Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Ice, Love, & Other Penalties by Claudia Y. Burgoa ~ Blog Tour with Excerpt




She’s the team owner's little sister, my new nanny, and so completely out of my league.
Ice, Love, & Other Penalties, an all-new enthralling single dad, hockey romance from USA Today bestselling author Claudia Burgoa is now available!



They say never mix business with pleasure.
As a single father, and the captain of the Seattle Sasquatches, I’m adamant to keep every corner of my life separate and running perfectly.
That is, until Indie Decker walked into my life.
She’s the team owner's little sister, my new nanny, and so completely out of my league.

Our first encounter? Pure fire, clashing wills with a passion that ensnared us both. Our second? A tentative truce, maybe even a budding friendship. But at some point, we slid recklessly into a 'friends with benefits' arrangement, thinking we could stay casual.

Wishful thinking, I know.

With each passing day, our no-strings-attached fling starts weaving threads between us that I’m not ready to cut. Indie’s fierce independence clashes with my need to protect, heal, and love her despite her wariness to open up.

But will my steadfast will and soft hands be enough to get through her defenses? Or am I doomed to sit in the penalty box of Indie’s heart?

Ice, Love, & Other Penalties is part of the Decker family but can be read as a standalone.







Start reading today!


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Add Ice, Love, & Other Penalties to Goodreads: https://tinyurl.com/mry7c62z





Keep reading for a look inside Ice, Love, & Other Penalties!


