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Jock Wanted (ebook classic cover)

Jock Wanted (ebook classic cover)

Rookie Rebels

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She has her heart set on a hockey player. Any hockey player.

Original classic cover version. Also available with an illustrated cover.


  • Fake relationship with a twist
  • Age gap
  • Opposites attract
  • Hockey romance
  • Fling to forever
  • Animal hi-jinks


She has her heart set on a hockey player.

Any hockey player.

When the new general manager of the Chicago Rebels tasks Tara Becker with faking it with one of his players to help clean up the naughty jock's act, she's all over it. She'll make that misbehaving hunk of muscle look good and get her dream guy into the bargain.

Only the path from fake to real is riddled with thorns . . .

New GM Hale Fitzpatrick thinks ditzy blonde and wannabe WAG Tara is the perfect solution to his PR problem - until she isn't. Soon Fitz realizes that maybe he doesn't have control of the strings after all . . . especially when he starts to fall for his pretty little puppet.

A fake relationship hockey romance - with a twist!

Chapter One Look Inside

Hale Fitzpatrick had a problem.

This wasn’t unusual—as the newly-minted general manager of the Chicago Rebels, problems were to be expected. He’d been brought on to “manage” and part of that was fixing pesky issues as they arose. A team of people existed to help him with this. The resources of a multi-million dollar sports franchise were at his disposal. Plus Hale, or Fitz as he was generally known to friends and enemies alike, could usually fix six impossible problems before he’d drunk his second cup of morning coffee.

So why was today’s problem such a pain in his ass?

He looked up from the video detailing this problem into the bloodshot eyes of the man responsible for it. Fitz had dealt with skater punks like Dex O’Malley before. A player at the last franchise Fitz managed had crashed into a police car while driving drunk and Fitz got him off with a suspended sentence and a 90-day stint in rehab. Six months later, that player lifted the Stanley Cup. 

This new problem should be well within Fitz’s skillset. Dex, a newer forward with the Rebels, currently on injured reserve, had been a naughty boy, and naughty boys were Fitz’s specialty.

But the naughty boy had to want to cooperate.

“I’m not dating that.” Reinforcing his bad boy/annoying little punk attitude, Dex slumped in his seat, crossed his arms, and screwed up his mouth. “I date models, man. Women with legs for miles and amazing bodies. You want me to go against my nature? No one will believe that.”

Fitz slid a look at Sophie, the Rebels newly-promoted PR manager. She was young, possibly a little too young for this job, but she looked unperturbed, which was good because at least one of them should be less inclined to punch a team asset in the mouth.

In the two months since he’d been acquired from Nashville, Dex had spent less time rehabbing his shoulder and more time hitting clubs and making headlines. Hockey wasn’t usually the kind of sport that tickled the tabloids, but Dex was making sure everyone knew he was the NHL poster boy for bad behavior. And as most of his on-camera shenanigans were sexual—never a good look in public and especially not in this millennium—the Rebels management had decided to take action. The team was in the final weeks of the regular season, the time to make a push to the playoffs. Dex O’Malley needed to focus.

Forcing him to go without sex for a couple of months was probably too much to expect. So PR had hatched a plan: public Dex would be seen with a more suitable partner and private Dex could do whatever he wanted as long as it wasn’t caught on camera.

Sophie had a stable of women on tap—actresses, Fitz assumed—who could be hired for this sort of thing. She had chosen women with wholesome looks who wouldn’t have looked out of place on an Amish farm and had offered them to Dex like a restaurant menu. 

A chain establishment, where the menus had pictures of plastic versions of the food.

Fitz picked up one of the photos, an apple-cheeked blonde who looked like she regularly skied cross-country to her voluntary gig at the puppy shelter. Probably in Wisconsin. “So she doesn’t look like the clubbing type. Which is rather the point.”

Sophie took up the thread. “We need someone who will temper some of your, uh, less desirable traits.”

Dex sniffed. “I don’t see what the big deal is about that last batch of photos from TMZ. You can barely see her pu—”

Fitz held up a hand. “You can see enough. They put a blob over it.”

“That blob is there to make it seem like she wasn’t wearing panties.” Dex sounded almost disillusioned at the lengths an online tabloid would go to get clicks. “She was wearing, like flesh color ones. That rag makes its money on pretending there’s shit to see here.”

“Sure. But the video is a bit more problematic, isn’t it? You’re having sex with two women in public.”

