Fire in the Ice
A Novel by Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood
Copyright © 2021 Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood. All Rights Reserved.
The fire alarm went off! I sat bolt upright, my heart pounding like a bass drum and the soaring panic making it hard to breathe. Just as I threw a leg over the side of the bed, I realized I didn’t know where the door was. Hell, I couldn’t even remember what city we were in. Sweat ran into my eyes, and I called for Thompson, my roommate. He didn’t answer. Had he run for safety and left me sleeping?
I finally came around enough to realize the noise wasn’t the fire alarm—it was the alarm on my phone. Thompson wasn’t there because we weren’t on a road trip. In fact, he and I weren’t even on the same team anymore. The Seattle Cohos had traded me, and I was a Bethesda-fuckin-Barracuda now. Woo-hoo! The fact that I had a terrible crush on one of my new teammates, who definitely did not return the feelings, made my new life a thrilling prospect. I wondered if there was any chance Kevin might change his mind and give me a chance. Doubtful, after what happened last fall.
It was way too early to get up, and I stretched my way through a big yawn. I’d flown to DC with Birky Ferrell, my teammate who had also been traded, and we didn’t get into town until about eleven the night before. That had only been eight p.m. Seattle time, so I didn’t fall asleep for hours. According to my phone, it was currently seven a.m. in Washington, and I was due in Bethesda by eight thirty. Time to get my ass out of bed and into the shower.
Lucky me, I had a whole new team to get to know. Too bad they’d played in Seattle only ten days earlier, and I’d gotten into it with one of their defensemen, Pierre Gagné. The rest of the game hadn’t exactly been friendly between the Barracudas and me, and I didn’t know what kind of reception to expect at Cuda Arena. I hoped they’d be in the mood to let bygones be bygones.
An hour later, Birky and I were in an Uber creeping its way through rush-hour traffic toward Bethesda. Bob Shuford, the head coach, wanted to see us before our first practice with the team. I studied Birky’s profile while he looked out the window. His craggy face was handsome, and he wore his brown hair in a crew cut. Birky was an enforcer, so he got into his share of brawls, and a few scars gave his face character.
He turned his attention away from the street. “You nervous?”
“No more than you.”
“We’ll be fine. They’re lucky to have us. You heard they made Johnson captain?”
“Yeah, I saw that last night.”
Birky shifted in his seat, so he could see me. “You know him, right? I’ve seen you two talking when the teams played each other.”
“We went to prep school together at St. Mark’s.” I took a deep breath and leaned back in the seat. Nick and I had so much more than gone to prep school together, but that was a lifetime ago. For five of the last seven years, we’d only been friends from a distance.
“Seems like a good guy.”
I smiled. “Nick is one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet. Best thing they could have done, making him captain. He was team captain in high school, and he’s a born leader.”
“Sounds like what they needed. Keefer’s an ass.”
“You’re almost right.”
He cocked his head.
“Nick as captain is what we need, Birky. We’re Barracudas now.”