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Authors: Dakota Madison

The Playmaker (Fire on Ice)

BOOK: The Playmaker (Fire on Ice)
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The Playmaker

Fire on Ice Series
(Book Two)

Dakota Madison

The Playmaker

Copyright © 2013 by Dakota Madison

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.

This is a work of FICTION.

Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author's offbeat imagination or are used fictitiously.

Any resemblance to actual persons living, dead or previously dated by the author, is entirely coincidental.

A SHORT ON TIME BOOK:

Fast-paced and fun novels for readers on the go!

For more information, visit the website:
www.shortontimebooks.com

 

Playlist

Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)

I’m Falling Even More in Love with You (
Lifehouse)

Asleep (The Smiths) 

Sweet Dreams (Marilyn Manson) 

Black Hole Sun (
Soundgarden)

Running Up That Hill (Placebo)

Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)

Rocketman
(Boy Sets Fire)

Chasing
Cars (Snow Patrol)

 

 

One

Kian

I stared at the huge stadium in front of me. I was about to walk into Key Arena for my first game as a major league hockey player but I still felt small and insignificant next to the massive structure.

Me
, Kian Kavanagh, a kid from the wrong side of Boston, was now an NHL player. It was something I had dreamed about since I was a kid and first set foot on the ice but it still didn’t feel real. I felt like I could wake up any minute and it would all be just a cruel dream. I had worked so hard and for so long just to be in this place and at this moment. Where I was from, people were well aware of what happened when their dreams died but no one ever taught me what it was supposed to be like when a dream came true.

The only thing that was missing, the only thing that could possibly make the moment any better, would be to have my girl right there with me.

My girl
.

No other two words sounded sweeter.

I had to do a lot of hard things in life. Being raised, if you could even call it that, by a drug-addicted, alcoholic mother came with its share of shit storms. Growing up on the wrong side of town and trying to get through school on my own wasn’t easy. But by far, the hardest thing I ever had to do was leave my girl, my princess, and move to Seattle without her.

But she was a senior in college. She had to finish her final semester. And she was getting ready for graduate school. I wanted all of those things for her. Things that were important to her and made her Taylor Thompson.

She was better than me in every way and we both knew it. I felt so fucking lucky every day of my life that she wanted to be with a guy like me. Now that I was a major league player, I finally had something real to offer her. Something that made me worthy of being her guy.

I rubbed the smooth heart-shaped gemstone that was in my front pocket and inhaled a deep breath. That gemstone, rose quartz, Taylor called it, was supposed to symbolize love. Taylor gave it to me our last night together in Arizona. She s
aid it was a symbol of her heart and I was to always carry it with me. I never went anywhere without it. 

Taylor promised she would watch my games on television. I was so proud of her for so many reasons: for overcoming a really shitty high school boyfriend who betrayed her in an unforgive
able way and for following her dream to earn a doctorate in psychology. I was lucky my ass graduated high school. I did it by the skin of my teeth. Not because I was stupid but because I had such a shitty life; trying to survive was a bigger priority that school work. When I had to try and find something to eat because my mom didn’t give a shit about buying food, homework didn’t seem as important.

Being here, playing in the major leagues, was finally my chance to do something that would make Taylor proud of me.
And I could prove that I wasn’t the complete loser that her parents thought I was. Maybe they could finally see me as being worthy of their daughter.

***

As I sat on the bench, I felt like a wide-eyed rookie. Being here was mind-blowing. I barely remembered getting dressed or the pregame pep talk from the coaching staff. With the warm-up skate and
anthem out of the way, it was about to get real. 

I moved forward, toward the very edge of the bench, antic
ipating the drop of the puck, feeling more like a fan than an actual player. The veterans on the team took notice and shared a few laughs watching the rook get lost in the moment.

Ten minutes of playing time had elapsed before coach barked out my name.  I hopped over the boards and took my position on the wing with a couple of the role players. The center on the line was the team’s penalty killing specialist. The other winger was the team’s enforcer; the guy who was sent out to send a message
to the other team with his fists if needed. The faceoff was in the neutral zone against Colorado’s fourth line. Both team’s enforcers were on the ice so the potential for fireworks was high. The linesman dropped the puck and the enforcers eyeballed each other but both headed up ice to follow the play.

