#ThrowbackThursday - The Inside Edge by Ashlyn Kane #TBT

Today's Throwback gives us an opposites attract story right off the ice...The Inside Edge

From the blurb:

What does a work-life balance look like to recently retired professional athletes?

Ex-hockey player Nate Overton is trying to find out, but dipping his toes in the gay dating scene post-divorce is a daunting prospect even without the news that his show is on thin ice. Before he can tackle either issue, he skates headfirst into another problem—his new cohost. Former figure skater Aubrey Chase is the embodiment of a spoiled rich playboy. He’s also flamboyant, sharp, and hot as sin.

Aubrey knows how important it is to get off on the right foot. He’s just not very good at it outside the rink. Having spent his life desperate for attention, he’ll do anything to get it—even the wrong kind.

For Nate and Aubrey, opposites don’t so much attract as collide at center ice. But while Nate’s everything Aubrey has scrupulously avoided—until now—Aubrey falls suddenly head over heels, and Nate’s only looking for a rebound fling. Can Aubrey convince Nate to risk his heart again, or will their unexpected connection be checked at the first sign of trouble?

Exclusive Excerpt:

"Nate tipped his driver extra; the guy had made it from O’Hare in record time. He sidestepped around the office workers in the plaza like they were opposing defenders and entered the enormous revolving door as the big lobby clock struck the hour. It almost felt like beating the buzzer—he was going to just barely make it in time for makeup and a brief rundown, but barely was good enough and far better than he’d hoped, after spending an hour waiting for a gate at the airport. The stress of being late—Nate hated tardiness in himself as much as in others—was only eclipsed by the situation at the network.

“Don’t worry about it; it’s handled,” Jess had told him in their too-brief call before the flight took off. That didn’t make him feel better. The few subsequent messages they exchanged during the flight hadn’t helped, especially as it felt like he was also getting texts from everyone he’d ever met—all variations of the theme: So what the hell is up with John Plum? Not that he’d answered. Nate had already gotten a very firm, if unnecessary, voicemail form his agent that he should not, under penalty of torture, say anything but “no comment” about the situation.

What would he even say? Sorry my cohost is a xenophobic misogynist douchebag with no control over his basest impulses? Silence was the better part of valor.

“You’re late,” Gina the PA told him, falling into step next to him as he beelined for Makeup. “I sent a rundown of tonight’s show to your phone. You have time to look at it?”

Nate shook his head. “It died halfway through the flight. Too much Candy Crush. Forgot the charging cord in my hotel room.” He glanced around as they walked. “Is Jess around? She told me not to worry, but—”

“Yeah, on second thought, maybe I better let her tell you in person. I think she’s with—uh.” Gina pasted on a smile. Good thing her work was mostly behind the camera, because she didn’t convince Nate. “You know what? I’ll just go tell her to find you.”

That didn’t inspire confidence, but Nate didn’t have a lot of time to argue. He had a call in… well, basically now. “All right,” he agreed, but Gina was already scampering down the hallway, talking on her headset.

Jess didn’t come in while he was in Makeup, and the usual chatter was suspiciously free of office gossip and sports talk, focusing exclusively on the relative merits of different varieties of Girl Scout cookies. Nate happily shared his opinion (Samoas best, the peanut butter ones disappointing), but he found it weird that no one was even referring to the elephant that was no longer in the room, and that made him feel wrong-footed. Someone had passed him a portable charger for his phone, so he was able to read through the rundown he was now expected to do by himself. It might be a little flat with just one body behind the desk, but they were going to cut away to the game in Brampton, and Kelly was always good. Maybe they’d use this as an excuse to give a little extra time to the women’s game. John would hate that. Nate couldn’t resist smiling at the image of him fuming about it.

“You’re done.” Samira batted him on the shoulder as she finished. “Now get out of my chair and y’all have a great show.”

Y’all. Plural. Was that significant? Nate turned to ask, but Samira had already scooted out of the room.

Something strange was definitely going on.

“Nate Overton to the set.” The voice over the PA made it clear he didn’t have any more time to wonder. In fact, he barely had time to change—he unbuttoned his shirt on the way to Wardrobe, where Tony was already waiting to help him into its replacement.

“Little behind today?” he asked, turning to grab the jacket and tie—helpfully already tied—while Nate buttoned up.

“O’Hare,” Nate said grimly.

“Say no more.” Tony held the jacket for him. “Not going to miss your old cohost’s wardrobe peculiarities, you know?”

Nate figured Tony wouldn’t miss him, period. “Maybe his replacement will be easier on the eyes.”

Tony opened his mouth to say something, but Nate didn’t have time. He took the tie to go, waving his thanks over his shoulder.

“Cutting it a little close,” their primary camera operator commented as Nate stepped onto the soundstage.

Jeez. You get twitchy about people being late a few times and you’d never get any slack. “Yeah, yeah,” Nate said. “Point taken.” He took another three steps—

And stopped.

Someone was sitting in his chair.

A handsome—very handsome—dark-haired man had his elbows propped on the desk as he leaned forward, grinning at something Carl the camera operator was saying. Carl gestured with his hands, and the handsome brunet laughed, tossed his head back, and turned a million-watt smile on Carl. If Nate didn’t know better, he’d think the guy was flirting with their straight, married, sixtysomething grandfather of three. Whatever. The guy was in Nate’s chair, and Nate needed to politely inform him of the fact and give him the opportunity to move… and maybe to introduce himself, since no one else was going to tell Nate who he was. Where did they get him from? Nate squinted as he approached. The guy looked vaguely familiar. Local news? A weatherman maybe?

