by Kat Mizera
Las Vegas Sidewinders #2
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Drake Riser is a tough guy on the ice, but deep down he just wants to settle down.
Major Erin Gentry has physical and emotional scars from an IED explosion.
When they meet at a masquerade ball, Drake thinks Erin is exactly what he needs, but she thinks she’s too damaged to get involved with the gorgeous hockey hunk.
Erin is trying to figure out what happened two years ago and put her demons to rest, while someone from her past is trying to destroy her.
Drake is ready to do anything to give them a shot at love, but will they be able to put the pieces together in time to win the face-off–and the game.
Also in the Series
Drake knew it was now or never, so he lifted her right leg, bending it at the knee and letting her foot rest on the bed. Staring at the rough, mottled skin, he could see places that had healed better than others, but they were the exception. Most of her thigh was destroyed; he had to force himself to focus on the places where the damage had gone all the way down to the bone, leaving the leg slightly misshapen, with indentions that would probably never look normal again. It was horrific, yet instead of seeing the ugly visual, all he could see in his mind’s eye was her pain. He now had no doubts about why she’d had so much trouble moving on with her life; healing from these burns had to have been the type of misery nightmares were made of.
Placing a gentle kiss on her knee, he swiped at his eyes, fighting emotions he couldn’t quite articulate. Thinking about how her body had become this scarred gutted him; he didn’t know if he would have been able to come as far as she had if he’d been the one who’d been hurt. All he could think about was taking this pain from her, and he’d never felt like that before. He’d thought showing her his acceptance of her body would be good for her; it never occurred to him it would change him too.
As he continued down her leg, he found the marbled hyperpigmentation wasn’t too bad on her calf, light brown and faded compared to the burns on her thigh. He ran his hands along the skin, his fingertips tracing lines along the marks as he wondered how she was feeling. Did she have any idea how much her broken body moved him? Knowing this had happened to her because she was proud enough to fight for her country meant more to him than he could express. He played sports for a living and complained when he pulled a muscle; he didn’t even deserve to share the same air as someone like Erin.
“Isn’t it terrible?” she whispered, startling him.
He shook his head abruptly, blinking up at her. The emotion running through him made it hard to talk and he licked his lips as he struggled to come up with an answer.
“Are you…okay?” Her eyes met his in surprise, her fingers traveling to his face.
“I’m, uh, I’m just…” He had to swallow before he could find his voice. “I’m sorry. I can’t even imagine how much this must have hurt, or how much you suffered.” He slid his hands up to her waist, pulling her closer. “I hurt for you, Erin. I don’t think it’s ugly at all; I think it’s a badge of honor.”
Tears puddled in her eyes as she stared at the amazing human being on the bed with her. She reached for him, her hands shaking slightly as he pulled her into his arms. “I don’t want you to hurt,” she whispered. “I already hurt enough for both of us—I want you to make me feel alive again. I don’t feel better knowing I made you hurt too.”
“I know, baby.” He kissed the side of her face, letting her curl into his body, resting her head in the crook of his shoulder. They fit together perfectly and he felt the misery draining out of him.
“Please don’t hurt for me, Drake.” A tear slid down her cheek and she swiped at it with the back of her hand.
He stroked her back. “I’m okay. I just can’t believe how much you’ve been through, and how much you’ve endured. You make me ashamed that I’m just an athlete.”
Her head snapped up and she looked at him in surprise. “What happened to me didn’t happen because of you—or anyone, really. It happened because there are bad people in the world. That doesn’t make what you do frivolous.”
“But you put yourself in the line of fire. You make the sacrifice so that I can play hockey and drive a nice car and take lavish vacations! Meanwhile, you’re in debt and dealing with injuries I can’t even imagine. It seems like I, or people like me, should do more.”
“You are doing it,” she smiled faintly. “You’re here with me, making me forget about all that. When you make love to me, Drake, I forget all about my burns and Afghanistan and everything. You make me happy just the way you are—I don’t want you to feel guilty. I want you to keep on being you, because I really like you a lot.”
“I like you a lot too.” He rolled onto his back and pulled her on top of him. “And I’d like to show you how much.”
She gave him a sweet smile. “That’s exactly what I was hoping you’d say.”
About Kat Mizera
Kat Mizera is a South Florida native. Born in Miami Beach with a healthy dose of wanderlust, she’s called Los Angeles, Long Island, upstate New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Atlanta home. She’s never been able to pick which locale is her favorite, but if pressed, she’d probably choose the west coast.
Kat’s a typical PTA mom with a wonderful and supportive husband (Kevin) and two amazing boys (Nick and Max). When she’s not writing, she’s either scrapbooking or indulging in her second love (after writing) – traveling. Greece is one of her favorite places in the world. She loves that Athens is a big city with a small-town feel. The food, beaches and culture keep her going back as often as possible. She hopes to retire there one day so she can spend her days writing books on the beach.
Kat has been a working freelance writer for nearly 30 years. She sold her first article–a review of a rock concert–for $10 in 1985. Since then she’s been an entertainment journalist, waitress, bartender, legal assistant, food critic, magazine editor, substitute teacher, and sports writer. She also spent some time working at A & M Records in Los Angeles.
As you can guess from her first series, the Las Vegas Sidewinders, Kat loves hockey. She is also a freelance hockey writer, covering her favorite team, the Florida Panthers, and any other teams that have an interesting story. The rest of the time, she writes novels: sexy, romantic fiction that she hopes makes you as happy as it makes her. There’s something enticing about hockey players and romance…