“It was the VIP part of the club, man! It’s supposed to be private. No phones allowed.”

“Surprise, surprise, someone broke the phone rule and filmed you getting your rocks off. And more.”

“Well, yeah, it’s a good thing they showed more. Otherwise I’d have come off as, I dunno, ungenerous or something.” He raised his gaze to Sophie, adding a devilish grin. “And I’m not, as you can see and hear. That redhead was screaming when my tongue—”

“We all saw and heard,” Fitz bit out. “No need to sell your skills here.” 

Sophie pressed her lips tightly, barely fighting a smile. The last thing Fitz needed was for Dex’s charms to start working on the front office staff. One targeted look from Fitz, and she wilted under his scrutiny.

“What it comes down to is this: you will be staying away from clubs and will be attending a schedule of events that we approve. As no one will believe you can actually go for a week without getting busy, we will introduce you to a nice, sweet woman who will keep your public profile on the straight and narrow.” Dex opened his mouth but Fitz raised a hand. “Details forthcoming. As you’re still on IR for the foreseeable future, your movements are restricted to the physio, the practice rink, and home. Now, get going. You’re late for morning skate.”

A mutinous-looking O’Malley left Fitz’s office grumbling under his breath. Fitz didn’t care. He’d promised the team owner, Harper Chase, that he’d take care of this. That he was the man for the job.

Fitz had to get this situation under control so he could return to the item on the top of his to-do list: poaching Bastian Durand from Chicago’s other hockey franchise, the Hawks.

Left alone with Sophie, he took another hard look at the gallery of goodness, each so wholesome his teeth hurt. “He’s got a point. No one would believe he’d date anyone with a modicum of class. Any chance we could hire a woman who’s a little more O’Malley’s speed?”

Sophie grinned. “He’s kind of charming in a trashy kind of way.”

“Do not be taken in. We need to find someone we can control, who will respect the NDA, and can keep his attention until we make the playoffs. By then, if he’s made an impact, the other players will keep him in line. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing, but right now, he’s too new to be susceptible to that.”

Fitz strummed the desk with his fingers. This shouldn’t be so hard. 

* * *

Three days later …

“Oh, God, there’s a new shot of Dex.” 

Tara Becker looked up from her macchiato to cast a quick glance at the phone screen of her friend, Mia Wallace.

“Yeah, saw it this morning.” That saucy devil had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar again, where “cookie jar” meant patting the ass of his latest date, a wide-eyed blonde who wouldn’t have looked out of place in the front pew of a church on Sunday. “Some idiot thought ‘let’s fix Dex up with his complete opposite.’”

“Like some sweet young innocent. An elementary school teacher type or a—” 

“A veterinary assistant.”

Mia nodded enthusiastically. “Right, some chick who looks after puppies or kids. That’s what the PR people think would work.”

“What do they know?” Tara spent a lot of time with the Rebels wives and girlfriends, who were the best focus group possible. None of them believed this latest pairing for a hot second. “Bet he sabotaged it, the handsy mutt.”

Mia murmured sagely, “He’s too hard-headed.”

“And we’re talking both heads. That boy has a lot of energy.” Tara tapped a nail on the table. “Probably actresses, right?”

“That’s what Iz said.” Isobel Chase, team co-owner and skating coach, was married to Mia’s brother Vadim Petrov, the Rebels captain. “It’s not like PR can trawl actual vets’ offices and puppy shelters looking for the perfect fake girlfriend for a pro-athlete with an overabundance of sexual energy.”

Tara chuckled. “They could start in coffee shops. I’m right here!”

Mia laughed with her, then turned serious. “That’s not actually a bad idea. He needs someone he can’t treat as a doormat, who knows the culture. But …”

“But …”

Her friend looked thoughtful. “I’m just not sure Dex would be a good option because what if you fell for him?”

Tara had made no secret of her desire to land a player. She had good reasons, but she wasn’t sure this was the way to go about it. “Not likely, he’s so immature. But I could totally help him work off some of that energy!” 

“I bet he’s a handful.”

“At least a two-hander, which I can tell from my careful frame-by-frame examination of that video.”

“Tara!” Mia snorted and devolved into a fit of giggles. Tara loved that funny little sound her friend made when she laughed, a kind of whispering wheeze. It was so damn wholesome, kind of like Mia herself. 

