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The Pucking Wrong Guy: Chapter 6


The upscale L.A. bar exuded sensuality, its sleek, modern exterior basking in the soft, seductive glow of neon accents. Tall palm trees swayed in the balmy night, their fronds brushing against one another. Inside, the subdued, jazzy music set a sultry tone, as if the very air itself was caressing those who entered.

We pulled up, and a valet, impeccably dressed, waited at the ready. I’d heard of this place. More relaxed than the city’s trendiest clubs, it was the place celebs came to when they wanted a more quiet night out…Charlotte had actually tried to get in last week with some friends and had been rejected at the door.

She’d bitched about it for hours that night when she’d come home to me sitting on our couch, reading a book.

My nerves shot up as I glanced at the line of eager people wound around the building. So many eyes that could stare at us when we got out. I pulled at my jersey, second guessing keeping it on when I saw how nicely everyone was dressed. I glanced at Ari and Walker. They were dressed to impress as well.

Ari emerged from the car first, igniting a chorus of cheers from the crowd. The valet was standing by my door, reaching out to open it, when Ari barked something at him. The guy immediately backed away, opening Walker’s door instead, which had another cheer coming from the crowd.

Ari opened my door, peering down at me with a dark promise in his eyes that had me hesitating to accept his extended hand.

“Come on, pretty girl. Let’s celebrate,” he murmured. Our fingertips met, and I swear there were sparks, desire and want crackling between our palms.

My heart quickened in my chest as he helped me out of the car, pulling on my hand a little harder than necessary so that I fell forward into his chest. For a second, we just stared at one another.

Had his mouth always been that delicious looking? The overall appeal of him was overwhelming, licking at my skin in lusty waves. He winked at me and then led me forward toward the bar by the hand he was gripping unyieldingly. I ignored the crowd, trying to pretend they weren’t there even as women, and men, screamed Ari’s name.

I grew up a Shepfield. I was used to flashing lights and people shouting for me to “Look here! No, here!” at society events. But there were people crying as we walked past the line, Walker flanking us from behind.

I wasn’t used to that. Was this normal for an NHL player? I stared speculatively at Ari, and he just flashed me an amused grin, like he wasn’t phased at all.

Inside the bar, an air of sophistication blended seamlessly with an intimate ambiance. Soft, golden hues bathed the décor, casting a warm and inviting atmosphere over the polished mahogany bar and plush leather seating, beckoning guests to relax and enjoy. The walls displayed tasteful, contemporary art, while modern gold and black lighting overhead illuminated the scene with a subtle, elegant radiance.

The room was buzzing with lively conversation and laughter, and I could see that a lot of Cobra players were already gathered by the bar across the room. A lot of Cobra players and Charlotte, who’d somehow managed to bang Soto and change into a skin tight blood red dress before getting here.

She waved to me, her other hand clinging to Soto’s shirt. He was staring at me pretty intensely for a stranger, and I shifted uncomfortably.

“Oh my goshhhh,” Ari suddenly screeched, sounding like the epitome of a tween girl as I was dragged to the right toward a very attractive-looking couple standing at the other bar in the room. Their expressions brimmed with amusement, as if they were no strangers to Ari’s animated entrances.

“You came,” Ari cried…his voice almost emotional as he threw an arm around the golden haired dreamboat we’d been headed toward and hugged him tight. The man chuckled and clapped Ari on the back…who was still holding onto me with his other hand, by the way. Once again I tried to pull away, but he wasn’t having it.

“Wouldn’t miss it, buddy,” Ari’s friend said in a delicious sounding voice. There was an absolutely stunning woman standing next to him with long black hair and sparkling green eyes. She had a gentle smile on her lips as she glanced from the guys to me, staring at me curiously. A peaceful feeling settled over me as we gazed at each other. Kind of weird actually, but something instantly told me this girl could be my friend.

Ari let go of the golden god and pulled me forward. “Blake, I want you to meet my second best friend, Lincoln. And my third best friend, Monroe.” Ari moved to give Monroe a hug.

“She is not your best friend, Ari,” Lincoln said exasperatedly–and a bit possessively, I thought–as he pulled her into his body so she couldn’t give Ari a hug.

I stared at them for a second longer than was normal. But it was crazy the way they seemed to gravitate around each other. Like even though they were talking to us, they were still wrapped up in each other. A longing settled in my gut.

I wanted that feeling. To know that your soul was safe in someone else’s hands.

