- Author: Cassandra Carr
- Series: Safe Harbor
- Genre:LGBTTQ, Contemporary
- Cover Artist: Mina Carter
- Next Book:Safe Harbor 2: Hiding in Plain Sight
Hockey player Jason Monroe lives a double life—star defenseman and soon-to-be Olympian on the ice and closeted gay man outside the rink. A serious relationship is out of the question, and Jason makes do with anonymous sex in barroom bathrooms, not willing to take the chance on coming out as gay in a decidedly macho sport.
Advisor to the US Olympic hockey team Patrick Parker knows a thing or two about being a professional hockey player who’s not out. He’s fifteen years older than Jason, and when he senses the sexy younger man is interested, he knows he shouldn’t give in to the attraction.
The two men can’t keep their hands off each other, though, and with each heated encounter it gets harder to hide their relationship. When their world blows up around them, forcing them into the limelight, though, will their love survive or be put on ice?
His current dilemma came in the form of the woody he’d popped a couple of seconds ago when he’d gotten an eyeful of Patrick Parker as the man washed himself in the shower after the first day of USA Hockey’s pre-Olympics camp. Since it was the first day, all the players and the off-ice staff like Patrick had participated.
The fact that he’d gotten harder than a fence post looking at any man’s junk was bad enough, but one of the advisors? That was all kinds of wrong.
Usually Jason was better able to tamp down on his lust for his fellow man. He’d been doing it for years, after all. Professional sports weren’t exactly welcoming gay athletes with open arms, and he wasn’t keen on getting punched in the shower when some meathead noticed him staring. So he’d tried to condition himself, hoping if he saw enough cock, had his dick sucked enough, and fucked enough tight asses outside the locker room, he’d become desensitized to his teammates’ equipment.
The older man continued to methodically soap himself, and Jason bit his lip, trying desperately to muster up the will to turn away, to not look. Yeah, like asking him not to breathe. It was one of those dirty little secrets no one ever talked about in hockey—that your jockstrap made your cock and balls sweat like a motherfucker and, therefore, itch like crazy. If you didn’t wash thoroughly enough, you’d be feeling it for the rest of the day. That didn’t make Jason feel any better right now, though, as his brain flooded with images of other ways Patrick could be touching himself. And ways he could be touching Patrick. Or Patrick could be touching him.
Fuck. Camp is gonna suck.
When he’d glanced over the four-headed community shower stall and noticed Patrick cupping his balls, he’d barely been able to hold in a groan. The man’s equipment, even flaccid, was impressive. Yeah, and didn’t matter what his equipment looked like because Patrick was straight as a ramrod as far as he knew, so there was no way Jason was getting any closer to said equipment than he was now. Not that he would ever get involved with someone in the hockey world. That was a disaster waiting to happen.
He chuckled to himself as he thought about the word ramrod. Yeah, he had a couple of ideas for where Patrick could shove his ramrod. His ass clenched, and he sighed. Shit, he wasn’t even a bottom, and he was already picturing bending over for the guy. Jason closed his eyes and tried to think about how he needed to make sure the equipment guy sharpened his skates and how his right shoulder pad needed a little fitting tweak. It didn’t work.
Just another day in the salt mines.
* * * *
As soon as his shower was done and he’d exited the shower room, one of the assistant coaches snagged him, telling Jason his presence was required in the coaches’ office. Fucking perfect. Just what I need right now. He’d already made the Team USA Olympics squad, so it wasn’t like he was going to be cut, but that didn’t stop his heart from skipping a little as he knocked on the heavy wooden door. He heard a muffled “Come in” and stepped inside.
The head coach, Marty Banas, and damn it, the man himself, Patrick Parker, were seated on opposite sides of the desk, Patrick’s hair still wet from his shower. Marty waved Jason into the other guest chair, and Jason sat, running his damp palms down the front of his jeans as he assessed Patrick. His face revealed nothing, and Jason hoped to hell this wasn’t going to be a dressing-down for inappropriate behavior in the showers.
This shit is crazy. I need to calm down. And stop staring.
He addressed Marty. “You wanted to see me?”
“Yeah. Now don’t freak out, kid. Patrick just wanted to talk a little about your positioning.”
His gaze jerked to look at Patrick, his face no doubt belying the horror he was feeling.
“On the ice?” His voice broke on the last word, and Jason cursed to himself.
Where else, you freaking moron?
Marty spoke again, addressing Patrick. “You got this?”
The other man spoke for the first time. “Yeah, no problem. See you tomorrow.”
Marty vacated the office, and Patrick turned his chair to face Jason more fully.
“As Marty said, I wanted to point out a couple of things in regard to your defensive positioning.”
