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I raced back to the CBC, smiling at what had just happened at the coffee shop. Mike hadn’t freaked out, gagged, scrubbed at his lips, or punched me in the face after that kiss. He’d simply sat there, blinking those beautiful brown eyes. He’d not been sickened by my lips on his. Shocked maybe, but not disgusted. That gave me a glimmer of hope. Now I just had to tone down my usual mating dance. Flashing the abs had done nothing, and he seemed a little skittish to the outward obvious signals that most guys relished. It had been a long time since I’d had to romance a man. Mostly because I’d been utterly devoted to hockey since high school. A hot, fast hookup in the stall of a gay club was the norm for me. Love and romance took time, work, and dedication which I’d willingly given to my sport. I wasn’t ready to marry the guy, but I was positively interested in getting closer to him and maybe stealing another kiss.
The lower levels of the CBC were composed of staff offices, physiotherapy rooms, dressing rooms, storage, and a kitchen as well as the shower room which seemed to be unlocked and free of irate goalies.
I rapped on Coach Cole’s door which was right next to the home dressing room.
“Come,” he called, and I stepped inside. He glanced up from something he was watching on a laptop – game tapes sent up by the video coach more than likely – and pulled off his wire-rim reading glasses. “Nick, what can I do for you?”
I slipped inside, closed the door, and sat down in one of two chairs in front of his desk. He had a nice office, filled with pictures from his days playing left wing for the Canucks. His brown hair had less silver in it back in his playing days, but Derrick Cole was still a good-looking man, tall and slim, not the least bit paunchy. Also, he had these green eyes that bored into you that I bet were sexy as hell in candlelight.
Uh, Taz, focus. Leave the romantical stuff for Mikey with the cocoa eyes and animated eyebrows.
“It’s about Goog,” I opened with. Coach Cole sat back in his chair, folded his arms over his chest, and tapped his bicep with the earpiece of his glasses.
“What about him?” Those evergreen eyes zeroed in on me.
“I kind of had the new stats guy run some preliminary numbers on him.”
Coach’s sleek brown eyebrow climbed his forehead. “He’s really not here to spend his time doing special requests.”
Ten seconds of silence ticked past.
“What did his numbers tell us about Goog?”
That was when I knew I had him. I leaned up and put my elbows on my knees. “Long story short he said Goog needs TOI. See, it kind of goes like this…”
I did my best to relay all the facts and stats that Mike had passed along to me. Coach listened, intently, tapping his arm with his earpiece, as I laid out what Mike had said.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell–” Coach paused, pressed his lips into a tight line, and then nodded. “Thanks for bringing this information to me, Nick.”
“Sure.” I pushed to my feet. “I’m not trying to usurp the GM decisions on how to run this team.”
“Yeah, you totally are, and I get that because I know how close you and Goog are. Which is why I’ll take this information under advisement and remind you that Michael Campbell is not here for your personal use. His job is to provide the team with crucial analytical information and teach those who desire how to use that information to better themselves, the Rush, and the Railers.”
“Yes sir, Coach. Sorry if I stepped out of bounds.”
He slid his glasses back on, his strong jaw locked into place. “Let me handle this, Nick. Coach’s come and go but a player of your skill…well, he needs to be on the ice making magic. Is there anything else?”
“No, that was it.”
“Then I’ll see you in the morning for skate.”
He waved a big hand at the door, so I left, gently pulling the door closed behind me. I checked my phone. Only fifteen minutes had passed. Maybe Mike would still be—
“Damn,” I sighed while pushing my phone back into my pocket. Would having coffee with a man be considered abusing his role here? I paced back and forth for a few minutes, mulling over things, and finally decided that casually running into someone could no way be construed as anything other than an innocent occurrence. Happenstance. Yeah, that was it. Happenstance.
I ran back to Eenie Beanie, flung the doors open, and discovered that the only people there were employees and three old women in walking suits sitting at the table Mike and I had shared. It was absurd how disappointed I was.
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