A Dash Of Him

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DASH Chapter 9

It was Friday evening and Duke had left for Mexico for a few days. I asked him what part of Mexico and he was cryptic with his answer. Maybe he thought I would fly and surprise him.

But as much as I wanted to go to Mexico I needed to get my hockey career back on track. First, I needed to find a new publicist, my old one didn't want anything to do with me. She said I tainted her name with the chaos that was created a year ago so she dropped me from her firm. Second, I needed to get in contact with my agent, Jackson Carter. He was a fucken saint, he had my back through thick and thin. He never gave up on me and told me to look for him when I'm ready again. I'm ready but I needed a new team.

Then images of Duke came flashing in my head. His handsome smile would appear after cracking a bad joke or when his blue eyes dilated when I got closer to him.

I haven't seen him since we had breakfast that morning but he gave me his number, which was a win. He wasn't very talkative through text or whenever I called. I was still intrigued with him regardless of all the cold shoulders he has given me. I'll just give him some space for now. I won't see him until next week so right now I have time to catch up with my life.

I paced back and forth in the lounge room waiting for Jackson to return my call. It's been 15 minutes and nothing yet. I know it was Friday evening and he was probably off the clock but I needed to plan out my schedule for next week. I'm done hiding. I want my life back, my passion for hockey never withered away. I just put it on hiatus but now my fingers tingle and my legs need to feel the coldness of the ice. I needed to glide across the rink to forget about the world and have eyes, for one thing, to win and lead my team to victory. I needed the adrenaline from fans and the power from my teammates. Hockey gave me life and power but it was lost when my mom passed away. I want to make her proud again. I know she's watching from above, she was my guardian angel.

Fuck it. I'll go to the local skating rink and practice my skating. I know I was going to be rusty and being at home wasn't going to improve my balance. I glanced at the couch and remembered Duke crying into my chest. His pain was injected into me. His tears were left on my muscle shirt but holding him was the best feeling ever. I wanted to protect him from this agonizing pain he's cocooned himself into. I wanted him to blossom like a butterfly but he was trapped in a sharp pain of despair. When he gets back I'm going to get him to open up to me but it's going to take patients but his eyes told me something else, he studied me every time his eyes landed on mine. There was a dim light of hope and I wanted to brighten it.

It was a little bit past 7 pm. I got to the local skating rink. I grabbed my skates, puck, and hockey stick from the back of my truck. I checked in and the girl at the front desk immediately recognized me. "Oh my god, Dash Mitchell," she was fanning herself as I chuckled. It was adorable how her eyes widen like an anime character.

"Hey, I'm guessing you're a fan," I teased and her cheeks went a rosy red.

"Oh god, yes I am. I still can't believe you're here. Do you need anything, skates, gear, anything?" She was sweet.

"No, I'm just here to practice a bit," but to be honest. My thoughts are somewhere else. I needed to clear my head and that's exactly what hockey did for me. It was a stress reliever especially when I won with my team. I took great pride in guiding my team to success but that was before my mom passed away. I was a mess after. I lead my old team to failure. I failed them and I know I still have some people that hate my guts. I tried apologizing but I ruined the name of the team. I closed my eyes and erased those thoughts. I didn't want to get emotionally in front of a stranger.

"There are some people on the rink but you'll have enough space to practice."

"Thanks, remind me to take a selfie with you when I'm done," I winked at her and she jumped with excitement. I loved my fans, another reason why I love hockey, they were passionate about the sport just like I was.

I got into the rink and changed into my skates. I forgot how snug these skates were, fuck this is going to be brutal. I saw two teenagers skating around with a hockey stick and moving it around with a puck. A nostalgic flashback came to mind, the time my mom fought the school for how the coach treated some of us. I wasn't always fit. I was a skinny guy with no muscle whatsoever. I had acne and my self-esteem was down the drain but I loved hockey. I was a nervous wreck when I tried out for the school's hockey team. Yes, not all high schools had a hockey team but mine did.

