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Willa
I’ve been in love with him for years, despite knowing he could never be mine.

Now his charming new boyfriend is determined to include me in all their plans.

Zander
I’ve been infatuated with him for years, despite us being in different states.

Now we’re living in the same city with the only woman who’s come close to holding my heart.

Damian
I’ve been intrigued by her for years, despite us never knowing each other.

Now I just need to convince the two people I care most about that three is better than two.


EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Flurry

Alison Rhymes

Expected Release Date: 16 April 2024

Book Series: 

An angsty new MMF, coach’s daughter, hockey romance is coming next week from Alison Rhymes—part of her Seattle Blades series—and I have the first chapter for you.

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Chapter One

Willa

“Are you going to be obnoxiously obsessive over his neck tonight?” Kit, my best friend, asks.

“I mean, yeah, maybe,” I answer as we stride into the arena. “Probably.”

Tonight is the night that Alexander Fane plays his first professional hockey game. It’s an enormous night for him, and though he doesn’t see me as anything but his best friend’s little sister, I’m here brimming with excitement for him. Zander has been Isla’s friend since the day he showed up to play Junior hockey for the team my dad coached. Dad now coaches the NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Blades, and a couple of years back, they drafted Zan, but he’s been playing down on the farm team all this time.

Due to a player’s season-ending injury last game, they called up Zan. And his big neck. Kit and Isla always tease me about my odd infatuation with it, but I don’t care. The man has the thickest neck I’ve ever seen. I want to trail my fingers down it, lick it, taste it.

Pipe dreams, that’s what I call them. He doesn’t know I know this, but Zander is gay. When I’m not in class or studying, I work as a bartender at The Chapel, a popular gay bar. I take fewer shifts these days, as my schooling takes up so much more of my time. However, during one of my shifts, I saw him there and he wasn’t alone. Later, he’d come over to the condo I shared with Isla, and when it came up in conversation that I’d started working there, a strained look passed over his features. I never saw him there again.

His sexuality hasn’t dampened my feelings. I’ve been a little in love with him since the first night Isla dragged him home with her. He was young, only eighteen at the time, when he plopped down on the living room floor and tried teaching my toddler niece how to build a house of cards. The feelings only grew from there. My sister has excellent taste in best friends. He’s kind, generous with the little time he has, unimaginably sexy, and one of the scrappiest hockey players I’ve ever seen.

“You are so strange,” Kit says, laughing. “I want to grab one of those poke bowls before we head up to the seats.”

“Yeah, definitely. And a beer or two, I’m nervous.”

“Why? You aren’t the one playing.”

“Shut up,” I say, grimacing at her playfully. “I’m nervous for him.”

“Hockey is his whole life. He’ll be fine,” Kit reassures. I’m sure she’s right, but the NHL is different. All the players are bigger and faster. Besides, rookies get a lot of shit from other players.

Zan wasn’t the biggest guy when he showed up as a teenager to play for my dad. He worked hard to gain some bulk, but even when he was shipped off to California, he wasn’t big by NHL standards. Despite wanting to, I could only attend couple of his games these past few years. I thought it was weird to go without Isla and she’s been busy. I’m not trying to be a clingy stalker type or anything.

My sister works in fan development for the Blades. She’s also married to one of the team’s star players, Cillian Wylder. Plus, she’s a mom… finding time to go see her best friend play hockey in other states has been hard. She’s probably more excited than me to have him back in Seattle. Well, maybe not more than me. But it’s close.

Zan and I are friendly, but we’re not that close. Like, I can text him on holidays or congratulate him on big moments. Anything beyond that feels forced somehow. He keeps me at arm’s length, and I can only imagine it’s because he’s aware of my crush, which isn’t reciprocated. Because… vagina.

Sigh. If only we had interchangeable parts, and I could wake up in the morning and choose which I wanted to wear that day, penis or vag. It would make life much easier for a lot of people. Evolution failed us in that end.

