Excerpt: A Perfect Catch

“Excuse me.”

Ike’s deep voice, close to Tracy’s ear, startled her.

She jerked her head around as he leaned forward to program the machine. Their gazes clashed.

He was too close. Tracy could feel the heat radiating from his body. Prickles of awareness danced across her skin. Her pulse skipped as emerald fire flared briefly in his eyes.

Then he blinked and the flames disappeared. “Finished your business?” Ike reached past her for his coffee.

Tracy jerked away from him. Hot coffee splashed over her hand.

She swore and sucked on the sore patch, before answering. “Yes, thank you. A client needed me,” she added, before she could stop herself. Damn it. She didn’t owe him any explanations.

“What kind of relocation emergency can there be?”

Her earlier irritation returned at his sarcastic tone, but she fought to stay polite. “You, of all people, should know that problems don’t just happen between nine and five. As I recall, you liked me to be available whenever you needed me.”

A muscle twitched in his jaw. “I had to work viewings around the Ice Cats schedule.”

“Then you should understand when other professional athletes need flexibility, too.”

“Sure, but there are times when business should take a back seat. Like when your sister’s just had a baby.”

He was acting as though she’d abandoned Maggie and Joe. She’d stepped out briefly, leaving a room full of people to fuss over them. “Really? So you’ve never had to leave a family event to get to a game or missed a family occasion because you’ve been on a road trip?”

“That’s different. I don’t get a choice about where I have to be or when. I thought the whole point of running your own business was that you were in control. I remember how vital being your own boss—in every part of your life—is to you.”

His bitter tone sparked memories she’d rather had remained buried. Arguments better forgotten. “You’re the one who wouldn’t compromise.”

“You didn’t want compromise — you wanted things all your own way.”

“I didn’t want them all your way. Big difference.”

“What was so wrong with expecting you to treat me, our relationship, as seriously as your career?”

Once again, he was twisting the facts to make everything her fault. Irritation turned to anger. “That wasn’t what you expected at all. You wanted my career to take a back seat to yours.”

“I never said that.” He drained his coffee and threw the cup in the bin.

“Maybe not exactly, but you made it clear that you thought my business was only something to keep me occupied until I had a husband to look after me. Meanwhile, you chasing around after a puck was…” she used air-quotes. “…‘so much more important’, even though you only had, at best, another ten years.”

He clenched his fists by his sides. “I’d make enough money in those ten years to keep you living comfortably for the rest of your life.”

“I didn’t need you to take care of me and I didn’t need your money.” Tracy worked so hard because she never wanted to be dependent on another man or his money again. “I can bloody well look after myself.”

“Yeah, you’ve made it pretty freaking clear there’s no room in your life for a man.”

“Not quite true—there’s no room in my life for you.”

“Trust me, babe, I’m glad,” he drawled. “I had a lucky escape. I get banged up enough on the ice—I don’t need a ball-buster in my bed.”

Tracy gasped at his cruel words. Then she tossed her coffee over him. She’d show him a ball-buster.

 

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