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.“What the hell do you think I’m gonna say to them?”Drawing herself up to her entire, what, five-four height, she replied, “Well, not swearing in their hearing would be a start.”“Obviously since I’m a professional athlete, I make a habit of talking a blue streak around small children.I couldn’t help myself, ogre that I am.” His tone was defensive.But geez, who pissed in this chick’s cornflakes this morning? He was pretty sure kids heard worse than hell on the school bus.“I need to protect them.”Rob briefly debated what to say then went with, “You’re their teacher, Ms.Rossa.You feel responsible for them.I get that.I’m not going to do anything bad, I promise.Despite what you obviously think, I’m actually a pretty good guy, or so I’m told.I’m guessing they didn’t pick names out of a hat for this program, so there must have been a reason they chose me.Now can we go in and stimulate their developing brains with some exposure to great literature?”He had laid it on thick with the sarcasm, but damn, he could practically see the stick shoved up this woman’s ass.At least if the thing was a hockey stick, he’d have some use for her.Rob snorted to himself.In all his years of playing hockey, he wasn’t sure he’d ever been insulted so quickly and so thoroughly, even by his most bitter rivals.Just because she was a teacher didn’t give her the right to judge him.Sweeping her arm toward the classroom, Ms.Rossa said, “After you.”“Oh no.After you.” He held the door open, wondering if she’d faint in shock at the chivalrous action, but she slipped through without so much as a glance at him.Try as he might, though, he couldn’t drag his gaze from the back view as the woman walked away.Was she purposely putting an extra swing in those hips? No, definitely not.Considering she clearly subscribed to the “all athletes are stupid, insensitive jerks” theory, he doubted she was trying to impress him.But if her hips naturally moved like that…Why am I even thinking about her? She’d be a total waste of time to pursue, and I’d end up looking like an ass, since she hates me and would surely reject any invitation to spend more time with me than she’s forced to.Ms.Rossa pulled the chair from behind her desk, and mostly to irk her, he instead perched on the front edge of the desk, pulling his jersey on over his head once he’d settled himself.With a sneer she wasn’t quite able to hide, she handed him the book then scooted to the back of the room, where she leaned on the wall and raised her eyebrows in an unmistakable “get on with it” look.Okay, woman.If that’s how you want to play, fine.But remember, you mess with the bull, and you’ll get the horns.He grinned.“Hey, everybody.”Fifteen small faces stared at him.“Class, say hi to Mr.D’Amico,” Ms.Rossa prompted.“He’s here to read you a story.”“Hi, Mr.D’Amico,” went a chorus of voices.“Today we’re going to read, well, I’m going to read,” He smiled and a couple grinned back, “Fancy Nancy?” Glancing toward the back of the room, Rob schooled his expression.She’d have to try harder than that to rattle him.He was an NHL player who’d go toe-to-toe with anybody and wasn’t about to let this sprite of a thing intimidate him.“Fancy Nancy it is.”Opening the book, he brutally suppressed a grimace as the glitter on the front cover brushed off onto his hands, with some settling on his jersey.He ignored the snicker from the back of the room, refusing to give this Ms.Rossa the satisfaction of knowing he had heard her.After Rob began to read, he discovered he needed to hold the book out to the side so the kids could see the pictures and he could still read the words.Good thing he hadn’t done an intense arm or shoulder workout beforehand.Lifting a coffee cup, much less a book, after one of those was a potentially painful experience.He read and read.How freaking long is this book?At least the kids finally livened up, pointing out things and leaning forward in their seats.When he finished, he closed the book with a flourish.More glitter fell to the floor and this time he smiled; he’d had the foresight to hold it away from him.Can’t get me twice with that crap.“Pretty cool, huh? I love reading.See, I’m a hockey player.” He indicated his jersey, clearly violating Ms.Rossa’s “don’t talk to the kids” rule.Rob had a sudden urge to stick out his tongue at her like Sebastian had done during scrimmage earlier in camp, but managed to hold himself back.“We spend a lot of time waiting for buses, flying on planes, sitting around our hotel rooms before games, whatever.If I couldn’t read, I’d be pretty bored.” Not entirely true since his tastes ran more to engaging in video game tournaments against his teammates, but he wasn’t about to mention that.Obviously he could read; he just preferred something a little more active.One little girl raised her hand.“I saw a hockey game on TV with my daddy.”“Oh yeah? Did you like it?”She crinkled her nose.“Do you fight like those guys did?”Think fast, D’Amico [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]