Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.
As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.
The Carolina Cold Fury series from New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett can be read together or separately:
And don’t miss her Arizona Vengeance series:
The Love Hurts series features sexy standalone novels:
SEX IN THE STICKS
And the Sugar Bowl series is one treat you’ll want to read in order:
“One of the best voices in contemporary romance.”—New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne
Praise for Alex
“Wow. Just wow. Sawyer Bennett is my new favorite author.”—Jami Davenport, USA Today bestselling author of Skating on Thin Ice
“Warm, witty, and fun, with sparkling dialogue and great characters including a bad boy hockey player, Cold Fury has it all! I’m eagerly awaiting the next in the series.”—Katie Rose, award-winning author of Bring on the Heat
“Sawyer Bennett has scored again with Alex, the perfect combination of sexy and emotional. I can’t wait for the next Cold Fury story!”—Julie Cross, author of Third Degree
“Alex’s redemption is what makes the happy ending possible and will make readers smile. Recommended for sports romance fans who enjoy seeing the frog turn into a prince.”—Library Journal
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.
About the Author
A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real-life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to contemporary romance, she writes something for just about everyone.
Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active daughter, as well as a full-time servant to her adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others and that a bad day can be cured with a great workout, cake, or even better, both.
Sawyer also writes general and women’s fiction under the pen name S. Bennett and sweet romance under the name Juliette Poe.
Read an Excerpt
Ken told me that they were assigning their top player, Alexander Crossman, as the spokesman and that I would be working personally with him to create and implement the program. The hallmark would be an outreach plan to use with all of the local area schools where Mr. Crossman and I would be talking to the students.
I’m terribly excited because while I love counseling—wouldn’t trade it for the world—I want to make a bigger impact, and the way to do it is to reach the masses. Now, I have no idea who this Alexander Crossman is, because frankly, I know nothing about hockey. I mean . . . I know we have a professional team here in Raleigh, but besides knowing that they’re called Cold Fury, I don’t know a darn thing else about them. But if he can help me achieve my goals to target larger groups of youth, then he’s going to become my new best friend.
So the fact that their shining star of a player didn’t show up for his appointment has indeed left a bad taste in my mouth. However, that could be par for the course. I’ve never met a celebrity or sports star, but I’m guessing arrogance and entitlement might be part of the makeup involved. In fact, this may be something I’ll need to learn to deal with as we are trying to set boundaries in our new working relationship. I may be a young woman but I’m not without moxie—that would be Minnie’s terminology—and I’m not without a pair of figurative cojones—my terminology—when I need them.
The bell over the front door chimes, indicating a visitor. We don’t have much foot traffic with most appointments being scheduled, but none of the other counselors are showing any appointments at this time so it’s unusual for someone to be stopping by.
When I look up, I’m momentarily stunned speechless by what may possibly be a mirage. It has to be, because seriously . . . it’s beyond belief.
He’s beyond belief.
In fact, he’s beyond my imagination.
A man walks in, the early afternoon sun outlining a massive body. He has to be at least six-five, six-six with a solid chest, narrow waist and pretty big guns hanging from his shoulders. For a man so large, I’m surprised to note he moves with a natural grace. Charcoal gray dress slacks and a lightweight black sweater are molded to his body, showcasing dips and valleys of muscles that you see only in men’s health magazines.
If I thought his body was incredible, I almost pass out once I take full stock of his face. It’s enough to make angels weep, and I consciously close my mouth as I realize my jaw has flopped open in disbelief.
Dark, dark hair . . . almost black, but most definitely the deepest mahogany, is worn midlength, chopped in helter-skelter layers around his face. The front portion of bangs sweeps left to right across his forehead, while chunks stick up this way and that around his entire head. His face, if cast in marble, would be sought after by all of the world’s finest art galleries. Strong jaw covered in dark stubble, high cheekbones, straight-as-an-arrow nose, and even from fifteen feet away and with the sun at his back, I can see the most crystalline blue eyes I’ve ever beheld on a human being.
The last thing I notice about him—because holy hell, I’ve noticed quite a bit—is that his lips are full, the bottom one just a little puffier than the top. Said lips, which may be the most perfect in existence, are now quirking upward into a smirk and the first thing I think is, I wonder what he could do with that mouth.
The second thing I think?
He’s smirking at me because I am so openly checking him out, even at this very moment.
Maybe because my brain has been addled by such magnificence, or maybe because I’ve never been one to get easily embarrassed, I don’t even have a shred of decency that will cause me to cast my eyes away in shyness or shame.
So I hold his look as he walks up to the desk, places his palms flat on the Formica-topped surface and hits me with a brilliantly sexy smile that almost blinds me, and most definitely causes a pang low in my belly.
“I can see you recognize me,” he says, his voice deep and slightly accented.
I blink at him hard, his words penetrating, but not really. I’m still too dazzled by the whiteness of his teeth, and I’d swear I saw one tooth actually cast a sparkle.
“Um . . . excuse me?” I say, because I have no clue who this is or why he’s here, or why I should recognize him. Maybe he’s a famous model or an actor, and I rack my brain trying to place his face.
