Professional hockey player Jason Mitchell is thrilled when he's traded to the New York Blades-the team of his dreams. There's just one problem: his pooch isn't adjusting to city life too well. Good thing he crosses paths with dog trainer Delilah Gould. And then he begins to fall for her...
Now, with the season heating up, Jason realizes he'll have to score big to win the Stanley Cup-and the woman who has tamed his dog and unleashed his heart.
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February 05, 2007
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Excerpt from Chasing Stanley by Deirdre Martin
He was big and handsome, with wavy black hair that gleamed in the sun and warm brown eyes that could tease out a girl's deepest secrets. Delilah Gould's heart flapped madly in her chest just looking at him. Her fingers itched; what she wouldn't give to run them through that thick, lustrous hair! Unable to stop herself, she edged closer. Their eyes met. Delilah's heart melted into a puddle, especially when he started wagging his tail. He was the most stunning Newfoundland she'd ever seen.
Delilah had taken her three dogs for a quick midday walk around her Upper West Side neighborhood. According to local weathercasters, the temperature was hovering around ninety-five degrees, with the mercury expected to hit one hundred by late afternoon. Delilah was anxious for Sherman, her golden retriever, Shiloh, a cairn terrier, and Belle, a white mutt, to do their business quickly so she could hustle them right back inside into air-conditioning. After only a few minutes, sweat was pasting her clothes to her body, while the stifling humidity had shocked the hair around her head into a brunette halo.
Despite the heat, the streets were still crowded, though most people were moving like sleepwalkers and looked about as happy to be outside as Delilah was. Rounding the corner of West Eighty-first and Madison, she paused to take a sip from her water bottle. That's when she saw him.
"C'mon, Stanley. Don't do this to me." A well-built man with hair dark as his dog's and brown eyes just as tender, sounded desperate, cajoling the dog. "Stanley!" The man's voice turned harsh. "Get up." He moved behind the dog and tried pushing him. Stanley didn't budge. "C'mon, you big slug. I don't have time for this." Hooking his fingers under the dog's collar, he pulled. That's when Delilah sprang into action.
"Don't do that!"
Delilah commanded her own dogs to lie down and stay. They did so dutifully as she approached the Newf and his owner, who was eying her suspiciously.
"Pull on his collar like that." She clucked her tongue, noting how heavily the poor dog was panting. "How long have you had him outside like this? Don't you know big dogs suffer more in the heat? Especially black dogs. Black absorbs the rays of the sun. Look how heavily he's panting! How would you like to be out in this weather wearing a big fur coat?"
The man stared at her. "Do I know you?"
Delilah ignored him. She took her water bottle and squeezed some water into the grateful dog's mouth before pulling a bandanna from her pocket and wiping his dripping jowls. The dog owner watched, dumbstruck. Sizing him up as discreetly as she could, Delilah noticed he seemed unaffected by the heat, his tennis shirt dry as a bone, not a trace of moisture on his rugged, tanned face, almost as if he was above sweating. Delilah felt like a total zhlub standing there with her sticky T-shirt and shorts covered in dog hair. As casually as she could, she touched the top of her head, pretending to push some hair into place. It was just as she suspected: she was close to sporting an afro. Frazzled, she shoved her bandanna back in her pocket.
The dog owner looked bemused. "Do you always rush up to strangers' dogs and give them water?"
"No. Just the ones who are dying in the heat."
The man's teeth gritted. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm trying to get him to move."
"Not very effectively. You're totally clueless," Delilah blurted. Oh, God. It was happening. Whenever she got nervous, her mouth went into overdrive. She either blurted the first thing that came to her head or babbled incoherently. Sometimes both. Today appeared to be a blurt day.
The man folded his arms across his chest. "You know, I'd heard New Yorkers could be jerks, but until now, I didn't believe it."
"I'm not a jerk," Delilah insisted weakly. "I just know a lot about dogs."
"Think you can get him to move?"
"Oh yeah? Then be my guest. Please."
Delilah pulled a piece of hot dog from her fanny pack and held it out to Stanley, slowly walking backward away from him.