Tanner Hart wouldn’t stop staring at me from the other side of the ice.
With his hockey gear on, he looked massive. His muscular body towered over me.
He thought that being the hockey team captain meant that he ran this rink.
Today was supposed to be my private time to practice my triple axel. I made sure it was on the schedule months in advance so that I could train without being disturbed by a rowdy bunch of hockey players. And yet, here we were.
Apparently, he needed to practice his shooting for tomorrow’s big game.
He shot me a devious smile as he passed me a handwritten note from his coach,his emerald green eyes glimmering at me through his dark hair. If the hockey players were bad, their coach was worse.
He looked down on us ice skaters and made sure his team shared his opinions.
“Whatever, Tanner,” I rolled my eyes, skating away. “Don’t get on my half; they just smoothed the ice with the Zamboni.”
It wasn’t worth the fight, I told myself, trying to maintain my composure. I knew better than to argue with him this close to regionals. I needed to stay focused. This was my year. I was going to make it to nationals… and beyond.
“Sure thing, ice princess,” he snorted.
The one thing about Tanner Hart was that he always got what he wanted.
Especially from beautiful women.
But I would never give him the satisfaction.
I could still feel his eyes on me as I started to warm up. His gaze almost burned my skin.
Strangely enough, I found myself enjoying the feeling. Surely, I didn’t like his attention. I must just like proving that I could outskate him, I thought, dismissing the idea.
I wasn’t like all those other girls fawning in his presence. My fellow ice skating teammates were too easily impressed if you asked me. I was certain that he expected me to be just like them.
He waited for me to land an axel before he started practicing. Still, he periodically glanced in my direction.
He paused again as I geared up to try a double axel.
I glided across the ice gracefully before flinging my body high into the air.
Bet those hockey players couldn’t do that. Not with their clunky skates.
I landed it perfectly in an arabesque. When I crossed past him, I could tell that he was impressed.
Taking a break, I sipped on some water. It was difficult to make something so physically challenging appear easy. And all while looking beautiful.
I snuck in a few glances in his direction, wondering if he too could feel my eyes on him.
As I stood there, my mind wandered to what he might look like without all that bulky hockey gear on his body. My mind filled in the gaps, perfectly chiseled abs leading down to that infamous v formation.
When he scored, he turned around, noticing me watching him.
I averted my gaze immediately.
Dammit. He saw me.
“Impressed, princess?” he winked, skating toward me.
“Oh, please,” I replied. “I could skate circles around you.”
I found myself skating toward him.
Before I knew it, we were inches apart.
“Are we about to kiss right now?” he asked.
“In your dreams,” I snarled back. “Get off my side of the ice.”
As I skated back, I sensed a fire building inside my body. I hated that he had this effect on me.
I needed to channel this anger and whatever else I was feeling into my triple axel.
I tightened my auburn ponytail. Taking a deep breath, I readied myself.
This time, I did the usual build-up, only more forceful. Up into the air I went, spinning.
Just as I rounded into the third, I felt the momentum slip away from me.
That’s when I hit the ice hard. Right on my left shoulder.
A searing pain radiated from the spot of impact.
That fall would definitely bruise. I would have to cover it with makeup for regionals in a few days.
I lay on the ice a little longer. The cool surface actually soothed my body for a moment.
Unexpectedly, I felt a pair of strong hands on my waist, pulling me up off the ground.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
Now that he was this up close, I spotted something new in his eyes.
Could that be concern? Care perhaps?
The usual asshole was nowhere in sight.
“I–I’m fine,” I stuttered, trying to make sense of what was happening.
That fiery feeling inside of me exploded, completely taking over my mind.
“You fell pretty hard,” he said. “You need to get checked out.”
“I’ve fallen a million times,” I insisted. “I promise I am perfectly fine.”
As I stabilized myself back on my skates, I winced, my hand reaching for my shoulder.
“You’re not fine,” he snapped before picking me right back up, cradling me.
“Put me down this instant, Tanner,” I wriggled around in his arms.
He skated to the edge of the rink and placed me on the fence.
Instead of leaving me alone, however, his arms lingered on my body.
We were closer than we’d ever been.
He pressed his body between my legs. A sensation of pleasure rippled through me.
Our faces edged closer to one another, I could feel his breath on my skin.
My heart nearly stopped when our lips touched.
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