Boys of Summer

Title: Boys of Summer
Series: Hot Off the Ice #6
Pages: 582

Teammate, Roommates, Friends with Benefits. What could go wrong?

Boys of Summer is a book about finding the perfect person to ride shotgun with on the crazy road trip called life. It contains a Dolly Parton lookalike, an unfortunate deer versus car incident, and poorly-timed epiphanies.

Thunder goalie James McVicker learned early on - if you don’t want to hurt, don’t get attached. So obviously when Vicky finds himself possibly, maybe stupidly, falling in love with his best friend, it only makes sense for him to leave first, right? So why does it feel like he’s just made the biggest mistake of his life?

Patrick O’Reilly has the greatest best-friend-slash-teammate-slash-roommate in the world. Hanging out with Vicky is as easy as breathing, and adding some epic benefits of the sexual kind only makes it better. Obviously, Vicky isn’t in love with him. He’s just caught up in the whole wedding thing. If he would just talk to Paddy, they can work all this out and get back to being friends again.

The course of true love never did run smoothly, but maybe with the help of their friends and family and some last-minute divine intervention, what started as a road trip could turn into the adventure of a lifetime.

“Hey! McVicker,” he yelled over the crowd, “I got you a present. Get that fine ass over here and have a drink with me!” They’d already had quite a few drinks, but one more seemed perfect. They’d killed it tonight, and they were young and healthy and on the top of the world.

Vicky caught his eye, and looked pointedly from him to Ashleigh, raising his eyebrows in a silent question. That questions was you gonna hit that? For some reason, Vicky had been on a mission lately to get Patrick laid.

Honestly. Patrick shook his head and rolled his eyes. He and Ashleigh were friends, that was it. Even if they hadn’t been, he wasn’t going to duck out with some girl. This was a night to celebrate with teammates. They were the only ones who really understood what it all meant.

Vicky smiled wide and shoved his way through the crowd, circling the room to slam into Paddy from behind, separating him from Ashleigh. He threw his arm across Paddy and Hubs’ shoulders and yanked them both into him with a whoop. “I love you guys!” he proclaimed, sealing his love with a loud smack on the side of first Hubs’ and then Paddy’s cheek.

“Love you too, Vicks,” Hubs said with a gentle smack on Vicky’s back.

Vicky fake-staggered into Patrick so hard he should have gotten a two-minute minor for embellishment, but since it ended with Vicky plastered against Patrick’s back and his arms draped over his shoulders, he decided not to complain.

Ashleigh gave them both a frown as she sidestepped out of the way.

“Sorry,” Vicky said, but he didn’t move. “So, boys and girls, what are we talking about?”

“How Coach got shot down in public,” Triple D said. “Brutal.”

Vicky scoffed, his breath warm on Patrick’s skin. His fingers pressed hard into the muscles at the base of Patrick’s shoulders, giving him a rough squeeze before resting heavy and warm on his shoulders.

Patrick shivered. Ever since Vicky had told him he'd been with guys before—casually, like it was no big deal, like it was a thing everyone did—Patrick hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it. He had never done anything sexual with a dude. Never masturbated in the same room with another guy, no devil’s three-ways where they could use the girl as an excuse, never shared a quick handjob between friends.


But with a gun to his head, he would admit he’d always been…curious. Like, shouldn’t he at least try kissing a guy? How could he really know he was straight if he didn’t? One day, he would work up the nerve to ask Vicky if he thought Patrick should explore his options. Not with Vicky. That would be weird.

Though even a straight guy could tell Vicky was hot. He had those rounded thick muscles Patrick envied and a superb hockey butt. And he was smart and funny. If he ever did try something with a guy, it would probably be someone who looked like Vicky.

What if Patrick brought it up, and Vicky volunteered to let Patrick. Let Patrick what? A voice in his head asked. Kiss him? Touch his dick? Butterflies flapped wildly in Patrick’s stomach. He quieted them with a big slug of whiskey.

It was probably stupid to wonder anyway. Patrick had a gay brother, a gay sister, and a gay best friend. He was twenty-five years old, if he was gay or even bi, he would have known by now, right?

“Think Coach will be okay?” Hubs asked.

“What?” Patrick asked having lost the thread of the conversation.

“With the Looch turning him down cold like that. That hadda hurt.” The poor guy looked as if he were seriously worried about Patrick’s prickly older brother’s heart despite the fact that everyone in both families had known for the last few years Joey would marry Liam one day. Who else on the planet would put up with him?

“Don’t worry about Judy,” Patrick said with a laugh. “It’ll happen. I predict by the end of summer the latest. Joey’s just going to make him work for it.” He pointed at where Liam and Joey stood side by side. Even though they weren’t touching, weren’t even looking at each other, the energy between them was palpable. “That, my friends, is destiny. True love. Written in the stars.”

Now it was Vicky’s turned to scoff.

“What? You don’t believe in true love?” Ashleigh asked him.

 “Not even a little.”

Patrick shivered with a chill as Vicky peeled himself off Paddy’s back.

“I do,” Hubs said seriously. “I fell in love with Amber first time I saw her.” Amber was Hub’s girlfriend. A year younger than him, she was graduating high school soon, and they were already talking about looking for a place this off-season.

Patrick had money on them being engaged by Christmas. Paul Dyson, one of their defensemen, was from Alabama. He said he’d seen a ton of these high school things, and his money was on Hubs proposing the day of her high school graduation. Vicky had been horrified at the thought.

Luckily for him, Hubs was spared Vicky’s commentary on his ‘child bride’ by the cheers of the crowd as “My Humps” by The Black Eyed Peas, the unofficial anthem of the Seattle Thunder, came over the sound system. If there was one physical attribute most hockey players shared, it was a lot of extra junk in the trunk.