I couldn’t even imagine what that would have felt like.

“Blake?” Lincoln repeated slowly, a glint of surprise and admiration on his face as his gaze flicked from me to Ari. “Is this the girl who stole my first best friend spot?”

He almost sounded like he’d heard of me before. But would Ari really have talked about me to his best friend after a random encounter in a restaurant?

Something that felt like butterflies soared around in my chest at the thought.

“Blake Shepfield, Lincoln Daniels. Lincoln Daniels, Blake Shepfield,” Ari said casually, as if it wasn’t weird at all that he’d told him about me.

“It’s nice to meet you,” I said nervously.

“You don’t follow hockey, do you?” Monroe asked gently in a sweet, amused voice.

I bit my lip and glanced shyly up at Ari, hoping he wouldn’t be offended. “Tonight was the first time I’ve ever watched. I’m more of a football girl.”

Ari staggered like I’d stabbed him in the chest. “You don’t know what you’ve been missing,” he said theatrically.

You, a voice blared in my head. I’ve been missing you.

I pushed that thought away as quickly as I could.

“It will be nice to have someone who isn’t falling at these guy’s feet,” said Monroe with a smirk.

I glanced at her…boyfriend? Husband? “He plays hockey too?”

“We played on the Knights together. We’ve actually played together since prep school,” Ari explained, and there was longing in his voice. Longing that made my heart hurt for him.

I wondered if I’d ever feel comfortable enough to ask him what made him leave the Knights. It was obviously a very sensitive subject.

“You were awesome out there,” Lincoln said, making Ari freaking beam. “You even made up for Soto being on the ice somehow.”

The mention of his name made me glance over to where Soto and Charlotte were chatting with other members of the team. Soto was glaring at us even as my roommate tried to get his attention. A shiver stretched across my skin.

Ari let go of my hand though and instead pressed his palm against my lower back, in that space you’re not supposed to go if you’re just a friend. His thumb slid back and forth, and even through my jersey it felt like electricity sparking across my skin from his touch.

“So, Blake,” Lincoln drawled. “How did you become besties with my boy, Ari? I would question your taste, but he did the same thing to me all those years ago, so I can only empathize with you.”

Ari let out an indignant bark of laughter. “Admit it. I’m the classy one of this relationship. You would be lost without me.”

Lincoln smirked, and I felt a bit dizzy from the delicious, grade A, alphamale energy radiating off these two guys.

And then Walker decided to sidle up next to us.

“Hey guys,” he said, his voice adorably nervous.

Ari sighed and rubbed a hand across his face as if he were pained. “Lincoln, meet your number one puck slut. Mr. Disney Prince himself. Walker.”

Walker groaned and turned to leave, before Ari reached out and grabbed his shirt with a laugh. “Come here, buddy. We need to tell Lincoln about our new pre game ritual.”

Walker’s face went an almost violet shade of red before he covered it in embarrassment. It was kind of funny to see this big, tattooed hottie cringing in embarrassment.

Lincoln studied Walker for a moment before a slow grin spread across his beautiful face. “You were fucking amazing tonight, bro,” he said, holding out a hand for Walker to shake.

Walker seemed like he was about to faint from Lincoln talking to him. “Really?” he said. “I mean, yeah. Thanks. It was a great game.”

Ari was shaking with laughter as his gaze bounced between the two of them, but his palm had slid to my lower hip and I was now pressed against his side.

It felt like I fit there, against him like that.

But then Clark’s face flashed in my mind and the sour taste of guilt was once again flooding me as memories of the past hit me hard.

I felt a numbness wash over me as the icy water of the bathtub surrounded my trembling body. The pills I’d taken were doing their job, sending me into a disorienting haze. The world around me blurred, and my thoughts became muddled. I was spiraling into darkness. It was almost over.

I was almost free.

As I lay there, the water seemed to consume me, its cold fingers wrapping around my limbs, dragging me deeper into a chilling abyss. The room’s harsh, artificial light cast eerie shadows on the walls, creating a surreal and haunting atmosphere. My body felt heavy and unresponsive.


Just how I liked it.

Everything was a disjointed blur, and my consciousness slipped away like a wisp of smoke. It was a sensation of sinking, sinking deeper into the unforgiving depths of despair.

But then, in that suffocating darkness, a pair of hands reached into the void and grabbed hold of me. I was lifted, pulled from the cold. For a fleeting moment, I regained a fragment of awareness.

