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Abigail Jansen is done with hockey . . . and hockey players. After leaving her two-timing NHL-star husband, Abby decides to start over in her hometown of Glenwood Falls, Colorado. There she doesn't have to deal with people gossiping behind her back or hear the word "hockey"—until her daughter tries out for the junior hockey team. Now Abby has to face her fears . . . and coach Jackson Westmore. He's tall, dark, handsome—and happens to hate her.
All through high school, talented hockey player Jackson Westmore had a crush on Abby, but he would never make a move on his best friend's girl. He gave her the cold shoulder out of self-preservation and worked out his frustrations on the ice. So when Abby returns, newly divorced and still sexy as hell, Jackson knows he's in trouble. Now even the best defensive skills might not keep him from losing his heart.
“Look, we both know the other night was…”
She sighed. “Okay, yes, incredible, but also…”
“Can you let me finish?”
He smiled. “Fine, but first…” Taking her face in his hands he lowered his lips to hers. The surprise look in her eyes should have given him cause to reconsider, but the hell with it. It didn’t matter that he knew he’d crossed a line and he’d broken some sort of bro code; for the first time in his life, he was ready to go after what he wanted. And after the night they shared, he knew she wanted him to.
She closed her eyes and fell into him, and he deepened the kiss, savoring the taste of her peppermint lip gloss and sliding his fingers through her soft hair. Her hands were pressed against his chest, but she wasn’t pushing him away. Instead, they clutched the fabric of his T-shirt, drawing him even closer.
When he reluctantly broke away a moment later, he was happy to see Abby was as out of breath as he was. “Okay, now you can talk.”
“I don’t remember what I was going to say.” She sighed, resting her forehead against his chest. “What are we doing?”
He leaned back and, placing a finger under her chin, forced her gaze to his. “I’m doing what I should have done a long time ago. Abby, I know I should keep holding back how I feel for you because of Dean, but the truth is, that friendship isn’t worth giving up this chance with you. I’m not even sure I know my friend anymore, after how he treated you and Dani.”
“Jackson, I just got divorced. I’m not ready for…this. Whatever this is. I’m sorry my kissing you and…other things have been misleading, but I’m not sure I can do a relationship right now. Dani and I are starting over and rebuilding a life here.”
He nodded. “I’m not asking for anything except a chance. I know you’ve been through a lot. I know you may still…have feelings for Dean,” he said through clenched teeth. The idea that he might always have to compete for her full affections made him even more determined to prove that he was the right one for her. Had always been the right one.
She shook her head and started to say something, but he placed a finger to her lips.
“And that’s okay. I just want a chance to prove to you I would never hurt you the way he did. I don’t care how long it takes. Take your time. I’m not going anywhere, Abby. My love is not going anywhere.”
She swallowed hard and her eyes widened at his words. “I can’t promise I’ll ever be ready,” she whispered.
“I’ll keep waiting,” he said firmly. Then he smiled. “On one condition.”
She frowned. “Which is?”
“You and Dani come to the fall fair this weekend with Taylor and me.”
“It won’t be a date,” he said quickly. “Just two friends hanging out.”
She sighed again. “I think we skipped over ‘friends,’ don’t you?” she asked.
“Well, then friends shouldn’t be that difficult,” he countered. He wasn’t about to let her push him away. Not when he was finally ready to show her how much he cared about her.
“Fine. But I don’t think friends sit on the same side of the table, so get over there,” she said, trying to nudge him out of the booth.
He stayed exactly where he was. “This friend does.”