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Bad Ideas are kind of my Super power

I’m Ben Boerboom, the NHL’s favorite puck boy, and Lara’s my slamming hot, former bestie. She’s also the friend who got away and my dirty, dirty accomplice from those two insane weeks that weren’t supposed to change anything… but did.

I wanted it all. Would have wrapped my forever around her finger if she’d let me. But if making bad decisions is my special skill, Lara’s is making good ones… Like prioritizing her career goals and the kind of security she didn’t have growing up.

Hard pass on that kind of heartbreak again. So cue the bunnies. Years of bunnies.

Now Lara’s back in my city. Temporarily. And thanks to a burst pipe and a miscommunication with my sister, she’s living in my spare room.

A lot has changed, but two things haven’t. Her goals and the way she sometimes believes my bad ideas are good… like crossing those lines I swore we wouldn’t cross again.


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Dirty Flirt

Mira Lyn Kelly

Expected Release Date: 1 March 2024

Book Series: 

A steamy new friends to lovers, second chance, hockey romance is out this week from author Mira Lyn Kelly, part of her Slayers Hockey series, and I have the first chapter for you.

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Chapter One

Ben

“Little dude, I thought it’d end different for you.” I heave a breath, shaking my head as I carry the fallen soldier to my bathroom. “Saw you going out in a blaze of glory. Belly full of the good stuff. Final hours spent in the land of milk and honey.”

Jesus, I haven’t had to toss an expired rubber since high school.

Back then, my girlfriend kept saying she wanted to do it then changing her mind. Fair. No one should do anything before they’re ready, so I never pressured her. Ever. I was good with waiting, good with throwing away one unopened box of condoms a year for three years straight… until I found out said girlfriend had been doing Steven Huang since New Year’s our senior year.

Yeouch.

Next time I bought a box of rubbers, I was back to buy a second box less than twelve hours later.

Been that kind of steady turnover ever since. At least until six months ago when my left nut went rogue and—

“Yo, Boomer, got a minute?”

I turn to where my teammate, roommate, and bromantic bestie, Grant Bowie, is leaning against the doorjamb. “Dude, moment of silence here?”

He closes his eyes, but instead of acknowledging the loss like a normal human being, the guy who stole my little sister runs a hand over his face and groans. “Knock off the somber bullshit. Condoms don’t expire in one year.”

Rude.

“Not by the manufacturer’s standards, but I like to keep a solid buffer between me and the edge of iffy… especially when it comes to protection.”

He considers and gives me a nod. “Okay. For you, that’s probably good practice. But your sister wants to talk. Let’s go.”

Ignoring the dig, I toss the rubber and follow Bowie out to the front of the apartment where Piper’s sitting at the table she made us buy because she was sick of eating on the couch or floor, and felt that as professional hockey players in the NHL, we could definitely afford it. She’s got a glass of water in front of her and a sweet smile on her face that reminds me of when she was little. Cute. Not dating my teammate.

Good times.

Bowie drops a kiss at her temple and slides onto the chair beside her while I take the one across from them. “This about your trip? Need a ride to the airport?”

They’ve already shared their itinerary, and Bowie promised to hit a couple virtual workouts with me while they’re gone.

“No, we’re all set. There’s something else, Ben.”

Uh-oh. “My hockey gear?”

She glances at the clothesline I strung across the living room last week to air out my equipment… and possibly just to see what she’d say because I’m maybe still the tiniest bit butthurt about the fact that she’s usurped me as the most important person in Bowie’s life.

“No. It’s not about the gear.” She levels me with a look. “But that’s gross and you should put it away.”

I’m planning on it. Eventually. “The oatmeal? Because I learned my lesson about leaving it in the bowl, and the new dishes are going to be here tomorrow.”

“What?” she chokes as Bowie’s head whips toward the kitchen.

Not the oatmeal then. “They’re really nice.”

My sister nods. Sighs and then smiles.

And that’s when I notice the boxes.

Oh shit. “Just what exactly is happening here?”

“Ben, listen,” she says with a voice so calm I think I might puke, because no good thing comes from that soothing tone. “We’re getting our own place.”

***

Twenty-four hours later, I’m back at the table where they broke the news to me, freaking the fuck out. I’ve been abandoned. Piper and Bowie are gone.

