Pucked Page 85

Darren jams his knee into my throat, cutting off my air supply. Then he releases the pressure and stands. I roll to the side, gasping for breath. It takes a minute to regain composure and pull myself up. No one offers to help.

“Butterson, what’s gotten into you? The media is on fire with this shit. You mind telling me why the hell you punched out your own goddamned captain?”

Coach’s face is redder than I’ve ever seen it before. He doesn’t give Buck a chance to answer—it’s tirade time. Coach can go on for hours when he gets into one of his moods. Some of the guys sit down and throw glares my way. This is going to be one of the long ones.

“You’re supposed to be a team. We should be celebrating this win, not hashing out our personal shit in front of the fucking world.” He gives Butterson and me the stink eye. “No one is going to remember we won the first game of the playoffs or how well it was played. All they’re going to talk about is how the newest team member went after the team captain. It might only be a headline for a day or two, but you know who it’s going to stick with? Boston. They’re going to know we have a weak link, and they’ll take advantage of it.”

Butterson’s shoulders slump, and he looks at the floor.

“So, Waters, what did you do to piss Butterson off?” Coach looks at me expectantly.

I feel like absolute shit for a multitude of reasons. Not only have I let my team down and potentially screwed us during this series, I’ve demo’d my relationship with Violet. Instead of celebrating with her, I’m sitting in a locker room with a broken nose, a decimated ego, and my whole team pissed at me.

“I followed Dick’s advice.” I look down at my lap and shake my head. I need to fire his ass.

“Do you think you could elaborate, Waters? So help me God, if you’re taking advice from your penis, I’m going to clock you myself.”

“Dick, my agent. I’m supposed to appear available until the Bachelor of the Year crap is done with.” Spoken aloud, it sounds absolutely insane.

“You’ve got to be shitting me!” Butterson forces his way through the guys holding him back. “You humiliated my sister and broke her heart in front of millions of people for publicity? So you could what? Make some fucking list and score a new bunny? Pocket some cash?”

“It’s not like that.” It hits me, what he’s said. I’ve broken Violet’s heart. I’m overwhelmed and on the defensive, so I do the one thing I can—I hit below the belt. “Who are you to talk, anyway? I know you’re banging my sister, you cocksucker.”

“I haven’t had sex with Sunny.” Those are the last words I ever expected to hear out of Butterson’s mouth.

I stare at him and say nothing. He’s not lying; I can tell. He’s just as bad at lying as Violet is. If they were truly related, I'd think it’s a genetic trait.

“Wait a goddamned minute.” Coach breaks the uncomfortable eye contact between Butterson and me. “Is this about a broad?”

“Violet isn’t a broad,” We say in unison.

Coach shakes his head and turns to me. “I want to see both of you tomorrow. You’ll be doing interviews to straighten this garbage out, so kiss and make up, and come up with a story that doesn’t sound like complete bullshit.”

With that, Coach storms out. No one talks to me as they strip out of their uniforms and hit the showers. Usually the guys will get over things quickly. Not tonight. Darren won’t even acknowledge me.

Once the entire team is gone, I shower. I don’t bother with my suit, since I’m not going out to celebrate. Instead, I change back into my street clothes, get a cab to my place, and get in my car. I need to get my nose checked, but that’ll have to wait until later. I drive to Violet’s and park in front of her house. Her SUV isn’t there, so I call her. Unsurprisingly, I get her voice mail. I let my head drop back as I listen to her new message.

“Hi, you’ve reached Violet, the dumbass hockey hooker. I’m too pissed off and humiliated to answer my phone, but you can leave a message. Unless you’re Alex “Asshole” Waters. In that case, you can fuck the hell off. Have a nice day.”

I sit there for a few long seconds after the phone beeps, just breathing, until I realize I should either speak or hang up. I choose the second option because it’s clear Violet doesn’t want to hear from me. I follow up with a call to Dick and fire him. He tells me I’ll regret the decision. I tell him to fuck himself in the ass with a hockey puck and hang up.

I try Violet’s number again. It goes straight to voice mail. I’ve ruined everything.

The meeting the following morning with Coach and Butterson is brutal. We manage to work out a feasible story which makes me look like a complete asshole. Like the broken nose, I deserve it.

The next few days are plain old shitty. X-rays prove my nose is definitely broken. Again. It’s swollen and it hurts like a bitch. The black eyes are a sucky reminder of how badly I messed up.

Beyond that, I receive endless calls from TV journalists wanting interviews. It’s a pain in the ass. I’m not used to dealing with this stuff on my own. I make a bunch of phone calls and find a new agent who’s willing to take me on despite the shitstorm I’ve created recently.

If that isn’t bad enough, Violet’s phone has been disconnected, which tells me she changed her number. I have no way to contact her aside from email, which isn’t the way I want to go about explaining what happened.

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