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Puck Me Baby (Bad Motherpuckers #4)
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“You’re going to be a daddy.”
Looking up into Alexi Petrov’s dark eyes as I break the news, I’m scared out of my mind. This man is the most terrifying defender in the NHL, and if it weren’t for my sporty new baby bump, I probably wouldn’t believe we hooked up that night. (Yes, I’ve sworn off margaritas for life.)
But the Alexi who goes to my doctor appointments, moves me into his guesthouse, and cooks so many gourmet meals I look like I’m carrying twins? He isn’t scary at all.
He’s sweet. And intense. And so sexy I want to smear him with honey and lick it off every inch of his powerful, protective, oh-so-swoony-worthy body.
But that’s not a part of our relationship anymore. We’re friends who intend to raise a child together. That’s all…
There’s no way I can be just friends with Amanda Esposito.
She’s everything I want in a woman—strong, sexy, compassionate, a little bit wild—with curves for miles and a smile she smiles just for me.
I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes to be that guy—the one with his heart on his sleeve—but for this woman, I’ll try.
Amanda and our baby are my future, my family, and I’m prepared to cross check anyone or anything that stands in my way. Even if that someone is the tough guy in the mirror…
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An old Russian proverb says that falling in love is like a mouse falling into a box. Once you’ve fallen, you’re trapped, a prisoner at the mercy of something larger and more powerful than you—poor little mouse—will ever be.
My grandmother, a tiny babushka with the thick Russian accent of a 1980s movie villain, remembers every proverb she’s ever heard.
Especially the ones about love.
Love is the reason she was married at fifteen and widowed at sixteen when her young husband was killed in a brawl outside her dormitory the night they had planned to run away from Moscow. Love is the reason she defected from the Soviet Union, and her ballet company, during a tour of Paris when she fell for a charismatic painter who would later leave her for a younger dancer when Baba was six-months pregnant.
Love is the reason she married a man from Seattle less than a year later—this time for the love of her daughter, who she had vowed to provide with all the best things in life. And through twenty-eight years of marriage to the only grandfather I’ve ever known, she was a good and caring wife.
But she never loved Pop like a mouse falling into a box. She’d learned her lesson about that kind of love.
“Love will love a goat, my sunshine,” Baba would warn me in hushed tones when I was small and my mother and father would fight in the other room in French, the only language they spoke that I couldn’t understand. “Love will kiss the goat’s face and call it the most beautiful face in the world. Remember that, and look before you jump into the box. Better to be a kind man the people in your life can depend on than a lovesick mouse.”
Even at six, I understood the main thrust of her argument—my dad was a fucking loser goat my mother never should have kissed, a fact proven when dear old dad disappeared shortly before my seventh birthday, never to return or pay a dime of child support.
But the rest of Baba’s message took some living to sort out.
By the time I realized she was encouraging me to look for a long-term relationship based on friendship and mutual respect rather than passion, Renee had already lost the baby, blamed me for her pain, stolen the car I’d bought Baba with my Badger signing bonus, and run off to Vegas to marry a Columbian drug lord she’d met at Zumba class.
Apparently, even Columbian drug lords enjoy dance-based cardio.
Since then, I’ve dated—even semi-seriously once or twice—but I’ve never landed in the box. I’ve danced around the edge, stared at the shimmering floor far below, even leaned over to sniff the romance-and-flower scented air inside, but I’ve never fallen in.
Like Baba, I know better. The air may smell sweet, but eventually that fucking box is going to run out of oxygen. And then I’ll be trapped, gasping for breath and praying for the love spell to break before I suffocate.
Needless to say, I’m not looking to get romantically involved.
And even if I were, I know better than to pursue a woman simply because the sex was hot the one night we spent together. Yes, Mandy was fun, witty, wild, and a wet dream on the dance floor. Yes, she has melted-chocolate eyes, the kind of silky brown hair that makes my fingers itch to be buried in it, and a body that won’t quit, but…
That body, with the curves for miles, seriously won’t quit.
And I can’t quit stealing glances at the maid of honor over the heads of the couple getting hitched. I need to focus on my friend and teammate and the woman he’s promising to love for the rest of his life, but I can’t stop thinking about Amanda, naked in my bed, calling my name in ecstasy while I devoured her pussy like a starving man given a jar of honey and a spoon.
Her pleasure was delicious, addictive, and her body was by far the sweetest, sexiest thing I’ve laid hands on in longer than I could remember.
That night as we fell asleep tangled in sheets that smelled of her and me and all the fun we’d had, my alcohol-and-orgasm-buzzed brain had dared to contemplate something more. Something more than a night or a summer. Something more than casual dating or friends with benefits. After just a few hours, this woman had me at the edge of the box, leaning over so far I could have brushed the glittering floor with my fingertips.
There was just something about her, an instant attraction that was more than physical, and I was positive she felt it, too. So positive that when I woke up to find my bed empty and not so much as a note or a phone number left behind, I was certain I must have missed something. I searched every inch of the house, looking for a scrap of paper that had drifted beneath the bed or been blown under the couch by a morning breeze.