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

Chapter 30: Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow [Slapshot!]

Chapter 30: Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow [Slapshot!]

Linnea peered around the corner, frowning. Katya had been loud ever since the door banged open; no doubt it was Dima back from the game. Dima had been almost silent, his low, rolling tone easily identifiable against Katya’s shrilled, angry syllables, emotion-laden Russian rolling off her lips, rapid-fire, like a gun, and then punctuated by a burst of air.


Linnea didn’t understand a word of it, but she could hear the emotion, imagine Katya’s expression, Dima’s dark brows knit together in concentration. She clutched at the wall a bit. On one hand, she wanted to go talk to them; on the other, Katya sounded angry enough that she wanted to stay far, far away.

She almost slipped off the step, and Dima rounded the corner, all but bumped into her in the same instance. Katya followed, her arms crossed, her eyes stormy.

“Hey,” Linnea said, holding back a grimace. This was awkward—she shouldn’t have been eavesdropping, but Katya was a bit scary when she got angry. “Uh, sorry about the game?”

Dima shrugged and Katya rolled her eyes. Dima brushed by her, heading up the stairs. “It is just a game,” he said, but it was clear he was bothered about something. She glanced at Katya, who shook her head.

“He wants to give up on your omega,” she said.

“What, why?” She couldn’t help herself; her heart leapt into her throat. Katya had promised, Dima had agreed—they would help her get to the omega. She could stop fucking around with Mason Green, who seemed more than content to simply lead her on and on. She was beginning to think he didn’t have an in with the omega at all—that the omega didn’t belong to him, wasn’t his. If it hadn’t been for the night of the party …

“You can’t do that.”

Dima trotted back down the stairs by her, suitcase in tow. “The situation has changed,” he said simply, then hit the landing and headed toward the front door. Linnea looked helplessly at Katya, who averted her eyes. She seemed almost sorrowful.

Linnea huffed, then charged to the foyer, her hair streaming behind her. “What do you mean, the situation has changed? What, what has changed? There is still an omega, you can still get him—”

Dima tossed a pair of shoes in his suitcase, swiveling to look at her. “I do not think this is a good idea,” he said.

“Why? You did not think it was a good idea before, now you think it is a bad idea? I do not understand you, you are not making sense. Why is it a bad idea now?”

“Something has happened.”

She whirled on Katya, gesturing at Dima. “Fix this!” she spluttered. “This is your idea, this is your doing. You say do not worry, we will get Dima to seduce him! So make him!”

The Russian girl looked very, very guilty, but she wouldn’t hold Linnea’s gaze. Instead, she crossed her arms tighter, swayed a bit side to side, as though hugging herself. “I cannot fix what has happened,” she murmured.

Linnea scoffed, wrung her hands. She didn’t know what to do—how would she get to the omega now?

She charged at Katya, an accusing finger extended. “You,” she snarled, “promised. You told Dima he just do this, or else. So what is this or else? You are just going to let him away with this? Now that something has changed, he can break his promise? No. No, Katya, you do this all the time, you say, do not worry, I will get you this contract, I will get you this show, and then nothing happens.”

“I do not,” Katya huffed. “I always make what I say happen.”

“You lie,” Linnea snarled, jamming her finger against Katya’s clavicle, forcing the other girl back. Her calves hit the stair; her legs buckled and she sat down, almost involuntarily. She glared up at Linnea, her eyes blazing.

“Do not,” she growled, “call me a liar.”

“Then prove it!” the blonde countered. “Prove you are not a liar—make good on this!”

“Leave it alone,” Dima instructed from the foyer. He stepped back into the living room. “I am sorry, but I will not do anything to Macks. He does not need this, not after what has happened.”

“And what has happened?!” Linnea almost screamed. Why wouldn’t they just tell her? Why all these vague terms, this non-information? If they would just say …

The siblings exchanged glances. Dima cleared his throat and said, “I do not want to say too much. But another teammate, he has hurt Macks. I will leave him alone—he does not need me trying to seduce him on account of some alpha.”

His lip curled up in a sneer. Linnea felt her eyes widen, pushing at the edges of their sockets, she was so angry. “You are an idiot,” she snarled, “this is perfect. You offer him comfort, gain his trust then bring him to me—this makes things so easy!”

“Linnea,” Katya said, her voice low with warning.

