A Lie for a Lie (All In) - Helena Hunting Page 0,1

teammate, Lance Romero—reaches for Randy’s leg with his doughnut-filled hand but misses by about six inches, which causes the kid to trip over his own feet.

I swoop in and catch him before he can do a face-plant. He startles and loses his hold on the doughnut, so he bursts into tears.

“Hey, buddy, you’re all right.”

“Mah doughnut!” he screams and lunges for it.

“Five-second rule.” Randy shrugs.

“Quinn! Don’t pick food up off the ground,” Poppy, the kid’s mother and Romero’s wife, calls from across the room.

I crouch down in front of him. “Why don’t we toss that one in the garbage and get you a new one?”

“I want dat one!” he screams in my face, then proceeds to throw himself on the floor and have an epic meltdown.

Romero stalks over. “What’re you two doing to my kid?”

Randy raises both hands in the air. “He tripped and dropped his doughnut.”

Romero looks to me. He’s a nice guy, and I like him, but sometimes he has a short fuse, and I prefer not to be the one to set him off. “I told him we should get a new one. He didn’t like that idea much.”

Romero picks his kid up off the floor and cringes when he sees his face. “Quinn, my man, yer never gonna get the ladies like this. Let’s wash yer face and get ya a new doughnut, aye?”

“Want dat doughnut!” He points to the floor.

Romero steps on the doughnut in question. “What doughnut?”

“Da-eee! Mah doughnut!”

Romero gives us both a look. “I gotta take care of this. After the party wraps up, we’re headin’ to the pub. You two in?”

“With or without the kids?” Randy quirks a brow at Quinn, who’s fighting his dad’s hold and smearing his chocolate-covered face all over his dad’s arm.

Romero rolls his eyes. “Without. What the hell would be the point otherwise?” He lifts the kid over his head and makes airplane noises all the way to the bathroom.

“I should’ve brought a flask,” Randy mutters as he fills a plastic cup with soda.

I opt for a bottle of water. We make small talk with our teammates while I keep an eye out for Alex Waters. He went into sportscasting as soon as he retired from the ice. The camera loves him, but he’s got the background and the temperament to coach a team, and I want to find out if the rumors are true that he’s thinking about making the switch in the next couple of years.

“Hey! Rookie! How’s it goin’? Glad you made it back from Alaska in time for the party.” Alex claps me on the back. I have to brace myself so I don’t stumble forward with the impact. Alex is a big guy, and just because he’s not on the ice anymore doesn’t mean he’s lost any of his size.

I accept a man hug and back pat. “Me too. Things are good. Just getting settled in—you know how it goes. Looking forward to preseason training.”

“Team’s looking good this year. You wanna talk strategy at all, just give me a call.”

Before I can segue, his wife appears. “There you are! Can you please take Robbie to the bathroom? Every time we go into a women’s bathroom, he tries to climb up on the sink and pee in there.” Violet gives us a slightly strained smile. “Hey, guys, sorry to interrupt, but getting kicked out of the aquarium for letting my kid use a sink as a toilet isn’t on my to-do list today.”

She points at another child, who I think is one of Miller Butterson’s four kids. I can’t keep their names straight, and I’m pretty sure the one I’m looking at is one of their twins, which makes it even more difficult. “I’m just waiting for that one to pee in one of the fake potted plants. This summer Miller thought the best way to potty train Liam and Lane was to let them wander around with their doodle hanging out so they could pee whenever and wherever. Now Liam keeps trying to take his pants off, and he thinks if it’s a plant, he’s allowed to pee on it.”

“That’s actually awesome,” Randy says with a snort.

Violet grins. “I know, right? Liam has been the best thing to ever happen to me.”

Alex clears his throat, and Violet rolls her eyes. “I mean in terms of offsetting my own humiliating moments. Last weekend we had a barbecue, and Liam got into the greenhouse. Let’s just say there’s a lot of contaminated science experiments