I tried everything to sway them not to go…

Tantrums.

Ultimatums.

Sulking.

But apparently, they’d been prepared for all that and worse, which is why they didn’t tell me about their move until they were ready to leave. I mean, I wouldn’t actually have sabotaged their plans. But I’ve met me, and I guess I can see why they might think maybe I would.

Whatever.

They left yesterday. I don’t like it, but surprisingly enough, that’s not the part that has me losing my shit. No. It’s that in some misguided attempt to soften the blow of bailing on me, my little sister took it upon herself to find me a replacement roommate.

Umm… WTF, Piper. W… T… F.

But when I protested, she just smacked a kiss on my cheek acting like she’d given me the biggest present under the tree instead of my eight-years-estranged, side-bestie from high school.

Lara Elliot.

I pull up my photos and drag my thumb through the years until I’m back in high school. Piper’s still a lanky kid who hasn’t grown into her looks yet. Bowie’s a year ahead of me and already drafted. My Juniors team is filled with guys dreaming of a career only a couple will achieve. And Lara’s filling up half the pictures. Brown eyes dancing, blonde hair blowing in the wind. A hundred different smiles, because nothing got that girl down.

We walked through fire together, and I’d counted her as one of my best friends before life took us in two different directions.

That’s all it was… I think.

College for her. Hockey for me.

Life.

No fight. No bad blood.

Nothing but time and distance and a series of small decisions each with their own course-changing consequences doing what they do… even though we’d sworn they wouldn’t.

“Tell me this won’t change things.”

A breathless whisper in the night.

“Friends forever, Elle. Nothing’s changing that.”

Now it’s been eight years. No phone call. No text. Not a single slide into my DMs.

Just a conversation with my little sister, and suddenly this woman I don’t even know anymore is moving into my apartment… sometime in the next hour-ish.

It’s a bullshit move, the kind of thing the girl I knew in high school never would have pulled. But even as epically uncool as it is that she hasn’t bothered to check in with me directly… I’m still going to let her move in. Because time and distance and all they’ve done aside, I don’t like the idea of her showing up in a new city and not having someone she knows to stay with.

We’re not talking about forever here. Couple days, maybe a week until she finds a new place.

But yeah. I should probably take the clothesline down.

Lara

Standing in front of the door to what’s supposed to be my new apartment, spinner bag at my side, key in one hand and phone in the other, I quietly hyperventilate.

“Motherfucker.”

Okay, not so quietly. Or politely. Or professionally, which is a problem considering the only reason I’m in Chicago at all is to keep on killing it at the PR firm Giles, Hall, & Wren. To prove that I’ve got the stuff to move up to the New York office. Something I’ve been so focused on that in the chaos of these last few days, I somehow screwed up this one not-so-insignificant thing.

I read the text from Piper Boerboom again, her shouty caps turning my insides to knots.

Piper: OMG!! YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE MOVING IN WITH ME???!!! I AM SO SORRY!

There are a dozen more texts, sent in rapid fire. Explanations about an out-of-country vacation, an apartment that opened up in the building, and how she and Grant Bowie— I did not see that relationship coming! —had to move on it quickly. She’d been distracted and rushing, and when she offered me the room in the apartment her brother owned, she wasn’t clear about the fact that he was the one I’d be living with. Not her.

Thumbs shaking so hard my keys are rattling, I’m all LOL with my own shouty caps reply, hoping she’ll take them to be extra hard laughter rather than the panic-laced, not-enough-air, what-the-fuck-did-I-just-do kind of manic laughter it truly is.

How is this happening? I’m the girl who gets shit done, on time, every time. I’m the one others turn to in a pinch. I’m not the girl who lands herself in an apartment with a guy she traded V-cards with after prom… for God only knows how long.

Ugh.

Until two days ago, everything was on track. I’d handed off all my projects in Denver. I’d closed out my apartment, donated my furniture and housewares, and turned in my keys before flying home to see my dad while my clothing and personal items were shipped to the apartment GHW had lined up for me.

And then I got the email.

A pipe burst and my should-have-been apartment was unlivable for the foreseeable future. HR had no place to put me, and unless I could figure something out myself, my start date would be pushed back three weeks.

