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Always Have, Always Will
By N. H. Watkins
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 N. H. Watkins
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePeriod 1
Aiden LeBlanc just finished playing his second season in the National Hockey League. The twenty-one year old was a successful center for the Pittsburgh Sentinels. At the end of his rookie season, he'd been awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy, which was given to the league's Rookie of the Year. This year, even though the team did not make it to the finals, Aiden was the recipient of the Art Ross Trophy for his scoring efforts and was named team captain. Playing hockey in the NHL was like a dream come true for Aiden; he sometimes couldn't believe he'd made it to the big league.
As the team's newest center, Aiden was often praised for his strong skating skills and creativity on the ice. Centers were known as the "quarterbacks" because they led the team at both ends of the ice, and they were strong, skilled skaters. Aiden was disciplined on the ice and that carried over into his personal life. Not one to overdue the drinking and partying, he still had fun. Aiden prided himself on living by the rules and doing his job well. Some said he was too young to be so serious, but Aiden knew he was being smart by not taking his blessings for granted.
The contract he signed with the Sentinels provided him more money than he ever dreamed of earning. His agent, Daniel Klein, kept him busy when he was off the ice with endorsements for Reebok, Gatorade, and Bauer hockey skates and equipment. All in all, he earned five million dollars in his rookie season, and it was possible his earnings could top seven million this year. Nothing was guaranteed to a professional athlete; Aiden never lost sight of the fact that he could suffer a career ending injury or lose his starting spot on the team if he didn't perform well.
Money was the reason he was bored out of his mind as he walked with the President and a few members of the President's senior executive group at the University of Toronto. He was going to kill his brother when he saw him tomorrow. Seth, Aiden's brother, who was ten years older, was a professor at the university in the history department. He was up for tenure in the fall. Seth had asked him to accept the invitation for a tour and listen to the fundraising spiel in order for the university to get donations for the school from "capable donors." Aiden had offered to just write a check, but his brother said it would look better if he listened to the dog and pony show.
The President was saying something about the new computers in the library where the group had stopped to view the equipment in the media room. Aiden was impressed with the state of the art technology that had been donated by a group of benefactors. As he listened to one of the senior executives describe the new filming equipment, Aiden looked up and that's when he saw her. She was the most gorgeous young woman that he'd ever laid eyes on in his twenty one years. Aiden felt as if he'd been hit in the head by a puck travelling ninety miles per hour. The woman was sitting and fiercely typing on the keyboard in front of her. When she stopped typing and stared at the screen, Aiden thought she was absolutely stunning. He'd heard his mother use the term stunning before, but never really understood what she'd meant until the moment he laid eyes on her. The woman's head was slightly tilted to the right. Her creamy colored brown skin was flawless; her dark brown hair, which took on a reddish tint in the light, was in a ponytail sitting high on the top of her head. She had a pencil stuck in her hair at the front of the ponytail. Aiden thought she was absolutely adorable and then she looked up at him. He smiled, and she smiled back rather shyly. Aiden was disappointed that he couldn't keep eye contact with her because she went right back to her typing. All he wanted to do was to keep looking into those mesmerizing light brown eyes shielded by her long beautiful eyelashes.
The group of people on the tour moved to another part of the library as the woman went back to her typing. More than ever, Aiden wanted the tour to end and thought about telling the President his $100,000 donation would be in the mail. He just wanted to stay with the ethereal beauty.
* * *
Abby Zolland sat in the library at the University of Toronto completing her last final for the semester. Five down and one to go she thought to herself. Abby had opted to work in the library tonight because she was tired of the four walls in her apartment. Figuring a change of scenery might help her concentration, Abby worked on the seven questions due tomorrow morning via email to Professor St. Pierre in the library. Technology in the Middle School Classroom, the official name of the class, had been a great course, and Abby loved learning about incorporating technology in the classroom. The exam was not difficult, but she needed to focus, carefully plan her answers, and come up with effective examples in order to respond appropriately to the questions. At the moment, she was at her wits end having studied for five finals in the past four days.
As Abby sat and pounded out her answers to the questions, she spotted a group of people taking a tour of the library. She smiled to herself and continued working. She knew whoever was on the tour was about to be hit up for a very large donation for the university. Showing off the new media center was the University of Toronto's way of telling the person receiving the tour that the school made good use of the funds donated each year. The media room, where she sat and worked, was high-tech and the newest addition to the library. Everyone loved the computers and those taking photography, broadcasting, and other communication courses couldn't wait to use the new equipment that had been donated to the university.
