Hockey Is My Boyfriend: Part Two

BOOK: Hockey Is My Boyfriend: Part Two
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Hockey Is My Boyfriend
Part Two
Melanie Ting
Contents

C
opyright
© 2014 by Melanie Ting

First Edition, October 2014

Second Edition, June 2015

All rights reserved.

Editing by Amy J. Duli

Cover design from Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae

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.

T
o Daisy
, for being my first and best reader

Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two

C
an
a summer fling turn into real love?

From leaping a raging river to driving collegiate opponents into the boards, there is no physical challenge Kelly Tanaka won't take. But when it comes to love, she's running scared. Luckily for her, a job at a summer hockey camp is the last place she would expect to meet Mr. Right. And there's no way she could be interested in a tall, muscular centreman who looks young and acts even younger. 

James Frechette has just been selected near the top of the NHL draft. He's completely confident about his hockey abilities, but when it comes to women, he's wiping out. The summer is his chance to hone his social skills. There’s only one girl at his hockey camp, and he really likes her—but so does every other instructor there. Can he overcome his awkwardness and convince Kelly to take a chance on him?

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1
Adrenaline
June 2006

V
ancouver Island


H
ere
, Donna.” I tossed the last of the knapsacks to my teammate. We were on one of the trickiest parts of the rugged West Coast Trail: the infamous beach route. To even attempt this route required perfect cooperation of the tides and good weather. But after nearly a week of tough hiking, we were ready.

I was balanced on a rock in the middle of the Adrenaline Surge Channel, part of a human conveyor belt to get our big packs across the water before we leapt across ourselves.

I turned and my hiking boot lost its grip on the slick rock. My arms windmilled uselessly as I fell backwards into the water. Fuck, it was incredibly cold. The creek wasn’t that deep, but the current was strong. I had heard how dangerous this part of the trail was, and now I realized how easily I could die if I washed out to sea. Then the rope attached to me snapped taut and my personal adrenaline kicked in. I overcame the urge to panic and flail. I grasped the rope and lifted my head to take a deep breath of air. Against the force of the water, I stroked back towards the rock. I could feel my teammates pulling on both sides of the rope and willing me forward. Just behind the rock, the water was shallower and the current gentler. I began to scramble back up the rock.

Donna was the most experienced hiker, but now it was Lise Martel’s calm voice I heard. She was always cool under pressure, which was why she was going to be our team captain next season.

“We’ve got you, Kelly. Okay, there’s a place you can grab on the rock. Reach your hand up at two o’clock. Yes, higher.” I listened to her voice, never looking away from the rock. It was my goal, my focus, and my whole being was concentrating.

Time seemed to be slowing down. Step by excruciating step, I dragged my waterlogged body back atop the rock. A cheer went up from the few people gathered on both sides of the channel waiting to cross. I would have waved, but I didn’t dare to lift my hand.

My ordeal wasn’t over yet. I still had to jump to the next rock and scramble up the rocky bank. When I finally stood on the solid surface, I felt the familiar rush of joy I got whenever I accomplished some new physical feat. Donna gave me a hug, and then we helped Lise and then Deirdre cross the river too. When we all stood on the relatively safe rocks, Deirdre wrapped her arms around me in the tightest hug ever.

“Fuck, Tank, I thought you were gone there.” And then she burst into tears. Deirdre Tough, who laughed off bodychecks and mocked weakness, was crying! I squeezed her back. Once she stopped sobbing, I joked, “Yeah, if I’m gone, who’s going to feed you those goalmouth passes so you can keep your stats up?”

Deirdre wiped off her face and sniffled. She was my best friend on the team, and I was touched by her concern. Then Donna took charge again.

“Okay, why don’t we get our packs back on. We can stop early. The next campsite’s not far, and then Kelly can take off all her wet gear. You need to dry out those hiking boots or you’re going to be in trouble.”

I could tell Donna felt guilty. She was the one who had done the West Coast Trail several times before and wanted to try to the beach route for the first time.

“I am going to have to start wearing those Depends,” Lise declared. “This hike has been scaring the shit out of me, and today was the last straw.”

“Yeah, Kelly, if you died it would have ruined the whole trip.” Deirdre sighed.

