Today I am so pleased to welcome Rachel Reid to Joyfully Jay. Rachel has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Long Game. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thanks for letting me share an excerpt from my new book. The Long Game is the sixth book in my Game Changers hockey romance series, and is the sequel to Heated Rivalry. This scene is near the beginning of the book. NHL stars Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov are about to start their eleventh hockey season as rivals on opposing teams, and their fourth season as a secret couple. The challenge of keeping their relationship a secret, and of not seeing each other as often as they’d like, has become more difficult with each passing year.
“How many men have you been with?”
Ilya glanced up with interest from the coffee mug he’d been spooning sugar into. Shane had blurted the question out and was now staring fixedly at his poached eggs. His ears were bright pink.
“This week, you mean?” Ilya asked calmly.
Shane turned his gaze up, his annoyance radiating across the breakfast table in grumpy waves. “No, asshole. I mean ever.”
Ilya took a long sip of coffee, his eyes locked on Shane’s over the rim of his Ottawa Centaurs mug. He very slowly lowered the mug back to the table, leaned back in his chair, and said, “Why?”
“Because you’ve never told me.”
“Maybe I don’t keep track.”
Shane glared at him, then turned his attention back to his eggs. “Never mind.”<
Ilya’s mouth quirked up. He let a silence hang between them, just long enough for Shane to perhaps believe that Ilya was going to let this go.
“How many are you hoping it will be?”
Shane shook his head. “Forget it. I don’t care anymore.”
It was clear from the tightness in Shane’s jaw when he looked back up at Ilya that he cared a lot. “You said there was one guy in Moscow. The, um…”
“My coach’s son. Yes. He was one.”
“The first one?”
“I said he was. Yes.”
“You never said that. I mean, it was implied, I guess, but—”
“He was the first.” Ilya’s bit the inside of his cheek, then added, “Possibly the best too.”
“You’re such a giant dick.”
“You know who had a giant dick?” Ilya asked wistfully.
Shane’s chair screeched across the kitchen floor as he stood up. He snatched his plate off the table and stormed off toward the sink. Ilya continued eating his breakfast.
“Was I the second?” Shane asked, after he had finished rinsing his plate.<
Ilya made a show of picking up a point of toast, chewing thoughtfully as if he couldn’t quite recall how many men he’d bedded before Shane. “Maybe.”
Shane folded his arms. “I didn’t think this would be such a difficult question to answer.”
“Can you remember every goal you have ever scored?”
“Oh, is it a similar number?” Shane had scored over five hundred goals in the NHL alone.
“Give or take.”
Shane left the kitchen.
Ilya gave him a one-minute head start, then sauntered off after him. He found him near the front door, already wearing his jacket. “Where are you going?”
Ilya leaned back against the wall. “So soon?” Shane did have to drive back to Montreal that morning, but Ilya certainly wasn’t going to let him go like this.
“I told you my number,” Shane said.
As if Ilya had ever forgotten. “Yes. Two men besides me. Both terrible.”
“Not terrible. Just not…”
Ilya waggled his eyebrows.
“I’m leaving.” Shane put his hand on the doorknob. Ilya put his hand on Shane’s shoulder.
“You were the second.”
Shane didn’t turn around. “And after me?”
“Is there a wrong answer to this question?”
Shane exhaled, his shoulders slumping. “No.”
“A few. Not many. Was dangerous, right? A rare treat.”
Ilya let his hand slide off Shane’s shoulder and down his chest. Shane took a small step backward, and almost relaxed against him. Ilya dipped his head and kissed Shane’s neck, and Shane relaxed more. “None of them matter. Not anymore.”
Shane sighed. “I know.”
“Then why ask?”
Shane turned. Ilya kept his arm draped over him, his hand now resting on Shane’s back. “I don’t know.” He thunked his forehead against Ilya’s chest. “Sorry.”
