by N.J. Lysk

Book Cover: Cracking Ice
Part of the Rules to Break series:
  • Cracking Ice

An omega in heat. His straight alpha teammate. A night they won't forget. A connection they cannot deny.

When Cartwright Johnson joins the Hell's Flames, he expects to play hard to compensate for being an omega daring to pursue a professional hockey career. But he doesn't count on the instant connection he forms with his alpha linemate... Or on the heat it sparks.

All Keenan Avali wants to do is play hockey. It doesn't matter that he's an alpha, he's got no interest in dominating anywhere but on the ice. And he's certainly got no interest in men, no matter how sweet they smell or how beautifully they skate.

Nobody can fail to see they play together like they were made for it. But how close can they get to success without losing something much dearer than a game?

“Cracking Ice” is the second novel in the ‘Rules to Break’ series and can be read independently from the first book, “Not Destiny”, but it contains spoilers for that story.

Cover Artists:

He could feel the heat coming on first thing in the morning. This time, the beginning was quite pleasant, like waking up under soft sunlight, muscles relaxed, mind quiet. He was hard, but it was nothing urgent yet, something he could take or leave, and when he did take himself in hand he could go slow, teasing until he was wet enough for the friction not to chafe. It was only when he came—a lingering punch of electricity in the middle of the decadent pleasure he'd been enjoying—that he realized what it meant.

He raised his head to look down at the mess he'd made of the bed, then let it thump back down onto the pillow. “Fuck.”


It wasn't like Carry never woke up hard and welcomed the day with a little death, but heat felt different, buzzing under his skin and impossible to ignore even after coming. He didn't need to come, his body insisted, he needed an alpha. His body didn't give a fuck that Carry wanted a hockey career, or enough independence to choose what to wear and eat and where to live.

They were staying at a hotel for the whole weekend before the Centaurs game. A game Carry was now bound to miss for 'medical' leave. It cost him to fight nature, and he wasn't going to be physically fit for hockey unless his heat breezed by.

An omega wasn't meant to go through heat alone; back in the times of cavemen heat scent would have announced to any compatible alphas in the vicinity the omega was available, and soon whoever won the fight that ensued would get to mate and bond the omega, who would have someone for their heats for the rest of their lives. Of course, that and protection was pretty much all they got out of it since bonding meant an alpha could order them to do pretty much anything they liked.

In the future, you got suppressants. Compulsory if your first heat hit when you were fifteen and 'psychologically unready for intimacy'. Only when he had been prescribed the suppressants his doctor had meant for him to take them only until he was eighteen and old enough for sex.

At eighteen, though, Carry had just signed with the Titans and he had refused to stop taking them. He'd had to switch doctors to get his way, because it wasn't like he could know what he wanted to do with his own body. He didn’t regret it, and team doctors certainly understood the need to push Carry's body to give all it had, be it on the ice or off it. They made him take breaks from the suppressants during the off-season, and he listened because he knew they'd lose effectivity otherwise.

He didn't really know if his heats were worse than other people's, or he was just unused to them. Or maybe the suppressants were making them worse, just like his GP had warned him. Not that it mattered; if he stopped taking the suppressants during the season, his body would certainly wake up with a fury and send him into frequent heats to make up for all the ones he had missed or got in diminished form.

Maybe it had happened anyway. Or maybe it was his fault; maybe he shouldn't have touched an alpha he was compatible with. Want as he might, he couldn't convince himself it was a coincidence this was happening now. The timing wasn't suspicious; it was... it didn't matter, anyway. He had dealt with heats during the summer and he could deal now.

He called room service for supplies, and forgot to specify a beta servant, for which he then proceeded to call himself an idiot until the lights flashed announcing the servant had arrived.

Alpha servants were extremely rare, really, so it hadn’t been that bad...

The beta who brought the tray didn't even look him in the face, which was when Carry realized that even a beta could tell he looked terrible. He would have given him a tip, but he had no idea where his wallet was. He'd barely managed to find a complimentary robe in time to open the door as it was. He mumbled a thank you and hoped the guy didn't think he was an arsehole.

