Check Mate Excerpt

Taking a contract with the Timbers, Morgan leaves behind the woman he loves to pursue his hockey dreams. She watches her former love rise to fame, drowning out her heartbreak by skating at the rink. She joins a dating service, and they match her with the hard-headed Ashton, who falls hard for the talented figure skater.

But her new boyfriend has a big secret, one that will plunge her into a world she’s not ready for. And what will happen when the now-famous hockey star skates back into her life?

Check Mate Excerpt: Jealousy

Morgan laid on the couch and scrolled through Gwen’s online posts on his laptop. He signed into Sam’s account and snooped through Gwen’s stuff, but she posted nothing about her new boyfriend yet. Sam said her new guy was a suit and had money. That wasn’t Gwen’s type. She was a Johnny Burger and movie night type of girl. Or maybe this guy was a suit by day and laid back at night. Morgan didn’t like that idea, so he went with the guy being an uptight prick.

Morgan got in a run and shower this morning but got little else done. He watched Gwen’s skating video she posted yesterday four times already this morning and sulked. Morgan missed watching her skate and hearing her laugh.

A knock at his door interrupted his thoughts. He hopped from the couch to answer it and picked up garbage along the way. Morgan tossed it in the trash before heading to the door. His apartment was a mess, and beyond tossing garbage out, it was the only tidying he did. Gwen did the cleaning at his last apartment, and once they broke up, he resorted back to his messy ways.

He missed her, but he wouldn’t cave. Not this time. He always gave her what she wanted, and if she wanted to be with him, she would come. If she didn’t, he knew she didn’t love him enough to chase after him.

He peeked out the eyehole and saw Sam. His friend came for the weekend to get away from life in Vinton. Sam said once he settled custody issues with his kid’s mom, he’d move closer to Morgan. The pair were best friends since they were toddlers and were still close.

Morgan opened the door and let his friend in. Sam carried a bookbag, but nothing more.

“Nice place.” Sam chuckled as he scanned the living room and peeked into the kitchen. The apartment was two-bedroom and roomier than the efficiency he and Gwen had back in Vinton.

“Yeah, it’s okay.” Morgan ran his hands through his messy blond hair and huffed.

“Where’s your girlfriend?” Sam tossed his bag on the couch and sat.

“I don’t have one.”

“I thought you were seeing that Megan girl?”

Morgan shuffled over to Sam and parked next to him. “There’s something I wanted to talk to you about. I—”

“Dude, really?” Sam laughed as he pointed to the laptop. On it, Morgan left Gwen’s page up and used Sam’s account to get to it. Morgan did it a lot and commented on Gwen’s stuff more than Sam did.

Morgan sat on the couch and shut his PC. “I wanted to see what her new boyfriend was like. Maybe he’s fake.” Hope sparked inside him, and he spoke with a quick tongue. “Do you think he is?”

“He’s not fake. He’s some guy who works at Langley. I think Dad knows him, so that’s why she won’t tell us who he is.” Sam took out his phone and handed it to Morgan. “Look. She sent me pictures of his house and places he takes her. He’s loaded.”

“How old is he?” Morgan scrolled through the photos Gwen sent her brother and grimaced.

“I don’t know. I’m guessing he’s older than her because he’s got money. Guys our age don’t make shit.” He changed the subject. “So, what do you want to talk about?” Sam put his feet up on the coffee table and snatched the remote. He channel surfed and clicked through the shows.

“Gimme a sec and I’ll show you.” Morgan held up a finger as he typed Gwen a message.

[Sam] You sleep over at the suit’s house again?

“Are you seriously texting her right now?” Sam groaned and shook his head.

“Yeah. She answers you.” Morgan started a texting conversation with Gwen once she responded.

[Gwen] No. I’m working. How’s Morgan?

[Sam] Great. You should see his pad. You’d love it.

[Gwen] And how many used condoms does that asshole have in his garbage?

Morgan released a sigh through his nostrils and ran his fingers through his hair. He wanted to snip back, but he didn’t.

[Sam] Why the hell would I check that?

[Gwen] Because I asked you to.

[Sam] No, because you’re jealous.

[Gwen] I AM NOT JEALOUS! I hate Morgan Tanner! I wish he’d disappear off the Earth, so I never have to hear his stupid name ever again! He’s a selfish jerk who only thinks of himself and is a huge man slut.

“Times up. Let me see how bad you did.” Sam ripped the phone from his friend and chuckled at the messages. “Smooth. You really fucked that up.” He pointed to the photo on Morgan’s wall. It was from a Kats’ game a few years ago, Sam posing with Morgan and Gwen. “Should I take a shot of that and send it to her? Tell her how pathetic you are?”

“I’m not,” Morgan grumbled as he pulled his cell out of his shorts pocket. He scrolled through his photos to find the photo he wanted.

“And dude, I didn’t come here to join your pity party, so stop fucking sulking like some chick. My sister isn’t that great.” Sam shoved his phone in his pocket and pointed to the door. “I came to hang out with my best friend. Do some fun shit around the city. Let’s leave the girl shit and forget about my sister while I’m—”

Morgan flashed a photo of a diamond ring he took at a jewelry shop. “What’s the chances of Gwen saying ‘yes’ again?”

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