The brisk air fills my lungs while the scratchy sound of my skates sliding over the ice echoes through the ice rink. Skating over the course, I pick up all the pawns with my eyes focused on the four-year-old practicing his turns with his gear on. His long blond hair is sticking out from under his helmet, and the heavy protection pads are making him wobbly even though he has been skating since he was two.
He looks cute as fuck.
When he finally turns and manages to skate a few yards backward, I clap my hands together with a proud look on my face.
“Good job, Logan!”
“Did you see that, Daddy?” He beams.
“Sure did! You’re doing great! Keep practicing.”
Enthusiastically, he quickly skates back to where he began to start all over. The corner of my mouth tugs into a pleased grin.
Seeing my own son practice his moves like that reminds me of my brother and me when we were younger, spending every free minute on this very same rink.
It warms my heart that life made me come full circle like this, even though at some point in life I never thought it was in the cards for me.
Snapped out of my thoughts, I hear my phone ringing and I skate to the benches, grabbing the device out of my jacket.
I glance at the screen, letting out a deep sigh when I see who’s calling.
“No,” I say, firmly, answering it.
“You didn’t even hear my offer,” Gina retorts through the line. She sounds snarky as always, like the boss bitch that she is, and I can practically see her roll her eyes through the phone.
“I don’t have to hear your offer. The answer is still no.” I turn around, pressing my back against the sideboard so I can watch Logan.
“Thirty million if you lose. Fifty million if you win. Plus, 25% of pay-per-views. That’s more than anyone ever got for a fight!” The cockiness in her voice makes me roll my eyes.
Any other person would tell me I’m crazy, saying no to that kind of money. But I have enough money. I have more blessings than I deserve that are my highest priority and money ain’t one of them.
“NO,” I repeat.
“Come on, Hansen. Aren’t you even a little tempted?”
“This is serious money,” she says, as if I don’t know that.
“I don’t care, Gina. My fighting days are over.”
“Hunter, please. The entire world is waiting for this fight. Kal Moreno is the biggest fighter there is right now. The only one he hasn’t beaten is you. Everyone wants to see this.” Desperation is etched in her voice, and if I didn’t know she was such a coldhearted bitch, I might actually feel sorry for her. But I do, so I don’t.
I turn around when I hear movement behind me, watching my wife walk through the door, followed by my three-year-old girl and the dog.
“Daddy!” Lizzy darts past Charls, running towards me and I drag her up by her coat so I can hold her, while she giggles in mid-air.
“I don’t care, Gina. The answer is no. Just call Jason for some kind of troublemaker that can be your next superstar.” I press Lizzy against my cheek in a tight hug, and feel her small arms circle around my neck, making me even more ready to end this conversation.
“I would, but someone convinced him to be an agent for NHL players now. ‘Fighters are too much work,’ he said. Which is bullshit if you ask me, because hockey players are just as bad,” she mutters through the phone.
“I’m sure he can find you some kid underground that will be the next best thing.”
“He doesn’t answer his phone, the little shit.”
“He just had a baby. Give the guy a break.”
“Fine,” she muses, her voice turning all seductive. “Can you maybe ask him for me?”
I shake my head, both annoyed and amused at the same time.The woman did great things for my career, and I thank her for that, but other than that, she’s a manipulative wench.
“Goodbye, Gina,” I sing-song, hanging up the phone, toss it on the bench to reach out my free hand and yank my wife towards me.
“Hey, babe,” I say against her lips, hanging over the sideboard while holding Lizzy on my hip.
“Hey, baby. Gina again?”
“I’m gonna block her number.” I place my mouth over hers in a longing kiss as my hand moves up and down her belly. She’s wearing a denim jacket with some light jeans and a white t-shirt. It’s nothing fancy, but she still turns me on effortlessly.
“How are you?” I ask when I look into her green eyes, her wavy dark blonde strands perfectly framing her face.
“I’m good. Tired, but good.”
“How’s the baby?”
A loving smile appears on her face.
“Good. It’s a kicker, just like his siblings were. When you left this morning, he knocked me into the ribs a few times. Made me wonder if he was pissed you left.”
“He probably was.” I chuckle, putting my focus on my babygirl.
“And how was your day, little princess?”
“We made cookies!” Her bubbly cheeks are rosy from the cold air in the rink, but like us, she’s never bothered by the cold one bit.
“Really!? Did you save me some?”
“Course, Daddy. You, and me, and Logan. And some for Mama. They are for all of us.” Her arms stretch out to explain it even better.
“Mama! Mama! Look at me,” Logan shouts from the other side of the rink. We all turn our heads as he shows how he makes a turn while continuing skating backwards, like he’s been practicing.
“Wow! Great job, Logan!” Charlotte claps.
“Can I skate, Daddy?” Lizzy looks at me with a pleading look.
“If it’s okay with your mama?” We both turn our heads to Charlotte, staring back with pursed lips as she thinks about that question. It’s almost dinnertime, and I know she stopped by to make sure Logan and I would close down the rink in time. After I bought the rink a few years ago to really focus on creating an affordable place for kids to skate, I also hired a janitor to help me with these kinds of things. But the times I teach the class Logan is in, I find myself stealing away time, enjoying every minute with him on the ice.
“Ten minutes. I’ve got dinner on the stove.”
“Yaay!” Lizzie raises her arms in a hooray, and I stretch my arms to lean over the sideboard, placing her on the bench. Charlotte looks into my bag, knowing I always have the kids’ skates with me, then she helps her put them on.
“All set. Off you go.” Charlotte lifts Lizzie onto the ice, and before we know it, she’s skating off to her brother.
“Hey, sexy.” I pull Charls’s arm, dragging her onto the ice, then push her back against the sideboard.
“I don’t feel sexy.” She pouts when I place my hands on both sides of her. “I feel like a human factory.”
“You’re goddamn sexy.” I huff, brushing a strand of hair out of her face. “Besides, we make really cute kids, so why stop now?”
“Oh, hell no, Hansen. This is the last one. As soon as this baby has seen the light, we’re done. No more.” A frown forms on her forehead as she scowls at me; it’s damn cute.
“Fine. By the way, I was thinking?”
“Oh, shit,” she mutters.
“Shut up. I was thinking, what about Charlie?”
“Yeah, as a name. We got Logan and Lizzie, all named after the people that matter the most to us. But I’d love to name the next one after the most important person in my life. Charlie seems perfect no matter what the sex is.” I rub her belly in a loving way, waiting for her response.
Her eyes well a little and her grin goes from ear to ear.
“What do you think?” I press when she doesn’t respond quickly enough.
“Logan, Lizzie, and Charlie Hansen,” she says. “I love it.”
I brush my lips against hers, a jolt of happiness going through my heart.
“I love you, Charls.”
“I love you, Hunt.
If you fell in love with Hunter, even though he’s a massive asshole, I’d love for you to leave a review and tell the world about him.
Leave a review on Amazon.
If you didn’t…. well then, please don’t, LOL.