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Dirty Score, A Rough Riders Hockey Novel(5)

By:Joan Swan

“I’d love to. I really want to see the girls. They grow so fast. Let me see how the week goes. I imagine I’ll have time on my hands. Maybe I can whip a dress out for you.”

Faith squealed and lunged at Mia to hug her. “Oh my God. I’m going to have an authentic Mia Leighton dress? I’m going to tell everyone.”

Mia laughed at the way Faith made her sound like a designer. Someday, Mia hoped she would get there, but she was a long way off. That kind of thing took a lot of cash, and she wasn’t ready to dig herself into debt or shackle herself to partners.

After all, according to her exes, she was a commitment phobe.

Faith leaned away, smiling. “You’re so lucky, headed into the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. I’m going to stalk you on Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook and anywhere else I can find you, so you’d better be taking and posting pictures of everything.”

“Will do,” Mia promised. “I hope you can make it out west for a visit once I get a place. Maybe in the off-season or when the guys play the Ducks or Kings.”

“Absolutely.” Faith squeezed her hand. “I’m going to miss you so much. But I’m so excited for you. This is a great time in your life. Young and free and working on a Hollywood set. You’re going to meet so many famous people.”

“You mean like these guys?” she said sarcastically, gesturing to the players still signing autographs and taking pictures with other customers, and felt another twinge of frustration over Rafe.

Faith laughed. “Not exactly what I had in mind.”

“I think that’s one of the things the producers liked about me. That I’d grown up with this, knew all these guys, and it didn’t faze me. I guess they wouldn’t get much done with someone fangirling over everyone all the time.” She drew a deep breath, trying to quell the roll in her stomach. “Gah. Every time I think about it, I still get nauseous.”

“That’s excitement.”

Partially. But there was a lot of other shit going on inside her. Once she got this thing with Rafe behind her, she’d feel better. Mia tipped her head, smiled, and drank more wine.

“It’s not excitement?” Faith narrowed her eyes. “Is it Sam? Are you having second thoughts?”

“You mean about the guy who called me emotionally unavailable, detached, and afraid to commit, then broke up with me and left me without a place to sleep? That Sam?”

“Right. Screw him. You just haven’t found the right guy,” Faith said. “When you do, you’ll jump in with both feet. Maybe he’s in California.”

Maybe. Either way, she was going to make sure that when she got there, she was completely unfettered and ready to take on anything. “It’s an amazing opportunity. I think the nerves stem from the fact that I don’t have much of a choice but to take it at this point. Anything else would leave me stagnant or send me backward in my career. Lack of options is scary.”

“Transitions are always hard. Once you’re there, you’re going to love it.” Faith picked up her beer and glanced toward Grant, where he talked with teammates. “Uh-oh.” She refocused on Mia. “The new guy’s locked on to you.”

Mia glanced around at the team standing or sitting in small groups or milling among friends. The new guy was Cole Kilbourne, a trade from Calgary to give the Rough Riders more offensive power in the playoffs. According to Tate, he was an arrogant asshole who thought he was a one-man team and hurt more than helped them.

“I can see the problem from here,” Mia told Faith. “He’s too handsome for his own good.” All the guys were well built and fit, but they didn’t all have the best faces. Cole’s blond hair and chiseled features belonged in a Calvin Klein ad. “That alone probably made the guys hate him on sight. Does Grant dislike him as much as Tate?”

“Grant doesn’t love him, but you know Tate, he leans a little toward the extreme on most things he believes in. Though, I have to admit, every time Cole opens his mouth, he digs his own hole a little deeper.”

Cole stepped away from the edge of a circle of guys who weren’t including him anyway and started toward Mia and Faith.

Mia sighed. “Incoming.” Then an idea popped into her head. “Does Rafe hate him as much as Tate?”

“Oh God, yes. Cole and Rafe ram heads on a regular basis.”

Her devious side perked up. “Well, if Rafe won’t come to me, I might just have to go to him. And maybe I’ll bring a friend.”

“Oh no.” Faith laughed the words. “Remind me not to make you mad.”