After the airport I just headed straight to my apartment, with the picture being leaked the media was all over me as I exited the airport, Charlie came and picked me up. I just sat looking out the window. He breaks through the silence. “Look, if you need to talk I’m open. No judgement.”
“I appreciate that. Right now I just want to go home and sleep. We have a big game tomorrow night and I really don’t want the coach to bust my balls. I have had a shit day. I don’t want to add to it.” Charlie keeps his eyes on the road. “Alright, as long as you’re sure?” I close the car door and walk into my apartment, I just sit and look out of the balcony window lost in thought, I really thought if I put myself out there it would be enough, there was something about Chloe, even though I didn’t know her for long that one night changed everything. She was everything I ever wanted. We talked and she was captivating, funny, witty and beautiful. It was comforting being around her. When they say you know, you know I knew from that night she was “IT” for me, my future, my potential love. I should be riding high after this morning, I felt amazing. I really thought that she would come find me, it would have been the icing on the cake.
I understand why, it hurts like hell but the media are relentless and I dread to think what the fans were like towards her. They can be brutal. I should have made more an effort. It came across like I couldn’t give a shit and she felt it, fuck I’m an idiot! I ran the only girl I wanted off and she’s never coming back and I promised her I would stay away. So tomorrow has to be a new start for both of us. I hope she will be happy.
As for me I’m just a shell of a person after everything, the betrayal of Clive, the loss of Chloe at least I have my team. I head to bed and try to sleep eventually my eyes get heavy and I drift off.
The next day I arrive at the arena to get ready for the game, I’m extra early so I’m first to arrive. It didn’t stop the swarm of media hounding me as I made my way inside. The coach looks at his watch and then to me. “You’re early, How are you holding up Gray?” I’m sharp and to the point. “Ok, don’t worry nothing will affect tonight.”
“You make me sound like an uncaring bastard. I know I’m hard on you boys but look .... you know I’m here if you need me to be ... I may not know what you’re going through but you no I have ears. You know I can listen to your shit.” I give him a shrug. “Thanks coach,” I then hear him clear his throat. “Heads up ..... McClean this is his last game with us!”
“Fuck really?” Coach tries not to give too much up but the owners weren’t happy about his conduct off the ice, they were concerned more girls would come forward and that his “ways” would reflect badly on the team and the fact we would stand by him that would be a media and fan backlash. They held an emergency meeting with Lucas and told him they were letting him go, that tonight would be his last game and that there would be a statement released tomorrow. He didn’t take it well and they said if he didn’t quietly leave they would bench him for his last ever game. He opted to keep his mouth shut.
I walk back in the locker room and Lucas stands there glaring at me, he is pissed but doesn’t speak a word to me! I start to get booted up and the rest of the time arrives and get ready. It’s five minutes to puck off and the coach gives us the usual go get ’em speech, he didn’t mention that this is McCleans last game, didn’t want the boys to lose focus of tonight. When Clive’s article comes out, they might want to get Chloe’s side of that night at the club, she could even press charges.
As soon as I heard Lucas’ version I handled that situation. What no one knows is I actually paid the club for the footage to make sure it wasn’t released, yeah the club has cameras everywhere to stop drugs being sold, fights breaking out handled quickly. What they failed to see that night was the alcove where Lucas assaulted Chloe but it was there on camera, she didn’t need that also splashed over the papers it’s her choice and if she decided to press charges the video evidence is ready for her.
“Alright boys get out there and show them what we are made of.”
I am sitting in a taxi, staring out the window, I can’t believe the article, Damien really cares about me. The taxi stops and I pull my suitcases out. I made it into the building without . I make my way to the door and as I walk in a nervous feeling hits my tummy. I look around me and start to unpack my things. It didn’t take me long to get settled in, I took a shower and got into my jammies. I pull out my favourite book to read .when I’m feeling low it always makes me smile. I’m really caught up in a chapter when I hear a scream. “HOLY FUCKING HELL, YOUR HERE, IT’S REALLY YOU. She comes over and pokes me. “Just checking am not dreaming.”
“Yeah really glad you talked me into keeping my key.” Lily hugs me. “What happened did Damien find you?”
