Book Title: Soft Hands (The Sin Bin: West Coast, Book 2)
Author: E.M. Lindsey
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow, Photographer: CJC Photography, Model: Eric G.
Release Date: September 23, 2022
Genre: Contemporary Sports/Hockey Romance
Tropes: MMM, best friends to lovers
Themes: Aromantic acceptance, polyamory
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 68 000 words
It is an interconnected standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.
Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited
There are a few things Nolan Ouellet has come to accept about himself.
One: that his future with the NHL was irrevocably destroyed thanks to his reckless actions as a teenager destroying his knee.
Two: that he will never fall in love because the very idea of it sends his skin crawling.
Three: he will bed as many NHL players as humanly possible before he retires his game.
And four: he will never apologize for who he is and what he wants.
Then two men come barreling into his life and turn everything he knows upside down.
He still won’t play for the NHL, and he still won’t change who he is because he’s fought too long and too hard to accept his identity. But suddenly his future is starting to look a little different than he originally planned.
And that scares the absolute hell out of him.
When he met Marko Rudenko and Luka Wagner—two veterans of the Denver Huskies—they were supposed to be a game, just like everyone else. But now all he can think about is how to keep them around without compromising the person he’s become and ruining the love Marko and Luka have for each other.
“Is there going to be a fight?” Nolan asked.
The guy scoffed, glancing at him. “Worse. Hockey players.”
Nolan’s heart rammed against his chest. Not that it could possibly be Marko or Luka, but he hadn’t seen or spoken to either of them since the awkward incident at the rink. He hadn’t even been letting himself think about it.
He swallowed thickly. “They come in here a lot?”
“Every once in a while,” the guy said, then lowered his voice. “Mostly because it’s the furthest thing from a sports bar so no one’s going to notice if they take someone home.”
Nolan heard that for the warning it was: keep your mouth shut. The guy might not love having professional athletes in his bar, but he also knew it was good for business.
He forced himself not to look, bowing over his drink. “Tell me when it’s safe to escape, and close out my tab.”
“Actually, put his drink on ours.”
Nolan’s entire body froze.
Fuck. Fucking shit fuck shit.
He would have recognized Luka’s voice even if he was concussed and under water. His throat went tight, but he tried to offer something like a smile, though given how wide Luka’s eyes were behind his glasses, he realized he was probably grimacing.
His heart sank even lower when another body slid up against Luka’s and stared him down. “You don’t answer call or text. We think maybe you died.”
Yeah, okay. He did kind of deserve that. He’d just left Marko hanging like an asshole, and the guy didn’t deserve it. But he also didn’t deserve Nolan’s mess when it was obvious Marko and Luka were both capable of a love that straight up repulsed Nolan down to his core.
“You know these guys?” the bartender asked. He crossed his arms over his chest in a protective way, and Nolan felt a pulse of affection for the total stranger.
“No. We don’t know him. He’s total weirdo who stalk us,” Marko said.
Luka elbowed him hard. “Stop being an asshole. Yes, we know him.”
Nolan sighed and gave a nod. “Old friends. In fact, put their drinks on my tab. Get them each one of these,” he said, tapping his glass.
Both Marko and Luka started to protest, but the bartender ignored them both with a shrug and walked off to fill the order.
“Why you being child?” Marko demanded.
“Pretty sure a child couldn’t afford a twenty-six-dollar glass of bourbon for his two friends,” Nolan fired back.
Luka’s brows shot up, and he shoved his glasses higher up on the bridge of his nose. “Why the fuck are you drinking that?”
“Because it tastes amazing,” he said. And because I can afford it now thanks to a slew of online strangers who pay me to shove dildos up my ass. But he wasn’t going to say that part aloud as tempting as it was. “You don’t want it?”
As if summoned, the bartender arrived with three new glasses, and Nolan took his, watching the other two out of his periphery. Marko showed no hesitation when snatching up his, but Luka was a little more hesitant.
“It’s not poisoned,” Nolan grumbled.
Marko sighed, then hip-checked Luka out of his way and sat on the wooden stool. It groaned under his impossibly thick layers of muscle, and Nolan tried not to stare at the way his arms flexed as he laid one on the bar top and used the other to lift his glass to his mouth.
“Okay, we talk about weird moment, or we just get drunk and pretend it never happen?”
Nolan didn’t think the fucker was just going to come out with it like that. Guilt slammed into him as he looked over at Luka and wondered if this was some sort of confrontation because Nolan had flirted with them both and gotten a little too close to Marko recently. He swallowed down another delightfully spiced mouthful of liquor.
“Should I get drunk for this conversation?”
“Looks like you’re already halfway there,” Luka pointed out. He wedged himself between Marko and Nolan, leaning his elbow on Marko’s shoulder in a gesture that telegraphed they were together.
As they should be, Nolan thought bitterly, but he wasn’t feeling particularly generous considering how badly he wanted them both. “Yeah, well. I came here to drink my feelings.”
“Mm. You should try feelings burritos,” Marko said. “Is much better. No hangover.”
“Nah, just burrito farts,” Luka said, then laughed when Marko rolled his eyes. “Please, you know it’s true. There’s a reason we don’t sleep together when you and Ravi have burrito night.”
Nolan felt his ears go red, and he had to look away. He didn’t know what the fuck was wrong with him because, for an aromantic asshole, he loved watching the people he cared about living their best lives. So why did it force bile up his throat to think about losing these two to each other?
They wanted things that made his skin crawl.
He jolted slightly when warm fingers touched his wrist, and he took a breath before he returned his attention to the two men. “I’m still firmly team bourbon.”
“Are you still team Luka and Marko?” Luka asked so quietly Nolan mostly had to read his lips over the music.
He swallowed heavily. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because you stop talking to me,” Marko said, his booming voice rising over the music. “We have moment, then you just leave. And then”—he sucked in air through his teeth—“nothing.”
About the Author
E.M. Lindsey is a non-binary writer who lives in the southeast United States, close to the water where their heart lies.
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