Chapter 1: Unlucky #13: Carter 1 UNLUCKY #13 Carter
Rolling onto my back, I take a moment to catch my breath, pulling the condom off my quickly deflating cock. My tongue swipes at a bead of sweat that clings to my top lip, and I plow my fingers through my hair. I’m fucking spent.
“No,” Laura whines, nearly launching herself across the bed when I stand. “Don’t get up yet, Carter.”
I hold up the condom. That should be explanation enough, no? “Just throwing out the condom, Laura.”
Her brows pinch. “Lacey.”
I stifle a laugh. Oops. “Right. Sorry. Lacey.”
Lacey the blonde bombshell who was on the cover of Maxim last August. I remember that much because she told me thirteen times at the bar tonight. I started counting when it left her mouth the third time.
“We could go again,” she calls while I toss the condom in the bathroom trash.
I lean my forearm on the wall, taking a leak as she prattles on about spending the whole night together. We absolutely could, but I’d rather she leave. Contrary to popular belief, I value my alone time, even if it could be better spent with body parts buried in pretty girls.
Don’t get me wrong; Lacey’s the kind of girl you don’t think twice about getting into bed with. That’s why we fucked like rabbits for the last thirty minutes without pause, after I got her off in the elevator on the way up here, because Christ, I just wanted her to stop talking. I got it the first twelve times—she was on the cover of a magazine.
I thought thirteen was supposed to be a lucky number, not a bad omen.
“Can’t,” I finally answer, washing my hands while checking myself out in the mirror. I’ve got a nasty split down the center of my swollen lower lip. I got off easy tonight; the other guy didn’t. “Got an early flight.”
Our flight isn’t until noon; I simply don’t want her to stay.
Crossing my arms over my chest, I lean against the door frame and watch her snuggle beneath the blankets. Yeah, definitely not happening. “You should probably head out.”
I yank my boxer briefs on and plant my hands on my hips, waiting. She’s not doing a damn thing, just staring up at me with wide, blue eyes. She seems to be under the impression the larger she makes those things, the easier I’ll sway. I can’t even begin to tell her how wrong she is.
I scratch my scalp. Rocking back on my heels, I clap my fist into my palm a couple times, click a beat out with my tongue, and wait for her to fucking do something.
“Can I stay here tonight?” she finally asks.
Ah, fuck. This question again. I get it every time. Is it because she genuinely wants to stay, or because she’s secretly holding out hope she’ll be the one to change Carter Beckett’s ways, to make him want to settle down? Sometimes I think there’s a pool going with a prize for whoever the winning girl is.
Oh, wait; there is. The prize is the captain of the Vancouver Vipers’ eight-figure salary.
My answer is the same every time: “I don’t do sleepovers.”
“But I…” Her chin quivers, watery gaze trembling. For fuck’s sake. We met all of two hours ago; what’s she crying over? “I thought we got along well. I thought maybe… I thought you liked me.”
“I liked hanging out with you tonight,” I manage. The sex was a solid seven out of ten. “We had lots of fun.”
The past tense is meant to emphasize that this is where we part ways and likely never see each other ever again, but instead, it has the opposite effect.
A broad beam spreads across her face. “Maybe we could go on a date.”
I try to resist the urge to clap a hand to my face. Really, I do. Instead, I drag that shit down my face in slow motion before scrubbing it back up, all while suppressing a groan. Points for that.
“We live in different countries.”
“Maybe I could come to Van—”
“I don’t date.” Finding the pants I discarded by the hotel room door, I fish my phone out and open the Uber app. “It’s not personal. I’m not looking for anything serious right now.”
I honestly don’t understand how this is a conversation I still need to have. I’m not shy about my personal life.
No, that’s bullshit. Nobody knows shit about my personal life, except my teammates and family. But those hours in between games and passing out alone in my bed? I’m not shy about those hours. I’m photographed with different women every weekend. Girls know what they’re getting into with me. There’s even forums. Ones where they bitch about me treating them like a one-night stand all while hoping for a second ride on my stick.
