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Good Guy (ebook)

Good Guy (ebook)

Rookie Rebels

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He's a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She's a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She's also his best friend's widow . . .

Also available with the original classic cover, a Kate Meader Store exclusive.


  • Grumpy-sunshine
  • Pining for years
  • Best friend's widow
  • Hockey romance
  • Former military
  • Band of brothers


He's a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She's a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She's also his best friend's widow . . .

Fans can’t get enough of Levi Hunt, the military veteran who put his NHL career on hold to serve his country and fight the bad guys. So when his new Chicago Rebels bosses tell him to cooperate with the press on a profile, he’s ready to do his duty. Until he finds out who he has to work with: flame-haired, freckle-splashed, impossibly perky Jordan Cooke.

The woman he should not have kissed the night she buried her husband, Levi’s best friend in the service.

Hockey-stick-up-his-butt-serious Levi Hunt might despise Jordan for reasons she can’t fathom—okay, it’s to do with kissing—but her future in the cutthroat world of sports reporting hangs on delivering the goods on the league’s hottest, grumpiest rookie. So what if he’s not interested in having his life plated up for public consumption. Too bad. Jordan will have to play dirty to get her scoop and even dirtier to get her man. Only in winning the story, she might just lose her heart . . .

In this standalone romance set in the Chicago Rebels world, a new generation of players take to the ice and learn that all’s fair in love and hockey.

Chapter One Look Inside

Levi Hunt had survived Special Forces training, which made SEALs’ Hell Week look like a tweens’ summer camp. He’d lived through multiple tours of Afghanistan when it seemed that everyone and his aunt was trying to kill him in wildly inventive ways. Last night, he’d choked down goalie Erik Jorgenson’s surprise mac and cheese welcome meal—the surprise was pickled herring—and had not spent the rest of the evening hurling chunks for his country. But he had serious doubts he was going to get through a whole season of Theo Kershaw talking about the thickness of his own ass.

Except for a not-placed-well-enough towel in one hand, Chicago Rebels defenseman Kershaw stood naked before a full-length mirror in the practice facility’s locker room gazing at his ass’s reflection. 

“I can’t believe I’m the only one with this problem. Hey, Burnett, you feelin’ me on this?”

“Unsubscribe,” groaned Cade Burnett, another D-man, as he pulled on sweatpants. “Already told you I’ve got eyes for one ass only and that’s my guy’s.”

Kershaw’s eyebrows dipped in a V. “Not looking for your admiration, Alamo. I’m just trying to get a consensus on how big a problem this is in the NHL.” He turned to Levi. “Navy, what are your measurements?”


“Yeah, because of your time with the Navy SEALs. Trying it out to see if it fits.”

“First, I was in Special Forces, aka the Green Berets. Second, you want to know how wide my ass is?”

“I have major problems finding pants that fit. I’ve got these gorgeous, trim hips and perfect waist, but the glutes …” He slapped his right buttock, leaving a red mark and the rest of the team cracking up. “It’s so hard to get pants to go up and over these bad boys.”

Pretty funny what guys felt comfortable with in a locker room. Levi’d had this in-your-face camaraderie in college and in the service, but he’d expected pro hockey would be a bit more adult.

Apparently he was wrong.

His head was still spinning at the speed of his career trajectory. Four months ago, he’d received his discharge papers from Special Forces, acquired an agent, and put himself on the market. Ten weeks ago, he’d signed on for a fall start with the Chicago Rebels AHL affiliate, the Rockford Royals. Spending a year or two in the feeder league to get game-tough seemed as good a plan as any. He’d spent nine years off competitive ice after all. 

But then disaster struck—for someone else. Garrick Jones, one of the Rebels’ centers fractured his arm during a preseason game six days ago. The next morning, Levi was on the practice rink in Riverbrook, home base of the Rebels. Just like that.

“Get your pants made custom,” Rebels captain Vadim Petrov said to Kershaw as he walked out of the shower in a cloud of steam. The guy made millions in modeling endorsements so this entrance was definitely on brand. “Then your beautiful, thick ass will be covered.”

