FaceoffBy: Kelly Jamieson
This story is a Canadian fantasy—a hockey fantasy. It’s been no secret for years that two businessmen wanted to purchase an NHL team and bring it back to Winnipeg. Despite years of rumors, disappointments and false reports of done deals, hockey fans in Winnipeg continued to fantasize about the NHL returning.
My earlier book Breakaway is the story of Jason Heller, a professional hockey player from Winnipeg who has three brothers. As I worked on edits to Breakaway, it seemed these Winnipeg businessmen were very close to purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes (which were the Winnipeg Jets up until 1996). Thinking ahead, I changed the team Tag Heller played for to a (fictional!) team in Phoenix (called the Stars, not the Coyotes) and when I started writing Faceoff, Tag’s story, I wrote the fantasy—the NHL had returned to Winnipeg!
I had not yet submitted this manuscript to my editor when the real-life story changed—it was no longer the Phoenix Coyotes being purchased, it was the Atlanta Thrashers. I couldn’t change my story to match reality because I’d already planted the seed that Tag Heller played for Phoenix in Breakaway. I named the new Winnipeg team the Jets in my book, even though every other hockey team I mention in Breakaway and Faceoff are fictional NHL teams—at that point we didn’t know for sure the deal would even happen and if it did, whether a new Winnipeg team would be called the Jets or something entirely different. The day after I submitted this manuscript to my editor, the story came true—the NHL was returning to Winnipeg! The true story didn’t play out exactly as it does in Faceoff (which is fiction), but the basis of the story is accurate and the hockey fantasy is the backdrop for the romance fantasy between Tag and Kyla.
Friday night. Six o’clock. A briefcase full of documents to review for the coming week that would occupy pretty much her entire weekend. Super fun.
Kyla MacIntosh rode the elevator down from the twenty-ninth floor of the Richardson Building, immune to the ear-popping speed of the elevator after years of working at the law offices of Ingram Howell Grant. Alone in the elevator, she leaned her head against the wall, then straightened and rolled her head, trying to ease the tightness in her neck that was causing a feeling of pressure around her head. The headaches were so constant now she barely noticed them, but at that moment she longed for some ibuprofen. And a massage. Her massage therapist was getting rich off her lately.
She came to a halt in the building lobby at seeing the pouring rain outside. Damn. With slower steps, she wandered into the hotel adjoining the office building to peer out the front doors. She set down her briefcase and purse and was about to slide her arms into the beige trench coat she carried over one arm when a burst of laughter from the lounge off the hotel lobby had her turning her head in recognition. Several of the lawyers from the firm sat on stools at a high round table, drinks in hand, laughing at something one of them had just said. Including her mentor, senior partner Jim English, and her biggest competition for partner, Alex Covell.
She blinked at them. Damn. They’d gone for drinks without her again. She looked down at the gleaming stone floor, then back up. She pressed her lips together and lifted her purse and briefcase, then straightened her shoulders and strode into the bar.
“Hey, guys,” she said, pasting on a smile. “I didn’t know you were going for drinks tonight.”
They all looked up at her, Jim, Alex and a few other partners and associates. “Hey, Kyla.” After a short pause, Jim said, “Why don’t you join us?”
“Thanks!” One of the men pulled another stool up to the table and she smiled at him as she climbed up onto it. “It’s been a long week, I could use a drink.”
The jocular conversation had come to a screeching halt and Kyla sighed inwardly. What had they been talking about? Probably her. She ordered a martini from the waitress with determined cheerfulness. “Pouring rain out there,” she said. “Maybe by the time I’ve had a drink, it’ll stop.”
Reduced to talking about the weather. You could always talk about the weather in a city with four distinct seasons, where the temperatures ranged sixty degrees Celsius or more over the course of year. “It’s supposed to clear up for the weekend,” Jim said.