Pucked Page 24

“I’m not answering that.”

“So it’s true.”

“Enough. We have a presentation to prepare for. Unless we’re changing the topic to the size of Alex’s dick, we need to get going.”

“It would be way more interesting than this.” Dean gestures to the PowerPoint presentation on the screen.

Of course, Jimmy, the last member of our team, arrives, and we have to go through the entire thing again, including the mouth fucking explanation, which Jimmy loves as much as Dean. It’s going to be another long day.

I check my phone when I excuse myself to use the restroom. I have three voice mails and several texts. The first voice mail is from my mom. She found the flowers. Obviously she’s been in my place without asking again. The next one is a telemarketer advertising a free trip and the last one is from Alex. It goes something like this:

“Hi. This is Alex. I wanted to call and see if anything came for you this morning. I have a game tonight, but . . . um . . . maybe I’ll talk to you later.”

I listen to it five times and save it as I did with the first one.

I move on to the text message.

Okay, so two messages checking to see if I got the flowers. Odd.

I move on to the emails.

The first one is blank.

The second one reads:

The third one reads:

The fourth one reads:

The email is completely ridiculous. As much as his persistence irritates me, I’m beginning to like the awkward tone and his inappropriate comments. Especially coming from a man who seems so self-assured on the ice—and in bed. I curb the warm fuzzies. He’s still a player.

I hold off on responding until I’m home from work. I type and retype a message fifty times before I settle on this:

I debate adding a smiley emoticon and decide against it. After I press send I have regret. It’s not the friendliest text, but I’m torn. Beyond being great in bed and possessing the ability to read above a fifth-grade level, his media persona isn’t one I like. Especially with the plethora of photos I’ve seen of him with various women.

I don’t want to put out positive vibes because in reality, I kind of like him. If he hadn’t called or texted or sent flowers or emailed, I would write him off as another asshole because it’s exactly what I expected. Except he’s done all these things that contradict my assumptions. How did a one-night stand get so complicated?

I should finish Tom Jones since my book club meets tomorrow. The Hawks are playing tonight, though, so reading isn’t my first priority. Bringing my book with me, I snuggle into the corner of the couch. I’d watch it with the ’rents on their seventy-inch HD flat screen, but my mom keeps asking Alex-related questions I’m not interested in answering. Sometimes she forgets she’s my mother, and it gets weird.

By the end of the first period the Hawks are losing by one goal. No one scores in the second period and the players are getting chippy. Alex ends up with a two-minute penalty at the beginning of the third for interference. The camera zooms in on him. He’s tight-jawed and livid as he sulks in the time-out box. His knee is bouncing a mile a minute as if he’s barely managing to contain his frustration. I bet sex with him when he’s this riled up is amazing. I can imagine him being intense, dominating, and possessing.

When Alex returns to the ice, he finally pulls it together and scores a goal, tying the game. Aggressive and focused, he’s clearly determined not to let his team down because he lost his temper. The Hawks score another goal in the final minutes of the game and win by one. According to the sportscasters, it’s an important game that gives the Hawks the advantage moving forward, so the team’s excitement is understandable.

Alex is edgy during his interview with the sportscaster; maybe because the final score is too close. He rubs the side of his neck, his chagrin over his penalty obvious. I notice the dark pinkish-purple hickey, which matches several of mine. He angles away from the camera as if trying to hide it. I remember giving him one on his shoulder, but after what I’ve discovered in my research, I can’t be certain this one’s from me.

I climb into bed with the hickey on my mind. It’s all I can focus on as I toss and turn, trying desperately to get my brain to shut off and let me sleep already. As the cusp of dreamland makes my eyes droop, my phone buzzes, signaling a text. I sigh and grab the device from my nightstand, highly aware I don’t want it to be Charlene.

My stomach does a weird flip thing when it turns out to be from Alex, in response to my earlier text thanking him for the flowers.

I wait exactly four minutes to respond, so as not to appear too eager.

It buzzes less than a minute later.

I smile. He’s fishing for compliments.

I’m graced with a winky emoticon and another message.

While my lower half gets all excited, I don’t fail to recognize he could easily pick up any puck bunny and celebrate his brains out. I must not reply fast enough because another message arrives.

I send one final text in response, my uncertainty as pervasive as my excitement. If he keeps this up, I’m going to start to like him more than I already do.

The week follows with daily deliveries from Alex. I receive a complete set of Tom Fielding’s works with a note suggesting that he read them to me so I’m not bored to tears. I laugh and send him a text in return. He calls again during my book club meeting; I let it go to voice mail rather than answer. The butterflies in my stomach unnerve me.

The next day he sends a USB stick with a compilation of albums for a band I’ve never heard of called The Tragically Hip—they’re Canadian, like Alex. It’s accompanied by another note in his messy scrawl, citing all his favorite songs. Next is a box of truffles from Godiva and then a gift certificate from Victoria’s Secret for an unknown amount. It’s made out to my boobs, which Alex officially asks on a date.

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