Monday, March 30, 2015

Sneak Peek: Dropping Gloves

We're a little less than a month away from release for DROPPING GLOVES, so how about a look at the first chapter to whet your appetites and tide you over?

She left to follow her dreams; she’s back to follow her heart.


Katie Weber left her heart in Portland to chase a career in Hollywood. Now she has returned to sing the national anthem for the Portland Storm for their annual Hockey Fights Cancer night. Her longtime crush, Jamie Babcock, is hurting just as much as she is. One look in his eyes is all it takes to know that. She's done the Hollywood thing, though, and she's over it, but it might be too late to dig herself out of the hole she’s dug with him.

Jamie’s already done everything humanly possible to let go of Katie, but she keeps coming back, and she keeps crushing him all over again every time she leaves. His heart has been trampled on more than enough already. At some point, he has to draw the line. Doesn't he? Only, when it's Katie, he's not sure that's even possible. She's in Portland again right now, but he can’t be sure for how long.

Katie knows she has a fight on her hands, in more ways than one, if she’s going to convince Jamie she deserves another chance, but she’s willing to drop her gloves this time. Because in the game of love, all bets are off.

DROPPING GLOVES releases on April 23, 2015. You can preorder it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Kobo. Here's the Goodreads page so you can add it to your bookshelf.

All right...without further ado, here's the first chapter of DROPPING GLOVES.



