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The Offsides Dilemma

The Offsides Dilemma

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He’s the popular hockey star, and she’s the stubborn figure skater ignoring him.

Charlotte Morrison has a secret, one that stays within the confines of the skating rink her parents run.

She loves hockey. It’s not logical for the cold-as-ice skating princess her classmates call a robot.

Especially since the school’s hockey team can’t win a single game.

When the antics of golden boy, Jesse Carrigan, land her in the principal’s office, she realizes she’s been set up.

Because Jesse wants her help and he’s willing to do anything to get it.

Main Tropes

  • Hockey Romance
  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Sweet Romance

Synopsis

Enjoy this sweet young adult romance from bestselling author Michelle MacQueen.

He’s the popular hockey star, and she’s the stubborn figure skater ignoring him.

Charlotte Morrison has a secret, one that stays within the confines of the skating rink her parents run.

She loves hockey. It’s not logical for the cold-as-ice skating princess her classmates call a robot.

Especially since the school’s hockey team can’t win a single game. 

When the antics of golden boy, Jesse Carrigan, land her in the principal’s office, she realizes she’s been set up. 

Because Jesse wants her help and he’s willing to do anything to get it. 

Forced to help the team practice skating without falling flat on their faces, Charlotte realizes there’s more to Jesse than charm and good looks. 

But if she trades her figure skates for hockey pads, will the coach let her play? He is her dad, after all. 

The Offsides Dilemma is book one in the Gulf City High series, featuring charming hockey players and a battle of wills they weren’t prepared for. This is a sweet, young adult contemporary romance and can be read as a standalone. Download it now to see why readers are swooning.

Excerpt

"Jesse King Carrigan skates in, slowing to weave around defenders as if they mean nothing to him. It's just him and the goalie, no one else standing in the way of the glorious Stanley Cup. He pulls back and releases a slapper from the left dot. Score!" The puck hit the back of the empty net, and Jesse's arms shot into the air as he yelled and skated around the deserted rink. 

A grin stretched across his face as imaginary sounds from the crowd crashed down around him. 

"You're ridiculous." The only actual person present laughed from her perch on the half-wall near the bench. 

Jesse turned his grin on his sister, not stopping his victory lap. "You're just jealous," he shouted. "Not everyone gets to score the winning goal in the Stanley Cup final." 

She lifted a brow. "In your dreams, bro." Hopping off the wall, she walked across the ice in her tennis shoes. 

Jesse had been trying to get her in skates for years, but Cassandra Carrigan wasn't one for joining. He’d promised no one would be at the rink this early on a Saturday morning and that was the only reason she showed up. 

Jesse skated toward her, not looking at his feet as the front of his skate hit a rut. He couldn't stop the momentum as his legs flew out from under him, and his butt slammed into the ice. 

Cassie crossed her arms over her chest and smirked down at him. "Real smooth, Jess." 

"Just practicing my falling skills." He shrugged as he brushed ice from his jeans. "You know, so it doesn't hurt when it happens in a game." 

"Didn't they teach you how to fall in intro to skating when you were like five? You know the one thing that's more painful than playing hockey?"

He pushed himself to his feet and looked down at his sister, knowing where she was going with this. He didn't ask.

She answered her own question, anyway. "Having to watch you play." 

"Not cool, dude." He wrapped his arms around her waist before she could stop him. She squealed but couldn't break free as he picked her up and pumped his legs, gaining speed. 

"Put me down, Jesse!" She had a death-grip on his arms. 

"Say please."

"Please."

"Say you didn't mean it. That our team is awesome."

"Jesse." She grimaced as he finished one lap around the ice. "I won't lie for you." 

He kept skating, a grin cracking his lips as his sister squeezed her eyes shut. A year younger than Jesse's eighteen, she couldn't have been more different. There wasn't a risk-taking bone in her body, at least not anymore.

They’d switched places over the last two years with Cass preferring safety and Jesse going for the risk. 

"Fine," she yelled. "The Gulf City Hurricanes are the best thing to ever happen to hockey. Happy now?"

He slowed and lowered her feet to the ice. "That'll do." 

"The things I say for you." She shook her head and crossed the ice again, pulling herself back up to sit on the half-wall. 

Jesse retrieved his stick and tapped it against the wall near her feet. "We do kind of suck, don't we?" The joking gone from his voice, he sighed. 

"That question sounds like a trap."

"It’s not."

"Well..." She paused. "Then yeah, you guys kind of make my eyes bleed."

"Thanks for the imagery."

"I live to please."

Jesse laughed, but he couldn't get her words out of his head. The Hurricanes hadn't always been bad. When he made the team as the only freshman, they won the league. Now, in his senior year, the season was almost halfway over, and they had yet to win a game. 