Theo pointed at Vadim. “We’re not all Russian billionaires. I’m doing okay, but I’d rather not slap down a few thousand buckaroos every time I need a suit. Not when the pants end up splitting because my glutes are so damn powerful.”

The entire locker room lost it. 

“You’ve got super glutes, Kershaw,” Levi said. “Hey, that has a nice ring to it.”

“Don’t even think of it, New Guy. I already have a nickname.”

Facing an ass-free mirror, Cade scrubbed a clump of gel through his hair. “You mean Lightning? Which you invented yourself.” 

Surely not. “You self-assigned your nickname?”

“And it’s starting to catch on! Like Lightning.”

Vadim curled his lips in aristocratic disgust. “In your wet dreams, Theo. You cannot come up with your own nickname. That is the rule.”

Jorgenson walked out of the showers, munching on a power bar. Apparently the Swede brought food with him everywhere he went because who’d want to risk going hungry for ten long minutes while soaping up your balls? 

“Rule for what?”

“Kershaw coming up with his own nickname,” Cade said. “But the new guy thought of a better one. Superglutes.”

Erik took a long, hard look at Theo’s ass. “I can see that.”

“He’s got super glutes, super glutes, he’s super glute-y!” Right-winger Ford Callaghan sang it to the tune of Super Freak.

Soon the whole team was singing the new version while Theo did something mildly threatening and downright unmentionable with his dick.

“Gentlemen,” a soft voice cut in. “Okay if I enter?” Levi recognized the voice as belonging to team owner Harper Chase. 

Huh. Were locker-room visits from the female ownership a common occurrence?

Theo covered up his super ass. “Yeah, we’re decent, Ms. Chase.”

In walked Harper, along with the Rebels general manager, Dante Moretti. To say that the leadership of the team was unusual would be like saying Theo Kershaw did not have an ass-splitting-pants problem that he insisted on yammering on about incessantly. Owned jointly by the three Chase sisters and managed by Moretti, the only openly gay chief executive in pro sports, the Rebels had spent the last four years smashing glass ceilings and busting every stereotype imaginable about how a team should be run. Along the way, they’d made enemies but had also found soulmates. 

If you believed in that kind of thing.

Petite, blonde, high-heeled, and steely-eyed, Harper was de facto CEO and hands on, a trait Levi had admired during a hi-how-are-ya meeting a couple of days ago. He’d also been impressed by her hockey knowledge, business savvy, and faith in him. Having spent his prime athlete years in the military, he’d missed out on what should have been the most lucrative period of his hockey career. Going straight from NCAA to the army was not a typical path, and while it made for good PR copy, donning camo fatigues and dodging bullets in inhospitable climes generally didn’t scream ‘committed’ to your chosen sport.

But the Rebels wanted him—and he planned to do them proud.

The management chit-chatted with a few of the players before Harper zeroed in on him. “Levi, if you have a moment, could you join us in Coach Calhoun’s office?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

They left, but not before Dante sent a significant glance toward his partner, Cade Burnett, and got a burner of a look in return. It was clear that the Rebels management didn’t much care for appearances. Harper was shacked up with Cajun hockey legend, Remy DuPre, now retired and playing house husband with their three kids. Another sister, Olympic medalist Isobel Chase, was married to Rebels captain, Petrov, but she still hung around doing skating consultancy. Not to be left out, the final sister, Violet, had tied the knot with Bren St. James, former captain, also retired. It was the kind of thing that filled Page Six, as if the women-in-charge thing wasn’t enough to keep those gossip hounds and haters hungry.

Acquiring a former Green Beret to make his NHL debut at the positively ancient age of thirty was likely just another day in the front office for the Rebels.

* * *

After enduring some ribbing for calling the team owner “ma’am”—sigh—Levi entered Coach Calhoun’s office two rights and a left from the locker room and found Harper seated behind the desk. Decked out in a bespoke suit complete with pocket watch, Dante stood near the window checking his phone.

“Have a seat, Levi,” Harper said.

He sat, turning the chair slightly so he had both Dante and Harper in his sightline. Old habits. Always know the location of the people and the exits.