There’s been plenty of times I wished I had a male’s appendage. Mostly when I’m drunk, need to pee, and can’t manage to get my panties off quick enough. But never more than when I daydream of a relationship with Alexander Fane.

“You have it bad, my friend,” Kit says when she notices me succumbing to thoughts of the unrequited. “We need to find you a good dick attached to an available man.”

“Yes, please,” I say with another solemn moan. It’s not as if I don’t date. I do on rare occasions, when a guy catches my attention either from good looks or a great personality. None holds up to the inevitable comparison. “You’re right. I need to get ahold of my schoolgirl crush and stomp into the dirt.”

“Atta girl,” Kit says, beaming. “You know Seattle is the top city in the United States for single people. And men are plentiful. They outnumber the single women by almost twenty percent. Finding you a dick to ride shouldn’t be a hardship.”

I laugh at how easily she spits out data. Kit is a statistician with a head full of these sorts of random numbers. Often, I’ve wondered what it must be like inside her head. She’s always happy and energetic, moving a mile a minute, I bet her brain is the same, constantly on the move from one subject to the next and the next. Unlike me, she doesn’t date. We became fast friends when we met on our first day on campus. I’d gotten through my lectures and stopped at Molly’s, a coffee shop on campus. When my order of an oat milk dirty spiced chai was called, someone else’s hand reached for the drink. It turned out to be my bubbly friend. It was love at first identical coffee order. Or chai, whatever. She’d moved from Maine to attend school. I found that so brave, as I only lived a five-minute walk from the university property and only a handful of miles from where I’d grown up.

We’re opposites in a lot of ways. Kit never had a great family life, while I have a close knit, although small, family. She’s always been on her own in so many ways. I, on the other hand, have been practically coddled in comparison. Mom and Dad don’t mean to do that, but growing up as the daughter of a former NHL player naturally comes with certain privileges.

Kit’s past with men hasn’t been any better than her family life. She’s sworn them off completely. It doesn’t stop her from appreciating the male specimen, but she doesn’t want anything to do with one romantically. At least for now.

Kit has been continuously tested in life. Being so close to her has taught me a lot; she grounds me, and I love her to death. I wish life had thrown us in each other’s way years earlier.

“I don’t know why I can’t just get over this crush. It’s not like I’m twelve and still figuring my way through puberty or something. I’m an intelligent woman, on her way to a PhD no less. Being hung up on a man that doesn’t think twice about me is embarrassing.”

“Stop that,” she chides. “He likes you more than you pretend. But I agree that he’s not a sensible choice. Hot, yes, absolutely. Available? Apparently not. Because you’re a catch, a dream woman. And since he hasn’t snatched you up by now, fuck his dumb ass.”

“I’d love to do just that,” I tease. “Maybe that would get it out of my system, and I could hop on the next dreamy man to come along.”

We reach the vendor that serves salmon or ahi poke as I say the words. The lady working the counter, a retiree just taking a part-time job for something to do, if I had to guess, smiles at us and then winks.

“You young women enjoy your night,” she sings happily as she hands us our food and beer. Seems even this stranger understands my need to get laid. It’s been a while. I like sex, but it hasn’t been a priority of mine lately. I just entered the doctoral program for feminist studies at the University of Washington, it’s a big course load and I don’t plan on fucking it up.

Besides, men are just so… well, ridiculous. Even here in one of the more liberal cities in the country, I meet plenty of incel types who want little more than to go head-to-head with me on my chosen studies. Too many men live to try and knock a strong woman down a notch or two. Especially a woman with a semi-famous father and brother-in-law.

Men, or boys rather, are equal parts jealous of my family’s talent, envious of their lifestyle, and hateful that they don’t have the same. All of that somehow leads them to want to fuck me but also make me feel inferior to them. As if I have anything to do with my dad or Cillian’s success. Like saying they fucked the coach’s daughter and came all over her face gives them some sort of street credit and the other bros will look up to them.

Hard fucking pass. 

