San Francisco Thunder Series – Book 1
By Victoria Denault
Still staring at my blank phone screen, I stumble toward the door and of course I walk straight into someone. Of course. Because to- day is going to be shitty in every possible way. Luckily, I manage to avoid getting chai latte on either of us; it barely spills over the lid and only dribbles onto my hand.
“I’m so sorry!” I say at the exact same time she does, and I look up to see a familiar face staring back, but I can’t place it.
She blinks azure eyes and then her whole face lights up. “Zoey?
Zoey Quinlin? Oh my God!”
She’s hugging me before I realize what’s happening. I wrap the hand not covered in latte around her back and return the embrace. She pulls back, still holding my shoulders, and smiles. “Holy crap! It’s been over ten years! Oh my God.” She pauses and glances around before adding in a softer voice, “It’s Dixie. Dixie Braddock. You used to babysit me at my family’s summer cottage in Maine. You were friends with my brother, Jude.”
“Holy shit! Dixie Braddock?” I can’t believe it. The last time I saw her she was thirteen. Wheat hair; pink, suntanned skin; freckles across her nose and chronically scabbed-up knees from trying to keep up with her older sisters and brother, who were all daredevils on their bikes and skateboards and surfboards. Babysitting them—well, the girls, anyway—for the two years I lived in Maine was a highlight of my summers. And so was seeing their brother. Shit, I hadn’t thought of Jude Braddock in a while. I find myself smiling now that I am.
“You live in San Fran?” she questions as she takes my elbow and leads me over to the counter and hands me a napkin for my latte- soaked hand.
“Yeah. Stayed local after college,” I explain as I put down the latte and wipe my hand. “And you live here?”
She nods, her sleek blond bob moving like a curtain around her face. She looks close to the tiny thing I babysat but much more refined and beautiful now. I do the math: she’s only twenty-four, but she looks more put together than any twenty-four-year-old I’ve known.
“Yeah. I went to school for sports media, then interned with the San Francisco Thunder hockey team, and they hired me full- time this year.” Her eyes dart around, and her voice drops again. “Jude plays for them, so I use my mom’s last name, Wynn, so no one thinks he got me the job. He didn’t.”
“Jude is in San Francisco?” I don’t know why I felt the need to say that with such breathless shock. I knew he made the NHL, but I had thought he was playing in Milwaukee. That’s where he was last time I Googled him, which was three years ago, before I married Adam.
“Yeah. Got traded a couple years ago,” Dixie explains. “So how’s your family? Where’s your dad preaching now?”
“He’s retired. Mom and Dad are in Sacramento,” I explain. “My brother, Morgan, is a teacher here in San Francisco.”
“Morgan!” She laughs and her cheeks turn a little pink. “Sadie, Winnie and I had such a crush on your brother when we were little. Remember we used to keep begging you to invite him over when you were watching us?”
I nod and can’t help but smile back. Yeah, that memory hasn’t faded. The Braddock girls wanted my brother to come over, but I never invited him. Not because he was gay, which I already knew at that point, but because if Morgan was around, he would tease me about gawking at Jude, which I always did if he happened to come home before Mr. and Mrs. Braddock’s date night ended.
Dixie glances at her phone in her hand, and I realize we both must have been looking at our screens when we collided. She frowns. “I have to go. I have a meeting at the arena in twenty.” She puts a hand on my arm again. “But I would love to catch up with you, and I know Winnie and Sadie would too. They’re going to be in town this weekend. Would you be able to do brunch?”
“Yeah, I can do brunch,” I reply and am shocked at how excited I am at her suggestion. I haven’t really done much of anything social since the separation. I kind of lost touch with a lot of my friends after marrying Adam and adopted his circle of friends. And they all promptly orphaned me after the separation. I didn’t care much because I didn’t feel up to social interaction, but suddenly this seems like a pleasant distraction from my reality. The Braddock family was one of my favorite parts of my childhood.
“Amazing!” Dixie almost squeals. “How about tomorrow. Eleven?”
I nod. “Where?”
“MKT?” I blurt out because it’s in my hotel and I’m too flustered to think of anything else. To be honest, I don’t even know what they serve for brunch.
“Great! Sadie loves that place, and she’s normally impossible to please.” She hugs me again. “See you tomorrow! Winnie and Sadie are going to be so excited!”
And then, before I can even lift my hand to wave, she’s back out the door. She never even got a coffee, but she doesn’t seem to notice. I’m more dumbfounded and confused than I was from the phone call with Minerva. The Braddocks are here. Well, at least Jude and Dixie are here. In San Francisco. Where I live. When the hell did that happen?
I look around the coffee shop to make sure there’s no one else from my past lurking around. A teacher, a neighbor, another sister of an old unconsummated love. Although Jude was my only unrequited love, but he did have three sisters. Whom I will be having brunch with tomorrow. Crazy!
