Authors: rachelle Vaughn
Oops. Maybe that wasn’t the wisest choice of words.
“Hello, Violet.” He shook her soft hand with his big calloused one and didn’t seem to notice her nerves getting the best of her.
In the split second that his rough palm held hers, Violet imagined that hand on other places on her skin.
She imagined him running his hands over her shoulders and down the length of her spine. Up her legs, over her knees and between her thighs. His touch would be firm yet gentle. Gentle yet always in control. Always knowing right where to caress. Right where to…
But that wasn’t what he was there for.
was the one who was going to do all the touching.
was the one who was scheduled to give him a massage.
For a full hour
It really was warm in here. Violet contemplated stepping outside to cool off, but there wasn’t time for that. She could already imagine Patricia’s eyes boring a hole into her skull through the wall.
motioned to Jace and smiled. “Well, let’s go ahead and get started.”
led Jace down the hallway, mindful that he was close behind her. Inside the room, once again, his body took up most of the cozy space. Violet was used to being around big men—her brothers were all over six feet tall—but Jace had a presence about him that commanded her to take notice. And take notice she did.
A spark of sexual electricity whizzed through her veins and straight to her core.
Shaking off the unnecessary and completely unprofessional feeling, Violet concentrated on the task at hand. She had Jace sit on the table while she sat on the swivel chair across from him.
“I just have a few routine questions before we get started.”
Violet proceeded to get an idea of his medical history so she would know how to treat him more effectively and found out the types of massage he preferred.
While she m
ade sure the medical information in his file was accurate and up-to-date, Jace looked down at her hands. They were slender and her fingers were pale like the rest of her. Her nails were kept short and neat and she didn’t wear any jewelry, or more specifically, a wedding ring. But she probably wouldn’t wear one anyway in her line of work with all the oil it involved.
. Jace was looking forward to her slathering him in oil and rubbing her hands all over his body…
Christ, breakfast with his teammates had only increased his appetite. And he wasn’t craving hash browns
could sense Jace’s eyes on her, raking over her skin, leaving goose bumps in their wake. Soft music played through invisible speakers, but it did nothing to calm Violet’s nerves.
“So,” she said, desperately trying to get back on track. “Are there any specific areas you’d like me to focus on?”
Oh, God, that didn’t help things at all. There was only one area she could think of and it was strictly
I’ve been having some tightness in my shoulder,” he responded.
“I just need to stay loose.” Once his muscles tightened up, he felt and walked like an eighty-year-old. And he couldn’t have that.
Violet showed him some stretches to do for “homework” for any muscles that became tight.
“I’m on injured reserve for the shoulder, but my knee is what bothers me the most. They’re talking about surgery on the shoulder, but I wanna wait ‘til the end of the season.” He stopped talking and clamped his jaw shut. Jesus, he sounded like a decrepit weakling. His body really was falling apart faster than he could put it back together again.
I’m sorry about your injury. You were having such a stellar season.”
He looked surprised that she would
a) know anything about hockey and b) know who the hell he was. “You follow the Razors? I didn’t have you pegged as the hockey type.”
When she smiled
, he tore his gaze from her plump lips and back up to her eyes. God, she really had no clue how sexy she was, did she? And he had thought that
he found out she followed hockey.
What type did you have me pegged for?
she wanted to ask. “I grew up with three brothers and didn’t have much of a choice,” she replied instead. “I had to know players’ names and stats on cue or I’d end up in a three-way headlock. But even now that I’m older and have a choice, hockey is the only sport I watch. Once you watch hockey, everything else seems so boring in comparison.”
He thumped his fist against his chest.
“A woman after my own heart.”
Violet smiled and shook her head in disbelief.
“Jace McQuaid,” she muttered. “I still can’t believe I didn’t recognize you.”
“Without the jersey, all of us hockey players look alike,” he joked.
“Hardly,” she scoffed. “Gosh, I haven’t been to a game in
. The last time I went was last year, I think. Yeah, I took Patricia and her son. Carter was four and he ate during the
game. First it was a hot dog, then it was nachos and then came the popcorn. He threw a fit during intermission when we told him he couldn’t ride the Zamboni, but thankfully someone came around selling cotton candy, so we pawned some of that off on him. Personally, I can’t eat during a hockey game. It’s so fast-paced, that you can look away for a split second and miss out on an important play.”
Jace fought the urge to pinch himself. Was this woman for real? Or was she part of some elaborate joke the guys were playing on him? He wouldn’t put it past them. His teammates were
Here ya go, Ace. Here’s the woman of your dreams all wrapped up in a sexy package. Oh, and she likes hockey and does massage, too.
“It’s even faster when you’re on the ice,” Jace said wistfully. He hadn’t been on the ice in a few days and the reminder took some of the air out of his sails.
Violet gave him a sympathetic look.
“Well, I’m just going to step out for a few minutes so you can undress.”
Violet’s voice shook Jace from his pity party.
Go ahead and cover yourself with the sheet and lay on the table face down.” She waved her hand and gave a nervous laugh. “I’m sure you know the drill by now.”
