I’m so excited for this book! I can’t wait for you guys to fall in love with Benji and Lucy as I have! Enjoy this little excerpt of Rushing the Goal, due out March 28th, 2016! Make sure to preorder now!
Rushing the Goal
Releasing March 28, 2016.
B + N: http://goo.gl/px8LaU
Copyright © 2016 by Toni Aleo
This book, Rushing the Goal is a work of Fiction. Any names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
Lucy Sinclair was no stranger to pain.
She grew up with three younger brothers. Very rough, tough, hockey-playing brothers and, of course, she had to watch out to make sure none of them killed themselves. Not an easy job, mind you. Especially when she was convinced Jude and Jayden were going to kill each other and Jace was going to get lost in the woods trying to keep up with them. Those three should have done her in a long time ago, but somehow she had survived.
She also survived the pain of having her heart broken many times growing up. Those teenage boys sure do a number on young girls, and she was a victim plenty. Then she had a baby.
She also made it through a nasty marriage that turned into an even nastier divorce. Which now resulted in co-parenting with the King of Dicks, aka Rick, her ex-husband. Again, not easy since Rick was hell-bent on ruining Lucy’s life by using their daughter against her, but she was surviving.
And to top off the pain train, she also hadn’t had sex in a good long while. Lord knew, she needed a release from a man something serious, so, yes, she knew pain. Embraced it. Only knew that feeling most of the time, well, except when Angie was smiling at her. That brought happiness, but still, she knew pain.
But as she held the couch, her eyes squeezed tight while her toe throbbed, she was convinced this was the kind of pain that was going to kill her.
Stubbing her toe.
Her fucking toe was going to kill her.
What a way to go.
“Just a minute, sweetheart,” she clenched out as she opened her eyes to glance down at her foot.
Thankfully, the toe was still there.
Nail polish chipped to hell, but her toe was still intact.
She guessed that was good, but then, losing a toe would be her luck. Her week had been shit. She had lost a potential client at her interior design firm because she couldn’t fit them into her schedule fast enough to suit them. She needed to hire someone to help out, but she couldn’t really afford it and, better yet, didn’t want to let go of that money. But still she was losing money, so something had to change. She also needed to find a sitter since her baby brother and his wife had moved to Florida after he was drafted by the NHL to the Panthers. She could really use a good thing to happen, but she didn’t see light at the end of the tunnel at that particular moment.
But then, her toe was still intact.
When Angie came barreling around the corner, Lucy cringed when her daughter came to a halt inches from her throbbing foot as she held the phone out, shaking it violently at her. “Avery and baby Ashlyn want to see you now!”
Shaking Lucy’s phone even harder, causing her sister-in-law to laugh while her baby niece cooed sweetly, Angie showed a face full of delight. She loved her aunt and cousin so much and, like Lucy, missed them a lot.
“Thank you,” Lucy breathed out, taking the phone. Then Angie was gone, her long, brown hair flying in the wind she was causing. Kid was a running motor. As Lucy held the phone out, Avery laughed.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m pretty sure I almost just died,” Lucy breathed, sitting on the couch and propping her foot up.
Avery grinned, her eyes bright as Ashlyn moved her fingers along her chin. It still stunned Lucy to see Avery with Ashlyn. Not only were they just two beautiful girls, but seeing Avery with Ashlyn, her being so young at only barely nineteen, reminded her of herself when she had Angie. She too had only been eighteen, but unlike Avery, who was in a beautiful and loving marriage, Lucy had been lost, scared, and getting knocked around by Rick, the King of Dicks.
“How?” Avery asked, her turquoise eyes set on Lucy.
“Stubbed my toe.”
Avery cringed. “That sucks.”
“Girl, I seriously thought I was dying a slow death.”
Giggling, Avery kissed Ashlyn’s palm. “A toe can’t take you out.”
Lucy scoffed. “The jury’s still out on that.”
Rolling her eyes, Avery laughed softly. “Anyway, Angie seems good. She’s excited for hockey.”
Groaning, Lucy let her head fall back. She had completely forgotten about that. “Fuck me.”
Avery laughed louder. “You forgot.”
“I did. When does it start?”
