Volume 2 of the Something in the Water series arrives Tuesday, January 30!

Chapter 27: Law and Disorder [Slapshot!]

Chapter 27: Law and Disorder [Slapshot!]

Luke pinched the bridge of his nose. “What is your shit doing here, Sean?”

“What do you think it’s doing here?”

Luke sighed again, rolled his eyes. “You’re not moving in with me.”

The older man returned from the kitchen, arms folded. “I think I’m the alpha here,” he said.

Luke rolled his eyes. “And this is my space.”

“Which has already been violated by a couple of unwanted alphas, so I’m really not seeing the problem here.”

“You’re just as unwanted! Get out.”

“Nope.”

Luke rubbed at his temples, wandered about in a circle, wincing with every step he took. “Sean, listen, please. I don’t want you here. I’m just … I need my space. And I need you not to be in my space. And we’re not in a relationship, so—”

“Okay. Now it’s your turn to listen to me. You’re an omega who keeps getting raped—”

“Will you stop using that word!” Luke grimaced the second his fist made contact with the wall. “Jesus Christ, Sean! Did you ever think about how it feels to hear that?!”

Sean shook his head. “No? It’s what happened, so—”

“That doesn’t mean you need to remind me about it every time you open your mouth! I know what happened!”

“So you know that you were raped.”

“Stop it! Fuck, Sean, just!”

He stared at the alpha. “I just want to forget about it.”

Sean snorted. “Not happening any time soon. We have charges to press—those should be delivered to Jake shortly, and then there will be the court case, and before that begins, we’re taking you to therapy and—”

“What,” Luke spat. “Therapy?”

“Yeah, it’s part of the conditions for your release from the hospital—”

“Conditions … ?”

“Yeah,” Sean said, his voice muffled as he leaned over into a box and started pulling out clothing. “There were a few—y’know, on account of you being a rape victim and all—”

“Fu—will you stop! What conditions?”

Sean pitched clothes into the bedroom. Luke gritted his teeth.

“Well,” the alpha said, “therapy is one. The psychologist is going to have to present evidence about how the ra—event. Impacted you. And it also shows steps you’re going through to both protect yourself and heal from this ‘trauma.’”

Luke wanted to vomit. “So I get therapy not because I need it, but because you want to put Jake in jail.”

“Mm, pretty much. Don’t you wanna put him there, though?”

“No!” Luke barked. “No! I don’t give a fuck, Sean—I just want to forget about it, move on!”

“What if he does it again, Luke? And maybe not just you—someone else. If it’s not you, he’ll be doing it to someone else, so …”

More clothes went flying into the bedroom, scattering across the floor.

“Hm, what else … you have to testify—”

“What?! No. Fuck, no, I’m not testifying.”

“Luke—”

“Fuck you, no. I’m not testifying—I’m not going anywhere near that court, I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole. Sean, are you stupid?!”

“That’s the condition, Luke.”

“I can’t … I can’t get up there and declare to the whole world I’m omega, Sean. For fuck’s sake, even my mother doesn’t know—you saw how they treated me at the hospital, they’ll crucify me on the stand, and don’t think that no one’s gonna be watching this—sports journalists are gonna be all over it, and fuck, fuck.”

He backed up against the wall, because it was the only way he was going to keep standing. “Fuck, Sean, I can’t do that.”

“You’ll have time. We’ll get you a lawyer, counsel, they’ll tell you what to do—”

“I can’t out myself as an omega and a …”

Sean pitched the empty box aside, opened up another. “As I said, you’ll have time.”

Luke let his gaze flick up toward Sean’s face. “What other conditions?” he asked. He was almost afraid to ask.

“I had to sign on as your alpha for the next six months. Y’know. Keep you out of trouble.”

Luke wasn’t sure he could keep breathing. “You’re not my alpha,” he almost whimpered.

“I am legally, for the next six months. Signed the papers this morning—alpha guardian of miscreant omega. Your record of behavior is very important to the case—”

“Shut up,” Luke snarled. He pressed his fingertips against his eyelids. “Just shut the fuck up. I don’t care. Drop the charges—there is no case, I’m not doing any of this.”

“Pretty sure ya are.”

Luke shook his head. “No. Sean, I—I don’t want to do any of this. Why are you making me do this?”

“It’s for your own good, Luke. I’m not letting a creep like Jake Watson have his way with you.”

Luke ground his teeth together. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to throttle Sean or smash his head against the wall. “I can handle myself, Sean!”

