Home > Only One Mistake (Only One #6)

Only One Mistake (Only One #6)
Author: Natasha Madison



Chapter 1




“We’ll be landing in twenty minutes,” the flight attendant announces. I just nod at her and look out the window at the clouds in the sky. My phone pings, and I look down and see it’s from The Hockey News desk.

Breaking News: Michael Horton has been traded to the Dallas Oilers.

I close my eyes without clicking to open the article. They aren’t going to tell me something I don’t already know. When I woke up this morning, I was a member of the Columbus team.

I didn’t have to read the news to know what was going around. I was getting text messages from my family asking me if I was okay.

I had been benched for the fourth night in a row. As the top sports news story, the spotlight was on me, and I hated every fucking second of it. It’s not like it was because I wasn’t producing on the ice.

No, it was all because my coach called me off the ice during the first period of a game against Montreal last week, and we got into a fight on camera. I knew I should have shut my mouth and just sat on the bench, but I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

It had been six months of his shit on and off the ice. It all started last year during the playoffs. I made a couple of plays he didn’t like. I fucked up on the ice by not producing, and then I gave up the puck in the neutral zone, and they ended up winning the game. He didn’t like it, and he would call me out during the press conferences. I knew he was right, so I didn’t say anything. I also knew I fucking hated being called out, but there was no way I would talk shit about my coach. So I waited for the summer to pass, and then at the beginning of the season, we had a meeting and said we would start fresh. I walked out of that meeting, hopeful it would stick.

He didn’t last one game before he was riding my ass, and last night’s game was the last straw for me. After benching me for four fucking games, he pulled me after one shift and sat me the rest of the game. I wasn’t going to play for him again.

My phone rings in my hand, and I look down and see it’s my father, Max. “Hey,” I say, letting out a huge sigh.

“If it isn’t the rebel of the family.” He laughs, and I shake my head and close my eyes. “How are you?” His voice goes low, and I can hear the worry in his tone. I knew he was trying to joke about it, but these past couple of weeks have been just as stressful for him.

“You okay?” His voice goes low. “You need anything?”

“I’m good. A little numb but it’ll be good.” It all happened so fucking fast. This morning, I called Erika, my agent, and then ten minutes later, I was being traded.

“Just say the word, and I’ll be there in three hours. Either way, I’ll be there this weekend.”

“No, I’m good.” But I’m not good. I’m the opposite of good. I hate that my name is being dragged through the mud.

“Uncle Matthew is there,” he says softly. “If you need him, you pick up the phone and call him.”

“I’m good, Dad.” I close my eyes. “I’m landing and going straight to meet with Nico.”

“Call me after,” he says, and then I just wait. “Proud of you, son. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Dad.” I hang up the phone as the wheels touch down.

The plane lands without any fanfare, and when the doors open, the humid air hits me right away. “Welcome to Dallas,” the flight attendant says. Slipping on my aviator glasses, I grab my backpack and sling it over my shoulder. I walk off the plane, looking for the black Lincoln waiting for me, and see my father leaning against the side of the truck.

“You didn’t think I would let you do this by yourself.” He grabs me around my neck and pulls me to him. “No fucking way.” Closing my eyes, I let out a sigh as I hug him. “Let’s get this over with.” He lets me go, and the driver opens the back door for me, and I get in. Only when I’m sitting down do I let out a sigh of relief because he’s here. I didn’t even know how much I needed him until I saw him. My father gets in beside me, and I look over at him.

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?” He looks at me, and it’s like looking in the mirror. We have the same black hair and blue eyes. He helped push me this summer, making me bigger than I’ve ever been before.

“All this shit.” My hands fly up. “All this fucking shit.” I shake my head. “All the eyes on the family because of me.”

He chuckles. “One, I couldn’t be prouder that you are my son and help carry on my name.” He raises his finger, and I see the tears in his eyes. “And two, fuck what everyone else says. You know the truth. The family knows the truth.”

I watch the city go by me on the way to the arena, and my phone rings. Looking down, I see it’s Nico. “Hey, we are just getting to the arena.”

“Yeah,” he says, and I hear him walking. “Press is here.”

“Okay.” I look out the window and see the press trucks. “I’m not saying anything.”

“Good, we have a plan. See you soon.” He hangs up, and I look over at my father, who is going nuts texting.

“Everything okay?” I ask, and he shakes his head.

“Erika is in labor,” he says, and I gasp. “Her water broke after she called you.” My heart speeds up. She’s my agent, but she is also married to my cousin. “Uncle Matthew is, well, not handling it well.”

I laugh. “What does Uncle Matthew handle well?”

“This,” he says, pointing at the arena and the press trucks. “This is his playpen, and he’s pissed he’s not here walking in with you to show a united front.” The lincoln stops, and I look at him. “If he could, you know he would be here.”

“I know. Let’s do this,” I say, ignoring the lump in my throat. My father gets out first and then walks around, and the door opens. I get out, and I can hear the cameras clicking.

The silver door opens and I look over and see Nico walking out. His head held high, he’s wearing a suit and the biggest smile on his face. “There he is.” He holds out his hand. “Relax,” he says, and I take a deep breath. “This picture is going to be posted in five minutes everywhere, so pretend you’re happy to be here.”

“I am.” I smile, shaking his hand.

“Welcome home,” he says, looking over my shoulder at my father. “Why am I not surprised that you are here?” My father shrugs. “Where is your sidekick?”

“Another family matter.” My father doesn’t want the press to know Erika is in the hospital.

“Shall we?” He holds out his hand. I nod at him and follow him into the arena. The minute the door slams behind me, I stop walking and look up.

“That wasn’t so bad.” Nico laughs, looking at my father.

“I thought he was going to throw up.” My father slaps my shoulder. “You did good.”

I watch Nico and my father walk ahead of me, and he shows me the dressing room. “It’s an off day today,” Nico says. “Good thing for Erika she chose today to give birth.” He laughs. “I mean, not surprising she scheduled that.” He looks at me. “Now that all this is done, Coach is waiting.”

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