Title: Empty Net
Series: Scoring Chances Series, Book #4
Author: Avon Gale
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Genre: M/M Sports Romance
Pages: 200 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.
Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.
Alpha Book Club Welcomes Avon Gale!
Exclusive Excerpt from Coach’s Challenge, Scoring Chances #5!
(AN: This is totally still a draft, so it might not be the cleanest copy in the world. At the very least, you can meet the MCs from the next book – new Asheville Ravens coach Troy Callahan, and veteran winger Shane North. It’s their first meeting, Shane’s late and Cally’s not pleased.)
Shane “Who Had So Much Potential That Never Materialized” North was the expert on having a professional sports career that went the opposite way it was supposed to. But he wasn’t going to dwell on that, or he’d be in a bad mood and late, and Callahan wasn’t the kind of guy you wanted to piss off. Even if you were only here to coast through your last season.
Shane knew he was a lot more than just “a little late” (shit, had he driven through another time zone?) when he noticed there wasn’t a soul in the locker room. There was the pungent smell of sweat and shower soap that told him there’d been people in there, and recently. Yeah, he was in deep shit. Maybe he should have taken the chance and just retired when the Gulls let him go. He could have saved himself and his car a long, grueling road trip.
Shane dropped his gear on the bench and made his way towards what looked like it should be an office, despite the lack of the door hanging on the hinges. He’d heard ECHL facilities weren’t quite as snazzy as the AHL, which were themselves a long way away from the luxury of the National Hockey League. But missing doors? That was a new one.
The man sitting behind the desk looked up, and fixed Shane with a sharp, pale-blue-eyed stare. Shane had no idea how old Coach Callahan was, but he’d played hockey for the Rangers back in the early nineties so he had to be on the other side of forty-five. He had a full head of dark hair that was touched with grey at the temples, and like a lot of former hockey players his nose looked like it might have been broken a time or two. Callahan must have played back before it was a rule you needed to wear a helmet.
“Yeah. Sorry I’m late,” Shane said, standing awkwardly in the doorway. He tried a polite smile, because Callahan looked pretty pissed. Though from what Shane remembered, he always looked that way. “Long trip from San Diego.”
“Guess you should have left earlier.”
That set Shane’s teeth on edge, but he let it go.
Callahan’s icy eyes were fixed on him. “The end of your career is going to come a lot sooner if you can’t make it to practice on time, North.”
Jesus, this guy was a real asshole. But he was right, and Shane knew it. “I know. I’m sorry.”
Callahan waved that way. “Have a seat.”
“If you’re wondering about the door, this team had a metric fuck-ton of problems last season, which I’m sure Bowie told you about. Gabe. Ah, I mean, Mr. Bow,” Callahan added finally, as if he couldn’t quite remember what name he was supposed to use to refer to the GM. Shane had heard they were friends. “Leaving the door off is the not-exactly-subtle way of saying there are no secrets.”
What the actual hell was Shane supposed to say to that? “Uh. Okay?”
“Listen. I know this is your last season and I admit, I can’t figure out why the fuck you’re here at all. But you are, and so this is how this is gonna go. I know all about your reputation, and the last thing this team needs is someone bringing a bad attitude into the locker room. Or questionable hits on the ice. So get here on time, play your game and play it clean, and that’s all we have to say about it.”
Goddamn it, Shane was not a goon. He played a hard game and he got penalized because of it, but he’d always been a heavy forechecker and known for his two-way play on the ice. Shane opened his mouth to say something about half his penalties being a result of his name, but Callahan talked right over him.
“If you’re about to tell me I’ve got you pegged all wrong, save it. If I didn’t, you would have shown up on time and you would’ve been out there with your team, instead of walking in here like you’re too good to practice.”
What the hell? “That’s not –”
“I said, save it,” Callahan barked. “Show up on time tomorrow or take your sweet-ass time driving somewhere else and play for some other team.” He looked back down at his desk, and Shane stared hard at the top of Callahan’s head and wondered if maybe he should just forget this whole thing and give up hockey, go back to San Diego and get on with his life. Whatever that would entail.
“Anything else, North?” Callahan didn’t even look up from whatever he was doing, which…was it a crossword puzzle? The fuck?
“No, Coach.” Shane’s chin went up. He wasn’t going to give up that easy. Whoever said spite wasn’t a powerful motivator?
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow. In fact, why don’t you show up an hour early and we’ll go through some drills so I make sure you’re caught up.”
Fucking sadist. “Yes, Coach.”
Callahan did look up at that. “Just because it’s the ECHL doesn’t mean this isn’t a team you need to take seriously, so don’t take that goddamn tone with me.”
How about I just punch you in the face. No, that would prove all those stupid people who thought he was nothing more than an aging, glorified goon right – especially since it seemed like Callahan was one of those people. Goddamn it. Shane stood up and nodded tersely. “I’m sorry I was late. I’ll be here an hour early tomorrow.”
“And you’ll apologize to the team for your absence today.”
God, what was this, juniors? He hadn’t been talked to like this since – well, since his first season in the pro’s. When they thought he mattered enough to pay attention to. That caused some of his ire to recede slightly, but the bitterness was right there to take its place. “Yes, Coach.” If that asshole thought Shane was going to call him sir, he could think again. This wasn’t fucking juniors, and Shane didn’t matter at all. Not anymore.
Callahan seemed to stare into his soul for a few seconds longer. “Good. See you tomorrow. Oh, go ahead and grab your locker before you head out.”
Shane debated thanking him, decided it would just sound like he was full of shit and went to leave. He’d never wanted a door to slam so badly in his life.
He made up for it by slamming his locker, and was both relieved and kind of mad that it didn’t break.
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About Avon Gale
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.
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