Cold Fury Hockey # 3
Cold Fury Hockey # 3
By: Sawyer Bennett
Releasing June 9, 2015
New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett goes for a hat trick with the latest romance in a sexy series about cool-as-ice hockey players and the women heating up their lives.
Warning: The following contains spoilers from a cliffhanger in Garrett.
Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief that has put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury, still crippled by emotional baggage, and now a single dad, he’s in need of some serious help with his son. But while the nerdy new nanny wins his son’s heart, Zack isn’t sure he’s ready for a woman’s touch—even after getting a glimpse of the killer curves she’s hiding under those baggy clothes.
Kate Francis usually keeps men like Zack at a distance. Though his athlete’s body is honed to perfection, he refuses to move on with his life—and besides, he’s her boss. Still, the sparks between them are undeniable, tempting Kate to turn their professional relationship into a personal one. But before she makes a power play for Zack’s wounded heart, Kate will have to open him up again and show him that love is worth the fight.
As soon as I get out of the club and into the silence of my car, I dial Delaney.
She answers on the first ring. “You scared the shit out of me. Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I murmur as I start the engine and wait for my Bluetooth to connect. When I hear the subtle click telling me she’s on speakerphone, I put the car in drive and say, “Just driving around…thinking.”
I hear her blow out a gust of sympathetic frustration, but her voice is gentle. “Okay. Just get home.”
“Is Ben okay?” I ask.
“He’s fine. Sleeping. Have you gone over the applicants I picked out for you?”
My hands tighten on the steering wheel, and a tiny pain shoots through my wrist, a pain I’d never admit to the team doctors, so I ignore it and tell her, “Not yet.”
“Tomorrow,” Delaney says sternly. “You have to make a decision tomorrow.”
“I know,” I mutter, realizing that the time for dragging my feet and procrastinating is over. “I promise. Tomorrow.”
“Okay,” she says softly. “That’s good.”
I don’t say anything else, my mind already starting to shut down. I abhor the thought of culling through her final recommendations for a nanny for Ben. Because that means this is final…that Gina is really dead and Ben’s mommy is definitely not coming back. In my mind, it’s putting the final nail in her coffin.
“I love you,” Delaney says, almost desperately, into the phone.
I bite my lip…hard, and feel my tooth slice down into the delicate flesh. “Back at ya,” I say, my voice harsh and raspy.
Words of love to my older sister—the woman who has been my rock-solid support the last four months since Gina died—unable to materialize. I disconnect the call and stare blankly out the windshield. I’m practically on autopilot as I drive home.
Out of the silence of my car, an unbidden, sarcastic snort bursts forth from me, and then I start snickering to myself.
What a fucking joke.
My five-bedroom house on Marchand Street feels like a prison, the walls closing in on me and causing me to seek out strippers named Candi Apple at midnight. I can’t escape my memories there, my guilt devours me as I look at Gina’s pictures throughout the house, and every day, rather than rise above my pain, I get swallowed up in it a little deeper. I hate that fucking house now, and I’ve pretty much resolved myself to sell it. Maybe moving will help leave the ghosts behind and give Ben and me a fresh start.
If it wasn’t for Ben…
Beautiful, blond-haired, blue-eyed Ben.
The spitting image of Gina.
My little boy, who seems to have bounced back fine after losing his mother, giving me toothy grins and cuddling with me on the couch at night. If it wasn’t for him…
No, I don’t even want to think about where I’d be if it wasn’t for Ben. Let me just appreciate the fact that I have the most wonderful child in the world, and it’s only because of him that I at least have some sort of desire to want to feel again.
While I can’t seem to feel outside the bounds of pure and unconditional love for my child, it doesn’t mean I want to be this way. I’m smart enough to know that Ben will look to me for guidance on how to live this life without Gina, and I’m savvy enough to know that if I don’t get my shit together, for his sake, I stand a really good chance of fucking his head up.
So I try the only way I know how—by seeking out the Candi Apples of this world—and dig down deep for something to interest me in this life outside of my child and my hockey career.
Taking a deep breath, I pull onto the outer belt line that circles around Raleigh, and let it out slowly. Yeah, tomorrow I need to start the process of removing my head from my ass. I also know the first step is to do as Delaney says and make a choice from the final applicants and hire a nanny for Ben. Once I start back at practices next week, I’ll need someone to help me with him.
Delaney has been down here in Raleigh for the past week, interviewing prospects and checking out references. She’s narrowed it down to a choice of three, and while I really don’t want to care about whom to pick, I know that for the sake of my son, I need to be satisfied the person I do choose is right for the job. I trust Delaney implicitly, but I also know that I need to show some interest . . . at least for her peace of mind. The day after tomorrow she’ll head back to Manhattan, where she works as a financial analyst, and I can’t let her leave with undue worry over me and Ben.
