I had one goal.
Win an Olympic Medal.
Winning the Ladies Figure Skating Olympic Gold Medal should be my only focus, but my life has other plans for me. My father, the U. S. Senator, and my Stepmonster like to remind me that my role in our family comes with great expectations — and even greater responsibility.
Translation: Marry a man that will make them even more prestigious and powerful.
But that’s not my plan.
I have one last chance to prove myself.
And now, on top of everything else, I have to aid the sexy as sin Detective Kane F**king Green in finding the person who killed my friend.
My name is Sophia Eleonore Dubois, and holy mother of Dorothy Hamill, my life just got complicated. . .
“You have got to be kidding me,” I growl as I see that big blond bastard climb from his truck. Well, it’s really more of a sandy blond but I’m an alliteration kind of a gal.
The parking lot is still dark, with the exception of the tall lights that pock the black asphalt. It’s four in the morning, so the sun won’t be up for a few more hours. I should be the only one here. Something Kane and I had already argued out last night. I even won best two out of three on rock-paper-scissors.
“Better believe it, Princess,” he barks out as he pulls a gear bag from the bed of his truck.
“No. No, no, no, no, no. Put that back. You’re not supposed to be here,” I plead as I grab my own skate bag and toss it over my shoulder. “I offered to rock-paper-scisor you for this spot and you said no. That makes it mine by default.”
He sighs. “You know, you don’t always have to be such a selfish bitch.” I rear back as if he struck me. “You could share the ice.”
“I’m here at four so I don’t have to,” I whisper.
He shakes his head as if he’s trying to clear a bad thought, erasing something that didn’t turn out right on an Etch A Sketch.
I look away. If ever there was anyone who could make me feel like a bug, like dog poop on my shoe, less than, it’s Kane Fucking Green, and trust me, others have tried. I feel the burn in my nostrils. I refuse to let him see me cry. Ever. And Lord knows I have cried my fair share of tears over Kane Fucking Green, and I’m not going to shed another one. I’m just not.
I take a deep breath, turn on my heels, and walk away from him. I feel his gaze burn my skin. It’s not the only thing he’s burned in the last year. He’s burned almost every bridge I had. Literally, the only thing left in my life is figure skating. I feel him on my heels as I walk up the concrete steps at the front of my home rink, Del Mar Ice House.
The big glass doors and windows that line the entire front of the rink are dark. That’s weird. Usually, Vadim turns the lights on when he comes in to unlock the doors for me. Maybe he’s having a late start this morning. Although, that’s not like him at all.
Most people think that my early mornings are crazy. That my four-in-the-morning practices are insane. But I love it. I love the smell of fresh ice. I love the quiet time when I can pace through my routines free from distractions. It’s my time to think or to not think, to clear my head and just be free. And my life is anything but free. Being a sitting senator’s daughter pretty much guarantees that, so I love this time to myself. I love mornings like this.
Vadim, the rink owner, loves these mornings too. He’s always here well before my early time slot. He unlocks the doors for me and turns on the lights. We once struck up a friendship over our love for Moscow. He was surprised to find out that I trained there for a whole summer under some of the best figure skating coaches in the world.
From that moment on, we were bonded. He’s like a favorite uncle doting on his beloved niece. So Vadim took to surfacing the ice on the Zamboni before I come in, even though it was surfaced right before closing the night before. He sharpens my blades for me when I need it. And he’s the best. No one can get me a better hollow. So it’s surprising when the lights are still out upon my arrival.
Although, he did double-book this time with Kane as well. I was so mad when I found out Kane Fucking Green had weaseled his way into my favorite ice time. I need this time to clear my head. From people like Kane Fucking Green. I haven’t been able to be in the same room as him since The Event.
I don’t think anyone could blame me. Who did he hurt? He hurt me.
I look at my sterling silver Rolex watch on my wrist. It’s ten after four in the morning. That’s so unlike Vadim. He should be here by now.
“What’s wrong?” Kane asks, reading my mood.
“He’s late,” I say softly.
I reach for the handle of the door, and it pulls free without effort. The door is unlocked. I pause for a second and then walk through the door. Vadim must be here after all. He must have forgotten to turn on the front lights.
“Wait, maybe I should check it out,” he says as he places his palm on my shoulder. I immediately stiffen.
