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Superstar (ebook)

Superstar (ebook)

Rookie Rebels

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She's snowbound with the hot hockey player who hates her ... but hates that he wants her even more.


  • Enemies to lovers
  • Only one bed
  • Second chances
  • Hockey romance
  • Band of brothers
  • Hot tub shenanigans


He never saw her coming …

After almost a year away from hockey, Bastian Durand’s return to the game should be a triumph.

Instead he’s taken down by the Chicago Rebels mascot.

It can’t get worse. Or maybe it can. Because the human inside the Rowdy Rebel costume is none other than Pepper Calhoun.

His friend’s sister.

His coach’s daughter.

And the woman Bastian has wanted for the longest time.

Pepper has always been a magnet for bad luck and now she’s ruined superstar Bast Durand’s big comeback. So that tracks. Everyone, from her father and brother to the fans and press, heck, even the NHL commissioner, hates her.

Everyone but the one guy who should.

Hiding away is the only thing she can think of, except Bast has the same idea. To her utter dismay, he’s determined to protect Pepper from anyone who dares breathe a word against her.

And to convince her that crashing on the ice isn’t all that different from … falling in love.

Chapter One Look Inside

“And I know you all recognize this guy! It’s everyone’s favorite power forward—Bast Durand!”

“Jesus, what are we? Chopped liver?” Reid nudged his brother—everyone’s favorite power forward—as the kids on the Lurie Children’s oncology ward cheered on. 

Bast grinned at Reid. “Jealousy is a good look on you, bro. That green tinge gives your skin an olive glow.”

“Hilarious.” Reid barely cracked a smile but then that was par for the course.

Never were brothers more different. Two years younger than Reid, twenty-six year old Bast was generally the optimistic, sunny Durand while Reid was the characteristic definition of a grump. He had reason to be, given how Bast’s father, Hall of Famer Henri Durand—Bast’s bio-dad and Reid’s stepfather—had pitted them against each other as rivals from an early age. Bast liked to think they’d risen above that, and now that they lived in the same city at last, they were finally becoming friends.

Who would’ve believed it after the events this past December? The great cross-town rivalry between Chicago’s hockey franchises was lately embodied by two Canadian brothers who notoriously did not get along—a narrative that was only twenty-three percent true. The press liked to create their own fairytales. Whatever it took to get clicks.

Reid had come on board the Chicago Rebels roster last year and what a year it had been. Rescued a dog, fell for a girl, nabbed a three-year contract after years of being the fucking new guy with several other teams. On the other side of town, Bast had been steady with the Hawks until last December when he broke his wrist during a clash with Reid on the ice.

The press had loved that. 

Their dad, not so much.

Three months later, Bast’s wrist was on the mend, and his appointment with the Hawks’ PT this afternoon was going to tell him what he needed to hear: he would be well enough for the playoffs.

But first there was the PR stuff, a fun way to fill his time during his rehab. He was especially enjoying the mix of players from both Chicago teams. It never hurt to remind the Rebels that Bast Durand was still a star, even when injured.

“Hey, Bast, we’d love a pic of you and Cecy.” Emily, the Hawks’ PR lead, motioned for him to get closer to a little girl in a wooly hat playing with a cuddly toy, a gray rat-bird thing wearing a Rebels jersey. Not even his team! Still, he could be magnanimous.

No one was more magnanimous than Bast Durand.

“Hey, Cecy!” He took a seat beside her on the pink rubber mat and pointed at the toy. “I had no idea they made the jerseys that small. Who’s this?”

“This is Rowdy.”

Right, Rowdy Rebel, the Rebels’ mascot. Whoever had come up with the design for this thing must have been having an off day. Maybe he’d had a fender bender on the way to work or spilled coffee on his laptop or someone stole his lunch from the staff breakroom fridge. Or maybe all three. Because as mascots went, this was probably the worst one in the league. At least the Hawks’ mascot looked like a bird of prey. This thing seemed to have skipped several steps in the evolutionary chain. Was it a fox or a cat? Maybe a duck?

Cecy pushed the Rowdy toy into his face, close enough for him to see its beady eyes and ugly whiskers. “Want to kiss her?”

“Course I do!” He landed a smacker on Rowdy’s rodent-like head. “So, Cecy, who’s your favorite player?”

“Smooth, Durand, real smooth.” That comment came from Theo Kershaw, D-Man with the Rebels.

Bast grinned. “Just makin’ conversation, Kershaw.”

“I like Hudson Grey,” Cecy said because kids rarely kowtowed to the egos of big-shot hockey players. “But he’s not here.”

“Nah, but you know something? He’s missing out big time.”

She put her ear to Rowdy’s mouth—beak?—and listened. With a diffident glance up at him, she said, “Rowdy thinks you’re pretty good.”

“You’re one of her favorites,” an older voice chimed in. An elderly grandma type had taken a seat beside Cecy. 

“Who? Rowdy’s or Cecy’s?”

Grandma winked, the cheeky minx. “Cecy loves hockey and is crazy about the Hawks and the Rebels.”

“Oh, yeah? That’s pretty rare, Cecy. Most people stick to the one team.” 

He took a closer look. She couldn’t have been more than ten—though the way cancer ravaged these kids’ little bodies had the unnerving effect of making them look both younger and older. “That’s a cool hat. Where I come from we call that a toque.”

The hat was in the Hawks’ red and purple and was probably the worst example of a knitted cap he’d ever seen, all crooked with uneven chevrons. But it looked warm on top of Cecy’s hairless head and was probably made by her grandmother.

Confirming his suspicion, Gran had a big smile on her face as she held another toque in her outstretched hands. “I made one for you.”

“Love. It.” And he did, despite the dodgy design. The heart that had gone into this made him smile. “Are you Cecy’s mom? Or maybe her sister?”

The woman giggled. “You are a cheeky one, aren’t you? I’m this one’s grammie and probably your biggest fan, Bast Durand.”

“Only probably?”

“Okay, absolutely.” Another girlish giggle as he pulled the hat on. “I’m Gwen by the way.” She blinked as PR Emily snapped a photo.

“Great to meet you, Gwen. Hey, Ems, get one of me and Cecy wearing our hats, created by Gwen the Knitmeister.” He leaned in close and placed an arm around her frail body. Pulling on the little one’s toque bobble, he earned a shy grin. 

Gwen placed her hand on Bast’s arm and gently squeezed. “You’re such a nice guy, Bast. I just knew you would be in person.”

That’s what people said about him, and he enjoyed living up to their expectations. He was the peacekeeper, the bon vivant, everyone’s friend and no-one’s enemy, not even his so-called rivals here. He caught Reid’s smirk, but he didn’t care. 

The last three months had been rough—though he was careful to keep that to himself. Reid didn’t need to feel any more guilty than he already did. Sure Bast had missed the regular season and the Olympics, but he’d managed to smile his way through. No point in complaining, not when he was this close to wiping the slate clean.

He was on his way back. 

Playoffs, here I come.

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