Pucked Page 4

On the upside, the suite is huge. There’s a spacious living room, and I have my own bedroom with a private bath, complete with a Jacuzzi tub. I lock myself away and have a two-hour soak, where I once again try to read more of my book. I accidentally get the cover wet and have to lay it on the vent to dry.

Getting dressed is an adventure. I did a crap job packing. I’m fortunate enough to have a pair of black jeans to wear. Sadly, the only bra I have is the fuchsia one, which worked with the black hoodie I wore on the plane. However, I’m clean, so I’m not recycling the hoodie, and my options are limited to a pale pink tee or a blue one with stains on the boob. The pink one will have to do. I pull on the shirt and check out my reflection in the mirror. Oh yeah, the leopard print is way obvious through the thin fabric. I cover it up with a light sweater and call my outfit a success.

Glasses fog in arenas, so I jam in my contact lenses. I also look much less nerdy without glasses, and considering I have to meet a whole new set of teammates tonight, I’ll use all the anti-nerd help I can get.

By the time I finally get my contact lenses to stay on my eyeballs—it takes three tries—there isn’t time for my mom to assault my face with her pallet of eye shadow. She’s a big fan of blue. I always end up looking like someone from a 70s sitcom.

Armed with my wool coat and my messenger bag, which houses a scarf, mittens, hat, my semidry copy of Tom Jones, and my phone, I’m game ready. As an afterthought, I check for my pack of cigarettes. I don’t actually smoke. They’re my crutch when I want to extricate myself from uncomfortable social situations. It happens a lot. I’ve learned to release the smoke slowly so people don’t notice I’m not inhaling.

The arena is packed. Luckily, we have great seats, and Sidney knows everyone, so getting to the first row isn’t a problem. I settle in, appreciating the ample legroom and unobstructed view of center ice. Sidney orders a round of beers as the Hawks take the ice. Half the crowd explodes into cheers despite it being an away game.

I’m mesmerized by the way these guys glide over the perilously slick surface with such ease. I’m petrified of skating, much like some people are afraid of snakes and spiders. Wearing blades on my feet screams of danger. I struggled mastering Downward Facing Dog; I don’t need to slice open an artery in an attempt to expand my sports repertoire.

Sidney stands and pumps his fist in the air as Buck skates onto the ice. Buck is mammoth, like a yeti. A huge, perverted, hairy whore of a yeti. According to the sportscasters, Buck’s an excellent hockey player. I’d agree, based on his yearly salary alone. No one gets that much money for sucking, not even extremely skilled prostitutes.

Behind me, a gaggle of girls—whose skirts could double as headbands—giggle obnoxiously about some guy named Alex Waters. The name is vaguely familiar. They mention a hat trick. He must be an awesome player to pull off one of those.

Their discussion takes an interesting turn when one girl brings up the size of individual team members’ junk. I assume they get their stats from personal experience.

At the drop of the puck, penis conversations cease. The Hawks score a goal in the first three minutes. I’ve never seen anyone move as fast as their center. He’s like a bolt of red lightning shooting across the ice. The Hawks easily maintain the lead through the end of the first period. Seconds before the buzzer goes, I bolt up the stairs and find the closest bathroom, hoping to avoid the rush. My bladder is ready to burst thanks to the giant beer I’ve consumed.

Unfortunately, there’s a line of women suffering the same plight, so I have to grit my teeth and do Kegels until a stall opens. The whole pee adventure takes far longer than I anticipated, and the game is already into the second period by the time I re-enter the arena.

As I approach my seat, I notice shit going down on the ice. Like, seriously going down right in front of me. I’m equal parts elated and horrified when one player slams another into the plexiglass barricade. He smashes into it headfirst, his helmet and cage saving his face.

Vibrant hazel eyes—the color of moss cut with a shot of bourbon—meet mine. It’s only for a second and then he’s gone again. He and the Atlanta guy struggle to pull off their gloves while holding each other’s jersey. Helmets hit the ice.

The excitement of the crowd is infectious. Everyone else is screaming, and I’m tempted to join in, but there’s violence, and it seems wrong to enjoy it, so I keep my lips sealed. The concept of mob mentality makes much more sense now.

The guy with the nice eyes has the advantage. The name Waters is written in big, black letters across his shoulders. He’s number eleven. This is the magic man, huh? His face is obscured by a flailing fist, but I admire his tenacity. He’s giving as good as he’s getting.

The refs get involved, breaking up the fight and inciting the crowd by calling penalties. Waters looks pissed. Not mildly so, either; he’s raging-like-a-lunatic pissed. He glides across the ice, hurtling himself into the time-out box. He throws his helmet across the small space only to pick it up and do it again. A ref cautions him, so he drops to the bench in a snit.

Waters is far from calm while the ref chews him out. His face is red and his lips mash into a thin line. He’s vaguely familiar. Even sweaty and angry, he’s rather attractive. I can see why the women behind me are dressed for their shift on the corner.

Sidney was kind enough to get another round of beers, so I sip mine while observing Waters. He’s watching the seconds drop off his five-minute penalty. He surveys the arena, looking in my direction, or at least I think he does. My contact lenses make my eyes dry, so I can’t be positive. The girls behind me assume he’s looking at them and twitter like twelve-year-olds. I roll my eyes. Waters cocks a brow. Oh no, he must think it’s directed at him. On the plus side, my eye roll has helped clear my vision. Sort of.

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