The Pucking Wrong Number: Chapter 26

LINCOLN

I stepped onto the ice, feeling the cold air hit me like a ton of bricks. The adrenaline pumped through my veins as I worked on getting my head in the game, knowing this was one of the most important games of the season. Our last home game before the playoffs to clinch home ice for the first round, and we were going to win. No matter what.

I skated towards the face-off, looking across the rink at Ari. His eyes met mine, and I gave him a nod of confidence. I knew he had my back out there.

What I didn’t do…was look for her.

I was still coated in her scent, memories from last night on replay even though now was not the time.

The puck dropped, and we were off. The crowd roared as we started making plays, passing it back and forth. I took control of it, weaving in and out of the opposing team’s players. Making a quick turn, I took the shot, scoring our first goal of the game.

The energy in the arena was electric as we continued to dominate the ice. Ari blocked a shot from the other team, causing a stir among our fans. He looked over at me, and I gave him a thumbs up. He grinned back, like the smug bastard he was.

Because yeah, he knew he was fucking good.

We kept pushing forward, with me scoring another goal, and Ari making some crucial saves. The game was going great; we had it in the bag.

I glanced up at the stands, finally unable to stop myself from searching for her face.

There she was, sitting next to—my father?

My stomach dropped. My palms prickled with sweat…my heart raced.

What the hell was he doing here?

He hadn’t been to a game since before college, yet he decided tonight was the night? I thought for sure she’d be okay here.

What was he saying to her?

I tried to focus on the game, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I watched as Monroe answered something he’d asked. She was trying to be confident and polite, but I could see the fear in her eyes. Her hands trembled slightly as she fidgeted with the scarf I’d given her.

I was losing my fucking mind.

I couldn’t focus.

Every time I was on the ice, I was stealing glances at them.

It was like a nagging itch in the back of my mind that wouldn’t go away.

And then, in a moment of distraction, I missed a shot. The puck sailed wide of the net, and the crowd groaned in disappointment.

I growled and turned to follow the puck and then…the impact of the hit sent shockwaves through my body before I even heard the sound of it. It was like a truck colliding with my chest, knocking the wind out of me. I was lying on my back, staring up at the ceiling of the arena, gasping for air. The pain in my ribs, like they’d been smashed into my lungs. I couldn’t move, not even to sit up.

Ari’s voice broke through the haze of pain, asking me if I was okay, but I couldn’t respond. I was in too much agony. I attempted to get up, but my body refused to cooperate. Every movement felt like my ribs were made of glass, and they were shattering with each breath I took.

The trainers rushed out to assist me off the ice. It took all my willpower not to scream in pain as they helped me up. I was gritting my teeth so hard, it was amazing they didn’t shatter.

But I refused to show any weakness.

It would be just what my father would want.

As I was being escorted off the ice, Ari skated over to me. His eyes were wide and his eyebrows furrowed in concern. I could see the worry etched in his features.

‘Fuck, Lincoln,’ he growled.

I shook him away, and he sighed, before returning to the rest of the team.

The whole arena suddenly resembled a church, the noise of the fans extinguished by my injury.

I already knew that my rib was broken, maybe more than one. Every inhalation was torture. I didn’t have to get an x-ray to figure that out.

But fuck. I needed to get Monroe away from my father and with me in the training room.

On my way there, I ordered a trainer to fetch Monroe. I was kind of an asshole about it, but he needed to know he was dealing with precious cargo. The most precious.

My heart pounded as I heard the sound of the trainer’s footsteps coming back to the room, with Monroe in tow. My palms got clammy with anticipation as I waited to see her beautiful face again. The relief I felt when she appeared in the doorway was violent, and it felt like I could breathe for the first time since we’d parted ways right before the game. She was standing in front of me, dressed in the jersey I’d given her the other day.

I’d never felt so fucking proud to see my number on someone.

Her black hair cascaded down her back in soft waves. Her green eyes were captivating, with specks of gold that seemed to glimmer in the dimly lit room.

I’d never thought about eyes glimmering in my fucking life. But she was my real life dream girl, and I was irrevocably lost. Her nose and cheeks were slightly red from the cold, and I had the urge to bundle her in a blanket, to make sure she was never uncomfortable in the least bit. All my protective urges were in overdrive when it came to her.

