Home > Jett (Arizona Vengeance #10)(11)

Jett (Arizona Vengeance #10)(11)
Author: Sawyer Bennett

No, we’re just friends.

I’m sure of it.

Maybe.

Leaning over Emory’s desk, I hand her the bag. She takes it with relish, dropping back into her chair and nodding at the chair beside me. “Sit down. I’ll share with you.”

“I’d love to,” I say, not accepting her offer and instead, putting a hand on the back of the chair to lean on it. “But I’ve got to be down in the auditorium in about ten minutes.”

“Game meeting?” she guesses, pulling the clear plastic poke bowl out of the bag, along with chopsticks. She doesn’t wait for confirmation, instead affirming her knowledge of the Vengeance. “It’s going to be a tough game tonight against San Diego.”

I smile at her, which she doesn’t see because she’s got the top off the bowl and is busy stirring all the ingredients with her chopsticks. Emory spent a lot of time yesterday quizzing me about hockey. She wants her knowledge base to go deeper than what she’s already cultivated through her own research. I spent time telling her a bit more about some of my closest mates on the team so she could understand the cohesion we have out on the ice transcends coaching and talent. It has as much to do with a personal connection between the players.

We spend a few minutes chatting about the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing team, which morphs into a discussion about the following evening’s game against the Spades in Vegas, and how we’ll fly back the same night to Phoenix.

Emory wipes her mouth on a napkin before she dips her chopsticks back into the bowl, then asks, “You have big plans for Thanksgiving? You know… seeing as how you’re not American and all.”

I laugh, shaking my head. “So asks the Brit.”

She snickers and expertly pulls a clump of rice, beets, and salmon up to hover before her mouth. “We definitely don’t celebrate the holiday.”

“That’s odd… given that your stepmother is American,” I remark.

“Right?” she says in obvious agreement. “But it was never a big holiday to her for some reason, and my dad hates turkey, so for the fifteen years she lived in London after marrying my dad, we didn’t celebrate it.”

“I’ve been invited over to Jim’s house. His wife is cooking a big spread. Coach has extended an open invite to all us single dudes to come eat with him as well.”

“Where will you go?” she asks in her brisk accent, blue eyes luminous behind her frames.

I shrug. Hadn’t really thought much about it. I’ll probably order a pizza and drink a beer in my own condo. “I’ll figure something out.”

She studies me a moment and then a sly smile takes over her face, making her look mischievously sexy. “Or,” she drawls. “You can come eat with us on Thursday. We’re going to have perfectly boring food. Something very un-American like steak and kidney pie.”

“Sounds delicious,” I say, although I might be fibbing a bit. Not sure about the kidney part.

“You should come eat with us,” she suggests, and I try to ignore the thrill that runs through me at the invitation. We’re just friends, after all. And I have perfectly good invites to spend Thanksgiving with people I’m closer to.

Yes, out of all my choices—including a pizza in my condo—hanging out with Emory is by far the most preferable.

Even though I know her sister and daughter will be there.

Odd.

“How about I bring something very traditionally Swedish,” I offer, which is my acceptance of her invitation.

She tilts her head with a smile. “Like what?”

I frown, then shrug. “I have no clue. I suck at cooking, but I’ll call home and ask for a good recipe.”

“Really?” she asks in amazement, her chopsticks hovering and her poke forgotten.

“Sure. But I can’t guarantee it will be any good.”

“It’s the thought and effort that matters,” she says, in a very Mary Poppins sort of tone which only makes her sexier in some weird and demented way.

“Is there anything else you want me to bring?” I ask, the realization I’ll be seeing Emory again in a personal setting getting me a little excited.

Which tells me she’s not strictly on my friend radar like I’ve been repeating to myself over and over again.

Hell, even the fact she’s got a kid isn’t producing feelings of panic or disappointment.

Just… odd.

“Bring whatever you like but we’ll have plenty of food,” she assures me.

I glance down at my watch, see that I have two minutes to get down to the meeting room and if the elevator is slow in any way, I’m going to get an ass-chewing from the coach.

“I’ve got to get going.” I move to the door, looking back at her. “Are you going to the game tonight?”

She shakes her head. “Not tonight. I have some work to do, but I’ll be watching on TV and cheering you on.”

My smile is big and almost preening.

The way she worded that last statement coupled with her tone said she was going to be cheering “me” on. Not the team as a whole, although there’s no doubt she will be rooting for them as well.

“I’ll see you Thursday, then,” I reply and shoot her a wink.

She grins and then turns her attention back to her poke bowl, dipping her chopsticks back into the lunch I’d brought her.

I make a mental note to shoot a text off to my sister and mom to find a good recipe to bring to dinner. After leaving her office, I bypass the elevator, not willing to chance being late.

Instead, I risk a broken leg as I fly down the fire stairwell to the basement, scooting into the auditorium about three seconds before Coach walks in. He makes a grunting sort of noise that says I just escaped his wrath and I hurry to join my linemates in the third row.

“Cutting it close,” Jim mutters as I move past him to settle in next to Kane.

“Sorry,” I whisper, leaning to the right a bit so he can hear me. “Got caught up.”

“Hope it was worth risking Coach’s ire,” he says from the side of his mouth.

“Totally worth it,” I reply with a grin that is only for myself as I watch Coach move to the podium and the screen descend from the ceiling. Leaning in a little closer, and in the lowest voice I can manage, I tell Jim, “And thank you very much for the invitation to join your family for Thanksgiving, but I’m going to be spending it with Emory instead.”

Jim jerks, head whipping my way and jaw dropped open in astonishment. My linemates know that Emory having a kid sort of changed my desire to pursue her so diligently. We have a running text thread among the five of us—me, Kane, Steele, Bain, and Riggs—although Riggs barely participates. It’s usually reserved for arranging meet-ups and workouts. The occasional joke in poor taste. They had been eager to hear via text how badly I’d crashed and burned on our dinner meeting that wasn’t a date.

I had to set them straight that it wasn’t a crash and burn, but more of a change of feelings because of the single mom thing. I didn’t have to explain it. They know I’m not ready to settle down and a woman with a kid screams settling down. Even my buds with their own kids—Jim with his daughter and even Riggs with his sister—don’t hold it against me. They’re very aware of the responsibility that goes with that territory and that I just don’t want that right now.

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