Blocked

By: Elise Faber

Gold Hockey Novels (Book 1)



CHAPTER ONE




Brit



THE FIRST QUESTION BRIT always got when people found out she played ice hockey was “Do you have all of your teeth?”

The second was “Are you a lesbian?”

The first she could deal with easily — flash a smile of her full set of chompers, no gaps in sight. The second was more problematic.

She wasn’t gay. But she also didn’t feel she owed anyone an explanation of her sex life.

No one regularly asked male athletes if they were gay or straight. So why the hell did it matter when it came to her?

Yet for some inane reason, it did matter to people.

Brit wasn’t stupid, so she didn’t blow up at the question or act disgusted at the violation of her privacy. She’d just gotten very good at keeping her love life — as nonexistent as it was — to herself, gotten very good at not reacting in any perceptible way to the insinuations.

So when the reporter asked her the same set of questions for the thousandth time in her twenty-six years, she grinned — showing off those teeth — and commented with a sweetly innocent “Could’ve sworn you were going to ask me about the coed showers.” Then added, after the room-at-large laughed, “Next question, please.”





CHAPTER TWO




THIS WAS IT, THE call up of her life.

And Brit was sitting in the parking lot of the arena, unable to force her fingers off the steering wheel.

“Get it together,” she muttered. “Or you will suck on the ice.”

Harsh, probably. But the truth.

Still, the words were enough. Enough to get her body in motion, to pop her door, and walk around to the trunk of her ten-year-old Corolla.

Her gear was shoved inside the small space like a sausage threatening to burst from its casing. Brit grabbed the strap and hauled out her bag before slinging it across her shoulder.

“You know they have guys for that.”

The voice made her jump, and her eyes shot up, then up some more until she stared directly into the eyes of the captain of the San Francisco Gold, Stefan Barie.

The slight tinge of a Minnesotan accent made her shiver.

Uh-oh.

And seriously, only a hockey fan would find a Minnesotan accent sexy.

He smiled. “It’s the coldest-winter-is-summer-in-San-Francisco thing.” When she frowned, he cocked his head. “The wind chill.”

What?

“You know? Mark Twain?”

Her brows pulled together. “I know who Mark Twain is, and I’m familiar with the quote.” Though it’s a common misnomer, and Twain didn’t actually say it. Still, it is windy in the city— “I just don’t know why you think I’m cold, and it’s not—” She shook herself. “Never mind.”

This was what her mind did.

Every single time.

It drifted, focused on mundane details she then couldn’t prevent from bursting free.

No surprise that once they were free, her conversations were punctuated with awkward pauses.

Like the one happening now.

Brit sighed. Failure. Total—

“No,” Stefan said. “Tell me. What is it?”

It was only because he seemed genuinely interested that she answered.

“It’s not summer.”

“What?”

Another sigh. Yep. Way to go, genius. “It’s technically fall. Summer has been over for six-and-a-half days.”

There was a moment of quiet, a long, uncomfortable pause during which neither of them spoke.

Then surprisingly — shockingly — Stefan laughed. Her heart gave a little squeeze, her brain said, Uh-oh, but then before she could really panic, he spoke, “You’re absolutely right. Now come on.” Snagging her sticks, he nodded toward the arena. “I’ll show you the ropes.”





CHAPTER THREE




OH NO, THIS wouldn’t do.

This. Would. Not. Do.

Brit stared up at the obviously hastily created sign — black squiggles of Sharpie and crumpled computer paper tended to highlight that fact.

This would not do.

"Okay then. See you on the ice," Stefan said, handing over her sticks and walking down the hall.

Brit dropped her bag to the black skate mat laid across the concrete floor, pushed open the door, and peered inside the room, just to make sure it wasn't full of her teammates, that this wasn't a lame joke for the new girl.