Trapped with the Maverick Millionaire

By: Joss Wood

She glanced toward the end of the bed at his chart. Reading the chicken scrawl again wouldn’t change a damn thing. Essentially, Mac had pulled a tendon partly off the bone and injured a ligament. The surgeons doubted he’d regain his former strength anytime soon, if ever.

That would kill him. Even in the short time they’d known each other, she’d understood that hockey was what Mac did, who he was. He’d dedicated the last fourteen years to the Mavericks. He was their star player, their leader, the reason fans filled the arena week after week. He was their hope, their idol, the public face of the well-oiled machine Kade managed.

With his crooked smile, his aloof but charming manner and incredible prowess on the ice, he was the city’s favorite, regularly appearing in the press, usually with a leggy blonde on his arm. Speculating about when one of the Mavericks Triumvirate—Mac, their captain, Kade as CEO and Quinn as Acting Coach (the youngest in the NHL but widely respected) were all hot and single—would fall in love and settle down was a citywide pastime.

A part of him belonged to the city but Rory doubted that anyone, besides his best friends, knew him. From that time so long ago she knew that Mac, for all his charm, was a closed book. Very little was known about his life before he was recruited to play for the Mavericks. Even Shay hadn’t known more than what was public knowledge: he was raised by a single mother who died when he was nineteen, he was a scholarship kid and he didn’t talk about his past.

They had that in common. Rory didn’t talk about her past either.

Rory adjusted the settings on the control box and Mac shifted in his sleep, releasing a small pain-filled moan. He would hate to know that she’d heard him, she thought. Mac, she remembered, had loathed being sick. He’d played with a broken finger, flu, a sprained ankle, a hurt knee. He’d play through plagues of locusts and an asteroid strike.

Rory looked at his injured arm and sighed. He wouldn’t be able to play through this. How was she supposed to tell Kade that?

A big, hot hand touched her throat and a thumb stroked her jaw. Her brain shut down when he touched her and, just like she had in Shay’s kitchen, she couldn’t help responding. She allowed her head to snuggle into his hand as he slowly opened his eyes and focused on her face. His fabulous eyes, the deep, dark blue of old-fashioned bottled ink, met hers.

“Hey,” he croaked.

“Hey back,” Rory whispered, her fingers digging into the skin on his chest. She should remove herself but, once again, she stayed exactly where she was.

So nothing much had changed then. She hadn’t grown up at all.

“They must have given me some powerful drugs because you seem so damn real.”

Rory shuddered as his thumb brushed over her bottom lip. He thought he was imagining her, she realized.

“Helluva dream... God, you’re so beautiful.” Mac’s hand drifted down her throat over her collarbone. His fingers trailed above the cotton of her tunic to rest on the slight swell of her breast. His eyes, confused and pain-filled, stayed on her face, tracing her features and drinking her in.

Then he heaved in a sigh and the blue deepened to midnight. “My arm is on fire.”

“I know, Mac.” Rory touched his hair, then his cheek, and her heart double-tapped when he turned his face into her palm, as if seeking comfort. She tried to pull her hand away but Mac slapped his hand on hers to keep her palm against his cheek. Everyone, even the big, bold Mac, needed support, a human connection. At the moment she was his.

“It’s bad, isn’t it?”

What should she say? She didn’t want to lie to him, but she had no right to talk to him about his injuries. She shouldn’t even be here. “You’ll be okay, Mac. No matter what, you’ll be okay.”

Pain—the deep, dark, emotional kind—jumped into his eyes. His hand moved to her wrist and he pulled her down until her chest rested on his. Her mouth was a quarter inch from his. God, this was so wrong. She shouldn’t be doing this. Despite those thoughts ricocheting through her head she couldn’t help the impulse to feel those lips under hers, to taste him.

Just once to see if the reality measured up to her imagination.

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