New Release: Hat Trick

 

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Cover art by Ginny Glass

Published by: Loose ID

Length:42k

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Blurb: Nathan Barres has always loved hockey before anything else. When a one-night stand with Felix Moore gives him emotions, he flees the scene. He’s not expecting to see Felix ever again. So when an injury knocks him out of the game for several weeks, he’s less than pleased to see the Winnipeg Wolves’ newest trainer is none other than Felix.

Almost two years later, the feelings are still there. Nathan does his best to shove them to the back burner and ignore the temptation Felix presents. That is, until Felix makes him an offer that’s just a little too tempting–with amazing results. He’s a hockey player after all, and they’re nothing if not superstitious. If Felix is his good-luck charm, who is he to resist?

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Excerpt:

The team sends babysitters after his surgery. Nathan isn’t sure how they decide who gets to come take care of his bitchy ass, but he thinks they might be drawing straws. He’s loopy for the first couple of days, high on pain meds and vaguely aware that he’s probably being videoed. His suspicions are confirmed when he finally takes a look at Thor’s Instagram and sees a ten-second video of himself singing “Wrecking Ball.” He has no recollection of it and wishes he’d never gone looking. The likes are in the thousands. He has enough self-preservation not to Google his name and see how popular it is on other sites.

Unfortunately for his babysitters, he gets crankier once his pain medicines are reduced and the surgery is almost a week behind him. He wants to be up and moving, back on the ice and striving for the playoffs. He can’t watch the games in person at this point. Still has a couple of days at least to go before he can be out and about. He’s stuck in his house, on the couch or his bed, watching TV for endless hours. Nathan thinks his brain might be melting.

Sasha comes over and tries to play video games with him, but it doesn’t work with Nathan only being able to use one hand. It’s a venture that ends with Nathan angrily chucking the controller across the room and Sasha going to get him some apologetic chocolate chunk ice cream from the nearest supermarket.

Nathan is not a good injured person.

Renner’s with Nathan when the doorbell rings two days later, and he’s up like a shot. “Oh thank God,” Renner says. “Maybe it’s somebody to rescue me from this hell.”

They’ve been playing Scrabble for the last three hours, and it’s possible Nathan has been a bit of a stickler. There’ve been a few arguments. Renner might have pelted his face with some tiles. It’s not his fault that Renner keeps trying to use fake words. Neither of them is winning when it comes down to it. Nathan has slightly more points, but only because he’s been hitting the bonus tiles. He’s all about strategy. Renner would do better if he had some.

This, he thinks, is frustration at its highest level. He’s tempted to flip the board, but that would be childish.

He can’t hear who’s at the door, though he’s straining to. He only hears a soft murmur of voices. It’s probably someone trying to sell something. Maybe Girl Scouts. Renner is a sucker for their cookies, though they’re definitely not part of his approved diet. Nathan takes the opportunity to pull out his phone and Google his options for the tiles he has.

He hears the door shut, and he looks up, about to ask Renner who’s there, but he shuts his mouth abruptly when he sees Felix trailing Renner. He’s been trying to avoid having to deal with this, blocking even the tiniest whisper of a thought about Felix from his mind. Having the man in his house definitely doesn’t help him. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but he remembers the ache he got in his chest when he looked at Felix sleeping that night, and the way his stomach felt all fluttery. He remembers thinking it was the best sex he’d ever had, and he didn’t want it to stop. He wanted to stay in bed with Felix and never leave.

Felix doesn’t look any different. It’s almost two years later, and he’s wearing his hair the same, his posture is the same, his clothes are more casual—jeans and a blue V-neck—but that’s it. Nathan hadn’t ever expected to see him again, yet here he is, looking just as perfect. Just as irresistible. Nathan feels warmth bloom in his stomach, the familiar ache that signals he’s about to start chubbing.

Felix makes him want, and he can’t want. Not right now. Not with hockey.

The fact that he feels this way long after the fact is a flashing neon warning sign.

Renner points his thumb at Felix, oblivious to the struggle going on in Nathan. “He’s here to make sure you don’t stay a cranky asshole.”

Felix cracks a smile at that, and Nathan’s breath hitches. Of course Felix’s dimples haven’t disappeared. His cock is definitely starting to stir. He’s going to blame it on the painkillers. They’re fucking with his body. That’s all this is. “You’d be cranky too if you couldn’t play hockey,” he mutters sullenly, feeling his face heat up.

“I’m always a ray of sunshine,” says Renner, laughter in his voice, as he drops down into the armchair opposite the couch.

Felix takes his vacated seat on the couch next to Nathan. “Mind if I take a look?” he asks, motioning at Nathan’s shoulder.

“Sure,” says Nathan, sounding shorter than he wants to, but what else can he say? They’ll think it’s from the meds and pain anyway.

Cool fingers touch his neck, and he winces. “Sorry,” says Felix, tugging Nathan’s collar aside and leaning close. “Have you been icing your shoulder?”

“Ten minutes on, ten minutes off,” recites Nathan dutifully. He can feel Felix breathing on him, and his hair is tickling the side of Nathan’s face. Felix smells like fresh apples and cinnamon. He wonders if it would be too conspicuous if he dragged a pillow into his lap.

