Ice Cold Mint Juleps: Book 2 Cocktail Series

Brand New branding for The Cocktail Series

All the Cocktail Series books are standalone stories with no cliff hangers. They are linked by characters and location and each has a unique theme. the Cocktail Series gives you romance and so much more. If you like your Happily ever afters hard fought for, if you like to run the gambit of emotions, and if you have a large supply of tissues that need using up then this is the series for you. Each unique story gives you the best book boyfriends with a side of hockey fun and a hot and steamy storyline with gritty characterization and strong language. Each story in the series is guaranteed to pull at your heart strings.

 

Chapter 1

“You’ve got to be shitting me!” Ash Cooper turned on his heels and strode back out of the Hockey Punk office that, only moments before, he’d burst into without knocking. He was on a tight schedule and wanted to grab a coffee before he headed down to the locker room. He didn’t expect anyone to be in there, least of all his handsome boss and friend. In fact, he thought Jude Holland already left.

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Wasn’t he supposed to pick up his gorgeous wife, Maya, and his kids? An important appointment that was no doubt baby related. The Hollands were expecting offspring number three, and Jude was so excited. It was all he ever talked about — well, that and how wonderful his wife was.

Which is why Ash was struggling to come to terms with what he’d just seen. When he’d entered the office, Jude was standing, half dressed, in the middle of the room. A pile of hockey pads discarded on the floor, and his hair stuck out in all directions as if he’d just removed his helmet. This, in itself, wasn’t unusual and didn’t warrant Ash’s outburst. No, the shock that rendered him at first speechless, and then made him utter an expletive, was something he never thought he’d see.

Not in a million years.

What was so unusual, so earth-shatteringly unbelievable that it caused Ash to flee the room, was Jude Holland standing with his arms around a slim redhead. And what was wrong with this picture? Well, the woman who was cozying up to his boss, was not — by any stretch of the imagination — a petite dark- haired woman. In short, it wasn’t Jude’s beautiful wife, Maya.

Ash put his fingers to his temples and rubbed hard. That image was burned into his retinas. There was no way he could un-see it. Damn, hell could freeze over and he’d miss it because he’d be too busy focusing on the memory re-runs. Jude with his arms wrapped tightly around that woman’s back, his hand stroking her hair, his forehead touching hers, their eyes gazing into each other’s.

Ash blinked them away. His temples pounded as anger flooded through him. How could this possibly happen? He’d known the Hollands for over five years. They were the perfect couple. He’d celebrated with them the night Jude proposed to Maya, attended their wedding six months later. Hell, he’d even paced the floor with Jude when she gave birth to Ollie and done a rinse and repeat three years later with Josie.

It just didn’t make sense. Jude was steadfastly loyal to his wife. A more spiteful man might even say his boss was whipped. There was nothing Jude wouldn’t do for her.

Over the years, Ash had grown to love the guy. He was the older brother Ash never had. Jude was cool under pressure, quietly spoken, a real gentleman, and a fantastic athlete. There was a lot to admire. He was pretty much a saint in Ash’s eyes. Though that said, Jude had married Maya, and for this Ash couldn’t help but be a teensy-weeny bit jealous.

Ash was embarrassed to admit he’d made a play for Maya once. It was five years ago, when he was young and invincible. She was never interested in him, of course. She only had eyes for Jude. Ash often joked with his boss that he needed to find a wife like Maya. Trouble was, finding someone as sweet as her was a tall order.

Now, as he stood outside the office, Ash felt sucker punched. The guy wasn’t a fucking saint after all. In fact, Jude Holland was just another no good cheating bastard.

Ash jogged down the steps from the mezzanine. The vein at his neck throbbed in time with the ‘I’ll-fucking-kill-him’ mantra inside his head. He stopped at the bottom of the steps. What the hell was he doing? He should go punch that lying shit on the nose. He turned and set off back the way he’d come.

“Ash! Ash!”

He groaned. Whoever that was better make it quick. He was in no mood for chitchatting. His eyes swept the crowd. A petite dark-haired woman wrestled two excited children through the throng of skaters.

Shit, it was Maya! Of all the people Ash did not want to run into right now.

He took more deep breaths and wrestled his temper under control. As he walked towards her, he realized his fists were still balled and his anger was coiled so tight it was threatening to spring out like a damn jack-in-the-box. He stretched open his fingers and forced his muscles to relax. As an afterthought, he attempted a smile. He didn’t want to make matters worse by terrifying the kids with his scowling mug. “Maya, hi there! How’s it going? Here let me help you.”

She struggled towards him with Ollie dangling from one hand and her curly haired daughter balancing awkwardly on her hip. Maya’s belly was swollen. She had another three months until she was due, but her tiny frame found the pregnancy heavy going. Despite her exhaustion from carrying the baby, she looked more beautiful than ever. The added roundness of her hips and fullness of her breasts gave her a voluptuous figure that took Ash’s breath away. He shook his head, hoping his inappropriate musings would go away. This woman was a friend and a totally off limits friend at that.

Reaching out for Josie, Ash tickled her and she giggled. Once she was settled on his shoulders, the toddler grabbed handfuls of his auburn hair.