“Of course. That’s why Jake followed you home and raped you right outside your front door the other night, right?”

Luke cringed.

“So, in light of how well you handle yourself, I’m your acting alpha for the next six months, and the first thing that’s gonna happen is you have some new rules to follow.”

Luke closed his eyes, shook his head. “One, you go to practice, you go to morning skate, you go to the gym, you go to the game—and then you come directly home. No going anywhere else without explicit permission.

“Two. No drugs. Nada. Nothing.”

“Fuck off,” Luke spat.

Sean pierced him with a look. “That’s what got you into this mess,” he said. “If you hadn’t been high, you wouldn’t have led Jake on—”

“I didn’t lead him on!”

“Three. No fraternizing with other alphas, except in the context of the team.”

Luke just glared at him.

“That means Mason,” Sean said.

“I know,” Luke spat, baring his teeth. He slumped against the wall again, hand over his eyes.

Did Sean have any idea what he was suggesting? Luke wanted nothing to do with any of this—it was bad enough he’d been in the hospital the night before, bad enough the cops had questioned him, the doctor all but interrogated him …

He knew what had happened. And so did Sean and Mason and Danny and Ty, and that was way more than enough people to know about what had gone down, for sure. Even Jake knew, he supposed, but he also guessed Jake would describe it in different terms.

Just like the cops and the doctors and the media. Nobody else was going to say rape, they were going to say shit like regretted sex and bad decision making, and a hundred other things that would imply this wasn’t nearly as bad as it was. That Luke wasn’t a victim of anything, a survivor of anything. He was just a dumb omega who opened his legs too easily to an alpha’s suggestion and then felt bad about it, because he felt loose and used and slutty and horrible because of his own poor judgment.

Or worse, they’d say he’d led Jake on. Say he’d incited him, just like he’d incited the entire team to—

There was no way he could testify in court. There was no way he could even make a victim impact statement. If he tried to be anonymous, they’d say the entire thing was fabricated, and there was always the chance someone would let the cat out of the bag, blab his identity to the media. Even Jake could out him—Jake would know.

So he’d have to just own it, and that was terrifying. He didn’t know why Sean didn’t understand that, why he thought this was the best thing, the easiest thing.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked, watching as Sean picked up his clothes, started putting them in the dresser. He felt so helpless. Sean was legally his alpha now, and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it. If he protested it, he’d be silenced, maybe even put in custody or the mental ward. They’d say he was disturbed, unstable.

And he wouldn’t be able to do a damn thing about it.

“Because I care about you, Luke.”

He ground his teeth, sank down to the floor. “If you cared,” he muttered, “you wouldn’t do this. You’d listen to me and just … stop.”

“What, and let Jake fucking Watson get away with what he did to you? Fucker thinks he can, you know—that you won’t fight back, that you won’t press charges or name him or—”

“Because I can’t, Sean! You heard the doctor—the questions she was asking, even her, a well-educated person like that, saying shit like I must have led him on, that I must have wanted it! Jake’s gonna say the same thing, he’s gonna hire lawyers who’ll say the same thing—and the cops, and the jury, yeah, they’re gonna agree! I’m just a stupid omega, what the hell do I even think I’m doing?”

He curled his knees to his chest, rested his cheek on them. “I just want to play hockey, Sean. That’s all I want to do. I don’t want any fuss about this—I just—”

“You’ll just let Jake Watson get away with what he did, let him think that it’s perfectly okay to violate people like you?”

Luke was silent.

Sean nodded. “Good then,” he said. “We see legal counsel tomorrow.”

*

Ty woke up to the sound of his phone ringing again. He stared at it as he tried to kick his brain into gear, remember what had happened. Who was calling him? Why?

He glanced at the clock on the nightstand, blinked a few times. He scrolled through his messages, frowning.

Gabe had texted him fifteen minutes ago, with a ‘hej im here.’

Ty scratched at his head. Where was here? He knew they’d discussed it, but …

He checked his Snapchat—a picture from Gabe, as though the Swede had read his mind. It was a snap of Café Villanova, downtown, with the word “here” slapped over it.

He slapped himself. Right. He’d agreed to meet Gabe at Villanova for breakfast.

He pitched the phone aside and grabbed a tee, tugged on a pair of shorts. He ran his hands through his hair, pausing to glance at himself in the mirror. Then he grabbed the phone and his keys, and trotted downstairs.

