GENRE: Gay Young Adult Romance
LENGTH: 89,812 words
Simon Roberts’ plan for his senior year is simple -- help his high school hockey team win the state championship and earn a college scholarship so he can get away from his dysfunctional family, especially his belligerent father and obnoxious older brother.
When the Central High Falcons open their season with an away game, Simon is forced to deal with the problem he’s struggled with for months -- his crush on teammate Alex Miller. After the game that night, Alex makes an unexpected announcement -- he’s gay, and in love with Simon.
Simon’s elated but scared to openly acknowledge that he’s gay, especially with so much at stake in their senior year. Now that they’re out to each other they have to decide what to do next. Should they date? Should they keep things between them secret? What about the team? Can Simon and Alex hide that they’re more than friends from the guys they spend so much time with?
Then a simple kiss is witnessed and their secret is out. The team fractures, and Simon’s family explodes as news about the gay hockey players quickly spreads. The guys must figure out how to move forward with everyone watching. Being the center of attention was in no way part of Simon’s plan for the year.
Can Simon juggle school, commitments to the team, his new relationship, and an unexpected tragedy all before the end of the hockey season?
“Oh no, you don’t,” I called out as I sprinted across the ice in the direction Jackson passed the puck.
As soon as Alex got it, I dropped to my knees and slid across the ice. Alex fired the shot, but I cut across the path at the right time, deflecting the shot off my leg and into the boards. Then in a smooth movement, I jumped up and beat Alex to the loose puck and I sent it down to the other end of the ice.
“Ha!” I shouted, raising my arms in triumph.
Alex stopped next to me. I was proud that I messed up one of his signature shots.
“You won’t be so lucky next time,” Alex said. “I’ll just shoot around you or over you.”
“We’ll see about that. Now get out there and see if you can block as good as me.”
I winked at him before he turned away. With the helmets on, only he could see it.
“Uh oh.” Jackson said, skating up to me before Alex took off. He looked past me into the stands as he spoke. “I think you might be in trouble.”
I turned and saw Tricia in the stands behind the bench. There was no mistaking that she was mad. Her arms were crossed in front of her and she had one of the biggest frowns I’d ever seen. I stole a look at the scoreboard clock.
“Crap. I was supposed to meet her forty-five minutes ago.”
It was obvious that practice was long over because no one was on the ice but the three of us. There weren’t even any random parents in the stands waiting to pick up players.
“Ouch,” Jackson said. “No wonder she looks like she wants to kill us.”
“I gotta go deal with this.”
As I stepped into the bench area, she came down so she stood right behind the glass.
“Sorry. We ended up working on some plays.” I did my best to make this sound like the most natural thing in the world. “Gimme five minutes and we can go.”
“You were supposed to meet me in the library at five,” she said, an angry edge to her voice, which was amplified as she shouted through the glass.
I cringed. I hated she was upset. At the same time I was exactly where I wanted to be.
“I can’t keep doing this, Simon. There’s always a reason you can’t go out. You’re practicing. You’re doing something with the guys. You’re doing homework. Something always comes up.”
“No. There’s nothing to say. I can’t get pushed aside all the time. It’d be one thing if I saw you at least as much as they did,” she gestured to the ice, “but I don’t. If I’d come in here and the coach was working with you guys, I’d get it. But you’re just here with your friends.”
Tears fell and her voice cracked, but she kept going with her words echoing through the rink.
“We’re done Simon. I forfeit. The team can have you.”
She ran up the stairs and out of the rink.
I tossed my helmet and gloves on the floor, sat down, and held my head in my hands. That was that. I should’ve broken it off over the summer when I knew we wouldn’t last. It would’ve still hurt her, but not like this. The slow pull back wasn’t fair. I heard Jackson and Alex skate over. I was relieved that the ruse was over, but it also felt like I’d been punched in the stomach.
“Hey, man,” Jackson said quietly. “That didn’t look like it went well.”
I looked up at Jackson and my secret boyfriend. I stared at them, not knowing what to say.
Alex took off his helmet and dropped it. It rolled next to mine and they clanked together. It was funny that the helmets were touching while we weren’t.
“Sorry, Simon,” Alex said.
He crossed behind me and stood close. There was distinct energy between us. I knew he wanted to hug me just like I’m sure he knew that I wanted the hug.
“It’s for the best. It wasn’t fair, spending so little time with her.”
Jackson took off his helmet and gloves and sat down next to me.
“You said it was bad, but I didn’t know it had gotten to the break-up point.”
For a few seconds I was still and quiet.
Suddenly, I reached out and yanked one of Alex’s gloves off. I took his hand in mine and squeezed tight. I had to touch him. With the slightest delay, no doubt because of the surprise, he returned the squeeze.
I looked at Jackson.
“There’s something you should know.”
He stared back. I could almost see his brain processing what he saw.
“No ... really?” He sounded skeptical. “This explains so much. How long have you two been ...?”
“Just since the season opener,” I said.
I couldn’t see Alex, so I had no clue how he felt about what I’d just done. He did squeeze my hand again, which I took to mean he was okay.
“It’s such a relief,” Jackson said.
I laughed way too loud.
“That was not the reaction I’d imagined.”
“I was afraid.” Jackson stared at the floor. He was not one to show embarrassment, so this was a surprise. “Man, I thought I was losing my best friend.”
Alex squatted down next to me, keeping our hands interlocked.
“You’ll always be my best friend. Nothing changes that.”
Jackson looked relieved.
“I miss one game and look what happens. Wow. No one else knows?”
“You’re the first.” I faced Alex. “I hope this is okay. It probably wasn’t the way you’d envisioned telling people.”
“It’s good. I can’t think of a better person to know first.”
“Cool. Jackson can keep secrets.”
“Definitely,” Jackson verified.
“Let’s get outta here,” I said. “We need to talk and get some dinner.”
“Sounds good,” Alex said.
“Sounds very good because I need more details,” Jackson said.
I stood and pulled Alex up as I talked to Jackson. “Thanks for being so cool about this. I thought you’d be cool, but I ...”
“Don’t worry about it,” Jackson said, cutting me off. We gathered up our gear as he talked. “If you’re happy I’m happy for you.”
Before we stepped off the bench, Jackson turned on Alex. “Make sure you treat him good,” he said, as he threw his arm around my shoulders, “otherwise you will have to answer to me.”
I’d never seen Jackson that serious. Alex, on the other hand, broke into a big grin, completely the opposite of Jackson’s demeanor.
“I’m glad Simon’s got you looking out for him. I have no intention of hurting him, ever.”
Once we were in the locker room, Alex was the first to hit the showers. I was glad to get a moment with Jackson alone.
“Thanks,” I said as soon as I heard the water flowing. “I hadn’t intended for you to find out like that.”
“I thought you guys were becoming closer friends. Hell, I didn’t know either one of you was gay.”
“I didn’t know he was either.” I was fully out of my gear, wrapped in a towel, and waiting for Jackson who always took the longest to change. “It felt like there was some extra something between us. But, I couldn’t figure out how to ask him. If I was wrong ... well, that might not have ended well.”
“I know you guys are out there talking about me,” Alex yelled from the showers, “but I’m hungry. You guys need to get in here so we can go.”
I shook my head and rolled my eyes. “Coming,” I yelled. “Let’s go before he gets cranky.”
Jackson caught my arm before we entered the showers. “Listen, I was serious back there. If he hurts you, I will take him down.”
“I have no doubt about that.”
This book was published on July 01, 2010.