The Pucking Wrong Guy: Chapter 4

BLAKE

Three never-ending days had crawled by since the gorgeous stranger at the restaurant had set my world on fire. Meanwhile, Clark had turned into a human emoji, answering my texts with nothing but ‘yes’ and ‘no’, his frantic texting from the weeks before completely gone.

I didn’t even know what the stranger’s name was. It would have been easy to find out, but I was trying to stay as far away from temptation as possible. Getting his name would have made it hard to do that. I knew that because even without his name, his smoldering gaze and electrifying presence refused to leave my thoughts.

My day had been a relentless grind, made even worse by a call from my agent saying I didn’t get yet another job I’d been after, and then a scathing text from Maura wanting to know when I was going to stop being a “pathetic nothing” and come home.

I couldn’t help but think the universe was coming after me, punishing me for getting all hot and bothered over a guy besides my sweet boyfriend.

I was teetering on the edge when I finally trudged home after my grueling shift at the restaurant where I’d had my ass grabbed no less than three times. Upscale didn’t mean better behavior.

But I’d known that already from living with the Shepfields.

I stopped outside my apartment door, sighing as I listened to the booming music coming from within.

My roommate, Charlotte, was evidently home. And my energy level was nowhere where it needed to be to handle her.

Stepping into our apartment was like entering a whirlwind. Charlotte was dancing to T Swift’s “Karma”, while Waldo barked and jumped around her frantically. I stopped in the doorway and took in what I was seeing. Charlotte was a fireball, her personality perfectly matching her long, fiery auburn hair and hazel eyes. The exact opposite of my shy, unsure one. She was another model with my agency, someone I hadn’t known before the move. So far I’d been pleasantly surprised by her though, if overwhelmed. She was the kind of person who could light up a room with her infectious energy, while I seemed to drain the energy out of them.

Maybe we were perfect for each other.

As soon as she saw me, she let out a shrill scream and ran towards me, waving a pair of tickets like she’d won the lottery. I reached down to hug Waldo, a good way to prevent her from jumping on me as well as giving my perfect doggie some love.

‘Blake, you won’t believe it!’ She bounced on her toes. ‘I got tickets to the Cobras’ opening night, and check this out!’ She reached for something on the coffee table and soon brandished jerseys with “Lancaster” on the back, a mischievous grin dancing on her lips.

I usually excelled in turning down invitations. Nights out never ended how I wanted. I opened my mouth to deliver my usual blurb about exhaustion and a headache…but Charlotte was having none of it tonight.

‘Blake, you’re always working, and you hardly ever go out with me. We need to roommate bond! And I just got that new job with Burberry today. We need to celebrate! Please. Please. Please.’

Something clenched in my insides…because the Burberry job was the one I’d found out I didn’t get. But that feeling just meant that I probably needed to go. Because I didn’t want to be the girl who was ever bitter about her friend’s success.

Before I could say anything, though, Charlotte crossed her arms and gave me a look that screamed determination. ‘Blake, you can’t keep hiding from the world. We’re going, and that’s final! I will drag you out of this apartment.’

Okay, so this girl was a bit of a badass. And that had a reluctant smile gracing my lips. ‘Alright, alright, I’ll go,’ I began to say, before crashing to the floor as she tackled me. My ears would never recover from her squeals. Waldo smothered both of us in wet, sloppy kisses as I struggled to get out from under her.

Way too much touching going on here.

She finally bounced off me and did a little shimmy, right in time to “Style” starting. “It’s going to be epic! Everyone has been trying to get tickets to this game now that Lancaster’s on the team. Seeing him and Davis next to each other…I might faint.” She grabbed her crotch and did a weird hip thrust like the players in question were in the room with us now and she was trying to direct their dicks to the sweet spot.

“Okay, we’ve got to leave in like ten minutes,” Charlotte said guiltily, and I realized for the first time she was perfectly done up, while I’d just gotten done sweating for hours. And I smelled like food. A lethal combination.

I was tempted to change my mind and back out, but she slapped a hand over my lips and started pushing me toward the hallway that led to my bedroom.

“Ten minutes, Blake. Don’t make me drag your cute butt out of here, young lady.”

I giggled, a miracle considering the shitty day I’d had, and she froze in the hallway.