But that’s what they are, all of them. One-night stands. They know that going into it yet consistently leave disappointed when that’s exactly how it plays out.
I stuff my phone away, returning my focus to the woman on my bed. She’s fingering the silky red fabric in her hands, eyes on me.
“I ordered you an Uber. He’ll be downstairs in five.”
“Lacey, right, sorry. Look, Lacey, I had a great time with you tonight, but I travel way too much to maintain anything serious.”
“Is that the only reason, then?” She slips her hand in mine, letting me tug her from the bed. “Because you don’t have time with your hockey schedule?”
“Yes,” I lie. “I don’t have time.” I could make time, I suppose. If I was interested. But I’m never interested.
“Oh.” At the very least, it seems to appease her. Maybe it makes her feel less self-conscious. I don’t know, and don’t particularly care. “Well, can I get your number?”
Fuck no. “I don’t share my number.” Ever.
Before she can reply, the door to my suite beeps twice and swings open.
“You still up, Beckett? Wanna grab a quick game before—aw, for fuck’s sake.” My teammate and best bud Emmett Brodie pauses at the edge of the room, eyes bouncing between me and Laaa… Lacey. He holds a hand up, shielding himself from her. I guess he thinks Cara might castrate him if he even looks at another woman. In all fairness, she might. She’s one fierce chick. “This is why I room with Lockwood.”
Yeah, he’s been doing that for about a year now, since he met Cara. Guess he doesn’t like to chance having random naked girls in his room while we’re on the road. I get that. I think. I mean, I don’t know a thing about relationships, serious or otherwise.
“She’s leaving,” I say, peeking around him to look at Lacey. She’s still naked. She also doesn’t seem to give a shit Emmett is standing here. In fact, her gaze drags down his body and then back up.
That’s the thing with most of the girls I meet. They don’t give a shit who they sleep with so long as he’s on the roster and making millions. That’s why they’re called puck bunnies; they hop from one player to the next.
“Your ride’s here,” I tell her. “Might wanna get dressed, sweetheart.”
“He’s got a girlfriend and I’m not interested.” My jaw tics with annoyance. I just wanna play COD with my friend, eat an entire sleeve of Oreos, and pass out face-first in my pillow. Is that too much to ask?
Finally, Lacey tugs her dress over her head, red silk draping perfectly over her hips. Fuck, she’s hot. I may not remember her name when she walks out this door, but I will remember that.
“Can I give you my number? That way you can call next time you’re in town, or if you change your mind and want me to fly—”
“Sure.” I gesture to the pad of hotel paper and pen sitting on the bedside table. “Write it down.”
Emmett’s eyes widen, the corner of his mouth curving as he moves past me, into the bathroom.
Lacey follows me to the door, looking up at me like a lost puppy. She can pout all she wants; I’m not taking her home with me.
“Well, thanks… for tonight. Hopefully I’ll see you again.”
Her smile is so bright I almost feel bad. But then she leans in to kiss me on the lips and I turn my head at the last moment. She gets my jaw.
“Bye, Lauren.” The door slams, and I flip the lock.
“Lacey!” she yells from the hallway.
Emmett strolls in, shaking with laughter. “You’re an asshole, Carter.”
I flop down on the couch while he queues up the Xbox. “They don’t get it. I’m not looking for a relationship.” I snag the half-empty box of Oreos off the coffee table and twist one apart, licking the icing. “It’s a one-night stand, not a marriage proposal.”
“So you’re shitting on their hopes and dreams at a happy life with a man who loves them?”
Hopes and dreams? What the fuck? “Cara’s turning you into a marshmallow. They can hope and dream all they want, just not with me.”
“Because you’ll never settle down?”
I shrug. “I dunno. Maybe, maybe not. Not any time soon.”
He chuckles, tossing a controller into my lap. “One day, some girl is gonna walk into your life and flip your whole world upside down and you’re not gonna know what the fuck to do with yourself except drop to your knees and beg her to never leave.”
My head bobs as I throw another cookie in my mouth. “And that’ll be the day I settle down.”