He was lucky his house wasn’t too far from Villanova. The European-style café was an unofficial team hangout. Nestled in Foggy Bottom, it was run by an elderly Swedish couple. Nicky had been frequenting the shop for ages; he was practically a surrogate son to the owners.

Ty figured he’d start by showing Gabe something that looked and sounded and tasted a bit like Sweden. Nicky seemed to like the place well enough.

Gabe was still milling about outside when Ty trotted up. “Hey,” he said, “sorry. Didn’t mean to keep you waiting.”

Gabe glanced skyward, quirking a brow. “Yes,” he said, “do not leave me out in the sun too long.” He held out an arm—his skin was already tinged pink.

“Sorry,” Ty spluttered, eyes widening. “I didn’t realize you’d burn.”

Gabe laughed. “I am not used to all this sun! Uppsala is very rainy sometimes. Boston is rainy too.”

Ty tugged on the door to the café. “Well, let’s go inside—we’ll grab you some sunblock from the store, there’s a pharmacy not far from here. We’re gonna be outside a bit today.”

“You must warn me these things—I will bring a hat next time.”

A bell rang out, bright and cheerful in the morning sun. The acrid scent of coffee assaulted them as they stepped into the immaculate little shop. No one was there; the morning rush was long gone, everyone hurrying to work. No one came out to greet them either.

Ty took up a chair, peering toward the kitchen. Gabe plonked down across from him, his long limbs all akimbo, not to be contained by the space of tiny table or chair. He plucked up the menu, lifted his sunglasses. Ty grimaced; the redhead’s face was pink already too.

Gabe glanced up at him, a coy smirk playing on his lips and in his eyes. “You brought me to a Swedish café?”

Ty fidgeted a little under his scrutiny. “Um, well, yeah. Nicky really likes this place, so—”

“God morgon, god morgon,” Frida called out as she re-entered the shop, wiping down a mug.
“God morgon,” Gabe called back, “hur mår du?”

Frida wiped her hands on her apron, a smile plastered to her face. “Prata du svenska?” She glanced at Ty, still smiling, then said, in English, “Are you new to the team?”

“Janej,” Gabe replied, shaking his head. “Jag kommer från Boston.”

Frida frowned. “Men …”

Gabe’s eyes widened a little. “Nej, jag menar jag har åker från Boston just nu, jag kommer fran Uppsala, jag livar dar.”

Frida nodded.

“Och du?”

“Kalmar,” she replied evenly, then glanced at Ty again. “Sorry.”

“No worries,” he said, holding up a hand.

“Vad ska du ha? I mean—”

“Kan vi fa två latte, hm, eller kanske … nej, två latte. Och kanelbullar?”

Ty glanced between them helplessly. “Bra,” Frida said, nodding, then clicked her pen and walked away. Ty held up a finger, inhaled.

“I ordered for you,” Gabe said, leaning back in his chair, pushing it onto its back legs. “But when you come to Sweden, I will make you try real Swedish food, not just fika.”

Ty frowned. “Who says I’m going to Sweden?”

Gabe just smirked up at the ceiling.

Ty tried to ignore the fluttery feeling wrapping around his ribcage. He glowered at the table top instead.

Two lattes and two cinnamon buns landed on the table. “Enjoy,” Frida said, then waltzed away again.

“Is this how Swedes do breakfast?” Ty asked, finally locating his tongue again.

Gabe snorted around a mouthful of bun. “No,” he said, “actually, you are supposed to have breakfast before fika. But I will let this go this time.”

“Thanks,” Ty replied slowly, then dunked the spoon in his coffee, swirling the foam around, destroying the heart Frida had made in it.

“So,” Gabe said, wriggling about in his chair a bit, leaning forward, “what will we do today?”

“Uh, well—”

The door chimed again, which was followed by a “god morgon!” and Ty glanced up, froze in horror when he saw Nicky with Sebby and Brenden in tow.

Shit.

Brenden caught sight of him first, blinking in surprise. “Oh, hey Ty,” he said, and made his way toward them.

Gabe leaned back in his chair, tilting his head back even farther to get a look at Brenden. The tall blond stopped, quirked a brow. “And … Gabe?”

Sebby was on them like lightning. “Hey!” he cried. “Gabe! What are you doing here? With … Tyler …”

He frowned.

“That is a very good question,” Nicky said as he approached them, rolled up newspaper under his arm. He was such an old man.

