Pucked Page 86

Beyond that, practices are rough. Coach is right; if Butterson and I can’t deal with our shit, we’re going to destroy our chances of making it to the finals. I don’t want to be the reason for that. He pulls Butterson and me aside and tells us we’re to keep our personal issues off the ice or he’ll encourage the general manager to trade both of us. I think he means it.

Butterson watches Coach walk away. “For the sake of our team, I’m going to let this go on the ice, but don’t think for a second I’ve forgiven you for what you’ve done to Violet.”

“I get that. I’d really like to apologize to her—”

He points a finger at me. “Stay the fuck away from her. Violet’s broken up enough as it is. She doesn’t need you making this worse by throwing out some bullshit apology.”

I push his hand away. “It’s not bullshit. I care about her.”

“Yeah? Well if that’s the way you treat people you care about, I’d hate to see how you are with the ones you don’t even like. How you got to be captain of this team is beyond me. You’re a selfish fucking bastard.” He turns away and skates back onto the ice. He’s not wrong, which makes me feel a million times worse.

Despite Butterson’s violent warning, I try to contact Violet. I call her parents, hoping if I get to Skye, I can persuade her to put Violet on the phone.

“Hall-Butterson residence.”

“Hi, Skye.”

“Alex.” Based on her icy tone, she’s not happy with me. “You screwed up big time.”

I heave a sigh. “I really did.”

“Violet doesn’t want to talk to you.”

“I know. Buck’s made it pretty clear and so has Violet.” I kick at the leg of my bed, noticing something red peeking out from the bottom. Picking it up, I find a pair of Violet’s panties. The red ones with my name on the ass. I sit down on the edge of the mattress and resist the urge to sniff them.

“I’m afraid I can’t help you out of this one,” she says after a long pause.

I heave a despondent sigh. I expected this. She’s Violet’s mother, after all. It's her duty to protect her daughter. I’m lucky she isn’t ripping me a new asshole. “I figured as much.”

“Honestly, Alex. You’re such a fighter on the ice. Why can’t you be the same way off it? Stop being an idiot and make a move. You haven’t even sent her flowers, and you always send her flowers, whether you’ve messed up or not. How do you think that looks?”

This is what I need; more people to tell me how badly I’ve screwed this up and what to do to fix it. “You think I should send her flowers?”

“No, Alex. I don’t think you should send her flowers.” She uses the tone reserved for mothers who want to make you feel like a complete dumbass.

“But then what—”

“You’re a smart boy—” She stops herself. “Some of the time. I’m sure you’ll figure it out—otherwise you don’t deserve to be with my daughter.” A dial tone follows. Violet’s mom has hung up on me.

I call Darren. He’s the only other person I can think of who might be willing to help. Unfortunately, he doesn’t pick up, and it’s clear he’s still not talking to me off the ice.

I try one last person: my father. His ability to help is questionable.

“Hey, Alex.”

I make small talk for a minute or two until I can’t stand the awkward chit-chat. “I screwed up with Violet.”

“I know. So does most of North America as well as other hockey-watching countries.”

“You’ve messed up with mom, right?” She can be a bit of a Fruit Loop. I’m positive my father’s been in the dog house plenty of times.

“Of course.” My father sighs. “I have the benefit of keeping my private life private. That isn’t the case with you and Violet, is it?”

“No. It’s not. I shouldn’t have followed Dick’s advice.”

“No, Alex, you shouldn’t have.”

“I fired him.”

“It’s about fucking time.” My dad exhales into the receiver with a whoosh. There’s a good chance he’s doing research. “I know it was hard when you started playing professional hockey. I understand you want to be the best, and you want to prove you are. You don’t need the endorsements to do that.”

“I just wanted this, you know?”

“But at what cost, Alex? You don’t need validation. You’re team captain. You make more money a year than I will in a lifetime. What you need to do is be an older brother your sister can look up to, not one she has to defend because you’ve earned a shitty reputation over old rumors. And you need someone like Violet to keep your head on straight. Stop worrying about what other people think and do what’s best for you.”

“Violet is what’s best for me.”

“Then fight for her.”

“She won’t talk to me.”

“And you’re going to let that stop you? Since when do you give up that easily?”

He has a point. “I don’t.” I can find a way to get Violet’s attention. I shouldn’t let anything stand in my way. Especially not an endorsement. No matter how much I want it, it’s not worth losing Violet.

“Good. I hope you figure this out, son. I really like Violet. She’s good for you.”

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