Pucked Off (The Pucked Series)(11)

By: Helena Hunting

In addition to the thirty text messages, I have three voicemails from Tash. All in just a few short hours. I don’t have the energy to deal with them, and if I check them, I’ll end up calling her back. Then she’ll come here, and then I’ll do something I’ll regret even more than not fucking her, so I finally turn my phone off. Only about seven hours too late.

Randy’s right. I need to get her out of my life, or she’s going to put more than my career in jeopardy again.

“Lance?” Fingers poke at my shoulder, followed by snapping close to my ear and a familiar female voice. “Lance, can you hear me?”

I grunt and roll over, but that hurts, a lot, so I roll back the other way.

“Sorry, buddy, I know you want to sleep. I just need confirmation that you know who I am and where you are and then you can go right back to dreamland.”

Randy’s girlfriend, Lily, pries my eyelid open.

I bat her hand away from my face. “Fuck! I’m awake. Jesus.”

“Such a sweet mouth you have. You’re welcome for making sure you’re not brain dead.”

An image of my brother’s vacant eyes appears behind my lids. I cover my eyes with my forearm, hissing when I hit my eyebrow. The pain erases the memory.

“I have aspirin and water for you, both of which you could use, judging from the state of your face.”

I peek out from under my arm. “Why’re you so nice?”

Lily snorts. “Probably because Randy gives me at least one orgasm a day.”

I cringe. I already know those two get it on all the time; I don’t need additional confirmation. Not so long ago, Randy spent a lot of time partying with me, but not so much since he and Lily got serious.

“I think you’re spending too much time with Violet.”

Violet is my team captain’s wife. I married them while we were in Vegas a few months back, because I happen to be ordained. I did it a few years ago, when a friend needed a favor. I did it over the internet, but it’s legitimate. I never actually thought it would come in handy again.

“That’s also probably true.” She passes me a glass and sets the pills on the comforter. “Randy’ll be your next wake-up call. I’ll be back around noon.”

“I’ll definitely be gone by then.”

“Don’t worry about it if you’re not.”

I down the pills and the water as she closes the door behind her. I’m exhausted. I close my eyes, trying to find the will to pry them open again and get out of my friend’s house before the next two-hour block passes. That’s not what happens.

I must pass out hard again, because the next time I remember anything, Lily’s waking me up to tell me I have practice in a couple of hours. Randy’s already gone because he had a meeting with his agent.

Our last preseason game is this weekend. It doesn’t matter how shitty I feel; I have to be on the ice today. I throw the covers off and hit the bathroom. I’ve been out for a lot of hours, but the sleep hasn’t done anything to offset the myriad aches in my body. If anything, they’ve multiplied.

I turn on the water and strip off my shirt and pants. I must’ve left my boxers in Tash’s hotel room. I hope she’s gone already like she said she would be in her messages yesterday.

I’m quick about showering. I still have to get my car—which is at some bar on the south side from what I recall—and stop at my place before practice. It isn’t until I’m drying off that I get a good look at the damage I sustained last night. It’s no wonder I feel like I’ve taken up a second career as an MMA fighter.

Beyond the fly bandage on my left eyebrow and the corresponding black eye and split lip, I have bruises along my ribs and lower back. There are a few on my legs as well.

I put my jeans back on, but my shirt has blood on it—most likely mine. I’d prefer not to drive by that bar wearing it, so I open the door, ready to find Lily so I can ask about borrowing something of Randy’s.

Wiener’s sitting outside my door. He barks and scampers off in the direction of Lily and Randy’s room. At my feet is a pair of dark-wash jeans, boxers, and a fresh T-shirt. She’s also left me deodorant and more aspirin. I’m grateful for the thoughtfulness. I don’t want to be shirtless in Randy’s house, alone with his girlfriend.