Gabe glanced at all three of them in turn, then fixed Nicky with a look and said, “Vi gå på dejt.”

Ty blinked. “What—”

Nicky’s eyebrows were in his hairline. “Vad säger du? Hur menar du det, om—”

“Could ya’ll speak American?” Brenden asked with a heavy sigh.

“English,” Sebby corrected.

“’at’s what I said. American English.”

Nicky turned on Ty. “Why are you hanging out with the enemy?” he asked.

“Uh,” Ty said, shrinking in his chair. He really had no good excuse. He had a reason, sure, but he didn’t want reasons right now.

“A friend tells me about this place,” Gabe offered. “I came in this morning, I see this guy, and I think, hey, I know him! So we will talk and fika together.”

“Hmmmm.”

Ty really wished he knew what Gabe had said in Swedish before, because it was very apparent Nicky didn’t believe him in the slightest.

Gabe just smirked. “Is it so wrong?”

“Well, yeah,” Sebby huffed, sliding into the seat behind the redhead. “You know where I live, you could’ve called me for recommendations or to meet up or …”

“Hm, I did not know if you knew this place. It is Swedish, you would take me to a French café.”

“Huh. If I could find one that’s halfway to decent in this city—”

“I keep tellin’ ya, there’s one over on K Street, like right by the arena, Seb—”

“What, Bistro Paris? Ew, no thanks—”

“No, no, the new one—Café Valentino or whatever.”

“That one’s Italian, B-man.”

“French, Italian … there’s a difference?”

Sebby sank lower in his seat. “You need to get out more,” he murmured, shaking his head.

Nicky pulled up another seat, sighing, “Next he will be telling us Norwegians and Danes are the same as Swedish folk.”

“Ya’ll are different?” Brenden was grinning this time though, and he’d really dragged on the “ya’ll,” letting them know he was joking.

Gabe missed it though, because he spluttered, “Yes! We are different, thank you, I do not speak with a potato in my mouth—”

Nicky laughed, and Brenden just lifted a brow. “A potato?” he asked.

Nicky unfolded his paper. “Yes,” he said, “it is a joke we say about Danes.”

Sebby prodded at Gabe again. “But seriously, why didn’t you call me?” He was all but pouting.
Ty glanced at Gabe, then looked at the table top, intent on keeping his gaze pinned there until either he spontaneously combusted or his teammates left, whichever happened first.

“Didn’t think of it,” Gabe said breezily and even Ty wanted to wince.

He risked a look up at Sebby. The brunet’s eyes had narrowed, but he wasn’t glaring at anyone in particular.

Ty ducked his head again.

“Anyway,” Gabe said, probably because he was oblivious, “you are here now. We can hang out together, yes?”

“I guess,” Sebby grumbled, turning about and settling in his chair. Frida’s shoes thumped as she crossed the wooden floor, her lilting voice greeting them at last –“God morgon, god morgon—”

Gabe caught Ty’s eye, lifted his brows. He nodded once, then jerked his head in Sebby’s direction. Sebby had his back to them, but Brenden was watching. The defenseman lifted a brow. Ty grimaced, then looked at Gabe, who nodded again. There was a question in his eyes.
Ty shook his head.

Nicky cleared his throat.

They paused, looking to the older man, who was peering over the top of the paper, his blue eyes darting back and forth between them. “Are you two on a date?” he asked.

Ty really wished he knew if the asshole was smirking or not, but it was impossible to tell with the paper in front of his face.

“What?!” Sebby and Gabe roared practically in unison. Sebby whirled about, kicking over the table in the process. It clattered to the floor, spoons and forks skittering over the floorboards.

“Hey!” Brenden snapped.

Ty flushed up to his ears and stared down at his hands in his lap.

If Nicky had been smirking, he showed no sign of it now as he folded up the paper neatly and precisely. “Well,” he said, “I don’t know. I feel like we are intruding.”

“No, no,” Gabe said, “not intruding at all. This is not a date.”

“Hmmm.” Nicky was definitely smirking now, the prick. Ty would have to get him back on the ice later. Somehow.

Nicky said something to Gabe in Swedish—his tone was sharp and biting, but that was about all Ty got out of it. Gabe looked a bit chided, a bit perturbed.

Brenden and Sebby had righted the table by the time Frida came back with the coffee. She surveyed the scene, probably noting the crumpled napkins and the dark marks on the floor where the table had previously stood, but she said nothing.

