In a standalone hockey romance that tugs at readers’ heartstrings, a broken ex-pro learns to live and love again—all thanks to the complicated, wonderful nurse who gives him a second chance. Brianna Collins needs to break away from her overbearing family. Her parents expect her to “fix” her brother after a series of concussions derailed his hockey career. Unfortunately, no doctor will give him clearance to play, and she’s finished with being the person they rely on to perform a miracle that will never happen. For Bree, a six-month nursing assignment at a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the perfect escape.
Luke Daniels, former forward for the NHL’s Charlotte Aviators, has spent close to a year rehabbing a career-threatening injury—and distracting himself however he can. Worlds collide when Luke realizes that the girl from his latest one-night-stand happens to be the new nurse at the hospital where he volunteers in the pediatric unit. What’s more, Bree’s the only person who makes him excited about life again.
Despite her initial reservations, Luke can’t help pursuing sweet, beautiful Bree. Then he realizes it was her brother whose career he ended with an accidental hit, and he falls back on the thing that’s always helped suppress his demons: alcohol. But if Luke doesn’t kick his old habits, he just may lose the one thing he loves more than hockey.
I haven’t been able to get Luke Daniels out of my head. Though I’ve tapped on the simple “Had a great time with you” text he sent me a few hours after I left his condo on multiple occasions, I decided not to respond. He served a purpose—a hot, no-strings-attached purpose. I can’t even remember the last time I had a one-night stand. Probably in college.
A quick fling was exactly what I needed. There’s absolutely no reason to get too involved while on assignment in a city I could never see myself settling down in. Sure, Charlotte is cute, but it’s not home. Hell, it’s barely even a city, I think and chuckle to myself.
“What are you laughing at?” Summer, the nurse who’s training me, asks. She’s nine months pregnant and about to go on maternity leave. “Do you need me to repeat that?”
Shit. The last thing I needed was this poor pregnant lady to think I’m not going to be able to take over for her when she’s gone. Daydreaming of sex with hockey players has already taken up too many hours of my life. Time to get back to business.
“Sorry, Summer. I totally heard you. Something funny just crossed my mind.”
“Your head has been in the clouds all day.” She starts to smile, but she suddenly grimaces.
“You okay?” I ask.
Tonya, another nurse in our unit, runs into the room. I make a mental note of her seemingly supersonic hearing. “That kid about to drop?” she asks.
“Just a small contraction. Nothing crazy. Get back to work,” Summer says, dismissing our concern.
Tonya turns halfway toward the door, then spins around and squints at me.
“Why does Tinkerbell have that dazed look in her eyes like she got some?” she asks.
I’d earned the nickname on my second day. While I’d like to believe it came from my positive attitude and constant smile, I’m sure it had more to do with the glitter specks that kept falling onto my shoulder from the cheap earrings I’d worn that day.
Summer’s head swivels toward me. Her eyes are wide when she asks, “Did you?”
Instead of answering, I gently push her out of the way with my shoulder and take hold of the keyboard and mouse. “This is where I input the notes. I press F3 to get there, right?”
“Yep. And to save—oh shit!” Summer whispers.
Liquid splashes onto the hem of my purple scrubs and then my shoes. Summer is known for carrying a thirty-two-ounce water bottle with her at all times, so my first thought was she must’ve spilled it. But we’re standing at the computer in a patient’s room, and I know she left her water at the nurse’s station.
When I look at her all I see are her dark roots spidering into caramel highlights on the top of her head. She’s bent over, inspecting the spill. Because she’s technically not on duty, Summer’s wearing a maxiskirt instead of the standard scrubs. That’s when I realize it’s not regular old water—or even urine.
It’s amniotic fluid.
Summer’s water just broke all over the floor—and our feet.
“It’s time!” I cry out with glee, ignoring the liquid on my pants.
Everyone in our department has been waiting for Summer to go into labor. We even have a pool going on in the break room. She’s already a week past her due date, and she’s only been coming in to the hospital to train me.
Suddenly, someone touches my elbow and a brusque voice says, “Is everything okay?”
I lift my eyes to the tall man hovering over me. Luke Daniels. What the hell is Luke doing here? In Jack Dellinger’s hospital room?
“Summer’s in labor,” I manage to squeak, remembering that my coworker is about to have a baby.
My heart jackrabbits in my chest, revved by surprise that the ridiculously attractive hockey player I had a one-night stand with is standing in front of me. My gaze is immediately drawn to those full lips that have kissed every inch of my skin first and the thick, dark hair I loved to grab onto next. Though his eyes are especially dreamy, it’s his rough, scratchy voice that makes me want to drag him into a utility closet for some seven-minutes-in-heaven action.
Luke’s eyes widen and his Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows. He looks completely bewildered as he turns his attention to Summer. I know he wants to help, but he seems to be frozen. Can’t blame him.
“Hot damn!” Tonya yells, running into the room bumping Luke to the side with a clean hip check to move him out of the way. “Today was my day. Pay up, ladies!”
Summer laughs and shakes her head. “Before you collect your winnings, can you please grab my phone so I can call Dan?”
I raise my hand quickly. “I’m on it.”
Before I can take a step, Luke grabs my elbow again. His touch causes a shiver to move up my spine. He leans in, his lips almost brushing my ear as he says, “Shouldn’t we be rushing her somewhere?”
“She’s okay,” I assure him with a smile. “One of us will get her to labor and delivery.”
Luke watches with concern as Summer waddles out of the room. “How are you so calm? I feel like I’m going to puke.”
I put my hand on his shoulder, which brings his attention back to me. “She’s completely fine. I promise. Couldn’t have happened around more knowledgeable people. Well, except actual labor nurses,” I quip. It’s a lame healthcare professional joke, but Luke smiles as well.