This isn’t my first rodeo.”
dropped her hand and swallowed. The word rodeo brought to mind one thing: reverse cowgirl.
efore her mind had the chance to think up anymore inappropriate positions she’d like to find herself in with a man like Jace, she slipped from the room. She found Patricia at the reception desk watering her bamboo plant.
dramatically wiped her forehead with the back of her hand. “Hubba hubba. Why haven’t we had more athletes come in before, Pats? We’ve definitely been missing out.”
,” Patricia chided and straightened her bamboo plant exactly a quarter of an inch to the right.
He’s the guy who gave me a ride to work this morning.”
Patricia looked up from her plant, her lips set in a grim line.
“He’s not just a guy, Violet. He’s a
Violet rolled her eyes
and slapped Jace’s file on the counter. “I
“Please behave,” Patricia begged. “We need this business.”
Sheesh. Patricia always took the fun out of everything. What harm was there in appreciating the beauty of a magnificent man like Jace McQuaid? Lord knew she never had time to indulge in any other kind of fun.
Man, when her brothers found out that she had
one foot in the Red Valley Razors’ door, they’d freak out. Violet wasn’t freaking out over Jace’s pro-athlete status, though. She was freaking out because she was about to
get her hands on the left winger’s body. Hopefully he was still in the room when she returned and her sex-starved brain hadn’t made him up. That would be a pity.
Violet stood straight and saluted
her chronically worried business partner. “I’ll be on my best behavior, boss.”
Patricia just shook her head.
When Violet knocked on the door and glided back into the room, sure enough, Jace McQuaid was still there. She had half expected him to be a mirage or something. Just a handsome image her brain conjured up shrouded by ferns and lucky bamboo plants.
lying face-down on the table just like she’d instructed him, his lower half draped with the sheet. His bare back was tan and more muscular than she was used to seeing. Not that she was expecting a beer belly to appear from under his jersey, but Charles Atlas was a pleasant and very welcome surprise.
drizzling oil on his back, Violet took a deep breath and began the massage. She splayed her hands, pressed her open palms onto his upper shoulders on either side of his spine, and ran them over his back. His skin was smooth and warm under her fingers. As her hands glided over the muscles parallel to his spine, she applied gentle pressure, preparing his body for deeper manipulation.
Over the years,
Violet had seen bodies of all shapes and sizes on her table. But there was something about Jace’s body that made her uneasy. The sight of his back, tan and glistening with massage oil. A glimpse of his thigh, bulging with muscle. His stomach, lean, tight and sculpted. His hips… No! She didn’t need to be thinking about what was going on below his waist.
“Let me know if you feel any pain
,” Violet told him. “We don’t want to bruise the muscle and cause any more damage.”
Her hands glided up and down his neck and back, seeking tender spots and rubbing them to gauge how much pressure he could take. Her gentle yet thorough method had him relaxed in no time.
Running the base of her palms along his back, s
he got to work eliminating every last drop of stress. It was much too easy to let her mind wander to the sensuousness of a massage. For the first time since becoming a massage therapist, she had thoughts of slowing down and bringing him pleasure as well as healing. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. This was her job. She was a professional.
Violet desperately needed a distraction. So, for the duration of the massage, she mentally recited the scientific names of muscles.
She ran her hand over the iliacus muscle and up to the psoas.
“Is this pressure all right?
” she asked. “My clients aren’t usually athletes.”
Rhomboids, trapezius, levator scapulae.
She expertly coaxed tension from the base of his skull before moving on to his shoulders, applying various degrees of pressure.
When she began working on his shoulder, she noticed his hands clench. “Is that too much pressure?”
“Eh, I can handle it.”
“You don’t have to be macho,” she gently reminded him. “If anything hurts, please let me know.”
He hesitated before answering. “I guess that spot’s a little touchy.”
She smiled and eased up on the pressure. “That’s all I need to know.”
Some of Violet’s clients preferred the quiet and others liked to talk during their massage. She could tell that Jace didn’t mind chatting. So, to keep her mind in the right place, Violet talked to him about neutral topics like hockey, food and entertainment. By the time the session was up, Violet learned that his movie and restaurant preferences were eerily similar to her own.
Jace radiated heat and Violet was drawn to him like a hummingbird to a fragrant honeysuckle bloom. It was as if she had been frozen solid for years and Jace had come to unthaw her and spark her blood flow again. And spark he did! Violet had never felt such electricity with anyone, especially one of her clients.
Even though he was lying still, Violet could sense the power in him.
The power to explode onto the ice with a flash of a red jersey. The skill to maneuver a puck artfully past an opponent. The brawn to sacrifice his body and take a hit for the sake of the play. Once upon a time he had had that power, that vitality on the ice and now he lay hurt and broken on her table.
continued by gliding her hands over the rounded contour of the deltoid muscle in his shoulder. After increasing the blood flow to the area, she began deeper motions, kneading the muscles in his back and shoulders. Her motions had a rhythmical quality and she inched her way up with continuous kneading.
The pressure started out firm and gradually slowed, somehow becoming sensual.
As she gently worked the muscles in his shoulder, she couldn’t help but notice his hairline at his neck. His hair looked soft and inviting. She imagined hair in other places on his body. Chest, arms, legs. She wondered how the rest of his hair would feel if she were to rake her fingers through it while he…