KATIE

Cancer sucks donkey balls. Great big, ginormous, hairy ones. There’s not really a better way of saying it, and I’d long since stopped trying to come up with one.
If anyone should know how bad cancer sucks, it was me. I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was a senior in high school. That was why I was here, at the Moda Center, where the Portland Storm played, staring out the end of the tunnel at the crowd gathered for their annual Hockey Fights Cancer night. If I could do anything to help even one person not have to go through all the crap I’d had to go through, then you could bet I was going to do it.
It might not seem like much, singing the national anthem at a hockey game, but for me it wasn’t about the singing or the game. It was about awareness. It was about raising money for research and treatments. It was about being sure everyone in this building right now knew how important finding a cure was.
The teams had already skated out for all of the pregame ceremonies, and the arena crew had gone through all of their music and video programming to get the crowd pumped up for the game. Not that they really needed to do much for that. The Storm had finally made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals last season before falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games, and most of last year’s key players had returned for this season. Expectations surrounding the Storm were high, regardless of the rough start they’d had. Tonight they were playing the LA Kings, one of their biggest divisional rivals for the last few seasons. With all that going on, the crowd didn’t need any extra pumping up. They were raring and ready to go, whether the team was or not.
But now, the lights dimmed and the music became more subdued, and a video started playing on the Jumbotron. Mom reached over and took my free hand, squeezing. The thing was, this video was about me.
It showed home footage and photographs that my parents and some of the Storm’s players had taken over the years, images of me at various Storm events I’d been part of, video of me skating at the team’s annual Christmas party, and other things like that.
A song by The End of All Things—a local band that had made it big, not to mention my favorite band of all time—played over the montage. I hadn’t heard this one before. It must have been from their upcoming album, which made me wonder how Tim Whitlock, the Storm’s in-arena entertainment director, had managed to get hold of it. Then again, there were connections between the team and the band. Brie Burns, one of the players’ wives, was a ballroom dancer who had worked with The End of All Things in the past.
The lyrics spoke of holding on to the best parts of life. That, combined with the images that represented some of the best parts of my life, had me getting teary-eyed. Not a good thing when I was about to have to get out there and sing in front of a crowd of eighteen thousand or so. Crying and talking was hard enough. Crying and singing? Pretty much impossible.
Now the video started getting to the point where my cancer came in. Me, bald-headed, wearing various scarves to hide the physical evidence of my chemo. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. This was why I was here. This was why they’d asked me to sing the anthem tonight instead of having the in-house singer do it. Looking away wouldn’t change anything I had been through. I’d already tried that in multiple areas of my life, and it hadn’t worked yet.
Dad put his hands on the backs of my shoulders and started to knead away some of my anxiety. Normally, at this point of the night, he would be behind the bench with the team. Dad was one of the Storm’s assistant coaches. He had been since the season after he’d retired as a player. He was my connection to the team, or at least he had been my first connection. But tonight was different. Tonight, he was with me. He’d take his spot behind the bench after this was over.
Just as he started rubbing my shoulders, an image flashed on the screen that choked me up like crazy and caused the whole crowd to ooh and aah. It was one of my prom pictures. There I was, in my ice-blue dress without anything covering my head, crying while Jamie Babcock kissed me.
I hadn’t intended to go to my prom. Not until Jamie asked me.
He hadn’t even been one of my classmates. He was one of my dad’s teammates at that point, a guy who I’d had a crush on since the first moment I’d seen him. But Jamie had asked to take me, and I would have done anything to be with him, and he’d made it perfect for me even if I was bald and felt like an alien. When I was with him, I’d felt like a princess.
But I’d beat cancer, and I’d moved on with my life—going off to Hollywood to star in an ensemble Glee-knockoff TV show called The Cool Kids—and he’d moved on with his. I’d broken my own heart when I’d left, and seeing that picture right now brought a torrent of memories and emotions flooding back to life.
“Why did you give them that one?” I hissed at my mom, trying to hold back the massive wave that was threatening to turn to tears.
She arched a brow and shrugged. “I didn’t.”
“Oh, sure you didn’t,” I said. I even rolled my eyes. My sarcasm knew no bounds. No one but my mother would have given the Storm that photo. Other than me, only Jamie and my family had copies of it. I definitely hadn’t given it to the entertainment people, and there wasn’t a chance in hell that Jamie would have done it. I’d broken his heart, too, not just my own. Why would he want a reminder of that flashed in front of his eyes right before he had a game to play?