Suddenly, Abby was taken from thoughts of her exam because she felt someone looking at her. Strike that-staring at her. As she slowly raised her eyes from the screen, she peered into the eyes of a very handsome young man. Abby had never seen another man as smoking hot as the stud smiling at her. Good God, she was about to self-combust. She knew she was the only one in the room, beside the administrators and the visitor, so it was no mistake that Aiden LeBlanc was smiling at her. Abby found herself smiling back and quickly dropping her eyes back down to the computer screen. She knew of Aiden LeBlanc—so did the entire universe. As Aiden walked away with the others, she turned in her seat and stole another glance. Damn if the back view of him wasn't as good as the front. He caught her looking and smiled again. Abby quickly turned back around to finish the last two questions on the exam. She needed to finish the exam, but Aiden LeBlanc, in the flesh, was definitely worth a slight delay.
* * *
Aiden was glad when the tour and the sales pitch were done. He wrote out a check for $100,000 after he was assured anonymity. He didn't like all of the attention that he would get from the donation, so remaining anonymous was important. Besides, all he could think about was getting back to the library. He said his good-byes and left the President's office. Once he was outside, Aiden sprinted back to the library hoping to find her. As he entered the library, he headed straight for the media room. She was still there, and the wave of excitement which he felt when he first saw her only intensified. He stopped outside of the room and just looked at her gorgeous face.
The woman was still working on the computer. Aiden once again noticed her beautiful café-au-lait colored skin and round brown eyes. He continued his perusal of her and noted her high cheekbones and full lips. Aiden wondered what it would be like to run his tongue down her long slender neck and suck her skin where her neck and shoulder met. He thought he had died and gone to heaven. She snapped him out of his reverie when she looked up from the computer screen.
Abby had just finished the last question on the exam and emailed her responses to her professor when Mr. "Smoking Hot" Aiden LeBlanc walked up to her with a swagger and all the confidence in the world. He possessed everything she loved about the male body. His broad shoulders angled off to a perfect V to his slim waist. Abby guessed Aiden stood about six feet three or four inches tall and weighed about 220 pounds. His charcoal black hair was cut short, which accentuated the waves. Aiden's hair was combed back off his face, so Abby got a great look at his dark blue, almost navy eyes, which were big and very expressive. Aiden's chiseled cheeks and square jaw where highlighted by a smile Abby was sure had charmed the panties off many women.
She stood as he walked closer and waited. He looked her up and down and said, "hi, I'm Aiden."
Abby looked up into his sexy navy blue eyes and said in a whisper, "hi, I'm Abby."
Aiden was mesmerized by her voice even though she whispered her response. "I saw you while I was on the tour. I was hoping that I might still find you here."
"Oh?" Aiden continued to stare at Abby, and she thought that maybe she had drool slipping down her chin. As discreetly as possible, she raised her left hand to her chin to check. When she was sure her chin was dry she let her hand fall back to her side. "And why might that be?" she inquired.
Aiden knew he was staring, but he couldn't help himself. Abby was no longer whispering, and he found her slightly raspy, very feminine voice intoxicating. Yep. He had died and was definitely in heaven because he'd just heard an angel speak.
She continued to look at him with those light brown doe eyes that seemed to see all, and he answered her question truthfully, but with a bit of vulnerability. "I came back hoping you might have a cup of coffee with me."
"Oh, thank you for asking, but I can't." Abby got busy gathering her books and purse.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" Aiden asked defeated.
Abby stopped what she was doing and looked at him. "No."
"So, why won't you have coffee with me? I don't bite, at least not on the first date or unless you asked me real nice."
Abby laughed outright. "I don't think you'd bite."
At the sound of her laughter, Aiden thought, once again, he'd been hit in the head. "So?"
"So. I just can't."
Abby was perplexed as to why Aiden LeBlanc would want to have coffee with her. She knew she wasn't ugly, but she certainly wasn't as beautiful and skinny as the model types most athletes seemed attracted to in the tabloids.
"Is it something I said?"
She stopped what she was doing. "No, not at all, Aiden. I just have more studying to do tonight." She lied and hoped he wouldn't notice.
He loved the way Abby said his name; she pronounced each syllable. Aiden wasn't going to give up. "You have to take a break sometime. From the looks of things you seem to be preparing to leave." He was looking at her books stacked neatly as he spoke.
He'd gotten her there. Abby had logged off of the computer and was ready to leave the library when Aiden strolled into the room. She was at a loss for words, but Aiden wasn't.
He moved even closer to her and said in a whisper, "it's just coffee, Abby."
She looked up into Aiden's eyes that seemed to be as conflicted as she felt. When she spoke her voice was shaky. "I don't know, Aiden. You're famous. I'm sure you're a nice guy and all, but I ... I"
Aiden cut her off in mid-sentence. "Ahh, so you did recognize me."