People thought it strange they were close. After all, Mia was now engaged, as of six whole days, to Cal Foreman, Tara’s ex. In the eyes of the world, Tara was hovering like an emotional vulture, waiting for a fissure in the relationship, one she could widen and use to her advantage. 

Not her agenda at all.

Tara just liked Mia. Since they had met in this very coffee shop eight months ago—though they’d met unofficially during an unfortunate bouquet-catching incident at Levi Hunt’s wedding a few days before that—Tara and Mia had been inseparable, veering on bestie territory. So Tara didn’t tell her everything and Mia kept some of the juicier details about her relationship with Cal close to her chest out of misplaced delicacy for Tara’s feelings. But they were tight in all the ways that mattered.

After the laughter died down, Tara asked, “So what do the players think of Dex’s wandering dick? Has Cal said anything? Or your brother?”

Mia sighed. “Cal’s not interested in playing mentor, but Vad tried talking to him.”

“Well, the Czar of Pleasure used to rule the nightclubs back in the day. If anyone could understand Dex’s attraction to the VIP lounges, it’s Vadim Petrov. No offense to your brother, babe.”

Mia held up a hand. “None taken. Vad was indeed Manwhore Prime in his misspent youth, but Dex just waved him off when he tried to offer advice. Might have even called him ‘old man,’ so now my brother has washed his hands of it.”

“Tip of the yikesberg!” Tara sat back in her chair and folded her arms. “If it’s at the point where the captain is out … Makes you wonder what this new GM is even doing to fix it. Wouldn’t have happened on Dante Moretti’s watch, that’s for sure.”

A shadow fell across her sight line, and she looked up. 


Hale Fitzpatrick, the Rebels’ new-ish general manager loomed over her. Because of course he was here. 

He had a large cup in his hand and Tara could just make out the code for Americano on the label, which meant he had been waiting on the other side of the bar—out of view, the big sneak—and probably overheard everything.

This had to be at least the third time she’d been caught flapping her gums about him behind his back. 

“Hey, Fitz,” Mia said cheerfully, smoothing over the awkward pause. “Can’t get a decent cup of joe at the compound?”

“Something like that. I hear congratulations are in order. Gold and diamonds.”

She held up her left hand, flashing the sparkly gem given to her by Cal in Beijing, the day she won Olympic gold with Team USA. “I don’t wear the medal as it clashes.”

His lips curled ever-so-slightly before returning to the grim seal of before as he turned his gaze on Tara. Gone was the easy manner, in its place a harder, disapproving edge.

A native of Georgia and a former hockey player with a couple of decent runs to the Finals a decade and a half ago, he had taken over as manager at the beginning of the year when Dante Moretti retired to become a stay-at-home dad. Six weeks in and the pressures were already evident. 

Or maybe he always looked like Tara was stepping on his last nerve. 

Not conventionally handsome, the new GM wore the guise of a street fighter, inhabiting a face with character and experience. A couple of small scars didn’t even manage to mar it, just made him look more interesting. His was the kind of face you could explore forever.

His hair was too long, though, and hued a mahogany that should have been boring but wasn’t. Natural copper streaks gave it a pop it didn’t deserve and made his blue eyes burn a distinct shade of cobalt. As if he needed any more assistance to attract women, with that square jaw, strong brow, and aquiline nose.

Not Tara, however. His charisma and rough-hewn good looks pinged her radar from an objective standpoint, but that was it. He was older than her usual demo, for a start. She’d made a few comments about his age before, purely to earn a quick laugh from her girlfriends, and he’d overheard and called her on it. She’d felt foolish, but then that wasn’t unusual. In company, she was often the too-loud, too-brash, too-shallow one. People enjoyed that about her—Tara with her goofy outbursts and silly ways.

But with Hale Fitzpatrick staring at her now, she felt more than foolish. 

She felt judged.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it,” he finally said after an age of withering-on-the-vine scrutiny. “Have a good afternoon.”

Tara watched him walk away, that confident swagger, those broad shoulders. Mr. Stealth Attack himself.

“Do you think he heard us talking about Dex?”

Mia shrugged. “Probably. Doesn’t hurt for him to get another opinion.”

“I always feel like a …”

“Like a what?”

“An idiot around him. He’s one of those uber confident guys who looks at you like you’re a bug in a glass.”

Mia brushed it off. “Don’t let him intimidate you, but maybe in the future, attach a mirror to the back of your head so you know where he is at all times!”

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