Back in Play is the second book in my Power Play series about the hot guys that play for the Minnesota Glaciers professional hockey team. This story takes a look at a man at the end of his career and what comes next. It also brings in a secondary character from my Wicked Play series who really needed her own happily ever after.
Back Cover Copy
For Minnesota Glaciers captain Scott Walters, skating on a bum knee—and self-medicating to keep skating on it—is all part of the game. That the painkillers he’s eating prevent him from having meaningful relationships is just one more sacrifice in a lifetime of them. He’s worked too hard to let his image be ruined by injury or dependency, so he hides the pain and fakes the rest—a girlfriend would only complicate matters.
High school teacher Rachel Fielding never needed a man in her life, but she also never intended to grow old alone. When she meets Scott while visiting her brother, she’s intrigued to find herself wanting him in her bed. For hours at a time, as often as possible. Scott is a giver, and just the memory of his attentions is enough to drive her crazy. Anything long-term is out of the question, though—the pills she finds in Scott’s house indicate he’s struggling with a lot more than growing older in a young man’s game.
When what starts out as a what-the-hell weeklong fling turns into Scott and Rachel exploring each other outside the bedroom, Rachel hesitates. But Scott asks for her support to break his addiction, and hearing him admit his secrets has her ignoring her own rules—until he breaks her heart. With the Glaciers refusing to renew his contract and his future with Rachel uncertain, Scott has some big decisions to make and a lot to prove—especially to himself.
“Aicher’s memorable second Power Play sports contemporary… is both sensual and moving…” – Publishers Weekly
“The romance is touching and the sex scenes are frequent and incredibly hot.”
– 4 stars, RT Book Reviews
“It really doesn’t get much better than BACK IN PLAY.”
– 5 stars, The Romance Reviews, Top Pick
Amazon Editor’s Pick – Best Books of the Month: Romance
“The titles that make our Best Books of the Month lists are the keepers, the ones we couldn’t forget.“
“There’s a seat over here.”
She spun around at the deep voice that shot across the balcony. Her hand flew to her chest, heart racing. “Wow. You scared me. I didn’t know anyone was out here.”
“Sorry.” His tone was low, nonthreatening. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Lost in the shadows, she could barely see the man outside of the hunched shoulders beneath his white tux shirt and sandy brown hair. He was leaning forward, forearms braced on his thighs, studying her.
Silence took over as she waited for him to say more but nothing came. He shifted then, sat back and the light from inside lit half his face in a dramatic flourish that had her breath stalling in her lungs. The best man and Glaciers’ starting center. Of course it would be him. The one guy she’d wanted to ask her to dance but hadn’t.
“I don’t want to intrude,” she finally said, stepping toward the door.
“You’re not.” He motioned to the chair next to him. Under different circumstances, she’d be hightailing it out of there with a polite dismissal. She didn’t know him outside of what others had said about him that night. All positives, including his volunteer work at a local youth shelter. Even Carter had given him a solid endorsement. Yeah, she’d asked him earlier.
She still hesitated. “Are you sure?”
That chair, along with the quiet, looked really inviting. Add in the attractive man, and it was the best damn seat in the hotel. “All right.” Her heels clicked on the cement as she made her way to the open chair. “Thank you.” Her sigh was long and deep when she sunk into it. Dang, it was good to sit down in the silence.
It took all of two seconds before she slipped her heels off. She’d probably regret doing that when she had to put them back on, but right then, it was almost as heavenly as the musky scent of his cologne.
“I don’t know how women wear shoes like that for so long.”
She looked to him, smiling. “Mental stubbornness.” She hooked a strap on her toe and lifted the silver heel in discussion. “And these are actually pretty comfortable.”
“Really?” He shook his head. “These aren’t comfortable and they’re flat.” He extended his leg, twisting his foot to show off the shiny gloss of his dress shoe.
“And here I thought women were the only ones who tortured themselves for the perfect pair of shoes.”
His laugh rolled through the air on a faint note that almost had her leaning in to hear more of it. “The things we learn.”
“Apparently.” She nudged his arm with her elbow and shifted forward to stare at his basic black tux shoes. “And what is so torturous or perfect about your shoes?” The conversation was silly, but it was nice after hours of ducking advances and fielding personal questions about herself.
“It’s my feet more than the shoes that are the issue.”
“Got a gimp toe in there or something?” She tried to keep her smile contained, but it didn’t work very well.
The light caught the change in his expression as some of the drawn tightness dropped away. His smile was easier when he looked to her. Warmer. Her heart did a little stutter hitch that jammed her breath in her throat.
He wasn’t classically handsome. More boy-next-door that matched his easy charm and manner. A strong nose was softened by rosy cheeks and a dimple in his chin. Dark brows matched the color of his short-but-not-shaved hair, which she liked. Military-style cuts did nothing for her.
“More of a bum heel.” He extended his hand, smile widening. “I’m Scott by the way.”
Scott. Her earlier sleuthing had provided that information too. Simple and wholesome. It matched the man she was now getting to know. “Rachel.” She clasped his hand, the contact lighting her up in a rush of awareness.
“Nice to meet you, Rachel.” Her name flowed off his tongue on a soft roll that teased her ear like his laugh had. It wasn’t sleazy or filled with innuendo. Just nice with a hint of something more. He held her hand and gaze captive for a beat longer than normal before he let go.
“You too.” Was her interest reciprocated? A man like him had to have a wife or girlfriend or at least kids and an ex. That was the sad truth she’d discovered the older she’d gotten. And he was so…everything. She had to grip her hands in her lap to keep from touching him again. “So what is the best man doing out here by himself? Hiding from someone?” Smooth, Rach. Apparently her flirting skills had dried up with her dates.
His bark of laughter was sharp and harsh. “Try everyone.” He shook his head, scrubbed a hand over his face and focused on the sparkling lights in the distance. “Just needed some air.” He looked to her. “And you? Won’t your date miss you?”
Her laugh was softer than his, lighter but bitter as she thought of how long it’d been since she’d had someone who’d miss her. “I’m here with my brother and his partner.” She braced for his reaction, ready to defend her brother.
“Rock, right?” His brow furrowed. “And Carter, isn’t it?” She nodded, her muscles slowly loosening. “I’ve met them a few times. Nice guys.”
She tilted her head, studying him. “If you knew them, then why’d you ask if I was here with a date?” Had he been checking her out too?
He ducked his head, a shy smile brightening his face. “You caught me.” He shrugged, peeking at her from the corner of his eye. “So let me ask this straight out. Do you have a boyfriend, husband, significant other hiding somewhere?”
Directness. It was so much more efficient and better than sly questions hedged by a drawn-out round of verbal foreplay. “None. You?” She sucked in a breath and held it.
Don’t miss the rest of the books in the Power Play series.