All You Need

By: Lorelei James

One


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ANNIKA



The first time I met professional hockey player Axl Hammerquist, the maître d’ busted him banging our waitress in the coat check room.

The second time I met Axl Hammerquist, he insulted me before texting me a half-naked picture of himself.

The third time I met Axl Hammerquist, I caught him doing body shots with two scantily clad blondes.

I did not have high hopes for this meeting.

I considered it a bad sign that I’d literally taken a wrong turn in St. Paul. Even as a Twin Cities native I occasionally got lost. I pulled over and tried not to yell instructions at my Bluetooth on who to call.

My assistant, Deanna, picked up on the second ring. “Annika Lund’s office.”

“Why hasn’t someone invented GPS that takes oral commands? Where I could channel Uhura and set a course by speaking the address into the com instead of having to stop the car and physically type it in?” I complained.

“I love it when you show your inner Trekkie geek, boss. Envision me sitting at my desk making the Vulcan sign for ‘live long and prosper.’”

“Envision me attempting a Vulcan mind meld on you instead of asking you to please text me the address again.”

“No problem.”

After I typed it in, I realized I hadn’t been remotely close to where I’d needed to be and the program rerouted me. “Thanks, D.”

“Good luck. I have Pilates at six, but I’ll be around after that to bail you out of jail.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. See you tomorrow.”

Once I’d found the place—in a bit of a sketchy neighborhood—I parked. I passed by the sign that was hammered into the strip of grass in front of the ten-story building and that indicated the structure had been zoned as a multiuse space for offices and residences with “retail space coming soon”—soon being a relative term.

Inside, the lobby wasn’t anything special. A high ceiling that ate up half of the second story. Three seating areas done in gray and teal. Glossy floors sporadically covered by rugs. Nondescript artwork. A receptionist’s desk was off to the left and a security guard station blocked the bank of elevators on the right side.

I smiled at the secretary. “Annika Lund here to see Peter Skaarn.”

“I’m sorry to say Mr. Skaarn has been detained. Please have a seat in the lobby and I’ll let you know when he’s free.”

I managed a smile and walked to the farthest corner from the desk to brood and look out the windows. Why couldn’t I cool my heels in Peter’s reception area? Maybe I needed this moment to batten down my mental hatches.

Both times I’d said no to aiding Peter’s client before . . . I’d ended up saying yes.

Peter would cajole me.

And the hockey pucker would . . .

You know what you’d like him to do to you.

Okay. So maybe I’d been rendered speechless the first time I stood in the shadow of Axl “The Hammer” Hammerquist. The Swedish hockey player redefined hot. His handsome, angular face, his wavy hair, his strength and abilities on the ice.

Not even his icy attitude diminished his hotness.

Our first meeting had started out badly. My family had strong-armed me into welcoming Axl and another hockey player to the Twin Cities on behalf of my cousin Jaxson—Axl’s former teammate with the Chicago Blackhawks. I hadn’t known what to expect beyond that I’d been asked to utilize my Swedish translation skills because of Axl’s inability to speak English. I’d even coerced my cousin Dallas into attending the dinner to even up the male-to-female ratio.

So I’d become a tongue-tied twit when Axl approached me at the restaurant.

But his arrogance quickly snapped me out of my holy shit silent admiration.

He wasn’t interested in conversation.

However, he wasn’t interested in drinking either, which I appreciated.

When the waitress arrived to take our order, he mooed at her to indicate what he wanted to order, which caused her to laugh.

He finally asked me a question: could I order him a huge steak dinner and find out if the waitress was single?

The night had gone downhill from there.

Dallas and the other hockey player, Igor, had been cozied up, whispering back and forth somehow despite the language barrier. Meanwhile Axl flirted with our waitress, using sexy smiles, smoldering glances and “accidental” touches. I’d decided to take off when Axl’s agent, Peter Skaarn, joined us for coffee and dessert.

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