Puckboys – Book Five
by Eden Finley & Saxon James
Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Release Date: October 5, 2023
Story Styling Cover Designs
Genre: M/M Sports Romance
Wander Aguiar Photography
Trope: Workplace romance, player/trainer, close proximity, hockey
Straining my groin is bad enough. It puts my hockey career, my future, but even worse, my dignity on the line.
Having to get massages in that area from Vance Landon, one of the team trainers, is mortifying.
It’s impossible to hide my feelings toward him. If my constant blushing and bumbling doesn’t give it away, my body does.
It’s getting to the point where I wonder if hockey is even worth the embarrassment.
Trying to avoid him only makes him seek me out more. He’s determined to rehab my injury, but all I want is for him to leave me alone.
Or fall for me.
One or the other.
Ayri Quinn isn’t your typical jock … except for the fact he refuses to admit when he’s injured.
I’ve seen more than enough professional sportsmen lose the career they love due to injury, and I’m not having it happen again.
Especially not when the guy in question happens to be the sweetest, most awkward, innocent jock I’ve ever met.
When a night out leads to Quinn reinjuring himself, I create a care plan that keeps me hands on, literally. Unfortunately, working with him in close proximity brings all those feelings I’ve been trying to ignore to the surface.
I just need to get him better so he can be back on the ice and out of my bed.
Ah, my massage bed.
Because if this goes on any longer, I might mean my actual bed.
Ayri Quinn is impossible to resist.
Add to your TBR List!
Quinn pulls to a fast stop, but his reaction time is slow. The stop, awkward, like he’s favoring his right side. It’s barely recognizable unless you’re looking for it, but it’s enough to tell me that bricks-for-brains is pushing through an injury.
Goddamn jocks never learn.
I’ve seen more than a handful of professional careers cut short, and it wasn’t due to injury. It all came down to sheer stupidity. Quinn’s adductor can be healed and strengthened, but if he won’t admit there’s an issue, I can’t help him. And I get it. This toxic mindset that to play hockey, you need to be invincible. If you take a skate to the face or rupture a ball sac, you slap on a Band-Aid and skate harder in the next period.
It’s possibly the only part of hockey I hate. Glorifying them putting their bodies on the line.
I drum my hands on my crossed arms while watching his every move, and no matter how many times Quinn puts on the brakes—whether it’s gradual or sudden—I’m convinced he’s being a moron.
We scrape through with the W, thanks to Dalton chipping the puck into the top corner while Boston’s goalie is looking the other way, and the crowd is absolutely loving the win. The team piles on each other, and it’s ridiculous how adorable I find the bear hug, but I’ll be keeping that thought to myself. Can’t go around emasculating the giant men with knife shoes and no teeth.
Normally I’d take off as soon as the game is over or, if it’s been a busy night, jump in and help Boone out, but tonight, I’ve got my sights set on Quinn. That little fucker is going to admit to me that he’s in pain because I can’t see another player lose everything because I didn’t want to step in. It’s not even my personal interest in him driving me; I’d do the same for any player. He’s one of the last off the ice, Dalton by his side as usual, and I fall into step beside them.
Dalton grunts, and Quinn doesn’t say anything.
It makes my lips struggle with a smile. “How was your injury?”
“Ferfect.” Quinn’s eyes fly wide, and that ridiculous color splotches across his cheeks. “I mean, pine. I mean …” A frustrated sound is strangled by this throat. “Everything. Is. Okay.”
Do not laugh, do not laugh.
Stay professional. He’s adorable. But this is business time.
Dalton doesn’t have my issues. He sniggers, and Quinn shoves him, so Dalton pushes back harder. I barely catch Quinn before he can body-slam me into the wall. With his skates on, he’s got an inch or so height on me, and the padding makes him seem enormous, but it looks like he’s trying to shrink into it.
I’m used to touching his body, but not unexpectedly like this, and I let go quickly.
Quinn sends a bucketload of tension Dalton’s way while Dalton strolls along, ignoring it. My hands are in my pockets as I keep pace, wondering how to make this guy spill.
“No issues with acceleration?”
He shakes his sweaty head.
“What about turns?”
Lying through his teeth. Wonderful. “And stops? They were smooth? Not at all painful?”
His hazel-gold eyes cut to mine. “Fine.”
We reach the locker room, and I put out an arm to silently hold Quinn back while Dalton enters.
I wait until the whole team has passed, then turn to him. “Here’s the thing; I don’t believe you.”
His stubborn mask slips, and he goes from big, bad hockey man to … nope, not adorable. Just Quinn. “What?”
“I was watching you out there. You weren’t skating like you normally do.”
“You, uh …” His lips twitch. “Watch? Me?”
“It’s my job.”
“Oh, yeah, totally, that’s obviously what I mean.”
How the hell does this guy get through press conferences? “Do you know where I worked before here?”
“College football. The star running back on our team was having issues with his ACL. He’d had two minor tears, and there was talk of pulling him for the season until he’d been through rehab. He refused. I knew he wasn’t healed, but he swore black and blue that he was fine. He tore that fucker right up halfway through the season, and like that—” I snap my fingers. “—career over. Goodbye, NFL. He never even got the chance to play in the big leagues. He didn’t know what was truly on the line. You do.”
Quinn swallows thickly, looking like a kicked puppy.
“He wasn’t the first we lost to injury, but he was the first where I had a hunch he was bullshitting me.” I narrow my eyes at Quinn and his guilty expression. This poor guy is a terrible liar. “Just like I have a hunch you are.”
He clears his throat and shrugs, trying for an effortless smile. “I’m all good. Nothing to worry about here.”
I grit my teeth. “Keep lying, dickhead. I’ll get it out of you.”
“Are you allowed to talk to me like that?”
“You gonna tattle on me?” I tilt my head. “Because if you did, I’d have to tell them why I accused you of lying.”
Yeah, he doesn’t like that. Just like I knew he wouldn’t. But too many young, stubborn guys make the wrong choice, and I’m so fucking done watching it happen. It’s their career that they’re gambling with, and I get that’s their issue and not mine, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to sit back and do nothing.
“If I have any issues, I’ll let you know,” he says.
“No, you won’t.” I lean in. “But I’ll be watching closely, Quinn. And I’m sharing my concerns with Boone.”
“Wha—but. Do you have to? Like …”
Fuck me. His flustering is cute, but the goal here is to make sure he has a career to be pulled from, not stress him the fuck out.
“I’m putting together a training plan for you. Got it?”
He hurries to nod.
“And I want you back on my bed at least once a week so I can check up on tightness. Agreed?”
“Yep. Bed. Tight. Fine.”
I repeat my mantra not to laugh and cuff him on the shoulder pads instead. “I can work with that.”
I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t resist. “Ferfect.”
Amazon Universal ~ https://geni.us/ArEBQe
One of Five eARC’s for Clueless Puckboy
a Rafflecopter Giveaway
Other Titles Within this Series