Off Sides

By: Sawyer Bennett

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS




I had not expected to write this book. In fact, I was all set to start on my sequel to Forever Young, but the idea for this novel just popped into my mind and would not let go. So I spent a few weeks just mulling the idea. I tried to actually write the FY sequel, but I couldn’t even get started on it because this book just kept dominating my thoughts. Then I decided, what the hell. Let me just purge this from my mind.

I wrote voraciously for a solid week. 45,000+ words later, I had my first draft. I did some basic polishing and filling, but it was pretty much ready except for line edits. At this point, I’d like to give a huge shout out to Kristina Sessoms and Alyssa Shaver. Both jumped on doing a Beta read and provided great feedback, most of which I used.

Particular hug to Alyssa as she came up with the title to the book. It must have been destiny that I found her as a Beta reader as she is a huge hockey fan as well as a violin player. You’ll see why that’s important when you read this book.

As always, thank you Shawn for letting me pursue my dream. I know it means many hours that I am paying attention to my laptop instead of you. You rock my world, honey!





REFLECTIONS




I'm not sure what possessed me to do it. Maybe it was the impossible expectations I faced, maybe it was my own self-loathing. But I just knew I needed something different to happen. I needed someone...something...to derail me from my current path. Otherwise, I would become lost...a hollowed out shell of a man.

So I did it. I approached her, then I pursued her, then I made her mine. And my life was saved...





CHAPTER 1




Ryan



Heh, heh, heh, heh...

I hate those freakin’ green pigs mocking me. I hit the restart button and slide my finger over the screen, pulling back the little blue bird. I let him fly, giving the screen a quick tap and my fuzzy blue missile splits into three, peppering my taunters with their rage. Ice shatters and I slaughter the green sows. Victory is mine.

"Hurry up, Ryan. Beat feet."

I glance up at the group walking ahead of me. They're all laughing, arms linked together. They look like a fucking re-run of Friends. We are all perfectly dressed in our designer clothes compliments of our families’ obscene wealth. We have our perfect salon hairstyles and we are leading our perfect college lives. And I absolutely hate it sometimes.

Tonight we are slumming it a little. We're walking from a frat party to a 24 hour diner nearby to get some food. Oh, the shame of it all.

Between the copious amounts of alcohol and pot at the party, we all have a serious case of the munchies. Well, my munchies are just because I'm hungry. I, unfortunately, cannot partake in the cannabis laughis as the athletics department at Northeastern springs random drugs tests on its athletes. And I'm not about to jeopardize our hockey season on a little bit of reefer. I sure hope Mike and Carter stayed away from that shit tonight. I can tell by the way the girls are giggling, they were partaking.

It's 3:00 a.m. and I'm not nearly drunk enough to miss the fact that I wish I could ditch my friends and head back to my frat house for some sleep. It's been a long night and looks like it's about to get longer.

The men in our merry band constitute a portion of the first line on the Northeastern hockey team. We’re all pretty tight. My right winger and best friend, Mike Yanalas, calls out to a group of young, street thugs leaning up against an old Dodge Charger smoking cigarettes. He has his arm around his girlfriend, Cameron.

"What the fuck you looking at?" Mike yells at them. He's drunk as a skunk and I sigh inwardly. I so do not want to have to back up his drunken ass in a fight tonight.

Luckily, the Crip wannabes don't say anything and slink away into the darkness. I'm not surprised, really. We are some pretty big dudes and most people would be crazy to fuck with us.

We turn onto Hay Street and we are back on my home turf. The gym where I work out is just a few blocks down and my frat house is in the opposite direction. Sally's Diner sits almost in the middle of the two points and has served as our post-party stop for the three years I have been a student at Northeastern. I break into a little trot to catch up to the others.

As we all pour into Sally's, I breathe in deeply the scent of frying bacon and french fries. The place is fairly busy even though it’s the wee hours of the morn. There are several tables filled with drunken students and an old man hovering over a cup of coffee at the counter.

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