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Authors: Katie Kenyhercz

Winning Streak

BOOK: Winning Streak
5.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Winning Streak
Katie Kenyhercz

Avon, Massachusetts

Copyright © 2014 by Katie Kenyhercz.
All rights reserved.

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher; exceptions are made for brief excerpts used in published reviews.

Published by

Crimson Romance

an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.

10151 Carver Road, Suite 200

Blue Ash, OH 45242. U.S.A.

ISBN 10: 1-4405-8408-7

ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-8408-4

eISBN 10: 1-4405-8409-5

eISBN 13: 978-1-4405-8409-1

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, corporations, institutions, organizations, events, or locales in this novel are either the product of the author's imagination or, if real, used fictitiously. The resemblance of any character to actual persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.

Cover art ©123RF/Konstantin Sutyagin and iStock/Yuri 

This one is for my brothers, Mike and Will. Their love and loyalty inspired the best parts of Madden. I couldn't ask for better friends or protectors. They are all-around amazing, and I am so proud to be their sister. I love you both!

Chapter One

Wednesday, February 19th

Few things were manlier than eating with your hands and watching guys fight gladiator-style in suits of armor. It was the perfect way to kick off a friend's bachelor party and almost good enough to distract Madden Vaughn from the fact that his ex was getting married shortly in Excalibur's chapel. Yep, his brother-in-law, Carter, decided Shane Reese's bachelor party should have a medieval theme. On the same day as Linden's wedding. As a part of the Las Vegas Sinners brotherhood—albeit in management and not on the team—not to mention a groomsman, Madden couldn't exactly beg off.

Was there something in the air? Everyone he knew was settling down, but the thought made his skin itch. Thanks to Linden's particular brand of manipulation, the single life suited him just fine. Okay, not every woman would use him as a pawn to get at his sister because she owned the Sinners hockey team, but in this case it was once burned, ten times shy. So why did he even care if the evil reporter was getting married?

People around him cheered as the good knights defeated Mordred, the fire wizard, and Madden licked the gravy off his fingers before clapping along. The arena lights came up as the smoke cleared, and the crowd started filing out.

“All right, boys. Let's go to Octane and really get this party started.” Carter slapped Reese, the groom-to-be, on the back and led their group out of the arena. Madden brought up the rear alongside his best friend and roommate, Sinners captain Dylan Cole.

Newly twenty-two, the kid was hardly typical for his age. While his teammates were loud and rowdy, Cole was quiet and a little shy, which made him a great secret-keeper. He lowered his voice as the others walked ahead. “So, how you hangin' in?”

Madden shrugged. “I'm trying to focus on the positives. We just ate Cornish hens with our hands, are about to indulge in some top-shelf alcohol at a motorcycle-themed bar, and we're celebrating our friend.”

“You held up pretty well in the casino. Proud of ya.”

That part hadn't been easy. The others wanted to take in some craps games before the tournament, which was fine for them. They weren't recovering gambling addicts. Had his brother-in-law gotten there earlier, he might have tried to talk them out of it, being the only one who understood how deep Madden had gotten into that world, but Carter got stuck in traffic and Madden didn't want to hold the group back.

He'd white-knuckled it as casually as he could for a half hour and walked out of the room of flashing lights and rolling dice unscathed. Kevin Scott won big and divvied up his chips with everyone. Accepting a few might not have been the best idea. They'd burned a hole in Madden's jacket pocket through the entire medieval experience. But he didn't have to go back to that casino, and he wouldn't. No way was he tossing aside the last two years of not placing a single bet.

On the way into the bar, a few guys huddled around a pristine motorcycle in a glass case under the glowing Octane sign. Madden went straight to the counter and winked at the sexy bartender in a leather bustier. “Hey, beautiful. How about a Corona?”

Cole stepped up beside him. “Make it two.”

The woman smiled at Madden, then gave Cole a once-over. “Can I see your ID, sweetie?”

Poor kid. He'd get carded into his forties. Women might enjoy that, but for a man, it was embarrassing. It didn't seem to faze Cole though. They took their beers, and Madden tipped the tender a twenty.

“Hold on there, stud.” She wrote her number on a napkin and tucked it in his hand. “Call me sometime.”

“My pleasure.”

They sat at a steel-topped table, and Cole leaned forward. “How do you
that? I mean, I'm happy with Tricia. I'm just curious. Flirting is like your super power.”

