Yippee Ki Yay
It’s four days before Christmas, and the team is at Coach’s house to celebrate. The room is filled with laughter, Die Hard is on the TV, and every once in a while, Emilia and Scarlett bring in more food and drinks from the kitchen.
Tyler unwraps a book on parenting teenagers and shoots a glare around the room. “Really, guys?”
His sister is staying with him for a while, and it has been interesting to watch our youngest player try to figure out how to be a big brother / temporary guardian.
“Who had Tyler?” Declan asks.
“That was just me messing with you,” Ash says. He holds up a bottle of Macallan with a green bow on it. “This is your real gift. Merry Christmas.”
“Are you even old enough to drink?” someone yells out at Tyler.
“Probably better keep this at Jack’s place, or I’ll have a drunk seventeen-year-old on my hands.” Ty shakes his head.
Morris is wearing a Santa hat and handing out the presents. He holds up a gift bag and looks at me. “Leo.”
We drew names for our gift exchange, and the presents have been a mix of funny and serious. Coach is sitting on the other side of the room with a beer in hand. Things have been good between us, but I’m a little nervous about what’s in this bag. Engaged to my coach’s daughter—I made it too easy on them.
The room falls quiet as I pull out the white tissue paper and let it drop to the floor in front of me. I glance inside, and a smile spreads across my face at the contents.
I hold up the stack of Backstreet Boys CDs tied together with a Christmas ribbon. I don’t actually know how many albums the Backstreet Boys put out, but I’m guessing I now own their entire library.
The guys chuckle and rib me about my taste in music. To set the record straight, I’m not a fan. I just happen to know a few songs. Or I should say I wasn’t a fan. It’s hard not to love anything that reminds me of the night I met Scarlett.
“Who bought CDs?” Maverick asks. “I didn’t know you could still find those.”
Scarlett walks in and pauses in the doorway. By the grin on her face, I know exactly who is responsible for this.
“Thanks, Coach,” I say.
“You’re welcome.” He lifts his glass to me. “Just promise me you won’t listen to it at the rink.”
With the gifts all opened, guys disperse for refills and handfuls of sugar cookies, and someone turns up the volume on the movie.
I walk over to my girl and place a chaste kiss on her lips. “You wouldn’t have had anything to do with my new tunes, would you?”
“Oh no,” she says too sweetly. “Dad was set on it. I told him you probably wanted hockey stuff or something else really boring, but he insisted.”
I circle her waist and pull her against my hip. “Turnabout is fair play, baby.”
“If you mean that you’re going to make sure I get something really awesome for Christmas because I made sure you did, then I agree.”
We have an away game tomorrow, and then we get a break. I’m staying in Minnesota for Christmas Eve, but on Christmas day, I’m heading to Boston and taking my new fiancée with me. I can’t wait to introduce her to my family.
Scarlett takes the stack of CDs from me. “I’ll just hold onto these while you finish hanging with the guys.” She starts back in the kitchen. “Mom, where’s that old CD player?”
Coach comes over as I’m grabbing another beer.
“Nice tie,” I tell him. Maverick had coach and got him a Christmas tie with flashing lights. It’s a little hard to look at him.
“Thanks.” He adjusts the knot. “I have something else for you, but I couldn’t wrap it.”
“What’s that?” I ask cautiously.
“Declan is going to be out until January.”
I nod and find Declan across the room. He’s by himself, nursing a beer and looking extra broody. He injured his wrist last week and needs surgery. He should be back, good as new, in six weeks, but it’s a tough time to be out. The season is going great. We’re building momentum and finding a rhythm.
“I’d like you to act as an alternate captain with Ash until he returns.”
I wasn’t expecting another shot at wearing the A so soon, but I am thrilled.
“Thank you, sir. I am honored. I will do you proud.”
“I know you will.”
Ash approaches, and Coach tips his head to him as he walks off.
“What was that about?” My buddy asks. “You look stupid happy.”
“Got my A back. Temporarily while Declan is out.”
“Congrats, man.” He lifts his beer, and I clink mine against it.
Music and laughter drift out from the kitchen, and Ash and I follow the sound.
“Oh, wow.” Ash bursts into laughter at the scene in front of us.
Scarlett, her mom, and several of the guys are dancing—really badly. An old boombox is on the counter playing one of my new CDs. My girl stands in front of the group leading them through a choreographed dance. She hits me with a smile that draws me in every single time.
“This can only mean one thing,” I say.
“This has a hidden meaning?” Ash asks. “I can’t wait to hear this.”
“She wants something. It’s her secret weapon.”
Ash quirks a brow. “Yeah?”
Laughing, I nod.
And whatever it is, I can’t wait to give it to her.