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Pilots Hockey #3
Releasing June 7th, 2016
“Sophia Henry tackles real issues that tug at your heartstrings,” raves bestselling author Rachel Harris. Now, in this sweet, sensual Pilots Hockey novel, a young single mom falls for a damaged coach pulling double-duty as a cop.
Linden Meadows doesn’t back down from anyone, especially if her family’s involved. So when her little brother’s new hockey coach benches him in the middle of a game, Linden lets him have it. She also notices that the coach is way hotter than she expects, but Linden won’t let herself get burned by another athlete. Been there, done that—and had a kid at seventeen to show for it.
When Jason Taylor isn’t taking abuse from hockey moms, he’s patrolling the streets as a member of the Bridgeland PD. After Jason pulls Linden over for speeding, he begins to see that there’s more to her than a big mouth . . . or a lead foot. Their chemistry leads to good company, intense conversation, and an intimacy that pushes beyond the boundaries of friendship. And yet Linden’s decision to keep her now three-year-old son, Holden, is a painful reminder to Jason that his own mother gave him up for adoption.
Linden’s sure she’s found the man to round out their family. But when Holden’s deadbeat dad forces his way back into the picture, Jason starts to back off. He needs time—to heal, to grow, and to love with all his heart.
“What do you recommend, Indie?” The woman asked, glancing at me before dropping her eyes back to the menu.
“Um, well,” I said, faltering. How did the cop’s mom know my name? Had he told his mom about me?
“She read your name tag. Don’t get your hopes up.” Officer Taylor nodded at my chest.
Warmth rushed into my cheeks as I skimmed my fingers across the badge pinned on the right side of my shirt. Name tag, duh. Stupid overactive imagination. Of course he hadn’t told his mom about me. He probably hated me.
The silly disappointment I felt was short-lived, lasting only until his snarky comment hit home.
“Well, the beef brisket is a customer favorite, but I’d recommend the ribs. I mean, everyone loves a pig, right?” I cocked my head to the side, pleased with my joke.
The cop’s lady friend choked on the swig of beer she had taken. She raised her hand and patted her chest.
“You okay, Mom?” He asked, clapping her on the back.
Aha! She was his mom. I knew it.
Taylor’s mom nodded. “Went down the wrong pipe,” she squeaked out before coughing again.
“Should I give you another minute?” I asked. I wanted to slink away. I shouldn’t have said that in front of his mother. I wasn’t a confrontational person. What was it about him that brought out that side of me?
“No, no. We’re ready,” she said and coughed one last time to clear her throat. “I’ll take the ribs.” She winked at me, then bit her lip to keep a smile away.
The cop’s mom was pure awesome.
“And for you?” I coughed my own smile away as I lifted my chin and focused my attention on the officer.
“I’ll have the same thing. I love pigs.” He held out his menu, a smug smile spreading across his face. “With fries, please.”
“Oh, good lord, Jason,” his mom hissed, emphasizing her annoyance with an eye roll.
Jason. Officer Jackweed had a first name.
“Touché.” I nodded as I plucked the menu from his hands, spinning away toward the safety of my computer. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the cop was flirting with me.
It took every ounce of willpower I had not to look over at Jason. Thanks to his mom, I now knew the name of the infuriating, hot, jerky, muscular, arrogant, sexy man I hadn’t been able to get out of my head since I saw him at my brother’s game.
My head snapped up, breaking me out of the fog of thoughts I’d disguised while inputting the dinner order. How long had Kristen, a server who went by her initials, KK, been calling me?
“Yeah. Sorry. What?” I couldn’t get the right word out.
Get it together, girl. Stop thinking of Jason’s buff forearms.
“Did you make that Bloody Mary for table thirty-three?” KK asked.
“Table thirty-three?” I glanced at Jason, whose eyes caught mine, then shook my head and looked at the tiny printer on the end of the bar, buzzing as it spewed orders the servers had punched in from the dining room computer.
Damn. Bloody Mary for table thirty-three. Four ales, two reds, and a Weizen for various other tables.
Time to get my head back in the game, especially since the printer wouldn’t stop. No looking at Jason until I had to check on how his meal tasted. Usually, I wasn’t easily thrown, especially by a guy.
It’s because he’s new in town. That’s his intrigue. His mystery.
The drink orders never slowed, and I turned my focus back to my customers at the bar and in the dining room. On busy nights, I usually had a second bartender helping with the madness, but Stacy had called in sick at last minute and I hadn’t found a replacement. I couldn’t even be angry with her, since she was three months pregnant. I knew how fast morning sickness came on, and how there was no working around it some days.
I’d been so busy filling drink orders and waiting on my customers at the bar that I hadn’t even had a chance to check on Jason and his mom. Thankfully, a porter had brought out their meals. At my first free moment, I wandered over to Jason.
“You scared off your own mom?” I asked, nodding to the empty chair next to him.
“She’s using the restroom.” Jason took a sip of his beer. “Are you gonna throw sarcastic comments at me all night, or talk to me?”
“What do you want to talk about?” I asked, filling a pint glass with red ale.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
Not a question I’d expected.
“How is that your business?”
“You smell like a dude,” he blurted out.
I curled my fingers around the glass, which had almost slipped out of my hand. “Excuse me?”
“Shit. I meant you smell like men’s cologne,” Jason said, backtracking. “It wasn’t an insult.”
“I like the smell of men’s cologne better than perfume.” I set the first pint aside and began filling a second.
“Why’d you skip the boyfriend question?”
“Because it’s not your business.”
Jason leaned in, his voice low. “It is if I want to ask you out.”
“You what?” I readjusted my grip on the glass and pushed the handle of the tap back to stop the flow of beer.
“I think we should hang out.” Jason wiped his mouth with his napkin and tossed it onto his empty plate.
“That’s the best you can do, copper? I thought you were smoother than that.” I winked and walked away, carrying the beers I’d filled to the end of the bar for a server to pick up. Then I made a Moscow Mule and checked on a few other customers sitting at the bar before printing Jason’s check and placing it in front of him.
“Will you please go on a date with me?” Jason asked, not missing a beat.
My heart pounded against my chest. I was both flattered and frustrated by his persistence. “You expect me to say yes, don’t you?”
“It’s obvious that you like me.” Jason’s blue eyes twinkled, catching light from the pendulum fixture hanging over the bar.
“I like looking at you,” I countered, “but your personality leaves a bit to be desired.”
“Really?” The skin around his eyes crinkled when he smiled.
“Let’s pretend I’d ever say yes. Where would a cocky cop take someone on a first date?” I couldn’t wait to hear what he thought was fun.
“It’s a surprise.”
“You ask me on a date and you don’t even know where you’re going to take me?” I lifted his plate and wiped crumbs and condensation off the bar with a towel. “That’s sad, copper.”
“Why would you assume that?” he asked, his tone indignant.
“Can I be honest?” I asked. Time to strike the final blow. Though Jason had my insides flipping like no one ever had before, now wasn’t the right time to start dating. I had a million things to worry about before opening up my heart again.
“Please.” He nodded.
“You moved to a small town to be a cop and coach hockey.” I paused. “You sound like a total bore.”
Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to North Carolina, where she spends her time writing books featuring hockey-playing heroes, chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts with her husband.