The food helped a little, and the tea helped a lot: waking him up fully. Only then did he pick up the phone and call management.

“I'm going into heat,” he said as soon as greetings were out of the way. No point in dragging it out.

“Now?” Coach Hernandez asked, gruff, not surprised.

“It's starting.”

“How long?”

Carry swallowed. Every time he’d been forced to ask for time off for heat, he'd felt like he was sticking a nail into his hockey coffin. “Probably won't play the Centaurs.”

“Okay, get... get better soon,” Coach told him, and hung up.

At least he hadn't asked if he needed anything the way betas sometimes did. Some of them weren't close to any omegas, which he got, but how did they manage to miss the fact that their society catered for the needs of partners and individuals going into heat?

Some people thought betas would eventually disappear. Without the instinct to mate, it was easy for them to put it off for career, or to choose partners who weren't fertile or who, being of the same sex, they weren't able to procreate with. Alphas and omegas would outlast them all, the last line of defence for a species whose fertility levels were plummeting faster than their mortality rate ever could.

Not that it didn't sound nice, no heats, but one had to have their silver linings.

He went back to the shower, hoping more cold water would help. His low-level arousal wouldn't abate, though, and he ended up turning the water hotter and beating it right there. Clean and economical and almost pointless, he was still hard at the end and feeling close to tearing his own skin off in strips. He didn't bother with a towel, just went for his suitcase and rummaged until he found the big toy he kept there for times like this. He'd hoped to put it off until after lunch, at least, but heat was rising faster and faster. He stumbled on his way back to the bed, almost dropping it.

Fuck,” he panted at the empty room. He wanted someone here. Not someone; an alpha... And then he could smell it, too. Sand warmed by the sun. Not just any alpha: Avali.

Why had he touched him? He dug his nails into his palms, punishing and useless as another wave of arousal hit him and made him curl up. His cock was hard against his belly and his thighs were wet with something slicker than water. He was wet already. Ready to... He exhaled shakily and groped around the covers and found the dildo, then rolled over and braced his feet on the bed. He knew it wasn't real, but he inhaled anyway, trying to catch more of the smell of warm sand and slightly salty air.

He was so stupid, he thought as he pressed his fingers into his hole, two at a time and a little rough and not caring. Avali's scent should have been a clue: it was what it smelled like in his family’s summer house, his favourite place in the whole world. It was so obvious, so textbook...

He pulled himself open and fumbled to place the dildo at his entrance, then pressed hard enough to make it pop past the ring of muscle. A grating whine left his throat, he didn't know if it was pain or pleasure, if he wanted more or less. But he needed it anyway. The unyielding pressure of the silicone didn't feel quite right, it wasn't warm enough and it didn't move like a person, his own movements shaky and uncoordinated. Even so, he felt himself getting wetter as he got the whole of it inside himself, arse clenching against the invasion and lubricating to make it easier. It wasn't enough, but it was close enough his body knew how to react to it. He pulled it out, fast enough to leave him feeling empty, and pushed it back in, hard enough to hurt even as it pressed against his prostate and his cock jerked, splattering his chest and stomach without him even needing to touch it.

He let his hand fall off the toy still embedded into his arse, feeling lax but not sated. He was still hard. What would it take to catch a break? It had never got this intense so fast before, and it had got pretty bad on occasion. Bad enough that even pain couldn't stop the arousal, the need making him touch himself despite the chaffing.

Worse still, he was already tired and it wasn't even lunch time. How was he going to keep it up on his own? The answer was rather dispiriting: He wasn't. He needed someone.

Well, he would anyway, right now he needed to get to the water or he was going to pant himself into unconsciousness.

It wasn't until around seven in the evening that, having eaten the cold remains of his breakfast, he managed to compose himself enough to shower again—one more lacklustre orgasm—and throw some clothes on. He needed to get to a club. In the state he was in, he didn't have time for anything more sophisticated. Whoever had proven an omega couldn't die from heat need alone sure as hell had never gone through the experience themselves. Intense pleasure wasn't that much greater than intense pain when your nerve endings were getting fried with it every two seconds. Not that it was really pleasure; it was the need for it, the want of it, that really dominated a lonely heat.