"We have to do something."

Cass narrowed her eyes. "Who is this 'we' you're talking about? You remember who I am, right?" 

He did. Cassandra Carrigan didn't do people. In fact, she avoided them at all costs. Two years ago, she’d been walking in downtown Tampa with their parents when a gunman shot their mom. She'd watched their mother die in front of her, and since then, she refused to go out in public. Two years of taking high school classes online and staying in the house had turned her into a hermit. 

Jesse never pushed her, but he invited her to the rink whenever he was sure it would be relatively empty. She watched his games, but from the safety of her bedroom on a delayed stream. 

He shook thoughts of his mom and that awful day away. "Okay, I need to do something about it. It's my last year of playing. I can't let us go down in such dramatic flames."

She kicked her feet against the wall.  "It's not like you can suddenly teach these guys how not to fall on their butts." 

"No, but there has to be something." His team shouldn't be as bad as they were. They played in top-notch facilities owned by their coach. He lifted his eyes to the rafters where old team banners hung. Their coach played for a decade in the NHL, and he couldn’t even whip them into shape. 

"I think the guys need a bit of tough love. I'd basically pay you to go all captain on Roman."

"Roman?" He laughed. "He and Damien are the only guys on the team who can put the puck in the back of the net. Besides me, of course."

"So humble, brother."

He grinned. Most people just thought of Cassie as the golden boy's weird sister, but she was his best friend. Everyone else would love her too, if they got a chance to get to know her. 

Living in Gulf City, Florida was like living in a fish bowl. Everyone knew everything about their neighbors. Locals glommed together to withstand the tourist seasons. It had its benefits, to be so close to everyone you grew up with, but for anyone different, it wasn't such a good thing. 

He wanted an easier life for his sister, just like he wanted his team to win a game. One. 

But neither seemed possible. 

"Think we should get home?" Cass hopped off the wall. 

Jesse’s shoulders dropped. "Probably. Dad said he had to work today, so Will and Eli are probably driving him up a wall." 

The twins were six when they lost their mom. Jesse didn't know if that made it easier for them, or if it was better to have both the years of memories and the grief. 

Since that day, their family changed in more ways than just losing a mom. Jesse loved his dad and was grateful he provided for them, but he put all of his grief into his work and never quite came back from it. As a high-profile lawyer, his clients were demanding. 

His kids tried to be less so. 

Jesse took care of his siblings when he could. Sometimes he was all they had. He was lucky to have Cass and Mary—the twins’ part-time caretaker. 

"Yo, Jess!" Roman's voice boomed across the ice. The tall, blond boy waved from his spot near the tunnel to the locker rooms.  

Cassie went still. She knew Roman, Jessie's best friend. He’d once been her friend too, yet she rarely spoke to him … or anyone else anymore. 

"You okay?" Jesse asked. It was a question he knew bothered his sister because she never wanted to answer it. Yet, he worried about her, and that would never change. 

She nodded. 

He gave her a long look before skating across the ice. "Rome, man." They bumped fists as they'd done a million times before in their lives. "What are you doing here?"

"Lifting in the weight room." He shrugged. "Have to keep my strength up.” For what, neither of them knew. Even his optimistic best friend knew their hockey season was toast. 

"Some of us are actually preparing for the next hockey game." 

He flashed his teeth in a half-smirk, half-smile thing Roman was good at. "Good on you, man. Still trying."

Jesse bristled at that. Of course, he was still trying. The season wasn't over yet. He reached out and shoved Roman back. "You just know you won't get better no matter how hard you practice." 

Roman grinned. "That a challenge, pretty boy?" He'd been calling Jesse pretty boy since the girls started fawning over his long lashes and bright blue eyes when he was barely a teenager. 

Jesse gestured to the ice. "Be my guest." 

"I'll go get my skates." He turned back into the tunnel. 

Jesse skated back to where Cassie still stood. "He's going to shoot around with me." 

She made a sound in the back of her throat but didn't utter a word. 

"Go ahead." Jesse knew her too well. 

"Why do you insist on keeping him around?"

"You don't like Rome?" He pursed his lips. Everyone liked Roman Sullivan—including the old Cassie. But he shouldn't expect this new version of Cass to be like everyone else. "I'll tell him to leave." 

"Something tells me you're going to be the one leaving." She nodded toward a very angry looking girl marching toward the ice, her figure skates digging into the rubber flooring. 

"Jesse Carrigan," she huffed. "Do you know how to read?"

He swallowed heavily as he always did when faced with Charlotte Morrison, the gorgeous daughter of Coach Morrison and most forbidden girl in the entire school. 

He couldn’t take his gaze from the storm building in her eyes.

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