Series: Face-Off #4
Author: Jillian Quinn
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 12, 2017
As the man-of-honor in the most anticipated sports wedding of the year, Jameson O’Connor has a problem. He needs a date. But his best friend, who is also the bride-to-be, keeps scaring them away. On accident.
Through the course of planning the bridal shower, shopping for wedding gowns, and hosting bachelorette parties, Jameson finally meets a girl who can hang. Or so he thinks. When he meets Regan Turner at a basketball game, Jameson has no idea she’s hockey royalty.
Because of her upbringing, Regan is through with hockey players and wants no part of them. She assumes Jameson is an athlete because of the company he keeps. But she likes him. And Jameson is persistent. He won’t take no for an answer.
Jameson likes the sporty blonde, wears her down with his charms, and Regan will be his date to the wedding. No matter how much convincing it takes to get her there.
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Following Rico up the steps, we jog up to the top level, and sprint toward the concession stands. With the Sixers getting their asses handed to them, the halls are starting to crowd. People shuffle about, knocking into us as we pass. Once we reach the counter, I shake my head, disappointed, because the concession stand has closed for the night.
“I don’t think they have any more nachos, kiddo. Would you settle for soda and another hot dog?”
Rico folds his arm over his chest and pouts. “But I want nachos.”
“They’re all out.” I clamp my hand down on his shoulder and move him in front of me so he can get a better look at what they have left. “You can have a hot dog, pretzel, or ice cream. Which one do you want?”
“I think I can help you out,” a woman says from behind me.
At first, I don’t realize she’s talking to me. Not until she strokes my arm with her fingers, commanding my attention. Her touch sends a chill through me. She smells sweet, like honey, and good enough to eat.
I spin around, holding onto Rico. The girl smiles so wide that it reaches up to her bright, blue eyes. Tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear, she moves closer to me. She has a girl next-door look about her, but she’s also sporty, like Charlie, and is in full basketball gear, looking as though she just stepped off the court.
A girl that reminds me of Charlie is never a bad thing. She’s the coolest girl I have ever known. Despite being subpar at most sports, I’ve always loved them and continue to coach youth basketball with Charlie.
Beautiful beyond words, I have trouble coming up with anything decent to say as I take her in, thinking of all the dirty things I’d like to do with her mouth. As her lips part, her breath hitches. She’s about to say something when Rico breaks the silence.
“Nachos!” Rico demands.
I laugh, as does the girl in front of me. Her laughter is soft and feminine and like music to my ears.
“I can help you out with your nacho problem.” She holds out her hand for me to shake. And I do, mostly because I want an excuse to touch her. “I’m Regan, and you are…” She waits for me to stop acting like a moron and get my shit together.
“Jameson O’Connor. Jamie. My friends call me Jamie.” Wow! Real smooth, dude.
“I like Jameson better,” she says, grinning. “The name suits you.”
“Thanks, I guess.” I stuff my hands into my jean pockets. “Regan isn’t a name you hear often either.”
“That’s my dad for you.” She chuckles to herself as if there’s a private joke behind her name. “How about you two handsome guys follow me, and I’ll get you those nachos.”
“Yay! Thank you!” Rico latches onto her by wrapping his arms around her stomach.
“Cute kid you have here,” she says, staring at me while patting Rico on the back.
“I don’t know about all that,” I deadpan. “Rico is a pain. You can keep him if you’d like.”
“Hey!” Rico finally unhooks himself from Regan to give me the stink eye. “Take it back.”
Hooking my arm around Rico, I walk down the long hallway next to Regan. “I’m kidding. I’d never give my buddy away.”
“Rico,” she says as if thinking to herself and staring down at him to get another glance at his face. “You don’t hear that name often either. Have we met before?”
“No, I don’t think so. You have the kind of face I wouldn’t forget.”
She laughs, blush spreading across her cheeks. But she doesn’t respond to my stupid comment that sounded like a pickup line, even though it wasn’t intended as one.
The crowds are getting heavier as we pass, and the buzzer still hasn’t sounded, which means we have time to get back to our seats. I hope. But I’m also unsure if I want to go back now that I have Regan’s company. After we loop around the corner, she stops in front of a different concession stand.
“Hey, Joe.” Regan waves to a balding man behind the counter. “Can I get two nachos and two Cokes for my new friends?” She winks at me as she says this.
She has a certain ease about her that reminds me of Charlie. You can be yourself around girls like them. Except, for some reason, she makes me nervous. I think of asking her out as we wait for Joe to fill the plastic containers with cheese. What if she shoots me down? Not that it would matter. It’s not like we will see each other again. What do I have to lose?
Joe hands the nachos to Rico first, and then, the other set to me. Regan takes a chip from my tray, dunks it in cheese, and shoves it into her mouth with her eyes trained on me. We share a moment. With me focusing on her mouth as she chews, it takes me a second before I realize Joe is trying to get my attention to hand me a cup of soda.
“Thank you.” I lift the drink from the counter and hold it up in acknowledgment. Then, I turn to Regan, who has stolen another chip from me. “How is it that you have the hook up around here?”
“I know a guy who knows a guy,” she deadpans, laughing to herself.
“What are you doing this weekend?”
