#SpotlightSaturday: Scoring Position (Hockey Ever After #2) by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James



Last week, we featured book one and this week, our #SpotlightSaturday is shining on book two of Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James's Hockey Ever After series, Scoring Position

From the Blurb:

Ryan Wright’s new hockey team is a dumpster fire. He expects to lose games—not his heart.
Ryan’s laid-back attitude should be an advantage in Indianapolis. Even if he doesn’t accomplish much on the ice, he can help his burned-out teammates off it. And no one needs a friend—or a hug—more than Nico Kirschbaum, the team’s struggling would-be superstar.

Nico doesn’t appreciate that management traded for another openly gay player and told them to make friends. Maybe he doesn’t know what his problem is, but he’ll solve it with hard work, not by bonding with the class clown.

It’s obvious to Ryan that Nico’s lonely, gifted, and cracking under pressure. No amount of physical practice will fix his mental game. But convincing Nico to let Ryan help means getting closer than is wise for Ryan’s heart—especially once he unearths Nico’s sense of humor.

Will Nico and Ryan risk making a pass, or will they keep missing 100 percent of the shots they don’t take?


Ryan let the clock tick over past eleven thirty before he turned to the guy closest to him and asked the question that had been on his mind since the second period. “Kitty. Buddy. Friend.”

Kitty—he was Kitty to everyone on the team except Kirschbaum, who called him Misha—gave him an amused look from behind one of his many shot glasses. “Doc,” he echoed. “New guy. Very annoying. Lots of questions.” He nudged Ryan’s shoulder to show he was teasing. If Ryan hadn’t been a professional hockey player, he’d have gone flying out of the booth. “What?”

It was probably a direct result of the alcohol he’d consumed that he said, “What is Kirschbaum’s deal?”

Kitty said something under his breath in Russian and flagged down the server for more vodka. Which did not surprise Ryan. Nico Kirschbaum seemed like a situation that required booze.

“I’m not gossip about teammate,” Kitty said. “Kolya is good kid.” He narrowed his eyes. “You leave him alone.”

Ryan put his hands up. “I am! I am honoring the agreement.” The agreement he shouldn’t be talking about. While there was plenty of speculation about Rees’s motivations for bringing Ryan onto the team, Ryan didn’t feel like confirming it.

But he was burning with curiosity. Something had made Kirschbaum look at their little goal celebration like it was the dessert table at a wedding and he’d brought the team nutritionist as his date. Maybe if Ryan could figure that out, he could get Kirschbaum to trust him. He’d had enough struggles in his life to be able to see when someone else needed help. “I just want to know—”

But before he could get any further, Kitty put a hand on his arm. “What agreement?”

Ah… shit. He shifted uncomfortably. “It’s not important.” Kitty was still giving him the gimlet eye. He was going to have to explain if he ever wanted his arm back. “He resents that Rees traded his friend for me, and I get it, so I’m giving him space.”

The server dropped off four more vodka shots, and Kitty released Ryan’s arm and pushed a shot toward him. “Drink,” he advised.

Ryan knew better than to argue with a Russian about vodka. He drank.

“Now you tell me again,” Kitty said. “Small words. You drunk.”

Well someone was projecting. “We’re avoiding each other. He feels like management brought me in to babysit, and it pisses him off. I don’t want to be a babysitter. So. Avoidance.”

Kitty looked at the remaining shots of vodka, then neatly tipped them back, one after the other. He muttered something in Russian again. This was not looking good for Ryan getting any answers out of him. At least not comprehensible ones. “You both mad at management, so you are avoiding each other?”

When he put it that way, it did sound kind of stupid. “It’s complicated,” Ryan asserted. He was sure it was; he just couldn’t remember why. He reached for his beer. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t worry. Why doesn’t he come for drinks? Why didn’t he celly with us?” Why did he perpetually remind Ryan of Charlie Brown right before Lucy pulled away the football?

And why was Ryan fixating on him? It should’ve been so easy to hate Nico. A first-overall pick, the son of a former player. A guy who’d won the lottery, hockey-wise, while Ryan had to scrape and claw his way into the league. Even his parents didn’t think he’d get drafted. They encouraged him to play college hockey instead.

It should’ve been easy to hate Kirschbaum, but it wasn’t. You couldn’t hate a guy who was obviously trying his best and floundering—one who so obviously needed a hug.

“Kolya is good kid,” Kitty repeated, but now he looked troubled. “Is hard for him. Lots expectations, and two seasons now he’s injured. Can’t play like he wants. Now you say team brings you to babysit.”

Okay, that would be hard on anyone’s ego. “But the cellies—”

“You’re so interested, you find out why he doesn’t celly. You fix problem.” He gestured down the table. “We all try. He won’t let us help.”

“He hates me.”

“Yes,” Kitty said. “Because you very annoying. Too much questions.” He pushed Ryan’s beer closer to his hands. “Drink, Doc. This too serious talk for celebration.”

And they needed to celebrate while they could. Ryan got it. He lifted his beer in salute. “Cheers.”

He didn’t even realize he kept glancing toward the door until Kitty made an exasperated noise a few minutes later. “Doc. He not coming.”

Ryan snapped his gaze back to Kitty’s, suddenly conscious of how weird he was being. He didn’t need Kitty thinking Ryan was preoccupied with Kirschbaum for anything other than professional reasons. He’d never gotten a shovel talk from an NHL defenseman, and he wasn’t eager to cross that experience off his bucket list.

Kitty had nothing to worry about anyway. Even if Kirschbaum didn’t hate him, he was way out of Ryan’s league. Regardless of his current struggles, he would play in the NHL until he got too old. He was handsome and smart, fluent in three languages, two of which were notoriously difficult. And his work ethic made the most fanatical of Ryan’s former Voyageurs teammates look positively lazy.

Ryan, on the other hand, was hanging on in the league by the skin of his teeth. And Josh hadn’t made it a secret that he wasn’t exactly boyfriend material—not serious enough, not stable enough, not good enough. Kirschbaum might be lonely, but companionship was all Ryan had to offer.

Scoring Position is available on Amazon and as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.