All heads swung my way.
I never vetoed anything. I might ask not to be around for an event, but I never outright did what I just did.
Boomer’s gaze was speculative, so was Reba’s. Dean’s was just big and bulging. He hissed, “Let me finish before you just say no—”
“No.” I stood, gathering all my papers.
“Cheyenne.” Dean stood with me.
I saw the determination on his face. His jaw was set.
He wanted a big to-do. He wanted to invite all the hoity-toity rich, and nope. Not going to happen. Because he wouldn’t stop there. He’d ask the players, obviously, but he’d ask the players’ friends and families. That meant Cut. That meant Chad. That meant others, like Cut’s relatives, because he had a supportive family. They would fly in for that, but there would still be others.
Deek was here.
Natalie was here.
They were all here.
The entire group had been here for a full year and the only reason I knew was because of Hunter. No one reached out so I knew their priorities. So far, their world had not crossed mine. I did not want that to happen and Dean’s ambition was putting us on a collision course. So, I was going to do what I needed to do. I was going to stop it.
I pushed my chair back, gave Dean a firm look, and stood my ground. “I said no. You have to have a unanimous vote for any big event, so it’s not going to happen.”
I left. I didn’t care.
And fuck it. I was going to go to the hockey game.
I could only say no to so much today.
Otis, Maisie, and JJ were all giving me looks.
It was understandable. The Mustangs were on an away phase, but there’d been a few home games sprinkled in and I’d not been here for any of them. So they were giving me the looks.
I could feel them. I didn’t even need to see them, but I felt singed from them.
My normal seat. My normal seat companions. Our normal section.
Everything was normal. Except me.
The season seat group knew something was up.
The team came out on the ice, and it felt right again. Just right. All right.
He didn’t look up here, not once. And he skated wonderfully, but he had been all season so far. He had more of an edge, like right now as he was skating up with Hendrix and Franklin. Hendrix was in the middle, skating forward. The defensive line was on them, reaching in, trying to dislodge the puck or make them trip up.
Hendrix shot to Franklin.
Franklin danced between two linemen, hitting the puck forward with his skate, his stick lifting up and over their heads. The puck went past, right to Cut, and he skated around the last defensive end. The goalie was there, he was expecting it. Cut read him, and shot the puck back to Hendrix.
Everyone had forgotten Hendrix was there.
Hendrix reached forward and shot it up and inside.
Everyone was on their feet. Screaming. Shouting. Clapping.
Adrenaline was high, but adrenaline was always high for the games, win or lose. It was part of it.
All the guys circled around Hendrix, patting his helmet and shoulders. Cut swept in, and Hendrix wrapped his arms around Cut. The entire arena was wailing, hitting the ice barriers. Rags were being circled in the air, and it was overwhelming, but I was good. I was right with them. The stimulus was a lot, but I was on my meds and I had now added a full hour of hard cardio to my regimen in the mornings. It was the best way to keep my head as clear as could be, and I was so glad.
My chest was full.
I could do it this way.
Be here. Watch as a fan. Support. Enjoy. But only from a distance. I had to do the distance thing.
I made a point of going to the bathroom when the first period ended, and when they were heading off the ice. I made a point of heading to the concessions when they came back and stayed away until they began playing. It was a repeat for the end of the second period and the beginning of the third.
They’d lost one of their away games, and in the beginning of the third period, the opposing team tied up the score. Everyone was on edge. They needed a win, especially a home win.
There was another line change.
Cut went off.
The teams were trading the puck back and forth. No one was moving it forward or backward. It was an even exchange. No. There was a break, the opposing team. No, no, no. Then, Dorchak came out of nowhere. He was one of the rookies this season. He swung in, dislodging their breakaway. The puck was back in Mustang territory. They kicked it back. The goalie had it.
It was supposed to be the third line, but Cut dropped in. He skated across the ice. The goalie shot the puck to him.
Franklin and Hendrix were with him.
There was only two minutes left.
They could do a couple more line changes, but the way Cut was moving, they were staying in. I felt it, and he was pushing forward at a fast pace. Two guys moved forward, meeting him. They swung their sticks in front of him.
He moved the puck around, keeping control.
Past the one player, around the second. He veered between them.
Another was coming at him, coming hard, and Cut hit the puck sideways, almost dropping backwards to miss the hit. The player kept going, clotheslining into one of his other teammates.
The crowd was back on their feet.
Cut skated in a tight circle, grabbing the puck back up and he reached far. The goalie went with him.
Cut tapped the puck the other way, and he moved his foot forward, his stick tapping the puck in between his feet. It sailed just under the goalie’s leg.
The sirens lit up, and everyone was screaming.
That’d been the theme for this game.
They had a minute and thirty-two to hold them.
Cut and his line stayed.
A minute and twenty-five.
The other team made a push, slapping the puck back and forth. Franklin moved in, but he was too late. The puck was pushed forward. He was going in hard, but then Cut was there and he was intersecting him. Thank goodness. If he had hit him illegally, he would’ve gone to the box, and it would’ve been a power play for the other team. They could’ve scored, probably would’ve, and it’d be overtime.
One of the other players swung in, words were being shared.
Franklin surged forward, but Cut was holding him back. He was reaching for the guy, trying to get free.
Cut held him back until he turned himself, but he just moved the other player away. Two more players moved in, helping to separate a potential fight. Hendrix was pulling Franklin away, but both were watching, making sure to cover Cut’s back if they were needed.
A ref blew the whistle and I could’ve sagged from the tension.
They started playing, but the Mustangs held them off. They won two to one.
I was so exhilarated from the win, from the tension that I forgot my early pee break.
When I looked down, Cut was still on the ice, but now he was staring right at me.
Maisie clamped onto my arm. “You’re going to The Way Station with us.”
It was after the team filed away, and after the crowd was starting to dispense. I’d been frozen in place seeing him seeing me, because every fiber in my being wanted to go to him.
He reached inside of me, grabbed everything inside of me, and he was pulling me to him. That’s how it felt. Even the fucking air had been surging me toward him, and I’d been sweating trying to hold back, trying to remember what I was doing again?