“What can I say? Women find me irresistible.” Except the one getting married right around the corner. He took a long pull from the Corona. He was no longer the hard partier he'd once been, but tonight called for a little liquid anesthetic. The other guys joined them, and for the next hour, he let the good times flow.

It was on the fourth round of drinks that he pushed back his chair. “Sorry to be the first to go, but it's time for me to head home.” The group groaned and taunted, but he waved them off.

“I'm with Madden. And the rest of you should think about it. We
have practice tomorrow.” Cole pulled a tip out of his wallet and threw it on the table.

The men smirked, but that observation had merit. Their coach was a tiny terror who would castrate them if they couldn't skate.

Reese raised his glass. “A man gets married once in a lifetime if he's lucky. I don't mind taking some flak from Coach.”

The others lifted their glasses in agreement. Cole shook his head. “Your funerals. Later.”

Madden led the way through the crowd but halted outside of Octane and rocked back on his heels, closing his eyes to stop the hall from tilting.

“You okay?”

He checked his watch. “Yeah. Fine. Mind if we walk the food court for a minute? Think I need to grab a coffee.”

“Sure. No problem.”

That wasn't the best idea. The food court was full of strong, greasy, spicy scents, and after one lap, they ducked into Starbucks. At least the smell of freshly brewed Colombian beans didn't turn his stomach upside down. They got two cups to go and sipped the buzz-clearing brew on the way out.

The wedding should be over now.

But what if it wasn't? The coffee soured in his stomach, and the back of his neck felt hot and cold at the same time. They had to walk by the chapel to get to the elevators. It was hard enough passing it on the way in, but it had been empty then. As they got closer, the officiant's voice came through the doors. “Repeat after me. I, Linden, take you, Walter … ”
Oh shit.

He had to see. Just one look to end one of the worst chapters of his life. “Hold this.” He handed Cole his coffee and pressed a hand flat to one of the doors.

“Hey, man, I don't think this is a good—”

Madden held a hand up to cut him off and eased the door open a crack. Only one side of pews fit into his line of vision, so he leaned a little more. The aisle came into view, and at the top of it, Linden repeated the officiant's words and slid a ring onto
finger. What kind of name was that anyway?

Cole tried to lean around him, and the door swung wide. Madden fell onto the red carpet runner, and every head in the place swiveled in his direction. He jumped to his feet and brushed himself off. “Uh, sorry, folks.” Linden stared at him with open shock that quickly turned to anger. He about-faced and pushed through the doors to find Cole holding the elevator open.

Madden's pulse didn't slow until they were on the ground floor.

“You still staying positive?” Cole asked.

“I'm positive I need another drink.”

Chapter Two

Thursday, February 20th

“Dude, you don't look so hot.”

Madden opened one eye to find Cole squatting by the couch that had served as his bed for the night and might serve as his final resting place if the blinding headache were any indicator. Well, the outline of Cole. His hangover and the gray, pre-dawn light coming through the thin curtains made details fuzzy.

“Thanks for the breaking news. Aren't you late for practice?”

“Almost. That was some night you had. Just wanted to make sure you were alive.”

“Jury's still out. But
won't be alive if Neals sees you stroll in one minute past seven.” Nealy Windham, head coach of the Sinners, would deafen the poor kid and anyone else within a ten-mile radius of her sonic screech if his blades weren't on the ice as soon as she blew the whistle. Goading Cole out the door was a public service. And, okay, a personal one, if it meant Madden could have fifteen minutes of blessed silence before showering for work himself.

“I'm gone. Catch you later.”

Madden closed his eyes to the rustle of a duffle bag and the torturous banging of the front door. Outside, an engine started then faded away, and his muscles went slack.
That was some night you had
. Yeah, no kidding. The image of Linden's shocked face almost made him laugh, but the vision of her in that fitted, white, medieval dress squashed it.

He swung his legs over the side of the couch and leveraged himself to a sitting position. Ugh—not easy to count that as a victory when it unleashed a torrent of stabbing needles in his skull. He pushed to his feet and swallowed back the nausea, feeling his way to the kitchen. Nearly three years in the cavernous mansion his father had left him, and he'd finally learned the place well enough to navigate with his eyes closed. Not that drunken stumbling was something he did often anymore.

A couple painkillers and a quick, cold shower didn't change how he looked or felt, but he was conscious at least. On his way to work, he swung by McDonald's for black coffee and hash browns, the staples of any good hangover helper kit. He sat in the underground garage of the Las Vegas Arena and let the greasy food and liquid energy do its work while he prepared to deal with his sister.

BOOK: Winning Streak
5.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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