The Pucking Wrong Number: Chapter 2

LINCOLN

I stepped onto the ice, the cold biting at my exposed skin as I made my way to the rest of my team. It may have just been practice, but I lived for this game. It was the only thing that made me feel…well, anything.

The rink was alive with the sound of blades slicing through the ice, the occasional clank of a stick hitting the puck, and the laughter and banter of my teammates. I joined them, a small smile tugging at the corner of my lips as I exchanged playful jabs with the guys, a buzz of energy zipping through my veins at the thought of what was to come.

Our coach appeared in front of us, his gray eyes scanning us with a critical gaze. He was a jerk, but he was also the best coach I’d ever had, so I didn’t mind it so much. ‘All right, listen up, assholes,’ he said, his voice firm and commanding. ‘Today we’re working on passing drills, since you all seemed to forget that particular skill in Tuesday’s game.’

We all chuckled, but he wasn’t lying. We were fucking awful on Tuesday, barely scraping past the last place RedHawks. We needed to get our shit together because Toronto wouldn’t lie down for us this weekend.

We started with a simple drill, passing the puck back and forth in a tight circle. It was a drill we’d done countless times before, but like last game, we fucking sucked.

“Tight fucking passes!” Coach screamed.

“Sounds a little close to something else,” Ari, my best friend, grinned next to me. “Something I happen to have.”

I rolled my eyes, but still chuckled. Because we were idiots like that.

We moved on to more complex drills, and we pushed harder, the intensity ramping up. Not enough to stop our normal shit-talking though.

Bender leaned forward, one hand gripping the goal, and the other holding his back.

“What the fuck’s wrong with you, old man?” Ari called out as he skated a loop around the goal.

“Rough night,” Bender sighed, before leaping up and thrusting his hips, “With your mama riding me so hard she broke my back.”

The team roared, and Ari shook his head in disgust. “That wasn’t even a good one. Fuck, you’re 34 years old and now I gotta picture my mama riding you like a fucking horse.”

“Are you shitheads done fucking around?” Coach roared, and we dispersed to get ready for the scrimmage on the docket for the next hour.

My adrenaline coursed through me as I skated forward, making a quick pass to Dalton, then watching as he took the puck down the ice and scored a goal.

The players on the bench erupted in cheers like we were in a real game. Dalton accepted their high-fives and fist-bumped each one. Would be nice if he could do that in the fucking game once in a while. I was the starting forward on the team, but Coach had me playing wing for the scrimmage so Dalton could try and get out of whatever rut he was in. I obviously wanted him to get his head straight too…but I also loved being the one to fucking score.

Ari turned to me and said, ‘We going out tonight?” This was asked right as he shoved me into the glass.

“Fuck,” I groaned as I pushed him off me. “You’re fucking weak, Lancaster. Soto hits me harder than that.” Ari gritted his teeth at me and growled. Soto played for L.A. and Ari hated him. It was one of my favorite things to throw his name around anytime Ari did…well, fucking anything.

‘Better watch out,’ he shot back. ‘Dalton’s going to steal your spot.’ The second the words passed his lips, he was laughing though, because we both fucking knew that was never going to happen.

I was the best scorer on the team.

And the league.

No one would replace me any time soon. When my rookie contract expired at the end of the season, it was already a done deal. I’d be landing the largest contract in NHL history. Ownership had been breathing down my neck, trying to make it a done deal before other teams could start their offers.

If it were up to me, I would have signed it already…

“Fuuuck,” I growled as Peters almost laid me out. That was what I got for letting my fucking father fill my thoughts again.

“Daniels, where’s your fucking head?”

“Probably with some choice pussy,” Lancaster called out.

Coach growled and threw a puck at him. “Line up again!”

Shaking my head, as if that could undo all my issues, I gritted my teeth and refocused. Skating hard, I kept my eyes on the puck, listening as Coach ran through the play.

The whistle blew, and I skated forward, positioning myself in front of the net, ready to pounce. The puck came towards me, and I didn’t fucking hesitate. I snatched it out of the air with my stick, spun around, and fired off a wrist shot. The puck sailed through the air, a blur of speed and accuracy.

‘Don’t blink, motherfucker!’ I yelled, as the puck whizzed past Bender’s glove and found the back of the net. I pumped my fist in the air, a surge of adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Bender cursed and threw one of his gloves.

“Got to be faster than that against Toronto, old man,” I crowed as I did another lap around him…just for fun.

“Yeah, yeah,” he growled

Coach’s face was wide with a grin, and he was nodding so hard he resembled a fucking bobble head. ‘That’s what I’m fucking talkin’ about!’ he shouted, pumping a fist in the air. ‘Nice fucking shot, Daniels!’

We continued the scrimmage for another thirty minutes, but once I scored four more, Coach sent me to the bench.

“You’re a fucking animal today,” Ari laughed, tossing me a water bottle as I wiped my sweaty face with a towel.

“It’s fucking fun, right?” I grinned, spraying water on my face to cool off.

“Yeah, Golden Boy,” Ari purred.

I rolled my eyes at the nickname the media had given me.

“Har, har. Douchebag.”

Ari snorted, and we watched as a new line faced off against each other.

“I think Dalton gets worse every play,” Bender commented, trying to catch his breath as he hoisted himself over the boards and plopped himself down on the bench.

“Hmm, how many did I score on you?” I retorted back.

Bender huffed and shook his head. “I stopped counting.”

Ari and I both laughed, and we finished watching the rest of practice.

Back in the locker room, after showers, Ari snapped me with his towel before going back to drying his wild black hair. “You never answered about tonight. I need to get laid.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think I can help you with that, Lancaster. You haven’t even bought me a drink yet.”

“Funny,” he sighed, before shooting me a wink. “Are you in? We can try that new bar on Emory Street.”

I brushed my hair out of my face and banged my head on the locker behind me with a groan. “I would, but I’ve got that fucking gala thing with Kara.”

“You’re going on a date with her fucking highness? Did you hit your head too hard in practice yesterday? What the fuck, Daniels?” Ari shook his head in disgust. He’d been my best friend ever since our prep school days. He was well versed in how much I decidedly did not like Kara Lindstrom.

I held up my hands. “I know, I know. But he’s breathing down my fucking neck. He’s in talks with her dad for some merger…and he—”

“Fuck your father, Linc. If you try and screw her tonight, your balls are going to fall off. Come get trashed with me.”

I opened my mouth to say something–not sure what–then closed it, because he was right.

Just then, my phone buzzed. Speak of the devil. A text had come in from dear old Dad himself.

F: Don’t fuck tonight up, boy.

His words thrashed around in my gut. The usual dread mixed with a heavy dose of guilt lying in wait.

I shook it off, forcing a grin to my lips. Fuck him.

“I know that grin. It’s going to be a good night, isn’t it?” Ari whooped.

I glanced up at him, my smile widening. “It’s going to be a great fucking night.”

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