#Chapter 90: Strike One
Our second hockey match in the Half- Moon tournament came all too quickly. I felt as though I had absolutely no time at all to figure out the situation with Edward or, more importantly, talk to Nina about what happened with her brother before I was forced to train for the next match, which would be at the end of the week.
All of the intense training was starting to wear on me and my teammates, too.
Even though it was a relief to tell my teammates about my true nature and to know that they supported me, the rigorous training that was forced on us by my father was almost unbearable. He started coming to all of our training sessions, and eventually he basically took over as team captain, completely overshadowing me and undermining my abilities.
By Friday, the night of the second match, I was exhausted. At least we would be competing on our own rink, but knowing that the team we would be playing against was really good only made tensions even higher
As my team and I skated out onto the ice, the cheers of our classmates in the stadium gave me some energy. It didn’t help that Lisa was back as the cheerleading team captain and was going to be there the whole time, in all of her evil werewolf glory, but at least Nina’s soft brown eyes looking at me from the sidelines were enough to make me forget my insane ex-
girlfriend’s presence for the time being I just wished it was enough to also make me forget about my father’s icy stare from his spot in the box seats up above
We started the game. The other team was as good as I had been warned really, really good. They didn’t post as much of a threat as Ronan did, but playing against other werewolves was something that I hadn’t experienced before; Jason didn’t really count, in my eyes, since he and his team played so poorly, nor did he seem to give two shits about the Half Moon Tournament.
At the end of the first round, the other team was ahead of us by two points. I skated off to the sidelines and chugged some water, breathing heavily after the intense round, and glanced up at the VIP box seats where my father sat to see him glaring down at me with extreme disappointment on his face. He slowly shook his head; I could practically feel the anger emanating off of him as he looked at me
“Hey,” Nina said, walking up to me. Don’t look at him. Just play.”
I managed a weak smile and nodded,
skating back out onto the ice for the second round. Drinking a bit of water and being near Nina seemed to give me some strength, allowing me to feel connected to the game Her words echoed in my mind the entire time Just play
The second round ended just seconds after I made a final goal that put us ahead by one point, causing our side of the stadium to erupt into cheers while the cheerleaders performed a victory routine
Just one more round
I looked up at Nina’s face as I gathered my teammates to a huddle She shot me a gentle smile and a thumbs up, which gave me the strength to absolutely demolish the other team in the third round
We finished the game with a landslide victory. As the excited Mountainview University students funneled out of the crowded stadium, leaving behind a mess of spilt popcorn and empty soda cans in their wake, I exhaustedly pulled my skates off of my feet on the bench and let out a sigh of relief.
“Hey, who wants to go get drinks to celebrate?” Matt said, tucking his helmet under his arm with a triumphant look on his face
The rest of the team agreed in unison, as did 1
“No, you will not.” my father’s gruff voice said sternly from behind me
I narrowed my eyes and slowly turned to face him. The rest of the team fell silent
“What?” I said, standing
“You heard me. You’ve all got training in the morning. I won’t have you all hungover when you should be focusing ”
“So we’re not allowed to have one drink and relax?” I snarled.
My father chuckled. “Not after that performance, you’re not
“Sorry, Mr. Rivers, but… We won, Matt chimed in, but quickly backed away when he saw my father’s icy stare slide over to him.
“We did win,” I said. “By a landslide, too.
“Only in the final round,” my father replied. “The first round was deplorable. You got lucky in the second round. Do you think that sort of performance is going to help you win the Half-Moon Tournament?”
I scoffed, not knowing how to respond, and not wanting my teammates to be verbally abused by my father. “You guys can go change.” I
I glanced over my shoulder to see them still standing there, as though my father’s time spent trying to take over as the role of hockey captain had already taught them not to listen to me “Go!” I shouted, making them all jump a bit “I’ll be in soon. And we will celebrate our victory
My team slowly and tentatively retreated to the locker rooms. I turned back to look at my father, whose face was turning beet red with fury. I felt anger bubble up inside of me, as well, and felt my hands curl up into fists at my sides.
“You’re not our drill sergeant, you know,” I growled
For the duration of this tournament, I am,” my father replied. “And I can replace you at the drop of a hat with someone who knows how to take orders.”
I was taken aback. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
My father gritted his teeth and took a step toward me “Consider your performance and your indignation tonight to be strike one,” he said quietly “You get three strikes, once you pass that point, you’re done. Trust me, I’ve already got someone else lined up for your place.”
I felt a knot rise up into my throat My hands itched to throw a punch straight at my father’s hard jaw, but I controlled myself and walked away without a word
“Two more strikes!” he shouted after me. “Two more, and you’re out of here!”
As I entered the locker room, the soft muttering of my teammates abruptly stopped. I silently walked past them.
toward my locker and opened it, starting to change out of my hockey gear
“Go on,” I said. “Keep gossipping”
I was met with only more silence
As though the silence was the straw that broke the camel’s back, before i could stop myself, I flung my helmet across the locker room, denting a locker with it and causing my team to jump up in surprise
“Enzo Rivers!” Nina’s voice suddenly called from the doorway.
I looked up from my rage to see her rushing toward me, her hand raised She went to slap me and I supposed I deserved it for my behavior but stopped, lowering her shaking hand.
“Just because your father is an asshole doesn’t mean you need to be,” she growled. There was a long, palpably palpably tense silence before she turned, then, to address the rest of the team.
“You guys did amazing tonight. Get your shit together and get to the bar. We’re celebrating.”
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