Page 45 of The Keeper

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“Good night, Cal.”

“Good night, Billie.” He blows a kiss through the phone as I give a sleepy smile and hit theEndbutton.

I hang up and throw my phone on the carpet beside my bed. I don’t know what is going on with me. Truly, I haven’t felt like this about someone in a long, long time. And to think, I kind of hated Calum Lefleur when I first met him.

Now, though, he’s all I can think of…

I want him.

And I can’t shake the feeling that this might be a recipe for disaster.


a nice shiner


Game two of our pre-season is a harsh, ultra-physical, back-and-forth with a lot of shots on goal, but only one score by Boris in the third period. A win is a win, and I feel good about the fact that I let nothing get by.

In the locker room, I get tons of slaps on the back, guys telling me what a killer I am at goal. After about the tenth compliment, I feel compelled to respond to all the praise. “This is why I get paid the big bucks—”

Dante Castellano gets in my face, his finger nearly poking me in the eye as he growls, “You arrogantprick.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized I’d fucked up with my social commentary. Again. Wrong thing to say at the wrong time to the wrong people. Happens frequently.

I raise an eyebrow in response to Castellano’s hostility and move to turn away from him, but he steps into my space again and says, “One of these days, you’re going to end up with a broken arm or a concussion and you’re gonna fuckin’ deserve that shit.”

“Oh, I recognize you,Dan. You’re the schoolyard bully who threatened to beat me up when he realized I was smarter than him.”

Defenseman Tyler snickers over by his locker, but Dan is not laughing. “Yes, I realize you think you’re better and smarter than all of us here. Go take that shit to college. We don’t need it here.”

“That’s literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” I roll my eyes. “Being better and smarter is literally the job. You need to stop being such an entitled little bitch. Go work on your goalkeeping skills and maybe you’d land a first-string deal.”

“You came in andstolemy first-string deal.”

“I didn’t steal anything. I was told to come here, so I came. It’s not my fault they didn’t bump you up, man.” He pushes me against the locker, and I shove him right back. “Getoutof my face, dude. I’m serious.”

“Or what?” he taunts, a weird smile on his face. “You’re gonna beat me up?”

“Why would I beat you up? I’ve got no issue with you. You’re the one all up in my face, because your fragile ego got hurt. I thought we were past this.”

“Stop mocking me,” he says, slamming me against the locker again. “You arrogant fucking prick.”

“Literally not mocking you.” I look out to see who’s going to have my back. Evan steps toward me, ready to grab Dante. Tyler and Georg seem to be lining up to help, as well.

“Castellano,” Evan warns.

I push him away, hoping the tone of our captain and a sharp shove will get him to come to his senses, but it only pisses him off and he throws a punch. It lands at the side of my nose with a crack and my vision goes white for a second.

I’m not a big fighter, but damn. I grab Castellano and put him in a headlock. He battles to get loose, but I train every day, and my guess is that he does not, so he’s got nothing on me for brute strength. I disable him long enough for Tyler and Evan to grab him, dragging him toward the door and out into the hallway.

Tyler comes back almost immediately to check on me. “You all right, man? That’s gonna be a nice shiner. Hope it doesn’t block your view from goal.”

“Go see the team doc,” Georg says, peering at me. Then he grins and says, “I’m channeling Kazmeirowicz. Pretend I’m the team captain now.”

I shake my head and wander off, finding a facility person outside who ushers me toward the medical office, where I get checked for concussion and have a bag of ice thrown at me. I sit with it on my face for a while, and when I get back, the locker room is empty. I sit in the quiet and just breathe. I know I’m a good player, a great one, even. It makes sense that this goon would be upset about not getting the chance to move up, but I find it hard to believe he’s even worth the payroll he’s on now. I might have to talk to the coaching staff about him. Physical violence toward a teammate isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility. I mean, it’s a physical sport, but usually, it’s not tolerated.

When I get back to my hotel room, my mind is still buzzing about the tussle with Castellano. I order room service and flop on the bed, flipping on the television to try to get my mind on something else.

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