Pucked Up

By: Helena Hunting

DEDICATION

To my family, thank you for having my back, for being my cheerleaders and for letting me foster this dream. I love you.





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Husband of mine, you really are the best. I couldn’t do any of this without you. Thank you for giving me a chance to do this thing. I love you.

Debra, you’re the pepper to my salt. Even the hardest parts are easier with you around.

Kimberly, you are made of awesome. I’m so glad you had lunch with Nina and the stars aligned. This has been an incredible journey so far, thank you for being a source of encouragement, for the feedback, for the brainstorming and for making this roller coaster so much fun to ride.

Nina, I don’t know how you do it, but I’m grateful that you do. Thank you for years of friendship and putting up with my neurotic squirreliness.

Shalu, you have so much talent. I can’t wait to see you shine. Thank you for making the outsides reflect the insides.

Jessica, I always know I’m in good hands with you. Thank you for all your patience, even when I kept on changing things at the end. Marla, thank you for cleaning up the crumbs and the typos. Mayhem, so many texts in this one! You make amazing innards! Daisy, Kelly, Julia, Liv, thanks for not only being eyes on this, but for being my friends, for talking me down, and for loving my words when all I want is to press backspace. Liv special thanks to you for the conversation which essentially led to the naming of this series. You’re pucking awesome!

To My Filet Chignon’s, The Pams, The Nap Ladies, the 101 ladies, the Indies, the One-Clicks, The PUCKED Locker Room girls, and The HH Street team, you make me feel so supported. Thank you. You give me motivation to keep on going when I hit rough patches

To my BBBabes, thanks for tolerating my overshares. They’re frequent and many. I love you.

Maven, every time you’re not at an event I have a little panic, and then I remember all the nice things you say to build me up, and I manage to get through it. Thank you for the hand holding. Kandace, you’re an incredibly special person. Thank you for being part of my journey.

Jessica R Hodnett, thank you for sharing your horrifically painful wolf spider story with me—and the pictures. They were helpful in ways I’m sure you’ll understand soon enough.

To my WC crew who have watched all of this unfold, thank you for supporting both sides of my life and being my friends and cheerleaders along the way.

As always, to the originals, my fandom friends who have been with me from the beginning, I’m here because of you.





CHAPTER ONE

WASTED IS AS WASTED DOES



I’m super wasted. Like, messed up to the point that Lance, my teammate, has two sets of eyes.

“I’mma go home.” In my head those are the words I’m speaking, but in reality I think it comes out more like a groan. I take an unstable step toward the line of waiting cabs outside the bar.

Lance puts a hand on my shoulder, his grin sloppy. He’s almost as drunk as me. “Your car’s at my place, Butterson. Come back with us.”

“I can get it in the morning.” My words run together, but he seems to understand.

“Just get in the limo, man.” Lance looks to Randy, another teammate and one of my closest childhood friends, for backup.

“The trainer’ll be at Lance’s at ten-thirty, remember?” Randy says. “You can roll out of bed and right into the pool.”

“Then I don’t have to call you fifty times to get your ass up,” Lance adds.

“Come back with us, Buck!”

One of Lance’s puck bunnies uses the nickname I’ve answered to since I was a kid. My real name is Miller. I wasn’t named after beer. Plus Buck Butterson has a nicer ring than Miller Butterson—too many “ers” in it.