After an indulgent moment of hyperventilating, not too far off from this one, I emailed back, letting them know I’d be starting on time. Because that is the kind of employee I am. And then I’d whirled into action, putting out an ask for friends of friends living in Chicago looking for a roommate. Somehow, I got to Piper, and for a minute, I thought everything had fallen into place.

Wrong.

Because there is no freaking way I can live with Ben.

I hiccup and, sucking another shaky breath, tell myself to get it together. I can turn this around. It’s what I do. I just need to get the heck out of here, find some coffee shop to message him that I’ve found another place but thank you, etc., etc., etc.… wait for the thumbs-up emoji of neutral acknowledgment, and then go max out my credit card on a hotel for two weeks.

Which is not how I roll.

I don’t carry debt. I don’t live beyond my means. And I never leave myself in a position where I don’t have a bed to sleep in at night.

Call it a carryover from middle school when my family hit a rough patch and we spent two weeks living in the back of our minivan. That stuff sticks with a girl… even when it’s a million miles behind her.

That said, if ever there was an emergency that justified financial recklessness, this is it.

Grabbing my bag, I start back down the hall and—

“Change of heart, roomie?”

I freeze where I am. Then, head dropping, turn back to the now open doorway, and the one guy I kind of hoped I’d never have to see again standing in it.

Filling it.

To capacity.

Oomph. The sight of Ben Boerboom in the flesh knocks the air right out of me.

He’s big. Bigger than I remember. Hard cut from head to toe, muscles upon muscles stacked and bulging beneath the stretch of his tight white T-shirt and worn jeans that hug his massive thighs.

His mouth is hooked in a version of the same slanted smirk I saw every day back in high school. Only it’s not quite the same. Like the rest of him, it looks harder. Less invitation to mischief and more… guarded. Accusing, maybe. Or maybe that’s just my own guilt talking, and all I’m seeing is indifference where it never existed before.

“Boomer.” I shake my head with a sigh. “I apologize. This was a total misunderstanding. I thought—”

“That you were moving in with Piper?” He raises a brow, blond and thick with the smallest gap where he got stitches in the tenth grade.

“She texted?”

Uncrossing his arms, he pulls his phone from his back pocket. It vibrates in his hand. Then again, and before it’s even through, again and again.

My brow lifts with his, and for a second, his smile feels more like the one I knew.

“Started about five minutes ago. Hasn’t stopped.”

Uh-huh. Okay.

“You knew I was here.” I can feel the heat creeping up my neck and into my face.

“Had an apple while I watched through the door. Actually, I had two. The second was supposed to be for you. Like a ‘welcome to the apartment’ apple. But then you just stood there with this horror-stricken look on your face.” He shrugs, those intense blue eyes never leaving mine. “So I ate it.”

A choked laugh slips free, because even though I can see he isn’t charmed by this whole situation… I also see a glimpse of the ridiculous guy I was half in love with from the first time he tugged my ponytail in bio to ask if he could cheat off me on the quiz… then winked, telling me he’d eaten his Wheaties and his Ritalin that morning, and he’d nail it on his own.

How am I actually standing face-to-face with Ben Boerboom? “No apple for me, then?”

The corner of his mouth hitches impossibly higher and he repockets his still ringing phone. “Not unless you come in. Which I can see wasn’t your plan. But FYI, there are more inside.”

“You were actually okay with me living here?” With him?

“I bought you a whole damn bowl of apples, didn’t I?”

And then he’d watched me flip out and try to sneak off. “Boomer, I feel like a jackass here.”

One eye squints. “For trying to bail without a word? Yeah, that tracks.”

“That too. But… I honestly had no idea this was your apartment. And to show up here without so much as—”

“A Facebook poke?”

Another laugh escapes, and I nod. “Yeah, or anything else.”

Like even a hello… in eight years. Not that he’d been sending Christmas cards either.

“Look, it’s fine. Did I think it was weird as fuck that you were planning to move in without contacting me? Yeah. But now that we’ve cleared that up, how about you come in. Sit down while you figure out what you want to do.”

I’m already nodding and, when he flashes me a grin that is so purely the guy I secretly loved from high school, it knocks the air right out of me.

Ben.

He takes my bag and winks. “Move it, Elliot.”

Why not.

I’ll have an apple. Book my hotel and then get the hell out.

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