Ilya wrapped his other arm around him and held him close as he nuzzled Shane’s dark, glossy hair. It smelled like expensive shampoo. “I will miss you.”
Shane exhaled loudly. “Are you ready to do another season of this?”
Ilya’s heart stuttered. What did that question mean? “Another season of what?”
Shane pulled back enough to look him in the eye. “Hiding.”
It would be, altogether, their eleventh NHL season of hiding. Seven seasons of secret hookups, and three seasons of being in a mostly secret committed relationship. It had been a lot of hiding.
“Sure,” Ilya said.
“I hate it.”
“I know. Me too.”
“I can’t believe no one has figured it out yet.”
“Well,” Ilya said, brushing a thumb over Shane’s cheek. “I am way out of your league.”
“Who would believe you if you told them?”
Shane punched his arm, then captured Ilya’s lips in a sweet kiss. He tasted like coffee and home, and Ilya really wished he didn’t need to leave.
“You should quit hockey,” Ilya murmured. “Send them a text. Say you quit. Stay here with me.”
“I’m not ending my career via text.”
“I have to go.”
Another long kiss, this one a little less sweet. A little more urgent. By the time they broke apart, Shane was pressed against a wall, and Ilya’s T-shirt was rucked up to his chest. Both men were breathing heavily, with flushed skin and semi-hard dicks.
“I have to—” Shane said again.
“Three weeks and you’ll be in Montreal, right?”
“Not so bad.” Shane smiled sadly at him. Three weeks wasn’t such a long time, but Ilya was so goddamned tired of having their relationship sliced up into single nights with weeks between them. Two nights in a row if they were lucky.
Except the summers, when they were together almost every day, and Ilya’s soul lightened as he soaked up Shane’s proximity the same way his golden-brown hair lightened in the sun. Ilya loved hockey, but he lived for the summers now.
Summer was over. The NHL regular season officially started in two days. His soul would have to live on sun-drenched memories and the anticipation of stolen nights of explosive sex and tender kisses.
“I love you,” Ilya said between the deep breaths he was taking in an attempt to cool his blood.
Shane slipped out from between Ilya and the wall and squeezed his arm. “Love you too.” Shane exhaled, and Ilya politely ignored the tremor in it. “Okay. Three weeks.”
“Three weeks. Text me when you get home.”
“Of course.” Shane kissed him one more time, and then he was gone.
The sequel is finally here! Shane and Ilya’s story, first seen in Heated Rivalry, continues in this long-awaited hockey romance from Rachel Reid.
“Everything you could want from this magnetic couple! A passionate, sexy, emotional sequel that grips your heart! Shane and Ilya forever!” —#1 NYT Bestseller Lauren Blakely, author of Hopelessly Bromantic
To the world they are rivals, but to each other they are everything.
That’s how long Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov have been seeing each other. How long they’ve been keeping their relationship a secret. From friends, from family…from the league. If Shane wants to stay at the top of his game, what he and Ilya share has to remain secret. He loves Ilya, but what if going public ruins everything?
Ilya is sick of secrets. Shane has gotten so good at hiding his feelings, sometimes Ilya questions if they even exist. The closeness, the intimacy, even the risk that would come with being open about their relationship…Ilya wants it all.
It’s time for them to decide what’s most important—hockey or love.
It’s time to make a call.
- Book 1: Game Changer
- Book 2: Heated Rivalry
- Book 3: Tough Guy
- Book 4: Common Goal
- Book 5: Role Model
- Book 6: The Long Game
Rachel Reid has always lived in Nova Scotia, Canada, and will likely continue to do so. She has two boring degrees and two interesting sons. She has been a hockey fan since childhood, but sadly never made it to the NHL herself. She enjoys books about hot men doing hot things, and cool ladies being awesome. You can follow Rachel on Instagram at rachelreidwrites and Twitter @akaRachelReid, and on Goodreads. Her website and blog, where she writes more things, is www.rachelreidwrites.com.