Welcome to author Avon Gale and the Empty Net blog tour! We’re so glad to share this exclusive excerpt from the book with you, and when you’re done reading that, be sure to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway too.
About the Book
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Series: Scoring Chances
Length: 200 Pages
Purchase Links: DSP || Amazon || Google || Kobo || B&N || ARe
Blurb: 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.
The Spitfires started the season a much different team than the last season, or so Laurent understood. Last year they’d had trouble with offense and hadn’t scored a single goal until the sixth game of the season. They started the current season with an opening-night win in front of a respectable crowd, and Laurent watched in grim silence from his place on the bench, his Spitfires ball cap pulled low over his eyes. No one talked to him during the game, but that wasn’t unusual. No one talked to him at all, if they could help it.
And Laurent wanted to be left alone. He could handle his teammates’ icy silences and his coaches, who couldn’t outright express dislike but managed to convey it anyway. But the Spitfires got along a lot better than the Ravens ever had, and part of Laurent wished things were different and that he could be one of them. The thought that he could have, if only he hadn’t pulled that stunt in the playoffs last year—to earn the approval of a man who would never give it—made him hate himself more than usual. He should have known his father wouldn’t trade him to a team where he might actually enjoy playing hockey.
“You do your time on a team full of losers, son, and when you’re back, you’ll appreciate it here.”
His father had made it clear when Laurent left for Spartanburg that it wasn’t a permanent placement. It was a punishment for what he did in the playoffs.
Not spitting on Isaac Drake, but the other thing—Laurent’s last-ditch effort to escape Denis St. Savoy for good. Of course it had backfired. Denis was never going to let him go.
Laurent started in net on a Sunday matinee at home against the Ice Dogs. His performance was high in technical skill and low in passion, but the Spitfires won the game and earned their two points, so that was all that should matter. The absence of the traditional “give the goalie head taps after the game” earned a bit of a murmur from the crowd, but the icy silence when his name was announced that afternoon told Laurent that the Spitfire fans hadn’t forgotten him either.
He’d never been much of a fan favorite in Asheville. So it wasn’t that unusual.
The day before the team was scheduled to leave for their first road trip of the season, Laurent learned he was to be roommates with Drake on the road. It made sense, as Drake’s last roommate, Anthony Lathrop, was his former backup who’d retired the season before. Neither Laurent nor Drake were happy about it, but Coach Samarin gave them both a stern lecture about how they were teammates, and if Laurent had issues sharing a hotel room with a gay guy, he was welcome to sleep on the bus.
It didn’t matter because, as Laurent quickly found out, Drake had no intention of staying in a room with him.
He came up to Laurent as they were loading their gear on the bus. “Look, St. Savoy. I’m going to stay in Hux and Murph’s room, and you’re not gonna say a damn word to Coach about it either. You and I both know that rooming together is not going to make us get along.”
Laurent gave an indifferent shrug. “I don’t care what you do, Drake.”
Being abandoned still stung, even though it shouldn’t. Laurent sat by himself on the bus and, when he was sure no one was paying any attention, pulled out a small sketchbook and started to draw. At some point on the trip, even with his teammates’ dislike heady in the bus’s generally cheerful atmosphere, Laurent was able to actually relax. Not having his father there made it an entirely different experience, and if he closed his eyes and pretended to sleep, Laurent could imagine he was part of the team for real.
About the Author
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.