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They gave me an office, close to the head coach, and I made myself at home. Or at least as home as you can be when all you have with you is a notebook and a trusted set of rainbow pens. They’d given me access to their closed systems and I had a wired-in terminal for that; I wasn’t allowed to use my laptop to look at the raw data. This was cool, and no different to any of the other times I’d worked with the big teams.
If word got out, for example, that a certain player did X, Y or Z, when in situation A, B or C, then that could be used by any team who got hold of it. The data was sensitive, the analytics I did even more so. Since yesterday and the whole coffee shop incident I had been working more on the stats for Goog, and just out of interest I’d pulled in more raw information on Taz at the same time. He was impressive, on paper, and in person, and if I touched my mouth I could feel the scrape of his stubble and the softness of his lips on mine.
Being attracted to a player is something that is on the wrong list. Firstly, he works for my employers, while I’m contracted to the Rush then they own my ass, and I can’t be giving it out to someone they pay a salary to. Secondly, anyone in a relationship with a skater would play second fiddle to the game.
Wait, how did I get from attraction to a relationship?
I cracked my neck, extended and wiggled my fingers, and then logged into the system. I needed to work and contemplating kissing hockey players had to go on the back burner.
I lost track of time, I always do when the numbers take over. Someone, I think her name is Jenny, dropped in with coffee, on two separate occasions, but to be honest I didn’t drink either until they were cold. Curse of the intensity I find when I’m faced with data. I don’t see the list of random numbers the same as other people, that much is certain, in fact, I see patterns even before I start analyzing. Coach Cole wanted me to focus on the third and fourth lines, comparing and contrasting to cohort data. Of course, I didn’t have all the data on the other AHL teams in this league, so that was my first stumbling block. I had the industry available data, but the rest of it I had to find myself from various sources.
Every so often I would hear people passing my door, the loud ones anyway. Coach Cole was loud, and I was sure I heard Henry’s voice raised in argument at least twice. He seemed to be a toxic element in this place and needed watching.
You know, that is one thing my analytics can’t take into account. The management of a team often informs success and failure. This was one of those random spanners in the works.
There was a knock at the door, and I called come in before I had a chance to worry about who it was. What if it was Taz with his sex appeal and his lips and those damn muscles. It wouldn’t be Taz. Why would it be him?
The door opened then closed behind the visitor who leaned back against the door and smirked at me.
In my office. Leaning there like he didn’t have a care in the world, and as if the smirk he was using wouldn’t mix me up inside and make me lose all my intelligence in one go.
“Can I help you?” I asked, attempting to keep everything on the level.
“I got you this,” he said and placed a take-out cup from Eenie Beanie, with his name on the side. “I asked the barista yesterday what you drank.”
I blinked up at the man who exuded self-assurance and had clearly conned some poor unsuspecting worker at Eenie Beanie into give out confidential information.
“That’s private information,” I began, then realized I was talking garbage. “Whatever,” I ended lamely.
“I hope you like it.”
“You’re welcome. Try it.”
“I will,” I said, and waited for him to go.
“I’ll go after you’ve tried it, I need to know it’s okay.”
I opened the top, and inhaled the aroma of coffee, and saw the generous foam on top with a sprinkling of chocolate. I sipped the drink and let out a soft groan of appreciation. I didn’t realize how good hot coffee tasted until after drinking two cold ones today. I looked up to say how good it was, but he’d moved, and he was leaning on my desk, his hands braced. Then in as smooth a move as yesterday he stole another kiss, and I felt his tongue press against the seam of my mouth. I tilted my head to deepen the kiss, but he stepped back and away.
“You had some cream,” he said, and pressed a finger to his own lips. “Just there.”
I was lost for words. What did he want me to say now? I licked my lip where he indicated and tasted nothing but him and me.
“You can’t do that,” I spoke softly, because I was using words I didn’t want to say. “You can’t keep kissing me like that.”
He moved away then, back to the door. “What if I wanted to?” he asked. Then with a wink, he left.
I stared at the closed door for a long time, but I drank the coffee while it was hot.
This man was dangerous. I knew it. The last time I’d fallen for a hockey player, things had gone badly wrong, and that had been kids’ stuff compared to the promise that was in that kiss. I forced the kiss, the coffee, the smirk, and the wink out of my mind and tried to lose myself in numbers again.
Numbers were my safe place.
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