Hubs and Triple D whooped. Hubs slapped Devin on the butt. “Yeah, baby. Let’s get that ass out on the dance floor!”

“Dance with me?” Ashleigh asked Vicky, apparently done with Patrick ignoring her.

“I don’t dance,” he said.

“I do,” Hubs said, holding out a hand to her.

She looked at Patrick. He smiled and motioned for her to go ahead. With a shrug, she did. Hubs lead her into the crowd by the hand.

“Not gonna dance? Then what are you going to do with all that junk?” Patrick said with a hard smack to Vicky’s rear. There was a lot of ass smacking in all levels of hockey.

Vicky swatted him away. “I’m going to sit my junk down at a table and watch you all make fools of yourself.”

“Oh, come on now, Grumpy, don’t be a party pooper. Dance with me,” Patrick said.

Vicky crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Paddy. “Have we met? Have you ever seen me dance?”

“Only when there’s no hot water left in the shower,” Paddy said. He and Vicky were semi-roommates. Patrick technically lived with his brother and Joey, (well, technically he lived in the hotel the club had put him up at, but why do that when he could live in an actual home) but whenever Liam and Joey got too enthusiastic in expressing their affection in a physical way, Patrick would crash at the house Vicky and Nick Kaluck shared. Other times he simply fell asleep there after hanging out with Vicky, and no one bothered to wake him up.

“I rest my case,” Vicky said, leaning against the bar and watching the crowd.

“Your loss,” Patrick said, leaning next to him, their arms and hips pressed against each other. I’ve been to six zillion weddings. I can chicken dance and electric slide and even foxtrot.”

“I’m sure,” Vicky said.

“No. It’s true.”

“Is that true?” Vicky asked Liam as he and Joey passed by. “Can he dance?”

“It is,” Liam said. “And on that note, I’m going to deal with our baby players before the pictures get out. I think it’s past their bedtime.” He ruffled Patrick’s hair. “You too, Baby O’Reilly.”

“Bite me, and you’re too late,” Patrick said as he checked his phone. Sure enough, video of Hubs and Triple D gyrating with Ashleigh in surprisingly poor rhythm were already hitting Instagram and Twitter.

He turned his phone to show Vicky. “Come on, Vicky. Dance with me. You can’t look worse than those smelts,” Patrick said.

“So you say,” He turned to the bar to put his drink down.

Taking advantage of the movement, Patrick plastered himself to Vicky’s back, trapping him and swayed them both to the beat. Vicky shifted his weight backward, and Patrick’s lips accidentally brushed across the side of his neck.

Vicky sucked a breath in through his teeth and for a split second, his head tilted as if he were giving Patrick more room to reach his skin.

Oh. Patrick was suddenly aware of every place their bodies touched, of how firm Vicky’s arms were under his hands and how perfectly his ass fit against Patrick’s groin. This is what it would be like, his brain whispered to him. Or maybe that was his dick talking. Patrick’s stomach fluttered with nerves, or embarrassment, or some other thing he couldn’t name.

Blame it on the win or the alcohol or generalized stupidity, but Patrick felt wild and reckless like he could do anything and there’d be no consequences. It wasn’t as if he was doing anything that unusual, after all. They touched each other all the time.

Paddy liked to lean over Vicky’s shoulders when he showed him things on his phone or laptop. At restaurants, their legs pressed together under the tables so tightly that Vicky’s constant leg shaking transmitted to Patrick. (Sometimes he laid a hand on Vicky’s thigh to remind him to stop. Sometimes he had to keep it there for a long time.) At home, Vicky couldn’t lie on the couch without some part of his body in Paddy’s lap, either his feet or his head. There was no reason to change his behavior just because his brain was being stupid.

It doesn’t mean anything, he told himself firmly as he tightened his arms around Vicky and pulled him back in. He was just having some fun. “Come on, Jay,” he whispered, calling Vicky the nickname only he used. “I’ll teach you all the dances the young people are doing these days. All their dirty, dirty dances.”

Vicky reached back and gripped the back of Patrick’s thigh, holding him still. “Paddy,” he said through clenched teeth. “I’m going to kill you.” His hand felt like an iron brand. This time Patrick was positive it was his dick egging him on.

Hubs and Triple D waved at them from the dance floor. “Come on!”

“You know I don’t—” Vicky started to say.

“James Frances McVicker,” Patrick interrupted, turning Vicky around to face him and staring directly in his blue eyes. “Shut the fuck up and dance with me. We’re the fucking champions, and I want to celebrate.”

Vicky rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t hold back a grin. “I hate you,” he said and tossed back the rest of his drink. “Okay, let’s do this.”

Relieved, Patrick laughed. Vicky always gave into him. Pushing him from behind, he shoved them both onto the dance floor.

“My middle name isn’t Frances,” Vicky said loudly over the music. Vicky wasn’t objecting to Patrick’s arms wrapped around his middle, as a matter of fact, he was holding onto Patrick’s forearms.

“I had to pick something. It’s not the same without the middle name,” Patrick said, and then threw himself into dirty dancing with Vicky like he was getting paid for it. Wild and free. No consequences tonight. It didn’t mean anything. No homo, right?

He ground against Vicky’s backside before spinning him around and sliding his hands down Vicky’s side, dropping it like it was hot. Springing back up, he whirled around, hands on his knees as he ground his ass against Vicky’s crotch.

Vicky looked at Patrick like he was about one drink away from yanking him upright and doing things to him that would be very inappropriate to do in public.

Should he stop? Was this too much?

It’s not gay if you’re celebrating with a friend, his dick said.

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