Pucked Page 84

These boys are determined and apparently off to an awesome start—the score is two-one in favor of the Hawks at the end of the first period. Buck is high on adrenaline, seeing as this is the first time he’s ever made it to the playoffs. He keeps the puck away from the Hawks’ net. That creepy Kirk guy even manages an assist, proving you can be dodgy and an amazing hockey player at the same time. The Hawks hold their lead all the way through and run away with the game. The final score is four-one, putting the Hawks in a great position moving forward in the series.

The high is contagious, my own excitement spiraling as I absorb the state of the fans around me. Interviews are being televised on the big screens after the win, and the entertainment bulldogs are all over the team. The roar of the crowd makes it difficult to hear. Reporters fire questions at Alex.

“Two game suspension earlier in the season . . .”

“Reflects on you as the captain . . .”

“Sexiest bachelor . . .”

It’s disjointed, but the last bit catches my attention. I push forward through the crowd, hoping to hear better.

“It’s an honor to be nominated,” Alex says, running his hand through his sweaty hair.

He seems uncomfortable. A sea of people surround him, and I’m short, so he can’t see me.

Another fragmented question filters through the crowd. Dammit, I wish I could hear what they’re asking.

“. . . rumors about your relationship . . .”

Alex blinks nervously. “I thought we were going to talk about the game, not my personal life.”

Another reporter pipes up. “So the rumors are true?”

The mic crackles with static, but his next statement is foghorn clear. “No comment.” He scans the crowd, and his guilty expression makes my stomach turn.

Everything feels like it’s moving in slow motion. I want to kick the shit out of someone. I want to cry. This is the same as a complete denial, which makes me look like a total hockey hooker. I’m pissed.

It’s obvious he lied about talking to Dick, and just last night he asked me to move in with him. Again. None of this makes sense.

His answer feeds the vultures. “. . . The woman you’ve been seen with . . .”

The words just friends drop like a sewage-filled balloon.

Everything else is drowned out by the media’s questions. I’ve heard enough, anyway. If I have to listen to him a second longer, I’ll projectile vomit all over his fucking fans.

I push through the crowd, desperate to escape. I don’t look back. I’m sure I can catch my own humiliation on YouTube later.

I’ve learned an invaluable lesson today: Never trust a hockey player.


I regret the words as soon as they’re out of my mouth. I hate that I’ve done this for the sake of an endorsement. None of this is worth it if it means I have to hurt someone I care about. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. My remorse is a kick in the nuts.

From my right, Butterson yells, “You asshole!”

I turn in time to see his fist barreling at my face. It connects with my nose; the crunch and pop of cartilage come from inside my head. I deserve it, but it damn well hurts.

“Sonofa—” The warm flow of blood hits my lips and travels down my chin.

I’m so pissed. I’ve been an asshole to Violet, Sunny is talking to Butterson every day, according to my mother, and now he punched me in the face. Thanks to the stupid advice of my dickface agent, I’ve put my pride before Violet. All the fucking evasiveness is pointless now that I’ve screwed my relationship with her. I want to take it out on someone. Butterson is the perfect target since he broke my nose.

He grabs my jersey, intent on punching me again. “I’m going to kick the shit out of you!”

“Bring it on, sisterfucker!” I yell back.

Kirk grabs Butterson while Darren puts me in a choke hold and drags me away. Under a veil of red, I’m aware I’ve lost control.

“Keep your mouth shut, Waters. They’re going to string you up by the fucking laces if you don’t get yourself together.”

Swinging me around, he pushes me into the locker room, away from the media circus.

Despite my fury, I have the wherewithal not to lash out again. The last thing I want—in addition to having destroyed the one relationship worth pursuing—is to add games to what could become a suspension. One more and I’ll be benched for the playoffs and let down my entire team.

“Son of a bitch!” I clomp around the room. Skates suck for pacing.

Darren tosses his gloves on the bench. “Do you even realize what you did out there ? What would possess you to say something like that to the damn media?”

Butterson storms into the locker room flanked by our teammates. “I’m gonna rip your head off and shit down your throat!”

“I’d like to see you try.” I pull my jersey over my head and rip off my padding, happy to unleash some of the pent up anger currently ruling my body.

“Don’t be an idiot, Waters.” Darren shoves me back.

I’m not thinking clearly. In what can only be considered a reflexive action, I throw a punch at Darren. It only takes a second for him to lay me out, his knee at my throat. I don’t move because attached to his knee is a leg and a foot with a sharp skate at the end.

“What the fuck is wrong with you guys?” Coach yells, getting in the middle. “I’ve never seen a more embarrassing display in all my fucking years in hockey.”

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