“Tack,” Nicky said, then took a long draught of his coffee, Frida’s echoing “Varsågod” almost drowned out.

*

Dima arrived at the rink armed with all of Aleks’s notes running through his mind. The conversation had worn on long into the night—much longer than Dima would have liked it, knowing he had practice today and a game tomorrow, but so things went with Aleks.

He was exhausted, yes, nervous, yes, but he also just wanted this to end. The sooner he put the plan into action, the sooner this whole idiotic farce could end. Linnea would get with Luke, and Dima could go back to ignoring everyone.

Even Luke.

The locker room was almost empty, and he frowned, peering around. Q wasn’t going to be impressed if only a skeleton crew showed up to practice.

He nodded to Leo, then dumped his stuff down next to Mike. “Where is everyone?” he asked.

“I don’t freaking know,” the blond D-man grumbled, winding off a length of stick tape. “You’d think they’d know better—this is a big game for us, and Q called practice, so y’know.”

He pitched the roll back into his locker, listening to it ting off the metal. “Y’know. Guess they all got confused, thought it was tomorrow or something.”

“Huh,” Leo scoffed, “Q is gonna be right pissed.” He frowned, then wiped down his visor again. “We dropped the last game like a buncha tools, he’s gonna grind us down ’til we start getting our act together.”

“Can say that again,” Mike muttered.

Dima frowned. “Where is Danny?”

“Dunno. Haven’t seen hide or hair of him.”

“Probably lookin’ after whatever Sweeney managed to catch this time.”

“You mean, whatever Matt managed to give him this time.”

The two defensemen laughed at their own joke. Dima rolled his eyes. “What about Macks?” he asked.

“Macks?” Leo sneered.

“Oh, who knows with him,” Mike sneered. “Probably outta his head in alleyway or something.”

“Sometimes,” Leo grunted, “I think we’d do better without that guy. He just ain’t reliable.”

“Ehhh.” Mike’s head wobbled back and forth, indicating exactly what he thought about that. “Gotta admit—when he’s on, he’s on.”

“Yeah, but most of the time he is off. Way off.”

“Hey man, we all have our demons.”

“I suppose.”

Dima turned away from his prattling teammates, a flash of motion between the lockers the next row over catching his eye. He peered around the corner. Jake looked up at him.

“Oh, hey Dimbulb.”

Dima snorted, rolled his eyes. “Hi fuckhead,” he retorted. Jake was the kind of guy who thought he was funny. Dima failed to see any humor.

“Didn’t think we’d see you here today, figured you’d be out drowning your sorrows in some vodka or something.”

Dima tried not to think of his lingering hangover. “I am Russian,” he replied evenly, “we bleed vodka. It does not affect me.”

“Suuuure,” Jake drawled, grinning. “’cause it’s not like you get drunk at team functions and—”

“Have you seen Macks?” Dima asked abruptly. He didn’t really like talking to Jake at the best of times.

Jake closed the locker door, then shut the lock. He banged on the door, as if to ensure it was truly locked. “I might have,” he said when he faced Dima. “What’s it to you?”

“Is he here?” Dima asked.

“Mmm, no. Probably won’t see him today either, I think he’ll have to take a coupla days off after last night.”

Dima frowned deeply. The door squealed on its hinges, and then there was a clatter, a bang, Mike yelling, “Whoa, hey, you can’t just walk in here!”

“Is Watson here?”

Both Dima and Jake froze, staring into each other’s eyes. That was George, the GM.

“Yeah, I think –Jake—”

The two of them peered cautiously around the lockers. Mike and Leo were in their hockey pants, Leo with his jersey halfway on, flanked on either side by uniformed police officers. George was standing near one of the benches, his hands on his sides, his suit coat rucked up over his elbows. He was chewing gum, crushing it between his teeth over and over again, his jaw clenching tighter with each repetition.

“Are you Jacob Watson?”

Jake glanced at Dima. “Uh, yeah …”

The officers strode forward, their shoes clicking menacingly on the tiles. Their hands hovered by their holsters. “We’ve got a warrant here for your arrest, son, now—are ya gonna come quietly?”

Jake glanced around at his teammates, his eyes wide and shocked, but he stepped forward and held out his hands. “Huh? Arrest me, for what? Wha—”

They slapped cuffs on him. “That’s a good boy.”

He shook his head. “But—what am I being arrested for? What in the hell is going on?”