‘Blake!’ a voice called out, filled with panic and desperation. It was Clark. His voice echoed in my foggy mind, a distant cry in the wilderness.

I tried to respond, tried to reach out to him, but my body was still betraying me. The world remained a jumbled mess of sensations and disjointed images. I could see Clark’s face, twisted with fear and anguish, hovering above me.

And then, I was no longer in the bathtub. I was being carried, my body limp and motionless, cradled in Clark’s arms. His footsteps echoed in a frantic rhythm as he rushed me out of our apartment and into the cool night air.

We reached the car, and I was placed gently in the back seat. I could hear Clark’s ragged breathing, his voice trembling as he spoke to me, trying to keep me conscious. His words were a lifeline in the darkness, a desperate plea for me to stay with him.

The car sped through the city streets, its tires screeching against the asphalt. Sirens wailed in the distance, drawing nearer with each passing second. I was fading, slipping further away from the world.

And then there was the harsh, fluorescent lighting of a hospital room. The sterile smell of antiseptic stinging my nostrils. I could feel the weight of monitors and tubes connected to my body, a reminder of the fragility of life.

Clark, his face etched with relief and anguish, was sitting by my bedside, holding my hand as if it were the most precious thing in the world.

He had saved me, and I owed him everything.

“Blake?” Ari’s voice called, and I was jolted back to the present where I stood pressed against his hard body.

“Sorry. Um. I’m just going to use the restroom real quick,” I mumbled, feeling the faint blush on my cheeks. I needed a break from him. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do the right thing when he was around.

I pulled away from him, and he let me go without a fuss.

It was all I could do to keep my footsteps steady as I headed toward the hallway that led to the bathroom.

I stood there in the dimly lit restroom of the bar, my eyes meeting my reflection in the mirror. And for a moment, I hardly recognized the person staring back at me. It was as if a veil had been lifted, revealing a version of myself I’d never seen before.

Gone was the haunted, hollow look that had followed me for so long. The exhaustion that had etched deep lines under my eyes had seemingly vanished. Instead, I saw a face that was alive, vibrant, and, dare I say it… happy.

I shook my head, my heart racing like a hummingbird’s wings as I splashed some cool water on my face, attempting to calm the storm swirling inside my chest.

Okay, I was fine. I could go out there. Establish firm boundaries. Be friends.

I pulled out my phone first though, hovering over the keyboard as I thought about sending Clark another text. But he hadn’t even read my other one according to the read receipts…so I didn’t bother.

All my good intentions seemed to run away when I finally stepped back into the hallway, and my senses were immediately overtaken by Ari’s arresting presence. He leaned casually against the wall, his strong frame surrounded by the soft, muted lighting. His dazzling green gaze cast a spell over me as we stood there in the hall.

‘You didn’t need to wait,’ I managed to murmur, though my voice betrayed my struggle to maintain composure.

Ari’s response was a slow, seductive smile that made my knees feel weak. ‘Someone would be a fool not to wait for you, sunshine.’

His words hung in the air, heavy with unspoken desires, and I could feel the invisible thread that drew us together, weaving a tapestry of attraction and longing. My heart pounded in my chest, and my voice trembled as I met his unwavering gaze.

‘Ari,’ I began, my voice laced with a husky undertone, ‘we can only be friends.’

“Yeah, sunshine? And why’s that?” he asked, crowding me against the wall with his hard, perfect body. His spicy orange and leather scent washed over me and I took a deep breath, wanting as much as I could get.

The way he was staring at me. It was like he wanted to eat me alive. Like he was starstruck by my mere presence.

Like I was his good thing in life.

“Because I have a boyfriend.”

“You should probably put him on notice then, sunshine,” he murmured with a slightly crazed grin.

“Of what?” I whispered.

“Of the fact he’s about to lose his girl.”

His lips brushed against mine then, so, so softly, and it felt like a piece of my heart was clicking into place. Ari pulled back and stared at me for a long moment.

“Fuck it,” he swore roughly, and his lips crashed against my mouth. His tongue licked into me, sliding against mine, changing my fucking life.

I’d never been kissed like this.

Like someone would die without the taste of me.

I broke the kiss and stepped back, our heavy breaths mingling in the air.

He smiled at me, the kind of smile that could break a million hearts, that would break mine…and he pressed his lips against mine. One. More. Time.

And then I ran.


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