Pucked Page 89

“Like I’m going to puke.”

She puts her hands on my shoulders. “You can do this, Alex. Just be honest. You’re an absolute doll. Show the drama-loving public you’re not a jerk.”

“Okay.” She pats me on the back and sends me out into the jaws of the interview shark, Angelica Chase.

The questions start out easy enough. They’re pretty standard and revolve around the playoffs and the potential to compete for the Stanley Cup. I give the humble answers I’m used to providing.

Eventually Angelica, moves on to questions surrounding my fight with Butterson and the rumors that he’s dating my sister. They’re meant to provoke, as Sunny and Butterson have made no attempt to hide their relationship. I know she’s going to bring up Violet next; it’s always the perfect segue.

“Over the past several months you’ve been seen with your teammate, Buck Butterson’s stepsister. Recently you intimated you were just friends. Your comment seemed to incite animosity between you and Buck. Would you care to discuss some of the rumors floating around about you?”

I look to Janette, standing in the wings. She nods, and I take a deep breath, ready to spill it.

“Violet and I have never been just friends.”

“Mmm.” She nods her agreement. “Media coverage certainly suggests there’s more going on between you than friendship. So you lied in your previous interview?”

I wipe my damp palms on my thighs. This is it. I need to come clean if I have a hope in hell of winning Violet back. “I did. It was a terrible mistake. It cost me my relationship with Violet.”

“And why would you lie about your relationship?”

“Because I’m an asshole.” Janette gives me her death stare from the wings. I’m not doing well so far. “Sorry. I mean a jerk.”

“It’s fine, we can cut that out.” Angelica relaxes in her chair. “Would you care to elaborate?”

“I’m not used to being forthcoming in interviews, not where my personal life is concerned.”

“You’ve certainly never seemed to mind the media attention before.”

I nod. This honesty thing isn’t as simple as I thought it would be. “I’ve always assumed publicity, no matter what form it comes in, is positive, even if it makes me look like a player and a jerk. Recently, I allowed some endorsement opportunities to cloud my judgement.”

“I’m not sure I understand.” Angelica slow blinks. “You’re saying you lied in order to secure an endorsement?”

I reach for the glass on the table and take a long drink, working to formulate a response that isn’t going to dig me into a deeper hole.

“We all have goals. There were questions about whether or not I’d be able to handle the demands of NHL hockey when I was drafted. I had to prove myself as a valuable player. I didn’t get this far without working for it, so when the endorsement I’ve been striving for became a possibility, I listened to some bad advice without considering how it would affect the people I care about.”

“Are you referring to Beautiful People’s Bachelor of the Year shortlist? Word has it you’re expected to be in the top ten. Are there others?”

“I can’t talk about them. They’re hardly worth it if it means I lose the person I love, though, are they?” I look at Janette in the wings, concerned I’ve said the wrong thing. She smiles encouragingly, so I focus my attention on Angelica.

“So you’re saying you love her? Violet Hall? Buck Butterson’s sister?”

“Yeah. I’m in love with Violet.”

She leans forward, lowering her voice, “Does she know that?”

“She does now.”

Angelica grins and settles back in her chair. “I assume your relationship with Violet has created tension between you and your teammates.”

“We’re all trying to stay focused on the playoffs and the game, but yeah, it’s been difficult. I’m not proud of how I managed the situation, and this may be my only chance to tell Violet how I feel.”

Angelica folds her hands under her chin. “Why do you say that?”

“Because she won’t talk to me.”

“I see. This puts you in quite the quandary, doesn’t it?”

“It does.”

“What’s so special about Violet that she’s made you want to change?”

I frown, unsure what she means. “Change?”

“Come on, Alex. You’re a notorious ladies’ man.”

“I’m not really.”

“There’s quite a significant amount of photographic evidence to the contrary.”

I need to be careful how I word this. “I think people see what they want to see. Just because I’m standing beside a woman in a photograph doesn’t mean I’ve had a relationship with her.”

“Are you saying your reputation—”

“—Is based on conjecture. I won’t say I’m not at fault for perpetuating it, but it’s not an accurate representation of who I am, and it’s not how I want to be seen. Not when it jeopardizes my relationships.”

“You’re referring to Violet, specifically?”

“I miss her. She’s my Q on a triple word score.”

“I’m sorry; I don’t understand the last part.”

“It’s a Scrabble thing. Never mind. I just want her back in my life.”

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