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Learning Curves

By´╝ÜCathryn Fox

Chapter One

Why did he always have to be here?

Lauren Neill stepped into the spacious skybox at the Miami Rays hockey stadium and glared at the man who managed to dig his way under her skin without even trying. Sports Source CEO Lincoln Blair. Linc.

Kill. Me. Now.

He stood there, sexier than should be legal, chatting it up with some pretty blonde. With his attention half on the girl and half on the hockey game between the Rays and the New York Storms, he pushed his hands into his pockets, a slow sexy smile spreading across his far too perfect lips. Normally he dressed conservatively in designer suits that fit his tall, athletic frame to perfection, but for today’s game he wore jeans and a black sweater, which fit tight against those wicked abs of his.

A soft, involuntary moan slipped out of her throat. Linc in a suit was one thing, but this…well, this laid-back version of the hot as sin, richer than royalty Linc was something else entirely. Talk about raw, orgasmic sex appeal.

What the hell am I doing? Stop staring at him. It had become a habit whenever he was around, which was a lot, since he was best friends with her boss and provided all of the team equipment.

She shouldn’t be drooling over a man who barely spared her a glance. Not that she wanted him to. Because she didn’t, and it irritated the crap out of her that she couldn’t seem to stop herself from looking. Her dislike for Linc grew, even though she honestly had no basis for it. On the few occasions when business had put them together, he’d never been anything but nice, but even when he ignored her he was a distraction. One she didn’t want or need, especially at work, but oh, the naughty thoughts he inspired…

No. Do not go there. Did she have no self-control at all? Gritting her teeth, Lauren pulled her gaze from Linc and turned it toward the crowd, focusing her attention on the activity going on around her.

As an accountant for the Rays, one of the perks was a seat in the skybox. While she seldom took advantage of that little extra, today the Rays were playing against her favorite team, the New York Storms. Unethical to root for the other team? Maybe, but as long as no one caught her, where was the harm?

She glanced around, and as usual, no one seemed to even notice she was there. People chatted and milled about the room, others gathered in small, more intimate groups, their heads bent, deep in conversation. Some watched the game from the floor to ceiling windows as it played out on the ice below, while a few hovered at the bar, preferring the zoom of camera lens and the play by play of commentators as they sipped from a longneck or a glass of something more substantial.

Perched on a barstool amid the sports enthusiasts, with her back to the game, a pretty brunette waved Linc over, trying to steal him away from the blonde who was toying with the sleeve of his sweater. Lauren shook her head. Dim witted moths to a lightbulb—every last one of them. Mr. Sex turned his head toward the brunette and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. The movement drew Lauren’s attention to the jeans that hugged the thick muscles of his thighs and curved around his perfect ass like the fitted baseball gloves his company sold by the millions.

The blonde moved away, and he turned Lauren’s way, giving her an eyeful of crotch, but she was far too slow to react. Her gaze flew to his and held for a moment too long. The muscles along his jaw rippled, and those kissable lips of his quirked into a smile. Crap. He’d caught her staring. Again.

He scrubbed his hand over his chin, watching her, then turned and walked to the bar, making his way to the stool the pretty brunette had pushed out for him.

Heat suffused Lauren’s cheeks. Would she never learn? And what had he been waiting for? To see if she’d simper up to him like every other woman in the room? Arrogant asshole. And even as she swore under her breath, tagging him as every kind of womanizing lowlife, her gaze settled on wide shoulders that any linebacker would kill for, then languidly slid down his back, stopping just below his belt.

Stop staring at his ass already!

And there it was. It hit Lauren like a bolt of lightning right between the eyes. She was no better than the other women who panted after Linc, but for one exception…when it came to her, he walked away. Straight to another woman.

Just like her ex. Her lower lip trembled. Was that why she had formed such a dislike for Linc? Had she been projecting her failure to attract and hold the attention of a man onto an innocent bystander? Well, Linc was hardly an innocent in any respect, but still…

Stricken, she tore her gaze away and smoothed her palms over her navy pencil skirt, wiping away the perspiration that had gathered. This couldn’t be. She wasn’t a mean person. She should apologize.

Resolved to make amends, Lauren searched the patrons of the bar until she found Linc, looking over his shoulder at her, a smirk on his lickable lips as he ran his knuckles along the side of the brunette’s arm.