Page 1 of The Keeper

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all kinds of cocky


Max Terry’s office is just about what you’d expect from the owner of a championship-level sports team. Impressive wide windows that look out and down on the world below. Furnishings are crisp and clean. The art lit in a way that communicates it’s expensive. It’s the kind of space that makes you feel either totally important or completely intimidated, depending on the situation.

I think I’m supposed to feel important.

Leaning forward on an off-white leather couch, elbows on my thighs, hands propping my head up, I might fall asleep.

Dell Richards, my agent, sits to my left, one leg crossed over the other as he scans his phone for emails.

“Fuckin’ time difference,” he mutters. “Fuckin’ asshole put a call on my calendar for six in the morning. I told him I was two hours early out here.”

“How long do we wait before I call forfeit and head back to Montreal?” I ask, impatient to get this over with.

Dell cuts me a sideways glance. “They’re only five minutes late, Cal. Chill.”

“I don’t want to be here. Seriously, get me out of this bullshit deal, Dell.”

“Thisbullshit deal, as you call it, is worth many millions of dollars. It’s not some offload trade, Cal. They needed a goalie in a pinch, and they wanted the best, so they paid for it. That’s the way the business works. Grow the fuck up.”

Grow up.Not the first time I’ve heard that statement. What he means is stop complaining. Stop complaining you had to leave your family and your home and your life to come to this unfamiliar place with an unfamiliar team you didn’t want to join in the first place. Yeah, I get it, this team is a powerhouse. The best in the business. They have some of the hottest players on the ice right now, and they want one more trophy to add to their case.

“You sticking around long after this?” I ask.

“I’ve got this god-forsaken morning call and then I head to the airport,” he says. “Got to get back to New York for a charity thing.”

We’re quiet for another minute before I ask, “Did you know Scott Rose represents like a third of this team?”

“Do not utter that name in front of me, Calum Lefleur,” he says sharply, putting his phone down to give me a full-on death stare. “You know better.”

“Just saying. Perhaps Scott Rose could have kept me where I wanted to be.”

“I’m not fucking joking, Cal. Stop saying his name.”

Dell Richards and Scott Rose do not get along. They’re both high-powered agents with full rosters. I heard there was some beef over a client that left one and went to the other at some point, but I don’t know the details. I also don’t care all that much. It’s more that I find it rather fun to mess with Dell when I’m bored.

Just as I’m about to nudge him again, Max Terry, Coach Brown, and the weird, schlubby-looking GM file in.

Max is all silver hair and white teeth as he extends a hand. “So sorry to keep you waiting up here,” he says, smiling as I shake his hand. “You’re the boy wonder. Thanks for filling in for us in a pinch.”

“Well, I didn’t have much of a choice,” I say as the three men all find seats around the stainless steel and glass coffee table bearing several magazines with Crush players on the covers.

They all laugh like I’ve made a joke. It’s not a joke. I was told I was being traded. Now I’m here.

“You played a hell of a series last spring,” Coach Brown says. “We were damn impressed by you, coaching staff and players alike, so we’re glad you’re here. We think you’ll come to love Las Vegas as much as we all do.”

“I can’t lie. I’ve been playing for Montreal since I was eighteen, and I’ve been happy there. I know I’m good, and the money here proves that. I’ll play my best, but it doesn’t mean I’m happy to be here.” I give each of them direct eye contact, even though it’s a conscious effort for me to deliver. Eye contact is not really a strength of mine.

Dell sighs and shakes his head. He’s pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingertips. I look back to the three Crush leaders and find the GM’s mouth hanging open and Coach sitting back in his chair, arms folded, quizzical expression on his face.

Max Terry chuckles and shakes his head slowly from side to side. “Kid, I’ve seen all kinds of cocky. All kinds of attitude and prima donna behavior, believe me. Cocky I can handle, but we just dumped a shit-ton of money into your bank account and while I appreciate the honesty, you’re about to drop over into an unacceptable level of arrogance.”

“He’s not being arrogant,” Dell offers. “He lacks the ability to be polite just for the sake of being polite.”

“I’m beinghonest.” And I am. This is unfiltered me. Calum Lefleur, who says whatever’s on his mind. I don’t know any other way to be. I’ve always been like this.

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