Home > A Heart So Wild (Atlanta Siege Hockey Romance #1)(2)

A Heart So Wild (Atlanta Siege Hockey Romance #1)(2)
Author: Raine Thomas

Having his mother remind him of that now—on his birthday, no less—made him seriously regret telling her about it. He’d mentioned it out of irritation during a call with her not long after that meeting. She’d been giving him grief about not having played up to his full potential, a common refrain he’d heard from his parents throughout his life. When she started going on and on about how she expected a first line, All Star performance from him in the season to come, he’d made a snarky comment about getting sent to the minors and that he was sure he’d finally make her proud then.

Fucking idiot, he mentally grumbled to himself now.

Deliberately ignoring his mother’s statement, he cinched his belt and said, “So is Father Dearest waiting to sing me the birthday song or what?”

“No. He’s at a business dinner. I’m sure he’ll call or text you later.”

He wasn’t holding his breath. “Got it. Well, thanks for calling.”

“Of course. I hope you have a nice time tonight.”

“I’m planning on it. Bye.”

“Goodbye.”

After disconnecting the call, he took a minute to roll the stress out of his shoulders. No sense carrying any of that with him to the club, he mused. He had to be in top form to serve as Christian’s wingman.

And if he happened to get some birthday action himself, he sure wouldn’t complain.

An hour later, he and Christian stepped out of the private Town Car Callan had chartered for the night and headed past the long line waiting to get into Atlanta’s hottest nightclub, Nightscape. The humidity of the late June evening hit them like a punch to the face as they approached the beefy bouncer stationed at the club’s entrance.

“Hey, Griff,” Callan cheerfully greeted him. “You holding things down out here, or do you need a hand?”

Griff issued a deep chuckle and revealed a gap-toothed grin. “‘Sup, Murph?” the bouncer replied, using the nickname Callan had earned in his youth thanks to his last name Murphy.

He lifted one of his massive hands and Callan reached out to clasp it, allowing himself to be dragged forward and pounded twice on the back by the bigger man before being released. During the contact, Callan slid a hundred to the bouncer, not because he needed to bribe his way in, but because he knew how hard Griff worked and felt he deserved it. Griff casually slid the bill into his pants pocket and gave Callan a chin lift of thanks.

“You two head on in,” the bouncer said, stepping aside and unlatching the rope crossing the door to allow them entrance. “You want to head up to the VIP area, feel free. Damian’s overseein’ the floor. He’ll let you right up.”

“Thanks, man,” Christian said, giving Griff a fist tap on his way past.

“Anytime.”

Loud, thumping music led them deeper into the club. The sun hadn’t yet fully set on the long summer evening, so the transition into the club’s darker, night-themed interior required a minute for their eyes to adjust. They paused a few feet into the club to get their bearings.

Tiny pinhole lights glowed from the inky black ceiling like a sea of stars. In the center of the club, the circular, thriving dance floor glowed with a celestial light. Soft tendrils of lightly scented fog swirled among the dancers, the source of it cleverly hidden beneath the floor. Along the walls, cozy, rounded alcoves had been carved to offer curved bench seating around small, round cocktail tables. The pale backlights set in each alcove gave the impression of a series of half-moons around the room. Callan’s quick glance around told him every available alcove was occupied.

His gaze moved across the club to the staircase leading up to Nightscape’s VIP area. A second bouncer named Johnny stood in front of the stanchion rope secured in front of the stairs. His broad shoulders and ripped pecs nearly filled the width of the staircase. The club’s patrons gave him a wide berth, but Callan and Christian could breeze right past him if they wanted. Nightscape loved entertaining celebrities of all types, including professional athletes.

“You gentlemen want to head up tonight?” asked a familiar voice from Callan’s right.

Turning, he spotted Damian Kade, one of the club’s owners and the manager on duty, just a couple of feet away. Although Damian stood a few inches shorter than Callan’s six-foot-three, he cut an imposing figure in his black-on-black suit, shirt, and tie. His ebony hair was perfectly styled, his posture somehow both commanding and approachable. Although he was always cordial and courteous, there was a darkness about him that made Callan wary.

Since Damian stood with his hands held casually behind his back, Callan didn’t extend his own in greeting. “Nice to see you again, Kade,” he replied. “Actually, we’re going to check out the action down here tonight. I was just about to head to the bar with Christian.”

“Excellent.” Damian reached up to press the earpiece in his right ear and murmured a few words made unintelligible by the music. “Glenda will have your drinks waiting for you at the bar,” he said a moment later. “When you’re ready to have a seat, just notify me or any of my team members. We’ll be sure you’re shown to a table right away.”

Callan had experienced too much of Nightscape’s exceptional service to question it now. He didn’t doubt that he and Christian would get exactly what they wanted from the bar, despite not having told Damian their order.

“Thanks,” Callan said. “Appreciate it, as always.”

“As do we,” Damian replied with a slight bow. “Enjoy the rest of your evening, gentlemen.”

He took a few steps to his right and almost instantly disappeared into the club’s depths. Callan blinked over it, then guessed the club’s lighting was playing tricks on his eyes.

Christian leaned closer and said, “That dude gives off some serious vampire vibes.”

“No shit.”

Shrugging it off, Callan jerked his head towards the bar and started in that direction with Christian trailing behind him. He knew most of the bartenders by name and aimed for Glenda, the gilded haired pixie manning the left side of the bar. She greeted them with a smile and a tray bearing a Manhattan for him and a pilsner glass filled with what was surely a locally crafted IPA for Christian.

Kade never misses a trick, Callan mused.

He accepted his drink and slid some cash to Glenda. “Thanks, Sunshine.”

She gave him a cheerful wink. “You bet, Murph. Hit me up when you’re ready for a refill.”

“Will do.”

As she moved on to another club patron, Callan and Christian turned to face the energetic dance floor about twenty feet from the bar. They each rested an elbow on the bar and held their drinks in their free hands. Callan wanted to get a beer or two into Christian before they started making the rounds. His friend was a brilliant goaltender, but his social skills were absolute shit.

“So did you do anything fun for your birthday?” Christian asked after sipping his beer.

“Not much. Slept in. Went to brunch with Javy,” he said, referring to his friend and neighbor, Major League catcher Javier Rios.

“Ah. Let me guess. After that, you two headed to the closest bar, picked up a couple of sexy females, and you spent the afternoon in bed with one of them?”

Callan shook his head. “Nah. Javy had to get to his game. Besides, I think he’s got someone he’s getting serious about.”

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