I learned a long time ago that I don’t let a guy finish until he’s finished me off first. And if he doesn’t automatically go there, he isn’t given a second chance. It’s a huge red flag. I know I’m more than the holes I offer for their pleasure, as crass as that sounds.

Kit and I head to our allotted seats in the designated family section, seeing my sister and niece already there as we approach. Isla is speaking to a man I’ve never seen before. Granted, I don’t come to many games these days, but the family faces usually only change with player trades. Or if one of the players finally gets serious enough with a woman to invite her to sit with this lot. It’s not something most guys’ do lightly. Sometimes they’ll date a woman for months before they allow her into the circle of wives and girlfriends.

“Hey, Sadie,” I greet my niece.

“Hi, Auntie Willa,” she says, excitedly. I used to live with her and Isla since we’re close, but like with most things in my life right now, I don’t see her as often as I’d like. “You sit there.” She points to the seat directly behind her own and next to the stranger my sister is still talking to.

He’s broad but doesn’t seem bulky under his black peacoat and dark jeans. I surreptitiously give him a once-over as I settle into my seat. He’s got expensive black boots on, and upon closer inspection, I can tell his coat is also a high-end brand. The cost of his apparel isn’t what grabs my attention though; it’s his thick dark hair, and the ink painted over his skin. Markings show on the back of his hand, bleeding down to his fingers. It’s wrapped around a paper coffee cup so I can’t get a great look at the image, but the art is deeply shaded. It screams of something dark and ominous.

The man himself, dressed unlike any regular hockey fan, is intriguing. Especially with his deep voice that sounds as rich as the clothing he wears.

“I know very little about the game. I hope you don’t mind my questions while I learn,” he says to Isla.

“You’re in the right section for that. We’re all basically experts here. Ask away,” she answers.

“I can teach you; I know everything about hockey,” Sadie says. The man grins at her, probably not believing her. But she does know just about everything, even though she’s only six years old and is missing a front tooth.

“You sure do,” I agree with her.

“Willa, Kit, this is Damian March,” Isla introduces us, pointing her finger at each of us, as she says our names.

“Nice to meet you both,” he says in a voice that sounds like he finishes his nights with a glass of bourbon.

“Likewise,” Kit says.

“Always nice to meet a new hockey fan,” I tell him as he unabashedly ogles me. Excitement shines in his dark eyes, as if he’s been waiting for this moment. I blink away my astonishment before turning back to my sister. “How’s the head WaG?”

“Shut up,” my sister whispers with a nervous laugh. She’s been asked to take charge of the wives and girlfriends this season. The wife that did it previously, divorced her player and moved back to the East Coast. Isla hates it and can’t wait to pass it off. But the stubborn control freak in her won’t let her hand it away if it might make her look weak to others, like she can’t handle it. She can, of course, but planning baby showers and the like isn’t something she has much experience with.

“What’s a wag,” Damian asks.

“Wives and girlfriends,” I say.

“There is a head wife?”

“Yeah, it’s a whole thing,” I tell him.

“Subject change, please,” Isla demands, making my grin grow.

“Who do you belong to, Mr. March? And why do you look vaguely familiar?”

“He goes to UW, too,” Isla says. “Maybe you’ve seen each other.”

“I’m certain I wouldn’t have forgotten such a meeting,” he says, the silkiness of his words sending sensation to places that haven’t been excited in a long while. Though something tells me he isn’t being entirely truthful. Interesting.

“What do you study?”

“I’m in the sociology PhD program. Group behavior and cults, specifically.”

“Wow, impressive,” I say, turning to face him slightly. Our knees bump, but he doesn’t pull away.

“It was a hobby that grew into something more,” he says, shrugging. “What’s your path?”

“Feminist studies.”

“She’s going to change the world for women,” Kit chimes in, always so confident in me.

“Hopefully,” I say. “That’s the dream anyway.”

“Admirable,” he says. “To answer your other question, I’m a friend of Alexander’s.”

“Alexander? As in, Zander Fane?” Nobody that knows him calls him by his full name, it throws me off. Though the formality somehow fits coming from this man.