It pisses me off that I have to hire a nanny. It feels like I’m replacing Gina . . . hiring a new mommy for my boy. Deep down, the rational side of me knows this isn’t true. While I’ve been able to handle Ben just fine on my own for the last four months while I recovered from my wrist injury, there is no way I can be a single parent to Ben when much of my career is spent on the road. I will need someone to be with him full-time when I’m gone, and it has to be someone trustworthy.
So I’ll do my duty tomorrow and give the applicants thoughtful consideration. Then I’ll make my decision and start the process of introducing a new woman who will become a provider and mother figure to my son.
That thought causes pain to shoot through my chest, and while I know it’s unfair, a little part of me already hates this woman because she will be taking Gina’s place in that respect.
~Barb’s Review ~
First off I must thank NetGalley and Sawyer Bennett for allowing me a copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review.
And secondly, Sweet Baby Jesus. I. love. Hockey! Like totes could fall into this book and be right at home. HA! The story and the characters literally drag you in and it’s an effort ot step away from Sawyer’s series. I so need more. I loved Alex, I loved Garrett and I have ot say I loved Zack! Did I mention I loved it? In case it wasn’t clear, I loved it. The reality that we are not guaranteed a tomorrow is something I think most people skirt around, take for granted or just plain ignore. We won’t always get to say that final I love you, Or the final goodbye but what we can do is live each day as if it is the last because in all honesty it could be the last.
We first learned of Zack’s accident in Garrett. The heartbreak alone was staggering but as this story developed and progressed into a full story of misery, pain and the aspirations of something new we got to see the two sides of the man. We saw Zack, the devoted father, heartbroken lover and man struggling to get himself together so he could move on from the death of his long time girlfriend Gina, the mother to his son Ben and his heart was taken from him. He's coping but not too well. Though in that sort of a situation you can't really cope at first. Survivor's guilt, fear of the unknown and the overwhelming feelings that bog you down take over and you just sit there staring at a wall too high to climb over. His sister Delaney tries to help, coming to North Carolina from New York to help him find a nanny to help with Ben because in one week Zack will be back out on the ice.
The determination in and of itself he had to get back into a normal routine, into the game and playing with his team mates. The two sides had a common goal though, taking care of his son and making sure his career is up and running. So when Delaney tells him his new nanny is coming and just leaves him to deal with it he gets a lot more than he expected. Enters Kate. Sweet southern gal who is a bit of a goofy nerd. Zack at first.. well he just isn’t feeling it. this girl comes in making jokes, dorky comments and wearing clothes twice the size they should be. A real nerd. But what he doesn’t see is that she is not just any girl. She is trying to blend in, she doesn't want to stand out. Ben of course thinks Kate is the coolest nanny ever. And after some adjustment time even Zach grows used to her. She has made it a mission to make him smile. She can’t take it seeing him sad all the time. He’e healing but yeah, she is a woman on a mission.
When Zach goes out one night after practice Kate, needing just a little snack decides to slip down stairs and hurry back up. No one will see her.. but her timing happens to be right in line with Zack coming home. So here is the over dressed, dorky, glasses wearing nanny in nothing more than a pair of pajama shorts and a tank top. Her long hair down and waving around her. Finally in all the months since Gina died Zack felt something. The sight of her perfect body made him hard for her. So what does he do? He makes her thing he could care less that she is half naked. And of course it hurts her feelings. She is a woman after all. We all want to be accepted. As time passed and they grew used to their situation… things changed. Zack of course had moments where I wanted to smack him in the back of the head for being an ass but then I remembered he was scared. The feelings growing inside him, the changes he was making for them all were new and it was an adjustment that needed to be made.
Katie however knew what she wanted. She wanted Zack but was willing to become a bed buddy and nothing more to him. Though as the feelings in her grow and the feeling in him grow there comes a time that you have to say wait. Take a step back and think about what you are doing. Is this right? Is it wrong? Can you (meaning Zack) actually get through the wall of pain and hurt you feel and love on with your life in a way that is right for you. Thankfully he figures it out but it’s a hard, bumpy road for the both of them. But in the end the decisions they both made as to their situation and how to handle it were the best that they saw for themselves.
Now.. I can’t wait until the next book. Ryker! I think it will be just as awesome as the previous 3 books!
About the Author:
USA Today Best-Selling Author, Sawyer Bennett is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.
Sawyer is the author of several contemporary romances including the popular Off Series, the Legal Affairs Series and the Last Call Series. She will be releasing her second book in the Cold Fury Hockey Series with Random House Loveswept, February 2015.