There's no such thing as enough
When the star player of a professional hockey team gets handsy, event coordinator Viv Callahan performs the slap heard round the world of sports and is fired. So when she meets a sexy stranger, Viv decides the perfect way to forget her troubles is to have one wild, uninhibited night
Damien Black finds Viv intriguing. She doesn't know he's the owner of the aforementioned hockey team, as well as a chain of upscale hotels. Damien is used to hangers-on, and for once he's enjoying a woman desiring him just for being him. But he quickly discovers how addictive pure desire can be, and how quickly a few lies of omission can endanger everything he loves.
ALSO INCLUDED IN THIS VOLUME
HARD KNOCKS by New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster
About the Author
Leslie Kelly has written dozens of books and novellas for Harlequin Blaze, Temptation and HQN. Known for her sparkling dialogue, fun characters and depth of emotion, her books have been honored with numerous awards. Leslie lives in Maryland with her own romantic hero, Bruce, and their three daughters. Visit her online at www.lesliekelly.com
Read an Excerpt
"It was the slap heard 'round the wide world of sports. For a nanosecond, I felt the thrill of victory. Then when I realized what I'd doneand in front of whomI felt the pure agony of defeat."
After making that pronouncement, Viv Callahan lifted her glass of wine and gulped a mouthful. Her two best friends, Lulu and Amelia, didn't touch theirs. Both of them looked shocked by what Viv had just told them.
"Seriously?" asked Lulu, her big brown eyes round. "You slapped hockey star Bruno Neeley across the face, in front of the other players, the press and your own boss?"
"I'm afraid so." Viv rubbed her hand. It had been red for a half hour after she'd whacked the jerk, and it was still sore now, hours later. "Every hockey fan knows the creep's head is harder than a rock. But I never realized his face was just as hard."
Maybe it was because his entire skullincluding whatever excuse he'd once had for a brainhad calcified.
"I'm so sorry," said Amelia, the gentlest of their trio. Proving she could also be feisty, she added, "What a prick."
"Thanks. You know I can put up with a lot. But when he shoved his tongue down my throat and tried to get his hand between my legsin a room full of peopleI went straight to DEFCON One."
She couldn't recall a moment in her life when she'd been more shocked. Surrounded by coworkers at a publicity party she'd helped coordinate, she'd been sitting quietly in the back. Viv had been caught totally off-guard when Neeley had bent over from behind her chair. Grabbing her upper thighand trying to go higherhe'd yanked her face up for a kiss, wrenching her neck. As soon as she'd been able to extricate herself, she'd launched out of the chair, swung around and slapped him with all her might.
Of course the cameras had focused on that. There'd been no reason for anybody to notice what had precipitated the slap; all attention had been on the team's general manager who'd been speaking at the time, at the front of the room. Ouch.
"You shoulda kicked him in the balls," Lulu snapped.
"I've been tempted to in recent weeks. Working for the team has certainly torn the blinders off my eyes about pro athletes."
"I don't understand how anybody could have blinders about pro athletes," Amelia pointed out with a small moue of distaste.
"I guess I thought they were like my brothers. Strong, a bit goofy, but with big hearts and tender souls."
"Bruno Neeley's as tender as a rhino," Lulu said.
Viv ran a weary hand through her hair, pulling it out of the conservative bun she was totally sick of wearing. One good thing about potentially losing her jobat least she could stop dressing so frumpily, something her boss had advised her to do after she'd started complaining about the unwanted attention she was getting from some players on the team. And that advice had come from the head of PR, who actually liked her. She could only imagine what the general manager had saidprobably something along the lines of "Get rid of her."
"I swear, it's as though a few of the players intentionally set out to be pigs," she admitted. "No matter how often I politely refused, they just wouldn't stop trying to pick me up."
"That's probably why," Lulu said with a sneer. "They're not used to hearing 'no' and when they realized you wouldn't go out with any of them, you became some kind of challenge."
"You might be right." Viv reached again for her wine. "For the first time in my life, I try for the straight and narrow, act like a nun, and look where it gets me."
Fired. Not officially yet, that would happen tomorrow. But one second after the impulsive swing, when she'd heard the clicking of cameras and seen the shock of the reporters gathered for this afternoon's press reception, she'd had a mental flash of homelessness. Just because she couldn't control her temper. And Bruno Neeley couldn't control his libido.
It sucked. She loved her job with the Virginia Vanguard, happy to have a chance to blend her event-planning background with her knowledge of sports. With five brothers, how could she not be knowledgeable? Since childhood, she'd sat through hundreds of games, dozens of tournaments. She'd been enlisted as scorekeeper, batboy, snack runner, uniform washer, locker-room cleaner. At twelve, the smell of sweat and jockstraps had been more familiar to Viv than the latest Britney Spears perfume.
It was kind of funny in comparison to how she lived her life now. She wouldn't go so far as to call herself a tramp, but she had a reputation. One she'd earned. Having spent the first eighteen years of her life wearing a brotherly chastity belt, she'd let loose once she'd gotten out on her own.
Deep inside, though, she was still the sister of all those jocks, and still knew her way around a locker room better than a fashion show. And that meant she was perfect for her job.
Certainly, her siblings had been thrilled when she'd been hired a little over two months ago as a special-events coordinator for the Vanguard. They'd been talking about visits and season passes before the team had played their first game.
So much for that.
