Body Check

By: Elle Kennedy


“I REALLY NEED to get laid,” Hayden Houston said with a sigh. She reached for the glass on the smooth mahogany tabletop and took a sip of red wine. The slightly bitter liquid eased her thirst but did nothing to soothe her frustration.

The pictures staring at her from the walls of the Ice House Bar didn’t help, either. Action shots of hockey players mid slap shot, framed rookie cards, team photos of the Chicago Warriors—it seemed as if the sport haunted her everywhere she went. Sure, she was a team owner’s daughter, but occasionally it would be nice to focus on something other than hockey. Like sex, perhaps.

Across from her, Darcy White grinned. “We haven’t seen each other in two years and that’s all you’ve got to say? Come on, Professor, no anecdotes about life in Berkeley? No insightful lectures about Impressionist art?”

“I save the insightful lectures for my students. And as for anecdotes, none of them involve sex so let’s not waste time with those.”

She ran her hand through her hair and discovered that all the bounce she’d tried to inject into it before heading to the Ice House Bar had deflated. Volume-enhancing mousse? Yeah, right. Apparently nothing could make her stick-straight brown hair look anything other than stick-straight.

“Okay, I’ll bite,” Darcy said. “Why do you have sex on the brain?”

“Because I’m not getting any.”

Darcy sipped her strawberry daiquiri, a drink she’d confessed she hated but drank anyway, claiming men found it sexy. “Aren’t you seeing someone back in California? Dan? Drake?”

“Doug,” Hayden corrected.

“How long have you been together?”

“Two months.”

“And you still haven’t done the mattress mambo?”


“You’re kidding, right? He’s not down with getting it on?” Darcy paused, looking thoughtful. “Or should I say, he’s not up with it?”

“Oh, he’s up. He just wants, and I quote, ‘to get to know each other fully before we cross the intimacy bridge.’”

Her friend hooted. “The intimacy bridge? Girl, he sounds like a total loser. Dump him. Now. Before he brings up the intimacy bridge again.”

“We’re actually on a break right now,” Hayden admitted. “Before I left I told him I needed some space.”

“Space? Uh-uh. I think what you need is a new boyfriend.”

God, that was the last thing she wanted. Toss her line in the dating pool and start fishing again? No, thank you. After three failed relationships in five years, Hayden had decided to quit falling for bad boys and focus on the good ones. And Doug Lloyd was definitely a good one. He taught a Renaissance course at Berkeley, he was intelligent and witty, and he valued love and commitment as much as she did. Having grown up with a single father, Hayden longed for a partner she could build a home and grow old with.

Her mom had died in a car accident when Hayden was a baby, and her dad had given up on finding love again, opting instead to spend more than twenty years focusing on his hockey-coaching career. He’d finally remarried three years ago, but she suspected loneliness, rather than love, had driven him to do so. Why else would he have proposed to a woman after four months of dating? A woman who was twenty-nine years his junior. A woman he was in the process of divorcing, no less.

Well, she had no intention of following her dad’s example. She wasn’t going to spend decades alone and then jump into marriage with someone totally unsuitable.

Doug held the same mind-set. He was a traditionalist through and through, a believer that marriage should be valued and not rushed into. Besides, he had a rock-hard body that made her mouth water. He’d even let her touch it…once. They’d been kissing on the couch in the living room of her San Francisco town house and she’d slid her hands underneath his button-down shirt. Running her fingers over his rippled chest, she’d murmured, “Let’s move this into the bedroom.”

That’s when he’d dropped the no-intimacy bomb on her. He’d assured her he was unbelievably attracted to her, but that, like marriage, he didn’t believe sex should be rushed. He wanted the first time to be special.

And no amount of chest rubbing could persuade him to let go of his chivalrous intentions.

And therein lay the problem. Doug was simply too nice. At first she’d thought his views on making love were really very sweet. But two months, coupled with eight months of celibacy prior to meeting Doug, added up to extreme sexual frustration on her part.

She loved that Doug was a gentleman but, darn it, sometimes a girl just needed a man.