The air in Minnesota was chilly at night. A light wind blew against the apartment building, too light for anyone to hear. Trevor had finally managed to fall asleep when he was woken up by his door creaking open. His first instinct was to tense, but then he remembered Liam, so he sat up and opened his eyes. Sure enough, the boy was making his way into the room. He stopped by Trevor’s bedside.
“Trevor,” the boy said quietly. “I had a bad dream.”
“It was just a dream. Go back to bed,” Trevor mumbled as he brought his head down onto his pillow again.
“Can I sleep with you?”
Trevor groaned. “No.”
“I was dreaming that the cops were going to get me,” Liam said barely above a whisper. “They thought I had done something bad, but I’m not bad! I don’t want to go back to jail.” His voice was cracking. He let out a whimper.
Trevor felt a rush of sympathy, and his throat tightened. This kid did not deserve to be in jail, and he should not be having dream like that; it was unfair. “Ok, crawl in,” he said. He scooted over to give the kid room.
Liam quickly climbed into the bed. Trevor was surprised when he snuggled up to him. He wanted to push him away, but then he thought better of it. He was just a kid. Trevor did not want to do anything that would upset him. Liam still had his whole life ahead of him. Trevor closed his eyes and fell back asleep.
“Liam! Get ready for school!” Trevor called down the hall as he made his way for the living room. He glanced back and saw Liam poke his head out of the bedroom.
“So, you’re going to keep me?” the kid asked with a hopeful smile.
Trevor frowned. He had thought about the situation a little bit, but he still could not find a solution. “For now,” he said carefully. “I don’t want to just dump you somewhere. I’ll call your mom later and see if she has come up with a better idea. But I do think she would want you to go to school, so go get ready!”
Liam grinned. “Ok!” He dashed across the hall to his own room.
Trevor grabbed a protein bar and stuffed it in his jacket pocket; he would eat on the way. He checked his other pocket to make sure he had the directions to the school he had printed out the night before. Everything was good. With Liam out of the way, he would have the day to sort everything out about his new home before he had to be at the Excel Energy Center for his first preseason game with the Wild.
Trevor turned to look at Liam. He blinked at what he saw. The kid had on his new, puffy, down feather jacket, a warm hat, earmuffs, thick gloves, and boots. He looked like he was ready to go skiing. Texans. A smile twitched on Trevor’s face and he shook his head. “Alright, let’s go.”
It took 20 minutes to get to the school, but that might have been because Trevor was not sure where he was going and he did not know the city. The school was made up of several large connected brown buildings with children of all sizes walking in. As Trevor and Liam walked into the school, Trevor wondered how this was going to go. He had not called beforehand. He figured there best bet was to talk to the principal. Luckily, a janitor was able to direct them to the principal’s office.
“Come in,” a female voice said after Trevor knocked.
Trevor opened the door and walked in with Liam. An elderly woman with glasses was sitting behind a desk going through papers. She looked up when the boys entered. “May I help you?” she asked.
“Uh yeah,” Trevor began awkwardly. He coughed. “This is Liam Day. I’d like to sign him up for school. We’re new here.”
The principal raised her eyebrows. “Are you his guardian? His brother, perhaps?”
Trevor shook his head. “No. I mean, I’m taking care of him. His parents are in Texas. They can’t be here right now. He was papers to confirm my authority.” He nodded at Liam’s backpack. This had to work; they had the proper forms.
The principal held out her hand. “Let me see.”
Liam took off his backpack, opened it, and began to search through it. He pulled out a folder and handed it to the principal. The principal pushed her glasses back on her nose before looking over the file. When she was finished, she looked up at Trevor with raised eyebrows. “This is kind of late notice.”
Trevor smiled sheepishly, knowing exactly how she felt. “I know. It was kind of a last-minute thing. You see, I’m a hockey player. I just got traded to the Wild from the Stars.”
The principal’s eyes widened. “Oh! You play for the Wild? Why didn’t you say so? I love hockey!”
Trevor blinked in surprise. An old woman was a hockey fan? He really was in the state of hockey. He smiled slightly. “Great. So you’ll find a class for Liam?”
“Oh, yes,” the principal said. She stood up and walked around her desk. “I’ll take care of him.” She smiled at Liam before looking back at Trevor. “What did you say your name was?”
“Mary Huntingburg,” the principal said, extending her hand. Trevor hesitated before shaking it. “It’s great to meet you. I’ll work out everything for Liam.”
“Goodbye, Trevor!” Liam exclaimed. “Do I get to go to the game tonight?”
Trevor gave him a small smile. “Of course. I’ll come pick you up when school’s over.” He felt a sense of relief that this had gone over so fell.
“Goodbye,” Principal Huntingburg said.
Trevor nodded and headed out the door.
The cold air felt great on his skin. It was too early for snow, but he knew it would come soon. It was not even that cold out; he was only wearing a light jacket. Still, it was a relief from the Texas sun. He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. A small smile formed on his face. The leaves on the trees were changing colors. This was what autumn was supposed to look and feel like.
Liam gazed at the box seats in childlike wonder. This was where Trevor was dropping him off. It was one of the suites for players’ families. The suite had two high definition televisions, a refrigerator, and food and drink that was catered to the residents of the suite upon request. This was where the kid would be watching the game. It was still early, but Trevor had told him to bring homework. Liam had been chatting about school ever since he got home. Trevor was glad he would now be getting a break.
“Alright, have fun in here,” Trevor said. “You’ll be warm.” It could get cold in the stands because of the ice.
“But I still don’t know anything about hockey,” Liam said.