The puck was dumped into our zone and the defenseman corralled the puck, immediately looking up ice. I anticipated the play and broke hard off the boards to open ice. The defenseman spotted the speedy winger and made a beautiful tape-to-tape pass as I broke over
our blue line and into open ice. My center, reacting to the play, switched over to the wing and headed toward the opposition blue line. A forward and defenseman both stepped up to close in on me and attempted to force a turnover. Feeling the pressure, I made a no-look aerial backhand pass to the breaking centerman on the far wing, sending him in all alone. I was sandwiched by two opposing players and hit the ice hard, but I heard the roar of the crowd, letting me know my pass had found its mark. I immediately looked up ice to see my centerman react to a whistle and abandon the puck, heading toward a scrum back in our end. The play had been blown dead as the two enforcers had decided to square off just inside our blue line. Not only had this altercation cost us a scoring opportunity, it scrubbed away a pass that was certain to make highlight reels across North America.

After the enforcers had finished trading punches
, the teams changed lines and attempted to refocus on playing some hockey. I returned to my spot at the end of the bench and hung my head in frustration. I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see an assistant coach behind me.

“Nice pass kid,” the coach said. “Tough break on the whistle, but that happens. Good job taking the hit to make a play.”

The coach turned and walked away, engaged in the play that had
just begun. I sat there, feeling more energy and patiently waiting for my next shift but that wouldn’t come until there were three minutes left in the period.

The head coach called out my name and had me make a change on the fly. I jumped the boards and found myself with two of our top line players. The play quickly transitioned from defense to offense.  Mahon grabbed a loose puck and fired a laser pass to me fresh off the bench. I was a little shocked how hard the pass was and how quickly it got there. He handled it cleanly
and instinctively took a couple steps to open ice. The opposition forwards were quickly closing in on me but I didn’t panic. Using that sixth sense that most athletes have, I dished the puck off to Tabor through a small hole in the legs of the closing forwards. The crowd rose to their feet as Tabor and Mahon crossed the blue line on a two-on-one.

Colorado’s second defenseman was closing fast, promising to take the rush advantage away. I slipped away from his check and sped to the op
en ice at the top of the circle. Tabor saw “the rookie” trailing and feathered a beautiful saucer pass back to me. The air was sucked out of the building as the crowd collectively held their breath, expecting a shot on goal. The goaltender immediately played high outside the crease to cut down the angle and the off side defenseman released his check to slide out and block the shot. 

I didn’t shoot but instead immediately flipped the puck over the sliding defender and right onto the tape of Mahon’s stick as he stood off to the side of the net. Mahon had nothing but open net and a stunned out-of-position goaltender to look at. With a flick of the wrist the puck found the net and the building rocked as the crowd exploded.

As the crowd cheered, players celebrated around the goal scorer, Mahon. In a show of class and recognition, our team captain retrieved the puck from the referee and, following the tradition of the game, flipped the puck to me as a memento of my first NHL point. And what a point it was. The tic-tac-toe passing play was a thing of beauty, any player’s dream of executing. As I sat on the bench, and received punches of appreciation from my teammates, I looked back at the head coach and got a nod of approval.

Could things get any better?

In the second period, I got three shifts with the second line that generated a series of scoring opportunities, but no goals. I made numerous passes that left my teammates surprised and defenders befuddled. Passes that should not be getting through were finding their way through with regularity. 

In the third period, I saw some power play time and setup two goals with dazzling passes. The first was from the half boards where I sent a rink wide pass to a wide open player for an easy one-timer into the open goal. The second was a diagonal pass from the corner, below the goal line, to a defenseman sneaking in from the off point. Another easy goal because of some of my surprisingly accurate passes.

For my three assists in the game, I was named second star of the game. The buzz in the press box and on Twitter was substantial and I was affectionately dubbed “The Playmaker.” 

For a rookie, this was living a dream. The only thing missing
was Taylor sitting in the stands watching me play. Because I wasn’t just playing for me, I was playing for her. I wanted to make her proud.

 

Two

Taylor

“I really don’t think it’s a good idea for him to sleep in your room,” my mom said as we laid a brand new comforter on my bed. “You’re not married.”

“You’re telling me that you and dad never slept together before you were married?” I folded my arms over my chest and gave my mom a dubious look. “The two of you went to college together.”

My room hadn’t changed much since I left for college. It still looked like a little girl’s room with the pink frills and canopy bed. The more stylish comforter was a bit of an improvement.

My mom coughed as if that would make the whole conversation go away. She looked tired. Her brown eyes were wearier that I had ever seen them and her brown hair now had more than a few gray strands.

She sat on the edge of my bed and patted the space next to her as an invitation to join her.

I heaved a sigh then obliged even though I was in no mood for a lecture.

“You
r dad and I know how you feel about Kian. We just think you may be jumping into this relationship too fast because of everything that happened with Austin.”

Austin was the only boy I dated in high school. The boy I lost my virginity to
in my senior year. He was also the boy who taped the two of us having sex and shared it with the entire school, and over time, with the world on the internet. He was the one who ensured a place for me in history as the subject of the Prom Queen Sex Tape Scandal, which made national headlines.

