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Hot Shots

Hot Shots

Author:Desiree Holt


General Romance

Body Check Defenseman Matt Vorchak wasn't celebrating his hockey teams’ win of the Stanley Cup. For him the victory was bittersweet. A bad knee injury in the final game of the series ended his career and left him rudderless. Hockey and been his life since he was a kid. It identified him. Now what would he do? He has to find a way to pick up all the pieces of his life he left in the dust...including the woman of his heart, Lizzie St. John. Could his day with the Cup help him find the answer? Love On Track Josh Nelson walked away from a hot career as a race car drive because his life was falling apart. Kristin Kitts is trying desperately to build her business and credentials as a commercial photographer. Both have challenges it their personal lives that pout up roadblocks. Both end up in Lucasville, Ky with the Love family, where they might just discover what that word is all about. Hot Shots is created by Desiree Holt, an EGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.

  Part One: Body Check

  Matt Vorchak finished cleaning out the rest of the stuff from his locker and zipped up the duffel he'd brought with him. Then he sat on the bench for a long minute just looking around. A combination of exhilaration, sadness and rage bubbled inside him. The excitement of winning The Cup didn't completely soften the fact that this was probably the last time he'd be doing this, and it was a bitter pill to swallow. He'd given his life to the game, in more ways than one, and he had been struck with a single purpose in life. But Fate had apparently decided he'd had too much fun and given him the finger big time.

  "You about ready to leave?"

  Matt looked up at the sound of Coach Mason Courage 's voice and saw him standing just inside the door.

  He nodded and pushed himself to his feet, doing his best to ignore the damn twinge in his knee. It was a constant reminder of how his future had fallen apart.

  "I've got everything. Locker's empty for the next person."

  If his voice was bitter, well, he was allowed a certain amount of that. It just wasn't fucking fair what had happened. He had given everything to this game including eight years of his life after college and now he was left with nothing. Instead of sitting here quietly chatting with Coach he wanted to rage and scream and throw anything he could get his hands on. He'd worked so hard for his dream, given up so much for it, put up with so much shit, and now it was all being taken away from him.

  Coach moved further into the locker room and stood close to Matt, hands in his pockets in his usual stance.

  "I know it's a tough break, Matt, but you paid your dues in the farm system and contributed a lot to the winning of The Cup. No one can take that away from you."

  "Yeah. Right."

  The media called him one of the scrappiest defensemen in the season that just ended. Many attributed the New Orleans Rage final game victory to win The Cup to Matt's play. Big deal! He swallowed back the rest of the words that bubbled up in his throat. He wanted to leave here on good terms despite the situation.

  "So what are your plans now?"

  Right. Now that he could no longer be a member of the team, the goal he'd given his whole life to achieve.

  He shrugged. "I think I'll take some time off to assess. My agent has some things for me to look at, and I promised I'd met with him. But right now I'm not sure what direction I'll be going in."

  Yeah, whatever. That about summed up his life right now.

  "Well, if you need me for anything, I'm here," Coach said. "Don't hesitate to call."

  "Thanks." Matt shook the man's hand. "For everything, I mean."

  "Keep in touch."

  Then Matt was alone in the locker room, taking one last look around. So this was it, the end of a dream, a dream he had sacrificed everything for. If not for one bad body check, he'd be looking forward to the next season and defending the Cup with the rest of the team.

  Spilt milk and all that, he kept reminding himself. Hoisting the strap to his duffel he headed out of the locker room and down the hallway to the parking lot. For a brief moment he was tempted to take a last look at the arena, but as he took a step a sharp pain in his knee reminded him why that would be a bad idea. He might never attend another hockey game for the rest of his life. He didn't think he could stand watching others play where he should have been.

  Limping slightly, he exited the building and headed for his truck. He cranked the engine but sat there, staring straight ahead. The surgeon's words played again in his mind, burned indelibly into his brain.

  "We had to replace the knee, Matt. There was just nothing to salvage. The bad news is you won't be able top lay again. You know that. You'll never pass the physical. The good news is you should end up with little to no limp, especially if you rehab properly. And there's still a whole world out there for you to explore."

  Whoop de doo. Big fucking shit.

  So now what? Most of his teammates had scattered to be with their families and friends. He realized with a shock that outside of the team he had no relationships. Certainly not with any of the women he spent time with. Someone once told him his people skills needed a lot of work. At the time he wondered what they meant. But as he thought about everything, including the way he'd treated his family after he got hurt, he saw a picture of himself he didn't much like.

  He had his reasons, which now seemed completely selfish as well as afrogantß. At ten years old, visiting his cousin, he saw the movie Miracle On Ice on television. The awe-inspiring story of the USA Olympic Hockey team who beat the Russians against all odds and took home the gold set of a craving in him that blocked out everything else in his life and made him focus on a single purpose. He searched all the program guides and every time it was scheduled to be shown again, he made sure he watched it. The power that rolled off the players, the slashing of sticks and clash of blades on the ice, the raw energy set up a craving in him to be part of the game.

  He read everything about the game he could lay his hands on, watched games on television, researched it on the Internet. After that he had only one goal in his life - skating for a professional team and winning The Cup. It became his sole focus, over and above everything else. He wanted to be a defenseman like Bill Baker who scored the USA game-tying goal against Sweden in the first game of the Olympics tournament. He studied what it took - speed and strength. He began to exercise on his own, in the yard and in his room. He started running to build up muscle strength in his legs and endurance.

  He pestered his parents to enroll him in the San Antonio Youth Hockey League. He worked his ass off learning the game, soaking up everything he could from the coaches. He knew that scouts and coaches were always looking for players who could skate and read the game. Players who were willing to do whatever it took to help the team win and add to team chemistry. He became one of the top players in youth hockey.