From New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting comes a new romance about the importance of family, falling in love when you least expect it and navigating the surprises life throws at you along the way.
I’m Jake Masterson, single dad, and the General Manager of Seattle’s NHL team. I walked away from a career as a player so I could raise my daughter. For the last twenty-plus years, Queenie has been my main priority, but now she’s getting married.
And there’s a small complication.
A beautiful, sexy complication named Hanna.
She’s my son-in-law’s older sister. Or at least that’s how they were raised. The truth is a little more scandalous than that.
I’ve been drawn to her from the moment I laid eyes on her. And I spent months trying to keep a lid on that attraction.
Until we finally give in.
It starts with one searing kiss, but quickly ends with us between the sheets—and in the shower, and the hot tub, you get the picture—and turns into months of sneaking around.
Here’s the problem: we live on opposite ends of the country. It can’t be anything but casual. And as I’ve already said…it’s complicated.
But when Hanna finds out she’s pregnant…suddenly things get real serious.
We Can Do Anything
“Text when you get home so I know the two of you made it in the door, okay?”
“Sure, Dad.” Queenie pushes up on her tiptoes and kisses me on the cheek, then she turns to her fiancé, Ryan Kingston. “Okay, Boy Scout, let’s get you home.”
King pushes away from the wall he’s been leaning against. He sways unsteadily, eyes slow to track, but when they land on my daughter, a smile pulls up the corners of his mouth. “I’m gonna be your Boy Scout for the rest of my life. And you’re gonna be my Queen. Just a few more months and you’re mine forever.”
Queenie laughs. “I’ve been yours since the day I met you. Come on, before you say embarrassing things in front of my dad and Hanna.” She slips her arm through his and helps him down the front steps to the Uber waiting at the end of the driveway.
Hanna, King’s older “sister”, or at least that’s how most people know her, steps up beside me, her shoulder brushing my arm. “I hope he’s not too much of a mess tonight.”
“I’m thinking all those shooters Queenie kept making for him are probably going to result in a serious hangover tomorrow.” I wait until the Uber pulls away from the curb before I shut and lock the door.
Tonight was my daughter’s engagement party. She’s marrying the goalie for the NHL team I manage. Throw a bunch of hockey players and their significant others together for a laid-back barbeque and an open bar and the result is a lot of happy stumbling down the driveway into Ubers.
“I definitely feel like Ryan is going to have some regrets come morning.” She pats my shoulder and her fingers drag along my biceps. “You tired or do you want to jump in the hot tub for a bit and unwind?”
Hanna’s definitely on the tipsy side. I can tell by the glassiness of her eyes and the flush in her cheeks. It isn’t often she lets loose like this. At least not that I’ve seen so far, and we’ve had enough family get-togethers and events over the past several months. With more to come since the wedding isn’t that far off. Truth be told, I’m feeling the scotch I’ve been drinking tonight, too.
“Hot tub sounds good.” Our gazes meet and lock for several beats, enough for me to wonder how good of an idea this actually is.
We’ve been dancing around each other for months. Ever since the first time we met, actually. The attraction has been clear from day one, and the more time I spend with her, the harder it becomes to ignore.
Planning the engagement party for Queenie and King means we’ve spent a lot of time trading text messages, emails, phone calls, and more recently, Zoom chats that often have little to do with tonight.
Her grin widens and her chocolate brown eyes sparkle with a hint of mischief. “I’ll change then.”
“You bring that red bikini?”
“Are you keeping track of my swimwear?”
I lift a shoulder in what I hope is a nonchalant shrug. “You look good in red.” I skim her cheek with a knuckle. “And this blush you’re wearing is particularly sexy.”
“You’re trouble tonight, aren’t you?” Her fingertips dance along my traps as she brushes past me. “And yes, to answer your question, I did, in fact, bring the red bikini.”
She disappears down the hall to the spare bedroom, where she’s sleeping tonight. Because I invited her to stay at my place this weekend rather than at King’s. It’s not that she isn’t welcome there. It’s more that she wants them to have their privacy. It also means I get more time with Hanna, so it’s a win all the way around. And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking a lot about time alone with her this weekend.
I change into my swim trunks, pour myself a scotch, heavy on the rocks, and her a glass of wine before I make my way outside. I set the drinks on the outdoor dining table, remove the hot tub cover and check the temperature, making sure it’s not too hot.
Once I carry the drinks over and set them in the cup holders, I sink into the hot, bubbly water, stretch my arms out, let my head fall back and my eyes close. All the time I’ve been spending with Hanna is starting to get to me.
Reminding me that I’m in my forties, and very much still a bachelor. There are a lot of reasons why getting involved with Hanna on a romantic level would not be a good idea. Queenie and King’s relationship being at the forefront.
But she’s fun. And sexy. And we get each other.
A minute later, the sound of the sliding door opening and closing and the slap of flip-flops against the deck have me cracking a lid.
“You better not be sleeping already!” she calls out.