Trevor shrugged. “There will be other people in here later. They’ll explain it to you.”
Liam grinned. “Ok.” Trevor turned to leave. He was stop when the boy said, “Trevor?”
The hockey player looked back at him. “What?”
“Good luck,” Liam said with a smile.
Trevor blinked in surprise. “Thanks, kid.” He did not know why the boy had taken such a liking to him; kids usually avoided him. He figured it was because he was grateful for the favor he was giving him.
Coach Harold was waiting for Trevor outside of the box. “Cute kid,” he commented. “Do you know what you’re going to do with him during away games?”
Trevor started. The thought had not crossed his mind. He frowned. “I have no idea.”
“Well, you’ll have to find somebody to watch him,” Harold said. “He is welcome to join us, but it’s not good for him to miss too much school.”
Trevor pressed his lips together tightly. “I’ll think of something.”
Harold nodded. “Good. Now let’s go meet your new teammates.”
The two of them headed into the locker room together. The other players had already begun getting changed. The coach gave Trevor a brief introduction, and the players nodded in acknowledgement. One of them, a tall man with blue eyes and shaggy blond hair, stepped up and held out his hand. “Ethan Mohan,” he said. “I’m the captain.”
“Nice to meet you,” Trevor said as he shook his hand.
“This is a good bunch of guys,” Ethan said. “You should fit in fine.”
“That’s what he always says,” said a rough voice. A player with dark hair and eyes came to stand beside the captain, his arms crossed and his eyes narrowed. “We don’t need anyone from the Stars messing up what we have here. What do Chicagoans know about hockey anyway?”
Trevor felt irritated; he did not need to be making enemies so soon. “And where are you from?”
“Both of us are from Canada,” the player said proudly.
Ethan gave Trevor an apologetic look. “Ignore David,” he said. “He can be a bit too confident.”
David rolled his eyes. “I’ll be watching you,” he said warningly.
Trevor just turned away; he knew better than to get into a fight his first day as a Wild. He made his way to his locker to get ready for the game.
As he slipped his red jersey over his head, his saw one of the players walk up to him. “Hello, there,” the player said. “I’m Justin Turner.” He held out his hand.
Trevor took his hand and shook it. “Nice to meet you. What position do you play?”
“Forward, left wing,” Justin said. “We’ll be working together a lot. Coach thinks it would be a good idea for us to spend some time together. I’m from the Twin Cities. I could show you around and explain how things are done here.”
Trevor nodded. He could see the usefulness of the suggestion. “Sure. I think I’m fine right now, but I’ll let you know if I need your help.” His eyes fell on the silver cross hanging around Justin’s neck. “Isn’t it a contradiction to be a Christian and a hockey player?”
Justin chuckled. “I don’t think so. Not if you do it right. I play clean and don’t let pride get the better of me. I help out my teammates whenever I can.”
Trevor frowned. “I see.” He had a sneaking suspicion that Coach Harold had asked Justin to hang out with him because he thought he would be a good influence on him. Well, he would have none of that; he did not need to be looked after like a child. “I’ve got to finish getting ready.” He hoped he would be able to shake this guy, for he did not seem like the type of person who would get along with him.
Justin smiled. “All right. I’ll leave you too it. See you on the ice.”
Trevor nodded and watched him go. Then he shook his head and returned to his work at hand.
He felt a tremor of excitement as he skated onto the ice for warm-ups. It was a new season and a new team. Anything could happen. He was not starting, so he skated to bench at the start of the game. This gave him the chance to look around at the crowd. His smile fell when he saw many fans wearing North Stars gear. “I’ll never be rid of them,” he muttered.
“Rid of who?” Justin asked from beside him.
Trevor made a face. “The North Stars. Can’t they just let them go?”
Justin looked at him with a serious expression on his face. “When you lose someone you love, you never forget about them. Sometimes it’s better to hold onto the memories than to forget what was once so important to you.”
Trevor frowned and looked away. The way his teammate spoke brought a certain person’s face to his mind. He tried to push it away. Not now. He needed to focus. He had to prove himself to his new team. He was grateful when it was his turn to step up and play.
The Wild ended up losing to the Stillwater Blues four to three. This did not put Trevor in a good mood; things were not off to a good start. To make matters worse, David brushed past him as the players were skated off the rink and said, “Nice work today, Tex.”
Trevor rolled his eyes and held back his tongue; he was not a Texan. Justin walked with him back to the locker room. “I should never have agreed to come here,” Trevor mumbled. “I should have held out for someone else.”
“It’s just one game,” Justin said with a frown. “We’ll do better next time.”
Trevor shook his head. “It’s not just about losing – I’m used to that with the Stars. Minnesota is just not where I want to be right now.”
“It’s not so bad here,” Justin said. “Let me show you around you’ll see.”
Trevor felt a sudden flash of anger, and he turned on his teammate. “No, I don’t want to! I do not like Minnesota! Nothing you can show me could change my mind.” He grit his teeth together to keep from shouting.
Justin frowned and crossed his arms. “That’s not a very good attitude to have. You’ve got to give Minnesota – and the Wild – a chance. Make the best of the team you’re a part of.”
“Easy for you to say; you get to play for your childhood team,” Trevor nearly snarled.
Justin shook his head. “No. You did.” Sadness shown in his eyes and on his face.This stopped Trevor short. He stood there staring at the other player with his mouth slightly open. He closed his mouth and frowned. He felt his anger slowly slip away, sympathy replacing it. He regretted his comment. For the first time in his life, he thought he knew what the Minnesotans felt. It was nothing for which he could blame them.