Authors: Melanie Ting
© 2015 by Melanie Ting
First Edition, June 2015
Editing by Amy J. Duli
Cover design from Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae
Additional formatting by Jaye Manus
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, places or events is coincidental. Characters, names, organizations, businesses, locales, and incidences are either used fictitiously or are a product of the author’s imagination. Really.
|24 • Hockey Night in Vancouver||24 • Hockey Night in Vancouver|
|25 • Last Night||25 • The First Move|
|26 • Double Negative||26 • Sex and Drugs|
|27 • Shake It Off||27 • Leaving On a Jet Plane|
|28 • Practice Makes Perfect||28 • Better Homes|
|29 • Scoring on the Rebound||29 • Kelly and the Gang|
|30 • Coach Kelly||30 • Sweetness|
|31 • Thirty Seconds in Heaven||31 • Cloudy With A Chance of Showers|
|32 • Alone Again, Naturally||32 • Critical Mass|
|33 • A Star Is Born||33 • Lashing Out|
|34 • The Dream Job||34 • Stepford Girlfriend|
|35 • Doggy-style||35 • Christmas Cheer|
|36 • Blonde Ambition||36 • Special Delivery|
|37 • Happy Holidays||37 • Truth Serum|
|38 • Moose Hunting||38 • Aftermath|
|39 • Tylenol||39 • Fragile Dreams|
|40 • Reunion Island||40 • Breaking Dawn|
|41 • Closing Doors||41 • Wedding Bells|
|42 • Who’s Sorry Now||42 • Mirrors|
|43 • Saved||43 • Are We Having Fun Yet?|
|44 • Bullseye||44 • A New Beginning|
|45 • Chicago Fire||45 • Holding Pattern|
|46 • To Do List||46 • Emily’s Quest|
| ||47 • Rollercoaster of Love|
| ||48 • Happy Endings|
| ||49 • The Big Stage|
What if you had only loved two guys in your life—and then you got to choose?
crunch time for Kelly Tanaka. Now that she’s graduated, all she wants is a career that’s related to hockey. She’s going to have to start at the bottom, but before she can climb the first rung of the corporate ladder, her love life explodes.
James Frechette is playing in the NHL now. He has money, great teammates, and his choice of willing women. But all he really wants is the one person who got away.
Phil Davidson has also graduated and wants to get his life in order. Travel and a good job are already checked off, so now he can focus on reuniting with the woman he’s loved forever. But he’ll have to battle some competition for that goal.
Will Kelly decide that her first job is her priority? Will Phil get a chance to prove that first love is the best love? Or will James make good on his vow to win her back?
t’s our time
, Tank,” Deirdre Tough said as we walked into the arena at Ottawa U. It was the final, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championship, and the very last game of my competitive hockey career.
I knew what she meant. Every season since Deirdre and I had gotten here, the team had improved. Last year, we had been the number one ranked team in the CIS standings all season. We made it all the way to the final and then came up short, losing 4-0 to Alberta. That hurt a lot, but the loss gave birth to a bitter determination that fuelled our summer training and our regular season. Now we were all back, and mentally tougher because of the huge disappointment of last year. Only one team stood between us and a championship—the Laurier Golden Hawks.
We had had an undefeated season and an undefeated post-season. There was no doubt we were the favourites, yet there were still whispers that we were chokers—a team that couldn’t win when it really counted. But damn it, we were not going to lose on my watch.
There was a nervous tension in the room. We got ready without much of the usual joking and chatter. Someone snapped at one of the rookies for goofing around, but then apologized after I intervened.
“It’s okay,” I said. “We all show our nerves in different ways, but tonight we have to pull together.”
Coach Mike came in to talk to us. He ran over the lines for tonight’s game; no surprises there. For the past six games, I’d been replaced on the first line by Antoinette Demers, a second year winger whose game had really been coming on. She and Deirdre were clicking, so they should be together. I was on the second line, and that was working well too. I’d get my share of ice time since Coach Mike liked to roll the lines. He had to take a long view; no point having all your experienced players graduate and be stuck with a bunch of newbs next season.
He cleared his throat. “I know it’s a big game. But you’re the most talented group I’ve seen in all my time at McGill. As long as we stick to the game plan—the win is there for you.”
Deirdre winked at me, and I grinned back at her.
“Something funny, Tanaka?” he asked.
“Coach, you did say something similar before the last year’s final— about us being the best team you’d had.” Everyone laughed, and the tension in the room eased up.
“Damn. Well, it’s true. You guys are the most talented.” Then he laughed too. “So, Captain, you have something to add?”
I took a deep breath and stood up. I had prepared a whole speech about honour, effort, and teamwork. But looking around the room, I knew that it wasn’t necessary. We were undefeated because we all put the team first. Right now, everyone was relaxed, and that was the best way to go into a game.
“Let’s do this,” I yelled, and everyone cheered in response. And we clumped out of the dressing room to the ice.
During the warm-up, I had a look around the stands. It was the biggest crowd we’d played in front of all season. A hand-painted banner reading “Go Tanaka” was being waved around. My dad had flown in from Vancouver for this game, and since we used to live in Ottawa, he had organized a group of his friends. His sister, my aunt Nora, lived here too. She brought all her buddies. Now they all cheered when I waved and someone rang a cowbell.
