Max (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey)

By: Sawyer Bennett

A Cold Fury Hockey Novel

I stick the nozzle in my gas tank, depress the handle and flip the catch down to hold it in place. Letting the petrol flow on its own, I head across the nearly empty parking lot to the gas station that is lit up like a bright beacon out here on Possum Track Road. I’m starved and I know my fridge is empty at home, so I’m going to break down and buy some junk food for my dinner. I just won’t tell Vale about it as I don’t feel like listening to her bitch at me.

Vale Campbell…pretty as hell and nice to look at but I dread having to hang out with her. That’s because she’s one of the assistant athletic trainers for the Cold Fury and, most importantly, working with me on my strength and conditioning. She would most certainly say Snickers, Cheez-Its, and Mountain Dew are not on my approved list and then she’d have me doing burpees, mountain climbers, and box jumps until I puked.

So I won’t tell her about this little cheat and I’ll gladly take whatever she hands out to me during training camp. I’m committed to starting this season as strong as I have ever been, and I’m going to get the coveted starting goalie position, which became available when Ryker Evans announced his retirement this summer. The Cold Fury has been a championship team and I smell another winning season in the making. Not about to let two major injuries in as many years get me down.

No, I’m coming back with a vengeance and a need to prove myself to my team and fans.

Watch out hockey world…Max Fournier is back.

Pulling the door to the convenience store open, I immediately see two guys at the cooler checking out the stock of beer. Both wearing wifebeaters stained with grease and faded ball caps. I, myself, pull my own hat down farther to hide my face to avoid getting recognized tonight. It’s late, I want to get my junk food and get gone. We’ve an early morning practice tomorrow and I just want to get home.

I turn right down the first aisle, which merchandises the chips and other snacks, slightly aware the other two customers are heading to the counter to check out. I keep my back to them just to be safe and peruse the options.


Potato chips.


Corn nuts.

Reaching for a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips, I hear one of the guys drawl in a typical North Carolina redneck accent, “Hey sweet thang. How ’bout a pack of Marlboro Reds and how ’bout handing me that there box of condoms. The extra large size.”

The redneck’s companion snickers, and then snorts. I turn slightly to see them both shoot conspiratorial grins at each other, and one guy nudges the other to egg him on. While the clerk turns to get the condoms, the redneck leans across the counter and stares blatantly at her ass. The other guy says loud enough that I hear, “Mmmmm…that is a fine ass.”

Turning my body full so I face the counter, I see the woman’s back stiffen and she turns her head to the left to look at a closed doorway beside the cigarette rack. I’m wondering if perhaps a manager or another employee is in there and she’s hoping for some help.

But she doesn’t wait and turns to face the two assholes, squaring her shoulders.

And goddamn…she’s breathtaking. Looking past the polyester red and gold vest she wears with a name tag—clearly a uniform—her face is flawless. Creamy skin that glows, high cheekbones, a straight nose that tilts slightly at the end, and a sexy as hell mouth that I bet would be full and lush were her lips not flattened in a grimace. Her hair is not blond, but not brown. I’d describe it as caramel with honey streaks, and it’s pulled back from her face in a ponytail with long bangs falling from left to right across her forehead.

While she faces the two men resolutely, I can see wariness in her eyes as she sets the cigarettes and condoms on the counter in front of them. “Will that be all?”

Her voice has a southern accent but it’s subtle. She looks back and forth between the two men, refusing to lower her gaze.

Redneck number one nods to the twelve-pack of beer he had previously placed there and says, “That was the last of the Coors. You got any in your storage room?”

“Nope, that’s it,” she says firmly, and I can tell it’s a lie.

“Are ya sure?” he asks, leaning his elbows on the counter and leering at her. “Maybe you could check…I could help you if you want, and we could make use of them condoms there.”

I’d roll my eyes over the absurdity of his attempt to woo a girl who is, obviously, way out of his league, but I’m too tense over the prospect that this could be more than just some harmless goofing by two drunk rednecks.