Playing Hurt

An Aces Hockey Novel

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He’s playing hurt. She’s laying low. And they’re both flirting with disaster.

“Kelly Jamieson is my go-to author for hockey romance.”—Jami Davenport

Chase: The last thing I’d ever want to do is let my team down. After overcoming my bad-boy reputation, I was dominating on the ice. But things aren’t going so well this season, and even my parents think I’m partying again. Now I’m really worried about my career. The only bright spot in my life is the Twitter flirtation I’ve struck up with pop princess Jordyn Banks. Turns out she’s a huge hockey fan—and she’s willing to wager a date on her favorite team. . . .

Jordyn: Even though I’m an L.A. fan now, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Aces, since I grew up in Chicago. Then I lose a bet to Chase Hartman, and suddenly I’m up close and personal with a pro athlete who’s anything but soft. Not only is Chase the hottest guy I’ve ever met, he’s secretly super sweet. As if I had time for a relationship . . . yeah, right. But when I suddenly have nothing but time on my hands, he’s the only one who understands. Now, with both of our careers at stake, Chase is tempting me to put my heart on the line too.

Kelly Jamieson’s USA Today bestselling Aces Hockey series can be read together or separately:
MAJOR MISCONDUCT
OFF LIMITS
ICING
TOP SHELF
BACK CHECK
SLAP SHOT
PLAYING HURT

Playing Hurt is charming, adorable, funny, and sexy—I couldn’t put it down!”USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell

“I found myself really enjoying this story. It was light and sweet and easy-to-read. I liked Chase and Jordyn together.”—Red Hot + Blue Reads

Playing Hurt was such a sweet and sexy story. I loved the characters and honestly did not want to let go of them at the end of this book. I found it to be a perfect fit for the series and a great hockey-based romance.”—Kitty’s Book Spot!

“Sassy, sweet and oh so sexy! With the next book in the Aces Hockey series, we delve into Chase’s life and watch him fall hard and fast for the girl he’s been crushing on.”—Thoughts of a Blonde

Don’t miss any of Kelly’s alluring reads:
The Bayard Hockey series: SHUT OUT | CROSS CHECK
The Last Shot series: BODY SHOT | HOT SHOT | LONG SHOT
The standalone novel: DANCING IN THE RAIN

This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Under the Cover

An excerpt from Playing Hurt

Chapter 1
Chase

Chicago
October

“Holy shit. She’s following me on Twitter.” I stared down at my phone, standing in the locker room of the Moen’s Center following our game-day skate.

“Who is?”

“Jordyn Banks.” I looked up at my teammate and buddy Cam Brickley, aka Brick, and grinned. “Holy shit.”

“Did you even need to ask who?” Bomber (real name James Baumgartner—hockey players have a long tradition of weird nicknames) slammed his locker door shut. “Chaser’s screwing obsessed with Jordyn Banks.”

“No, I’m not.” I studied her profile picture on my phone. Damn. She was so hot . . . the picture was one I’d seen before—black and white, long pale hair waving all around her small face, and those signature big eyes all dark with makeup. I also followed her on Instagram, where she posted tons of pictures and had millions of followers. “I like her music.”

I was lying about not being obsessed with her. Okay, calm down, I wasn’t a creepy stalker. She was famous—a singer, R&B/pop, with an amazing voice. She’d just released her first album this past summer, and it had hit number one on Billboard right away. She’d actually been famous even before that because of a musical TV show she’d starred in as a teenager, but her music was really good, not some kind of bubblegum pop. Anyway, it wasn’t like I was creeping on a random woman. I was probably one of a million other guys stalking her, ha.

And it was true, I did like her music. She really did have an amazing voice. Yeah, yeah, she was hot AF, which was definitely part of the, er, interest, but I genuinely liked her music.

“She’s a hockey fan,” Brick said. “She probably follows all of us.”

“Bullshit. She doesn’t follow you.” I lifted my chin. “I have way more followers than you.”

Not that we were competitive or anything. Okay, we were competitive about pretty much everything. The other day I bet Brick that I could win five face-offs in a row against him, and I won, which meant he had to take off my skates for me every day for a week. It was so sweet sitting on the bench with Brick unlacing and removing my skates.

“How many Twitter followers do you have?” Bomber asked.

I shrugged, then swiped at my phone to check. “Hundred forty-six thousand.”

