A Perfect Catch
by Anna Sugden
When it comes to romance, Tracy Hayden is not looking for a rematch. She's had epic passion—and problems!—with professional hockey player Ike Jelinek. Brilliant on skates and magic in bed, his too-traditional-for-her views were like a bucket of ice water on their affair.
Then an injury takes Ike out of the game, and everything changes. Suddenly he needs her services-providing business—even though he once claimed it was their biggest problem. Tracy's determined to be professional, despite the sizzling attraction between them that won't go away. Maybe they need a second fling to fix that!
Tracy wasn’t surprised to see Ike. The four Jelinek boys had grown up with Jake, and the men were like broth¬ers. Still, she’d hoped she’d get lucky and miss him.
Back when Tracy had been starting Making Your Move, her relocation business, she’d helped Ike find the perfect town house and they’d had a hot and heavy fling shortly after. Even though they’d been great together in bed—and a whole bunch of other places—the fire had burned out quickly when they’d realized they’d wanted different things from a re¬lationship.
The flip side of all that passion meant they rubbed each other the wrong way ever since. Unfortunately they couldn’t avoid each other. Even ignoring the family connection, Making Your Move managed all the Ice Cats’ relocation, travel and accommodation projects, so Tracy spent a lot of time with the team.
What surprised her was that every time she saw Ike, her body reacted to his broad shoulders, his powerful legs and his crooked grin as if they were still lovers.
No way. She knew better than to go down that road again.
“Hey, princess.” Ike caught Emily as she threw herself at him, lifting and twirling her around, much to the girl’s delight.
Laughing, they headed toward Tracy.
Ike’s smile faded when he spoke to her. “Con¬gratulations.”
“Thanks,” she replied politely.
Emily skipped between the two adults as they walked toward the hospital entrance. “Auntie Tracy, did you see that Uncle Ike bought exactly the same bear as you?”
Sure enough, the stuffed toy Ike clutched awk¬wardly by the arm was identical to the one in her gift bag, right down to the yellow ribbon tied jaun¬tily around its neck.
“You can’t have too many teddy bears.” She kept her voice light, even though she wanted to snap childishly at him to take his back.
Ike arched an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t have thought you’d get something as old-fashioned as a bear.”
The emphasis was intended to goad her. One of the reasons she and Ike hadn’t made it was she’d thought his attitude toward women and life were stuffy and old-fashioned. “Teddy bears are tradi¬tional. There’s a difference.”
The look in Ike’s green eyes said he begged to differ. “Uh-huh.”
“Auntie Tracy got me the same bear when I was born. Except mine has a pink ribbon.”
“A family tradition.” Tracy smiled sweetly.
“My tradition for new Ice Cat babies is to get them one of those all-in-one things with feet, with the team logo on it.”
“Shouldn’t they be called Ice Kittens, Uncle Ike?”
“I guess they should. But you wouldn’t want to confuse them with the girls who clean the ice for us.”
“Why? They’re only cheerleaders on skates.” Em¬ily’s lip curled. “Just because we don’t like their job doesn’t mean we should disrespect the ice girls, Em,” Tracy chided gently.
Ike shot a look of surprise at her. “I thought you’d disapprove of them. Women being used as—” he paused, glancing at Emily, who was following the discussion intently “—entertainment for the pre¬dominantly male audience.”
“I wouldn’t want to be one and, if I owned the team, I wouldn’t have them at all, but the job exists. As long as they’re not being exploited, good luck to them. Besides, I’ve seen how hard the Ice Kittens work. They have a lot of promotional and charity duties, on top of what they do at games.”
“Be careful—they’ll be taking away your femi¬nist badge.”
Tracy shrugged. Ike had always thought she was a bra-burning radical, rather than a woman who didn’t like to be pigeon-holed, dictated to or discriminated against because of her sex. “I believe in equality and that if you can do the job, you can do the job.”
“That means if I can play well enough, I can be an Ice Cat, not an Ice Kitten.” Emily nodded, with a satisfied grin.
Tracy bit back a smile as Ike clamped his jaw shut. Clearly, he didn’t agree with women playing in the NHL. Luckily, they arrived at the hospital en¬trance, so Emily’s attention turned to which floor her mother would be on.
A blast of warm air hit them as the automatic doors swished open, and the three of them hurried inside out of the chilly November evening. The lift was crowded with the start of evening visiting hours, but by the time they got to Maternity there were only a few people with new-baby gifts.
Jake met them in the waiting room, looking tired but exhilarated. They exchanged hugs and congratu¬lations before he led them down to Maggie’s room. Emily rushed ahead, chattering a mile a minute.
Ike caught the door and held it open for Tracy. She nodded her thanks as she walked past him into the room.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Harlequin SuperRomance author, Anna Sugden, loves reading and writing happy endings as much as hockey! When not reading or watching hockey, she loves football, good food & wine, making simple cross-stitch projects, and collecting memorabilia, penguins and fab shoes!
A former marketing executive and primary teacher, Anna lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and two bossy black cats. Learn more about Anna, her heart-warming romances and her shoes at www.annasugden.com . You can also follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/annasugden.romanceauthor), Twitter (www.twitter.com/annasugden) Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/annasugden) and on the Romance Bandits blog (www.romancebandits.com
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-perfect-catch-anna-sugden/1120111934?ean=9781460375983
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