“Are you sure we should be doing this?” Steve looked over at Claudia.
“Of course,” the red head bounced out of her seat, shoving the truck door open with gusto. “We need one more member for the team since Cindy’s out this season. It’s so stupid.”
“She’s about to have a kid,” Steve chuckled.
“I guess.” Claudia rolled her eyes. “Let’s check this out.”
The pair made their way into the mostly empty bleachers to watch. The Derby season was just a few weeks away and their team The Hellcats was still one member down. Steve was the equipment manager and best friend to the team captain, Claudia “Red Fury” Donovan.
Tryouts had been a bust, with some up and coming talent but nothing that could fill their immediate need. It didn’t help that the Hellcats had a lock on the last place spot the past four seasons.
So why not check out the final round of tryouts for the Crush City Crew who had reigned as champs for what seemed like forever.
“I head through the grapevine that there’s a chick giving Sally a run for her money.” Claudia pulled out her phone to take notes.
“I’d love to see that,” Steve settled in to watch. “Someone’s needed to take her down for years.”
“Tell me about it.”
The pair watched in silence while the skaters warmed up and stretched. Claudia waved at the friendly faces in the group. After a few minutes they gathered in the center of the rink where Sally divided them into different quads.
“Oh that’s her,” Claudia grabbed Steve’s arm. “She’s the one on the left.”
“Looks a little small to be a jammer.”
The whistle blew and the jam started.
“Whoa,” Steve watched as the pale woman with the star on her helmet worked her way through the blockers with ease, lapping the group several times before the end of the two minutes.
The woman sat down for the next round as another group came up to play the jam.
“So spill,” Steve looked over at Claudia.
“I don’t know much. She’s new in town, just transferred here for work. She played overseas in one of the British leagues but I’m not sure which one. Doesn’t really know anyone here yet, but I know Sally’s not a fan.”
“Guess she missed our tryouts?”
“Yeah, by a couple of weeks. Too bad because you know Artie would have made sure to get her on the team.”
The pair watched for another couple of rounds, more impressed each time they saw the mystery woman skate. There was a short break where Sally talked with her team and their coach Walter Sykes about the final run.
When everyone came back they set up the final set of jams. It was the starters from Crush City versus a mix of backups and top candidates.
“She made the cut,” Claudia grinned. “It’s her versus Sally.”
The whistle blew and they were off. Sally was one of the best players in the league but also one of the dirtiest. And her teammates definitely had her back.
Steve and Claudia winced as the woman they’d dubbed GB hit the deck hard. To her credit she bounced up quickly and took off after the pack. She managed to get her way nearly to the front of the pack when an elbow flew out and hit her in the jaw. She didn’t tumble but fell behind again.
By the end of the jam she hadn’t scored any points.
“Damn,” Steve settled back in his seat. “She might still make the team.”
“Would you want to be a part of that mess?” Claudia replied. “Come on,” she stood quickly. “Let’s catch her before she gets to her car.”
Out in the parking lot they waited, hoping to catch the mystery woman before she headed for home. In listening in to the other girls as they left the practice rink, they learned two things. The woman’s name was Helena and that she made the team then turned it down.
“This is our chance,” Claudia smacked Steve on the back. “Oh here she comes.”
Steve hung back as Claudia approached Helena.
“Hey,” she waved, “tough break in there huh?”
“I suppose,” she sighed. “I had heard that the Crushers were the team to be on in this league. But clearly they’re not.”
“They’ve been the league champs for quite some time.”
“I want to win but not like that. No offense.”
“None taken,” Claudia grinned. “I’m Claudia. Claudia Donovan.”
“You’re a hell of a skater Helena. I don’t suppose you’d consider another team for the season?”
“Perhaps,” Helena’s eyes narrowed. “This was the last tryout on the schedule.”
“It was but what if I told you a spot opened up on another team unexpectedly. Well not so unexpectedly but we’ve got a spot and you’d be a great fit.”
“Really,” Helena raised an eyebrow. “And what team is that?”
“Come to the practice rink on Thursday at 7:30 and see,” Claudia pulled out her phone. “What’s your number and I’ll text you some details.”
“Oh man,” Claudia did a small victory dance in the passenger seat of Steve’s truck. “This is gonna be so great.”
“If she agrees to be on the team.”
“Don’t be such a spoil sport Steve-o”, Claudia looked down at the contact info in her phone. “Helena Wells will be a Hellcat for sure. Especially after she meets Myka.”