Prologue
Indie
Love is, for some, the ultimate dream. For me, it’s a waste of time.
Romance is nothing but heartache as far as I could see.
Don’t believe me? My biological mother couldn’t live with herself after my biological father died in a car accident. The doctors were able to save me through an emergency C-section. She hadn’t been able to bear the grief and loss of my father. I may have survived, but she did not.
I was a lucky girl, though. Jacob and Pria Decker offered to foster me from the moment I took my first breath.
They were in the NICU for the first three weeks, then took me home, hoping one day they would be able to adopt me. There’s a happy beginning to that story. Soon, I became Indigo Faye Decker—Indie for short.
Mom and Dad have shown me all about family and love. They love me just the same as they do my siblings, even if I don’t share their blood. That kind of love is easy to understand. The romantic one . . . well, in my opinion it sucks.
It’s a lie.
It breaks people, and some don’t even survive—like my mother. If that’s not enough, take one of my oldest brothers, for example. Gabriel lost his first girlfriend at the age of sixteen. He was utterly devastated for a long time. Then came Ameline, and though she brought a smile to his face, it disappeared when she moved across the country to create a new life. That type of love broke him into a million pieces.
Then there’s my sister Harper. Her fiancΓ© was physically, emotionally, and mentally abusing her for years. That worthless piece of trash had destroyed a part of my vibrant, confident older sister.
Who wants to be with someone if, at the end of the day, they’re going to make you feel useless? Not me.
I wish I could say this was just me being an observer, but I once was in love, and he . . . Well, he destroyed me.
The first time I saw him, he was a whirlwind on ice, a blur of navy blue, gold, and white. His sheer talent made my heart race faster than the skaters on the rink. His name was Frederick, and in the glow of the rink lights, he seemed more myth than man, a hero in a hockey jersey. He was my oldest brother Jude’s friend. Freddie was a fixture in our home, but to me, he was untouchable, a dream wrapped in the harsh reality of ice.
“It wasn’t just his skill that captivated me. It was the easy laughter, the way his dark brown eyes crinkled at the edges when he smiled, and how he seemed to fill any room he entered with an infectious energy. To everyone else, he was Freddie, the talented hockey player destined for greatness. To me, he was the guy who made my heart do somersaults every time he ruffled my hair and called me “kid.” If only I’d known the kind of man who lurked beneath the surface.
But as the years slipped by, the gap between Freddie and me seemed to shrink. I went from being Jude’s annoying little sister to someone he actually saw. Our conversations stretched beyond the polite small talk, delving into dreams, fears, and his future. A future I wanted to be a part of. His hopes for the big leagues, knowing the scouts that were already circling. I hung onto every word, secretly dreaming of a future where I was more than just a spectator in his life.
After graduating, he still came around our house to visit us. Though, secretly I always thought it was me who he was looking for. Our friendship grew as I became older. At least, that’s what I thought.
And when I started college, we texted often. Then, there was that one day when his team was in New York to play, and he came to my little studio apartment after the game. I felt so lucky.
Lucky that he had finally turned those dark eyes in my direction. Lucky that we were finally crossing the line from friends to more. At first, I thought my luck had finally turned, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
He finally saw me as Indie.
I wasn’t Jude’s little sister.
I wasn’t the girl with the childish crush.
He saw me as me—someone who saw him, not just the hockey player, but the boy who laughed too loud, who loved cheesy horror movies, and who had the power to make my heart race with just a glance.
The innocent eighteen-year-old full of love still remembers that night.
When an unexpected visitor had turned my quiet evening upside down. Someone had knocked on my door. When I opened it, it was him, Frederick. I knew the Boston Blizzards were playing the New York Guardians that night but seeing him on my doorstep . . . something shifted in the atmosphere of my small, art-filled space. There he stood, looking effortlessly charismatic.
“I hope I’m not intruding,” he’d said, his voice carrying that familiar warmth, tinged with an edge of something more—excitement, perhaps, or anticipation. “I couldn’t be this close and not see you.”
His words, simple as they were, struck a chord deep within me. It was as if, in that moment, he truly saw me.
“Hey, Freddie,” I said as I finally found my words.
“Finally, I get to do this,” he said, his voice deep and commanding as he closed the distance between us. Before I could react, his lips were on mine, demanding and forceful. I froze, unsure of how to respond. This wasn’t the gentle, tentative first kiss I had imagined. It was something else entirely.
He pulled back, his eyes searching mine for a response. I couldn’t find my voice, so I simply stared at him, my heart still racing. He took this as an invitation, and his lips were on mine again, this time with more urgency.
My mind was reeling. This was wrong, wasn’t it? But at the same time, it felt so right. His hands roamed my body, igniting a fire within me that I had never felt before. I couldn’t help but respond, my own hands exploring his muscular frame.
I winced as he pushed my panties down, his fingers grazing my skin. I wasn’t ready for this, was I? But it was too late to turn back now. He was already unbuttoning his pants, revealing his impressive length. I gasped as he entered me, the pain sharp and intense.
“Stop, please, stop,” I whispered, my voice barely audible over the pounding of my heart, but he didn’t listen to my plea. Instead, he dove deeper into his own urgency, his movements became more frantic, as if trying to escape from something within himself rather than connecting with me.
That night marked the end of my love story, the kind of ending that doesn’t make it into the fairy tales. It was the night he finally kissed me, the night I thought would seal our love, but instead, it unraveled the very fabric of my being. It was as if he took everything from me, leaving me hollow.
I chastised myself, laughter bitter and hollow resonating in my mind. How could I have been so naΓ―ve? To believe that he could ever love me was foolish. He proved as much when, after he was done, he walked away without a backward glance. The one time I dared to reach out to him, he coldly told me to leave him alone. Claimed he was too busy for a “child” like me. He even threatened me with a restraining order if I dared to contact him again.
Love, I’ve come to realize, is a fool’s game. It tempts you with promises of forever, only to leave you shattered in its wake.
Haunted by the fear of ending up like my biological mother—to unlife myself after the loss of the man she loved—a cascade of nightmares began to plague me. Night after night, they serve as a cruel reminder of my stupidity, transforming my life.
Despite the mayhem that boils within me, I strive to live a semblance of a normal life. Yet, when the night falls and the world quiets, the fear of closing my eyes is palpable. The darkness isn’t just the absence of light. It’s a canvas for my deepest fears to paint their horrors.
But in the light of day, I wear my mask well. Everyone in my family just thinks that I have debilitating anxiety, which interferes with some aspects of my life. Yet, I still smile, I laugh, and I pretend that I’m okay. Despite the fact that beneath the surface there’s a constant battle raging—a battle to find peace with my past, to forgive myself.
Of course, I tread carefully, guarding my heart against the possibility of being shattered once more.



For more information about Claudia Burgoa and her books, visit her website: https://claudiayburgoa.com/wp



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