“Ugh,” she moaned. “Curse Jayden for making me do this. He demands it, but he can’t even commit to taking her. Rick already said he won’t take her, which means she’s gonna miss almost half the damn games. Can’t I just bail on it?”
Avery shook her head. “But she’s excited.”
“Okay, I guess I can get Mom to help since you decided to leave me.”
Avery’s smile dropped. “Don’t remind me. I hate that we aren’t there anymore. We miss you guys.”
Lucy smiled. “But Jace is doing awesome.”
“He is.” She beamed, doing a little wiggle as Ashlyn tried to type on the computer keyboard. “It’s hard, though, just me and Boogie.”
“I hear ya,” Lucy agreed. “But at least your man comes home. “
Avery gave her a small smile of sympathy and Lucy hated that. She didn’t want anyone to pity her. Yeah, she hadn’t dated in a good long while. Yeah, she had cobwebs growing in her vagina but, hey, she was busy. Or at least that’s what she told herself. It was probably because she was a total bitch and didn’t trust anything that had a dick.
Well, except her brothers. Those guys were good.
“Momma, I found a sword,” Angie called from down the hall of their small apartment above her interior design offices. Small wasn’t the right word, really; it was more like tiny. It was one room bigger than a studio apartment and compact, but after her mom moved her boyfriend into the house, there was no way Lucy was still living there. Seeing Coach’s ass once as he banged her mother was one time too many and had Lucy hightailing it out of her childhood home.
She’d get a bigger place soon; she just had to make more money.
“That’s great, honey,” she called before shaking her head. “I need to find a man. I need to get laid.”
Avery’s face lit up. This was an ongoing conversation, one that never really went anywhere. “Yes, you do!”
“Whoa, don’t get excited. I was thinking out loud. Let’s be honest, I don’t want a man.”
Letting out a long breath, Avery rolled her eyes. “Then find a woman.”
“Um, no,” she scoffed before shaking her head. “Maybe I can find a one-night stand when Angie goes to Rick’s house this weekend. I need to come or something. I hate life right now.”
Avery laughed and Lucy grinned. It had been a long time since she’d had a true “girlfriend.” It had always been her and her mom, but when she met Avery, something about her just clicked for them. She was a great girl and Jace loved her something insane. Since Lucy felt kind of responsible for Jace, him being the baby and all, she immediate clung to Avery. She loved her other two sisters-in-law, of course, but she and Avery had a bond.
One she needed.
She was becoming a hermit.
Shooting Lucy a bored look, Avery said, “But that means you have to leave the house, put pants on, and turn off Netflix. Let’s be honest, your love affair with Netflix is stronger than your desire to go find someone to lay you.”
She shrugged. “This is true, but in all fairness, Netflix has never let me down.”
“It also can’t lay you.”
“No, but it still satisfies me.”
“Not in the way you want,” Avery supplied and Lucy shrugged.
“Shut up, you,” she complained as something hard fell into her chest.
“Oh my God! Is that a dildo?” Avery squawked, and when Lucy looked down to her neon yellow dildo, horror filled her from the tip of her head to the bottom of her feet.
“No, silly! It’s a sword! Come on, Momma, fight me!” Angie demanded, holding Lucy’s sparkly Edward Cullen vibrator.
“Jesus take the wheel!” Lucy shrieked before snatching the other dildo from her daughter, panic roaring through her system. “Let me call you back,” she yelled before hanging up on Avery and throwing her phone down. “Angie! Stay out of my drawer!”
Getting up, she rushed down the hall with Angie chasing her. “Why? What is that? Isn’t it a sword?”
“No! It’s Mommy’s. Please don’t touch it,” she cried, embarrassment consuming her as she went back into her room. “Please go wash your hands and go watch TV or something.”
“Why? Why can’t I play with your swords?” Angie shot at her, and Lucy closed her eyes.
Lord, please take me now.
“Cause they are Mommy’s toys. Now, go,” she yelled, and as soon as the words left her mouth, she regretted them.
Like Lucy knew she would, Angie glared. “Why can’t I play with your toys? You say sharing is caring. You’re not caring, Momma!”
