The Stillness Of You

By: Julie Bale

So, who was he? He could have been a model or an actor. He was that good looking.

But he wasn’t. He was a guy who was seriously hot—and a hockey player for sure—probably one of my brother Matt’s newest acquisitions. And though there was something about him that was familiar, at the moment I couldn’t place it.

“Let me guess,” I said carefully, studying him some more. The guy was muscular, but it was more of a lean and fast kind of strong. He wasn’t built like an enforcer. He was built for speed and scoring. “You’re a forward. I’m calling center.”

“You’re good,” he answered, that hint of a smile still lingering. Along with the dimples.

He was a seriously hot hockey player staring at the dip in my loosely belted robe, because his eyes definitely weren’t fixed on mine anymore.

I cleared my throat.

“Sorry, I…” He ran his hands through his hair and dragged his gaze up to my face, his ever growing smile showing off even white teeth. “This is Matt’s place, right?” He didn’t look sorry at all.

I nodded. “He’s at work.”

“Shit,” he murmured. “I’m sure he told me he was on vacation this week and to swing by as soon as I got into town.”

“Technically he is on vacation, but he was called into the office because someone fucked up.”

His words, not mine.

Mr. Seriously Hot didn’t bat an eye at my F bomb. “Do you mind if I wait?”

Irritated, I frowned. I needed to sketch. He didn’t understand that of course, but already the nerves inside me, the ones that hopped and jumped whenever they felt like it, were pulling something fierce. He was going to make things worse if he stayed.

“Who are you exactly?” I asked again, crossing my arms over my chest, suddenly feeling more than a little vulnerable. I was in my underwear and a robe, and even though any one of my bikini’s showed a hell of a lot more that what I was currently wearing, it was still my underwear.

Matt would be pissed if he walked in right now. It was almost like déjà vu, except I didn’t want to go back to where I’d been before. To the girl who was way too free and easy with her charms. The one who’d made a habit out of screwing several of his hockey players, more musicians than I could count, golfers, college guys—I wasn’t really fussy, and that had been my biggest problem of all.

No, I didn’t want to think about that. Not today. Not with Mr. Seriously Hot staring at me in my bathrobe.

“Sorry,” he said quickly and moved toward me though he stopped when I took a step back. “I’m Ben Lancaster.”

Ben Lancaster? Holy hell. The newest superstar to come out of Canada. I vaguely remember Matt saying something about a trade and that the Flyers had acquired him. I would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard the chatter about this guy, and let’s face it, I was as into hockey as my brother. I loved everything about the game and I knew his story. He’d been the youngest draft pick ever and though he could have been the youngest player to wear an NHL jersey, he’d shocked pretty much everyone by deciding to go to college first and get his education, before diving into the NHL.

He had some serious skills and a lot of people, including my brother who was an assistant coach for the Flyers, felt he was the real deal – the future of their franchise.

“And you’re here because…”

“I’ve just signed with the Flyers and Matt offered to put me up until I can figure things out.” He shrugged. “Find a place of my own.”

“Oh,” I managed to say. I wondered why Matt hadn’t told me Ben Lancaster would be staying with us, but then again he’d been pretty stressed lately. My situation was part of it, his nearly non-existent girlfriend was another part, and well, being the youngest coach on staff was stressful too.

“You’re staying here,” I repeated like an idiot.

Mr. Seriously Hot nodded but remained silent, though his dark eyes did a sweep again, falling away from my face and heading south.

“Okay, then.”

My voice brought him back to me and for one perfect moment when our eyes met, I felt his energy. It slid across the room and enveloped me whole. It set off all kinds of things inside me and for the first time in a long time, something stirred. Something hot. Something wicked and sensual.

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