His smile turns into a bit of a frown and his brow furrows. “You don’t recognize me, do you?”
For some insane reason, I feel terrible because I don’t know who he is and he seems to be hurt by that. No, not hurt . . . that’s not quite right.
Yes, maybe intrigued.
Sending my brain into overdrive while it searches my memory for every movie, soap opera or fashion magazine I’ve ever read, I flounder around trying to come up with this man’s name.
“Alex Crossman,” he says, letting me off the hook. “I have an appointment with Sutton Price.”
Son of a gun.
This is Alexander Crossman? Star player of the Cold Fury and potential GQ model, my new cohort in creating an outreach program for troubled youth and overall putz for being late and not calling? I don’t know whether to have an orgasm or be pissed that he’s walking in thirty minutes after our scheduled appointment.
“You’re late, Mr. Crossman,” I say, disapproval ringing through. “By about half an hour.”
He doesn’t look the slightest bit chagrined, but his smile turns even brighter. Removing his hands from the desk, he actually sets a hip along the edge and I swallow hard as I notice the taut thigh muscles staring me in the face as the material of his slacks pulls against his leg. I make myself—absolutely make myself—immediately raise my eyes to his so I don’t inadvertently look at what may be in between those thighs, because somehow I imagine it has to be as magnificent as the rest of him.
Nodding over to the couch in the corner, I say, “If you’ll have a seat, it will be a moment.”
He doesn’t move from the desk but just stares down at me, his smile no longer showing the brilliance of white but rather tilted up in amusement at me.
“Tell you what,” he says as he leans in a bit closer and murmurs, “I’ll go sit and patiently wait if you let me cook you dinner at my place tonight.”
The muscles in my face go lax and with no means of support, my jaw drops open again. Alex Crossman, professional hockey player and most gorgeous man on the planet—nay, the universe—just asked me out?
No wait . . . that wasn’t asking me out on a date . . . that was asking me to his apartment.
A private dinner . . . in a private place.
Warning bells go off in my head and I realize with absolute clarity that Mr. Crossman extended that invitation with the hopes of getting in my pants.
Of all the—
Okay, again, not sure whether to orgasm or be offended.
I choose to remain professional—since I’m still on the clock—and go with offended.
Narrowing my eyes at him, I nod back over to the couch. “No, thank you. If you’ll go have a seat so I can get some work done . . .”
Looking at me a moment longer, he shrugs his shoulders, and I watch as the amused smile slides from his face.
“Never hurts to ask,” he says with a wink before he walks over to the couch and plops down on it.
I try to focus on Mara’s case file but can’t help sneaking glances at Mr. Hockey Hottie. Gah, he’s utterly gorgeous, but also completely full of himself.
Oh, not because he asked me out. I mean, that was kind of flattering even though I’m not interested. No way I’d ever go over to a guy’s apartment for dinner as the first date. But he’s clearly full of himself because he thinks his time is more important than mine. It’s at this point I hope Minnie takes her time returning from the drug store so Mr. Crossman can cool his heels for a while and see how it feels for someone to be disrespectful.
As if appearing just because I was thinking about her, Minnie breezes in the door in a cloud of Estée Lauder perfume and sunshine.
“I’m back,” she chirps happily. “Thanks so much, dear.”
I grin at her. “My pleasure, Minnie.”
Standing from the desk, I grab Mara’s file and turn toward the couch where Alex is seated. I debate about leaving him here for a bit longer, but then decide against it. I’ve never been a very vengeful person. “Mr. Crossman, if you’ll come this way . . .”
He unfolds his large body from the couch and when he reaches his full height, I hear Minnie behind me give a slight gasp and murmur, “Oh, my.”
Yup, Minnie. He’s definitely an oh my.
As Alex walks toward me with those longer-than-long legs, his eyes run casually down my body and slowly back up again until he’s pinning me with a direct stare. Appreciation shines through loud and clear, and it makes me self-conscious as hell.
Spinning on my heel, I call out over my shoulder, “Follow me.”
As I walk through the locked door to the back area, my heels clacking on the tile floor, I can feel his eyes burned onto my butt the entire way. I’m only modestly thankful he’s probably ogling my body and not looking at the Sharpie-covered, scuffed heels of my shoes.
When I reach my office, I push the door open and motion for him to precede me in. He does so and I follow behind, closing the door behind me.
Walking past him, I say, “Please have a seat.”
Rounding my desk, I put Mara’s file over on one of my bookshelves and sit in my cheap office chair with uneven wheels that squeaks every time I move. When I finally look at him across the desk, he’s gazing at me in stunned disbelief. “You’re Sutton Price?”
“The one and only,” I quip.
“F***,” he mutters, sifting his hand through his long hair in a show of irritation. “I thought Sutton was a dude’s name.”
“Probably is,” I confirm. “Also happens to be my name.”
“Christ,” he mutters again, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why my name seems to bother him.
The more I’m getting to know Alex Crossman, the more I am definitely not liking him.