High Risk Rookie (Vancouver Wolves Hockey #4) - Odette Stone
(Preview chapter from the back of The Penalty Box)
I sat at my desk, looking over the latest contracts. I was making a mental note to call my lawyer when a figure appeared at the door.
I glanced up, pausing when I saw Mark Ashford standing in the doorway.
He smiled—his charming smile. “Sorry. No one was at the front desk.”
“I haven’t yet found a replacement for Charlie while she’s on mat leave.”
“Not for you. Come in.” I stood up and ushered him towards my couches. “Have you recovered from your celebrations?” The Vancouver Wolves had just won their second Stanley Cup, and I could see it in their GM’s face.
He smiled. “Still celebrating.” I sat down, and he took a seat on the couch across from me. “You’re looking good.”
“Quit buttering me up, Mark. What brings you all the way to my side of town?”
He leaned forward, his gaze intent. “I’m interested in a player.”
Intriguing. “All my players are signed with you. Who is it?”
“He’s gone through two agents, and word on the street is that his third agent is about to fire him.”
“Sounds like trouble.” I studied Mark. “Exactly the kind of trouble you tend to avoid.”
“He’s an unbelievable talent. I want him to sign with the Wolves.”
“That’s something you should be discussing with his agent.”
“His agent hasn’t talked to him in over four weeks.”
My eyebrows shot up.
“He can’t find him,” he added.
“What the fuck?” I breathed.
Mark cleared his throat. “I want you to headhunt him.”
“I don’t headhunt my clients, Mark. I don’t need to. Those days are long over.”
He looked at me, thinking. Mark was a sharp businessman. If I was a shark, he was a wolf. We respected and understood each other. Right now he was trying to figure out how to get me into the game.
I tried again. “Why is his agent firing him?”
He leaned back and crossed his arms. “He’s wild. Completely out of control. The list of his infractions is a mile long.”
I frowned, curious. This sounded exactly like the kind of player Mark avoided signing. “Why do you want him?”
“He’s the best rookie I’ve seen in a long time.”
My eyebrows shot up. “He’s a rookie?”
“He’s played three years in Europe, but he’s a rookie to the NHL. He’s looking to sign on, and that process hasn’t been going smoothly.”
“How old is he?”
“He sounds high-risk.”
He nodded. “Yup.”
“But you want him.”
“Why me? There are a dozen bigger agencies with longer arms than me.”
“You’re the only one who might have a shot at controlling him. This guy is going off the rails. He’s going to ruin his career before it starts.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “And you think some good old-fashioned stability will give him a chance at success?”
“I know it will.”
“You don’t want any other team to pick him up.”
“Nope.” He sighed. “I don’t. I want him. Bad.”
“I think I’m done with managing wild players.”
“But you’re so good at it,” he said with a wolfish smile.
“How do I even know he wants to play here?”
“You’re trying to sell me a wild-goose chase.”
He put a file down on the table. “As you know, I can’t offer you compensation for your efforts. Conflict of interest. But I can pass on what I’ve dug up. In this file, you’ll find everything you need to know about him and his location. There is also a demo reel of him.”
“Where is he?”
He paused. “Last report from nine this morning, he was living the high life in Ensenada, Mexico.”
I blinked. “Mexico? You’re shitting me. What the hell is he doing there?”
“The guy is a wild athlete. He loves to surf.”
I shook my head and said dryly, “This conversation is madness. You know I’m not going to bite.”
He stood up and winked. “You look like you could use some sun.”
“I hate you, Mark,” I said without heat. I waited until Mark had disappeared out the door before I picked up the file. No way was I chasing some wild child through Mexico to try to convince him to sign with me, just so I could sign him for Mark.
But out of curiosity, I put on the demo reel and pressed play.
Holy shit. I watched in awe. I couldn’t even comprehend some of the moves this mysterious player made on the ice. He was beyond good. He was fucking unbelievable. I wasn’t sure anyone had seen talent like that in a couple of decades.
I looked at his file more closely. I had never even heard of this guy before. He was