I laughed. “Yes, but only the trip.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Deirdre protested. We all started giggling. I felt fantastic and extra alive. Originally, about eight of our McGill Martlet teammates had planned to come out west and do this weeklong hike together. Then people got jobs and travel plans, and in the end it was only the four of us. It had worked out perfectly though. We were a good team: Donna had the hiking experience, Lise was the organizer, Deirdre was the self-described muscle, and I was—not even sure what I was—the cheerful one, I guess. Who wouldn’t be happy in such gorgeous surroundings? If we weren’t amongst the giant Douglas firs, we were hiking along beautiful shorelines with vast ocean views. The trail was tough in places with ladders and scrambly rock sections, but we were all fit enough to enjoy the trek. As for wildlife, we had seen seals, sea lions, eagles, and even a black bear and her cub.

The campsite was beautifully situated with ocean and creek views, and since we were extra early we got a prime spot. I stripped off my wet clothes and put on the driest, cleanest thing I had, which ironically was my bathing suit. I added shorts and sandals and went off to find some afternoon sunshine for drying my boots and gear.

I was crouched on a rock face, spreading everything out when someone spoke behind me.

“Hey, you’re the girl that fell in the creek, right?”

Great, was that going to be my identity for the rest of the hike? I looked up and there were two guys standing there. They were fully outfitted in expensive technical wear with matching packs.

I smiled and nodded.

“Are you okay?” They were both lean, dark-haired, and tanned. They looked like brothers. They also looked really fit, like ultramarathoners.

I laughed. “Yeah, I’m fine. Glad I could provide the entertainment for everyone waiting to cross.”

The taller one was doing all the talking. “Actually, we were impressed you scrambled out so easily. You ever do any climbing?”

“I’ve tried it, nothing major. Are you guys climbers?”

“Yeah, I teach people in my free time. Would you like to try it sometime? Are you from around here?”

People were really friendly on this trail. I think because it was so challenging, we were all in a brotherhood of pain and exertion.

“I live in North Van.”

“Perfect. We’re from Vancouver, I’m Dan and this is my brother, Bruce.”

“I’m Kelly.” He held out his hand so I wiped off mine on my shorts. I felt slimy everywhere.

Dan smiled, his teeth extra white against his dark skin. How the hell did he look so clean? Being on the trail for five days was making me fantasize about a hot shower. He pulled out his phone. “Listen, Kelly, we’re trying to cover more trail while it’s daylight. Why don’t you give me your number, and we’ll touch base next week.”

Yeah—no. Our brotherhood was not that tight. “Give me your number. I’ll call you.”

Bruce laughed. “She doesn’t trust you, Dan. Smart girl.”

Dan rooted around in his jacket and pulled out a business card. I took it and they said goodbye and jogged off.

I left my gear to dry and headed back to our tents. Lise and Deirdre were watching me and smiling.

“What’s in your hand?” Lise asked.

“Oh, it’s Dan’s phone number. They want to get together and do some rock climbing this summer.”

“Pay up,” Deirdre said, holding her hand out to Lise. “I told you he was asking her out.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “It’s not a date, it’s climbing. He’s an instructor or something, and he thinks I’d be good. Anyway, why are you guys betting on such stupid things?”

Deirdre laughed. “It’s like this is your natural habitat, Tank. You’re so friendly when you’re outside, and then guys think you’re interested in them.”

Well, it was true that I didn’t fit in at the clubs or places like that. Who wouldn’t feel relaxed out in this gorgeous sunshine?

“Didn’t your mom tell you not to talk to strangers?” Lise scolded me. She reached into the zippered pocket of her shorts and got out the Ziploc bag that held her cash and credit card. Then she handed Deirdre a five. “Being too friendly is going to get you into trouble sometime.” Lise was a worrier and a mother hen.

“It hasn’t so far,” I replied. It wasn’t like I was flirting or anything. I liked talking to people who were interested in the same things I was: the outdoors, physical activity, and hockey.

Deirdre motioned towards the brothers who had almost disappeared along the shoreline. “Of course, if you heard what they said when you came out of the water with your clothes all wet, you might not like them as much.”

“Don’t even tell me,” I said and pitched Dan’s phone number into the kindling pile. I wasn’t into guys who turned a life-threatening ordeal into a wet t-shirt contest.

