Tuesday, December 1, 2015
WINNING IT ALL by Michele Shriver
WINNING IT ALL
Cover designer: Michele Shriver
Trevor Collison knew success early, then flamed out. His struggles with addiction nearly cost him his hockey career. Now sober, Trev is trying to make the most of his last chance in the NHL, ironically back in the same city where he started his minor league career—and first fell in love.
Danielle Greer is a single mother of a chronically ill child, working long hours to pay mounting medical bills while still trying to give her daughter as much enjoyment as possible out of a life that may be cut tragically short. One thing Kaylen loves is hockey, so Dani is thrilled when some of the Generals players make a visit to the children’s hospital to cheer up the patients—even when it brings her face to face with a man she never expected to see again.
The little girl might have been completely bald, but it didn’t detract from her overall beauty in any way. She wore sapphire studs in each of her ears, her eyes were the color of the sky on a crisp, clear summer day and her smile was so bright and sunny, it could warm a room. Then there was her laugh—her laugh was absolutely infectious.
It surprised Trevor Collison to hear such an obviously very ill child laugh so energetically, but maybe it shouldn’t have. After all, she had an NHL superstar making faces at her and generally acting like a total goofball. Nikolai Brantov was a natural with kids, and so was his girlfriend, Meryl Johnson. It made perfect sense why Meryl, the daughter of the San Antonio Generals owner, had been trusted with the task of establishing the fledgling Young Generals program, designed to bring hockey awareness and skills to local kids, and why she recruited Nik to help her.
Less clear was why anyone wanted Trevor to be part of the program. He wasn’t sure himself why he agreed to be involved, other than knowing his image needed a major boost. Fresh out of rehab and having his contract bought out by his last team, Trevor signed a one-year contract with the NHL’s newest expansion franchise, happy to have one last chance to prove he could be a productive player. Assuming he could keep his nose clean.
He hadn’t touched cocaine in almost a year, and he only drank alcohol occasionally. He also didn’t pick up cheap women after games anymore. Instead, Trevor went home to an empty apartment and thought about how different his life was now, as opposed to twelve years ago when he’d started out in the minors, paying his dues for San Antonio’s American Hockey League team, before making the jump to the NHL with the Ottawa Senators. How ironic was it that he was back here now, in the city where it all began, playing out his last chance?
If Trevor flamed out here, Europe likely beckoned, but for far less money. He wanted to make this work, and since he currently stood at third on the team in scoring, Trevor was pretty confident he could. There was more to succeeding here than simply playing well on the ice, though. It was important to be involved in team activities throughout the community, such as visiting sick kids to try to cheer them up a little, which was why he found himself in the pediatric cancer ward of the San Antonio Children’s Hospital watching his teammate make faces at a patient.
“This is Trevor,” Nik said to the girl. “He plays on my line, the other wing position.” Together, with team captain Colton Tremblay, they comprised the Generals’ top line and the main reason the team remained in the playoff hunt in its inaugural season, with less than a month left in the regular season.
“I know who Trevor is,” the young patient said. “He’s my favorite player on the team.”
How the heck did I get that honor? Trevor wondered as he approached the bed. “It’s nice to meet a fan,” he said, extending his hand. “What’s your name?”
“Kaylen.” She gave him a limp handshake, and Trevor wondered if her medical treatments had tired her out. Probably. In spite of her circumstances, though, she remained upbeat. “And I really am your biggest fan, even if I’m not very big. I’m totally going to be there when you guys play in the playoffs.”
If the team got there, and if she lived to see the day. Trevor hated to think that way, but this was a pediatric cancer ward, after all. “That’s great,” he said, trying to sound optimistic. He was there to try to cheer her up, even if he himself couldn’t stop thinking about the cruel hand life had apparently dealt this beautiful young girl. “You must really like hockey, then.”
“She’s a huge hockey fan. She watches all of your games, and I’ve kept the recordings of the best ones so she can watch them again while she’s doing her treatments.”
The voice came from the doorway of the hospital room, and Trevor turned around to face a woman with dark hair that fell just to her shoulder and the same striking blue eyes as the patient. Eyes he’d never forgotten, even though it had been more than a decade since he’d last seen her. His voice almost stopped in his throat as he said her name. “Dani.”
Danielle Greer found herself staring at the past. A past she never intended to revisit. She’d been a hockey fan once, back when the AHL was in town, but when the team left San Antonio and relocated to upstate New York, Dani didn’t miss them. As a single mother raising a very ill child, she had other priorities, and hockey wasn’t one of them. But when the game returned to her hometown in the form of the Generals, her daughter took an immediate liking to the men of the ice. Kaylen didn’t have much to be happy about these days, with the chemo and radiation treatments seeming to be losing effectiveness, so Dani took her to the home games whenever she felt up to it, and allowed her to watch the rest on TV. Still, Dani never expected a face from her past to be standing two feet away from her, even if Trevor’s mug greeted her from a highway billboard every day as she drove to work.
When he’d left town, his NHL dream finally a reality, Danielle hadn’t planned on ever seeing him again. Now, here he was. He was still handsome, no doubt about that, but there was a tiredness to his expression, as if his best years were behind him. At only thirty-three, Dani hoped that wasn’t true. In spite of what happened between them, she still wished the best for him. She just didn’t plan on getting close to him again. She couldn’t take the risk anymore.
“Hello, Trev,” she said. “It’s been a while.”
The official website of the San Antonio Generals. The Generals are a fictional NHL expansion franchise based out of San Antonio, Texas and featured in the Men of the Ice series by author Michele Shriver.
The Men of the Ice books are contemporary romance novellas about the Generals players and the women who love them.
More information about the books, as well the team, organization, and news and events can be found on this site.
Visit the official Facebook page of the San Antonio Generals. The Generals are a fictional NHL expansion franchise based out of San Antonio, Texas and featured in the Men of the Ice series by author Michele Shriver.
Michele Shriver writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Her books feature flawed-but-likeable characters in real-life settings. She’s not afraid to break the rules, but never stops believing in happily ever after. Michele counts among her favorite things a good glass of wine, a hockey game, and a sweet and sexy book boyfriend, not necessarily in that order.