“I wouldn’t lie to you,” she insisted. “Not about something like that. I wouldn’t have given them any of those pictures. They’re too personal.”
Which was precisely my point. My mouth was open to argue with her again when Dad squeezed my upper arms from behind. “She didn’t. Your mom’s telling you the truth.”
“Then who did?” I demanded.
“I gave it to them.”
“What?” Mom and I said in shocked unison. I spun around to glare at him. Dad had been opposed to every guy I’d ever dated, some of them more than others. He’d just about blown a gasket when Jamie had asked me to prom. Why would he put that memory, that relationship, right up at the forefront of my mind at a time like this?
Dad shrugged. “Tim asked us for pictures that meant something, that would have an impact on the crowd.” He nodded his head toward the open end of the tunnel, indicating all the people out there who were watching in rapt silence. “That one meant the most to me, so I thought it would get the biggest reaction from them.”
I swallowed hard.
The song finished, the video came to a close, and Tim’s familiar voice echoed over the PA system in the cavernous arena. He introduced the Storm’s starters for the night, who each skated out to take their positions. The Kings’ starting line went out, as well. Then he introduced the Little Starter of the game before taking a moment to talk about the military veteran being honored tonight. Both the Little Starter and the vet were also cancer survivors. They headed out on cue, and the vet stood on his mark. The boy skated over to stand next to Jamie, who patted him on the head and said something that no one could hear but the two of them.
Then Tim introduced me. “Katie Weber has been a member of the Portland Storm family for close to a decade now. Her father, David Weber, played for the Storm for a number of years before becoming one of our assistant coaches. Katie spent her teen years here, and it was here that she was diagnosed with—and beat—leukemia. Our organization was given the task of seeing her through her own personal storm. We watched her grow up, and we watched her leave to become a star bright enough to shine over a much bigger world than Portland. She will always be part of our family, no matter how far away life takes her. Now she’s returned, at least for this one very special night. Storm fans, please join me in giving Katie Weber a big welcome back to Portland.”
That was my cue. I white-knuckled my microphone with both hands and headed out of the tunnel to the purple carpet that had been laid on the ice. The entire arena was on its feet, applauding and screaming. I’d always loved being in front of a crowd, but I still got stage fright. Being on The Cool Kids hadn’t helped with that at all. If anything, it had made it worse. For the last four years, I’d been doing all of my acting and singing in front of cameras and crew. But these days when I did something in public, the audiences were bigger, and everyone seemed to think they knew me, not the character I’d played. That was clear enough from the number of people in the stands wiping tears from their eyes.
Most of the people in the audience wore the typical purple-and-silver Storm jerseys I’d come to expect during my years here, but a few people had the road whites on, and a smattering had on Kings black and silver. It was easy to spot the pink Hockey Fights Cancer version of the Storm’s jerseys in the crowd, like the one I was wearing. The whole crowd was holding up signs they’d been given when they’d come in tonight, bearing the names of people they loved who had cancer, or maybe people they’d lost to cancer.
Mom and Dad followed me to the carpet. Both of their signs had my name on them.
I smiled and waved, trying not to let the turbulence of my emotions swallow me whole, but it seemed like a daunting—maybe impossible—prospect. I felt as if I would fall to pieces the moment I opened my mouth to sing, but this was different from my usual stage fright. It was bigger and more confusing, like a giant ball made up of rubber bands, each one representing a new, massive, devastating emotion, and the bands were contracting in on themselves. It was squeezing the life out of me.
“Please rise and remove your caps,” Tim said, not that there was any need for his reminder. Everyone was already on their feet. The rest of his words were drowned out in the unending applause. He was in the scorer’s box, the small space across the ice from the team benches that separated the two penalty boxes. I caught his eye across the distance, and he gave me a nod.
Nerves or not, it was time. I took out my pitch pipe, blew into it to find my key, shoved it back into my pocket, and did what I’d come to do. Somehow I got through the anthem without completely shattering, which I considered an absolute coup. Now that I was done, though, all I wanted was to run off the ice and find somewhere I could break down for a minute. But it wasn’t time for that yet.
Tonight, the Storm had planned a ceremonial puck drop to go along with all of the other special events, and they’d asked me to do it. Dad took the mic and pressed the puck into my hands. He kissed my cheek before taking his spot behind the bench. Mom hugged me and headed down the tunnel. I wanted to go with her. I wanted to be anywhere but here, doing anything but what I was about to do.