“Did you just laugh?” she asked, sounding shocked.

My giggle transformed into a scowl and I marched into the bathroom and practically slammed the door behind me, her laughter ringing in my ears.

Fifteen minutes later, I’d managed to make myself somewhat presentable, and we were loaded into an Uber and headed through L.A. traffic to the Cobras arena.

“So what’s the story with Lancaster?” I asked Charlotte, figuring I should know something about the team. I was a football fan myself, but I could pretend to like hockey for the night.

She grinned mischievously and made a weird moaning sound that had the driver shifting in his seat uncomfortably. ‘It’s actually a crazy story. He’s been a star defenseman for the Dallas Knights since he was drafted, and he freaking won the Cup with them last year. Then, out of the blue, the guy asks for a trade to L.A.’

I hummed in confusion. ‘That’s strange. Why would he do that after a championship win?’

Charlotte shrugged. ‘No one really knows. It’s a mystery. But trust me, Blake, he’s the best defenseman in the league, and everyone’s buzzing about his arrival. It’s like a dream come true for L.A. fans.’

I gave her what I hoped was an excited grin before staring out at the passing city lights, her continued chatter a comforting background to the drive.


Ari

Tonight was the night. The first game of the NHL season with the motherfucking Cobras.

And I was nervous.

Which never happened. I was Mr. Cool. Mr. Collected. I left it to Lincoln to be nervous.

Okay, that was a stretch. Lincoln didn’t get nervous either. But my late-summer trade had disrupted my rhythm, leaving me with fewer practices with my new teammates than would’ve been ideal. Would have been nice to see Blake’s billboard like the week after the Stanley Cup win. Ya know?

I was stepping onto the ice with a group of guys I barely knew, one of which I hated, and the weight of expectations hung heavy on my shoulders. If I wanted any chance of making my way back to Dallas next year, I needed to have a stellar season, a perfect season, in fact. Be so good that Dallas had to forgive me and take me back.

I stared at myself in the mirror, trying to come to grips with the fact I was dressed in an oh-so-vibrant purple and yellow uniform. And there was a big fucking snake on my chest. It was like trading a steak for some cold oatmeal. Everything about it felt wrong. Blue and white was a much better color combo, in my opinion. The Knight emblem was a badge of honor, stitched into the very fabric of who I was as a player.

Now, here I was, part of the Cobras crew, and it was like swapping my noble steed for a…well, a slithering snake.

And I’d always hated snakes.

For a fleeting moment, despondency slipped over my skin. It felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice, uncertain of what lay ahead. Doubts crept in, like insidious whispers in the back of my mind, questioning whether this would all work out. What if I couldn’t get her back? What if I suddenly sucked at hockey?

I chuckled to myself at that one, shaking off the weird feeling. Yeah, none of that was going to happen.

I couldn’t afford to indulge in self-doubt, not now.

With a determined sigh, I reached for my phone and tapped out a text to my bestie. I could use some of his sage wisdom right about now.

Me: I hate purple and gold.

Lincoln: It’s true. It washes you out.

Me: Fuck you. Take that back. I look amazing in purple and gold. Everyone thinks so.

Lincoln: …

Me: Ok, well I don’t know if everyone thinks so. Let’s crowdsource this.

Lincoln: ?

I added Monroe to the chat and sent a selfie…

Me: Monroe, what do you think of me in purple and gold?

Lincoln: Monroe? Don’t talk to him. Don’t answer that question.

Monroe: I really like purple and gold.

Lincoln: But not more than me in blue and white…right? Right?

Me: The people have spoken. I look good in purple and gold.

Lincoln: She’s not your people. She’s my people. Monroe, tell him you’re not his people.

Lincoln: Wait, don’t tell him anything!

Monroe: Sigh.

Me: Gif of athlete doing victory lap.

Lincoln: middle finger emoji

Me: I still hate purple and gold.

Lincoln: I know. One year, buddy.

Me: One year.

Lincoln: Knock ’em dead tonight. You’ve got this.

I sent a giant heart after that text, because what else did you do to tell someone you loved them bunches?

A throat cleared, and I glanced up from my phone, realizing I’d been staring at it with a manic grin. Walker was standing there, leaning against the doorway like the Disney prince he was.

