Pucked Page 3

“Anyway.” Charlene flaps her hand around. “That’s not the point. The point is you’ll be hobnobbing with the players afterward, right? Which means you’ll meet Darren Westinghouse.”


Charlene curls her lip and gives me a snooty look. “He plays right wing for the Hawks.” She starts listing his stats; it sounds something like blah, blah, blah. I tune most of it out until she asks, “Will you take a picture of him if you get the chance?”

“First of all, Char, hockey players don’t ‘hobnob,’ they hang out. Second, I plan to skip the after-party crap. I’ll have to catch up on work.” I pat the file folders on my desk.

“What a load of BS!” She looks around to make sure no one is paying attention. Jimmy, whose cubicle is across from mine, raises an eyebrow and points to the phone at his ear, so Charlene lowers her voice. “Come on, Violet, you have to go. For me, please? Just long enough to snap a pic. Then you can go be boring in your hotel room by yourself.”

“I’d send you in my place if I could.”

I have no problem watching hockey, even though the rules evade me for the most part. Some of those boys are hot, but the appeal ends there. Buck is a perfect example, as is the one—and only—hockey player I ever dated. He wasn’t even an NHLer, just some douche in the minors I went out with last year looking for a leg up. Unfortunately, I turned out to be the owner of said leg. Not only was he awful in bed—just because those boys are built doesn’t mean they’ve got the equipment to match—he also humiliated me in a way I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

“Come on, Vi. You can enjoy the man candy, if nothing else.”

“Yeah, because skanky guys are such a turn on.”

“Darren’s not a skank.”

I appease her rather than argue. “I’ll see about the photobomb. No guarantees.” Mostly the after-parties are a food free-for-all for the players, complemented by hordes of bunnies looking to be dessert.

She squeals and claps her hands. “You’re the best!”

I hold up my hands. “No promises, but I’ll try.”

Charlene convinces me to break for lunch, and we gorge at the all-you-can-eat Thai buffet nearby. Fortunately, the amount of food I consume doesn’t slow my roll in the afternoon.

By nine in the evening I can no longer focus on the computer screen. My stomach is growling so loudly I keep checking to make sure a bear hasn’t wandered into the office.

Drive-thru fast food is my poison of choice. I scarf down three tiny burgers and a large fries while I drive home. I reluctantly skip the milkshake because indigestion and flying don’t mesh well.

My mother has left a sticky note on my door to remind me we’re leaving for the airport at ass o’clock in morning—those are my words, not hers. The logical thing to do would be to pack my stuff and go to bed so I’m not exhausted in the morning. Instead, I change into a T-shirt and my favorite pair of Marvel Comic-inspired boxer briefs—they fit so nicely—and channel surf. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I know, my mom is standing over me.

“Violet! Why are you still sleeping? We should’ve left ten minutes ago! We’ll miss the flight.” Her shrill morning voice functions as the worst kind of alarm.

I try to hide under a throw pillow, but she snatches it away.

“Get up, get up, get up!” She grabs my arm and pulls, forcing me to my feet.

Due to my complete lack of preparation, I pack in a rush, tossing clothes into a bag at random while I pull on jeans. I grab the first bra I find; it’s extra loud, boasting a fuchsia leopard-print pattern and black lace accents. I don’t have time to search for something else—not with my mom tapping her talon nails on my door, hovering as usual. I have the foresight to pack my copy of Tom Jones so I can finish it for Tuesday’s book club discussion.

My mom drags me to the car while I’m zipping up my bag, afraid we’ll miss our plane. She’s totally overreacting. We only have to speed-walk through the airport to make it to our gate for boarding.

Sidney, being the awesome guy he is, books first-class tickets. The seats are roomy and comfortable. This allows me to pass out until the flight attendant comes by to offer drinks. I ask for a mimosa—it’s mostly orange juice—and leaf through the copy of The Hockey News Sidney brought. It’s the same old, same old. Stats and more stats with a few pictures of disheveled, hot hockey players scattered within.

I abandon the magazine and pull out my copy of Tom Jones. Maybe it’ll bore me back to sleep. I’m annoyed I have to finish this for Tuesday. I like reading. Hell, I even took a couple of English lit classes in college purely for enjoyment. I might’ve enjoyed this book had it not followed on the heels of the fun, sex-filled stories I’ve partaken of lately.

After reading the same paragraph twenty times, I give up and play mindless games on my phone for the rest of the flight.

There’s a car waiting for us at the airport—because that’s how Sidney rolls—and we’re whisked away to the hotel. It’s the same one the team is staying at, so it’ll be easy to escape the after celebrations should the Hawks win.

However, we run into a bit of an issue with the hotel concierge. They’ve booked us a suite. This wasn’t part of the deal; I expected to have my own room. I bite my tongue and pretend it’s totally fine because I don’t want to appear ungrateful—even though I didn’t ask to come on this impromptu trip in the first place.

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