Jason figured he should listen closely, considering Patrick had been an All-Star defenseman while he played. An injury had forced him to retire, and Jason figured he was around thirty-seven now. Considering Jason was only twenty-two, in some ways, Patrick seemed ancient. Patrick had played in a different era, and the game had changed since then with the introduction of the new rules. He admonished himself. Patrick knew what he was talking about, no matter how many new strategies and systems had developed in the three or four years since he’d retired.
He nodded, running his hands over his thighs again until he realized what he was doing and forced his hands to grip the chair arms. Why the hell was he so nervous, anyway? He’d dealt with coaches since he’d started playing organized hockey at five years old. Why was this any different? Jason wasn’t fooling himself, though. It was different, because he wanted to fuck this coach. He was so screwed. Jason shifted in a vain effort to relieve the pressure on his dick.
Patrick had one of those whiteboards coaches used to draw up plays, and he began to scribble on it in marker, pointing out various scenarios and how Jason had handled them and then overlaid that with what Patrick thought was the better positioning. Jason was following along all right until he leaned in a little to get a better look and caught a whiff of spicy cologne. His gaze flew up to Patrick’s face as he shifted yet again to hide his even more interested cock, but the man was engaged in what he was doing and didn’t seem to notice.
What the hell? Why can’t I control myself? It’s never this bad.
Patrick was years older than he, and as Jason reminded himself, straight. Of course, if he wasn’t, there was little chance Jason would know about it anyway, considering there were no “out” players or staff in the NHL. Recently he’d been thinking vaguely about coming out to a few teammates he trusted, but most gay guys in the NHL were likely to stay in the closet while the passive homophobia rampant in the game remained.
Forcing himself to focus, Jason looked at the diagram. He was a smart player, but he had no idea what Patrick was talking about at that moment and didn’t want to come off as an idiot, so he nodded, choosing to remain silent. Patrick wiped off the board and started a new diagram.
“I’d like to see you cheat a little closer to the corner on the faceoff, like this,” Patrick explained, drawing an arrow from one point to another, and Jason tilted his head.
“Can I ask why?”
Patrick glanced at him. “Your defense partner isn’t as fast as you are, and you need to compensate. We all know Marcus is a great player, but if he gets caught flat-footed, you’re going to have to chase guys down. If you’re closer to the corner to begin with, you can cycle the puck out of the zone more easily.”
Patrick licked his lips, and Jason bit the inside of his cheek to keep from moaning. This was seriously fucked-up. He could not afford to be attracted to anybody involved with the Olympics or the NHL. Jason had been a bit of a lark, making the Olympic team in the first place, and this was his chance to show everyone he could be an elite player. Thinking with his dick would get him nowhere. The Games were starting in a few short months, and he couldn’t allow himself to become distracted from his goal.
The older man looked up, and Jason felt his face flame.
“Hey, Roney, you all right? You look a little flushed.”
Patrick’s eyes narrowed, and Jason forced himself not to squirm under the scrutiny. “I’m fine. Just, you know, still a little tired from practice. Haven’t gone that hard in a while.”
Why does everything sound dirty? I’m losing my mind.
“Sure, sure. Well, go get some rest. We’ve got a two-a-day tomorrow.”
“How could I forget?” Jason asked with a wry grin. Two-a-days—where the team practiced in both the morning and afternoon—were one of the many banes of a hockey player’s existence, and he wasn’t looking forward to the next day, knowing even with his superior conditioning he’d be sucking wind by the end.
“One of the reasons we chose you was your endurance. We’re hoping you won’t break down over the course of the Games like some of the other guys might.”
Patrick regarded him steadily, and Jason felt his heartbeat quicken.
“I fought for you to make the team, and I have faith in you.”
Jason swallowed, his throat tight. “Thank you, sir.”
Patrick grinned. “Sir? You must be feeling out of whack. Call me Patrick or Patty.”
“Trying to suck up or just show respect to your elders?”
Jason’s blood pressure went through the roof as images of him sucking Patrick off flooded his addled brain.
“Listen, Roney. You don’t need to be nervous. You’re here because you deserve to be. You made it, kid. Now enjoy the opportunity and play your best. That’s all we can ask.”
Patrick started to reach out, but then his hand curled into a fist and dropped onto his leg. What was that about?
“Go ahead. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
Jason nodded and skedaddled before Patrick could get another word in. As he drove to the hotel USA Hockey had put them up in, he tried to figure out how difficult it would be to avoid Patrick until he could go back to New Jersey and start training camp for the upcoming NHL season. Highly unlikely, considering how many team functions were planned during orientation camp. Then there were the actual Olympics in a few months. Groaning, Jason wondered if he’d have enough time for a quick suck ’n’ fuck at some local gay club so he could take the edge off. Shit, he hoped so.
