Claudia Burgoa’s Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers series continues this week with a brand new hockey romance about missed opportunities, accidental weddings, and found family, and I have a sneak peek for you.
I still don’t understand how, but she fits.
That’s been true since the first time we met. Rys and I just mold into each other without even trying. She’s like an old friend who I haven’t spoken to in years. Rys is a rainy evening next to the fireplace. The sound of my skates sliding through the ice—accelerating, calming, exciting. All the emotions that bring me joy.
Do I want to have sex with her? Badly.
Not that I would act on the urge.
I plan on doing the one thing I thought wouldn’t be possible a few years ago. Fall in love with her. It’s not going to happen overnight. As my father used to say, Rome wasn’t built overnight—or was it in one day? I can’t remember, but that doesn’t matter. This time I’m ready to make things happen between us.
It’ll be easy, as many things are with Rys. She lives in Portland, and so do I. I’ll find a way to meet with her. If she’s in San Francisco…
I have an apartment there too. It used to belong to Gatsby. It’s located in one of Aslan’s properties. The moment Gatz moved in with Maia, I called dibs on it.
Having a place in San Francisco allows me to visit my family without couch surfing in my siblings’ homes. Love the sibs, but I’d much rather have a nine-hour break from them. Not that I get that much. Heath lives in the penthouse—above my place—and Lysander lives on the same floor I do.
I should ask Rys where she lives when she’s in San Francisco. Maybe I can plan my schedule around hers. We could see each other in both cities.
“This is too easy,” she says, interrupting my plans.
“Pressing buttons and matching the image?”
“Yeah, I want a challenge.”
“No. I’m not a fan of the number twenty-one,” she says with a straight face.
“What does that have to do with playing blackjack?” There has to be some obscure reason behind it.
“My twenty-first birthday was the worst of my life. The twenty-first of every month is usually a clusterfuck. Mom got married on the twenty-first of December, and that day she calls to remind me how awful my father was. See, I’ll lose.”
“How about roulette?”
“Yes, let’s try that one. What’s the strategy on that one? I need to know all the moves.” She bursts into an adorable laughter.
“Have you ever been to Vegas?”
Okay, that explains so much, including why she looks like a kid in a candy store.
“It’s about luck.” I explain to her the different bets she can make.
“There’s no strategy. It’s pretty much like the lottery. You set your chips on the number, numbers, or colors you want and wait to see where the marble falls into. There’s no science, but it keeps people entertained and losing money all night long.”
“Okay, I think I can do it. But we can practice by watching first. Then I can see if I’m good at guessing.”
Since this is her night, I agree with it.
“I bet you it’s going to fall into a black number,” she whispers.
“The bets are supposed to go on the table.”
She smirks. “I’m practicing.”
“Okay, that’s fair. What do you want to bet?”
“If I win…” She narrows her gaze. “You buy me another one of those martinis with fruit.”
“Strawberry or peach?”
“Surprise me.” Maybe I should surprise her with water because she’s a little tipsy.
Since this is a two-person game, I ask, “What do I get if I win?”
“What do you want?”
I stare at her lips. A kiss? No, I’m not kissing her while she’s carrying this buzz. We can discuss us tomorrow, or maybe after I know that things between her and Roderick are over. She might swear that she’s only angry, but I’m sure that after a six-month relationship, she has to be heartbroken. Doesn’t she?
“There has to be something you want,” she insists. “If not, you can think about a dare.”
“So, if it’s red, I can dare you to do something?”
She’s watching the roulette. “Uh-huh, now be quiet.”
And, of course, she wins. I bring her a strawberry martini and get myself a scotch. We watch three more games before she says, “I’m ready.”
“No. Another dare. If it lands on red seven, I win. What’s your number?”
We should find something else to do, but instead of saying that, I humor her. “Red twenty-seven.”
“Is that your lucky number?”
“Why would you ask?”
“It’s your jersey number,” she mumbles.
I can’t help but smirk when I say, “You know?”
“Obviously. I watched you play a couple of times.”
“When you played the Sharks,” she answers, and my hopes fly out the window.
“Oh, while visiting the boyfriend,” I mumble, almost angry.
“Let’s not go there.” She finishes her martini and focuses on the roulette.
“Black twenty-one,” the dealer shouts.
Her shoulders slump. “See, I told you the number twenty-one hates me.”
“I lost to black twenty-one. What other proof do you need?”
She decides to stop playing roulette. Not that we placed a bet on the table. However, we continue to dare each other. It goes from her flirting with the guy at the bar to me asking some random guy on the strip to sign my chest.
“But you’re Cassie. Caspian Spearman. The captain of the Orcas.” The guy stares at me, then at my pec. “And you want my autograph?”
“Yep.” I sound casual. This doesn’t affect me at all.
Okay, maybe I should’ve drunk a few beers before agreeing to this. I hope she doesn’t digress and suggest something like going to watch the Magic Kings. With my luck, that piece of information might get to my family. Elliot, my brother-in-law, owns the strip-club franchise. They’ll want to know all about the girl who dragged me to watch the show. We Spearmans are supportive—we’re also highly nosy.