“Son, think about it. I think you’ll know what you did—I don’t wanna say it here in front of yer teammates.”

Jake shook his head. “I didn’t do anything,” he spat, “I didn’t do anything—what the hell are you arresting me for?”

“Sir, you have the right to remain silent, and the right to call in legal counsel and—”

“Tell me what the hell you’re arresting me for, dammit!”

“Son, I think you know what you did—”

“You can’t arrest me without telling me what I’m being arrested for!”

There was a pause. Jake glared at the officers, panting. His eyes were wide. The officers glanced at each other. Then the mustachioed man drawled, “Son, someone’s saying ya’ll raped ’em.”

“What,” Mike breathed. Leo looked like he’d been gobsmacked, his mouth slightly open, his eyes wide.

Jake’s nostrils flared. His eyes darted to and fro, glancing at everyone in the room.

“I didn’t—”

“Well, ‘at’s what yer call to yer lawyer is for, that’s what court is fer, son.”

Jake laughed a couple of times, his shoulders shaking with the motion. “He wants to call that rape, huh? Lying sack of shit—”

Mike and Leo had glanced at each other, clearly confused. “Watson,” Q drawled, “you’d be best to shut your mouth right about now—”

Realization shot through Dima like electrocution, jolting him forward. He stared at Jake, uncomprehending, his brain short-circuiting on the novel information.

“You raped Macks,” he spat after a second, when he knew how to make words again.

“Wait, what—”

“I didn’t rape anybody,” Jake huffed, “Macks is lying between his teeth if he—”

“You and Macks?” Mike echoed hollowly.

“What the fuck,” Leo spat. “That’s—”

“You shut the hell up,” Jake snapped at him.

Dima clenched his fists, dug his nails deep into the palms of his hands, trying to stay the rising tide of emotion. Macks was an omega, and this was exactly why omegas needed to be kept at home, safe, with their alphas, not near other …

Predators, predators and creeps and sick fucks like Jake who got off on power and abuse, and didn’t see anything wrong with it.

Jake’s eyes were cold, like ice, and he held Dima’s gaze unwaveringly, his eyes boring into the Russian’s, as though daring him to do something about it.

Jake had been with Luke last night. That was all the evidence Dima needed.

Something snapped inside him, and he slammed his fist into Jake’s stupid fucking face, satisfied when the blond spat blood, when he heard bone crunch as his hit connected, the force knocking Jake sideways.

The blond alpha stumbled into the lockers. One of the officers grabbed Dima, wrested his arms back. “Whoa there!” he cried. “That’s assault there, buddy boy—”

Dima spat at Jake. “You sick fuck,” he snarled.

“I said I didn’t do anything!”

“That is not how an alpha is supposed to treat omegas!” Dima roared. He tugged against the officer’s hold on him, trying to wrench his way free. The man held him fast.

“C’mon now—”

“What?” Leo sounded so far away, so confused.

“Who’s an omega? Who said anything about omega—”

“Dima—Mirrorman, are you sayin’ Macks is an omega, what are you—”

Jake bared his teeth at Dima. There was blood smeared across his front teeth, caked along his lips. “Maybe,” he spat, “maybe, he shouldn’t be out on his own, leading people on then.”

“Fucker,” Dima retorted, “you absolute fuckwit, you—you are alpha, you don’t—”

“Not my fault he’s a slut, he’s a cocktease!”

“Watson, shut the fuck up—”

“Sir, I’d advise you against saying anything more right now, this can all be held against you in a court of law—”

Jake sneered at Dima. The Russian gritted his teeth, then lunged at the American, all but dragging the officer with him. “I’ll kill you!” he thundered, his hands twitching with the need to smash Jake’s idiotic face into a hundred thousand shattered bits.

“Miranov! Get a hold of yourself—Jesus Christ, I don’t need you up on charges too.”

George had been silent until that moment, but now he said, “It’s not normally my business what you guys get up to on your off-time, but right now, it is. Your behavior—both of you, you too, Dimitry—this is bad press for the team. You’re both suspended. Immediately.”

He shook his head. “Get your shit together,” he murmured, then turned and headed out of the room.

The mustachioed officer yanked Dima away from Jake, while his partner led Jake out of the locker room. Dima snarled a bit, then shook off the officer, shaking his head. He slammed a fist into one of the lockers.

He turned about. The officer was still there, waiting. “Son, you’re gonna need to come down to the station with me.”

Dima sighed heavily.


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