Brick made a face, and I knew I had him beat. “But still, maybe she does follow me.”

He was busting my balls. “I don’t care. She’s following me. I better thank her for the follow.”

I started to thumb in a tweet.

“Whoa, hold up, dude.” Brick grabbed for my phone. “Not so fast. That’ll come across as desperate.”

I scowled at him as I wrestled my phone back. “Okay, fine, I’ll do it later.”

“As if she cares,” Bomber said. We all started walking out of the arena. “She probably has way more Twitter followers than you. I’m sure she never even reads her replies. Who’d have time for that?”

That was probably true. She had about ten million followers compared to my paltry hundred thousand. I didn’t have time to read all my mentions. Some of them were haters, which I ignored. A lot of them were women coming on to me, sometimes subtle and friendly, other times sending me naked or bikini-clad selfies, calling me “Daddy.” Ugh. It was fun trash-talking my buddies on social media, and I followed some interesting people: other pro athletes—I was a big football fan and one of my buddies I grew up with was a pro golfer; of course other hockey players and people in the business; some political commentators because lately I’d gotten interested in politics; and some comedians because they made my timeline funny. Plus Emily Ratajkowski (sue me, she’s easy on the eyes). And Jordyn Banks.

Social media could be fun and educational, but it could also be dangerous. We were all one bad decision away from being social media pariahs, having our reputations trashed and abuse heaped on us. It happened to a teammate a couple of years ago, and after that we were all given training on what and what not to say. That was why I didn’t post a lot, preferring to read what others wrote. I’d done my time in the negative spotlight, and I didn’t want to go back there.

“Isn’t she dating that British dude?” Bomber said. “The boy band guy.”

I tried to stop myself from scowling. I’d seen the pictures of them together online. “I think they broke up. Dude can’t sing. Those guys were just a manufactured band cashing in.”

“You’re jealous of a skinny guy who dances and sings?” Brick slung an arm around my neck and pulled me into a headlock. “Sad, man.”

“Jerk off.” We pretended to punch each other, then separated when we reached our cars.

It was game day, and we’d just finished our morning skate and the lunch the Aces team provided us. Everyone else was heading home for their game-day nap. I was going home, but not to nap. Yeah, it was a tradition that most guys didn’t want to mess with, but it was a habit I’d never gotten into. The only time I had a nap was if I’d stayed out too late the night before, but that didn’t happen much these days.

I was getting old.

I snorted at that as I climbed into my Maserati. Don’t judge me, it was a reward to myself for signing a contract that I’d been worried I wasn’t going to get.

Anyhoo . . . I’d just turned twenty-five. Not exactly old, but I was considered a veteran on the Aces team, given I’d been playing professional hockey for six years now—though this was only my third season with the Aces.
I had something of a wild past. When I was younger, the whole rich and famous thing went to my head a bit. When I got drafted I moved to the Big Apple, after growing up in a small Canadian city, and got into the club scene. I was one of the youngest guys on the team, and I didn’t know anybody else in New York, so after games they’d go home to their wives and kids, and I’d go out. Unfortunately, team management hadn’t appreciated the shirtless pictures that showed up online and all the attention that got, and I ended up getting traded.

In hindsight, my lifestyle probably did affect my performance. After the trade, I got serious pretty quick. I hated screwing up, and I hated feeling like I’d let people down. No way I was going to go down that path again. Hockey is my life, and my career is everything to me, so when I had a chance to start over in Chicago I made sure I took advantage of it.

That kind of reputation sticks with you though. And it kinda hurt, because we’d won the Stanley Cup the first year I’d played for New York, but after that, management traded away a lot of players and we struggled the next two years. It wasn’t all on me.

I was enough of a team player to know that I did have some responsibility though, and hard enough on myself to be dissatisfied with how I’d played after being drafted eighth overall. And all those news stories about me underperforming in the playoffs those years, the rumors that they’d made me stay in a hotel so I couldn’t go out at night, still pissed me off if I thought about them.

So I tried not to think about them.

- About the author -

USA Today bestselling author Kelly Jamieson is the author of more than forty contemporary romance novels. She writes the kind of books she loves to read—sexy romance with heat, humor, and emotion. She likes coffee (black), wine (mostly white), and shoes (high!). She also loves watching hockey.

More from Kelly Jamieson

Playing Hurt

An Aces Hockey Novel

Playing Hurt

— Published by Loveswept —