“You want to go double or nothing?” Deirdre asked Lise. “I say she gets hit on again in the last day and a half of the hike.”

“No bet,” said Lise firmly. “Especially if that good-looking guy is picking us up from the ferry.”

“You mean Phil?” I asked. He had driven us to Horseshoe Bay since my parents’ car wasn’t big enough for the four of us and all our gear. “He’s my
ex
-boyfriend.”

“Doesn’t want to be ex,” Deirdre chimed in. “That’s obvious. I mean, who agrees to get up at 6:00 in the morning, just for the pleasure of taking four hockey players to the dock? Only someone who’s trying to score points.”

Donna returned, holding her cellphone. “We’re getting closer to civilization. I can get a signal when I go around the point over there.”

“Any messages from home?”

“Nope. No news.” Donna had graduated this year and was looking for a job. She had résumés out everywhere. Lise was going into her last year at McGill, while Deirdre and I were in third year.

Deirdre found her cellphone in her pack and took off for the point.

“What’s her hurry?” Donna wondered.

“No idea,” I replied. It was my turn to make dinner, or more specifically boil water and bring some freeze-dried masterpiece back to life. “Spaghetti or chilli?” I waved the packages in the air.

“Is there a difference?” Lise sighed. “I dream about the real food we’re going to eat once we get back to civilization.”

Deirdre returned a few minutes later, beaming. “Guys! Guess what?”

“What?” I asked.

“I got invited to a Team Canada training camp! It’s in Calgary.” We all jumped up and had a group hug. Deirdre continued, “Well, it’s not
the
training camp; it’s a pre-selection camp.”

“Close enough,” I told her. “That’s awesome.”

“I bet you’re the only one from our team going,” Donna said. Deirdre was hands down the best forward on the Martlets. Ordinarily the best female hockey players went to U.S. colleges, but some Canadian university players were up to national team standards.

“Did you know about this before you left?” Lise said.

Deirdre nodded. “I heard there was a possibility, but I didn’t know for sure. I couldn’t check while we were on the trail, and this trek was the best kind of distraction.”

I hugged her again. “You’re going to be great. Show them how good Martlets hockey is.”

Deirdre’s smile changed to a frown. “Uh oh. I’m going to have to find someone to fill my job at Burt Iverson’s hockey camp. It’s at the same time in July.”

“I’ll do it,” I blurted.

She cast an evaluating glance over me. “Well, I know you’ve got the hockey skills. But have you worked with kids before?”

I nodded. “Summer day camps for two years.”

“Okey-doke. I’ll put in a good word for you. Thanks,” Deirdre said. She was still wearing the biggest smile I’d ever seen on her.

“Where is this camp exactly?” Lise asked. I realized I should have asked that question myself. I knew it was in New Brunswick, because that was where Deirdre was from.

“It’s near a tiny lake—half an hour outside Fredericton. Smack dab in the middle of nowhere you’d want to be.” Deirdre laughed.

“Why would you want to work there, then?” Donna wondered.

Deirdre shrugged. “It’s the best camp in the province—has been for years.” Then she snickered. “Of course, it’s not a huge province.”

“Gee, Kelly,” Donna said. “The airfare from here to New Brunswick will probably cost more than you’re going to make.”

“That’s okay, at least it’s hockey.”

Lise jumped in. “Afterwards you could go back to Montreal, instead of flying all the way home. I’m sure you can get a summer job there, it’s the peak tourist season.” Lise loved her hometown and found it astounding that we all left in the summer, which she said was the very best time.

I nodded. I had been dreading the end of the West Coast Trail experience. Was I turning into an adrenaline junkie? Usually, I liked my routine, but lately I’d wanted something more. I liked the excitement of the hockey season, and I was definitely getting more adventurous.

As soon as I got home, Phil expected us to pick up right where we left off last summer. I had told him no. After first year, we had a reunion romance. Things were good, but I found it hard to turn my feelings off and on like a tap. If we were really supposed to have new experiences with new people, I figured that reuniting with Phil every summer and Christmas was not helping.

Was fleeing to the other side of the country my way of avoiding all that emotional crap? At least I wouldn’t have to worry about guys hitting on me at a hockey camp in the middle of nowhere.

BOOK: Hockey Is My Boyfriend: Part Two
8.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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