I’m usually not so forward with women. My question surprises me just as much as Regan. I like to check women out, make sure they’re not crazy or up to Charlie’s standards before I ask them out on a date. But I feel comfortable around Regan. Plus, she didn't even know me and went out of her way to get Rico food. The least I can do is return the favor and buy her a decent meal that doesn’t consist of processed cheese and corn chips.
“Umm…nothing much. Are you asking me out, Jameson O’Connor?” She inches closer to me and the tension between us is burning like a lit match.
“Yeah, I suppose I am asking you out. So, what do you say? Do you want to have dinner with me on Saturday night?”
She holds her finger up to her lip, pretending to think it over. The wait is killing me. Say yes already.
Before she can respond, I hear Alex call out, “There’s the man-of-honor. We’ve been looking for you everywhere.”
I was so caught up in Regan and getting Rico his nachos that I’d forgotten about the game. How is it I didn’t even notice the buzzer go off, only the people tearing through the halls in a rush to get out of the building?
“I’m right here,” I say, annoyed.
Our entire wedding party follows behind Alex, including Charlie, who has a strange look on her face. She seems confused, but I have no idea why.
Coming up next to me, Charlie does something I least expect when she locks onto Regan. She hugs her as if they have known each other for years.
“How are you?” Charlie asks, taking a step back from Regan to stand next to me. “It’s been a while. Is your dad keeping you busy?”
Regan shrugs. “You know my dad.”
Alex glances at me, confused, and then, back to Regan. “What are you doing out here with Jamie? How do you guys know each other?”
“We don’t,” I interject before she can respond. “They were out of nachos at the concession by our seats, and Regan helped us out.”
“Mind your own business, Parker.” Regan’s tone is playful. She speaks to him as if she’s good friends with Alex.
Who is this chick?
“Oh, shit,” Tyler says, stealing the show with his dominance, as he moves through the crowd to get to Regan. “Are you gonna tell your dad we’re up to no good again?”
Regan blushes, looking away from him and to me. She holds my gaze for a few seconds before rolling her eyes at Tyler. “Will you ever let me live that down, Kane? I was a teenager back then.”
“You’re not a kid anymore,” he jokes, and that earns him an elbow to the biceps from Regan.
“Shut it, Kane, before I shut it for you.”
After Carter exchanges pleasantries with Regan, I start to feel left out of this conversation. Everyone seems to know Regan except for me. And she never had the chance to answer my question.
“So, you’re with Coach,” Regan says to me. “I had no idea.”
“Why? Would you have treated me differently if I you had known?”
She nods. “Yes, actually, I would have.”
“Meaning?” I ask, hoping she will elaborate.
“I was about to say yes, but now…” Her voice trails off, leaving me even more confused by the conversation.
What has changed since Charlie and the gang had to show up and ruin everything?
“I don’t mix business with pleasure. Sorry.” She gives my arm a pity stroke that sets my skin on fire.
Why is she sorry?
Regan flashes a tiny small before saying her goodbye’s to everyone in our group, including me. “It was nice meeting you, Jameson.”
“Wait.” I grab her forearm as she walks away. “You never answered my question.”
A sullen expression crosses her face. “Under different circumstances, I would’ve said yes to you in a heartbeat.”
“What circumstances?” I ask, bewildered.
“I can’t get mixed up in my father’s business. I’m sorry. It’s just not a good idea. But I’m glad we met. Come by and see me sometime. I'll make sure you have nachos for the next game.”
Without giving me time to interject, she waves over her shoulder at me, falling in line with the rest of the crowd, as she strolls down the hall.
Charlie leans close and whispers into my ear. “Did you ask Regan out?”
I frown. “Yeah, but she shot me down.”
“She doesn’t date athletes.”
“But I’m not an athlete,” I counter, “not even close.”
Charlie shrugs. “Yeah, but I bet she thinks you are one just by association with me.”
“Why would she think I’m one of your players?” I stare down at my clothes. I’m built, but nowhere near the kind of conditioning that screams professional athlete.
“You’re in much better shape that you realize, Jamie.” She acts nonchalant. “It’s probably for the best. If things didn’t work out for you, it would mess up my relationship with her father, and I can’t have that.”
“Who is her father?” The question of the hour.
It takes me a minute to recognize the name. “Her dad is the Mike Turner?”
“The one and only,” Charlotte says.
I scratch the stubble on my chin, trying to process the news. Mike Turner is the general manager for the Flyers, a hall of famer, and one of the most legendary hockey players to step onto the ice. “I guess that makes her like hockey royalty.”
Charlie nods. “Yup, which also makes her off-limits to you.”
A challenge. Knowing that Charlie wants me to stay away only makes me want to pursue Regan even more. I also want to change her mind and make Regan see that I am not like my friends.
Jillian Quinn is the author of the Amazon international bestselling Face-Off hockey series as well as other sexy, sporty romances.
Jillian loves sports, bad boys, dirty talkers, strong females, and books with plenty of heat—all of which you will find in her books. As a lover of all things bookish, she has a serious book hoarding problem and runs a blog in her free time. When she’s not reading, writing, or blogging, she’s obsessively fangirling over hockey players and can be found wherever she can catch the next hockey game.