“This is what an omega needs!” she cried, whirling on Katya. “He will need comfort and support, so let Dima give him that! Let Dima go with soft words and tender touches and—”

“No.”

They both turned to Dima, who shook his head. He was staring at the floor. “No,” he said again, although it was softer, with more emotion. “You do not understand at all, you think you understand omegas so well.”

Linnea scoffed. “And you understand them better?”

He gritted his teeth, balled his fists. “Alphas are all the same,” he sneered.

Linnea huffed. “And you are one too, but you think you know better than others what omegas need and want? What makes you so special, so understanding, Dimitry?”

“No,” Dima said.

Linnea frowned, glanced at Katya. “No?”

“Dimitry,” Katya said, and there was worry in her voice.

He shook his head. “I am no alpha,” he said. “I know Macks does not need this. Does not want it. Because I would not—I wouldn’t want some shitty alpha like you to lie to me, to use my hurt just to have me, use me! This is worse than—this would make us worse than Jake. I would never—could never. Because …”

“Dima …” Katya sounded so concerned now, her voice warbling with it.

Dima met Linnea’s gaze defiantly. “I will not treat another omega this way,” he said. “I understand what Macks needs now because I know what I will need in situation like this.”

Linnea stared at him.

He curled his upper lip at her. “Yes,” he said, “you are so stupid, you complain there are no male omegas, you say you just steal one like Macks, and here is one right in front of you and you cannot see—”

Linnea lunged at him. Of course, omega as he was, he was still bigger, stronger than her, and he dodged her, pushed her into the wall.

“Stop, stop, both of you!” Katya barked when Linnea came back at him, hands tensed, ready to rake her nails across his face, dig her claws in—

“This is enough,” Katya huffed, stepping between them. “Dima, you must leave. Go.”

He held Linnea’s gaze a little longer, then disappeared into the foyer again. There was a zipper, a jingle of keys, and then the door slamming.

Linnea curled in on herself, pushing Katya away. The Russian girl stood there for a moment, listening to her cry. She pressed her face, her tears against her knees. Smearing embarrassment, anger, humiliation across her skin. To be talked to like that by an omega …

“Why didn’t you tell me,” she snarled.

Katya looked at her feet. “Because,” she said, and that was reason enough.

*

Luke heard the knock on the door. He stared at the wall for a moment before he could do anything about it, though, because his head was full of sloshing water, his mind having melted what felt like hours ago.

He stumbled to the door and pulled it open, leaning heavily against the doorframe. Mason frowned at him.

“Hey,” he said breathlessly.

“You okay?” the alpha asked, stepping inside.

Luke plastered himself against the wall to hide his cringe. “Sure,” he replied, glancing around, “never better.”

Mason frowned, kicked off his shoes. Luke swallowed nervously, averted his eyes. Maybe Sean would believe that Luke hadn’t watched Mason come in, hadn’t invited him in.

Mason met his gaze fleetingly, looked back at his socks. “So,” he said, kicking his shoes into the closet.

“Mm,” Luke replied.

The brunet glanced about, almost furtively, like he knew he shouldn’t be there. “Is Sean here?”

Luke shook his head. “Out,” he said, letting the door fall shut. “I dunno for how long.”

Mason studied him for a moment, then said, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” Luke huffed, shuffling by him. “Want a drink? Something?”

The alpha was staring at him. “You drunk?” he inquired after a moment. “‘Cause you got a really good slur going on there—”

Luke shook his head. “Nah,” he said, “no, booze doesn’t help me, it’s fine—”

“You’re high then,” Mason accused, trailing him into the kitchen.

“Not high,” Luke mumbled, fumbling for a glass. He was shaking as he filled it with water from the tap, watched the liquid rippling. “Wouldn’t go that far.”

He was barely numb enough; Mason’s presence was freaking him out a bit. If he’d been good and truly high, then it wouldn’t have bothered him at all. He hadn’t taken enough.

Mason swore, shoved the glass aside when Luke offered it to him. “How much?” he asked. “How much did you take?”

“Not enough,” Luke mumbled, forcing himself to keep breathing as Mason crowded into his space. He dropped onto one of the bar stools, his legs quivering.

“Way too much,” the brunet retorted. “What did you take?”

Luke shook his head, and Mason huffed, then charged off to the bedroom.

“Don’t,” Luke hollered after him, because Sean would kill him if he scented Mason in there, but it was too late.

