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Hot as Puck

By:Lili Valente

Chapter One

Justin

This is it, the night I’ll look back on in fifty or sixty years and stab a finger at as the moment my life changed forever. Somewhere out there, in the throng of people wiggling to the club beat pulsing across the Portland skyline from the most exclusive rooftop lounge in the city, is the woman I’m going to marry.

Next summer.

In eight short months.

Because I’m dying to settle down, develop a food-baby where my six-pack used to be, spend Friday nights on the couch in my give-up-on-life sweatpants arguing about what to watch on Netflix and picking out names for the five or six kids my wife and I will bang out as quickly as possible to ensure we’ll have an army of small people to share in the grinding monotony of our wedded bliss.

Ha. Right.

Or rather no. Hell no. Fuck no, with a side of “what kind of reality-altering drugs have you been huffing in the bathroom?”

Sylvia is out of her goddamned mind! I’m twenty-eight years old—tonight, happy fucking birthday to me—and at the top of my game. I have zero interest in a long-term commitment to anything but my team.

The Portland Badgers are riding a ten-game winning streak, thanks largely to the fact that I bust my ass in the gym every other morning so I can bust my ass on the ice every time Nowicki spaces-out eighteen minutes into the period and forgets what his stick is for. That rookie’s untreated ADHD is a pain in my ass, but the rest of the forwards and I are taking up the slack and then some. I’m averaging over a point a game, leading the league in goals, and on my way to an elite season. Maybe even an Art Ross Trophy-winning season, though I don’t like to count my eggs before they’ve been scrambled, smothered in cheese and hot sauce, and wrapped in a burrito.

God, a burrito sounds good. I’m so fucking hungry. I would kill for Mexican right now, or at least something cooked and wrapped in something other than seaweed.

Nearly three thousand dollars in hor d’oeuvres are being passed around this party on shiny silver platters, and there’s not a damned thing I want to eat.

I let Sylvia—who has very firm opinions about many, many things—handle ordering the food, and apparently she thought sushi, sushi, more sushi, and some weird, rock-hard, low-fat cookies that taste like vanilla-flavored air were all anyone would want to shove in their pie-hole tonight. Just like she thought I should get down on one knee and put a ring on her finger in time to plan a blockbuster summer wedding or she would need to “explore her other options.”

Explore her other fucking options. What the fuck? Who says something like that to a guy they swear they’re desperately in love with? If she were really that gone on me, wouldn’t I be the only option? The only person in the entire world that she could even remotely consider spending the rest of her life with?

I kind of want to hate Sylvia—what sort of person tries to blackmail you into proposing to them on your birthday? She should have at least waited until her birthday next month—but I just keep thinking about how lonely my bed is going to be tonight. Sylvia is clearly deeply deluded about how far along we are in the evolution of our relationship, but she’s also very pretty, gives the best head I’ve ever had, bar none, and smells really, really nice.

I have a thing about the way a woman smells. Not her perfume or her soap or her body lotion, but her. The woman herself. Her base note, the scent that rises from her skin when she’s lying in the sun or kissing me after a run or just hasn’t showered in a while.

Yes, with the right woman, I enjoy logging some quality bedroom time while she’s a little bit dirty. Don’t fucking judge me! It’s my birthday!

Anyway… No one smells as good as Sylvia does at the end of a long day on my boat, with sweat, sea salt, and sunscreen dried on her skin. Making love to her on the deck this past summer, with her long legs wrapped around my waist as I did my best to take home the trophy for most orgasms delivered in a single afternoon, I was convinced I’d finally met someone I could stick with for longer than a season.

But it’s not going to happen. It’s only October and I’ve just told Sylvia she’s coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs and that I’ll have her shit packed up and sent to her office tomorrow afternoon.

And then she said that I was an emotionally unavailable jerk who is incapable of sustaining an adult relationship. And then I said that she’s a blackmailing, birthday-ruining, manipulative, sushi-obsessed control freak who should try to choke down a carb once in a while because it might make her more fun to be around on pizza night or donut morning or any other day of the goddamned week involving carbs because a life without carbs is a stupid life. And then she flipped me off and told me to “have a nice long, lonely existence, asshole,” before knocking over a tray of champagne glasses on her way to the elevator at the other end of the roof.

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