“Not sleeping, just waiting on you.”
I watch as she pulls the tie on her robe and the terry fabric slips over her shoulders, revealing that red bikini I’m such a fan of. Hanna is all curves. Amazing curves. The kind I’ve fantasized about putting my hands on plenty of times over the past several months. And with us spending a lot more time together, it’s been hard not to give in to the constant draw.
I rise from the water and hold out a hand as she climbs the steps. Her fingers slip into my palm, sending a jolt down my spine and a stirring inside my swim trunks. “Could you try to be a little less beautiful all the time?” I tease as I help her into the tub.
“Could you try to have more of a dad bod?” She drags her fingers down my abs, brows waggling, a smile on her gorgeous face. “You are definitely good for my ego, Jake.” She pats me on the chest and sinks into the water on the opposite side of the tub from me.
Which is probably a good thing since I feel like we’re playing with fire tonight. The kind I wouldn’t mind pouring a gallon of gasoline on just to watch it burn brighter.
“That was a great engagement party. I think the kids had fun, don’t you?” She stretches her legs out. Her toes skim the outside of my thigh and I barely resist the urge to run my hand up her calf.
I don’t know what’s in the air tonight, but things seem…different. Heightened.
“Yeah. It was good,” I agree.
She pokes me with her toe. “Then why are you frowning? You’ve been off all night. What’s going on?” With all the planning and talks we’ve been having, Hanna and I have gotten to know each other better. And she can read me pretty easily.
“I don’t know. On one hand, I’m happy for King and Queenie and I know he’s going to be a great husband to my daughter, but I spent all these years raising her, and being there for her. They’ve been living together for months, but for some reason, it’s all kind of hitting me. It’s real now.” I take a sip of my scotch. “It’s different from when she went away to college, and even when she moved out of the pool house and in with King. There’s this hole I didn’t expect.”
“It sounds like empty nester’s syndrome.” She moves to the spot beside to me, where the glass of wine I poured her sits.
“Is that what this is? I’m all morose and shit.”
She chuckles and props her elbow on the edge of the tub. “You need to look at it with a fresh perspective, that’s all. You’re not losing your daughter. It’s different with girls. Sure, she’s found her partner in life, but she’s always going to be your baby girl. And the two of you are so close.”
“I don’t know what to do with all of this freedom,” I admit. “My entire life up to this point has been revolved around raising Queenie and my career.”
“Which means you did your job. And that’s a good thing. Think about it, Jake. This is the great part about having a kid young. Sure, you lost out on the freedom of your twenties, but in some ways, this is even better. You’re in your forties. You have a great job, you’re in incredible shape.” She twists and pulls her knee up so it rests against my thigh, her arm extending along the back of the tub, fingertips skimming my shoulder. “You have all of your hair.”
“I’m definitely grateful for the last one,” I joke.
“You have great hair.” She runs her fingers through it. “It’s sexy.” She bites her lip and then shakes her head. “Anyway, what I’m saying is, you’re in the prime of your life. Most people in their forties are raising teens, or maybe their kids are getting ready to go to college. You’ve done all that. Now you can just live. You can date. Have fun. Do whatever you want.”
“Fun would be good.” My gaze drops to her lips. “And I’d like to do whatever I want.”
“Me, too.” Her bottom lip slides through her teeth. “Like right now I could kiss you.”
“You definitely could.” I skim her thigh under the water with my fingertips.
She nods. “There’s nothing stopping us.”
“So why aren’t your lips on mine yet?” I ask.
Hanna shifts again, her wet palms come to rest on either side of my jaw, and she presses her soft lips to mine.
I slip my hand under her hair and wrap it around the back of her neck. For a moment, I question whether this is a good idea. But when our lips part and our tongues meet, I forget all the reasons why it might not be.
I groan as I sink into the kiss and our tongues tangle. She tastes fruity, like the wine she’s been drinking. She straddles me and settles in my lap, her breasts pressing against my chest.
She breaks the kiss for a moment and our eyes meet. “I’ve been thinking about this for months.”
“I’ve wanted to know what your lips taste like since the first day I met you,” I confess.
She runs her fingers through my hair again and I grip her hip and pull her closer. Our mouths collide, tongues stroking, teeth clashing.
“I knew it would be like this,” she murmurs and rolls her hips.
“Like what?” I pull the tie on her bikini top.
“Explosive. Intense.” She bites the edge of my jaw, hands smoothing down the sides of my neck. “I want to spend the rest of the weekend in your bed.”
“I’ve wanted you to spend every weekend you’ve been in town in my bed.”
“Me, too.” Her lips drag across my cheek. “We’ll keep this between us.”
“No one needs to know what we do behind closed doors,” I agree.
“Or in hot tubs.”
What’s left of the weekend is spent trading orgasms all over my house.
And in the months that follow, my appetite for Hanna never wanes.
Instead, it grows. And changes.
And starts to become something I want more of, even though I know eventually it has to end.