Because it meant I would be inches away from Jamie.
Dustin Brown, the Kings’ captain, came out and took his spot on one side of me. He said something, looking right at me, but my head was filled with the buzzing of a horde of bees, and I couldn’t make his words out. I couldn’t pay attention to him with Jamie skating over to stand across from him on my opposite side. All my attention focused in on Jamie like a laser beam.
In his skates, he was even taller than normal, towering over me despite my Jimmy Choos. His hockey pads only emphasized his muscle, making him seem larger than life. Even with a bit of distance between us, I could see the creases in his cheeks where his dimples always came through. With every year that passed, he looked less like a boy and more like a man, but I hoped he would never lose those dimples.
If this had happened last season, it would have been Eric Zellinger coming out for the ceremonial face-off. He’d been the Storm’s captain for over a decade, but there had been an expansion draft over the summer, and both Zee and goaltender Hunter Fielding had been claimed by the league’s new team, the Tulsa Thunderbirds. That had left the Storm with an opening for a new captain.
Just before the start of the season, they’d held a press conference to announce that Jamie was it. I’d been in a meeting with my agent, Derek Hatch, in LA when it was all going down. We’d been discussing various auditions he wanted to send me on, the direction he thought my career should take after the end of The Cool Kids, but I hadn’t been able to focus on anything Derek had said. My phone had kept buzzing with updates about Jamie and the Storm until, eventually, Derek had sent me on my way and told me to get my head straightened out so we could make a plan.
Easier said than done.
So now, here Jamie was, looking at me with that same hurt look in his eyes that I’d seen every time I’d come back to Portland in the last four years.
The look I’d put in his eyes.
The look that ripped me apart.
The pain in his gaze might even be more intense than usual right now. Probably because of that damn prom picture Dad had given them for the montage.
Jamie glanced over his shoulder toward center ice, then looked back at me with a wink. “They’re ready, Katie,” he said, indicating the slew of photographers and videographers who had lined up opposite us.
I nodded, swallowing down my feelings, and dropped the puck.
He gathered it up while Brown shook my hand and gave me a friendly, cursory pat on the shoulder. Then Jamie handed the puck back to me and wrapped me up in his arms.
I almost let out a sob. Almost. He’d hugged me countless times before, but this was different. He had all of his hockey gear on, the pads and whatnot, and I could hardly feel him underneath it all. We were touching, but it felt distant. Cold. I shivered, wishing I could draw closer to him and feel the warmth of his heart.
He pecked me on the cheek, causing an excited titter to run through the crowd, but it was ice that skittered through my veins. I wasn’t sure if the coldness was from him or from me, or simply because of the mountain range that stood between us these days.
“I’m glad you’re here, Katie,” he said, his voice all rough like gravel crunching under Cam Johnson’s pickup truck. His words were so quiet I could barely hear him over all the arena noise. He sounded completely unlike what I was used to. He gave me a grin, just enough to make his dimples pop out momentarily, and then he skated away.
“Me too,” I murmured to his retreating form, only I wasn’t entirely convinced that he’d meant it. None of this would have felt so detached if he really wanted me here. I was pretty sure—almost positive—he hoped I would be on a plane tomorrow, flying back to LA or maybe to New York like Derek wanted. It had to be easier for Jamie if I wasn’t here. I knew that, for me, it didn’t hurt as much without the constant, daily reminders of what I didn’t have. It was easier when we were apart.
My cheek tingled where he’d kissed me. I locked that up in my mind as tightly as I held the puck he’d handed me, while I walked across that purple carpet and back toward the tunnel. Several of the guys on the team skated over to shake my hand or kiss my cheek as I left, and Dad caught my eye and winked. I didn’t hear anything they said to me, though. My head was too filled with fading memories and a confused outlook on the future.
Derek hadn’t wanted me to come here at all. You’re bigger than this, he’d told me as he passed over a stack of scripts and another pile of travel arrangements. He expected me to get on a plane tomorrow, fly to New York, and make my mark on Broadway. To go to all the auditions he’d arranged for me. To follow the path he’d laid out for me, just like I’d done every step of the way for the last four years, despite that I’d hated so many of the things he’d asked of me that and I was still uncertain what I wanted.
       Coming here might not have lined up with my agent’s plans for my future, but it had accomplished one thing: I was more confused now than I’d been in a long time, and that could only mean that there was something here worth sticking around for, even if I’d end up heartbroken again.