The alpha returned with three pill bottles, rattling all of them with accusation. Luke watched him as he set the bottles down. “I see these are out. Which ones did you take?”

Luke picked up one of the bottles, turned it over. The words danced before his eyes. He put the bottle back down, picked up another. He repeated that a couple more times, glancing up at the alpha as he did so.

“All of them,” he said finally.

Mason looked away, bit his lip, slapped his hands on the counter. “Right, okay,” he said, “and how much did you take?”

Luke shrugged. “I don’t remember.”

Mason’s eyebrows drifted up into his hairline. “Luke …”

“I don’t,” the dark-haired omega said. “I woke up and took a couple. Still didn’t feel good, so I took some more.”

Mason sighed. “That’s not what they’re for,” he chided.

Luke shrugged. “I hurt,” he said simply, “aren’t they to stop that? And so what, I had to take a bit more to make the pain stop—”

“Is this it?” Mason snapped. “Is this how you’re coping? Swallowing a bunch of pills, getting fucked on them?”

Luke shrugged again. “So what?” he asked. “Isn’t that how everyone copes? Isn’t it better than panic attacks and nightmares and—”

Mason pinched the bridge of his nose. “Does Sean know this?” His voice was sharp.

Luke shrugged; it seemed to be all he could do. “Dunno. Maybe. If he does, he hasn’t said anything, so …”

Mason took a long, hard look at the labels of the bottles again. “How are you getting this shit? Team doctor?”

Luke refused to look at him.

Mason gritted his teeth. “I’m gonna tell Sean. He’ll get the team to stop, they won’t give you anything—”

“It’s not just them,” Luke murmured, and turned about one of the bottles. There was clearly a label from the local doctor in Thunder Bay, and another from around DC.

Mason shook his head, sighed heavily. “Do you have more around here?”

Luke nodded, just once.

“Where?”

Luke kept his gaze pinned to the floor.

Mason sighed again. “If you don’t tell me, I’m just gonna tear this place apart—”

“Look, fuck you,” Luke spat, “I’m doing what I need to do, I’ll be fine, I am fine—”

“You’re clearly not fine,” Mason retorted, “you tossed back a bunch of pills just to function today, just to get up—did you go to practice like that? Are you gonna get on the plane like that?”

Luke pressed his lips together.

“Seriously,” Mason said.

“Just—leave it alone, Mayday. I’m doing what I have to do—”

“If this is what you have to do, then you need to be doing something else.”

“Like what?”

“Like, fuck, I dunno! Luke, therapy or something or …”

“They’ll just give me a bunch of different drugs, so what’s the difference? I’m fucked up and can’t deal, so there’s that, they can’t actually do anything for me—just a bunch of it’s your fault, here are some drugs, now go away.”

Mason sighed heavily. “We’ll get you a different doctor, a different therapist—”

“They’re all the same,” Luke snapped. “Trust me, I’ve seen enough. And even when they say it’s not your fault. It’s your fault, what could you have done differently, why did you do this, why did you do that, You know how alphas are—”

“I am so sick of that attitude,” Mason spat, “it’s not your fault, you’re not responsible for what Jake fucking Watson decides to do, it’s not your fault that some asshole alpha gets his nose out of joint and thinks you owe him something, induces you, and—”

“Is it?” Luke asked. “I mean, maybe it is. I was there. If I just stayed home, I wouldn’t get into these situations. If I don’t like it, why do I keep putting myself in these situations where I can get hurt, why—”

“Shut up, shut up,” Mason snarled. “I never want to hear you talk like that again, Luke, seriously! You’re a human being, just because you’re omega or alpha or beta, doesn’t mean people get to treat you like shit, can just … do whatever they want to you.”

Luke leveled him with a look. “That’s not what the law says,” he murmured.

“Fuck that!” Mason tore at his hair. “You have any idea how bad this is fucking with me? I mean, I—I don’t think you’re that kind of guy, Luke, I don’t think you like this at all. And I’m pissed that someone thinks they can treat you this way, that people want to hurt you, that …”

He fell silent, just staring at Luke for a moment.

“Sorry,” Luke murmured. “Sorry I’m fucking you up—”

Mason gritted his teeth. “No,” he snarled, “no. I … I feel like shit, ‘cause I tried, Luke, I really tried, I wanted to keep you safe so bad—so I told Sean, and it happened anyway, ‘cause Sean’s an asshole and I wasn’t quick enough, smart enough—”

“Not your fault,” Luke mumbled. “Not your job to protect me.”

