Body Check(2)

By: Elle Kennedy


“Seriously, this Damian guy seems like a wimp,” Darcy said, jerking her from her thoughts.

“Doug.”

“Whatever.” Darcy waved a dismissive hand and tossed her long red hair over her shoulder. “Screw intimacy. If Dustin won’t have sex with you, find someone who will.”

“Believe me, I’m tempted.”

More than tempted, actually. The next couple months were bound to be pure hell. She’d come home after final exams to support her father through his messy divorce, to be the good daughter, but that didn’t mean she had to like the situation.

Her stepmother was determined to squeeze Hayden’s dad for every dime he had. And, boy, did he have a lot of dimes. Though he’d spent most of his life coaching, Presley had always dreamed of owning a team, a goal he’d finally reached seven years ago. Thanks to the substantial insurance settlement he’d received after her mom’s accident, and his wise investment in a pharmaceutical company that had made him millions, he’d been able to purchase the Chicago Warriors franchise. Over the years he’d continued investing and building his fortune, but his main priority was the team. It was all he ever thought about, and that’s what made coming home so difficult.

Her childhood had been chaotic, to say the least. Traveling with her dad across the country for away games, living in Florida for two years when he’d coached the Aces to a championship victory, five years in Texas, three in Oregon. It had been tough, but Hayden’s close relationship with her dad had made the constant upheaval bearable. Her father had always shown an interest in her life. He’d listened while she babbled about her favorite artists, and taken her to countless museums over the years.

Now that she was an adult and he was busy with the team, he no longer seemed to care about making time to connect with her outside of the hockey arena. She knew other team owners didn’t get as involved as her father did, but his background as a coach seemed to influence his new position; he had his hand in every aspect of the Warriors, from drafting players to marketing, and he thrived on it, no matter how time-consuming the work was.

That’s why three years ago she’d decided to accept the full-time position Berkeley had offered her, even though it meant relocating to the West Coast. She’d figured the old absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder cliché might kick in and make her father realize there was more to life than hockey. It hadn’t.

So she’d come back to see him through the divorce in hopes that they could reconnect.

“Have you become a nymphomaniac since you left town?” Darcy was asking. “You never mentioned it in your e-mails.”

Hayden forced herself to focus on her best friend and not dwell on her issues with her dad. “I haven’t become a nymphomaniac. I’m just stressed-out and I need to unwind. Do you blame me?”

“Not really. The evil stepmother is throwing poison apples all over the place, huh?”

“You saw the morning paper, too?”

“Oh, yeah. Pretty crappy.”

Hayden raked her fingers through her hair. “Crappy? It’s a disaster.”

“Any truth to it?” Darcy asked carefully.

“Of course not! Dad would never do the things she’s accusing him of.” She tried to control the frustration in her tone. “Let’s not talk about this. Tonight I just want to forget about my dad and Sheila and the whole messy business.”

“All right. Wanna talk about sex again?”

Hayden grinned. “No. I’d rather have sex instead.”

“Then do it. There are tons of men in this place. Pick one and go home with him.”

“You mean a one-night stand?” she asked warily.

“Hell, yeah.”

“I don’t know. It seems kind of sleazy, hopping into bed with someone and never seeing them again.”

“How is that sleazy? I do it all the time.”

Hayden burst out laughing. “Of course you do. You’re commitment-phobic.”

Darcy went through men like socks, and some of the details she shared in her e-mails made Hayden gape. She certainly couldn’t remember ever experiencing seven orgasms in one night, or indulging in a ménage à trois with two firefighters she’d met—figure this one out—at an illegal bonfire in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

Darcy raised her eyebrows, blue eyes flashing with challenge. “Well, let me ask you this—what sounds more fun, having a few screaming orgasms with a man you may or may not see again, or hiking across the intimacy bridge with Don?”

“Doug.”

Darcy shrugged. “I think we both know my way is better than the highway. Or should I say the bridge?” She fluttered her hand as if waving a white flag. “Sorry, I promise to refrain from any further bridge comments for the rest of the evening.”