Monroe tried to smile at me, but there was so much worry in her gaze…so much uncertainty.

There was something else there, too.

Something I’d been searching for.

A transfixed, awestruck glow that told me I’d caught her.

She was so in love with me.

Relief laced through my chest.

‘Lincoln, are you okay?!’ she whispered, practically running to my side. She reached towards me and then hesitated, like she was afraid her touch would cause me pain.

“Touch me. You could never hurt me,” I growled, pulling her forward and ignoring the ache in my ribs as I slammed my lips against hers. Desperate for any connection with her I could get.

When I finally let her come up for air, I spat out a barrage of questions.

“Did he hurt you? What the fuck was my father saying to you?”

Her eyes widened, and then her forehead scrunched up in confusion. ‘Your father?” she questioned slowly. “I didn’t know that was your father. I thought it was just some creep.” Monroe’s face twisted in disgust, her nose wrinkling up like she’d caught a whiff of something gross. And then she shivered. “He kept asking if I was dating you and flirting with me.”

“What the fuck?” I mumbled, lifting my arms so the trainer could lift my jersey up. I winced as he started taping strategically around my ribs to give me support for when I got back out there. “I’m so fucking sorry.”

She shook her head, her eyes still holding a hint of disgust. ‘I’m fine,’ she said shortly. ‘It’s just…your father. He’s kind of revolting.’

‘There’s no ‘kind of’ about it,’ I said, my voice low with anger. ‘I’m sorry you had to deal with that. He’s fucking awful.’ Thinking of my father near her made me want to vomit. My insides twisted, a mixture of disgust and anger raging inside me. He was the worst kind of toxic, and something needed to be done about him before he ruined everything. The idea of him hurting her…

I would kill him.

Monroe’s expression softened slightly at my words, and I felt a small sense of relief that she wasn’t angry with me for subjecting her to that.

The trainer finished, and I took a deep breath before sliding off the table, cursing under my breath the entire time.

‘Are you going back out there?’ she asked with wide eyes. Worry carved across her pretty features.

I smirked, trying to lighten the mood. ‘Hockey players are far superior athletes than all the other pussy sports, Monroe. The only thing that keeps us out is falling off balconies.”

I could tell she didn’t get what I was talking about since I’d forgotten to tell her about Dalton. And my mouth had been far too busy since then to talk about anything but worshiping her fucking unreal body.

She shook her head, still looking worried. ‘You could get hurt worse. You should just sit out for the rest of the game.’

I gathered her in my arms, trying to ignore the pain…and the way I immediately got hard at the sight of the tears pooling in those pretty green eyes. No one had ever cared enough about me to cry. ‘Nothing’s going to happen to me. I promise.”

She bit her lip, but then reluctantly nodded. And fuck…she was so fucking sweet.

I was going to give this girl everything.

I held her close to me as we headed down the tunnel towards the ice.

“You…move,” I snapped at Jamie, a rookie, who was sitting out the game with a broken arm. He was in a prime seating location that would be perfect for Monroe. She could be seated right behind our bench, and I wouldn’t have to be freaking out all game, wondering how she was doing.

He opened his mouth to give me crap, but he must’ve seen the crazy in my gaze because he snapped it closed and jumped out of the seat. I gave him a head nod, immediately forgetting all about him as I sat Monroe down.

“Does everyone just do what you want?” she asked with a smirk. I smiled at her and leaned forward for a kiss. She flinched back, and I frowned.

“What?”

“I don’t want everyone to see,” she murmured, gesturing to the crowd. “The fans will go crazy.”

Okay. I fucking hated that. And I would deal with that soon.

But right then, I needed to get back out on the ice; we were down by one.

“Get used to everyone knowing you’re mine,” I growled, squeezing her chin gently before I hopped back into the box.

The crowd immediately went insane.

“Daniels, you good?” Coach yelled, gesturing for me to get out there before I even answered.

I skated out onto the ice, ignoring the biting pain in my ribs, my gaze automatically lifting to where my father had been sitting.

Of course, he was gone.

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