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Out on the Ice (Out in College #5)
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Colby Fischer is a bad boy with attitude and a chip on his shoulder. As a senior at a Southern California college, he knows this may be his last shot. He doubts he’ll ever become the hockey legend he dreamed of being as a kid, but he definitely doesn’t want to be an accountant. Things get interesting when he’s asked to train the new intern at his step-dad’s firm, who happens to be the troublemaker from his econ class. And the one guy Colby can’t stand.
Baseball is Sky Jameson’s life. He’s happy to be back at Chilton for his senior year, but he’s burned a few bridges and has a bit too much free time off-season. He could use the money and something to keep him busy until his season begins. But his accidental crush on his prickly coworker could be a problem. Colby is straight and Sky is in the closet. Their timing isn’t great, but the intense attraction is hard to deny. With his final season on the hockey team in the balance, Colby may have to decide if he’s ready to come out on the ice.
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“Ice burns, and it is hard to the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost.”—A.S. Byatt, Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice
A single ray of light streaked across the empty desk next to the window, hinting at blue skies, warm temps, and plenty of sunshine on the other side of the blinds. Pretty much the kind of weather everyone expected on an average summer day in SoCal. There was something undeniably torturous about being stuck in a classroom on a beautiful morning in July. Summertime wasn’t supposed to be about school. It was reserved for fun stuff like body surfing, bike riding, and beach volleyball with your buddies. Or hanging out at the rink.
Anywhere but here.
Other than the perky brunette in the first row who talked my ear off about applying the principles of macroeconomics in virtual consumer bases on the first day of class, the other dozen or so students probably checked the time as often as I did. It wasn’t a lack of interest. It was just…summertime.
Truthfully, I kinda liked econ, and I was a pretty good at it. It took extra qualifications to be accepted into this advanced course; a recommendation from two professors and an internship. I got the recs okay, and I interned at my stepdad’s accounting firm. According to my mom, it was a brilliant move. I wasn’t so sure about that—I wanted to play hockey and make bank, not worry about someone else’s money.
The only person who seemed more miserable was the jock who arrived late every day and sat in the now-empty seat next to the window. I glanced from the door to my watch, knowing that any second now he’d barge in and—
“Welcome, Mr. Jameson. Nice of you to join us this morning,” the TA commented sarcastically.
“Sorry, I’m late,” he mumbled, rushing into the classroom.
“You’re just in time for the quiz. Wait. Don’t sit there. Maintenance is supposed to fix the leg on that desk. Take a seat next to Mr. Fischer.”
“Who’s Mr. Fischer?”
“Me.” I raised my hand, giving Jameson a harsh once-over.
I didn’t like the guy. Don’t ask me why. He was just too…perfect. Super handsome and full of himself. I’d never seen him on campus before this summer. And maybe I had a slightly suspicious nature, but I couldn’t help wondering what he was doing here. He looked a little out of place, more like a model than a student. No kidding. He could have been on a poster advertising the All-American athlete or an Abercrombie model with his dark-blond hair, blue eyes, broad shoulders, and a toned, muscular physique. Guys like him didn’t take high-level summer school econ classes. They hung out at the beach with other beautiful people racking up content for their Instagram pages. Not Sky Jameson, though. He was here in hell with the rest of us, looking suspiciously unruffled in a snug black tee and khaki shorts. Every girl in the room and a few of the guys checked him out as he made his way across the room and settled into the desk next to me. Myself included. And yeah, that was weird.
I didn’t think it was a gay or straight thing. It was—okay, fine. I didn’t know what it was. For three weeks, I’d been staring at the back of the guy’s head and noticing his biceps in those fitted T-shirts he wore and frankly, I was beginning to freak myself out. My fixation was odd. I thought about asking the pretty know-it-all in the front row for her number, hoping it would help me snap out of it. But when I stood up and brushed elbows with Sky, my mind went blank and I couldn’t remember what the hell I was supposed to be doing. It would have been a dick move. I didn’t want to mislead her or make her think I was interested. She already looked at me funny anyway.
Two and a half weeks of torture to go.
“It’s test time!” The TA, whose name I never remembered…Mr. Jackson or Jackman or Jackoff, handed a stack of papers to a redheaded dude in the front row and gestured for him to take one and pass it around. “I’ll give you thirty minutes to complete the quiz before we start a new chapter. We’ll go over the answers tomorrow. You may use your calculators, but be sure to show all your work and of course, keep your eyes on your own paper and…”
I tuned Mr. J out as I pulled my calculator and a pencil from my backpack. These quizzes weren’t usually difficult. A few multiple-choice questions followed by a detailed word problem or two involving statistics and some basic calculus. The trick was remembering to apply the correct formula. I scribbled a couple of notes, then flipped the paper over just as someone nudged my elbow.