The alpha closed his eyes. “That’s like saying it’s not my job to prevent a murder when I know what’s going down.”

He sighed heavily, slumped across the bar. “You got hurt, and now you can’t even function without all this dope in your system, and it’s my fault.” He buried his head between his arms and for a moment, Luke felt sorry for him.

“Not your fault,” he reiterated, “and I don’t want to think about it. Want to forget it, Mayday.”

“Luke …”

“Mason Green,” Sean boomed from the hallway, “the fuck are you doing here, fraternizing with my omega?”

Luke’s heart sank, then started thumping away erratically. He clutched at the counter.
Mason bristled. “Your omega?” he sneered.

Sean came to a rest beside Luke, put a hand on his back, rubbing across his shoulders. “We were over this. He’s mine for the next six months, and I already told you, no contact. And yet … here you are.”

Mason’s face was a medley of emotion as he turned to Luke, some deep lurking sadness in his eyes. “Luke,” he said, his voice the softest it had been the entire time he was there. “Luke, tell him to fuck off, tell him to go to hell with this bullshit—”

Luke just stared at him.

“Don’t talk to him,” Sean instructed, his grip on Luke tightening. “Mason, you can talk to me.”

Mason stared at Luke, rage dancing in his eyes, and then he snapped, “You fucking little whore, I thought—fuck you, Mackinnon, fuck you—you got everything you deserve, I hope Jake gives you some more!”

Luke cringed, and Mason stormed past them, all but shoving Sean out of his way. “Have fun with him, Flanagan, don’t fall in—strap a board to your ass so you don’t get lost in that gaping chasm down there—”

“Oh, fuck you, Green, you survived and you’d go back in if I let you—but you can get your disease-ridden ass out of here, you dick—”

“Don’t come crying to me next time he drugs you up, next time he dopes you and fucks you ’til you can’t walk, Mackinnon—”

“Get the fuck out, stop talking to my omega—”

The door slammed shut. Luke dragged a hand down his face. He glanced up as Sean as the older man sank down on the bar stool beside him. “He’ll get over it,” he said.

Luke covered his mouth with a hand, gagging himself. Sean had no idea what he’d done. Luke could feel Mason at the other end of the fragile bond, his energy was that electric. This wasn’t something he was going to get over.

He met Sean’s gaze. “You have a flight to catch,” the alpha said, “get your shit together, I’ll drive you.”

Luke sighed, slid off the bar stool, and headed to the bedroom to grab his things.

*

To say he was nervous was an understatement. Ty could scarcely control his breathing, each breath more jittery than the last. He’d pause at the top of each inhale, as though he’d forgotten how to exhale. And then he let it all out, shaking with the force of it.

“Relax, hm?” Danny gave him a strange sort of look, and Ty nodded, but just kept on breathing like a dying fish, gasping for air.

It was Game 5, and they had only one win under their belts. If they lost tonight …

He shook his head. They couldn’t think like that. Winning was the only option. They’d eked one out in DC—and they could do it again tonight in the Boston Garden. He knew they could.

He hit the ice for warm-ups and nearly tossed his cookies when he saw Gabe, who smiled warmly at him, skated by him a couple of times, tapping their stick blades together.

Ty’s chest tightened.

He plonked down on the ice near the blue line, stretching out his legs, listening to the thud of the music, some insipid teen girls in the front row behind him giggling. Warm-ups looked hilariously crass, he knew. He slid a little lower into a groin stretch, then nearly jumped out of his skin when Gabe dropped down beside him.

“Good to see you are back,” the redhead said. “How is your head?”

Ty flushed; he felt it creep up the back of his neck. “Okay, yeah,” he replied, nodding and immediately regretting it when the world swam before him.

Maybe the doctor was right. Maybe he did need another day or two. Maybe he was pushing it, but the team needed him back. They were dropping like flies. First Sy, then Matt, now Jake.
Gabe gave him a toothy grin, pushed a bit deeper into his stretches, his hips practically touching the ice, then drawing back again, much to the delight of the girls in the stands. “Glad to hear you are well,” he said.

“Sure,” Ty said, moving into quad stretches, balancing his stick across his thigh.

Gabe went on all but humping the ice for a moment, and Ty wanted to kill him. Instead, he looked toward the clock.