He stumbled out of his room. He had located his wallet, but only because he needed to take a cab if he expected to get further than the hotel lobby.

He didn't get to the lobby, though.

Chapter 12: Keenan

The scent had woken him from his nap, syrupy sweet and overwhelming. He’d come to abruptly, disoriented and already searching for it around his empty suite before he realised he'd been dreaming. An absurdly realistic dream about licking caramel off someone's skin. Except the scent was real, and so was the person behind it. He didn't even need to think about it; he'd spent the last months fighting the intense longing for sweet things he'd developed since Johnson had joined the team.

Johnson's room was on the same floor; had they given him an old room without appropriate scent-blocking by mistake? Had they given Keenan one as well? And then that made him wonder. He had never smelled an omega's heat from a hotel room: was Johnson even in his room?

He nearly walked out of the room in his boxers and t-shirt before he realized what he was doing, and when he did, he made himself stop and get two of his suppressants. It was double the dose and he had taken one the day before, but if he was forgetting clothes... And suddenly he remembered something else: Johnson had kissed him. The wave of want that thought brought with it made him lean his forehead against the wall in search of coolness. He tried to reach for his centre, just like he'd been taught, to find the quiet place inside his own head. He could... He hit his head hard against the wall, groaning in pain, but it cleared his mind a little, enough that he could get some water to swallow down the pills and wash the sleep off his face.

The suppressants worked fairly fast. By the time he left the bathroom, he was already feeling better, which was lucky, because he still needed to go to Johnson. If he was in the hall while in full heat, he couldn't be thinking clearly.

It didn't require any thought at all to head in the right direction; his feet walked him there until the sight of Johnson stopped him cold. Objectively, Johnson looked awful, big circles under his eyes, his blond hair beyond disarray and seriously into tornado survivor territory and his clothes clearly thrown on any which way—a black t-shirt that made him look even paler except for the high spots of colour on his cheeks, jeans and dress shoes but no socks. But all that was lost in a cloud of caramel-scented delight, in his bright eyes and parted rose pink lips.

His head snapped up to look at Keenan and he groaned, leaning his weight against the closest wall for support. He was so heat high he couldn't even walk properly and he was out here in the open...

“I can't... I can't deal right now,” he said, tired but not angry for once. By the way his lids were drooping; Keenan imagined he was too tired to get angry. It was certainly a first.

It took him a moment to find his own voice, and it still came out all distorted when he did. “You shouldn't be out here... like this.”

Johnson sighed, eyes closed like he couldn't manage to keep them open. “Yeah, well.” He waved a hand weakly. “You shouldn't either.” He pushed himself off the wall and took a step closer; frowning a little in what Keenan suspected spoke more of sheer willpower than anger or irritation.

He was blocking the way to the exit, Keenan realized, and he almost moved. Johnson was an omega and Keenan couldn't touch him so he couldn't block the exit, not with his body. If Johnson had to squeeze by him, it was still Keenan's responsibility... Except having Johnson that close brought back something he had been trying not to think about since it had happened: Johnson had given him permission. When he still didn't move, Johnson glanced up at him.

“Move,” he ordered, voice gravelly.

“No,” Keenan replied. “You can't go out like this.”


About the Author

N.J. Lysk (pronouns: whatever) is a queer one—in almost every sense of the word—for whom stories have always been their one true home. She studied linguistics and literature (which is to say, someone offered him a genuine excuse to read professionally) and ended up teaching, but writing is their one true love.

Addicted to angst, enamoured of mpreg and always ready to try a new kink (in a book, that’s it!) she became hooked into the omegaverse through fanfic (but he doesn’t have the patience to write other people’s characters) and has recently expanded from werewolves to hockey players.

If your heart veers towards the dark, look for the N.Y. Lysk instead & subscribe to the Dark & Taboo list (these books all come with serious warnings!).

Other Books By N.J. Lysk