Aynslee couldn’t stop laughing. “Hockeymacation?”
“Yes, I am going to school you in the art of hockey, and you are in luck. Phil can’t go to the game tonight. I was going to take my sister, but this is an emergency: We are going together.”
“Yes, you need to be educated.”
Later that night, Aynslee found herself in a hand-me-down Jordan Ryan jersey in the middle of Luther Arena. In her hands, she had the hockey-fan essentials—according to Sadie anyway.
Beer and bacon on a stick.
It was completely mind-blowing to her that she’d spent three bucks on bacon on a stick, but, Aynslee had to admit, it was pretty damn good. Sadie had the same snack, but she drank water and wore an Adler jersey with a number six painted on her face and carried a foam sword that said NASHVILLE ASSASSINS on it. Sadie looked like a complete dork, waving her sword in the air, screaming at the players as they warmed up on the ice, but, then again, Aynslee probably looked crazy just sitting there inhaling a piece of bacon. On a stick.
Once the players were back on the ice after the opening ceremony, Sadie finally sat in her seat and looked over at Aynslee.
“Ready for some hockey?!”
Aynslee threw one hand in the air. “Whoo!”
“That’s the spirit.”
“Where is Jordan?” Aynslee asked, searching the ice. He wasn’t in the goal thingy, and she didn’t see him on the bench.
“He’s right there,” Sadie said, pointing directly in front of them.
When Aynslee saw him sitting in the entranceway at the end of the bench, her heart skipped a beat. He looked so freaking good in a dark-purple jersey, all padded up, making him much larger than she remembered. He didn’t have his helmet on, only an Assassins ball cap that hid his eyes. His mouth was set in a straight line, while his eyes, presumably, were on the ice. Beautiful.
Sadie nudged Aynslee’s thigh, bringing her attention back to her. “Now, listen up. We have five-on-five hockey here, unless there is a penalty; then it would be four on five. A penalty happens when someone does something wrong, and those guys in the white and black will call it. Then the player will go into the box …”
Aynslee felt as if she were listening to the teacher on the Peanuts cartoons: Wa wa wa wa wa. She didn’t understand what Sadie was talking about, but, surprisingly enough, she was enjoying the game. She had no clue what the hell icing was or why Adler got a penalty for tapping some guy with his stick, but apparently it pissed Sadie off. Sadie was usually such a sweet girl, but Aynslee figured all bets were off when it came to a hockey game. Her friend was screaming louder than most of the men and using language that would make a sailor blush.
Everything was so confusing, but by the end of the second period, Aynslee not only knew what icing and hooking were, but she was quickly turning into a hockey fan. The rush of the game was unbelievable—she loved it! The Odder guy hadn’t let one goal in, but she wished she could see Jordan play. He looked as if he were sleeping, but when a puck flew into the bench, everyone hit the deck except Jordan, who caught the puck with his big glove and handed it back to the coach. He moved like a ninja, and she’d bet he was the same way on the ice. Or in bed. Sigh.
“I wish he were playing.”
Sadie shook her head. “Nah, we’re playing the Wings; we need Odder in the goal. We can’t lose, and, like I said, Ryan isn’t the goalie he used to be.”
“That’s so sad,” Aynslee said, her heart breaking for him.
Maybe that was why he’d walked away from her. Why he was so closed off. She wanted nothing more than to close the distance between them and tell him that, even though she didn’t know him well or know how he played, she thought he was awesome anyway. Aynslee shook her head; she couldn’t do this. It didn’t seem right to watch him from afar when she knew that something had been between them. There had to be a way to meet up with him again.
“Do you know where they practice?” she asked suddenly.
“Yeah. They are leaving for a road trip tomorrow; their next home game is next week, Saturday, and there is a practice that Friday morning.”
Aynslee thought for a moment.
“And next Friday’s the last day of our break.”
“Yup. Wanna go?”
“Yeah,” Aynslee said with a nod. “And I’m gonna get that man’s number.”
Aynslee looked over, ready to smack Sadie, but she was grinning and all Aynslee could do was laugh.
Shoving Sadie’s arm, she said, “Shut up. You know what I mean.”
“And you thought that when you Googled him, you were stalking him,” Sadie said, still grinning.
Yes, it was a little stalker-ish to show up at his practice, at the place he worked, but she had no choice. Surely when he saw her, he would know that he couldn’t walk away again. Maybe he’d thought about her as much as she’d thought about him. She wondered if he went to sleep at night wishing she were there. Or maybe he was f**king anything with tits and had completely forgotten about her. It was a possibility, but Aynslee couldn’t give up, not yet.
With a huff, Jordan ran his hand through his hair as he waited in line at Starbucks. He hated waiting in line, and if he hadn’t had a good hour and a half to spare before going to the airport to leave for South Carolina, he would have been irritated. He was not excited about this trip at all—another game where he would keep the bench warm. He wished his body ached, that he had the bruises that Tate had after last night’s win, but instead he had nothing. He may have jammed his finger when he was putting on his pads, but, other than that, nothing.