 “Thanks Ash!” Relief sparked across Maya’s face. “Josie’s getting so heavy, especially having to carry her around with this one.” She rubbed her belly for emphasis. “I reckon it’s going to be huge. I swear it feels bigger than the other two put together.”

Ash laughed. Like her mother, Josie was tiny and, wrapped around Ash’s neck, she weighed little more than a sparrow. However, he wasn’t five feet tall and carrying another child in his belly. Josie slid her hands over his eyes and squealed in delight when Ash grabbed them. He pretended to nip at her fingers and bumped her up and down, causing more laughter. He crouched down to Ollie’s level, “You here to skate or pick up Daddy?”

“Mommy says, ‘there isn’t time for skating’.”

“We have to go and have a look at the new baby, don’t we?” Maya said. Ollie nodded. “I have a scan.” she clarified, putting her hands to her lower back and arching her spine.

“There’s nothing wrong is there?”

“No, no, it’s just routine. Is Jude up upstairs?”

Ash stared daggers at the door of the Hockey Punk office. Now what do I do? “Um, I’m not sure. Why don’t you guys wait here and I’ll go hunt him down for you?”

Ash found a bench for her to sit on, just outside the pro-shop. He placed Josie on the seat next to Ollie.

Maya lowered herself down. Relief washed over her face as she took the weight off her feet. “Thanks Ash, you’re a life saver. You sure you have time?”

“Never too busy for you guys, you know that.”

Besides, there was no way he’d let Maya walk in on God-knows-what in that office. If she saw her husband playing tonsil hockey with that damn redhead or worse. Fuck! He hoped it hadn’t gone any further than exchanging saliva.

His heart felt heavy. Maya was radiant in her pregnancy. Her chestnut curls looked like more of a mane with all those hormones racing through her. Her skin so peach perfect, he wanted to stroke it. Dark chocolate eyes framed with thick curled lashes that were just right to get lost in. How could Jude do this to her, especially after what they had gone through? 

The beginning of their relationship was tested in the cruelest possible way. But their love survived Maya’s brutal rape and everything else her sociopathic ex tormented her with. Jude stuck to that woman like glue, held her hand every step of the way. He even endured one hell of a beating when that madman held Maya against her will. After everything Jude’s wife experienced in the past, she didn’t deserve any more pain.

Despite not wanting to be caught in the middle, Ash decided he needed to cover for his boss. I will not let you get away with this though, Holland. This was neither the time nor the place for a showdown, but he’d find a way to confront Jude and damn well make sure the guy did right by Maya.

“Daddy! Daddy!” Ollie jumped down off the bench and hurtled across the floor towards the staircase. Ash followed, trying to grab the excited boy before the kid was trampled underfoot. He grabbed Ollie and hoisted him out the way of two lively teenagers who were horsing around. Looking up, he caught sight of Jude at the top of the steps. The slim mystery woman hovered behind his boss. When Holland waved to Ollie, Ash noticed him holding the girl’s hand.

What the fuck! How did Jude have the gall?

Ollie wriggled free of Ash’s grip and raced towards his father. Maya looked up to see what was causing the commotion. Ash held his breath as he swung his head from Jude to Maya and then back again. With each turn, his neck muscles tightened. Damn, he was getting whiplash from all the tension this movement generated.

His attention settled on Jude. He hoped to see remorse on his face or an attempt at a cover up. He wanted a sign, something — anything — that would show the guy still had a decent bone left in his body.

It was then that Ash recognized the redhead. “You have got to be shitting me!” he muttered under his breath.

Of all the possible redheads in Virginia, the one he’d caught in Jude Holland’s arms was London! London-fucking-Sinclair. Now wasn’t that just dandy!

Maya stepped alongside him and peered through the crowds leaving the rink.

Ash held his breath. Please don’t let her see. Please don’t let — his plea must have gone straight to God’s voicemail because at that moment, Maya’s eyes locked on her husband. Her hands flew to her cheeks and she gasped as her mouth fell open.

“London! Oh, my God, London!” Maya squealed as she dragged Josie towards the stairs.

Wait a minute? Ash couldn’t believe it. Maya’s reaction to her husband having an affair was not what he’d expected. She met London halfway up the stairs and stretched out her arms. A huge beaming smile crossed her face. London ran to meet her and they threw themselves into a hug. Ash sighed with relief. Thank God. Maya must have missed the handholding.

Jude joined the women on the steps. He scooped up Josie and lifted her onto his shoulders. Ollie wrapped his arms around his dad’s hips. Jude ran his fingers through his son’s hair as the boy cuddled him. Ash rolled his eyes, his boss was doing the world’s greatest impression of a Goddamn picture-perfect father. What the fuck do I do now?

 “Is she taking it?” Maya asked Jude. Her eyes sparkled with excitement.

Jude nodded.

London beamed back at Maya and squealed. “Oh my God! I can’t wait. This is going to be so much fun.”

Ash scratched his head. Do they know each other? The women acted like they were close. He rubbed both hands over his face and groaned. Could this get any worse? This affair could mean that Maya would lose both her husband and a friend.

 “Ash… Ash? Did you want me for something?” Jude’s cheery tone only made Ash feel worse. Oh yeah, I want you for something, all right. You have some serious explaining to do.

 

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