“Good luck,” he said to Gabe, getting to his feet.

Gabe grinned. “I feel pretty lucky,” he said, lifting a brow.

Ty dove headlong down the tunnel, all but smashing into the wall as he beat a hasty retreat.

“Hopsan!” Nicky cried, peeling him off the wall, righted the two of them, hanging on to Ty until they’d stopped rocking. “Careful, Becks—knock over the other team.”

Ty stared at him blankly. The Swede raised a brow. “Are you all right?” he asked. “You are very pink—”

“Fine,” Ty murmured, then darted down the tunnel ahead of him.

He doused himself in Energaid when he got back to the locker room, switched his gloves. He fussed with his laces, changed his jersey. He tossed a roll of stick tape from hand to hand, pausing only when Mike swiped it from him.

“Hey rookie,” the blond said, “keep it together. We’ve got sixty minutes to play.”

Ty wilted a little, sinking down on the bench.

“How’s your head?” That was Danny.

“You looked good out there—how’s it feel?”

Leo punched him in the arm. “If that Gabe fucker is giving you trouble, man …”

He caught Sebby’s glare from across the room, dipped his head. “It’s fine,” Ty said, “it’s fine. Yeah, I’m good.”

The horn blasted.

They waddled down the tunnel, Ty’s heart keeping time to the music. The flashing lights almost blinded him; the arena was on fire, ablaze with black and yellow sweaters, fifteen, maybe twenty thousand of them. Their roars echoed, creating a cacophony of voices, all answering each other back.

Ty was keenly aware of why they called it the bear den.

He jostled with Ryan Ward on the ice, waiting for puck-drop. Wardsy just grinned broadly at him, winked, like he knew something. Ty swallowed bile.

Did he know? Had Gabe told him?

He danced out of the way of Ward’s stick, barely dodged Zee as he made a swipe for the puck. He’d been there; he wasn’t going back.

Shawzy snowed Timmo after the whistle went on the Bears’ first shot, so Ty shoved him. Shawzy, the little shit, he grinned and shoved him back, pinned him to the boards, hissed, “Heard ya got lucky, pretty boy.”

“Fuck you,” Ty spat, cocking a fist.

“Whoa, hey now, boys,” the ref was saying, pushing them apart, “calm down, there’s a lot of hockey to play yet.”

They went back to the dot, Shawzy making faces at him the entire time.

Leo smacked his stick on the ice. “Just say the word,” the D-man said with a wink.
Ty huffed, shook his head.

Thankfully, he didn’t play a single shift with Gabe until they were late in the first, just two minutes left on the clock. There was a scramble for the puck; Ward had it pinned against the boards, so Ty went in after it, and someone walloped him from behind, slammed into into the glass.

A pat to his ass, Gabe hissing in his ear, “Don’t let Shawzy touch you again,” and then he was gone, and Ty whirled to find them off on the rush; he was behind the play.

Shawzy smashed him into the boards a moment later, his elbow coming up high, right into Ty’s nose, and Ty’s eyes crossed as he stared at the black and yellow before it bashed into him.
He crumpled to the ice, clutching his nose. Danny was screaming at the ref.

Finally, the whistle. It rang through Ty’s ears, shaking his vision. Mike offered him a hand, helped him up.

“You okay?” Nicky had a hand on his back.

He nodded slowly. A trainer came skidding across the ice with a towel, wrapped a hand around the small of Ty’s back. Ty took the towel, pressed it tight to his face.

Off, down the tunnel, murmurs of quiet room all around him.

At least he got to go to the quiet room this time, he thought.

He spent most of the second period there, lying in the dark, the silence pressing on him. He was dizzy, sick; even in the shadows, the world was churning.

His head ached, like a drill digging in on either side of his temples.

He didn’t know how long passed, but he heard, vaguely, the buzzer from the ice, the blare of horns. He looked to the trainer, who chewed his lip, then said, “Bears are up two nothing now.”
He didn’t know why, but he was able to breathe more easily after that. The nausea, the dizziness receded against the knowledge his team needed him.

He headed back to the locker room when the buzzer sounded—ending the period this time.
“Hey,” he said to the guys, fistbumping them one by one as they filtered back in.

“Heyyy!”

“You’re up.”

“You’re back, how’s your head?”

“That fucking little shit Shawzy, he went right after you, huh?”

“Fucker.”

