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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Falling for Flynn (Hockey on Tap Book 1) by Kate Willoughby: Exclusive excerpt

Falling for Flynn: A Silver Fox Sports Romance  
(Hockey on Tap #1)
by Kate Willoughby 

Tracy Duval has spent her life proving women can play hockey. From leading her college team to coaching little girls, she’s been a champion of the sport. But when a sexist ad for the Barracuda Fantasy Hockey Camp seems to exclude women, she signs up to teach the boys a lesson.

Retired NHL player Flynn Hammerstrom meets Tracy at the local ice rink and is immediately intrigued. She’s mature, confident, sexy—and hello, she plays hockey. He’s ready to settle down again and, after his tumultuous marriage, he’s looking for a woman who is high on fun and low on drama.

Unfortunately, even though he’s nuts about her, the drama he desperately wants to avoid flares up at the fantasy camp.

And Tracy is smack dab in the middle of the fire.

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While Flynn had been reluctant when Slater told them about the fantasy camp, now that the event was closer, he felt more optimistic. He had since reached out to other hockey buddies and everyone he talked to who had participated in a fantasy camp had only good things to say.

About ten days before camp, a group of the local Barracuda alums who’d signed up for camp gathered to scrimmage together. Flynn decided to go because not only did it sound like fun, he’d be able to gauge where he stood in comparison with his peers.

He arrived at the BIC feeling wistful. Memories bombarded him as he parked his car. Good times, bad times. Times of stress, like when Barracudas were on the bubble of making it into the Playoffs. Times of triumph, like when they shut down a division rival. It was a lifetime ago, and yet when he opened the door to the BIC and took in the dank metallic, wet carpet smell of the rink, it felt like only yesterday.

In the locker room, he was greeted warmly. He put his gear on, surrounded by guys just like him, men who had left the game behind. It was great to hear what everyone had been doing with their lives. Most had families. Some, like Flynn, were divorced.

On the ice, he discovered he wasn’t as rusty as he’d thought he’d be. The old competitive spirit kicked in and he found himself getting emotionally invested in helping his team win. It invigorated his mind and his body in equal measures. The teasing insults flew fast and furious, just like in the old days and, as a bonus, there was no pressure to move up in the standings or make it to the Playoffs. It was all for fun.

Two hours later, he felt tired but great, walking backwards as he bid goodbye to someone. He was turning to go when he crashed into a woman. The contact was so abrupt, her Starbucks drink flew out of her hand and landed on the ground. The lid popped off and the contents shot out of the cup like a coffee geyser.

“Oh, crap!” Flynn exclaimed. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t even see you. Jeez.”

“It’s okay,” she said with a sigh. “It was an accident.”

“I should have been looking where I was going. Let me buy you another drink.” He gestured vaguely toward the BIC snack bar.

She met his gaze finally and wrinkled her nose, which had the most adorable freckles on it. “No offense,” she said, “but…wait a second.” Her eyes widened. “Flynn Hammerstrom, as I live and breathe.”

“The one and only,” he said with a grin. “And you are…”

“Tracy Duval.” They shook hands. “I’ve been a fan ever since I was in high school, which was too many years ago to think about.”

She was probably in her early forties, black hair in a ponytail, dressed in jeans and a Barracuda T-shirt. Her hands were small and delicate with short, bare nails.

“You a hockey player?” he asked.

“What was your first clue?” she asked. “My hockey stick?” Her upper lip curled up in a half smile and he noticed a mole in the corner of her mouth, a very kissable looking mole. 

“You know, some guys they notice pretty eyes or a nice figure. Me? I see the hockey stick.” He noticed the tape on the blade was pretty banged up. 

“Thanks a lot,” she said with a wry grin.

As he realized what he’d just implied, he winced. “Oh shit. I mean, shoot. I didn’t mean it that way. You have really pretty eyes.”

“But my figure is lacking.”

“No! No, not at all. Your figure is very…” He searched his vocabulary for an appropriate word, but all he came up with were inappropriate ones. “…nice,” he ended up saying. Nice? Nice?  “Christ. Can someone just come and shoot me now?” He was botching this so bad that if someone had been filming, it could have gone on YouTube as an example of how not to talk to women.

“I’m just teasing you.”

“You’re doing a great job,” he said, with a too loud laugh.

She tilted her head at him. “You know what? You’re adorable when you’re flustered.”

“So about that drink…,” he said, trying to change the subject. “I really want to make it up to you. If you’re free later tonight, come around to the Hat Trick Tasting Room. I’ll buy you a beer.”

There. Maybe he could climb out of the awkward hole he’d just swan-dived into by promoting the business.

A small wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows. “I don’t know if a beer will make up for what I just lost.”

“What was it?”

“Iced coffee with white mocha syrup and a splash of half and half. It’s my favorite drink. I’m addicted.”

“Come on, you really prefer coffee to beer?”

“When I busted my ass at the office all morning and have to dredge up the energy to keep up with my kids on the ice? Yes.”

“How many kids do you have?”


His jaw dropped and she laughed.

“They’re not my kids. I coach a squirt team here, the Mini Cudas.”

“Oh, the little guys. That’s great.”

“They’re all girls, actually, but yeah. It’s a lot of fun. Have you ever thought about coaching? You should try it. I think they need another coach for the midget group.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t have the time right now.”

She grinned. “Yeah, I imagine polishing your Stanley Cup ring keeps you pretty busy.”

He laughed. “I only do that every other day. No, I own a brewery with my buddies Cole and Slater. The Hat Trick Brewery and Tasting Room. It’s our baby.”

“Cole Ripley and Slater Jones? You old linemates?”

“The very same.”

“Is the beer any good?” she asked.

He scoffed. “It’s stupendous.”

“I’m not really a big beer fan.” She was wrinkling that freckled nose again.

“You probably haven’t had good beer.”

“That’s a distinct possibility.”

“So come to Hat Trick tonight.”

She studied his face for a long moment. “I don’t know… Can I bring a friend?” she asked.

“Sure. Bring all the friends you want.”

“Okay, maybe I’ll see you tonight.”

She waved a hand as she walked away. She had a cute little shimmy to her walk and he stood there watching until she disappeared from view.

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