Welcome to the Snow and Ice Games where competition is not the only thing that is heating up! The fourth book in bestselling Tamsen Parker's romance series continues with two female skaters from opposite sides of the rink.
Blaze Bellamy is the bad girl of the short track speed skating world. Looking like a roller derby bruiser when she’s not in her Team USA uniform, she’s an unlikely American heroine. She’s got a punk attitude to match her provocative dress and her dyed hair, and she’s determined to get onto the front pages of the papers regardless of how she has to do it.
Maisy Harper is the workhorse of the Canadian women’s figure skating team. Serious, modest, and above all, polite, Maisy would prefer to win her victory on the ice rather than in the press, and is exasperated by Blaze’s antics. When she’s not lusting after her anyway. After they both failed to make the medal podium at the last Snow and Ice Games, they drowned themselves in gin—and each other.
Despite their hookup being drunken, they both harbor fond memories of their night together and are keen for a repeat. But they’ve got different ways of going about getting what they want, and Blaze’s willingness to go to any lengths for the spotlight could ruin any chance she has with Maisy.
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The bar in the athletes' village is already hopping, which is funny, because no one's competed yet. At a glance, it could be any bar in Denver. But if you look closer ... All those things that look like gin and tonics? Tonic with limes. Everything that would be a rum and Coke in a regular bar? Just Coke. Mostly, people have water. And yet we're all still hanging out in the bar. Athletes are weird.
If this were another competition, I likely wouldn't even be out at the bar. Probably tucked away in my room listening to my programs on repeat and checking my costumes for any loose sequins or rhinestones, fixing any rogue ones with my omnipresent sewing kit.
It's not another competition, though; it's the Snow and Ice Games which is the competition. It also happens to be the one where I'll get the chance to see the woman who's fueled my fantasies for the past four years or so. Of course, everyone else will get to see her, too, and any hopes I have of getting her in my bed again may be for naught. I can't be the only one who'd like to hook up with her.
And it's not as though that's an idle fantasy. No, Blaze actually has quite the rep for being a bit of a libertine. Who can blame her or any of her partners? The woman's got a body built for sex, she's insatiable, and while I wouldn't say she has no standards because that's not true and also that's sort of a stupid thing to say anyway, she seems to be able to find the attractiveness in anyone. Men, women, non-binary, they're all potential partners. The entire world is Blaze Bellamy's sexual oyster.
I like that she owns her sexuality so very hard, although that's not really my style. No, that much attention for something as personal, as private, as sex? Makes me queasy. It's not how the Harpers roll, or so I've been told my entire life.
Blend in, don't make trouble, and for the love of Pete, keep your dirty laundry inside the house. Better yet, pretend you do not even have laundry. There is no dignity in laundry.
I take another sip of my water, conscious of the fact that if they knew where I was, my parents would bristle. Because even going to a bar is asking for attention. I may as well be standing on the corner soliciting sex from passersby. Trying to push the ridiculous notion from my head, I swivel slightly on my bar stool to get a better look at the front door where she's most likely to make her entrance. Blaze will never use a rear entrance if there's one that will get her more attention.
Even the thought makes me flush and smile in a nonvoluntary way. Rear entrance. Heh. Blaze actually has no problems with rear entrances ...
Which is when the door opens, and I see her. It's hard not to, what with her announcing in her booming, throaty voice, "Let's set this joint on fire!" Enough people recognize her that a chorus of hoots and hollers ring out, and then even people who don't know Blaze get in on it, because that's the kind of mood people are in. Everyone else is yelling? Cool. I'm going to yell, too. Except I don't. Prim, proper. I swear to god my indoctrination into the church of politeness has been so complete that I'd stand in the middle of a stampede and apologize to the people attempting to trample me.
I perch on my stool, cross my legs, and lean back against the bar, waiting. Watching. Blaze is getting hugs, kisses, and gropes from all sorts of people — it doesn't appear to matter to her who — and I follow her with my gaze.
Her hair is longer than last time, although just as unnaturally fiery red. And while basically everyone else is wearing pants because it's cold outside — not like you can host the SIGs in a tropical location — Blaze is not. Short skirt, really effing short, with a short puffy jacket that emphasizes her narrow waist, her shapely butt, and jeez, those thick thighs that make my mouth water.
Those thighs that four years ago were pressed to the sides of my head while she rode my face and I left bruises on her ass from gripping her so hard. Fuck.
At least she's had the good sense to wear leggings, although they're so thin they can't be doing much in the way of keeping her warm, and — fuck me, hopefully, god, hopefully — cowboy boots, because she can't even help herself. Who am I to talk? Around her, I can't help myself, either.
Her smile for everyone else is bright, and her eyes are sparkling with getting so much attention. A true extrovert, she's fueled by it. Not like me. I tolerate it. It's part of what I have to deal with if I want to be here, and I do. I'm too reserved to be a media darling by any stretch of the imagination — have, in fact, earned the title of Canada's Ice Princess from more than one press outlet — but I have handled all the uncomfortable media attention with politeness. And I hope with grace, since my mother has drilled good manners into me and I don't want to disappoint her. At least more than I already have because I'm an ice skater instead of a doctor or a world-class-research scientist. Something respectable and quiet.
