Max (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey)(97)

By: Sawyer Bennett

“And if I don’t?” I ask, even though I know the answer to this. I’m just being a dick.

“Then you ride pine,” she says softly, but it doesn’t lessen the punch. Especially when she says, “Or worse…I’ll release you.”

“This team needs me,” I growl.

“Yes, we do,” she says with a nod. “But we need more than just stellar play. This is a championship team, and your antics could go south very quickly and drag all of us down.”

“They’re not antics,” I tell her firmly. “This was who I was before I came to the Cold Fury.”

“And I’m telling you it’s not meshing with our vision,” she counters.

I lean back in my chair, cross my hands over my stomach and give her a lazy look. While I very much do not want to lose my job, and while I very much will probably take what she says to heart, I don’t ever let on that I’ll do such a thing. It’s about maintaining some level of control in this situation, and call that an ego thing, fine, but I’m not one to back down.

“What exactly would you have me change?” I ask casually.

“For starters,” she says with a hard stare, “show up for practice on time. Show up to your training sessions. Maybe even take an interest in the team off the ice. Quit doing stupid things. Grow up a little.”

I suppress the snort. While, ironically, I do play a team sport, I’m not overly close to my mates, outside of partying with some of the single guys. But I don’t really buy into this “family” sort of vibe that the Brannons have instituted.

Not saying it’s bad.

Just not me.

“Anything else,” I ask blandly.

“Maybe lay off the alcohol so you can control yourself,” she returns harshly.

Before I can even retort, because I’m not a fucking alcoholic—I just like to party on occasion—she says, “And try to be a little more frugal in the game-suspending penalties. You don’t do a damn thing to help us from the stands.”

Okay, she may have a point there, but honest to fuck…it’s not like I plan to go out there and get suspended. I just go out there and play my fucking heart out, and I know that’s something she appreciates even if I’m not getting that vibe from her right now.

I’ve heard enough, and even though it borders on disrespectful, I stand up from the chair, effectively calling this meeting at an end. Looking down at her with clear eyes and a resolved attitude, I say, “I’ll do my best to adhere to your wishes.”

“I sure hope so,” she says casually, but the threat is clear.

Shape up or ship out.

As much as I respect Gray Brannon for her hockey smarts and for putting together an amazing team, I’m not liking her very much right now. I simply nod and walk out of her office without a backward glance.