At her wits’ end, she spun around and set her little rambunctious seven-year-old with a look. Angie’s big green eyes held Lucy’s, her little mouth in a pout, looking every bit like Lucy. Lucy wasn’t sure what Angie got from Rick, but she was thankful her little baby looked nothing like him. God, she hated him. But then, hate wasn’t even a good enough word to describe her feelings toward Rick. She couldn’t even think of a word to express her feelings toward her ex-husband. She did know, though, that if he was on fire, she wouldn’t even piss on him to put out the flames. He may have given her the greatest gift in the world, their daughter, but that was it.
Everything else was pain.
Sucking in a breath, she glared as her mom voice came out in full force. “Angela Rochelle, I said no. These are mine, and you cannot play with them. Now, go on!”
“That’s not fair,” she complained. “It’s the perfect sword!”
“Jesus,” she muttered before shaking her head and throwing the dildos back in her drawer. Reminding herself that she needed to find another place for her toys, she looked back at her daughter. “I said no. Now go find something to do before I take away your iPad.”
Angie glared. “You’re mean.”
Lucy glared back. “Oh, really? Mean is not taking you to hockey tomorrow, missy. Remember that.”
Angie’s brow scrunched together, her eyes deepening in a scowl, every bit as strong-willed as Lucy was. Growing up, Lucy’s mom had said one day she would have a kid just like her. Well, ladies and gentlemen, here was that child: Angela Rochelle.
Lucy wanted to smack the look that mirrored her own, but Angie huffed before turning around and stomping out the room, her ponytail swishing from side to side. When she was out of view, Lucy fell onto the bed she shared with her angry daughter and slammed her drawer shut as she shook her head. Man, couldn’t she catch a break?
Any other day, she’d probably laugh, but not this day. This day, she wanted to quit. Along with the week from hell, Rick had sent a text asking how she felt about exchanging Angie week-to-week instead of him getting her only every other weekend. She knew Angie wouldn’t go for it, and when she told Rick that, he accused her of brainwashing her. Nothing new, dude had shit for brains, but it still bothered her.
She felt she was being fair when it came to Angie. She kept her daughter’s best interest in mind, and Angie didn’t like it at Rick and his wife, Heidi’s, house. She wanted to be with Lucy, and no matter how hard it was being a single parent, Lucy hated when Angie was gone too. She kind of turned into a hermit. Not leaving the house because she worried so much about her daughter. It just didn’t feel right that Angie didn’t like it there, and that scared her. If he could raise a hand to Lucy, what stopped him from raising one to Angie out of anger?
It was such a fucking headache, and she wished he would just disappear.
But she wasn’t that lucky.
Nope. Instead, she stubbed her toe and her daughter waved her dildos around like they were swords.
Shaking her head, she fell back onto the bed and squeezed her eyes shut. She had so much work to do but no desire to do it. She wanted to cuddle with Angie and watch a movie. But knowing she had to make money to feed her, clothe her, and one day, give Angie a bigger house, she got up to get to work. Before she could reach the table where all her work stuff lay, her phone rang.
It was her brother, Jayden.
“Hey,” he said, a car door slamming. “Just making sure Angie will be there tomorrow.”
She groaned. “I could kill you for this.”
Jayden laughed. “Oh, hush, you know she’s excited, and it’s gonna be great.”
“You know she’s gonna miss half the games.”
He basically growl. “Seriously? Rick the Dick won’t bring her?”
“He said no.”
“Man, I hate him.”
“Join the club. I’m the awesome president of it,” she said as he let out a long breath.
“Whatever, hopefully, Angie will throw a fit and he’ll take her. I mean, her coach is Shea Adler, the old captain of the Assassins. That’s fucking awesome, y’know?”
She rolled her eyes. She knew she should be impressed by her brother’s statement, and she was, but her toe was still throbbing and the vivid image of her daughter waving her dildos in her face was still in her mind. So, needless to say, she didn’t care that her daughter’s hockey coach would be the amazing Shea Adler or that Rick was a complete dick.
“He’s a legend, Luce.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m in a bad mood.”
He paused. “Wait, what? You have other moods?”
“Fuck off,” she whispered as she walked by the couch where Angie was playing on her iPad.