I shrug off his hold. “You would just love that, wouldn’t you?” I growl. “Oh, sure, go right ahead and enjoy my ice time while I stand here like an idiot in the parking lot, Kane.” I roll my eyes.
“Is that what you really think of me, Princess?” he asks, his voice low in warning.
“At this juncture, I’m not sure what to believe,” I say honestly, meeting his blue gaze.
“I suppose I deserve that,” he sighs.
“I suppose you do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a National Championship to prepare for,” I say as I start walking down the hall toward the ice.
The rubber mats squeak under my sneakers—the shoes my stepmonster hates with a passion, but which are so comfortable. Especially after a long workout on the ice. I head toward the team boxes. That’s where I’ll put on my skates and stash my music and my water by the boards.
Kane is beside me as we turn the corner and stop in our tracks.
Whereas the main building lights were off, the lights over the ice are on. The whir of the Zamboni is deafening as it circles the ice top over and over. I gasp when Kane’s hand closes tight over my bicep, bringing me to a halt, and I raise my head to see what he sees.
Vadim is sprawled back over the seat of the Zamboni. His eyes point up at the championship banners of the local professional hockey team, all lined up in a neat row, but they don’t see them. They won’t see anything again. The bullet hole between his blank eyes saw to that.
“Holy son of Scott Hamilton,” I speak without thought.
“You got that right, babe. Whatever that means,” Kane says before he leads me back through the rink and out the glass front doors.
I open my mouth to say something, anything, but instead find myself racing over to the bushes to toss my cookies. Kane is behind me, rubbing my back and making soothing noises. He hands me a water bottle from his gear bag before pulling his phone from his pocket.
“Dispatch, this is Detective Kane Green, badge number 57635. I need to report a homicide,” he says into his phone before lowering the volume of his voice. “And I have Senator Dubois’s daughter with me.”
Six months ago, I had hoped to put Kane Fucking Green and all of his bullshit behind me. I swore I wouldn’t focus on anything but myself and this next Olympic cycle. Not my dad—the US senator—or his bitch of a wife. And definitely not the feelings of hurt and betrayal that seeing Kane always seems to bring to the surface. Not to mention other feelings. My name is Sophia Eleanor Dubois, “Sophie” to my friends, and I have a funny feeling Kane Green just screwed me and my plans . . . again.
I finish up my program, and the smile on my face matches those of my girls and their moms. I nailed it. But I can’t slack off now. This is my last chance at the Games. I’m aging out, and it’s time for me to transition to coaching full-time. But I want to win one. Just one Games.
“Go home and enjoy your weekend!” I call out.
They laugh and start to file out of the rink. I take a second and then a third victory lap around the rink. I shake out my arms before I move back to center ice to run through my long program.
It’s one of my favorite Celtic Woman songs. A slow, soul-wrenching melody in which I can show off the decades of classical ballet training. I slowly wrap my body around the music, letting it swirl around me as we float and fly down the ice.
This routine is all layback spins transitioning into perfectly choreographed jumps. I’m pushing my body around the short end of the rink and then diagonally down the length in an Ina Bauer when I lean so far back that my long, emerald skirt of my competition dress flows with me, as part of me, during my program.
I’m halfway across the rink when a pair of anaconda arms wraps around my middle and plucks me off the ice.
The scream that rents the air is torn from my lungs, and I have absolutely no shame in that. I’m still tipped over backward, and the strong arms that are wrapped around my waist pull my body flush with a decidedly . . . male one from the waist down. Blades clank against each other as our feet tangle, bulky, muscled legs against slender, sinewy ones, and then up and up and up until my pelvis is pressed against his. And he is unmistakably hard . . . everywhere.
My breath catches in my throat as I realize that we look like the famous V-J Day couple. I see the famous statue every time I drive past the USS Midway downtown. His hot breath blows in heavy pants across my face, and he smells of mint and man, sweat and sin. I open my eyes and stare straight into baby blues so light in color and cold in depth that a shiver wracks up my spine. Suddenly, I’m cold to the core. No, this isn’t some romantic comedy where the guy gets the girl; this man is no Prince Charming. These eyes belong to the snake that lies in the grass. This man is Detective Kane Green, my worst fucking nightmare.