Blaze loves it, though, basks in it, would roll around in it naked if she could. I am in favor of Blaze rolling around naked, but I'd strongly prefer if she did it in my bed. Will she be in my bed? I suppose I could've contacted her before now to find out if she's been harboring the same fantasies I have, but if she hasn't been — well, I could enjoy the fantasy that she'd say hell yeah for a little longer. Here, if she says no, it'll be easy enough to find another partner should I want one. You put together thousands of attractive, hardworking people who need to blow off some steam, and you're basically guaranteed an orgy.
Of course it's not quite as simple for me as it is for others, what with the whole lesbian thing, but it's not that hard. There are rumors, and thankfully — in this, at any rate — most of them are true. Even if they're not, any woman I approach is more likely to be flattered than disgusted. Insofar as people know I have a sex life at all — which I try to prevent knowledge of at all costs — they know I like women.
Another sip of water through my straw. More of my attention riveted to people paying court to Blaze.
It's funny because the woman isn't likely to medal, but gets treated like royalty anyhow. Anything, anything to get attention, and all attention is equal — because all attention is good. She's good enough to be here, certainly, which puts her at the top of any pyramid, but she's unlikely to make it into that uppermost echelon. Partly because she's willing to sacrifice winning for showboating, which I've never understood. There is no prize worth winning that you can get for being splashed on newspaper front pages, being a centerfold, trending on social media.
Glory in sport and for your country, I understand. It's an "acceptable" form of attention. Plus Blaze and I both share an affinity for our sports, a love that most people can't comprehend. I also, unfortunately, understand not being likely to be on the podium. I do well, consistently very well, haven't had a finish outside of the top ten since before the last SIGs, and 90 percent of the time I'm in the top six. But the top three? I've hit it twice, and both times it was third place. Solid, but short of excellent, that's me.
I don't comprehend Blaze's compulsive need for any and all sorts of attention. What I do understand is an Italian bobsledder's instinct to take Blaze's butt in a two-handed grasp. Don't blame him at all, because it is a very, very fine ass. He releases her with a spank, and heaven above, my hand tingles with want.
She turns to see what else she can see, or probably more accurately who, which is when our eyes meet. I don't bother to wave or do anything else because I know I've got her attention. It's in the way her teeth sink unapologetically into her bottom lip, her eyes get bright and round, and I can see her cleavage rise in her partially unzipped coat.
Yes, Blaze, I'm here. And you know I'm here for you.
I've been dreaming about this for weeks, and no matter how hot the dreams were — and they were, sometimes I'd wake up with a hand in my pants and I'd have to stroke off before I could get anything else done, like get out of bed — she's better in real life.
Pretty Maisy Harper with her long shiny black hair and her tawny-beige skin. Shy, sweet, retiring, polite, modest Maisy Harper. Lies, all of it. That's not fair. Maisy is all of those things out in the world, enough that to people who don't know any better she can come off as stuck-up or frosty. But behind closed doors? Bossiest, most dominant, and most creative lover I've ever had. I've had a lot, so that isn't idle praise.
She's perched on a bar stool like a delicate bird, all fluffy feathers. Of course she's dressed sensibly and in a way that's not at all meant to show off her shape. But I know what she's got going on under those layers, and I want it. All that smooth skin the shade of topaz, the perfect ripe curve of her tits, her pert ass, and Christ, those legs that look slim but that could snap a person's neck between them if that person were lucky enough to have their head between her thighs. Yeah, that's what I remember about Maisy goddamn Harper, and apparently my cunt remembers her, too, because it's getting wet at the thought of her, those slices of memories from that drunken night and the days that followed.
I could wait, play coy, but ... pfft. As if I do that. It's a good look for Maisy, but it would be obvious pretty damn fast that it's a poor fit for me.
There are dozens of people between me and her, but I'm not going to let that stop me. I put a hand to Giorgio's firm chest and give him a push. He backs up with a laugh, and some sweet mumbled nothings in Italian. If Maisy's not looking for a repeat of the last SIGs, Giorgio's are some pants I wouldn't mind getting into.
But the way she hasn't broken our stare, the way she's sitting still like a queen waiting for her subject to crawl to her — and fuck is that tempting, but it would embarrass Maisy too much, so I'll stay on my feet. Still, I'll allow myself to be reeled in by her look. It's a crooked, come-hither finger in eye-fucking form, and my blood is flowing already. To my tits, my clit, and my pussy. My body is ready.
Swear to god if she doesn't take me back to her suite, I'm leaving with someone else and fucking their brains out, even if I'm thinking of lovely Maisy Harper when I do. Giorgio probably wouldn't be all that insulted if I called out her name instead of his. If he even understood. His English isn't top notch, but who needs English when your tongue can work around the lush syllables of Italian? If he can do that with words, I'd love to see what he could do to my lady parts. I'll take a man proficient in cunnilingus over English any day.