* * * *
Patrick packed up his stuff and headed out, hitting the button on his rental car’s remote to unlock the doors when he was a few feet away. His brain flashed back to his meeting with Jason. The kid was acting weird, and Patrick wasn’t sure what was going on. He’d been loose that morning, laughing and joking with his fellow teammates. So what was different during their meeting? Was he nervous about being yelled at? The brass at USA Hockey had spoken to his coach in New Jersey before making their final selections and had been told the kid was definitely coachable. Patrick wasn’t sure what would be different about him taking direction here.
He frowned. Come to think of it, he’d seen Jason interact with the various coaches today, including him, and he hadn’t seemed as uptight as he just had. Did the kid not like him for some reason? What had changed in only a few hours? When Patrick realized he was standing beside his car door, staring into space, he shook his head and climbed into the car for the drive back to the hotel, resolving to watch Jason tomorrow, both to see if the younger man took his advice about the positioning and to see if he acted strangely around any of the other staff. Having a player hate you was always bad for chemistry, especially when you had no idea why or what to do about it.
* * * *
The next day, Patrick was more confused than ever. He’d found himself watching Jason like a hawk, and Jason appeared to be having a great time, streaking up and down the ice during drills in the morning and working his ass off in the afternoon scrimmage. He was quick to smile and laugh, but the couple of times Patrick noticed that when Jason glanced his way as Patrick sat a few rows up from the benches, his smile had faded and he’d turned away. Never before had a player responded to Patrick that way, not while he was playing, and certainly not now that he was serving in an advisory capacity for USA Hockey and as a scout for Philly during the season.
Despite Jason’s apparent dislike of him, though, Patrick was drawn to him. When he looked down at his notes and realized the legal pad in front of him was virtually blank, and that what notes he’d managed to jot down were almost exclusively dedicated to Jason, he rubbed the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger while silently castigating himself.
In the logical part of his brain, he knew there was a possibility a player wouldn’t like him or wouldn’t jibe with him at some point in his career. Despite that, for some reason it bothered him a whole hell of a lot. Jason was a player he respected tremendously. Yes, he was young, but also incredibly talented. He had a great future ahead of him.
Doesn’t hurt that he’s smokin’ hot either.
He told his dick to shut up. Patrick had played with and been around good-looking, well-toned professional athletes for years. The guy’s physical makeup shouldn’t even be entering into his thought process. But it was. Shit. Not having a hot guy such as Jason like him was hard on a gay man’s ego, especially since Patrick wasn’t exactly a young man himself anymore. With a sigh, he tore his gaze away from Jason and forced himself to observe the other guys.
When Jason was still acting squirrelly the next day, Patrick caught up with him in the hallway outside the trainers’ room. He was losing his mind. He had to know what was up with the kid. For the past two days he’d been racking his brain, trying to figure out what he could possibly have done to bring about this change in the man’s attitude.
“Hey, Roney, wait a minute.”
Jason froze before slowly turning. His expression was stony. “Yeah?”
Patrick took a deep breath. Instead of relaxing him, the clean, woodsy scent of Jason’s cologne flooded his nostrils, and he barely held in an agonized groan. “What’s up with you?” His question came out harsher than he’d intended, and he sighed.
“What do you mean?”
The younger man wouldn’t meet his gaze, and Patrick tried to rein in his temper. What the fuck was going on?
“This,” Patrick answered, gesturing toward Jason. “Did I do something to piss you off?”
Jason’s eyes were shadowed with an unreadable emotion when he finally looked at Patrick. “No.”
“Then what’s with the attitude?”
One eyebrow rose. “Attitude?”
Patrick crowded him a little, and Jason immediately retreated, his back hitting the wall behind him.
What the fuck? Is he afraid of me?
The concept seemed ridiculous, but otherwise, why would he be acting this way?
“This,” Patrick repeated, poking Jason in the chest. “You won’t look at me, you won’t talk to me, and now you look like someone just made you eat something that smelled bad.” Jason’s throat worked, and Patrick frowned. “I don’t understand what I did, but we’re going to be working closely over the next couple of months, and I don’t want there to be some weird rift between us.”
Crossing his arms over his chest in the scant distance between them, Jason replied, “There’s nothing. I’m fine.”
A lesser man would’ve been cowed by the threatening stance the younger man had taken, but Patrick was used to hockey players beating their chests. It didn’t faze him, despite the fact that Jason was about six-two and easily over two hundred pounds. Patrick was a few inches shorter and, at this point, probably twenty pounds lighter, but Jason being bigger kind of turned him on. Really, if anything, Patrick should be afraid of Jason, not the other way around.
Looking at the other man’s face just a hairbreadth away, Patrick noticed how close they were standing, especially since Jason had crossed his arms. His treacherous dick twitched. At the moment Jason was clad in a pair of sweat shorts that no doubt showed his ass to great effect and a skintight USA Hockey T-shirt, his large feet clad in the sandals most of the players wore around the locker-room area. Those muscular arms, still crossed over his mouthwatering chest, were lightly dusted with dark hair, as were his legs.