“Nate!” Carl intercepted him before he could make his case to the usurping newcomer. “Glad you made it! I thought I was going to have to join Aubrey up in front of the cameras tonight,” he joked.

“Uh, yeah.” Nate pasted on a smile, more confused than ever. He tamped down on a surge of change-induced panic. “You kn—”

“And Emmy would’ve loved that,” Carl continued, still chuckling.

“Well, I’ll make sure she gets that autographed picture,” the guy—Aubrey—said. “Always happy to hear about a fan. Give her my love, Carl.”

There was more batting of eyelashes until Carl ambled back to his station.


And now the guy was making eyes at Nate. Nate, who’d just spent twelve hours in travel with a dead phone. Nate, who hadn’t been able to wrangle a straight answer out of his producer all day. Nate, who had no fucking idea what was going on and needed to be on the air in minutes.

Right now Nate didn’t care if Aubrey was the only other gay man on the planet. He wasn’t going to flirt with him. Definitely not at work, and especially not while he was sitting in Nate’s chair. “You’re in my seat,” Nate said.

The eyelashes stopped fluttering and instead narrowed around clear gray eyes. “My apologies,” he said smoothly, and all the warmth of his initial greeting faded. “Ms. Chapel told me to sit here.”

Why would she do that? Nate knew ratings had suffered with John. Had Jess decided to go in a totally different direction? Would she call him to set just to fire him?

The guy in Nate’s chair leaned back, eyes still narrowed in assessment. The movement drew Nate’s eye to his suit—cut very close, expensive too, and Nate knew expensive suits. This one had a silver line of stitching around the lapels. Flashy, but with class. John would’ve hated it.

“I’m Aubrey Chase, by the way,” the guy said, holding out a hand, and oh. That was why Nate recognized him.

“The figure skater.” It came out sounding a little more cringeworthy than Nate intended. He had nothing against figure skaters. He knew what kind of tremendous athleticism the sport demanded. But this was a hockey show. “Uh, nice to meet you,” he offered belatedly and shook the guy’s hand. “Nate Overton.”

“My pleasure.” Aubrey’s smile was polite, if not warm, as if he could read Nate’s thoughts. “You’re the senior now, so I guess that’s why you get John’s old spot. Kind of surprised it looks just like a normal chair, you know? It’s not like it’s velvet or ermine-lined or anything.”
Nate adjusted his earpiece since he couldn’t manage to adjust the nagging sensation of disorientation.

“Two minutes,” Gina’s voice said in his ear.

Nate glanced over the paper in front of him. To his right he noticed Aubrey smoothing his own sheet and shrugging and shaking out his shoulders a bit as if he were about to step into a spotlight on the ice. He was getting ready for his audience, obviously. Just Nate’s luck that after all the times he’d dreamed of getting rid of an overbearing bigoted buffoon like John, the replacement would be a different sort of diva.

“I see we’re hashing out Kazakov’s new contract.”

“That’s what it says,” Nate replied. He hated that he felt he’d gotten off on the wrong foot, but somehow blaming Aubrey for his own lack of grace made him feel better.

“Five and a half by five. That’s going to be a squeeze with Dallas’s cap issues,” Aubrey offered.

“Well, it’s not like top-four defenseman grow on trees, and Popov’s not getting any younger.” Nate probably sounded more definite than he felt about the issue, but it had been a long day.

“Dallas wouldn’t know if they did grow on trees, unless they were trees in Russia. They can’t seem to draft one from anywhere else.” Aubrey clicked his pen for emphasis.

Nate swiveled on his chair to glare at the handsome but misinformed face. “They traded for Svensson at the last deadline!”

“Trading for a thirty-four-year-old isn’t the same as developing or draft—” Aubrey insisted, but Gina’s voice interrupted.

“Forty-five seconds.”

Nate felt like his nose was going to hit the desk in forty-five seconds. He should have chugged an energy drink or three, and now a figure skater was trying to debate him on the finer points of building a blueline.

Worse, he wasn’t entirely off base. At the very least he was competent, which was better than John, and unlikely to spout some of the more offensive bile that seemed to fall like flowers from John’s mouth. Nate needed to focus on that and on staying awake and alert, and then he could apologize to his new cohost and try to start over.

“I really need a coffee,” he grumbled, and Gina piped in over his earpiece.

“I’ll get you one for commercial break.”

“Thank you,” Nate said fervently. He made a mental note to buy her something really nice for Christmas this year.

“Thirty seconds.”

He took a deep breath. He’d be fine. He could talk about hockey in his sleep. He had, in fact, done so on enough occasions that he’d chased Marty out of bed to the guest room, which probably hadn’t helped when everything went to hell. And wow, he needed to think about something else. Anything else.

“Are you okay?” Aubrey asked, one eyebrow raised. “You look a little… gray.”

Despite himself, Nate prickled. Now Aubrey was calling him old. Great. As if he needed a reminder that he’d just stepped into the senior role. Nothing like feeling your age. “I’m fine,” he snapped. “Let’s just get this over with.”

The Inside Edge is available in e-book and paperback.

About the Author:

ASHLYN KANE was born and raised in a small town in Southern Ontario and has spent a fair portion of her life living abroad. She has been a teacher, a bookseller, an administrative assistant, and a farm labourer, but now she spends her time writing, editing, fix
ing things around the house, and walking the dog.

On any given day she can usually be found walking her ninety-pound baby chocolate lapdog, Indy, or holed up in her office avoiding anything that resembles cleaning. She has a deep and abiding love of romance novel tropes, a habit of dropping too many f-bombs, and—fortunately—a very forgiving family.