Felix hums as he looks. “You can start coming in tomorrow. We’ll take a scan of it to see. Work on some stretches.”

“How long before I can play?” asks Nathan, staring at a freckle on the side of Felix’s face. It’s tiny, shaped like a clover, and stands out against the line of his jaw.

“Six weeks at least,” says Felix, finally moving away from him. “You’ll be back on the ice for no-contact practice before then, but we can’t risk your shoulder.” He sounds like he understands how much this sucks, like he’s sorry Nathan has to deal with this.

Nathan thinks he can’t possibly understand how he feels right now. Nathan catches Renner’s sympathetic gaze over Felix’s shoulder, takes in the way his brows are lowered and he’s chewing nervously on his bottom lip. “Can you give us a minute?” he asks Renner, the words out before he can think about them. He wasn’t going to say anything, but he can’t not say anything. Not with Felix acting like there’s nothing to say.

Renner looks surprised and then confused, but he nods and points down the hall. “I’ll just go…do something,” he says. The look he shoots Nathan before he leaves the room promises there’s going to be questions.

Trying to have this conversation with Felix now is probably the height of stupidity, but he doesn’t want to have it at the rink. He doesn’t want to bring whatever this is into his safe space.

Felix doesn’t look at all surprised by Nathan’s request as he reclines against the corner of the couch and folds his arms.

They stare silently at each other. Nathan clears his throat, narrowing a pointed look on Felix. He doesn’t bite, and Nathan sighs. “I’m… Is this weird?” he asks finally. He kicks himself immediately. Of course it’s weird. He knows that. He doesn’t need it established.

Felix sighs. “It doesn’t have to be weird,” he says. “We’re going to have a professional relationship, and anything outside of that is irrelevant to the situation.”

Nathan blinks at the bland answer. It’s so precise, so unemotional. “That’s… It’s not going to be hard for you?”

When Felix laughs, Nathan feels his stomach curl unpleasantly. “It was a one-night stand, and you left without saying anything,” points out Felix. “It happened ages ago. I’ve slept with people I’ve known for much longer and not had it be weird.”

“Right,” says Nathan, trying to absorb that. His stomach is rolling. He’s been stuck with this ache in his chest and memories of a night that made him question his plans, and Felix has been skipping along merrily. “Right,” he repeats, nodding this time like that will make it sink in better.

Felix leans forward, dark eyes intent on his. “Are you going to be okay with this? I can ask one of the other trainers to take over if you’re not.” After a slight hesitation, he adds, “I’m not going to tell anyone about what happened.”

Nathan shakes his head and then hastens to add, “It’s fine,” when he sees Felix’s frown of disappointment. “There’s no need for that.” He coughs, grimaces when it moves his shoulder the wrong way. “I didn’t think you would tell anyone.” He probably should ask for a different trainer, but if Felix can be an adult about this, so can Nathan.

There’s one thing he needs to know. He picks at a loose string on his sweatpants. He’s careful to keep his tone even when he asks, “Did you know who I was?” He doesn’t know why it’s important, but it is.

Felix is already shaking his head, brown-blond streaked hair swaying behind his head, before he says, “No.” He cracks a smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I didn’t know till I’d accepted the job.”

“How is that possible?” blurts Nathan, mortified by how full of himself that sounds once it’s out of his mouth.

He shrugs. “Truth be told I don’t watch hockey. I worked for a soccer team in Colorado before I got this offer.”

There’s a lot of things that Nathan hasn’t been able to truly grasp about this conversation, but the news that Felix doesn’t watch, therefore doesn’t like, hockey is high on his disbelief scale. How can someone not like hockey and work for a hockey team? He’s so shocked by the new tidbit of information he can’t think of anything to say.

He looks at Felix then, really looks. His skin is smooth, the angles of his face sharp, his eyes deep set and definitely made for the bedroom. His lips are plush and pink, his nose slightly crooked. His hair is pulled back, but strands of it wisp around his face, moving slightly with the air from the fan. Nathan feels the rush of heat, the clenching of his stomach, the stirring in his groin. He tears his gaze away. This guy doesn’t like hockey, and Nathan’s still got this weird pulling sensation for him. What’s up with that?

Oblivious to what’s going on with Nathan, Felix claps his hands to his thighs and stands. “I’m looking forward to working with you, Nathan. See you tomorrow.”

“See you,” says Nathan, forcing himself to stare blankly at the TV rather than Felix’s ass as he sees himself out.

“Dude,” says Renner from behind him.

Nathan closes his eyes. Of course Renner was eavesdropping. He’s such a nosy fucker.

“Dude,” Renner repeats and comes around the couch, sitting next to Nathan. “You slept with our new trainer?”

“It was a while ago,” he says, for lack of anything better to say. “A onetime thing.”

“I see,” says Renner, sounding like he does in fact see. Nathan thinks they’re probably not seeing the same thing. When he finally manages to look at Renner’s face, his expression is way too thoughtful. It makes Nathan uncomfortable.

“I don’t want this to be a thing,” he says.

Renner mimes zipping his lips. “No one will hear about this from me.”

He may be a nosy, interfering guy, but Renner’s not a liar. Nathan allows his posture to slump, letting the couch cradle his sore back. “How about we watch Breaking Bad?” he suggests, and just like that they’ve moved on.

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