Home > Charming as Puck(7)

Charming as Puck(7)
Author: Pippa Grant

Lavoie’s with me, since he lives two floors above me, and he keeps giving me one of those looks like he’s thinking we need to talk about something.

The doorman scowls at me.

Join the club, buddy. Yeah, I’m the asshole who let New York score three fucking goals in the last period. That’s right.

It’s my fault the Thrusters have lost two games in a row, both our home game Thursday night and our away game last night. We’re one and two.

Terrible start for defending champions.

Whereas Indianapolis is undefeated.

And they’re down their enforcer, who’s suspended for what he did to Jaeger in the playoffs at the end of the season.

He won’t be when our game against the Indies rolls around next month though.

I skip the elevator and trudge up the stairs.

“The stairs?” Lavoie says. “Are the stairs going to make it better?”

“Losers don’t get to take the easy way out. Losers have to work their asses off to become winners again.”

My phone’s sitting heavy in my pocket. Is it weird that I want to text Kami? I’ve texted her after every road trip the last eight months.

Not six. Not nine.


She came over right before Valentine’s Day. I remember because she made a joke about not having to explain where the hockey puck chocolates came from, since I wasn’t the kind of guy to send Valentine’s Day chocolates and we were just friends.

It’s October. Eight months later. We were good friends for eight months.

Friends text back though.

Kami still hasn’t texted me back, and my messages to her are still showing as unread.

Maybe I should’ve sent her hockey puck chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

Or maybe she’s disgusted at how awful I’m playing this season.

I hit my floor and punch the door open. Lavoie should keep going up to his own floor, but he doesn’t.

He follows me.

The hallway still smells like hay and cow shit, but not as bad as when I left town Thursday night.


It’s October.


“Fuck fuck FUCK,” I exclaim. “I missed Kami’s birthday. Shit on a—”

“Kami? Felicity’s friend Kami?” Lavoie turns sideways and blocks me. “Fuck, Murphy.”

Embarrassment isn’t something I do, but my face is getting hot and my nuts feel like they’re dangling out in the open like a piñata waiting to take a hit, I’m that exposed.

“It was just a friends with benefits thing,” I mutter.

I try to elbow past him, but he blocks me again.


Was. Have I ever lost a friend? I don’t think so. I’ve lived with women a time or two, but never anything serious. Most of my hook-ups are just that—hook-ups. We all know the score.

I don’t get tied down. It’s just not for me.

But losing a friend—this fucking sucks. I can’t look Lavoie in the eye. “She hasn’t talked to me since Berger left that cow in my condo.”

“Thought I knew that look.”

“What look?”

“The heartbroken look.”

I snort. “I am not heartbroken.”

“No? You’re acting just like I did when I got my divorce papers.”

Dude’s crazy. I shoulder past him. “I’m not you.”

“Can’t stop thinking about her. Game’s shit. Blaming everything but the possibility that you fucking care. Sounds exactly like heartbreak.”

I’d tell him to shut the fuck up, except there’s a white paper hanging on my door, and I don’t have to read it to know what it says.

Cold sweat snakes down my spine. I snatch the letter and scan it quickly to confirm my assumption, then bang my head against the wood a few times for good measure.

I don’t have time to deal with an eviction notice.

“Fuck, Murphy,” Lavoie mutters.

“My agent will handle it. Or he’ll find me a lawyer to handle it.” My key still works, so I let myself in, and—

And I quit.

The place is trashed. There’s hay everywhere. Cow shit on my recliner. Did that thing—fuck.

“Holy fuck,” Lavoie says. “You have a livestock orgy in here or something? Is that elephant jizz on your TV?”

“Better fucking be snot.”


I’m living in a world where I hope that’s cow snot on my television.

My phone vibrates, and I yank it out of my pocket, hope welling in my chest.

Maybe Kami—but no.

It’s Felicity.

“Dude. You have it bad,” Lavoie says.

I ignore him, and I consider ignoring my sister too. I’d wonder how she knew I was home, but Ares should be getting home right about now too.

I swipe to answer. “Hey.”

“I’ve spent the last few days trying to decide what I want to say to you,” she announces.