Patrick was practically plastered to the other man, not having wanted to look weak by backing down himself, and when Jason met his gaze once more, Patrick barely stifled a gasp. Heat lurked in the kid’s eyes, much as he no doubt tried to disguise it. There was no mistaking the way his pupils were lust blown. It was next to impossible to hide if someone were looking closely, and Patrick was. Was he gay? Even more alarming—did he know Patrick was too? Was that the reasoning behind the look Patrick had just intercepted?
This just got pretty fucking complicated.
Patrick was decidedly not out, and apparently his gaydar was shot to shit too, since he’d had no clue about Jason’s sexuality until it had become clear in his gaze. Eyes didn’t lie, and Jason’s said he was interested. Patrick paused, trying to get his head on straight. If Jason was gay, he wasn’t out either. Patrick was pretty sure he would’ve heard if a player in the pros had gone public with his homosexuality.
Should he say something? He was practically one of the kid’s coaches. If he were a better man, he would be giving advice rather than trying like hell to figure out how to get into the guy’s pants. But Patrick wasn’t a better man. He was a horny, ridiculously turned-on man, who obviously had a thing for this kid.
Stepping a little closer still—not enough to rouse suspicions should anyone come upon the two of them, but enough to better assess what was going through Jason’s mind and, if he was honest with himself, to experience that little thrill of attraction he’d missed so much lately—Patrick took a good look at the man in front of him. Jason might be younger than he by over fifteen years, but he wasn’t built like a kid. No, Jason was closer to a tank, and that had always been Patrick’s type. He wasn’t a fan of feeling like he was going to break some little twink in half.
Jason’s hair was dark brown and cut in one of those fashionable styles when it wasn’t plastered to his head after a hard practice like they’d had today. He also had full lips and a square jaw. For a younger man, his facial hair grew quickly, and his neck, jaw, and cheeks were covered in a thick scruff, even though Patrick knew the man had been clean shaven as per USA Hockey regulations for the team picture only two days ago.
Patrick wasn’t usually attracted to younger guys, but he had to admit, Jason had a certain magnetism that no doubt drew men and women alike to him. Eyes the color of honey were currently darting all over as if the man was looking for an escape hatch, and with no small amount of regret, Patrick took a step back. He now had a pretty good idea of what Jason’s problem was, but he refused to embarrass the kid by saying or doing anything, especially here.
There was no good way to end this awkward-as-hell encounter, though, and Patrick searched his mind for something nonthreatening to say. “Just promise me you’ll tell me if there’s something I ever say or do that makes you uncomfortable.”
Jason nodded, staring at the floor. “Can I go now?”
He retreated another step. “Of course.”
Without another word, Jason fled, and Patrick had to resist the urge to allow the wall to hold him up. He didn’t need to read a book on the principles of coaching to know that having an attraction to a player was bad news, especially one as young as Jason. Sure, he was well above legal at the age of twenty-two, but many would only see the large age difference and vilify Patrick.
Copyright © Cassandra Carr
- Yummy MM Hockey Romance Review by Sheri
I loved Jason Monroe; he was just the right amount of young cocky hockey player I love. That he was so far into the closet that it was hard for him to love Patrick just made me love him more. Watching him grow as character and realize that what people think of you isn’t the only thing that matters made him a character that stuck with me.
The attraction was instant, the sex was hot and the love that bloomed was sweet. I loved Patrick, the fact that he fought his relationship because it might affect Jason’s career, and his patience with Jason just makes him the perfect hero in my book. Patrick has been in the closet publicly so long, he loves Jason and wants to be more open but respects Jason’s need to stay in the closet. The turns that happen in this relationship and the fact that it wasn’t a quick fall in love in a week story, just makes this book beautiful.
Ms. Carr scores a perfect goal with a sweet, sexy love story. This story just warmed my heart, definitely something I will re-read. (Posted on 6/2/13)
- Hockey and Hot Men! Review by Eva
In her new story, Jason and Patrick are part of the USA hockey team and cannot fight their feelings for each other, though they try at the beginning.
They begin a secret journey, as they both have a lot to lose if they are ‘outed’ but their tryst are hot and explosive, whenever they can find the time to secretly meet. Bits of humor here and there certainly break up some of the tension around them, especially about their age, Patrick is the older advisor to the team and Jason is one of the players. A tragic event brings things to light and they see what is important in their lives. I have to admit, I shed a few tears during this scene.
Though it does seem like the story abruptly ends, Ms. Carr has assured us there are more books coming, would love to hear how their relationship is going, I don’t want them to be lonely anymore. (Posted on 3/25/13)
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