Something So Perfect(2)By: Natasha Madison
My teammates are standing up to see what’s going on and shaking their heads.
“This is bullshit.” I hear Coach say while the guys nod.
Phil comes up to me and whispers, “Don’t say a fucking word.”
I don’t have time to process things before I’m being ushered out of the locker room. The only thing I take off is my skates.
I walk out of the building and I’m led into an unmarked car. When I look out the side window, I see the owner of the team is now standing with Karrie by his side. His hands are around her shoulders, her face streaked with tears. “Karrie!” I yell from inside the car. “Karrie!”
Nothing. She turns around and walks back into the arena, leaving me alone with the silence that now fills the car.
Cooper Stone is my stepfather, the Cooper Stone who’s the best person to ever skate. He holds every single record that’s out there because he’s just that fucking good.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I didn’t even have a chance to say hello before Cooper’s voice filled the room. I groaned and turned over to see that he was on speakerphone. My finger must have touched it by accident. “Matthew, seriously, I’m one second from flying out there and yanking you off the fucking ice.”
I was twenty-one and already being benched and scratched.
I was no chump. I was drafted first over all. The day still played in my mind. “The Los Angeles Royals choose Matthew Grant.” The minute my name was said, I sat there in shock while my little sister was yelling and my mother, Parker, had tears running down her cheeks while her face lit up with happiness and pride. Cooper was the first to grab me and stand me up.
“Go get that fucking jersey.” His voice was loud in my ear.
My mother was next. “I’m so proud of you, Matthew, so, so proud.”
I kissed her cheek and walked down the stairs toward the stage from where the general manager, the owner, and the coach all looked at me. When I walked on stage, I tried to hold my tears in.
Taking the owner’s hand in mine, I shook it and thanked him. Putting that jersey on was surreal. Posing for pictures was a blur. I got so drunk that night I don’t remember much, except Cooper having to carry me inside while I pledged my love to my mother, my sister, and the trees around us.
Usually, once you get drafted, you start off on their farm team, but not me. I was on the starting line. I was up to my ears in silicone. There would be a different girl every night, everyone wanting to get a piece of me. The star of the team. Then my game started to slip. The late nights took a toll on me and my body. Three years later, I was sent down to the farm team. You’d think I would wake up, but no, not me. I just partied harder. I was on the front page of almost every single tabloid magazine that you could think of.
Every single summer I went back home, spending the time training hard with Cooper riding my ass, promising him that I was out of the party phase, but the minute my feet landed back in L.A., it was back to the booze and the puck bunnies. Another three years later, I was put on wavers. When no one picked me up, I packed up and went back home. For two years, I played hockey at home in charity games, till the GM from the New York Stingers came knocking at my door. Robert Western.
Cooper, Mom, and I sat down with him. My hands shook with nerves, my legs bouncing with happiness that someone actually wanted me.
“We want to offer him a one-year contract, with certain rules.” He eyed me and then Cooper. I knew Cooper had called in a favor.
“What is it?” I asked, holding my breath.
I was about to get up and say fuck that when Cooper put his hand on mine and blurted out, “He’ll do it.”
I looked at him while he glared at me. My mother put a hand on top of her husband’s. United. Always.
Robert slapped his hands together. “Matthew, you, my friend, are going to bring another cup to New York.” He got up to shake my hand and then Cooper’s, slapping him on the arm. “Who knows, you may also knock this asshole off a throne or two.”
Cooper laughed out loud, but I knew he would be the one egging me on, the one daring me to push him off. He would also be the first one coming to congratulate me if I ever did it.
He had come into my life when I’d needed a male figure the most. I just hadn’t known it. He showed me that you can fall in love with your whole heart and everything will fall into place. He showed me that you fight for what you want. But most of all, he showed me that love is a gift and once it’s given, you cherish it.
So now here I am on the plane getting ready to land in New York. I have to meet the owner of the team and the PR people tomorrow at noon. I scroll through my social media sites while I wait for the doors to open. My sister is tagging me in old photos of us from Mom and Cooper’s wedding. Feels like it was just yesterday. When you see the way Cooper looks at my mother, you know he loves her with all his heart. He would walk to the ends of the earth for her.