“Good work out there, Hunt,” Dante said. “Looks like you’ve hardly missed a step since college.”

“Thanks. I’m feeling fit and ready.”

Harper smiled. “Normally we’d just let PR handle this but we figure it might be better to speak to you directly. We’ve heard you’re resistant to interviews.”

And not one, but two of the senior management had descended from the ivory tower to tell him this? “Only the ones that want to talk about my time in Special Forces and what kind of work I did. I’ve no problem talking hockey but it seems my backstory invites a lot of nosey questions.” He’d have to accept this newfound spotlight eventually, but the more he could keep undercover the better—and not just the military secrets.

Dante eyed him. “People are curious about you and they’re going to be skeptical of a guy who’s starting his NHL career so late. It’s one thing to ease in at the AHL level. Up here, there are different expectations, and one of them is to do your part to make the team look good.”

“I’m hoping my play will eventually speak for itself and I can avoid the inquisition.” The first game of the season was the day after tomorrow. As the FNG—or Fucking New Guy—he was unlikely to get ice time, yet he planned to be out there cheering for his boys.

“We understand your hesitancy, Levi, and of course, we can’t make you talk about your journey,” Harper said in a tone that said she’d do whatever the hell she wanted. “But what if we handle it right? Give people a chance to see the hard-working professional.”

“While showcasing the team’s red, white, and blue patriot cred?” Levi shot back, yielding a smirk from Harper. This woman was no dummy.

“Why not? It’s a win-win. People get to know you and the team gets some good press. I imagine we’d want to play our part and ensure you’re on the ice getting all the chances you can to prove we made the right decision in calling you up.”

If he played their PR game, he might get a guaranteed start in the early season games? His heart thumped at the notion. It was an attractive offer. But there was one thing he knew for sure: the Rebels’ bench wasn’t as deep as it would like when it came to centermen. DuPre and St. James had anchored the team before their retirements and the team was having trouble filling their big skates. Losing Jones was a significant blow, which gave Levi unexpected leverage.

Leverage he wasn’t quite ready to use. “I just want to be treated like anyone else. You called me up because you think I have something to offer. I want to earn that faith.”

“Very noble, Hunt,” Dante said, somewhat impatiently. “But you’re a unique property from a public relations point of view and it would be foolish of us not to capitalize on that. We have requests for in-depth profiles of you from a number of outlets, both local and national.”

Levi repressed a shudder at the mention of “in-depth.” He’d rather sever his left testicle. “I play puck with your PR game and you put a word in Coach’s ear about getting me ice time sooner than later?”

“We like to leave it to Coach to make game decisions,” Harper said, flicking a glance at Dante, “but we do have some influence around here.”

Yeah, he bet. No one would be ignoring “suggestions” from these two, but that’s not how he wanted to earn his spot in primetime. Playing for the Rebels might be a dream come true, but even dreams needed hard graft behind them.

From Kirkuk to Kabul, Levi had broken bread with warlords, tribal chieftains, and strongmen, and had learned to quickly discern the true power players in a room. Dante might be GM, but Harper was queen. 

He met the woman’s stern gaze. “Think I’d rather have Coach make the final call. No disrespect intended, ma’am.”

“None taken, Levi.” Was that a flash of admiration in those sea-green eyes? “Of course, you’ll be expected to chat innocuously with reporters post-game—”

“Assuming you’re even dressed for a game,” Dante cut in, clearly annoyed at Levi’s stubbornness. Pissing off your superiors was probably not the best way to ingratiate yourself, but Levi enjoyed a perverse pleasure in going against the grain even when it amounted to self-sabotage. Patience was embedded in his DNA. Given their personnel woes, the Rebels would have no choice but to eventually give him ice time.

Still, it never hurt to be gracious. “Post-game chats with the press are fine as long as it’s clear I can’t divulge details about my military service.”

“Of course.” Harper stood, those heels giving her hardly any height, yet Levi suspected that no one would want to get on the wrong side of this woman. He’d flexed his muscles and scored a point today. The next engagement would be mighty interesting.

“I expect you’re good under pressure, Levi. Looking forward to seeing what you bring.”

Join the club, Ms. Chase.

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