“Tank, your fan club is rocking the place out,” Deirdre laughed as we rotated through a shooting drill.
“We definitely have home advantage,” I agreed. The best thing about an undefeated season was all the fans who had jumped on the Martlet bandwagon. This season we had bigger crowds, and many had made the two-hour trip to support us in the final. It was a six-hour trek from Laurier, so only their most dedicated supporters had shown up.
The game was a pretty tense one. There was no scoring in the first period and a lot of back and forth play in the neutral zone. Both teams were worried about making a defensive error and were not as offensive as a result. Then at the beginning of the second, Antoinette fed a beautiful pass to Deirdre, who drilled it top shelf.
Woot! We jumped up and down on the bench, and everyone on the ice was hugging Deirdre.
“Calm down,” Coach Mike hollered. “There’s still a lot of hockey to play.”
He was right, the tension seemed to ratchet up. We couldn’t get an insurance goal, and Laurier was pulling out all the stops to tie things up. I was pretty sure that their coach had shortened his bench big time since their top line seemed to be out every other shift.
By the middle of the third period, we were still clinging to our one goal lead. I ripped in to forecheck the defenceman in the corner. She was caught off guard and ended up falling as I whipped the puck up to Marty on the half-wall. Then I heard a whistle and looked up.
I could not believe that I was getting a penalty. No way that was a hit, just a good check to recover the puck.
“C’mon,” I said to the ref. “That was totally clean.”
He skated me over to the box. “In you go, 21.”
“I think you owe me a freebie.”
think you need to clean up your act.”
Oh man, what a terrible time to take a penalty. If Laurier scored on this power play—I didn’t even want to think about all the things that might happen. I felt guilty and then doubly guilty as I remembered that when Coach Mike made me captain, he had praised my smart play. Meaning that I didn’t do stupid things at critical times. Fuck.
The coach motioned for me to stay on the ice when my penalty ended. At least he hadn’t lost faith in me. And I was going to work my ass off once I got back.
Laurier fired a tricky point shot that Jonesy managed to snag at the last second. Crap! I needed to get back out there. I looked up at the clock, thirty more seconds. The Laurier team was putting a lot of power play pressure on, and I held my breath.
Please, don’t let them score.
The points were pinching as they moved the puck in closer.
Ten seconds left. Deirdre blocked a shot, but the defenceman on the far point picked it up. She shot, and this time Deirdre pushed the rebound out to the half-boards and started battling for it. She finally won the puck as I was sprung from the box.
“Deeeee,” I screamed.
She blasted the puck up. I was almost at full speed when I picked it up in the neutral zone and went in alone. The Laurier defencemen were desperately trying to catch up with me. I took my shot from ten feet out, a hard riser, but the goalie stopped it with the blocker. I felt my feet being taken out from behind, and started falling. Before I hit the ice, I saw the rebound skidding on the ice in front of me. I shoved it with my stick—towards the space between the goalie and the ice. In what seemed like slow motion, the puck slid towards the goal line. As the goalie brought her pads down, I lost sight of the puck. Then the ref blew his whistle and pointed towards the net.
Next thing I knew, Deirdre had landed on top of me, screaming. There was thunderous clapping, cheering, and even a cowbell. I could hear my dad’s voice yelling, “Way to go, Kelly!” It was such a beautiful moment.
But of course, the game wasn’t over yet. Two goals were not insurmountable, and Laurier was not giving up. We needed to play hard and defend well.
“No mistakes,” Coach Mike muttered, as he sent our line out. If he meant me, he didn’t need to worry. I wasn’t going to do anything that had even a sniff of penalty call around it. The seconds ticked by slowly, but as the clock ran down, we bubbled up with energy while Laurier seemed to lose theirs. We were winning face-offs and puck battles, and our passes were clicking.
I was out when the buzzer finally sounded. I skated towards Jonesy, and the whole team poured onto the ice. The crowd stood and applauded while we hugged, screamed, and acted like insane toddlers.
“Can you believe it, Tank? We finally fuckin’ did it,” Deirdre screamed at me. I squeezed her tightly. Four seasons together, and we had finally won. It was all the sweeter because of the last season’s massive disappointment.
“Time to get the team lined up,” Coach Mike called out to me. I nodded and passed the word on. Then I skated over to the bench.
“Thanks, Coach. For believing in me—right from the Mac’s tourney back in Calgary.”
“No, Kelly. Thank you. You really came through tonight, you’re a great captain.” I was captain because of my work rate. I wasn’t the most talented, but I worked the hardest.
The championship presentation began when the league officials came onto the ice. Everyone still in the stands had come down to the glass. I waved at my dad, and he gave me a big thumbs-up. My aunt was filming everything, and all their friends were hooting and hollering.
The team all lined up, and we got our gold medals. Naturally, Deirdre bit hers. Then they handed me the trophy. It was a bronze statue of a woman hockey player with a wooden base. Maybe you couldn’t drink champagne out of it, but it looked perfect.
I skated a circle with the trophy over my head and everyone cheering. We passed it around a little, but it was time for the team photo.
The whole team, our coaches, and staff formed a big semi-circle around the trophy and the championship banner.
The photographer got behind his tripod. “Okay, smile,” he said, but every one of us was already beaming. Then he asked, “Who’s number one?” We all held up our forefingers and then,
We were immortalized forever as champions.