Trapped with the Maverick Millionaire(8)

By: Joss Wood

Rory stood back from the bed and pushed her hands into her lower back as she stretched and explained that Kade, who’d taken on the CEO responsibilities and duties when the owner/manager of the Vancouver Mavericks died, had called and asked her to check on Mac and give her professional opinion.

Troy frowned, worried. “Which is?”

“It’s bad, Troy.”

Troy swore and Rory knew his disappointment and concern would be shared by most of the residents of Vancouver, Mavericks and Canucks fans alike. Mac was a hell of a player and respected for his leadership and skill. Maverick fans would be devastated to lose their captain for a couple of matches. To lose him for the season would be a disaster. Losing him forever would be a tragedy. But she’d treated enough sport stars to know the impact of his injury, both physical and emotional, would be tremendous.

“How did the surgery go?” Rory asked Troy.

“Good.” Troy cleared his throat. “We really could get fired, Rorks. Even though I know the voodoo blanket helps, it’s still a form of treatment and you’re not authorized. I like my job.”

Rory knew he was right, but she still rolled her eyes at her best friend. “As I’ve explained to you a million times before, the blanket is not voodoo! It sends electromagnetic signals that stimulate the pumping of the smallest blood vessels. It will help normalize the circulation in this injured area. Kade asked me to be here. He’ll work it out. It’ll be okay, Troy.”

When Troy narrowed his bright green eyes, Rory looked away. “This will run for the next thirty minutes,” she said. “Why don’t you go get some coffee?”

She needed to be alone with Mac, to get her thoughts—and her reaction to him—under control.

“Ok, I’ll be back in thirty.”

Troy sent her a worried smile and left the room. When the door closed behind him, she turned back to Mac and couldn’t resist the impulse to place her hand on his chest, directly over his heart. Under the thin cotton of the hospital gown she felt the warmth of his skin.

She kept her hand there, trying not to wish she could run it over his hard stomach, down the thick biceps of his uninjured arm. He was so big, his body a testament to a lifetime dedicated to professional sports, to being the hardest, toughest, fastest player on the ice.

She glanced toward the end of the bed at his chart. Reading the chicken scrawl again wouldn’t change a damn thing. Essentially, Mac had pulled a tendon partly off the bone and injured a ligament. The surgeons doubted he’d regain his former strength anytime soon, if ever.

That would kill him. Even in the short time they’d known each other, she’d understood that hockey was what Mac did, who he was. He’d dedicated the last fourteen years to the Mavericks. He was their star player, their leader, the reason fans filled the arena week after week. He was their hope, their idol, the public face of the well-oiled machine Kade managed.

With his crooked smile, his aloof but charming manner and incredible prowess on the ice, he was the city’s favorite, regularly appearing in the press, usually with a leggy blonde on his arm. Speculating about when one of the Mavericks Triumvirate—Mac, their captain, Kade as CEO and Quinn as Acting Coach (the youngest in the NHL but widely respected) were all hot and single—would fall in love and settle down was a citywide pastime.

A part of him belonged to the city but Rory doubted that anyone, besides his best friends, knew him. From that time so long ago she knew that Mac, for all his charm, was a closed book. Very little was known about his life before he was recruited to play for the Mavericks. Even Shay hadn’t known more than what was public knowledge: he was raised by a single mother who died when he was nineteen, he was a scholarship kid and he didn’t talk about his past.

They had that in common. Rory didn’t talk about her past either.

Rory adjusted the settings on the control box and Mac shifted in his sleep, releasing a small pain-filled moan. He would hate to know that she’d heard him, she thought. Mac, she remembered, had loathed being sick. He’d played with a broken finger, flu, a sprained ankle, a hurt knee. He’d play through plagues of locusts and an asteroid strike.

Rory looked at his injured arm and sighed. He wouldn’t be able to play through this. How was she supposed to tell Kade that?

A big, hot hand touched her throat and a thumb stroked her jaw. Her brain shut down when he touched her and, just like she had in Shay’s kitchen, she couldn’t help responding. She allowed her head to snuggle into his hand as he slowly opened his eyes and focused on her face. His fabulous eyes, the deep, dark blue of old-fashioned bottled ink, met hers.

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