Home > Rebel Yule (Rookie Rebels #5.5)

Rebel Yule (Rookie Rebels #5.5)
Author: Kate Meader


1

 

 

Erik Jorgenson had fallen ass over skates for a woman twice in his life.

The first time … well, the less said about that the better. He had screwed up and it haunted him to this day.

The second time was different. At least when it happened before, he suspected the object of his affection felt some smattering of affection toward him. This time, he was certain that the woman sitting behind the desk outside the office of Chicago Rebels CEO Harper Chase hated his guts.

What he didn’t know was why.

Casey Higgins, assistant to Harper, didn’t seem like the kind of woman who would hold a grudge. If anything, she got along perfectly fine with everyone, doling out cheery greetings and wide smiles like candy. Sugar sweet, bad-for-your-diet candy, or in this case bad for Erik’s ego because none were for him. Her smile was the first thing he’d noticed when he came into the office for an appointment with Harper a year ago.

Erik had been struck.

Not because she had gorgeous legs that tapered to perfect ankles and sexy heels.

Not because she had lush waves of dark hair—really big fucking hair, if he was being honest—that he now regularly imagined gripping in his fingers.

Not even because she had eyes the color of a Swedish summer sky that lit up the room and made his pulse go boom-boom-boom like it was headed to the blue zone.

All those things were amazing, but it was the smile that clobbered him like a puck to the balls.

Back when he met her that first time, Devin in Accounting had been showing her the photocopier. She’d pressed a button, maybe the wrong button? Whatever happened, it was considered funny by the people who considered such things funny, and she smiled. A big, sunshine, all-are-welcome-here grin that made Erik think: that woman is worth knowing.

She had turned then, the smile still on her lips, and locked eyes with Erik who was standing there like an idiot waiting to be noticed. Her grin stumbled slightly, crumbled around the edges. That was okay. People were sometimes nervous around the players, not that he was a superstar or anything. He had been on the team for the last seven years, as first goaltender for five, and rarely earned the mob-like attention showered on his teammates. But people were often apprehensive at meeting pro-athletes.

“Hi,” he had said. Very profound. “I’m Erik. Pleasure to meet you.” He had extended his hand and she had looked at it like it was a gun or a bomb.

There was an awkward pause that stretched to downright uncomfortable. Accounting Guy Devin had to jump in, that’s how weird it was.

“This is Casey Higgins. She’s Harper’s new PA,” he said. “Started yesterday but she’s already broken the photocopier.” He laughed, confirming ha-ha-not-really-broken-just-funny and Erik assumed it was amusing, or had been about sixty seconds ago.

Not anymore.

Casey’s smile had vanished, her sun ducking behind a raincloud. Not a natural fade away, this was abrupt. She met Erik’s gaze and hello, total eclipse, all the light and heat drained from the room because of him.

Erik hated that. Hated that anyone would lose their joy just by looking at him.

At first he’d assumed she’d seen something behind him. On the wall was a picture of the Chicago Rebels holding the Stanley Cup, the year they won. Five years, now. That couldn’t possibly be the reason for the veil of doom that had descended on the office.

(Though it was very sad that the team hadn’t been in the running since.)

“Everything okay, Casey?”

She blinked, bringing herself back from someplace else, a location that wasn’t all that pleasant to visit. Now she was here in this place with Erik, and judging by her expression the view had not improved.

“Fine, thank you.” Very prim and proper. Super sexy but for the I hate your guts vibe threaded through it. “Mr. Jorgenson, you’re on Ms. Chase’s schedule but you’re five minutes early.”

Mr. Jorgenson? “I’m never late. It’s a bad habit.”

“Please take a seat. I’ll see if Ms. Chase is available.”

So he had, and Harper was, and when he came out of the office, Casey was nowhere to be seen.

Since that day, he had run into her several times and no matter how much he tried, the chill remained.

Any plans for the weekend, Casey?

Just relaxing.

Did you catch the game last night, Casey?

I did. You all played very well.

Want to let me take you over that desk, Casey?

Maybe another time.

So that last one was in his imagination. Polite professionalism was her superpower with an undercurrent of wouldn’t-piss-on-you-if-you-were-on-fire. He might harbor a harmless, abstract fantasy or two about her hullaballoo hair, sexy heels, and—he quickly learned—excellent rack, but she had obviously made up her mind definitively about him.

Brainless jock, perhaps, or weird foreigner. For someone who worked at a professional sports organization, she really ought to be nicer to the assets.

He had tried testing the limits, seeing if he could push her to reveal how they had come to this impasse. He’d complimented her blouse, mentioned the unseasonably warm temperatures for February/October/December, lamented the banality of plane travel. Nothing cracked her shell.

Once he’d asked if she would help him pick out some clothes.

I’m PA to the CEO, Mr. Jorgenson, not your personal assistant.

Worth a shot, he’d thought.

Then a couple of nights ago, something weird happened, or weirder than usual. Today, he planned to get to the bottom of her dislike of him.

He had arrived ten minutes early for his usual monthly check-in with Harper. He could tell this really bothered Casey.

Ms. Chase is with another appointment. Perhaps you should come back in a few minutes.

Oh, I don’t mind waiting.

That was what he was doing. Biding his time, sitting across from her, waiting for her to finish her phone conversation. Three weeks before Christmas, and the office was festively dressed with tinsel, sprigs of holly, and Balsam garlands, real ones that scented the office. On Casey’s desk sat a Dwight Schrute bobblehead figure with what looked like—was that a Belsnickel hat? It was a tiny fur cap with little bells and leaves sewn onto it. Erik loved The Office, and Dwight as Belsnickel was a favorite.

Alongside the Dwight figure was a small poinsettia, its pot covered with a shiny red wrapper. Had she brought that in herself or had someone given it to her? A boyfriend, perhaps?

Jealousy dug sharp fangs into his chest, which made no sense. She wasn’t interested and no matter how much he tried to make nice, it came off as unwelcome. Yet he felt in his bones that he was missing some piece of a tricky puzzle. That in another lifetime, they could mean something to each other.

Which was ludicrous.

She placed the phone down and turned back to her computer, but not before she flicked a glance his direction, one that managed to convey death and disdain.

Here we go. “Did you have fun at the Empty Net the other night?”

She raised her gaze, wrinkled her nose. Ultra cute. “Were you speaking to me?”

“Don’t see anyone else here.”

Lip curl of disgust. He wasn’t usually a smart-ass but this woman made him want to rattle her cage.

“I had a good time.”

“Really? You left pretty quickly. Theo was worried he might have offended you.”

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