The Good Luck Charm Page 8

“Wow. Since when do you listen to Dad?”

“It was pretty much the first and last time.”

“Ah. I’m guessing that breakup didn’t go well.”

I take a swig of my beer, thinking about how adamant my dad had been. “Not really. Remember the weekend I came home right after I was drafted?”

“Yeah. I bought you all kinds of booze and told you I’d kill you if you ratted me out.” He smiles at the memory.

“I kept my mouth shut. Anyway, Dad pulled me aside and asked me how I was planning to deal with DJ. I was riding the high, right? But then he laid into me, told me if I was going to throw away a scholarship and a career in medicine, that I better be focused one hundred percent on hockey and I couldn’t do that with a girlfriend halfway across the country.”

“Sounds like something Dad would say. Always pragmatic about things, right?”

“Yeah.” I look up at the sky. It’s cloudy tonight, keeping the stars hidden. “I told him she was going to move to LA with me when she finished high school.”

“I bet he didn’t like that.”

“Not at all. I thought I had it all planned out, but then he started talking about what would happen if I got traded to a different team. What would DJ do? Transfer schools? She’d have no one but me and I’d be on the road half the time. He kept hammering it in that I couldn’t string her along and mess with her life like that. She needed stability and I wasn’t going to be able to give her that. It sure wasn’t what I wanted to hear.”

“Did you end up breaking it off that weekend?”

I shake my head. “Not right away. I kept thinking maybe I could make it work, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized Dad was right, even though I didn’t want him to be. I couldn’t take her away from everyone and then leave her alone half the time. It wouldn’t be fair.”

“That’s a heavy realization to come to at that age.”

“I was so fucking mad at Dad for a while. I think I probably still am, to be honest. The night I’d finally broken it off with her I’d spent a good hour on the phone with him, listening to his rationale as to why it needed to be done before I left for LA. So I called her and finally ended things.”

“Over the phone?”

“Like an asshole.”


“That was the last time I talked to DJ until Dad had the stroke. Well, I tried to call her a couple of times after we broke up, but it didn’t go well, so I left it alone.”

“Well, that sure as hell explains the tension between you.”

“Yeah. Pretty sure any vibes you’re picking up off of her are more along the lines of her wanting to beat me with a hockey stick, not riding mine.”

Tyler rubs at the space where his beard meets his neck. “I don’t know. I mean, you can be mad at someone and still want to screw them, right?”

“I guess.”

“There’s no guessing. She might want to beat you with a hockey stick, but I’m pretty sure she’ll ride yours when she’s done, too. Maybe you need to let her angry fuck you. Get all that negativity out of her system.” His grin is barely visible through his beard.

“It’s a real surprise you don’t have a girlfriend,” I deadpan.

“Whatever. I’m just telling it like it is, and the ladies love this.” He strokes his beard affectionately.

“It’s a great place to store snacks.” I drain the rest of my beer. “You want another one?”

“Nah. I should go; my flight is stupid early tomorrow.”

“You sure you don’t want to stay here and just leave for the airport in the morning?”

“In your old room? Not unless that mattress you used to sleep on has been burned.”

“Mom redecorated the room. It’s all girly now.”

“So it’s pretty like you?”

“Fuck you.” I flip him the bird.

“I’m glad you’re home, not just because of this stuff with Dad, either. It’ll be nice to have you around, now that you’re not an annoying little shit.” He pushes up off the swing and becomes serious for a moment. “You’ll keep me updated on Dad, though? If he doesn’t get better, I’ll find someone else to finish the project in Alaska.”

“Between me, Mom, DJ, and all the medical staff he has access to, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine.”

“I hope so, for Mom’s sake, anyway. She’s the one who has to put up with his miserable ass the most.”


The next morning a loud noise wakes me. It’s a little after six. I stayed up long after my brother left, drank half a dozen more beers on the porch by myself, and leafed through old photo albums. It was pretty pathetic. At least there were no witnesses. Although I’m not sure if I got rid of the beery evidence.

Another thump prompts me to get my ass out of bed. Dressed in only boxers, I rush upstairs, hoping that the noise hasn’t woken my mother, who’s been sleeping like shit. Not that I’ve been sleeping all that well. Between managing my dad and preseason training ice time, I’m pushing my limits. Beyond that, the mattress in the basement is ancient and there’s a dip in the middle. I’m pretty sure DJ and I were the cause of that.

I flick on a lamp in the living room, blinking as my eyes adjust. The room is empty, which isn’t a surprise considering the early hour. A few more thumps and grunts come from where my dad sleeps these days.

The office is big enough to fit a double bed, but not much else. I find him in his wheelchair, angled awkwardly. He has something in his hands, and he’s concentrating on whatever it is, so he doesn’t hear me when I approach. The curtains are drawn tight, so only light from the living room illuminates the small space. I flip the switch, blinding us both.

He grunts his surprise and swears. Something warm and wet hits my shins.

I look down at my legs and then back up at him. In one hand he’s holding an oversize mug, the handle big enough for him to grasp fully.

“What the fuck, Dad? Are you pissing in that cup? Did you just piss on me?” I don’t know why I’m asking—it’s clear that’s exactly what he’s doing and what he’s just done.

His eyes are wide, at first with absolute horror, and maybe a little embarrassment at being caught relieving himself into a mug. Although, I have to appreciate the lengths he’ll go to in order to maintain some level of independence. We have walkie-talkies for those middle-of-the-night occasions when he needs to make a trip to the bathroom, or requires a water refill, or whatever really, but it appears he wanted to do it on his own. Based on his indignant glare and the awkward positioning of his wheelchair, I assume he got stuck, couldn’t reach the walkie, and decided this was the most dignified option.

His gaze darts down to where he’s holding himself. “I’m a grower,” he slurs.

My shock and mild disgust over the fact that I’ve been peed on—by my father—disappear in the wake of this unnecessary, cheeky-as-fuck revelation. I bark out a laugh. “Like father like son—is that what you’re saying?”

A lopsided grin breaks across his face in return; his shoulders start to shake, a low chuckle bubbling up. The mug he’s holding shakes perilously. I grab for it before its contents can slosh over the edge and make even more of a mess.

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