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A Favor for a Favor (All In #2)

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Helena Hunting

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Pucked and A Lie for a Lie, a new stand-alone romance about trading favors, battling wills, and winning love.

When I joined Seattle’s NHL expansion team, I thought it was the start of something great. But nothing ever goes the way you expect. Take my introduction to my new neighbor. She came rolling in on the hot mess express at midnight, making a racket while she tried to get into my team captain’s apartment. Did I mention that he’s married to a woman who definitely was not her?

Imagine my surprise when I end up with an injury that has me out of the game for weeks, and she’s the one to offer to help me. I should probably add that she’s not the captain’s mistress. She’s his sexy, pastel-haired younger sister.

So we come up with an arrangement: she rehabs me so that I can get back on the ice sooner, and she can add a professional athlete that isn’t her brother to her client list. Seems simple enough. As long as I can keep my hands to myself and my hormones in check.

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As far as bad days go, this is one of the worst I’ve had in a very long time. I can get over the four-hour flight delay from LA to Seattle and sitting beside a man who smelled like old cheese and three-day-old underwear on the plane. But add in one of my suitcases taking a detour to Alaska—or maybe it’s Nunavut; who the hell knows?—and the fact that my remaining suitcase now has a broken handle and is missing a wheel, and this day just keeps getting worse.

The icing on this crap cake? Less than an hour ago I walked in on my boyfriend, Joey—now my ex—plowing into someone who wasn’t me on our brand-new living room couch. The one my brother bought for us as a housewarming gift. I guess that’s what I get for surprising Joey by arriving two days earlier than expected. On my birthday.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come to Seattle and beat this douche down? I can leave first thing in the morning.” My brother RJ is at his in-laws’ house for the weekend, which is an hour and a half outside the city. That he’s this fired up on my behalf makes me feel marginally better about the whole thing.

However, my brother is an NHL player, and a father and a husband. Allowing him to beat up my ex for being a douche and a cheater may assuage my decimated ego and help heal my broken heart, but it’s not a great idea. For one, if RJ lays a beatdown, there’s a good chance he’ll wind up charged with assault. Then his face will be splashed all over the media, Joey will make a spectacle, and I’ll get dragged into it. The last thing I want is my face on social media in connection with my famous brother and my slimy ex. So as much as Joey might deserve a broken nose and black eye, I’ll say no thanks to the potential fallout. “I sincerely appreciate your willingness to engage in violence on my behalf, but I don’t think it’s worth the assault and battery charge.”

“I hate that you’re dealing with this on your own, and on your birthday, Stevie. If I’d known you were coming early, I would’ve planned for us to be around this weekend. What if I come get you and bring you back to Lainey’s parents’ for a few days?”

“It was a last-minute change of plans.” And obviously not a great one. “And it’s nice of you to offer, but the fact that you’re setting me up with a place to crash is more than enough.” I sincerely love my brother, but I am definitely not interested in hanging out with his in-laws during my postbreakup moping phase. “Besides, I start work at the clinic on Monday, so that would be a lot of back-and-forth for no reason. I promise I’ll be fine.” I watch the numbers flip by as the elevator ascends. Soon I’ll be able to have a nice little meltdown after my craparific day. “I’m almost at the apartment. Why don’t I call you in the morning?”

“Okay. I’ll be up for a while longer, so if you run into any problems getting in, send me a message. The lock system is tricky until you get the hang of it.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine; thanks again, RJ.”

“Anytime, Stevie. You know that. I’m really sorry. Happy birthday, kiddo. We’ll have dinner, and I’ll get your favorite cake when we’re back in town, okay?”

“Sure, sounds good. Thanks again. Love you, bro.” I end the call and tip my chin up to keep the tears from falling.

The elevator chimes its arrival at the penthouse floor. I suppose the one plus to finding out my now ex-boyfriend is a cheater is that I get to stay in a much nicer place. At least until I can find a new apartment.

I adjust the broken handle of my suitcase as the doors slide open and roll-drag it and myself out of the elevator. I’m exhausted times a million and looking forward to a cathartic snot sob session. A pint or five of ice cream would also be nice.

I wish I could adequately appreciate the splendor of the open foyer, but my morose mood does not allow me that indulgence. As I step onto the soft, luxurious carpet, the broken wheel of my suitcase gets caught in that two-inch gap where the doors open.

“Seriously?” I yank on it, struggling to dislodge the broken wheel while the doors start to close, bumping against my bag before they slide open again. I toss my purse on the floor so I can wrestle it free, but it’s jammed in there good and tight. The elevator beeps loudly, signaling that the doors have been open too long.

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