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I accidentally grabbed the wrong drink at the coffee shop. On the upside, the hot guy it belonged to chased me down to kindly swap with me. On the down side, the reason I grabbed the wrong drink in the first place is because the hot guy had just caught me checking out his ass…sets.

In my defense, his rear view is rather magnificent.

In true, humiliating form, I word-vomited a bunch of horrible nonsense. Including an unnecessary explanation of the trauma I’d evaded thanks to his chasing me down. Nothing could ruin my lactose-intolerant day faster than my one true nemesis: dairy.

I did not expect him to ask me out on a date after that.

I also didn’t expect the date to go well since my tendency to truth-vomit is high, and not everyone finds that quality endearing.

But apparently he does. Because he asks me out again.
And again.

Sidney Butterson (yes, it’s a weird last name) ticks all my boxes.
He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s employed and he’s ridiculously hot.
There’s one catch.

We’re both single parents. With teens.

And if our kids don’t like each other?
Well, we’re doomed.


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Where It Begins

Helena Hunting

Expected Release Date: 5 December 2023

Book Series: 

A brand new story in Helena Hunting’s bestselling Pucked series is out this week, and I have a little sneak peek for you. This is the untold story of Skye and Sidney, and the origin story where Vi (Pucked; Forever Pucked) and Miller (Pucked Up) are teens when their parents start dating and fall in love.

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Excerpt

I do not need another coffee, but here I am, entering the café at eleven-thirty-seven the following day. And there he is, sitting at a table by the window with a perfect view of the door and me. 

He pushes back his chair, a wry smile gracing his full, luscious lips. I head for him instead of the counter. He tucks a casual hand into his pants pocket. Today he’s dressed in a dark gray suit, white button down and a bright blue tie that matches his eyes. 

“Let me guess, you were in the area.” Obviously, I’m being tongue in cheek.

His gaze moves over me on a slow sweep, and he shakes his head. “I made a detour, hoping I’d run into you. I’m sorry about yesterday. The last thing I wanted was to stand you up, but I couldn’t leave the scene without reporting what I witnessed.” 

“Was everyone okay?”

“Yeah, but a teen rear-ended an elderly lady. I guess he was paying more attention to his cell phone than he was the road. She was pretty shaken up.”

“Poor thing. That was good of you to hang around.” The flutter in my chest drops to my stomach and then lower, to my excitable parts. Hot men who help little old ladies are apparently a real turn on.

“Just trying to do the right thing, but gotta be honest, it was a tough choice knowing it could mean blowing my shot with you.” He runs a hand through his thick hair, his expression chagrined. “And now I’m hoping you might have a little time for that coffee?”

“I can stay for a bit.” 

Larissa calls my name and holds up a cup, eyebrows rising as her lips tip upward.

“I already took care of it. I figured you’d be in at some point. Guess I just lucked out that you came in today.” He motions to the table. “Have a seat. I’ll get it for you. Do you want anything else? Something to eat?”

“The coffee is great. Thanks though.”

I shrug out of my jacket and take a seat at the small table for two.

Sidney returns a moment later with my coffee and slides into the chair across from me. He really is handsome. 

“I’m glad you came in today.” He catches his bottom lip between his teeth for a moment.

It’s my turn with the slightly embarrassed smile. “If I’m being honest, I only came because you might be here, too.”

“Good. That’s great. I wasn’t sure if I was pushing it since you didn’t text.”

I sip my coffee and glance out the window. “I planned to do that tonight. After work. I wanted to text last night, but my daughter said I should wait twenty-four hours.” I bite my lips together, wishing I could curb my honesty. But I’m not interested in doing the dating dance with a guy who can’t handle the complications of being a single parent with a teen.

“How old is your daughter?” he asks, gaze moving over my face as if he’s trying to guess my age.

“Fifteen going on twenty-five. She’s a Mathlete, very studious and responsible. She’s pretty easy as far as teenagers go.” 

“Fifteen, huh?” He tips his head fractionally.

“I was in my early twenties when I had her.” That’s as close as I’ll get to revealing my age on a first coffee date.  

He smiles. “Well, she sounds like a dream. I have a teenage son, too. He’s seventeen. He’s more of an ongoing concern, but he’s always on the ice so he doesn’t have much time for trouble.”

“Oh? On the ice doing what?” I fight not to fidget. Maybe his son is a figure skater, or a speed skater. But this is Chicago, and people live and breathe hockey around here.

“He plays competitive hockey. We travel a lot for his games. It’s just the two of us.” I’m not sure what my expression must be, but that smile of his shifts. “Not a fan of hockey?”

“I don’t mind the game.” I have a love-hate relationship with hockey players, though. 

The love part gave me Violet, the hate part revolves around the guy who knocked me up. Violet’s father is a former professional hockey player. He was a one-night stand and a poor decision. One I didn’t want to involve in our lives after I did the necessary internet research, so I raised Violet on my own. All she knows about him is that he was a fling. 

“But…” He fidgets with the napkin, then taps the edge of his paper cup.

I shrug, unwilling to share my most impulsive choices with a guy I’ve just met, who I may or may not want to see again.

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(standalone stories with interconnected characters)

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