Abby simply stated, "yes."
"So you won't have coffee with me because you think I'm a dumb jock?" Aiden knew he was being manipulative and not playing fair, but at the moment, he didn't care. He wanted to spend time with this woman who intrigued the hell out of him.
Abby gasped and put her hand over her heart. "I never said you were a dumb jock!" She was appalled and embarrassed that he would think such a thing. "I would never insult you or anyone with such stereotypical thoughts or comments." Frustrated, she removed her coat from the back of the chair and began to put it on. Aiden came to Abby's rescue and held the coat for her because she was struggling with one of the sleeves.
Aiden smiled at her response. "Good, then let's go." He gently took her elbow and guided her toward the door.
"I didn't say I would go with you for coffee, Aiden."
"True, but you did say you didn't want to insult me. I would be insulted if you didn't have coffee with me."
Abby stopped dead in her tracks. She took her elbow back and looked Aiden in the eye when she said, "You're twisting my words and manipulating me."
"True, very true. Let's go. I saw the coffee shop was still open over in the next building when I came to find you." He took the books she was holding out of Abby's arms.
"You, Aiden LeBlanc, are incorrigible."
"So, I've been told," Aiden declared smiling as if he just won The Stanley Cup.
Abby let out a long sigh and let Aiden lead her out of the double doors of the library. They started down the stairs, and Aiden held out his free arm to Abby. They walked arm in arm in silence. When they arrived at the coffee shop, Aiden opened the door for Abby and lead her to a table in the back of the establishment all the while keeping his hand on the small of her back.
They took their coats off, and Aiden got a real good look at Abby's body. He estimated Abby was about five feet seven inches tall because her head came up to his shoulders. He could see from the way the V-neck sweater fit her body that Abby's stomach was flat and her breasts were round and firm. Aiden was sure her breasts were firm and would fill his hands just right. Yep, definitely a C cup. He noticed Abby had a well-developed body and curves in all the right places, which he could see in the form fitting jeans she wore. Her hips flared just enough; Aiden thought how right they would feel in his hands as he drove into her over and over again. Aiden didn't like skinny or even thin women. He liked to feel the curves of a woman when he held her and not her bones sticking him. Miss Abby Zolland was all woman.
Aiden asked Abby what she wanted and when she told him, he walked up to the counter to place their order. When he was back at the table Abby helped him unload the tray.
"Aiden, who's going to eat all of this food?"
As he took a seat so they were sitting side by side, he said, "you and me. You only said you wanted coffee. Since I was hungry, I thought you might be too. I didn't know what you might like to eat, so I bought a little of this and that."
Abby looked at him and her heart skipped a beat. He looked like a little boy who had stolen flowers out a neighbor's garden to bring home to his mom. She smiled at the thought, picked up a fork, and took a large forkful of chocolate cake. Aiden followed Abby's lead and dug into the same piece of chocolate cake, never taking his eyes off of her. He liked the fact that Abby ate. So many of the women he'd met and dated wouldn't eat because they didn't want to gain weight.
"Mmmm, this cake is fabulous." Abby moaned, closed her eyes, and savored the richness of the confection. "This is just what I needed after finishing that exam."
"I agree; it's good." He continued looking at Abby savoring the richness of the cake. He wondered if she was a moaner when she was having sex. Shit. Aiden took his mind off of sex with Abby and asked, "How many exams do you have left to take?"
"None. That was my last exam for the term."
While they ate, Aiden and Abby talked about their childhoods and growing up in Toronto. Aiden loved listening to Abby talk about school; she was so animated when she shared her dream of becoming an English teacher. He was impressed that Abby had started college at the age of seventeen. At the end of the summer, she would be going into her junior year; she was only nineteen. It was obvious to him that Abby would make a great teacher. She was definitely an over achiever; he liked that about her.
Abby giggled when Aiden told her how he got his nickname. He explained to her that his teammates nicknamed him "The Blade" because of his speed and agility on the ice. He told her that they say he cuts through the ice like a hot knife through butter.
"That smooth, uh?" Abby asked.
"I guess so," Aiden replied, a little embarrassed.
He shared a lot about playing in the junior league and how he knew at age seven that he wanted to be a professional hockey player. She loved the stories he told her about his teammates and how some of them loved to fight on and off the ice. Abby told him she had seen him play on television and that he played strategically with determination and guts. Abby's approval of him and her comments about how he played the game pleased Aiden.
Excerpted from Always Have, Always Will by N. H. Watkins Copyright © 2012 by N. H. Watkins. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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