Three weeks before Christmas
Denver, Colorado


She found him alone on the ice.

Wearing a black jersey and black hockey pants with his skates, he was practicing his slap shot before tomorrow night’s game. He stood at the blue line with a row of pucks set up in front of him. Jaw set with determination, he methodically fired the pucks into the net, one right after the other. Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh.

Scarlett bit her lip, watching him from the sideline. He shouldn’t have looked so damn sexy right then. He shouldn’t have her heart beating so wildly that she could barely breathe. He shouldn’t have her thighs clenching every time he pulled back his stick and smashed the puck. He shouldn’t have her panties growing damp and hot in a fifty-degree ice rink.

He shouldn’t be her type.

But he was. God help her, he was.

She was debating whether or not to call his name when he suddenly turned his head and spotted her.

When their eyes met, her body went hot and liquid, and she felt her knees tremble.

They stared at each other for a long, breathless moment.

Then Viggo dropped his hockey stick and started skating toward her, the cold breeze ruffling his dark blond hair. Her pulse pounded like a jackhammer as she watched him approach, his powerful body gliding across the ice as if he’d been born with skates on his feet.

She didn’t know whether to meet him halfway or turn and bolt. It didn’t matter. His gaze had her pinned as surely as if her boots were glued to the ground.

He stopped directly in front of her, shooting up a spray of ice. Even with her wearing spiked heels, he still towered over her.

“Hey.” The hypnotic rumble of his deep voice sent shivers down her back.

“Hey, yourself,” she murmured, staring up into those magnetic gray eyes. His face was all hard lines and sharp angles, glistening with sweat. His lips were both firm and lush, and his square jaw was covered with several days’ worth of golden stubble.

He was insanely, ridiculously hot. She couldn’t look away from him even if she tried.

He was staring right back at her, watching as she nervously licked her lips and gestured to his head.

“You’re not wearing your helmet.”

His eyes glinted. “Keen observation.”

She frowned. “Do you really think that’s a good idea?”

The corners of his lips curved up in a slight smile. Holding her gaze, he removed his gloves with his teeth and dropped them on the ice. Then he reached out and gently stroked his knuckles down her cheek. The brush of his cool fingers shot sparks of heat through her body, causing her insides to clench.

The urge to touch him back was overwhelming. But she knew she wouldn’t be able to stop at just touching him. Clothes would have to come off. His and hers.

She sucked in a cool breath, banishing the dirty thought. “Seriously though, Viggo. You really shouldn’t be practicing without a helmet on. What if you get hurt? What if a puck hits you in the head or—”


The lecture died on her lips. God, the way he said her name. No man had ever said her name the way he did, low and dark with just a hint of that crazy-sexy accent.

He cupped her cheek in his big, callused palm. “I appreciate your concern for my safety—”

She forced a shrug. “You’re a star player for the Denver Rebels. I don’t want you doing anything that would jeopardize the team’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup.”

He cocked an amused brow. “So my personal safety only matters to you as a fan?”

She grinned. “Of course not. Don’t be so sensitive.”

He chuckled softly, caressing her cheekbone with his thumb.

Shivering from his touch, she watched as a glistening bead of sweat ran down the side of his face and clung to his jaw. She wanted to lick it off.

Instead she cleared her throat and stuffed her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. “I, uh, just came to say goodbye.”

Disappointment flared in his eyes. “Where are you going?”

“New York. Got some holiday gigs lined up.”

He nodded slowly. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks.” For the first time ever, Scarlett found herself wishing she didn’t have to go on the road with her band. She didn’t want to leave home. Specifically, she didn’t want to leave Viggo.

How insane was that? She barely knew the man.

“When do you get back?” he asked her.

“After New Year’s. But Nadia and Reid invited me to join everyone in Canada for Christmas.” She paused. “Will you be there, too?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Great.” She beamed at him. Seriously, there was no other word for it.

He shifted closer to her. He was so big and brawny that he made her feel tiny and delicate, two words she would never use to describe herself.

“So we’ll see each other in Canada, then.”

Scarlett nodded and sang softly, “O Canada…”

That made Viggo smile. “The voice of an angel.”

She blushed and smiled shyly, then took her hand out of her back pocket to reluctantly check her watch. “Well, um, my cab’s waiting outside so I’d better get going.”

Viggo nodded and then took her chin between his thumb and forefinger, tilting her face up. Her entire body was alive with electricity, tingling from the top of her curly head down to the soles of her feet.

“I wish you didn’t have to go,” he quietly confessed. “Does that make me a selfish bastard?”

“No.” Her voice was a breathy whisper. “I wish I could stay, too.”

She could tell her admission pleased him.

Slowly he lowered his head toward hers and then paused, staring into her eyes with an intensity that robbed her of what little breath she had left.

Söt flicka,” he murmured in Swedish.

“Wh-what?” she whispered shakily. “What does that mean?”

His gray eyes gleamed. “I’m going to kiss you now.”

Her knees wobbled. “Is that what you just—”

“Shh.” The heat of his breath caressed her lips as he moved closer and closer until—



*Söt flicka means “pretty girl” (Source: Native Swedish Speaker)*