I slip out of Peet’s and concentrate on the clicking of my heels as I make my way back over to my office. I finally take a sip of my jostled latte. It’s barely warm but the caffeine still manages to clear my head a little. Not enough that eagle-eye Marti doesn’t notice something is up.
“Everything okay?” she wants to know as she stands at her desk, gathering things she needs for her day and placing them in her bag. “You look more out of it than you did before the coffee.”
“I ran into someone I haven’t seen in a long time,” I murmur, and for some reason Jude’s seventeen-year-old face floats through my head, not Dixie’s from this morning. “The last time I saw her was in Maine eleven years ago, so it was surprising.”
“Wow.” Marti takes a break from filling her Michael Kors satchel with listing flyers. “Small world, huh? I love when that happens. Unless it’s someone I hate. Was it someone you hate?”
“No. Not at all,” I reply and drop down gently into my seat. “She and her sisters were sweethearts. Seems like they still are. I’ll definitely find out, because I’m having brunch with them tomorrow.”
“Cool.” Marti isn’t paying attention anymore. Her eyes are focused across the room on Parker McDavid, who is the owner of our company. He’s midforties, tall with a dad bod that is oddly at- tractive, probably because he covers it in perfectly tailored designer clothes. His dark hair is graying in all the right places, like George Clooney’s, and his eyes are warm and his smile is kind. But he’s an astute businessman who expects a lot from his Realtors, and Marti is constantly trying to impress him. I am too, if I’m being honest, but I’m new. She’s not new, but she’s still hungry.
“I’m going to tell Parker about the deal I just closed, and then I’m off for a condo showing,” Marti explains and barely even waves good-bye as she hustles toward the kitchen Parker just disappeared into for his morning croissant and English Breakfast tea.
I open my laptop and pull up my email, determined to keep my mind focused on work. I need to send a follow-up email regarding the potential Haight listing, but my brain is bouncing from Adam to Dixie.
One future encounter I’m dreading—confronting Adam—and one I’m looking forward to—seeing the Braddock sisters. But the one that isn’t destined to happen is the one that fills me with excitement I haven’t felt in a long time—the potential that since I’m meeting three Braddock siblings I might also run into the fourth: Jude.
Victoria Denault has scored big and totally won my heart with her new hockey series, The San Francisco Thunder. I loved everything about this book, from the romance to the dynamic secondary characters. This book came to life and all of the characters had my complete attention.
Jude Braddock is the living, breathing, sex god of the San Francisco Thunder. Not only does he score big on the ice, he also scores big with the ladies. His bedroom moves are legendary. His “hockey stick” is an internet sensation. So how could a man of this caliber have women problems? Very easily, he hasn’t been discreet nor has he been careful with his tryst. Women are showing up on his doorstep, his phone is ringing all hours of the night, and his sexual escapades are on the internet. Maybe it’s time to move and become more discreet, The one thing he won’t do is settle down to one woman. That is until he runs into his sisters ( the sorority) former babysitter, Zoey. Zoey is the one girl that got away. This time around he’s going to make sure he catches her and doesn’t ply her with Boones Farm wine. This time he’s doing the seduction right.
Zoey has just split from her husband. The divorce procedures have turned quite nasty. She’s working her tail off trying to establish a new career in real estate while trying to hang onto what is rightfully hers. When she runs into her childhood friends, the Braddocks, it makes life seem a little better. Reuniting with old friends is what she needed. Hooking up with Jude Braddock is a bonus. First she has to finalize her divorce and get her feet on solid ground. She also needs to stay away from Boones Farm wine at all cost.
Zoey and Jude are doing more than rekindling an old friendship. They are falling in love, but it’s going to take a miracle before either one admits it. Miracles are known to happen.
I absolutely loved every moment in this book, from the snarky sorority sisters to the team dynamics,every character added something exceptionally special to Zoey and Jude’s romance.
I have read every novel Victoria Denault has written. Score is my favorite book thus far. Her growth as a writer and character development has excelled by leaps and bounds. I can’t wait to see what comes next in the San Francisco Thunder series.
Look for Slammed… book two in the San Francisco Thunder Series by Victoria DeNault…
Coming… December 5 , 2017
Pre Order: Amazon
About the Author:
Victoria Denault loves long walks on the beach, cinnamon dolce lattes and writing angst-filled romance. Before focusing on writing novels, Victoria was a journalist and a stand-up comic. She’s also an avid hockey fan who cheers more than one team and has a thing for play-off beards. Victoria grew up in Montreal, Canada but has lived in many major cities across North America. She spent her childhood summers in Maine and adult summers in Spain. She’s now happily settled in Los Angeles with her husband and their two chubby Chihuahuas.
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