Bagging the Blueliner


‌Two Months Later‌

THE SIGHTS AND THE sounds were the same as every other year, but everything had changed.

The annual Comets pre-season barbeque was in full swing once again. I’d traded in my skates for a microphone and currently had the sassiest brunette I knew tucked safely against my side. There was no more hiding, no more sneaking around. Our love was out in the open for everyone to see.

Life had never been better.

After the party at my family’s ranch, we’d retreated to my mountain cabin for a few weeks, making up for lost time. Then, it was a quick trip to Minnesota to celebrate Jaxon’s day—along with Beau and Jaxon’s birthdays

—and finally, we’d settled back into life in Hartford.

Things were still strained with Coach. I guess I should get used to calling him Ace, but it’s weird. Our roles had changed—not just professionally but personally. We might be peers in the hockey world now, but I was still the guy sleeping with his daughter and he was the man who’d driven us apart.

Eventually, Hannah’s happiness trumped his feelings on the matter, and he accepted that I was the man she wanted to be with.

He didn’t have much of a choice. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Even though she’d decided a few weeks ago to exclusively wear my jersey

—retired player or not—this season on the ice for the anthem, she still didn’t wear my name legally. Not yet, anyway.

Hannah didn’t know it yet, but there was a specific waterfall calling my name and a yacht already booked for this season’s All-Pro Break. After that, I didn’t think I could wait much longer to make her mine. The thought had already crossed my mind to fly down our immediate families and get married with the sun setting behind us on the sea.

For now, our focus was on the upcoming season. I couldn’t be more excited about being back on the road with Hannah. This time, without sneaking around.

Some might say we would get sick of each other, but I knew better. It wasn’t much different from regular couples working outside the home. They came together each night after they were done with their respective jobs. Hannah and I had different roles, requiring us to spend time apart while we fulfilled them, but every night, we would be in the same city together.

After being forced apart, I never wanted to spend another day without seeing her beautiful face full of love for me, of all people. It was almost too good to be true some days.

The kids running and screaming on the country club lawn brought me back to the present. This event would always hold a special place in my heart. It was where I met the love of my life, even if I hadn’t known it yet.

Sighing, I remarked to Hannah, “This is where it all started. Eleven years ago, a spunky brunette literally marched into my life and turned it upside down.”

Smiling up at me, she lifted on her tiptoes to kiss the side of my jaw. “You’re welcome.”

Chuckling, I pulled her tighter into my side.

Jaxon wasn’t as amused, grumbling, “Real original.”

We all knew that Jaxon first met Natalie at one of these barbeques years before I joined the team and had my run-in with Hannah. Their story was special. Ours didn’t take anything away from theirs, even if our meeting occurred at the same annual event.

“You don’t corner the market on the barbeque meet-cute,” I teased. “That’s a girly term for such a manly man,” Jaxon retorted.

Our captain wasn’t usually so snarky, but I would cut him some slack. He had four kids at home and a pregnant wife. We might not have known about Charlie before she was born, but we all remembered how on edge Jaxon was during the months leading up to her arrival. I wouldn’t put it past him to be struggling with the idea of the season starting right as Natalie was due.

Hannah, on the other hand, was not inclined to give anyone slack. Ever. “Maybe he’s been stealing some of your wife’s word porn. There was this one scene she told me about that I wanted to try . . .”

“Hannah!” Natalie shrieked, a pink flush creeping up her neck and onto her cheeks.

Completely unphased, Hannah looked around at our group. “We’re still missing one. Where’s Benji?”

Jaxon shrugged. “Who knows? He bailed on us this summer, and we’ve barely heard from him since.” Chuckling, he added, “Maybe he’s afraid all the pregnant women and babies are contagious.”

With that, he plucked Hazel, who had been affectionately nicknamed Hazy, from Lucy’s arms and cuddled her. The raven-haired baby girl giggled when he blew raspberries on her tummy as her chubby hands gripped his shirt collar.

That man was such a softy.

“Speaking of babies . . .” Hannah began. “Is it going to be weird having Baby Braxton on the team?”

Braxton was Jaxon’s much younger brother. He’d just graduated from Hartford State, where he led their hockey team to a collegiate national championship. Last season had been a banner year for the Slate brothers— you couldn’t deny the strength of that gene pool. Now, done with college, he’d signed his entry-level contract with the Comets. The media was already buzzing about both of them playing for the same team.

Jaxon smiled. “It might be awkward during some of the rookie hazing, but I’m excited he’s getting his chance. We didn’t get to spend much time together as kids, and even with him being here in Hartford, our schedules clashed. It’ll be nice to reconnect as adults.”

“He couldn’t ask for a better captain than his big bro.” I winked at my best friend.

Amy struggled to get out of her chair, and Liam leapt out of his to help her. The poor thing looked exhausted, and her belly was huge. Her husband appeared equally haggard. Liam was a man who thrived on being in control,

and so much of having a baby was completely out of his hands. It was taking a physical toll on him.