JAMIE

Katie spun around and flew past her mom like a flash, racing away from the ice like a winger on a breakaway. I was pretty sure that picture from her prom had hit her as hard as it had hit me, so it didn’t surprise me that she was running off like that. There was a chunk of me that wished I could do the same. I didn’t have that kind of freedom, though. I had a game to play, so I had to get my head screwed back on straight.
Not such a simple thing to do with the knowledge that Katie Weber was still somewhere in the building. She was close enough I could still feel her essence lingering around me and only hoped that she wouldn’t stick around too long on this visit. The longer she stayed, the more of me she would take with her when she eventually left again.
Because she would. Leave. She always left.
I’d told her years ago that she should go and chase her dreams, so I couldn’t really blame her for doing the very thing I’d suggested. But fuck if it didn’t hurt like a son of a bitch every time she showed up and smiled at me like nothing had changed.
She wanted us to be friends. There was a part of me that wanted that, too—being her friend would be better than not having her in my life at all, or so I thought—but it was hard to do when I saw the way she let her boyfriends treat her.
At the moment, she might not be dating one of the shitheads she’d hooked up with in Hollywood, but it didn’t matter. That didn’t mean she was kicking them to the curb and making room for me, for the way I really wanted things to be between us. The fact was, Katie wasn’t going to stay in Portland. She was an It Girl now, a Hollywood starlet with people clamoring for her attention, and that meant she needed to get back to Hollywood so they could keep fawning over her. Her show had been cancelled, but it was only a matter of time before she got cast in something else, and then she would be gone again. Out of my life. Probably dating some new asswipe. Leaving me to be the brooding bastard I’d become.
Enough years had passed that, as long as she was away from Portland and not on the news too much, I was able to push her from my mind. I hadn’t watched The Cool Kids because that was a wound I didn’t want to open, and sometimes TMZ left her alone for a stretch. As long as she didn’t hit the mainstream news too often, I could almost pretend she had only been a dream. It wasn’t too bad, then. Without having her around, I could be the same guy I’d always been instead of the miserable grump I turned into when she was here but I couldn’t have her.
Like now.
I tried not to be that guy, but it was hard to brush things off when it felt like someone was stomping on all the broken pieces of me to be sure they were a puzzle I would never be able to put back together.
“Hey,” my brother Levi said. He was a couple of years younger than my twenty-four—he and Katie were the same age—a defenseman in his second year with the Storm. He tapped his stick on my shins harder than necessary to get my attention. “Earth to Jamie. Game’s about to start. Stop chasing after her in your fucking head.”
I gave him a terse nod and took a quick lap around our end of the ice to refocus. We were only a couple of weeks into the new season, my first as the captain of the team, and things had started off badly for us. There wasn’t any good reason for it, either.
We’d had some turnover in personnel on the ice from last year, but not too much. Zee and Hunter were with the Thunderbirds now. A couple of guys had changed in free agency, and there’d been a trade involving a few of the younger guys who hadn’t fully found their spots on the team. But the core that Jim Sutter, our general manager, was building around was all still intact, the coaches hadn’t changed, the systems were exactly the same… Essentially, there was no good excuse for why we’d taken a slide in play to start the year. Tonight, we needed to get back on track, and as the captain, it was up to me to set the tone for the rest of the team.
It was time. The carpet had been removed from the ice, and all the photographers were gone. The officials were in place, and my linemates, Riley Jezek and Aaron Ludwiczak, were already skating to center ice for the opening face-off. I headed over to join them, pushing aside all thoughts not relevant to the game at hand.
The puck dropped, and the Kings won it cleanly back to Matt Greene, one of their defensemen. I was closest to Greene, so I went straight for him and laid a bruising check on him, dislodging the puck so that either RJ or Luddy could grab it and we could get to work.
The crowd went wild as Greene went down hard. He was a big body. Hitting him like that had been enough to rattle the teeth in my head, so I knew he’d felt it more than he’d been prepared for. Luddy stole the puck and cycled it with RJ. I shook off the impact and skated in to join them. After a hit like that, my head was fully in the game. I couldn’t afford to think about Katie Weber right now.
I had work to do.



