It was a terrible twist of fate that I ended up joining the team at the same time Hawke did. Just as it was a terrible twist of fate, my needing to come to the Cold Fury—and trust me when I say, I desperately needed to relocate.
With a sigh, I swing my legs out of the bed and grab my iPhone, unplugging it from my charger.
There’s a text from Todd that came in at 9:45 p.m. last night and I wince slightly as I read it. Waited for your call. Assume you fell asleep. I miss you.
Crap. I was so exhausted last night after I got home from the gym I just completely forgot to call him. I remember taking a shower, eating a quick sandwich, and then lying on the bed to rest my eyes for a bit.
I shoot him off a quick reply. I’m so sorry. Was exhausted. Heading to gym now but will call later. xoxoxo
Todd would understand. It’s one of the reasons I adore him so much.
He just gets me, and not many people do anymore.
“Fuck, dude…that hurts like a motherfucker,” I hear Kip Sutherland snarl as another piece of kinesiology tape is ripped from his back.
“Not my fault you got a hairy back,” Goose says with a dry look.
I twist my neck to look at the two of them and yeah…Kip does have a hairy back. He’s a third-line defenseman for the Cold Fury and he just came off the ice with some lower back spasms. Goose is the other assistant athletic trainer. No clue what his real name is, but this is technically my first day on the job, so there’s still a ton to learn. I figure his real name is the least of my problems at this point.
My head swings back down to the laptop in front of me. I have it propped up on a therapy table, reviewing the procedural manual for the Cold Fury athletic training program. Our head trainer, Bruce Duvall, handed me the laptop and suggested I just set myself up somewhere and get it read. I don’t have an office, and I suspect that’s because the Cold Fury wasn’t actively seeking another trainer when I got the job offer. Bruce told me I could share desk space with Goose, but one look at the top covered with binders and medical charts and I decided it was just easier to set up in our large training room. Practice had been running for thirty minutes, so all the men—minus Kip and his hairy back—are out there and it’s dead quiet in here.
“Fuck,” Kip groans. “How many more pieces are there?”
I grin to myself and reread the first paragraph on the chapter entitled “Medical Charting.”
“Three more, you big sissy,” Goose says with a chuckle. “Then we’ll get you in an ice bath.”
“I need something for my head too,” Kip grumbles.
“Why? Did you hit it?” Goose asks.
“Nah, dude. Just went out with a few of the guys after Coach’s party last night and I’m hungover as shit. That goddamn Therrien, man, he can drink like a fish and I about killed myself just keeping up with him.”
Hawke was still partying hard, but that has been his reputation within the league. Play hard, party hard. I bet he even has that tattooed somewhere on his body.
I force myself away from their conversation, trying to absorb the content on the screen before me. I have a notepad next to me on the vinyl-covered cushioned table but I haven’t taken any notes. The stuff is easy, straightforward, and pretty much in line with the way things were done at my last job. Still, I want to make sure I do things right because it’s imperative I keep this job. And let’s face it, they don’t really need me here so I have to rise and then shine brighter than Goose to maintain my position.
A knock on the door doesn’t quite disturb me from my reading, but the voice that says, “Hey, man…I need my knee taped,” does, and my head swings up.
Hawke stands in the open doorway in full gear minus his helmet, his forehead sweat slicked and his long hair sticking to his temples. He stares straight at Goose and I use the moment to try to still my beating heart, which started running away from me the minute I saw him.
But damn…why does the man have to look so freaking good?
I just saw him but a few hours ago in my early morning dream, and yet even that memory of what we had was dull and faded next to him up close and personal. Dark brown hair that he still wears long. It curls just above his shoulders with a heavy wave and his blue eyes are set deep below darkly slashed eyebrows. The one thing that’s different in this man just seven years later is that he now sports a beard. While we are well out of playoff season, Hawke apparently liked the look and decided to keep it. It’s full but well trimmed; dark with some subtle lighter strands woven in.
I have to say, it does him justice, only serving to highlight his high cheekbones and strong jawline.
He’s perfection, and while I want to tear my eyes away, I just can’t. Besides, he hasn’t spared me a glance, and while we were over years ago, I can’t say it’s a chore staring at him like this. What woman in her right mind wouldn’t stare at that?
“Be just a few minutes,” Goose says with good nature as he pulls another piece of tape from Kip’s lower back, who in turn groans dramatically. “Then I need to get him in an ice bath.”
“Why can’t she do it?” Hawke asks, and his eyes slide lazily over to me.
My body stiffens and I stand upright from the way I was leaning on the table as I read from the laptop. My heart skitters out of control as I realize Hawke was very much aware of me.
He stares at me now with those mesmerizing eyes that don’t speak a single word to me. There was a time in our lives when he could communicate to me just with those irises. I could read want and need. Anger and love. Pain and happiness. Hell, I could tell if he was hungry for a steak or a chicken by the way he stared at me.