“I heard that,” Angie called to her and she let out a long breath. She was really trying not to cuss around Angie, but she was struggling a bit on that.
“Anyway, make sure she is there early so I can help her get ready.”
“So, what time?”
“Ugh, Jayden! I have consult at three. You’re killing me,” she moaned, closing her eyes. She knew she could get it done, but man, it was cutting it close. Especially since she had to go get Angie from the daycare that was sucking her savings away.
“I would come get her, but I’m cutting it close with Baylor’s doctor’s appointment.”
Snapping her mouth shut, she closed her eyes as she covered them with her hand. She had forgotten that Baylor’s appointment was tomorrow. “How’s she doing?”
“Eh, day to day,” Jayden said softly. “They are thinking another surgery.”
She let out a long breath. Jayden’s wife Baylor had been the first woman to draft into the NHL two years ago and she had been doing great. Well, that is, when she actually got to play. She had been hurt more than she got to play, and that was due to the fact that the men in the league didn’t take it easy on her. Not that they should, but still, Baylor was having a hard time with it all. Because of that, Jayden was having a hard time. He was worried about her, as he should be. But he was the new captain of the Assassins, and Lucy worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep his position when he was so consumed with concern about Baylor. It sucked, but hopefully, they would figure it out. But even Lucy knew that a third surgery to Baylor’s knee wasn’t good.
“Well, if you need anything, let me know.”
“Yeah, ’cause you aren’t jam-packed with shit,” he shot back at her and she rolled her eyes.
“I’m trying to be supportive, asshole.”
He laughed. “I know and I love you for it.”
“I love you.”
“Good, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, yeah, bye.”
Hanging up the phone, she set it down and shook her head. The best thing would be for Baylor to just quit the NHL, but everyone knew she wouldn’t willingly. Which was scary. Just more shit to worry about, she figured as she let out a long breath. Baylor was more headstrong than Lucy was, so Lucy wouldn’t hold her breath on her leaving the NHL. They’d have to drag her out.
Picking up her folder for the MacKenzie job she was working on, she opened her laptop and got to work. It was her biggest job to date. A six-bedroom home that Jayden had gotten for her after he basically pimped her to all the guys on the Assassins. He was good for that, and she was excited, but MacKenzie’s wife Michelle was an idiot. She wanted to decorate the house the way a teenager would. Pink, glitter, and leopard were her wishes, and while Lucy thought Michelle was on something, she still took the job. She would tone it down, but she’d give the client what she wanted.
Because she needed the money.
She wasn’t struggling or anything, but she wanted to give Angie a good house. A big one with a huge yard and room for her play. She wanted to show Rick that she sure as hell didn’t need him. Yeah, he had a big ole new house, the wife he left her for, and could give Angie the world and then some, but that wouldn’t derail Lucy. If anything, that pushed her to do more. To succeed, she had to work and pay off her debt that she and Rick created during their short, hellish marriage. And because of that, she would put glitter on top of leopard if that meant she got paid. She just hoped that Michelle would like her ideas a little more. She had to keep her intrigue, for God’s sake, and glitter on top of leopard for two twenty-five-year-olds was not going to do that.
Maybe she could pass it off as a teenager’s room on her webpage?
She didn’t get too far into orders before her phone rang once more.
“Jesus,” she complained as she picked up her phone and saw it was her mother. Letting out an annoyed breath since she had so much to do, she knew she couldn’t ignore her mom. Not because she didn’t want to—she did—but because Autumn Sinclair would call back until she got ahold of her.
“Honey! Guess what?” her mother cried out.
“What?” she groaned, not matching her mother’s excitement.
Her mother squealed, “River proposed! I’m getting married!”
Her heart stopped.
She knew she was supposed to smile. That she was supposed to be happy. Her mom was getting married! She was happy, and that’s all Lucy wanted for her after the nasty divorce from her sperm donor of a father. But in some weird misery-loves-company way, Lucy liked that she and her mom were both single and lonely. Well, that was until Coach came around, but she never thought her mom would get married again.
God, she was pathetic!
And an asshole. She was an asshole.
Letting her head fall to the table as she held back a groan, she closed her eyes tightly.
Wow. Could this week get any worse?