Kent’s entranced from her first slide out onto the ice, by the slick, cold feel of it under her feet and the way it gleams. She begs and pleads and her mom enrolls her in figure skating lessons. The lessons are right before peewee hockey and one day when her mom is late picking her up, the coach invites Kent to join in on practice while she waits.
There’s no going back from there.
Kent's on the taller side for a girl with a lot more muscle packed onto her frame than is fashionable, but she’s still so much smaller than the guys she plays with. She adapts: gets faster, gets creative, gets over the mentality that ‘girls should always be nice’ and isn’t afraid to get a little mean.
There’s a lot of shit from parents and other players.
“What if someone checks her?”
Kent smirks, “You can’t check what you can’t catch.”
“She’s distracting the boys!”
Kent sneers, “Maybe if they were better at playing, they wouldn’t be so easily distracted.”
The older she gets, the better/worse it gets, but the pros outweigh the cons. The QMJHL drafts her and it feels like a free fall, fast and dizzy and out of control, and then she meets Jack and that free fall turns to flying. They’re made for each other, electric on the ice and easy off of it. He’s the best friend she’s ever had, one of the few guys who saw her skate and didn’t seem to care about her lack of dick, funny and a little snarky and a lot clever.
She falls head over heels for his hockey, but Jack is his hockey. She never had a chance.
“You’re making history,” her agent tells her when whispers start up about her draft prospects. “You can’t write the story they tell, but you can control the information you give them to work with. Don’t be stupid.”
And Kent’s not stupid. She’s going to be more than ‘Jack Zimmermann’s girlfriend’. She’s going to be a legend.
She tells him she wants to keep things quiet and he agrees. They understand each other so well on the ice; it never occurs to her that they’re not on the same page here too.
Jack ODs and it feels like crashing back to earth.
He won’t take her calls or answer her texts. She flies to Quebec and Alicia meets her at the door.
Her eyes are sad and kind when she says, “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but Jack’s not up for any visitors right now.”
Any visitors, like Kent is just anyone. Like Jack isn’t her everything–hockey and whispered late night promises and secret touches that make her think in terms of decades that span far beyond their careers.
She smiles tightly.
Gives Alicia the care package she’d brought.
Gets back in the cab that’s still idling by the curb.
She doesn’t cry until she’s back in her hotel room, and the next day when she steps off her plane in New York, her make up is flawless and her media smile is in place and no one can see how red her eyes are behind her sunglasses.
Kent goes first in the draft.
She moves to Vegas and starts writing Jack letters; at least once a day, sometimes more. They’re filled with descriptions of practices and her teammates. She talks about the apartment she’s sharing with one of the WAGS while she looks for her own place and how much she thinks he’d like this one diner down the block from it.
(a couple times a week she ends up writing about how much she misses him, how much she loves him, how much she needs him here with her. she never sends those ones, though she can’t stand the thought of destroying them either, so they sit buried in the bottom of her sock drawer.)
She ends each letter with “I know you’re going to love it once you’re out here with me.”
Nearly two months in she gets her first reply.
All it says is “I’m not coming.”
Kent is used to focusing on hockey, so that’s what she does. She takes all of her anger and frustration and hurt and she pushes it down until it forms a tight, hot little ball in her belly that sends her hurtling through games like a demon.
She bounces back from checks and zips between other players so fast they have trouble keeping track of her. Her plays get more creative and her hockey gets meaner.
Hockey comes first, she tells herself, but in the back of her mind there’s always a quiet litany of ‘maybe if I'm faster, maybe if I’m stronger, maybe if I’m better, then maybe I could convince him to come play with me again.' She’s willing to work and wait for it, no matter now long it takes.
(she’s losing him.
she doesn’t lose, but she’s losing him.
she will. not. lose him.)
By the time the preseason is over, there’s a lot less talk from other players about her just being some kind of media stunt.
There’s a lot more talk about her being a bitch, but at least half of those comments seem to be colored with admiration and it’s nothing she hasn’t heard before.
She’ll take it.
Their first game of the regular season is a home game, and Kent’s roommate isn’t quite fast enough to keep her from seeing the sports page of the newspaper that talks about her being the team’s own personal Lady Luck, like she’s some kind of mascot.
Kent snorts and pushes down the anger, storing it away until she’s on the ice, where she lets it build and burn until she almost expects the rink to steam from the heat of it.
About ten minutes into the first period, someone tries to check her—because someone is always trying to check her. But then one of her boys is there, blocking his path, and she’s filled with a fierce, burning almost-maybe-probably-love for her team that translates into a gorgeous backhander that sails past the goalie.
Not too long after that she gets an assist.
When she scores her second goal of the night, someone up in the sound booth plays a clip of Ride of the Valkyries and she’s startled into a loud laugh that comes closer to knocking her down than any of the other team’s roughhousing has so far while the music swells into a dramatic crescendo.
They win the game 3-1 and the clip all the stations run is of Kent, sweaty and red faced and beaming from under the arm of one of her teammates, blowing kisses to the screaming fans in the stands.
The rest of the world is still spitting vitriol, but the Aces and Vegas love her.
She thinks maybe that should be enough.
She keeps writing unanswered letters.