The second book from the Bayard Hockey series has arrived! Check out this exclusive excerpt from Cross Check by Kelly Jamieson!
About ‘Cross Check’ by Kelly Jamieson:
A party girl and a clean-cut college hockey player discover that they’re not so different in this sexy, soulful Bayard Hockey novel from the bestselling author of Shut Out and the Heller Brothers series.
Ella Verran has three goals this semester: get off academic probation, repair her relationship with her friend Skylar, and take some responsibility for her life. All of which are hard enough without hot, snobby hockey player Ben Buckingham around to distract her. Ella can’t stand Ben, and she knows the feeling is mutual. But he’s best friends with Skylar’s boyfriend, so he’s always around—taunting and tempting Ella in ways she never thought possible.
As the star forward of the Bayard College hockey team, Ben has goals too, like playing well enough to land a spot on an NHL roster. Ben is perfectly poised on the ice, so why can’t he keep his cool around Ella? Her wild behavior rubs him in all the wrong ways—and a few of the right ones. But as they skate around each other, Ben learns that there’s more to Ella than her bad reputation. And when the line between love and hate starts to blur, he can’t resist crossing over and sweeping her off her feet.
‘Cross Check’ by Kelly Jamieson exclusive excerpt:
The party isn’t too crazy, but I’m sure that will change when it gets later and more people arrive. Music blasts as we make our way through the crowd. Jacob finds his hockey buddies in the kitchen, including Ben. He’s changed out of his game day suit into a pair of narrow tan pants and a pink-and-brown plaid shirt that’s fitted perfectly to his muscled body, as usual stylish and perfectly groomed, his hair tousled on top, sideburns neatly trimmed.
I’ve seen him play hockey before, but last night was weird, because suddenly I was comparing him on and off the ice. Off the ice, he’s all polished and sophisticated and cool, with perfect beard stubble and designer clothes. On the ice… he was sweaty, with dripping hair and a red face, his eyes intense, his jaw set. Tough. Raw.
Here he’s back to his usual urbane self, even though he’s sipping beer from a red Solo cup like almost everyone else there.
Skylar hands me a cup too, and I hesitate and lift my eyebrows at her. She just smiles and I take a tiny sip. Sparkling water. I smile back at her gratefully. She’s a true friend.
The guys are in the middle of a conversation.
“I like a really sticky shaft,” Grady says.
My eyebrows rise as I meet Skylar’s wide eyes.
“Stiffness is important too,” Ben says. “I like a stiff shaft.”
I blink. “That’s what she said.”
The guys all look at me and then burst out laughing. But they continue their conversation. “Franco’s is super stiff too,” Ben goes on. “His shaft is probably the only one harder than mine.”
I’m shaking my head, trying not to collapse into giggles.
“What?” Ben looks at me. “Sticks are important to hockey players.”
I suck on my bottom lip, laughter still bubbling up inside me. “I’m sure they are.”
“Length matters too,” Jacob says. “The shortest player on our team has the longest stick.”
Now I can’t stop myself and I fall against the counter, laughing. “Length does matter,” I manage to choke out.
“Because he spends a lot of time on the penalty kill,” Hunter adds. “He needs a longer stick to poke check. And a lighter stick too, so that he can wave it faster back and forth.”
My eyes widen as I picture this image and I laugh even harder.
“His blade is really curved too,” Jacob puts in.
Skylar and I are now both dying.
“There are so many differences,” Ben says, his lips twitching. “Curve, texture, feeling, thickness of the shaft, stiffness, roundness…”
I’m crying, tears running down my face.
“We can spend hours fiddling with our sticks,” he ends, grinning.
I can’t even speak, and Skylar is likewise laughing so hard she’s crying.
“And we won’t even talk about our knobs,” Jacob adds with a huge smile.
“Stop, please,” Skylar begs. “My abs hurt.”
“Mine too.” I press a hand there and wheeze for air.
My eyes meet Ben’s, and for once his hold a teasing glint, his lips curving into a smile. He totally knew what that conversation sounded like. I shake my head, and I’m holding Ben’s gaze and we’re relaxed and smiling at each other…
Heat pulses around us, something intangible curling around me and drawing me to him… the pounding music and loud voices surrounding us dulls and all I can hear is my heartbeat in my ears. My gaze moves over Ben’s face… he really has a very attractive mouth… and his face is put together so nicely… oblong, lean cheeks, a strong jaw. I meet his eyes again, a brown a little lighter than his hair—caramel-colored.
A sizzle runs down my spine, and when his gaze drops to my mouth, I pull in a quick breath. I start to touch my tongue to my bottom lip, but then realize how that’s going to look, so I quickly draw my top teeth over my lip and try to relax. I watch as his eyes darken.
Holy hell, Ben Buckingham and I are eye fucking.
I can tell when a guy’s attracted to me, and he is, even if he does hate me. And at that moment, with my skin tingling everywhere, my mouth longing to kiss him, I have to admit the truth… I’m attracted to him too.
God. I swallow and break eye contact, turning away. My fingers tighten on my plastic cup to keep them from trembling.
Maybe it was all that dirty talk about hockey sticks. I don’t want to be one of those girls who sees a hockey player on the ice and gets all silly. Surely that’s not what this is. But I’m feeling a little hot and bothered.
Ice. For my drink.
I turn my head and find a cooler across the room, then dive toward it. Why do we always end up in the kitchen at parties? I need to go dance.
I find some ice, drop it into my cup, and press it against my burning cheek. When I turn back around, Ben is watching me. One corner of his sexy mouth lifts.
Of course that makes my cheeks even hotter.