“That’s a bad fucking call,” Mattias “Bergy” Bergstrom, the Storm’s head coach, shouted as the ref who’d blown his whistle skated by our bench. “You fucking know it, too. Brown was diving.”
The ref turned his head and shouted a few choice expletives back in Bergy’s direction, neither backing down nor admitting he might have made a mistake. It was a mistake, though. We’d been guilty plenty of times tonight, but in this instance, it wasn’t our fault. Levi just happened to be near Brown when the guy lost an edge and went down. Guilty by proximity.
The basic gist of the ref’s response was that Bergy needed to stop complaining and get his team to play a clean game, or else. There were a lot of implications at play in the or else part of that equation. The team could be issued a bench minor and we would have to kill off yet another penalty. Bergy could get fined by the league for abuse of officials. They could probably kick Bergy out of the game if it came down to it. There were lots of ways for this to escalate, and none of them would be good.
“Fucking dive,” Bergy said under his breath, but at least he stopped there. He wasn’t the sort of coach to lose his cool with the officials, not like our former coach, Scotty Thomas, had always been. Scotty had been more than a little hotheaded. Bergy was the type who tended to calmly let everyone know what he thought, setting the example he wanted us to follow.
He usually reserved his yelling for specific moments and specific individuals. Zee had been on the receiving end of it a lot, but Bergy didn’t usually yell at me. He got his point across in other ways, like keeping my ass planted on the bench when I fucked up.
Regardless of all that, right now it didn’t matter if the other guy had dived or fallen or what. The only thing that really mattered was that Levi was on his way to the box for a phantom tripping minor, and we had to kill our seventh penalty of the game—a game that we were trailing by a goal. We were only halfway through the game, but we’d already been penalized more times than we should have been in a full sixty minutes, at least if we wanted to keep Bergy happy. Still, there was a lot of time left on the game clock, which meant there was a lot of time for us to either fuck up some more or get our collective act together.
“Keep your fucking head in it, 501,” Andrew Jensen shouted across the ice to Levi. “We’ve got this.” Jens clearly thought we were going to be able to straighten up and pull ourselves out of the hole we’d been digging. Or maybe that was just the impression he wanted to give off.
At times like this, there was a part of me that wondered if Bergy and Jim had made the right choice in naming me the Storm’s next captain. I never knew what to say to help the boys out. Guys like Jens and Keith Burns were a lot more vocal. They always knew the right thing to say, and Burnzie had even been an assistant captain already for a long time. Shouldn’t he have been the new captain? Or maybe Soupy, who had been the other assistant captain for the last few years. Any one of those guys would have made more sense than me, along with at least a half a dozen other players on the team.
None of them were wearing the C on their chests, though. I was, and I didn’t have the first fucking clue how to lead this team.
We went to a TV timeout, and I made the mistake of looking up at the Jumbotron. Through the whole game, every time there had been a break, they’d been making more tributes to cancer survivors and doing things to draw attention to the warning signs someone needed to be aware of when it came to their own health. This time, they had a camera on Katie up in the owner’s box. She was sitting with her mom and several of the guys’ wives, each of them holding up a sign with a symptom of leukemia printed on it. Katie looked like she was a lot more relaxed than she had been when she’d left the ice, but the last thing I needed was to start thinking about her again. Not right now.
I turned my head away to stare at the ice in front of me.
“You dated her?” Grant Wheelan asked me. Wheels was a guy Jim had brought in over the summer to mentor me. I wasn’t sure he could teach me how to lead this team any better than Zee had in all the years I’d been watching him, but maybe he would surprise me. Mainly Wheels just talked to me a lot. So far, the biggest thing I’d learned was to do things the way I wanted everyone else to do them. Lead by example. Wheels had drilled those three words into my head every chance he got. He also liked to remind me I was supposed to be having fun, not taking everything so seriously all the time. I wasn’t so good at that one.
“Fuck,” I muttered under my breath. Then I shrugged. “Kind of. I guess so.” We’d never really technically been a couple, even though I’d taken her to her prom. I’d wanted to, but she’d been so young and had cancer, and then she’d left.
He made a grunting sound next to me. “Bet Webs would be happier if she was dating you instead of the guys she’s been all over the news with.”
“Fucking right, I would,” Webs said from behind us before he moved on to talk to Blake Kozlow about something.
That was definitely a change from all those years ago. I wasn’t sure I would agree with that assessment. I’d changed a lot in that time, and I wasn’t sure it was for the better. “Doesn’t matter what Webs would be happier with,” I grumbled. It pissed me off that Wheels was trying to make me talk about this right now when all I wanted to do was pretend Katie wasn’t even in the state, let alone in the building. “We aren’t together, and that’s not going to change any time soon.”
“That’s too bad,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that, if I were you,” Soupy put in. His name was really Brenden Campbell, but everyone except his wife and the Storm’s GM called him Soupy—even his two adopted kids. I glared at him, and he shrugged and looked back at the ice. “Just telling you what I see, is all. Up to you to figure out what to do with it.”
He had always had a bad habit of doing that—telling me things I didn’t want to hear.
The TV timeout came to an end. It was about time. At Bergy’s signal, Wheels and Cam Johnson headed over the boards to take the face-off.
“Soupy, Babs,” Bergy said once they were gone, his tone returning to normal. “Be ready to go.”
I nodded, but I kept my focus on the ice.
“I’ve got Jonny,” Soupy said to me. At least he was back to talking about the game instead of trying to tell me how to handle my personal life.
The Kings had a potent power play this year, always dangerous. They moved the puck well, changing up the point of attack in an effort to get a clear shot in on our goaltender.
Our boys moved as a unit—one guy shifted to block a passing lane, and the other three adjusted their positions accordingly. Jonny dropped down to block a shot from the point, and our D managed to get their sticks in the way and clear bodies out from in front of the net so Nicky could see where the puck was coming from. Finally, after almost a full minute of being hemmed into our zone, Wheels poke-checked the puck and sent it flying down the ice, and those guys were able to get off for a change.
Soupy and I piled over the boards as soon as they came off—me about a second behind him since Wheels moved about as fast as molasses in a Canadian winter—and we headed into position.
The Kings switched to their second power play unit and got set up in our zone. They moved the puck back to the point on my side. I dropped to a knee, ready to block a shot, but he passed it to the other point. Soupy tried to get into position to block the shooting lane, but his knee buckled under him, and he went down with an agonized shout.
The shot got past him. Jens got just enough of his stick on it to deflect it away from Nicky’s net. I let myself glance over long enough to see that, no matter how hard he tried, Soupy couldn’t get himself up.
The Kings cycled the puck back to the point again. I did my best to cover two guys who both had bombs for shots, but there was only so much I could do. One of them pulled his stick back to load up. I went down. A shot blew past my ear and went in the net.
I skated over to Soupy, pissed at myself even though I couldn’t figure out why. “You going to be all right?”
“Can’t put any fucking weight on it,” he said.
“Broken?”
He shook his head. “Felt something snap, but not bone.”
That made me think it was something like a ligament. Ken Archer, our head trainer, came over and talked to him for a minute before deciding it was safe to move him, at least. I gave Soupy a hand and helped him up, draping his arm over my shoulder while Archie did the same on the other side so we could assist him off the ice. The whole time, I was thinking I might have just witnessed the injury that would end his career. I hoped I was wrong.
Wheels clapped a hand on my shoulder as soon as I took a seat next to him on the bench. “You know,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. Watching what just went down with Soupy is proof enough of that. If you want something, you should go for it.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I groused, more agitated than confused.
“You know what I’m talking about.”
I did. Apparently, I still couldn’t hide what I was feeling. Not only that, but I was just as messed up over Katie Weber as I’d ever been. What the fuck could I do about it, though? If she was going to leave, there wasn’t anything I could do to stop her…and I knew she would leave.
       She always did.

8 comments:

  1. Love it! Can't wait to read their story!!! :)

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  2. Sigh... I can't have it fast enough!

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Oh my goodness!!!! I cannot wait. :)

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  5. Yay!! I'm a bit sad that Zee went to another team but I'm sure they needed his awesomeness! Are you sure your characters aren't real?!?

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