“Kian loves me, Mom. He loves
me
, the star of the infamous Prom Queen Sex Tape. I never thought any guy would ever be able to love me after everything that happened. He doesn’t treat me like damaged goods. He cherishes me. I wish you could appreciate what that means to me.”

“We just think you may be selling yourself short with that boy.”


That boy
is now a major league hockey player, Mom. I know you and Dad don’t know anything about sports and don’t care about them but being a professional athlete in this country is a really big deal.”

My mother heaved a heavy sigh.

I continued. “I notice you never say anything about Zelda’s choice of men. You’ve accepted every one of her multitude of boyfriends with open arms.”

“Your sister is different,” my mom said. “She’s a free spirit. And we know she’s not going to settle down with any of them.”

Bingo. I finally figured out what was really bothering my parents. “You think I’m going to marry Kian. Is that the problem?”

She gave me her motherly glare that I knew so well. “The idea of marrying him never crossed your mind?”

I didn’t want to admit to my mother that it had. I didn’t want her to be right about anything to do with me and Kian. It was true that we were from completely different worlds but somehow we managed to bridge the gap between those worlds and fit together. Even though neither one of us had much experience in our vastly different worlds, being together just felt right. And we seemed connected on a much deeper level. Sometimes I felt like Kian knew me better than I knew myself.

“I feel too young to get married. I’m getting ready to go to graduate school. Kian just started playing for a major league
hockey team. We both still have a lot we want to accomplish before we settle down.”

My mother brushed a few strands of my wavy brown hair out of my face. “I just don’t want you to give up your dreams for love.”

“Kian would never ask me to do that. He doesn’t want me to do that. And you should know I would never do that. My dream has always been to become an experimental psychologist. But that doesn’t mean my life can’t also include Kian.”

My mother closed her eyes. I knew she wasn’t happy with what she was hearing. I knew the only thing that would make her happy was if I dropped Kian. She wanted me to be with a guy who at least earned a college degree and preferably someone with a graduate degree, like she and my dad. 

I got it. My parents were college professors. Education was very important to them. I hated to admit it but they were intellectual snobs. Kian, who barely finished high school, was very rough around the edges. He didn’t fit their ideal image of a marriage partner for their daughter.  

“If you don’t want Kian to stay here, we could stay at a hotel while he’s in town.”

“That’s not necessary,” my mom said a little too sweetly. “I don’t want him to think we don’t like him.”

Too late
, I wanted to say. Since they first met him for Thanksgiving dinner, my parents had done nothing to welcome Kian into their home and even less to open their hearts to the man I love. I rose from my bed. “Would you at least try to be nice to him? That’s all I ask.”

When my mom rose and said, “We decided to do baked ham for Christmas Eve dinner this year,” I knew the conversation about Kian was officially over.

***

It had only been four weeks since I’d seen Kian but it felt like four years. I usually loved the anticipation of spring, with the flowers blooming and all of the trees coming back to life but this year, I was dreading it. I was dreading not being able to see Kian for several months. Even though we spoke on the phone a few times every day, it wasn’t the same as actually seeing the gleam in his sparkling blue eyes as we spoke. He was one of the few people I could tell was really listening to me.

I missed the touch of his strong hands and the way he tried so hard to make his rough hands soft when he touched me. I missed the way I felt in his presence, like I was the most important person in the world. I knew that Kian treasured me—I could feel it in every look and every touch.

I glanced at my watch for what must have been the twentieth time. Kian was due to land in just a few minutes. He said he’d text me the moment he was back in Arizona. I knew he was going to meet his best friend, Runt, for a quick drink and then the rest of his three days off would be spent with me.

He and Runt had known each other since they were kids. They grew up in the same bad neighborhood and played hockey together. Then they were both recruited to play for the Firestorm, the local minor league team.

As badly as I wanted to see Kian, I knew it was important for him to see his best friend. 

When my cell phone buzzed, I immediately answered.

“Hey, Princess,” Kian said. “We just landed. I’ve got to get a rental car and then I’m supposed to meet Runt at O’Sullivan’s for a quick drink. I can’t wait to see you. It’s all I’ve been thinking about.”

“Me, too,” I replied as I shut my bedroom door. “Are you still okay with staying here?”

“A better question is
if your parents are okay with me staying there?”

“They’re slowly coming around.”
Very slowly
.

I could hear an audible sigh. “You know how I feel about coming between you and your parents.”

“You’re not. My parents need to accept that you’re a part of my life.”

“Hopefully, a big part…”

“The biggest. You have my heart.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“I’ll be waiting.”

BOOK: The Playmaker (Fire on Ice)
2.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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