Pilots Hockey #4
By: Sophia Henry
Releasing October 18, 2016
The author of Delayed Penalty returns with the story of a free spirit who believes she’s found forever with a playboy on a singles cruise. Discover why Kelly Jamieson calls the Pilots Hockey series “fun and flirty, warm and sweet.”
Kristen Katsaros wants a life full of adventure and laughter. After a difficult childhood, her motto is to live each day like it’s her last—because it just might be. So when Kristen’s parents send her on a post-grad singles cruise in the Caribbean to meet a Greek husband, she promptly hooks up with the hottest guy she’s ever met. Pasha’s decidedly not Greek, but Kristen gives him a pass because he’s got fun written all over his rock-hard abs.
Pavel Gribov, the cocky playboy of the Detroit Pilots hockey team, can score any girl he wants. But when a teammate drags him on a singles cruise, he can’t resist the chance to help out a drop-dead gorgeous damsel in distress by pretending to be her boyfriend. Before long, the fake fling turns intimate, fueled by something much deeper than lust.
Kristen and Pasha both agree to walk away once the cruise is over, but reality hits like a slap shot when Kristen finds out Pasha lied about everything. Just when she’s ready to start living again, the two stubborn survivors must decide if they can bear to lose the best thing that ever happened to either of them.
“So, what’s your story?” I asked.
“My story?” He lowered his head and gazed at me over his sunglasses.
My heart flittered fast, waiting for him to tell me to move or ask why I had chosen to sit next to him, given all the open seats surrounding the pool. But he didn’t.
Had I really chosen this spot because these were the only three empty chairs next to each other? I could have dragged another lounger next to two others.
“You’re not Greek. I can tell that by your accent.” Under the ruse of trying to figure him out, I twisted my torso and leaned toward his chair. Subconsciously I relished the opportunity to study his features more closely. “So you can’t be one of the Detroit-area Greek singles I’m supposed to be hanging out with.”
“I am. I came here with a friend.”
“Who’s your friend?” I asked, tucking my hair behind my ears.
I didn’t recognize that name. And after spending the majority of my life around people in the Greek Orthodox community, I pretty much knew anyone close to my age, whether we went to the same church or not.
“How do you know Blake?” I settled back into the lounge chair, flicking back a corner of the towel that had fallen onto my shoulder.
Adonis’s lip curled into a smirk. “Panikos worked with me when I lived in Detroit.”
“Where do you live now?”
“Really?” I sat up. “My best friend just moved to Charlotte.”
“Charlotte. That is where I live.”
“What a small world. She lives downtown, in the Avenue condos.” I paused to correct myself. “Well, I guess you guys call it uptown instead of downtown.”
“Why did she move to Charlotte? Did she get a job there?” Adonis leaned sideways and picked up a plastic cup from the ground next to his chair. He took a sip of his drink.
“No. She moved in with her fiancé. He’s a hockey player.”
Adonis didn’t respond, but he choked on his drink and diverted his eyes toward the pool.
“His name’s Aleksandr Varenkov,” I added. “Do you know him?”
“No,” he answered quickly, and adjusted his aviator sunglasses, which had slid down his nose. “I never heard of him. Maybe if I saw him, I’d know his face.”
“If the Internet worked here, I’d show you a picture on my phone.”
“The ship has Internet,” Adonis corrected me.
“Yeah, but I can’t afford the hundred dollars a minute they charge to access it.” A hundred dollars a minute was only a slight exaggeration—the ship charged enough that I didn’t feel the need to waste my money. I’d wait until we docked somewhere with a restaurant or a bar that offered free Wi-Fi. “So what do you do?”
His gaze veered from my lips to my eyes before he answered. “I am a Pilot.”
“Really? So you’re always traveling, eh? Do you love it?” I reached over and grabbed my water bottle off the tiny table next to my lounge chair.
“I like to fly. To travel. It is, um, a good job for me.” Adonis took another swig from his drink, something clear with a cluster of crushed ice floating in it. “Where do you work?”
I leaned back in the chair and bent my knees slightly—perfect position to soak up the sizzling sunshine. “I’m the assistant to one of the owners of Motor City Bar Management. It’s a company that owns a group of bars around Detroit. I coordinate all the volunteers and employees for events that our bars host or sponsor.” I finished my water and set the empty bottle on the table.
“What kind of events?”
“Concerts. Bar crawls. Promotional events before games,” I said, rattling off a few of the things I’d helped plan recently.
“Wonder if I’ve seen you around,” he said. “I go to a lot of concerts.”
“Probably not,” I said. “I just started two months ago. Before that I was at Central State.”
Adonis’s eyes darted toward something behind me. “You like the party life?”
“Sure. It’s fun right now while I’m young.” I wiggled my toes, watching the pink glitter polish sparkle in the sunlight. “My goal is to learn the ropes of event planning, then turn it into something more professional in a few years when I don’t want to be immersed in the bar scene anymore.”
Suddenly he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the chair, planting them on the ground facing me. Then he leaned close, his face inches from mine.
Was he going to kiss me?
My heart hammered, excited and eager to accept a kiss from this stranger. I licked my lips and closed my eyes. But instead of feeling his mouth on mine, I felt his breath against my face.
“The guy you are trying to avoid is behind you,” he said.
My eyes flickered open. “Huh?”
“The guy you ran from.” Adonis nodded. “He is behind you now.” He leaned back, resuming his original lazy, reclined position. Then he tilted his cup and drained his drink.
How did this guy already have my heart pounding and my mind begging for his lips on mine? I figured the salty ocean air must be permeating my brain and breaking down my common sense.
Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with a BS in English from Central Michigan University, she moved to the warmth of North Carolina for the remainder of her winters.
She spends her days writing books featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings and rocking out at concerts with her husband.