Home > The Fake Out

The Fake Out
Author: Danica Flynn




“Caught in a Blonde” By HorrorPops

“Howling for You” By The Black Keys

“Ain’t No Rest for The Wicked” By Cage the Elephant

“Bad Things” By Jace Everett

“Tortured” By Devil Doll

“I Will Possess Your Heart” By Death Cab for Cutie

“Help I’m Alive” By Metric

“Hornylovesickmess” By Girl In Red

“Bandages” By Hot Hot Heat

“Baby Lou Tattoo” By Horrorpops

“Zombie” By The Cranberries

“Meet Me In The Bathroom” By The Strokes

“Gimme Sympathy” By Metric

“Misery Business” By Paramore

“Fade Into You” By Mazzy Star



Chapter One






* * *





I leaned against the bar and tried to drown out the noise of the sports network blaring above my head. Working at Dad’s bar hadn’t been my off-season plan, but ending my season with my career in the toilet hadn’t been ideal either. So here I was.

I sighed and ran a hand through my short hair. The first thing I did when my long-distance girlfriend of ten years broke up with me was chop off my hockey flow. My baby sister Maja was the only one who recognized it as a cry for help and told me to go home to Philly. I didn’t think going home meant I’d be living with my dad and working at his bar.

I looked up at the TV screen with a scowl.

“What about Blaise Holmstrom? He had a bad season this year, but Toronto could get a good deal with him from a team looking to fill their blueline.”

“Well, he’s got good hockey sense. He’s a solid D. Buffalo, Pittsburgh, or Philly could get a solid deal on him.”

Pittsburgh? No way I’d ever play for the Miners. That was practically illegal when you grew up a Bulldogs fan. I already told my agent Pittsburgh was a ‘hard no’ if given the choice. But if the Wolves traded me, I didn’t have a choice because I didn’t have a no-move clause in my contract. I tried to ignore trade rumors, but after having a shitty season, I had my doubts. Being back home in Philly, under the scrutiny of my dad, didn’t help assuage that anxiety.

On TV, the analysts droned on about me being a good fit in Philly. They said I had that gritty Broad Street Bullies style to my play. That shouldn’t be a shock to any of these bozos since I learned to skate at the Bulldogs arena when my dad was the captain of the team back in the day.

My scowl returned when the pundits started comparing me to my dad and then to my oldest brother, Eli, who played for Montreal. If you were from a hockey dynasty family, it was inevitable you got compared to your family. Especially when you were coming off the worst season of your entire career. The kind of season that could kill the career of a lesser player.

Dad looked up at the TV at the mention of his name. Across the screen flashed old footage of him on the ice, but he turned away when the conversation got morose about why he hung up his skates.

That had been right before Mom died.

Dad raised a blonde eyebrow at me. “You think you’re getting traded?” he asked in his native Swedish.

I knitted my brows together as I processed his question. Despite my dad and my ex-girlfriend both being Swedish, my grasp of the language was horrendous.

“Why do you even care?” I snarled in English instead and stomped off to go bus a couple of tables.

That was childish, but every time I spoke with my dad, all that teen angst came barreling back at me. When the Toronto Wolves drafted me, I thought for sure I had gained Dad’s approval. But I couldn’t help but feel like no matter what, I was always going to be the troublemaker kid Dad felt like he had to rein in.

I was the fuck up Holmstrom, and he never let me forget it.

I aggressively cleared one of the tables, slamming plates down into the bucket until my little brother Ayden came over to me.

Ayden was the reason I was working at the bar tonight. He was a shift manager, hoping to take over once Dad finally retired, even though that wasn’t anytime soon. When one of the bartenders called out, Ayden pulled me out of my bed at Dad’s house and told me to make myself useful instead of wallowing in self-pity.

He was a dickhead like that.

Ayden ran a hand over his shaved head. “Dude, you need to smile a little more. No one wants to tip the surly bartender.”

“Good, because I’m not a bartender,” I snapped and fixed him with a piercing glare. The kind I’d give in the faceoff zone. Ayden knew that stare meant to back off.

“Dude, don’t be like Dad,” Ayden sighed under his breath.

We both took a second and glanced over at Dad. He stood behind the bar mixing drinks for an attractive older woman. He was giving her that signature Holmstrom smile, but his flirting was all for show. Dad still wore his wedding ring and never got over Mom.

“I’m not like him,” I said and nearly broke a dish when I slammed it down into the bucket.

Ayden raised an eyebrow at me. “Bro, get over her! She broke up with you over video chat. She couldn’t even bother to tell you in person. I know Astrid was your first love, but you got together when you were fifteen! You were kids and—”

“And what?” I snarled.

“Look, you can’t have a good relationship when you live in separate countries, especially when she didn’t want to move for you.”

“I would have gone to her,” I admitted.

“What? To play in Europe? Your place is in the big league.”

I snorted. “Sure, if my team still wants me.”

His gaze clouded as he stared at me. “Are you getting traded?”

I pointed to the TV where the sports network was still on. “They seem to think so. I don’t want to play for the Miners.”

Ayden chewed on his lip in thought. “At least you’d be closer to home.”

I fixed him with an annoyed glare. “Fuck that! The Miners suck!”

He laughed. “Not if they’re paying you millions of dollars.”

“Maja would disown me if I was wearing the black and yellow sweater.”

Ayden laughed. We all knew our baby sis. Being the only girl in a family of five hockey-playing brothers, she fit right in. She was the most rabid hockey fan of us all, and she lived by the Philly-Pittsburgh rivalry. She could be intense, but she was my favorite sibling, and I loved her despite her chaotic energy.

“You’ll figure it out. Hey, if Philly’s interested, maybe you could move back home,” Ayden suggested.

I grumbled a noncommittal noise.

“Stop scowling and get back to work.”

I wanted to give him the finger, but a few customers were watching us, so I shook my head instead.

After I finished busing tables, I saw my buddy TJ sitting at the bar with his teammate, Benny. They both played for the Bulldogs, but I became friends with TJ last season after his girlfriend Maxine introduced us. We were old classmates from high school. It was funny that not much had changed since then; she was as shy as ever.

“Oh, woof, you look like hell!” TJ said with a laugh.

Last night, I hit up TJ to go out drinking. Probably not the best idea since he and his twin sister Rox drank like fish. TJ kept trying to tell me I needed to bang a couple of bunnies to get Astrid out of my system. While Rox egged me on and kept pointing out the cute guy who had been eyeing me up all night. We had bonded over being bisexual hockey players, and I snorted when she said she thought an out bisexual hockey player in the league didn’t exist.

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