It wasn't just that she liked the job, and that her family was so enthusiasticshe was also proud of the work she'd done to build support for the new team, which was part of a brand-new international hockey league. She'd done well, if she did say so herself, and didn't relish going back to the unemployment line, especially in the metro DC area, where the job market was notoriously tight.
"If they do fire you, you march right out and get a lawyer to sue them for sexual harassment," Lulu insisted.
"I could, I guess, but I doubt it would work."
Her boss, Tim, would back her up. But his boss, Fred Stoker, definitely wouldn't. As the general manager had reminded her when she'd complained one too many times about the behavior of some of the players, she was a probationary employee.
"When they hired me, I signed a contract saying I can be let go without cause during my first six months."
"That doesn't matter. You were sexually harassed almost nonstop. A good attorney can get around whatever you signed."
"Maybe. But who can afford a good attorney? Besides, Stoker has been building a case, finding reasons to criticize me," Viv admitted. "Little stuff, ridiculous, really. But it started right after he warned me to stop being a 'distraction' to the players. I'm sure he's got a file full of excuses to fire me."
"God, this pisses me off!" Lulu exclaimed. "You get the shaft because you wouldn't go out with some spoiled athletes, and there's nothing you can do about it? I can't believe you're not throwing bricks through their office windows."
"Maybe I'm just tired of fighting," Viv said, more to herself than the others. She'd always been tough, a fighterher dad said she was as ballsy as her brothers.
But the past few months had taken their toll. And it wasn't just her job, but also what had happened last spring with Dale, the guy she'd been dating.
She was weary. And more than a little heartsick.
Making eye contact with the waiter, Viv pointed to her already half-empty glass. Lulu, and even Amelia, nodded for more, too, out of solidarity, though it was a weeknight. Viv appreciated them meeting her at their favorite bar. Lulu was a newlywed, and Amelia engaged, so their girls' nights were few and far between. It was good to know her friends always had her back, even if the team's management did not.
"Can you go over his head, to the team's owner?" asked Lulu.
"I'm not sure who the owner issome big corporation, I think."
"That's not unusual," Amelia interjected. "Often a few millionaires pool their money, start up a corporation to shield their other assets and buy a team."
Viv and Lulu eyed their completely unathletic friend.
Amelia explained. "You don't suppose I can be engaged to a sports reporter and not pick up some stuff, do you?"
Viv sighed. "Lex is a good one. You are both so lucky."
"You will be, too," Amelia said. "There are other nice guys out there."
"I'd be happy with one who didn't believe he had the right to grab my crotch because he makes millions playing a damn game." Running a weary hand over her brow, she added, "To be honest, I'm kinda burned out on the whole male species right now."
Lulu waggled her brows suggestively.
"Not that I'm suddenly into girls," Viv said with a chuckle, understanding what her friend was implying. "You know I love cock. If only I could get it without a bunch of strings."
Amelia stuck her fingers into her ears and feigned shocked innocence. Considering she was shacking up with Lex, who was a Hottie McHottentot, it would take a lot more than that to singe her pretty ears.
"There's always your dildo," said Lulu.
Amelia coughed into her fist. Viv and Lulu both smirked.
"Yeah," Viv replied, "but it's not the same as real, genuine man meat. Unfortunately, lately, all that meat has been attached to asshole jerks." And not just at work, either.
"The perfect guy is out there waiting to nudge his way into your heart," said Amelia, skipping the man-meat comment.
Viv almost retorted that she only wanted one to nudge his face between her thighs, but figured she'd shocked the other woman enough for one evening. "I can't look for one now. I have to get a new job and straighten myself out before I can even think about letting any man near my heart." Her vagina was a different matter, but she didn't mention that, either.
"Neeley ought to be shot for making you feel that way. Or at least arrested for assault," said Lulu.
She laughed bitterly. "Oh, that would go over well."
Talk about bad publicity for the new team, and she wouldn't do herself any favors in the long run. She needed to look toward the future, toward landing another job, and fast. She lived in an expensive high-rise in Arlington, and only had enough in reserve to cover two months' rent. Filing charges against a huge sports starthe most popular guy in the state right nowwould not win her any friends among hiring officials, or anybody else.
Heck, her five brothersall of them hockey nutsmight even be annoyed at her. Of course, they all also might want to kill Neeley. She honestly didn't know how her family would react, and didn't want to find out. She only prayed that the story wouldn't go national, and her family wouldn't see any coverage of it in the tiny Pennsylvania town where they all lived.
"I hate it, and it goes against everything I believe in, but I have to just let it go," she said. "Gotta hope karma takes care of this one for me and Neeley gets what he deserves."
"If there's anything Lex can do, I'm sure he would," said Amelia. "He's no fan of Neeley's. He thinks he's a fathead."
"Well, he's certainly a hardhead. And thanks, I appreciate it," Viv said, meaning it. Amelia's fiancé was a popular DC sports reporter. If worse came to worst, it might not be bad to have him on her side. "But I guess I just want to get the firing over with and move on."
"Don't give up," said Lulu. "Somebody in that room had to have seen what Neeley did. Or you can explain to the general manager. He might be so worried about bad publicity that he'll let you stay."
It was possible, she supposed, and she allowed her friend's words to cheer her up momentarily.
But they proved to be overly optimistic.
Because about eighteen hours later, after a meeting with the team's general manager that left her humiliated and angry, Viv was cleaning out her desk.
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