in a beer league.
Hey, Mads, the email began, and I must admit I liked that it wasn’t formal. I’d been Mads since I’d started hockey at age four. Turned out having the surname Madsen and being described as a mad enforcer meant my nickname was a good one.
The email asked after me, hoped I was okay and liking my new role with the Railers, and said how pissed he was that Boston hadn’t taken me on as a coach. Where he’d got the idea that I’d ever want to coach at Boston, I didn’t know. The two of us together would just have been too much of a reminder of everything that had gone to shit.
Yep. That’s me being dramatic again.
I read the rest. Some news about his twins, and the fact that he was about to be an uncle. For a moment my chest tightened. Ten was way too young to be a dad, and I should know—I’d been only just fifteen when I’d helped create a kid. Why I immediately assumed it was Ten who’d done the deed I don’t know, given that there was Jamie, the middle brother.
And then the email cut to the chase. So you know you’re getting Ten—keep an eye on him for me? The team isn’t what I wanted for him, but he’s set on this.
Then there was the usual “we must keep in touch” crap. But I felt in the space of a sentence, the Railers had been dismissed as worthless. I’d been told that Ten was better than us, and I’d been demoted to the role of caretaker. Somehow all that gelled together to make me feel like shit.
I typed out a response that was flowery with adjectives, cast aspersions on Brady’s parentage, and told him in no uncertain terms to shove his platitudes where the sun didn’t shine.
I then deleted it all and just sent a simple, He’s all grown up—he can look after himself. I hesitated over what to sign it. Mads was the right way to go, but somehow it implied a personal connection that I didn’t feel happy with. But Brady had never called me Jared, so in the end I wrote Mads and pressed send.
The whole thing left me as unsettled as I felt with my skates on rubber, and I shut my email down, deciding later would be a good time to tackle the emails from Ryker’s school, the bank, and the amendments to the myriad schedules that ruled a hockey team.
Coffee in hand and restless, I left my office, bypassing the changing rooms, the kitchen, the weight rooms, and in fact any place where I might meet someone and have to talk. Which was how I ended up in the back corridor by the heap of storage boxes we used when playing away games. Unfortunately, someone else was already there, seated on a box, cross-legged, staring at the wall. Tennant. I stopped and backed away, but he’d heard me, or seen me, or really did have that freaky second sight that some of the pundits talked about.
“Mads,” he said, and leaned forward out of the shadows so I was able to get a good look at him. The dark blue hoodie with the Railers logo front and center suited him. That was all I could think.
“Ten,” I said, on autopilot.
“That guy, twenty-nine. Ulffson or something? He’s not finishing his checks. Wants to get the puck and score. That’s not good.”
I looked at Ten to see if he was teasing, but there was nothing on his face or in his beautiful green eyes that spoke of the declaration being anything other than a statement of fact.
“Noted,” I said.
“You knew that already,” Ten said, and untangled his legs, stretching them out in front of him one at a time.
Great, this was either the deepest conversation I’d ever had with another person, or just plain fucking stupid.
“Brady says hi,” Ten offered, and this time the stretching extended to him lifting his arms above his head, and yep, there it was, that strip of skin, of toned stomach, and yep, I looked. Sue me, Ten had a classic skater’s body, all muscles and planes and strength. A man could look.
And then I raised my gaze, and Ten was smirking. Honest-to-God smirking at me. What did that mean? Was it because he knew he looked good and he was appreciating the fact that someone had looked? Or was it because Brady had told Ten about the threesome incident and he was hoping to push my buttons? Either way, Ten was a bastard who was happy flaunting all his shit, and I couldn’t be interested. I should just come out with it and call him on the smirk, tell him I might be bi but I wouldn’t be fucked around with. But what if the smirk was because of something else, like a family joke that was about me?
So, I didn’t say a thing. I changed the subject and chalked up the reason for the smirk as nothing at all.
“Great. He actually emailed me,” I said, referring back to Brady, because I wasn’t going to smile back or rise to anything Ten was implying with that smirk.
At that statement, Ten’s expression changed. From confident and happy, he became guarded. “Don’t tell me,” he began with a heavy sigh. “Big Brother wanted to warn you that I need to try harder on the breakaway, or that my forecheck isn’t as fast as we need, or hell, maybe I’m not in the right place for the tip in.”
“No,” I answered, because the words Ten spoke were filled with derision, and I didn’t like him saying any of it. “Your brother is proud of you.”
All the tension left Ten, and he visibly slumped. “Yeah, I know he is. I’m proud of him and Jamie.” He looked right at me. “Don’t think for one minute we’re not one big happy family.”
Ouch. Something really hard underscored those words, and I wanted to fix whatever had stolen away happy, teasing Ten and left this shuttered man in front of me.
“He wanted to meet up one day for a beer,” I lied. Because whatever I tell my son about lying not being a good thing, lying is sometimes exactly what needs to happen.
“Oh.” Ten looked surprised. Then he smiled again, this time less confident smirk and more fond. “How’s Ryker?”
“Seventeen, hormonal, a pretty good left wing.” That was how I summed Ryker up in public. But Ryker was much more than my moody seventeen-year-old son who had a wicked slap shot. He was my life, and the reason I got up every day.
When I’d sat in that doctor’s office and listened, hearing words that meant very little to me, I’d interrupted him and asked him the one thing any hockey player would ask. Will I play again?
Only having my son in my life had stopped me from losing myself in pills and alcohol after the doctor had shaken his head and put the final nail in my hockey coffin.
You won’t be able to play professional hockey again.
So, yeah, Ryker was more than how I’d described him there, but I wasn’t ready to share that with anyone, let alone Ten, who I didn’t really know very well anymore.
“I friended him on Facebook,” Ten announced.
I wasn’t even Ryker’s Facebook friend. I needed to talk to him about that, because I should be, right? Isn’t that, like, number one on the list for parental responsibility or something? It was my turn to have him this weekend, and I added Facebook to my mental list of things to talk about.
“Good,” I finally answered. Probably with too much of a gap for it to be socially acceptable. Whatever I did wrong was enough for Ten to clamber off the crate and straighten up. He held out his hand.
“I’m going to like it here,” he said.
I took his hand. A man’s hand now. Not the same grip he’d had as a kid. I shook it firmly, and he had that same smile. Was I supposed to hug him now? Was that what a “bro” would do? He tugged away and slipped past me.
“Later,” he said.
And all I could think was that Ten had surely grown up fine.
USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.
RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.
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USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.
When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.