********

*SENIOR YEAR*

I sat outside in the hallway while I heard my mom yell. She was in a conference with the hockey coach and the school principal. I had tried out for the team but the coach almost died laughing at me. He "apologized" but he said I was too skinny for this sport and he was correct. I saw all the other guys that were trying out and they were intimidating. I was tired of being a shadow in school and I wanted to play a sport I loved. I sat on the bench while I never got called on to try out. I got home crying my eyes out and that's when my mom went hostile.

My mom has always looked after me and my brother, Kieran, but he was in a world of his own. Regardless of how different our worlds were, my mom always protected us from everyone. When I told her that the coach never let me try out she called the school immediately the next morning and wanted to know why.

Now I'm waiting for what will happen. Will the coach hate me after this?

The door opened and my mom came out with a huge accomplished grin, then Coach Williams, followed by Principal Green.

Coach William's eyes softened. "I'm sorry son, I shouldn't have laughed at you. I'll let you try out tomorrow. I gave your mom a list of gear and equipment you'll need," his voice was softer but still deep.

"Let's go, sweetie," my mom glared at both the principal and coach.

I stood up. "Thank you, coach."

My mom drove to the local sporting good. We walked in and my eyes widened with excitement. I was really going to do this. My mom pulled me closer and kissed the top of my messy hair. "You need a haircut, mister," she teased. "Let's go find all this equipment."

My eyes scanned the area and I saw Matthew Clearwater lifting a new set of skates. Fuck he was hot. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and tall as hell. My parents didn't know I was gay and probably won't know. I don't know how'll my parents would react to me being gay.

His eyes aligned with mine and he smirked at me. He tried out as well and was damn good. He gestured at me to come over. My hands began to tremble and my palms got sweaty.

"You know him, sweetie," I know of him but never talked to him. He was part of a popular group.

"Somewhat."

"Well go say hi, it looks like he wants to talk to you. He might be able to help us. He's holding hockey skates," she slightly pushed me towards him and I braked with my heels. "Dashiell Mitchell, stop acting like a little kid," she scolded me. I finally began to walk normally. We got closer as he set his skates down.

"Hey, I saw you at practice. Coach Williams is a prick for not letting you practice. I'm Matthew Clearwater," he lifted his hand for me to shake. Jesus, he was tall.

My hand shook while I gripped his callous hand. "Dashiell Mitchell," I stuttered.

He chuckled and glanced at my mom. "Aren't you a handsome one," my mom was always sweet to everyone. "And I put that coach in his place already. Dashiell is looking for a few items."

"I can help get you good quality without breaking the bank. Hockey equipment is expensive and he's a beginner so you don't want to get overpriced items," he sounded like an expert on this stuff. "And I work here part-time so I could get you my friends and family discount," wow, I never thought he would be this nice.

"You're the sweetest, here is the list Coach Williams gave me. Can you help Dashiell while I go to the bank?"

He nodded with a handsome smile. "Of course."

We spent a while trying on skates, that was the most important item. I needed some beginner skates that weren't too tight and stiff. "If you get them too stiff you'll hurt your ankle and besides you're a beginner, when you become a pro you can get stiffer skates but for now stick with softer ones," I just admired his flawless face, his jawline was sharp and his lips were the perfect shade of pink.

We got the most important items from the list like a hockey stick, helmet, and some comfortable clothes to wear. He said I didn't need all the equipment yet. If I made the team, the school will provide most of it.

"Thank you for everything," I told him while my mother paid.

"No problem, man. Hey, if you want, we can practice so you'll get better," he offered.

"That will be awesome," I said it too excitedly and he chuckled. My blood went to my cheeks.

"I hope your father doesn't get mad at how much we spent today," my mom handed me my stuff. "Thank you so much for the help and discount," my mom told Matthew.

"My pleasure, well I have to get going. I'll see you at practice," he waved and ran to get the skates he was seeing earlier.

We got into the car and my mom placed her hand on my shoulder. "I just want you to be happy. You can tell me anything, trust in me," my mom's eyes studied me. Did she know about me? My heart started to beat faster and my thoughts jumbled in my head.