“Leo kicked his ass—”

“And that’s how they scored the second goal!” Q thundered, earning a collective cringe from the team. “No penalties—no bone-head moves, guys. Nothing fancy—we need goals, I don’t care how dirty they are.”

“Got it!”

The mustachioed man headed to the whiteboard, grabbing up one of the markers. He started outlining their plan excitedly, gesticulating wildly.

Plain. Simple. Easy.

At least, it should have been. But they hit the ice and nothing happened. They wheeled and dove and ducked, bobbing and weaving with the puck, dangle dangle dangle—

“Fanned on the shot!” Ty could practically hear the announcers calling the plays for the telecast. Then he was deafened by the puck pinging off a crossbar.

“Turnovers are something you buy at a bakery!” Q was screaming. “I don’t want none of them on the ice, what are you doing?! Robinson, you’re out of position! Fall back, fall back—”

He stormed onto the other end of the bench, hurling abuse at the refs—“Offside! That was offside. Are you blind?!”

Ty whirled and spun, desperately trying to keep up with play, floundering as he watched the action get away from him yet again.

Mike was grinding it out in the corner against Zee, even as the larger player shoved him aside.
“Keep it moving, keep it moving,” the ref was calling. The linesman had the whistle in his mouth, ready to halt play.

The puck squirted free, bounced onto the end of Sebby’s stick—thank god for the slushy Boston ice, its unpredictable bounces—and he was off like lightning, streaking out of their zone, across center ice. Ty barely felt the ice beneath him as he took to his blades, forced his feet forward. Sebby bobbled the puck near the blue line, barely took it back—backhand, forehand, backhand—and the Bears D looked so helpless; he knew was caught up.

Sebby made for the net, curled around, holding, holding—so patient, the most patient he’d been in a long time—

And Ty smacked his stick on the ice, hollered, “Seb!!!”

Sebby didn’t even look at him, just released the puck, sent it sliding across the blue paint, right in front of Ty, who’d already wound up, slapped the puck as hard as he could.

It bounced into the netting up high, fell to the back of the net, whirling about in a circle before lazily skidding back out, before the Bears goalie even had time to look over his shoulder for the biscuit.

The horn blasted, and Ty’s head pounded. He felt sick, even as Sebby clapped a mitt over over his bucket and rocked his head side to side.

He was gonna hurl.

He fistbumped the guys on the bench, plunked down on the end of the bench next to Sebby, both of them spitting, gnawing on their mouth guards, panting.

It was too little, too late.

More turnovers. More fanned shots. More crossbar, and they couldn’t buy the equalizer to save their lives. Thirty seconds and the arena erupted, like the Bears had already won the Cup.

Ty tried a saucer pass to Sebby. But Gabe was right there, grabbed the pass like it had been meant for him and he was gone, a black and yellow blur down the ice. Ty wanted to collapse onto the ice a, but he chased after him, legs burning, lungs afire. He knew it was futile.

The horn sounded and Gabe had his arms in the air.

Ty looked at the clock. Nine seconds.

Luke took the final face off, deep in their end, lost it to Shawzy, and then it was with Ward, and he wound up, slapped the bouncing biscuit, and the buzzer filled their ears, followed by the torrent of cheers from the stands.

Ty blinked. That was it.

It was over. Their season was over. Done. Finito. They had played the dying seconds, and now the summer stretched out before them, long and unending.

They were silent, sullen as they made their way off the ice, to the locker room. Press conferences, in a couple of days they’d have their exit interviews, locker clean out. They’d disperse, like leaves on the wind.

Nobody knew what to say, what to think, what to feel. They’d done their best, yes, but …
They’d lost. They’d fucked up.

Hushed tones on the bus, the flicker of screens as they rode through the dark to the airport. Luke was texting someone; he looked strung. Ty checked his own phone, but he had nothing from Gabe. Maybe in the coming days, he’d find something to say.

Nine seconds, two points—a win or a loss, and that was all hockey boiled down to in the end.

*

Luke glanced furtively over his shoulder, then rattled off a message to Mason. The asshole wasn’t replying to him, but that wasn’t going to stop him from trying to get his side of the story across.

‘Not my idea,’ he wrote, ‘not what I wanted. All Sean, so please … I didn’t choose him, Mayday.’

He waited for a moment or two, then wrote, ‘can we talk about this?’

Pause. ‘I’d really like to … Please, Mason. Don’t end it here’


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