Give a Warm Welcome to Avon Gale

Avon Gale’s here today to tell you about her newest novel: Breakaway. If you like hockey, chances are you’re going to dig this.

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Picture1.pngDrafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He’s put his foot in his mouth a few times and alienated his teammates. Then, during a rivalry game, Lane throws off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.

Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show Lane how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.

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The rivalry between the Storm and the Renegades was about as intense as you were going to find for two southern-market hockey teams. It was fun as hell, and Lane was a lot more comfortable with the game—with the speed and the heavier checks and even the trash talk—and he was having a great time. He was definitely not going to throw down with Jared, or anyone else. Instead, he was going to score goals and leave the fighting to the people who were better at it.

Unlike the last time the two teams played, which were low-scoring games with the winner decided by a single goal, this one was a back-and-forth, fast-and-furious effort. Both teams scored within seconds of each other. The momentum shifts were dizzying, and the building was electric. Lane scored a goal and got booed, really vehemently, because a home team goal had just been announced.

“Home wrecker,” Bridey said with a grin and an enthusiastic fist bump.

His fist bump from Reeder was a little less enthusiastic. Reeder had been the best player on the Storm for the last three years and was probably not expecting Lane to show up and challenge him for the top position. But that’s how it went. It was Lane’s job, and he was there to play.

The other person who was there to play, apparently was Jared Shore. And he wasn’t playing like Lane remembered, because he was…. Wow. He was fast. Or at least a lot faster than Lane remembered, and it was obvious he wasn’t going for the Sea Storm’s scorers to knock them over. He was going for their goal.

“Hey, Campbell.” Lane grabbed his teammate’s arm before he hopped over the boards, onto the ice. “Watch out for Shore, man.”

“Why? I’m not gonna fight him. Sorry Courts.” Campbell flashed a grin at him. He was missing a tooth. “I lose my teeth just skating. I don’t need to pick on goons.”

Jared wasn’t just a goon, which was exactly what Lane was trying to tell him. “I think he’s trying to score,” Lane pointed out literally, with his stick, indicating Shore as he skated up the lane and put the puck behind Hunter to tie the game.

Four minutes later Shore scored again and gave the Renegades a 3-2 lead with two minutes left in the period.

Lane had conflicting feelings as he watched Shore celebrate his goal with his teammates. He still really, really wanted to get laid, and he hated losing. But he was kind of proud of Jared. Not proud enough to want his team to win, though.

“Go score another one and shut this fucking crowd up,” Coach Spencer said, looking as if Shore netted that goal just to personally annoy him.

“We should probably never want crowds in this league to be quiet, even if they’re not ours,” one of Lane’s teammates said. The guy had a point.

Lane tried the same move he had last time, but the Renegades defense knocked him over and called him a stupid motherfucker.

“Your mom’s not hot enough. Sorry,” Lane snapped back, and the defenseman actually snorted before he went back to trash talking.

Lane wondered if that guy’s mom was there, and then he felt bad.

The third period was crazy, and as the clock ticked down to end the game, Lane found himself directly across from Jared at center ice, waiting for the puck to drop.

“No smirk this time, kid?” Shore drawled when they put their sticks down on the ice for the face-off.

“Not yet,” Lane said. He won the face-off and raced down the ice. He was going to score. He knew it, even before he saw the light flash behind the Renegades’ goalie—who was pissed as hell and clearly one of those goalies who threw things. Like his water bottle. At Lane.

As the clock ran out, the game was tied, and that meant sudden death overtime. For five minutes, each team would have a chance to score a goal and end the game immediately. But the five minutes passed without a single goal, and the game went into the most dreaded of all outcomes—a shootout.

“Not going home with this one,” Shore said, bumping him in the shoulder.

“Someone will probably fight you for that,” Lane snapped. He really liked Jared a lot, but this was war. Fraternization was for later. And why did this have to go to a shootout? He was trying to get laid.

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Picture1.pngAvon 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 when she’s not writing you can find her at the salon, making her clients look and feel fabulous. She never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head

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@Facebook||   @avongalewrites.com||  @twitter || bourbon and candy (avon’s mailing list)

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