Mile High: Special Edition (Windy City #1)

Mile High: Special Edition (Windy City #1)

Liz Tomforde



“I love road games.”

“I hate road games.” Maddison pulls his suitcase out of the back of my Mercedes Benz G-Wagon, my newest purchase, before shrugging on his suit jacket.

“You hate them for the exact reason why I love them so much.” I lock my car, throw my keys in my bag, and take a deep breath as Chicago’s crisp fall air fills my lungs. I love hockey season, and this week is the start of hockey season on the road.

“Why, because you have girls lined up waiting to see you in every city we visit? Whereas the only woman I want to see is my wife who is here in Chicago with my daughter and newborn son.”

“Exactly.” I pat Maddison on the shoulder as we enter the private airport entrance here at O’Hare International.

We show our IDs to the security before being let out onto the tarmac. “Did we get a new plane?” I stop in my tracks, cocking my head at the new bird with our team logo on the tail.

“Seems like it,” Maddison absentmindedly adds, looking down at his phone.

“How’s Logan doing?” I ask in reference to his wife, whom I know he’s texting right now. He’s obsessed with her. He’s never not texting her.

“She’s a badass, man.” Maddison’s voice drips with pride. “MJ is only a week old, and she’s got his schedule down.”

No surprise there. Maddison’s wife, Logan, is one of my closest friends and probably the most capable person I know. They’re my only friends who have kids, but their family of four has become my extended family. Their daughter calls me Uncle Zee, and I refer to their kids as my niece and nephew, regardless of the lack of blood ties between us. Their dad is my best friend and practically my brother at this point.

Which wasn’t always the case.

Eli Maddison was once my most hated rival while we were growing up. We were both raised in Indiana, playing travel hockey for two different teams. He was the golden boy who got everything he ever wanted, and it annoyed the shit out of me. His life was perfect. His family was perfect, and mine was anything but.

Then he went on to play for the University of Minnesota while I played for Ohio State, and our childhood rivalry turned into a heated five years of college hockey. I had some family stuff going on at the time, and I took all my anger out on the ice. Maddison ended up being the recipient of my shit when I threw him into the boards with a dirty hit early in our college years. I fucked his ankle up enough to pull him out of his sophomore season and, subsequently, the NHL draft.

Ironically enough, I also had to sit out my sophomore year, thanks to a few classes I was failing.

He hated me for it, and I hated myself for a whole lot of other reasons.

Then I started going to therapy. Religiously. I worked on my shit, and by our senior year, Maddison and I were the best of friends. We still played for different teams, but we respected each other and found common ground through our mental health struggles. He dealt with anxiety and panic attacks, and I dealt with so much bitter anger it would result in panic attacks simply because it would consume me, blinding me from reality.

And as fate would have it, Eli Maddison and I landed on the same team here in Chicago, playing professional hockey for the Raptors. This season is the start of my seventh pro year, and I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else.

Which is why I need to make sure I get re-signed when my contract is up at the end of the season.

“Scott, did we get a new plane?” I ask one of our team managers, walking ahead of us.

“Yeah,” he calls over his shoulder. “All the Chicago pro teams did. New charter company. New plane. Some big deal they signed with the city.”

“New plane. New seats... New flight attendants,” I suggestively add.

“We always had new flight attendants,” Maddison chimes in. “And they all tried to sleep with you.”

I smugly shrug my shoulders. He’s not wrong, and I’m not ashamed. But I don’t sleep with women who work for me. It gets messy, and I don’t do messy.

“That’s the other thing that’s new,” our team manager shouts back. “Same flight crew for the whole season. Same pilots and same flight attendants. No more random crew members coming on and off our airplane, asking for your autographs.”

“Or asking to get into your pants.” Maddison shoots me a pointed look.

“I didn’t mind.”

My phone dings in my suit pant pocket. Pulling it out, I find two new messages waiting for me in my Instagram DMs.

Carrie: Saw your game schedule. You’re in town tonight, I see. I’m free, and you better be too!

Ashley: You’re in my city tonight. I want to see you! I’ll make it worth your while.

I go into my Notes app, finding the note titled “DENVER,” trying to remember who these women are.

Apparently, Carrie was a great lay with a fantastic rack, and Ashley gave one hell of a blowjob.

It’s going to be hard to choose where I want my night to take me. Then there’s the option of going out and seeing if I can widen my Denver roster with some new recruits.

“We going out tonight?” I ask my best friend as we ascend the stairs onto our new plane.

“I’m grabbing dinner with a buddy from college. My old teammate lives in Denver.”

“Ah shit, that’s right. Well, after, let’s grab some drinks.”

“I’m having an early night.”

“You always have an early night,” I remind him. “All you want to do is hang in your hotel room and call your wife. The only time you go out with me is when Logan makes you.”

“Well, I have a one-week-old son, so I can guarantee that I’m not going out tonight. I need some sleep.”

“How is little MJ?” Scott asks at the top of the stairs.

“Cutest little shit.” Maddison pulls out his phone to show off the countless pictures he’s sent me over the week. “Already ten times more chill than Ella was as a newborn.”

Stepping in front of them, I walk into our new plane, taken aback by how amazing it is. It’s completely brand new with custom carpet, seats, and our team logo plastered everywhere.

Bypassing the front half of the plane, where the coaches and staff sit, I make my way to the exit row, where Maddison and I have sat for years now, ever since he became Captain and I became Alternate Captain. We run every aspect of this team, including where we sit on the airplane.

Veterans sit in the exit row, and as your seniority on the team falls, the further back you sit, with rookies all the way in the last row.

“Abso-fucking-lutely not,” I quickly state, finding our second-year defenseman, Rio, sitting in my seat. “Get up.”

“I was thinking,” Rio begins, his goofy-ass grin taking up his entire face. “New plane, maybe new seats? Maybe you and Maddison want to sit in the back of the plane with the rookies this year?”

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