‘Ready for the game?’ he asked in that typical, casual Walker way.

“Yep. Go Cobras!” I tried to say exuberantly. Came out a little flat though, if I was being honest.

Walker suddenly shifted awkwardly, like a puppy unsure of its footing.

I raised an eyebrow, waiting for whatever he was going to say.

‘Um, well,’ he began, fumbling for words. ‘I know you must be feeling weird, so…is there anything that you and Lincoln used to do before the game that you’d want me to do?’

Oh, this was good. I practically jumped up with excitement. ‘Yes!’ I exclaimed, unable to contain my enthusiasm.

‘Okay, what is it?’ Walker asked with determination.

Lincoln and I didn’t really have a pregame ritual. We were basically just badasses whose badassery was a ritual in and of itself. But this was a good distraction.

‘Well, it’s a little weird,” I warned, but Walker just nodded intently. “Linc and I…we shake it off,’ I said, deserving an Oscar because my voice was so steady.

Walker blinked. ‘You shake it off?’ he repeated, his voice tinged with disbelief.

I grinned. ‘Trust me, it works wonders. But hey, it was a Linc and me thing. Doesn’t have to be a Walker and me thing, ya know?’

“No, no,” he said quickly, holding up his hands. “I can shake it off. Let’s do it. Let’s get you ready for the game.”

Where was the motherfucking camera when I needed it? No offense to anyone’s mothers by the way; it had been ages since I’d done something like that. And mothers were forever safe from me now that I’d gotten Blake back.

I guess until she became a mother.

Fuck. Don’t get hard now, Ari.

I grabbed my phone and pulled up my ‘Shake It Off’ playlist, cranking the volume to the max. Taylor Swift’s infectious beat filled the room, and I launched into an exaggerated shimmy that would make every Swiftie proud.

Walker hesitated for a moment, then got into it. His awkward moves slowly morphed into a goofy dance, and soon enough, we were both grooving like nobody was watching. I kept my ear out for the sound of anyone coming, and when I heard footsteps, I conveniently stopped and leaned against the wall like the cool stud I was.

The door swung open, and some of our teammates entered, stopping dead in their tracks at the spectacle of Walker doing the “robot” to Tay-Tay.

Their jaws dropped.

I burst into laughter at their stunned expressions, and Walker came to a screeching halt, his cheeks reddening as he stared at his teammates.

“Nice moves, Walker,” I drawled, doing a slow clap.

“What. He—” Walker stammered, before shooting me an exasperated glare.

“I feel much better,” I told him seriously as other players filed into the room, word spreading of Walker’s “moves.”

Before Walker could respond, Coach strode in, his presence commanding immediate attention. Everyone quickly sobered up.

‘Gentlemen,’ he began, his eyes scanning the room, ‘tonight is the first game of the season. The beginning of a new journey. We’ve worked tirelessly to get here, and now it’s time to show the world what we’re made of.’

He paused, letting the gravity of the moment sink in. ‘Remember, we’re not just a team; we’re a family. On this ice, we fight together, we bleed together, and we win together. The Cobras have a legacy, and it’s our job to uphold it. The fans out there, they’re counting on us to give them a season they’ll never forget.’

The coach’s voice grew more intense, a fire of determination burning in his eyes. ‘I don’t need to remind you that every shift counts, every pass, every shot on goal. But I will remind you that you’ve got the talent, the skills, and the heart to be champions. Believe in yourselves, and believe in each other. Trust your instincts, and leave everything out there on that ice.’

He paused once more, the room filled with a charged energy. ‘Tonight, we’re not only playing for ourselves; we’re playing for this city, for the Cobras’ faithful. So go out there and give them a show they’ll never forget. Let’s bring home that victory, boys!’

It was a great speech, and as we all roared, chanting “Cobras” at the top of our lungs, for a second, I could almost feel that first game excitement.

Just like I always had with the Knights.

But then I noticed Soto in the corner, his sneer all too evident. And there went all the happy feelings.

Focus on the fact you might get to see Blake tonight, I told myself as we headed down the hallway that led to the ice.

And wouldn’t you know it, but that was finally enough to make me feel alright.

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