So Over You(2)

By: Kate Meader


“This isn’t really a good night to be looking for a man,” she muttered mutinously.

“It’s Valentine’s Day. This place is filled with losers who couldn’t get a date and now they’re on the prowl for the leftovers.”

“Like me?” Because she certainly didn’t include Violet in the desperate-dateless-leftovers category. Her sister currently might be without an official boyfriend, but she was keeping a few members of the Rebels hockey team—the team they jointly owned and ran with their elder sister, Harper—on the hook. Not exactly principled, but Violet wasn’t known for her scrupulous attention to the rules.

Vi grinned big. “Exactly like you!”

Who was Isobel kidding? Satan would be ice-skating to work before she got lucky, which suited her tonight because she really should be at home, replaying game videos in preparation for tomorrow: Her first coaching gig with the Rebels. So, all right, she was only a consultant, but it would lead to more. She knew it.

“It’s a good thing we’re on the list,” Violet shouted over her shoulder as she elbowed her way through the frenzy with sharp jabs, “because there’s no way we would have gotten in with you looking like South Pole explorer meets South Side gangbanger.”

The list? Now that Isobel thought about it, they had skipped a considerable line along with the serious scrutiny of the club’s security. Violet looked like she belonged here with her fabulous gold bustier, a black band masquerading as a skirt, and lashings of colorful ink adorning her gleaming olive skin. Really, she fit in anywhere that was cool and dangerous.

The two had only recently started hanging out when the requirements of their father’s will threw the formerly estranged half sisters together to manage the team. Two years ago, Isobel hadn’t even known of Violet Vasquez’s existence, as dear old Dad had shoved the result of his one-night stand into the Chase family armoire. On Clifford’s death five months ago, Violet had moved from Reno to Chicago, and she was largely responsible for relieving the tension that thickened the air whenever Isobel was in the same room as big sis Harper. Isobel theorized that since she grew up out of Cliff’s shadow, Violet wasn’t burdened by the Chase legacy. She had a way about her, a go-for-broke attitude, that Isobel envied.

“What list?” Isobel asked just as they reached a short stairway leading to a VIP area. “What’s going on, Vi?”

“We’re hanging with Cade and the guys.”

Awesome! A night skirting ethical boundaries with pro hockey players who worked for her.

Violet was already skipping up the stairway littered with bored supermodels, several of them wearing skimpy cropped tops that barely covered their tits. The poor women were either freezing to death or highly aroused, because their nipples popped like pucks against the thin fabric. The letters VESNA blazed from several surgically enhanced chests. Why did that word sound familiar?

A few more steps and it became clear that the line of women clinging like sex-starved limpets to the stair rail was an actual queue with a goal in mind. A mall line for Santa, perhaps, where a deviant Mr. Claus was about to have the time of his freakin’ life. And here was Isobel blindly following Violet, who now waved at someone behind the velvet rope at the top of the steps.

Shit.

Isobel’s heart sank to her not-gettin’-laid-tonight boots. She recognized the head elf pulling back the rope, though Alexei Medvedev was more crusty goblin than Christmas imp.

Vadim Petrov’s right-hand man hadn’t changed much in the eight years since she’d last seen him, his age still anywhere between forty and sixty. Following some ridiculous feudal custom, the man supposedly owed service in perpetuity to Vadim’s bloodline. He served as cook, porter, alarm clock, and bodyguard, to name just a few of his jobs. No doubt he picked up his charge’s dry cleaning, ushered women out of Vadim’s bed in the early hours, and waxed his boy’s scrotum for that silky, manscaped feel.

If Isobel had thought Alexei might have forgotten her, she was quickly disabused of this notion when he let Violet through but placed his Russian solidity in Isobel’s path. Seemed she was persona non grata again. They sized each other up, and Isobel was happy to say that she was still taller than him, her six feet besting Alexei by a good four inches. But he made up for it in squat, torpedo-shaped bulk. Plus, she was at a clear positioning disadvantage—he could easily push her down the stairs.

And he looked like nothing would please him more.

“What’s up, Igor?” He’d loved it when she called him that in olden times.

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