#Chapter 82: Friends in unlikely Places
I woke up early the next morning with a
yawn as the sunlight streamed in through the open window, and nuzzled down into the warm arms around me, only for my eyes to shoot open and for me to jump out of bed. I didn’t
remember going to sleep with Enzo the night before, but it seemed that we had slept together.
As I looked down at myself, I realized that I was still fully clothed and began to remember that I had asked Enzo to keep me company the night before. We had fallen asleep far apart on the bed, not touching one another, but must have rolled closer in the night.
Enzo was still sound asleep, even snoring lightly, so I decided to take my opportunity to sneak out of the room and go to my own room to get ready for the day.
“Alright, everyone. This is just the first game out of six in this tournament I know we’re missing Justin, but you guys have all been training really hard lately and I’m proud of you. This team thought they could throw us off our game, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Let’s get out there and start this tournament off on a high note!”
Enzo’s short speech in the locker room right before the hockey match was met with whoops and hollers from the team members. I stood on the sidelines, avoiding Enzo’s gaze, as they began to file out into the arena. A surprisingly small crowd had gathered in the stands, I’d expected this team to have lots of fans since Enzo said that they were well-known, but as I walked out to the bleachers and noticed all of the empty spots, I realized that he was wrong.
What was even more surprising was how poorly the other team performed.Enzo had told me all of the ins and outs of the Half-Moon Tournament, wasn’t each team supposed to have a werewolf captain? Why was this captain. performing so poorly?
Enzo and his teammates quickly defeated the other team, resulting in at short game. I watched as the other team left on their side of the rink at the end, looking utterly exhausted.
I walked up to Enzo with my brow
furrowed he looked equally as
“I thought you said they were well known,” I replied, then lowered my voice so no one else could hear “Plus, isn’t their captain… You know…”
Enzo shrugged and glanced over his shoulder “Yeah. I mean, he definitely is a you-know-what I can smell it. But Something seems off.”
I glanced around Enzo to watch as the other team sat on their benches looking defeated and exhausted, then decided with conviction that I was going to go over there and talk to them. I pushed past Enzo and the rest of the team, much to their surprise, and walked around the outside of the arena to see the other team.
“You’re the captain, right?” I asked as I walked up to a tall, skinny guy with blue eyes and dark circles.
He nodded, looking me up and down warily. I watched as he glanced over my shoulder at Enzo and the rest of the team, who were all looking on in shock. “Yeah. Can I help you?”
“I’m Nina, the Mountainview team. doctor,” I replied.
“I’m Jason.” The other captain stuck his hand out for me to shake it, and 1 did.
“Please don’t take this the wrong way,” I said, feeling my face get hot, but… Are you guys okay? You seemed a little weak out there, and I’m saying this purely out of concern as a team doctor.”
The other captain, Jason, was silent for several long moments as the rest of his team looked on from behind him. They were all still sitting on the benches, sweat caked to their faces and dark circles under their eyes. One player even had his head in his hands as he sat, as though it would take too much effort to sit up on his own. I half expected Jason to blow up at me for being so rude as to suggest his team was weak despite their obvious appearance, but then he sighed and spoke, his shoulders drooping in defeat.
“No, actually,” he said quietly. “We’re not okay.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked in a concerned tone, cocking my head to the side.
“The team owner — my dad, actually – – cut our funding big time. We’ve been eating like shit for weeks now, and he’s making us train harder than ever We’re fucking exhausted.”
I furrowed my brow, thinking back to the state of the lodge. Was it possible that the lodge wasn’t cleaned up for our arrival because they simply didn’t have the funds or the energy to do so? It was strange to me that a father
would put his son through torture like this, but maybe he was directing funds elsewhere…
I glanced over my shoulder and back at Enzo, who was watching me like a hawk, then had an idea and turned back to face Jason.
“We’re throwing a party at the lodge tonight,” I said. “There’ll be lots of home cooked food, and there’s plenty of space to sleep so you guys can just spend the night if you want. You should come.”
The captain’s tired blue eyes lit up.” Really?” he said. “You’d host your opponents?”
I nodded and started to head back to
Enzo, walking backwards as I continued to face the opposing team.” Everyone deserves to eat and relax,” I said with a smile. “Come by around eight, alright? It’ll be fun.”
My team was a bit hesitant at first at the idea of hosting our opponents for dinner, but one pleading look at Enzo was all it took to convince him.
“Alright,” he said once I explained the situation. “It’s not a bad idea. You’re right; everyone deserves to eat.”
So, later, Enzo and I took the old pickup truck that was parked at the lodge and made our way into town to buy groceries for the meal.
“I’m thinking of making roasted potatoes and burgers,” I said, typing a list into my phone as Enzo drove and quiet radio music played in the background. “We’ll get snacks, too, and beer.”
“You do realize that the captain of that team is a Crescent, right?” he said, sounding almost a little jealous, as he guided the truck around a curve in the road. “You know… My pack’s sworn enemies? The faction we’re supposed to be competing against?”
“Of course I realize that,” I replied as I leaned forward to change the station on the radio. “But he’s no different from you. He’s just a kid our age who’s been forced to compete by his dad. Don’t you think it would be unfair to just leave without doing something good?”
Enzo was silent for a few moments, but I saw a slight smile twitching at the corners of his lips as he drove. “I guess you’re right,” he said quietly over the staticky sound of the music on the radio. “Just… Don’t go dating this rival hockey captain too, alright?”
“Hey!” I shouted, throwing a punch at Enzo’s arm. He grinned and dodged my punch, laughing.
I smiled, but then my eyes widened as I saw something jump out into the road.
“Watch out!” I shouted.
Enzo slammed on the brakes, making the truck come to a screeching halt. We jolted in our seats at the sudden stop, breathing heavily as we stared face-to- face with…
A shifter in the middle of the road.
I recognized those eyes. They were the same eyes I saw when we got to the lodge, staring at me from the woods.
“I know,” Enzo said, throwing the truck in reverse and hitting the gas. We sped backwards, then he put the truck back in drive and swerved around the shifter just before it attempted to make a slash at the vehicle.
I turned around in my seat and watched with wide eyes as the big brown wolf became smaller in the distance, then leaped off into the woods.
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