She’s not using any of her puppet voices, which is what she usually does when she picks a fight with me, because she always fucking wins when she has three different puppets on her side. She outnumbers me with her multiple personalities.

Fucking ventriloquist.

The fact that she’s attacking me without her puppet voices isn’t good.

“Can this wait another day? I’m tired, I had a shit game, a shit flight home, and there’s an eviction notice hanging on my door.”

And I owe Kami flowers.

Or chocolates.

Or—whatever you send a friend when you fuck up.

Not a lover. Not a girlfriend.

A friend.

We lost a bruiser of a game to Minnesota late last season when we were still fighting for a playoff spot. Kami showed up with pizza, beer, and brownies.

I forgot how much I like brownies.

And her dog. The little one that she can sneak in places because it’ll hide in her purse. It’s not yappy at all. It just sits in my palm and licks it. What’s the dog’s name? Feather? Alonzo?

Tiger. That’s right. Her itty bitty purse dog is named Tiger.

“Nick? Nick. You’re not listening to a word I’m saying, are you?”

“I missed Kami’s birthday,” I blurt.

Lavoie shakes his head while he bends over to inspect a chewed throw pillow on my floor. “Telling you, man…”

Felicity sighs. Without adding you miss everyone’s birthday.

Which she tells me approximately every other month when I miss her birthday, or Mom’s birthday, or Dad’s birthday, or Coach’s birthday, or now Ares’s birthday or Loki’s birthday, though I think she likes it when I forget their pet monkey, because they’re not big fans of my style of gifts.

Especially gifts for monkeys.

She’s not excusing me missing Kami’s birthday. She’s excused me from missing everyone else’s birthdays for years, but not Kami’s.

“You know what? You’re right. You just got home. I can chew your ass out later at Mom and Dad’s.”


She hangs up, and I look around my condo again.

The rug’s ruined. My Gammy’s gonna haunt my ass forever over this.

Something chewed on the stools at my island countertop. The fridge door is hanging open, which explains the weird smell of moldy pizza mixed in with the cow piss and hay odor.

I step into my bedroom and realize there’s no fucking way I’m sleeping in that bed.

Two weeks ago, I would’ve called Kami. Just to vent.

Because she was there.

She probably would’ve laughed, and fuck, that would’ve made it all better.

You know you did this to yourself, she would’ve said with a smile and a shake of her head, and I still would’ve been evicted, but she’d somehow make it okay, because that’s what Kami does.

She makes everything okay.

“Need a place to crash?” Lavoie asks from down the hallway.

I press my palms into my eyes.

Clearly, I need a place to crash.

But if management finds out I’m staying with Lavoie, they’ll probably evict him too.

I could call Frey, but I don’t want to listen to him and Gracie fucking like rabbits, plus, their baby will probably be awake in a couple hours.

Zeus Berger’s apartment is barely big enough to fit him—dude’s weirdly minimalist, or maybe he’s just saving cash before he leaves the league for good—and he’ll be having phone sex with his wife.

And I’m not calling Felicity back to see if I can crash at her and Ares’s place, for similar—but worse—reasons for not calling Frey.

And after my shit performance on the ice last night, I don’t want to see any of the rest of the guys on the team who’d want to see me.

“Nah, I’m sick of your ugly mug,” I tell Lavoie, who almost certainly knows what my other option is.

Heading over to my parents’ place.

It’s just for a few hours, I tell myself. I could get a hotel room, but I live in hotels enough during the season.

And there’s not a hotel breakfast in the world that can touch my mom’s cooking.

I’ll only stay one night. Just long enough to get cleaners lined up to take care of my condo.

But then, everything’s going back to normal.

Without Kami, but that’s another story.



I’m not usually a rule-breaker. When you break rules, you get in trouble, and getting in trouble is conflict, and conflict and I are no more friends than anger and I are friends.

Which is why I’ve decided that the only way Sugarbear and I are going to survive her living at my house until I can locate a farm, zoo, shelter, or sanctuary that I approve of is to convince myself she’s actually a dog.

It’s been remarkably effective so far.

Kami, what’s that weird noise in your carport?

Oh, that’s my new dog. She has vocal cord issues.

Kami, what’s the hay for?

My new dog’s on a special diet.

Kami, why are you walking a cow?

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