“Yes,” he says, offering no other explanation as to how he knows Zan. Immediately, I know it’s more than just a friendship and that tiny spark of heat I felt a moment ago snuffs itself out.

Stupid vaginas.

“Is his mother here,” I ask Isla.

“Couldn’t make it,” she answers, shaking her head with some remorse. Zander comes from a small town in Minnesota and has a sister much younger than him, I know money was always tight for his family. I also know my sister would have offered to fly his mom out. “His dad is ill.”

Ah, that explains it more. He’s never said anything in my presence, but I’ve caught on to the fact that his father is an alcoholic.

“That’s unfortunate,” I say. “I’m sure she would have loved to be here.”

The pregame clock keeps ticking down, and it’s almost time for warmups. More family members trickle in, and we make our greetings. Damian is introduced to everyone. He politely says hello but doesn’t seem too eager to converse with any of the new arrivals. I’m oddly tuned in to all things Damian March now. Registering every sip of his coffee, every infinitesimal shift of his body. The way he leans closer to me when another player’s wife takes the seat next to him.

I hate how much I like the heat of his arm pressed against mine. Even more, I hate that I can only seem to be attracted to homosexual men. Maybe I’m doomed to singlehood. Maybe I’m doomed to singlehood because I was meant to be a man but was born in a woman’s body. No, that’s not right. I love being a woman, even when life seems like it would be so much easier if only I had a cock.

“You keep shyly looking my way, Ms. Cole. What is it you’d like to see? Be direct,” he whispers into the curtain of hair at my ear.

“Oh my god, am I being that obvious?” Embarrassed, I try to laugh it away. He doesn’t seem bothered by my attention, rather, more intrigued. “I’m so sorry.”

“Only obvious to me,” Damian reassures with a smile. “Probably because I’m paying so much attention.”

“Well, I’m trying to place where I’ve seen you before and get a better look at the tattoos,” I say, motioning to his hand. “Now that you know my reasons, what are yours?”

“You’re fucking gorgeous,” he says bluntly, switching his cup to the other hand so he can splay the one with the art on his knee for my inspection. Ignoring that stupid flutter deep in my belly, I look at what he’s displayed for me. The florals bloom over his hand, vines and buds trailing up his wrist and winding around his ring and pinkie fingers.

“Garden Spirit?”

“Wedding Piano, but they are quite similar.”

“You know roses, Mr. March,” I say with a raised eyebrow.

“So do you, Ms. Cole,” he says, once again using my last name.

“My grandmother had a large rose garden, one of her few obsessions. If we wanted to spend time with her, it was often in the midst of thorns and blooms,” I explain. “How do you know I’m a Cole, by the way?”

“You and Isla look alike. Besides, Alexander has spoken of you.”

We do look quite a bit alike, both taking after our mother in many ways. Though I got my mom’s coloring with fair skin and honey hair, Isla takes after Dad with her darker curls and skin that always looks like it has a healthy sunglow to it.

“Has he?”

“Don’t be surprised. He’s quite fond of your family.”

Right, my family. Not me, specifically.

“We feel the same; he’s practically an honorary Cole.”

“There’s time for one more before warmups,” Kit says to Sadie. They have a game they play where Sadie rattles off a subject and Kit tells her whatever random stat or fact she knows about it. If she knows nothing, they look it up together.

“Um, pineapples!” Her “s” comes out in a lisp due to the hole in her front teeth.

“Good one,” Kit says. “I don’t know much, but one third of all pineapples come from Hawaii.”

“Mom, can we go to Hawaii?”

“Someday, maybe. Ask your dad.”

“Okay.”

“She loves pineapple,” I explain to Damian.

“Alexander says she’s a vegetarian.”

“She is. She’s an animal lover. Especially cats.”

“I, too, love pussies,” he says quietly along the shell of my ear. I burst out laughing at his bold statement. Damian winks, his eyes gleaming.

Maybe my vagina isn’t so useless, after all.

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