Home > All the Sauce (IceCats #4)

All the Sauce (IceCats #4)
Author: Toni Aleo

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Angie

 

* * *

 

A long time ago…

 

* * *

 

I tongue my mouth guard as my daddy looks into my eyes, fixing my shoulder pads. He may not be my biological father, but he’s my daddy for sure. A man who stepped in to raise me when my own father couldn’t do the job. I love him. I love him so much.

My uncles were doing a good job helping my mom raise me, but they’re all getting married and stuff. So when Benji Paxton came into our lives, I was thankful my mom didn’t push him away like she had done before. But then, I don’t think Benji gave her the chance to push him away. He was all in from the jump, and now, she loves him just as much as I do.

And who could blame her? He’s perfect.

“All right, Paxy—” I nod, smiling around my mouth guard. I haven’t been a Paxton long, but he’s been calling me Paxy since I started playing. That’s what his teammates call him, and him calling me the same makes me feel all kinds of special. I always wanted a dad who put me first, and Benji does that. I wish he would have been my dad since the beginning. “We’re playing with the boys today, like you wanted.”

He doesn’t seem as confident as I feel. I’ve been begging my dad to let me play with my friends, Shelli and Posey, and the boys. Since Shelli and Posey’s twin brothers play hockey too, their dad always includes his girls in the boys’ practice. Today, I’m included too, and I’m stoked. I’m entirely too good for the group of girls that is currently playing. Hockey isn’t very popular for girls in Nashville, Tennessee, yet. But knowing Shea Adler and my dad, that will change.

Until then, I want to up my game. I want to be even better. I want to go to college and then, one day, the Olympics. I want to be a gold medalist for my dad. I want my name to be known everywhere. Just like him. Just like my uncles. All incredible hockey players in their own right. I want to be the female version of them.

Angela Paxton, gold medalist and winner of all the Cups.

Even though my mouth guard covers most of my teeth, I still smile widely at my dad. “I’m so ready.”

“It’s gonna be hard.”

“Which means it’s worth it.”

He grins proudly at me, tapping my helmet. “Got that right. Go get ’em, Paxy.”

I tap my blade to his shin as I skate toward Shelli and Posey. Shelli is staring off at Aiden Brooks—one of the helper coaches, and also her “future husband,” as she likes to tell us about a billion times—while Posey is hard-core listening to directions. She always knows what’s going on. Always has a clear picture of what we need to do. I swear, she acts like an adult. While I’m here to make my dreams come true, I also want to have fun.

Posey thinks too much. As for Shelli, I think she’s only here for Aiden Brooks. I don’t even think she likes hockey anymore, especially since she has been going to more and more auditions for various plays around Nashville. Her mom was a Broadway singer, and I think Shelli’s gonna follow in her footsteps. Posey is following in her dad’s footsteps, for sure.

Oh…Shea Adler.

I usually don’t think dads are hot, but Shea Adler could be in a boy band.

Watch out, One Direction.

He is so handsome, dark hair, blazing blue eyes, and huge. Massive. He towers over all of us, and when he speaks, everyone listens.

Shelli even stops staring at Aiden when her dad speaks.

“All right, boys. We have a new player today. Angie Paxton. Treat her like you would Posey and Shelli. Also, let’s have some fun.” He grins his wide grin at us, and if I weren’t focused on kicking some major butt, I would have swooned like I do over Harry Styles. Instead, I exhale and know I’ve got this.

But I learn very quickly that Shea and my dad take it easy on us girls. After my ninth lap, I feel as if I’m going to puke my guts up, but I refuse to. I think we’re done—surely we are—when Shea blows the whistle. But nope.

“All right, everyone throw their sticks in!”

Sticks? Are we seriously playing a game after that? I’m not going to make it. I look back at my dad, who has nothing but concern on his face, and it’s as if I get another jolt of energy. I’m not letting him down. Thankfully, I get on the team with Posey, so I know we’ll have some killer plays and she’ll set me up well for a goal. The downside? Owen and Evan Adler are on the other team. It’s almost not fair how good they are. Apart, they’re dynamic. Together, they’re lethal. They even have a weird-ass twin handshake.

Are you kidding me?

“Paxy, let’s go.”

I go to the face-off where Shea and, of course, Owen wait. I love doing face-offs, but I have a feeling I’m about to hate this. I don’t know what it is about Owen, but he gets on my nerves. He is so full of himself. For two years, he spoke in the third person! He skates around like he is God’s gift to hockey, and then he has this dimple. Just one. Like, where is the other one? Did Evan steal it?

I come to the circle, and Owen snickers. I glare, but his blue eyes are just full of trouble. Shea says something, drops the puck, and without any effort on my part, the puck is sent back to Owen’s defensemen before he knocks me on my butt. Hard. I get up, with more effort, but before I can skate after them, Shea grabs my shoulder pad, stopping me.

“What was that, Pax!”

I blink up at him. He’s never raised his voice at me. “I don’t know.”

He comes close, his blue eyes blazing. “The next time you line up with him, you go through him. Right through him. And when he’s on his ass, you look down at him and let him know who the hell you are! You understand me?”

No. But I’m not going to admit that. “Yes, Coach.”

“Good. Now, go.”

He lets me go, and I skate down to catch up with my team. Owen’s shot is caught by the goalie, and once more, we line up. Shea pats my back, hard, and I nod when his eyes meet mine. I’m breathing heavily, my heart is pounding in my chest, and I feel as if I’m about to be sick. I line up, staring Owen down as his eyes tease me. He really thinks he’s better than me.

He isn’t.

When the puck is dropped, I almost black out. I throw my hip into his gut, my shoulder into his chest, pushing hard as I kick the puck back to my defensemen. Luckily—because let’s be honest, it’s Owen Adler, he’s had skates on since he was in his mom’s belly—he loses his footing and falls back onto the ice.

I look down at him, spit my mouth guard into my cage, and with a wide grin, I say, “I’m Angela Paxton, and don’t you forget it.”

The look on his face makes my day, and as I skate away, I tell myself who I am.

Angela Paxton.

The world will know that name one day.

 

* * *

 

Every time Evan Adler walks into my office, I’m reminded of that memory.

Oh, how things have changed.

My freshman year of high school, I shattered my left wrist during a game, and no matter how much physical therapy I did, I could never shoot the way I used to. I had a lethal wrister, which my uncle Jude had taught me, and just like that, I couldn’t do it any longer. It sent me into a nasty depression because I knew my dreams were gone. I would never get that gold medal for my dad, and the world would never know my name like they did my uncles’.

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