But for now, I've got my sights set on Maisy.
I stalk through all the athletes in their track suits and their street clothes, moving people when I need to. If they're smart or if they've ever seen me on the track, they won't get in my way. Short track speed skating is like roller derby on ice, and I'm not shy of using those skills off the rink, either — especially because there's no worry here about getting disqualified. In my not-so-humble opinion, it's a criminally underrated sport. Fast-paced with crashes and drama, it's abbreviated NASCAR on skates, and what is not to love about that? Nothing, which is part of the reason I angle for so much press attention. More people should love short track. Hell, all people should love short track.
Finally I've made it across the bar and find myself so close to Maisy that I catch a whiff of her scent over the new construction odors and human smells of so many bodies in a close space. Satsuma. Sweet little oranges. It's not perfume, because it's a thin blanket over her whole body. I've tasted it on the insides of her elbows, the bottom of her ribcage, the swell of her hipbone, the inside of her knee, and in that sweet crease between thigh and labia. Never ceases to make my mouth water, and it's watering for her. I want to sink my teeth into that slim, strong body and suck so hard on her smooth skin I leave marks on the few places her sequined and rhinestoned costumes will cover.
I reach out for her denim-clad knees, take them in my hands, and use the joints to unhook her crossed legs and spread them so I can make my way between her thighs. I know she's strong, but they feel like twigs compared to my own tree trunks. A little fragile, but that makes it all the hotter when she takes control. It's not about physically overpowering me. It's about my worship of her.
Sliding my hands up her thighs, I reach her hips and squeeze, pressing my pelvis against hers, and then I do the same with my mouth. Meeting her lips, I can't help how my grip migrates up to her waist, her biceps, her neck, and into her raven-black hair, which is smooth and shiny in a shampoo-model way. Who did she sell her soul to for this hair? It was a bargain.
Maisy seems to forget herself for a second because she kisses me back. Her legs wrap around my waist, and her slim arms come around my ribcage, making me groan into her mouth because we're even closer now. She responds with a swirl of her tongue that makes my knees weak, but as soon as it begins it's over.
When she separates us, I know why. It's because a cheer has gone up, and most if not the entire room is staring at us. I hadn't heard the roar of the crowd because of the hot buzz going through my head of having Maisy in my arms, in my mouth, being able to breathe in the scent of her. And now that I can hear it ... it's not that the stares and the whispers don't bother me. They do. But my response to that shit has always been a rather firm fuck you, and doing whatever caused the scandal twice as passionately, with twice as many people, for twice as long. That is not Maisy's style.
Four fucking years it's been since the last time I saw her, and I curse every time I cracked open my email to get in touch with her and didn't. Who am I kidding? She probably wouldn't have gotten back to me because that's not what we do. Or everything would've gone to shit and now I'd be making out with Giorgio instead of her, while watching her maybe flirt in her subtle way with some other woman. Except I doubt she'd be in a bar to do it. Better this way. And in the meantime, I haven't had to worry about who I've fucked and dated or how. Maisy ... she's the monogamous type, and that was something she'd demanded during our last whirlwind ... courtship's not the right word, but indulgence might be.
We'd both been raw from the loss of victories we'd practically been able to taste — barely out of medal contention, no flowers or podiums for us — so we drowned ourselves in gin cocktails and each other. That's how we'd met. Sitting in a bar not all that different from this one, and after having three or four too many, making out in the bar, in the streets of Sapporo, in the SIG village, and finishing up with a night of debauchery in my room.
We could've woken up apologetic and regretful, heads full of hammers and mouths full of cotton. She could've snuck out never for me to see again, but no. We'd showered together and spent the remaining three days before the closing ceremony having all the sex we could. She only asked one thing: that I fuck only her until we left. Which was easy enough.
We gorged ourselves on hedonism, and between that and finally getting to see some of the other events and enjoy the local food, I didn't have time to screw anyone else. Nor did I really have the urge to. I mean, sure, other people turned my head because it's three thousand athletes in a very small space, not to mention the locals and the staff, and the ... yeah, basically everyone. Some good eye candy, and pickings for a bedmate or three. But I never wanted them as much as I wanted more of Maisy. It was an easy choice.
If she's going to let me make it again, I will. I've already walled off other possibilities, unless she gives her permission, or if she, holy dear god, wanted someone to join us for a night? But I doubt it. Maisy may be a wild child in bed, but she's picky about whom she allows to see her that way. And she picked me. Perhaps because she knows I won't — can't — judge. I wouldn't judge her, but I bet that's something she worries about. I don't know why exactly Maisy's such a prude about this, but she is. I'll bet she's worrying now, because we had a pretty serious liplock in front of a shit ton of people. I don't even really know if she's out. Mostly she seems to have convinced people she skates and doesn't exist otherwise, so maybe they don't think she has sex, never mind considering with whom she might have it.
Excerpted from "Fire On The Ice"
Copyright © 2018 Tamsen Parker.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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