I stood quiet and didn't say anything. She leaned over and kissed my cheek. "I love you, Dash."

********

*PRESENT DAY*

I came out years later to my mom when I contracted with the New York Panthers. She told me she knew. I made the team. Matthew helped me gain muscle and confidence. He trained me for most of my senior year. I dated him behind closed doors but he disappeared after senior year, his parents were getting a divorce and that's all I knew after him. I hope he's doing well.

I stood on the ledge of the entrance of the skating rink. I held my hockey stick as I dropped the puck on the ice. I moved the puck gently with my stick as I gently began to let the energy flow through my veins. My hands tingled with excitement and the blood burned like hot magma. I pushed myself onto the ice and that sent chills down my spine. I moved the puck side to side letting it glide with the ice. I picked up speed while the coldness of the arena grazed my cheeks. The puck moved gently through the ice, all the jumble in my thoughts cleared. I saw a goalpost at one end. I sprinted towards it while maneuvering the puck side to side. I braked and some ice chipped forward. I lifted my hockey stick and hit the puck towards the goalpost. It slammed through the net and electric volts tingled through my fingers.

I heard the two teenagers cheer. "That was awesome," they yelled as they skated towards me, their mouth opened when they recognized who I was.

"Dude, that's Dash Mitchell. Oh my god!" one of the boys almost lost his balance. I chuckled. I loved seeing my fans and their joy when they see me. It lets me know that I affected them either as a role model or just the joy of the game, regardless it always shined confidence on me.

"Sup, guys," I glided myself over and stopped in front of them, their eyes widening with light.

"Please, please, please, let us take a picture with you," the blonde hair kid said excitedly as he opened the screen of his phone.

"Sure," they both got behind me as he tried to align us perfectly in a selfie pose. I did the typical peace sign and he snapped a couple of selfies.

"Thanks, Dash," they both were admiring the selfies.

"Well, well, well," I heard a familiar voice. I glanced over and Jackson was standing by the entrance of the rink. "Why did I know I'd find you here?" he waved at me.

"Knock yourselves out," I handed my hockey stick to one of the kids and they jumped excitedly. "I'll be back for it in a bit," I skated towards Jackson.

"My man, it's been a fucken minute," I braked and pulled him into a hug. He gave me a strong hug.

"Damn, you haven't changed," he pulled away and studied me. I haven't seen him in so long. I've only kept in contact through texts or talked on the phone here and there.

"I got your missed calls. I was with Candace," Candace is his wife. "So when you didn't answer my calls I figured you were back and you'll be here," I always thought Jackson was damn handsome. Stylish combover, hazel eyes, nice body, and he was always dressed to impress. Right now he wore a white long sleeve, black fitted dress pants, and shiny black designer shoes. "Man, I should've brought my jacket but I won't be long," he rubbed his arms while his lips trembled.

We sat on the benches as I started to take my skates off. "I'm ready to come back," I said.

"You sure, I could start looking for a new team but I'll tell you this, not many want you," I closed my eyes in disappointment.

"I figured but I know you can work your charm," I aligned my eyes with his. "I need this. I want my career back."

"Ok, I'll try my best but I think the coach for the Los Angeles Saints is looking for a center. I'll get in touch with him, next week," he tapped my back. "Hey listen, I have a room booked in Cancun for a couple of days but I won't be able to make it anymore, you want to take a last-minute vacation, on me, everything is paid for."

I thought about it. My thoughts were still all over the place and Duke was somewhere in Mexico as well. So being here dragging myself at home isn't going to improve my mood.

"It's a 5-star hotel," he nudged my shoulder.

I chuckled. "Fine, I'll see if I can get a flight."

"I already changed my flight to your name. You leave early tomorrow morning."

I pulled him once more into a hug. "Thanks, man."

"Just enjoy it and then we'll get your life back on track. Enjoy Cancun with a couple of drinks, hey maybe you'll find yourself a handsome man," he winked.

But the only person I want is Duke, what are the odds of running into him?

******

*What are the odds they will run into each other?"
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