Emile Giroux has vowed he will be everything his stepfather is not: cultured, charming, sophisticated, and—above all else—a rich, successful NHL star. One of the top goalies in the league, the French Canadian strives for more, still haunted by his troubled childhood.
Amy Callahan was a freelance professional organizer until an ambitious, domineering boyfriend took over her life and cleaned out her bank account. Once indispensable to the stars, Amy now finds herself with no money, no house, no phone, and nowhere to go.
When Emile finds Amy literally kicked to the curb, he seizes his latest chance to rescue a damsel in distress—only Amy doesn’t want to play that game. In fact, she’s determined to put men on ice in her life permanently. Can they find a way to let love win?
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Stephanie Jones and Jean Hovey write together as Alicia Hunter Pace. Stephanie lives in Jasper, Alabama. She is a native Alabamian who likes football, civil war history, and people who follow the rules. She is happy to provide a list of said rules to anyone who needs them. Jean lives in Decatur, AL, with her husband in a hundred-year-old house that always wants something from her. She likes to cook but has discovered the joy of Mrs. Paul’s fish fillets since becoming a writer.
An excerpt from Face Off: Emile:
Where was Cameron? It had been more than two hours now since he’d dropped Amy off at Piece by Piece. At first, she’d been patient, but then after an hour, she’d been annoyed. That was when she’d tried to call him and found that her phone wasn’t working. It wasn’t dead exactly—she could see the time and date—but the phone wouldn’t unlock.
After her experience in Piece by Piece, she’d felt too awkward and conspicuous to stand in front of the shop, so she’d walked across the street and stood to watch for him. After the same couple had passed her twice, she’d gotten the feeling that people were looking at her, so she’d moved locations every ten minutes or so, never getting too far from where Cameron expected her to be. She didn’t dare go into a shop, in case she missed him.
Now she was worried, terrified. What if he was dead? That had to be it. Or dying. He would not have left her sitting here for two hours. She wished a policeman would walk by so she could ask for help. Or a man or woman of the cloth. Of course, she wouldn’t know one without a clerical collar. Nuns should never have been allowed to stop wearing habits. She wasn’t Catholic, but a nun would help her. She was sure of it.
These were hysterical thoughts. Amy knew that. But there was reason there, too. Maybe she should start walking until she found a church or a police station. That nice Noel would probably help her, but she’d rather find a nun. Though if she left here, Cameron would surely come back and wouldn’t know where she was. He’d probably been trying to call her and tell her why he was delayed.
If he was still alive.
For what seemed like the millionth time, the sound of an approaching car made her heart leap. But it was only that French hockey player in a car that looked like it belonged to a radio station. Maybe he worked as a deejay part time.
And great. He was getting out. She’d wished for a nun and gotten a hockey player/deejay.
“Hello.” And he wasn’t just passing by. He stopped in front of her. “I was in the quilting shop before when you were there.”
“Yes.” She had nothing to do with her hands—no phone, no coffee, no cigarette. Never mind that she didn’t smoke or drink coffee. Wait! Her bullet journal was in her purse. She pulled it out, along with the navy-blue LePen she liked to use when making new notations. She could start a new page: What to Do When You Are Left with No Phone, No Money, No Credit Card, and No Nun. Except she didn’t have any bullet points to make, because she didn’t know what to do.
“You are sitting with your friend the scarecrow?” He spread that gorgeous mouth into a smile she would have enjoyed if she’d been of a mind to enjoy anything.
Amy nodded. “Lovely weather.” Now, go away!
“Can I help you in some way?”
Was it that obvious that she needed help?
“No, no. I am waiting for my . . . er . . . fiancé.”
“Is he late?”
Did this man have a crystal ball in that ridiculous car?
“A bit,” she admitted. “I’m sure he’s tried to call, but my phone suddenly stopped working.”
His brown eyes danced like magic. “So, I can help you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. “You would like to, maybe, use my phone to call him?”
The phone he held out to her looked like a lifeline—a lifeline with a custom phone case with a picture of this man spread-eagle on the ice in front of a hockey goal. Across the top it said “Emile Giroux, French Kiss” in silver metallic letters. Not that she cared. It was a phone and he was offering it to her.
“Yes.” She took the phone. “If you don’t mind. That’s so kind.”
“I hope you know the number.” He stepped over and leaned a shoulder on the building. “Me? I am bad with numbers. I depend on my phone to tell them to me.”
“I don’t know phone numbers as I should.” She opened her bullet journal. “Luckily, I have important numbers written down.” When all else failed, you could trust pen and paper.
“So your phone isn’t out of charge? But will not work. Funny.” He frowned like he was trying to reason it out. He probably thought she hadn’t paid her bill. And she hadn’t. Cameron did that. She was pretty sure he had it set up to auto pay.
No matter. She punched in the number. Pretty soon, Cameron would answer and all this would be resolved.
Except he didn’t.