“What are you talking about?” I ask. Lily looks at me in shock. “He came into the coffee shop looking for you. I told him you were gone, that you would be at the airport, he went after you Chloe!” I bolt up, dropping my book to the floor I start to pace. “He didn’t!!! If he did he never found me!” Lily walks over to her wardrobe and starts ripping clothes out . “You need to go to him, he looked so upset and annoyed when I told him, he waited for you. When he had a feeling you wouldn’t show, he wanted to see you face to face.” I walk over to her and take her hands. “I will, I promise. I just need to figure out what I want to say. I looked online. He has a game tomorrow night and I have a plan!”
We made our way to the arena to buy tickets, Lily helped me dress up so people wouldn’t recognise me, it helped that everyone thought I left after the airport article came out. We are walking around when Lily comes up with a game plan to get us in. “Excuse me, I need some help. I need to talk to the coach for the Irish Rangers, it’s urgent.” The Security guard sternly looks at us. “Sorry miss but without clearance you’re not allowed past these doors.” Lily walks up closer and lifts something out of her pocket. “What about if I give you £100 would that get me clearance?” He is thinking about it before he leans in and smiles. “Nice try ladies now move along.” I shrug. “Now what?”
We are trying to come up with a plan B when we hear screams!! Girls squealing and just complete madness we turn around ... “Ohhhh Chloe I think our prayers have been answered.” I look at the guy. “Who’s that?” Lily smiles at me. “Well since we got ourselves in this fine mess. I made sure to brush up on the team just in case we had any more run-ins, that is Charlie .. yeah can’t remember the surname ... fuck it ... come with me.” She starts pushing through the crowd until we reach him, she pulls at his arm and pulls him down and whispers something to him he looks to me and looks to her. Next thing I know she is pulling me to the side. “Ok we have to wait here for a few minutes, he has to do some photos and autographs for the fans. They sometimes do this before the game.” We are standing waiting when we hear a deep voice. “You two this way.” The Security guards watch us. “Excuse me they can’t come through here!” Charlie tips his head. “It’s ok they are with me.”
We walk through the door and we are heading towards the locker room, I freeze. “WAIT ..... we can’t do this now he has a game. I don’t want him to lose focus. The fans already hate me or hated me. I don’t know. Can I just get into the locker room and wait until the end.” Lily looks at me concerned. “What about Lucas?”
“Fuck I didn’t think about that?” Charlie smiles at us both. “You girls really are winging this? Wait here I have an idea.” He disappears for a few minutes and comes back with a short angry looking man. “Well, you changed your mind then?” Lily stands up straight. “Yeah she did... she’s not here for drama she just wants to see Damien.” The man rubs his chin “Right so what’s the plan?” I clear my throat and walk closer to him. “You wouldn’t happen to have an office I can hide in? I think he is due a little payback after he hid in my bosses last time we met.” The Coach gives me a soft chuckle. “I like you, I can do it, once the boys and I leave the locker room you come in there is a door on the right hand side you can’t miss it says COACH. There is a monitor you can watch the game on we use it to record the games and review them for future games! Don’t push any buttons just in case you delete or stop the recording!”
“Please don’t say I am here just yet I don’t want to disturb anything or cause drama," I promise. When the game is over can you call him to your office for me?” He gives me a big grin. “I can call him in, let him think I’m going to bust his balls.” I smile at him. “Thank you.”
We hide out in the hall in a little corner just in case anyone comes out, we then hear the crowd go wild and the whistle blow. Lily and I go to the locker room door and peek in. The coast is clear. We make our way into the coaches office and watch the screen. The 1st period ends and we hear the team back in the locker room my heart is pounding. He is literally at the other side and part of me just wants to storm in, but it will put him off the game and his coach will kill me. So I hold back. The third period starts and the Irish Rangers are winning 5-2 the crowd are going mad!!! There is only 5 minutes left. All of a sudden there is a commotion on the ice a player just skated full speed into another and smashed him into the glass panel.... we realise they are from the same team it happens so fast the players helmet comes off the impact was so vicious, his head hits the ice. All we can hear is boos followed by eerie silence the player isn’t moving.
There are a bunch of players attacking the one who crashed into the other even the rival team have involved themselves. I start to have a bad feeling, I can’t take it anymore. I pull Lily and we run out of the office and down the hall where the ice is, we reach the edge and an announcement is made. Player 57 is down and unresponsive. I can hear someone shout. "We need paramedics urgently." I look at Lily and whisper. “Lily who is player 57?” She doesn’t say a word. “LILY WHO IS IT?” I scream finding my voice.
She looks at me and she’s white as a sheet.
“It’s...Damien.” she says through tears.