If he looked this bad now, I couldn’t imagine how wrecked he’d be in the delivery room.

Groaning, Amy declared, “I’m going to the bathroom. Again.” Pointing a finger at the other three ladies, she said, “Don’t discuss anything major until I get back. I’m still upset I missed the Cal and Hannah reunion.”

Liam put a hand on her lower back. “I’ll go with you.”

She deadpanned, “Great.” Addressing her friends again, she added, “If I’m not back in fifteen minutes, it’s because I can’t get my shorts back on in this heat. Why the fuck is it almost ninety degrees in September?”

My eyes widened. Amy wasn’t one to swear often.

Hannah softly replied, “Ames, hon, you’re wearing a dress.”

Amy’s skirt flew up without warning, revealing a pair of skin-tight bike shorts underneath. “The chub rub is brutal the way I’m sweating. Plus, they have a full panel to support the bump.”

Liam’s look of horror turned deadly when Preston snickered. Those two were best friends, but if looks could kill, Preston would be six feet under.

“You are so fucked, man,” Preston chuckled. “You have no clue what’s coming for you.”

Growling, Liam ushered his wife away from us, and I winced at the painfully slow waddle of Hannah’s best friend as she made her way across the long lawn to the indoor restrooms.

Pulling Hannah’s body flush with mine, her back to my front, I dipped my head to her ear. “I concede on the giant Viking spawn. I’m pretty sure you’d topple over with a belly that size, and I’m bigger than Liam. But if that kid gets his shoulders . . . Yowch.”

With how close I held her, I could feel her body vibrating as she tried to hold in her laughter. Turning her head to peer up at me, she smirked. “Repeat after me, big guy: Hannah’s always right.”

Tickling her sides, her squeals of laughter filled the air. Dropping my voice an octave, I growled, “Hannah’s about to be laid across my knees, that’s what she is.”

I could hear the smile in her voice as she taunted right back, “Lucky for me, you’re all talk.”

Tightening my grip on her waist, I said low, “When you’re on your knees and I’m fucking your face, you won’t be able to talk. Remember that.”

Turning in my arms, her eyes were alight with amusement. “Time to put your dick where my mouth is.”

Fuck. Now she had me hard, at a party full of small children. “Vixen,” I snarled.

“Benji’s here!” Jaxon called out. Using Hannah’s body as a shield, I adjusted myself in my pants.

“About damn time,” I responded. “That guy is gonna get so much shit for going MIA this summer. I don’t care how many topless beaches he found in Europe.”

Jaxon frowned as he looked out across the lawn. “Who’s that he’s with?”

With my interest piqued, I moved to stand next to my best friend and see what he was talking about.

Sure enough, Benji was walking hand in hand with a blonde woman. Her curvy body was the total opposite of the stick-thin women that were usually his type—they were plastic while this woman was all-natural. In front of them was a little boy with dirty blond hair about Beau’s age.

Stunned, I watched their approach. Benji was the most promiscuous guy on the team, and now he showed up with a woman who had a kid?

What the fuck happened this summer?

I ribbed Jaxon, “Damn, dude. I thought you were the only one into MILFs around here.” A sharp elbow connected with my side, and the air left my lungs in a rush. “Oof.”

Glancing down, I found the culprit—tiny Natalie, pretending nothing had happened.

Smug, Jaxon said, “Piss off the pregnant lady. Smart.” Narrowing his eyes, he surveyed the three walking toward us. “I think I know that kid.”

Snapping my head to look at him, I asked, “What do you mean?”

Beau hurtled across the lawn, yelling, “Knox!” before he ran right into the blond boy, knocking him to the ground.

Natalie whispered to Hannah, “Did you know Benji had a kid?”

What were these people doing to me? My head turned so fast in the opposite direction I heard something pop.

Hannah shook her head in response. “No idea.” Everyone was losing their damn minds!

I whisper-hissed at Natalie, “Are you insane? Benji doesn’t have a kid.”

Glaring at me, she tilted her head toward them, commanding, “Open your eyes. That boy’s a blond version of Benji.”

Squinting as they ventured closer, I took a better look at the boy in question. As much as I hated to admit it, the resemblance was there, including Benji’s unique storm-gray eyes.

Leaning over to Jaxon, I asked, “How do you know that kid again?” Swallowing, he replied, “The clinic. The one you missed. Back in


Oh boy. “What the hell have you been up to this summer, Benji boy?” I whispered to myself.

The blonde woman seemed nervous, gripping Benji’s hand so tightly that her knuckles stood out on her hand, eyes cast downward.

Stopping before us and taking in our shocked faces, Benji smiled broadly. “What? Did you guys think you were the only ones with secrets around here?”

For a bonus scene from Hannah’s bachelorette party in the Caribbean, alon with a peek at her demo setlist recorded in LA, you can find it here

Curious to find out what Benji has been up to all summer? The Connectic Comets series continues with his story in Surprise for the Sniper.

Want to catch up with the rest of the girl gang? Natalie, Amy, and Lucy stories can be found in the Remington Royals series.

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