Today I am so pleased to welcome Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn to Joyfully Jay. Avon and Piper have come to share an exclusive excerpt from their latest release, Trade Deadline. Please join me in giving them a big welcome!
As Micah waited for the elevator that would take him to the restricted lower level and his office, he scrolled idly through his Instagram feed. Most of the people on his personal account were other marine biologists who worked in the same field, nature photographers, and friends. But he did follow exactly one sports figure—Daniel Bellamy, Captain of the Atlanta Venom of the NHL. And it wasn’t because he liked hockey; he didn’t like or dislike it, not really, but he was a Florida boy born and bred. That meant he was suspicious of water when it was in anything other than liquid form. It wasn’t even that Daniel was absolutely gorgeous, with that dark curly hair and his bright blue eyes, and a body that rocked those game-day suits for sure.
It was that long ago, Micah had known Daniel as “Danny,” his best friend from kindergarten to age thirteen, when Daniel and his family left the sunny beaches of Miami for the ice rinks and developmental league opportunities in Chicago. They’d met as kids in the same neighborhood and been inseparable, having sleepovers and going to the beach, making up games where he was a famous dolphin trainer—hey, he’d been seven—and Danny was a famous hockey player…and they both had mansions and occasionally solved crimes while maybe starring in a movie or TV show. Again, they’d been seven.
Danny was Micah’s best friend, first crush and first kiss—and then, at age thirteen, his first heartbreak, when he’d been low-key convinced their experimental kiss had made Danny move. But it had been hockey that stole Danny away and kept him there, and how could Micah have begrudged him chasing after his dream? Especially when they both, against all odds, became what they’d always dreamed of, in those games of pretend they’d played as kids? Micah still remembered the shock when he’d heard the news about his old friend, though honestly, Danny always had been pretty determined.
He’d been the one to get Micah over that random, and admittedly short-lived, fear of jellyfish.
They’d managed to keep in touch and even visited for two summers straight after Danny moved. But then hockey took Danny’s attention and kept his schedule full with games and travel, and Micah turned toward summer intensive science programs. They’d fallen out of touch, but Micah had rediscovered his old friend via social media and happily followed his accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. He kept up with Danny’s—Daniel, now—career, though he’d never thought about actually getting in touch. It seemed a little tacky, considering he knew how much money Daniel made—hey, they put his salary right there on the website for the team!—and didn’t want to be like one of those people who came out of the woodwork when someone they knew in grammar school won the lottery or became famous or something. Instead, he’d been happy for his friend and had even gone to a Venom game a few seasons ago, when he’d been in Atlanta for a conference. But he knew Daniel was married with kids, and it seemed best to just appreciate his skill on the ice and remember their goofy games and hours spent at the beach looking for shells that might be “worth something” and earn them millions. That kiss at the age of thirteen was just about as awkward as a first teenage kiss should be, but it made Micah smile to remember it all the same.
Also, despite the fact Daniel had talked about it all the time and made him watch games when they were kids, Micah didn’t really know anything about hockey. It’d been cold in the arena, and his seats were way up high, but he’d cheered when everyone else did, and even bought himself a souvenir T-shirt. And maybe he’d gotten sort of into the playoffs last year, when the Venom had won the Stanley Cup—but why did the playoffs take literal years?—and he’d laughed, thinking about how Danny once wrapped up an old fancy wineglass of his mom’s in aluminum foil and carried it around for the day. He’d explained you got a day with the Cup and a parade when you won, so Micah had dutifully thrown some confetti at him while Daniel propped the “Cup” in a wagon and dragged it behind him while waving to their neighbors.
“Dude, you okay?” Cody, one of the newest full-time staff members, interrupted Micah’s reminiscing. Which he was doing standing stock-still in the elevator. “You know how these work, right? You take them, and then you get out of them? It involves buttons. I can show you, if you’re having trouble.”
“Ha, ha. Yeah, I just…got some news. Kinda?” Micah laughed and shook his head. He held his phone out, which showed the Instagram post of Daniel Bellamy’s that started his whole trip down memory lane and inability to leave the small confines of the elevator.
The image showed Daniel grinning and wearing a Miami Thunder jersey with his name and number. Not every day you get to go home and play for the team that started your love of the game. I’ll miss my Venom boys and the ATL crew, but excited to see where the future takes me at home in Miami!
It’s a reunion to remember…
Don’t miss this friends-to-lovers hockey romance from Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn.
Daniel “Bellzie” Bellamy should be on top of the world—a Stanley Cup is the perfect topper to his fourteen-year NHL career. But despite the post-win high, something’s missing. When the chance to play for his hometown team, the Miami Thunder, comes along, he’s open to it. And when he runs into an old friend from his past soon after he makes the move, he wonders if it might be kismet.
Micah Kelly never thought he’d see his childhood crush—and first kiss—again. Danny Bellamy moved on to bigger and better things when they were teenagers, and the idea that Micah’s relationship with the professional hockey player could be anything more than one-sided Instagram thirst seems too good to be true.
Maybe too good to be true is the new reality, though. As the season goes on, Micah teaches Daniel to surf, and Daniel introduces Micah to his lovable pack of rescue dogs and the world of being a hockey boyfriend. Life is good. But when things on the ice don’t go as planned, they’ll have to decide if their rediscovered romance is built to last.
About Avon Gale
Avon Gale lives in a liberal Midwestern college town, where she spends her days getting heavily invested in everything from craft projects to video games. She likes road trips by car, rock concerts, thunderstorms, IPAs, Kentucky bourbon and tattoos. As a queer author, Avon is committed to providing happy endings for all and loves to tell stories that focus on found families, strong and open communication, and friendship. She loves writing about quirky people who might not be perfect, but always find a place where they belong.
- Website: http://avongalewrites.com/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/avongalewrites
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/avongalewrites
- Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bGLSrD
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/avongale
About Piper Vaughn
Piper Vaughn is a Latinx author and longtime romance reader. Since writing their first love story at age eleven, they’ve known writing in some form was exactly what they wanted to do. A reader to the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book.
Piper grew up in a diverse neighborhood in Chicago and loves putting faces and characters of every ethnicity in their stories, making their fictional worlds as colorful as the real one. Above all, Piper believes there’s no one way to have an HEA, and every person deserves to see themselves reflected on the page.