HARRISBURG RAILERS SERIES
One man’s passion, another man’s lies. Can love fix even the darkest of hearts.
Trent Hanson is a figure skating phenom adored by millions around the world. His whole life has been dedicated to the sport he loves even when the sport – and his own family – have turned against him. From the playground to the Olympics to his parent’s living room, Trent has fought against bullies and homophobes to be the out and proud gay man he is. But the constant fighting has left Trent tired, lonely, and skittish. All those fears will have to be shelved though when he’s hired to spend the summer working with the Harrisburg Railers ice hockey team. Who would have guessed that the man fate has decided to pair him off with is Dieter Lehmann, all-around sex god and a man who seems to have everything to prove and doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants.
Dieter has spent too many years languishing in the minors and a secret addiction to prescription painkillers means his career is in a downward spiral. His ex is blackmailing him and he’s close to walking away from it all. But when he’s called up in the run for the Stanley Cup to cover injuries he has a taste of what it’s like playing in the NHL and he realizes that a place on the Railers roster is what he wants more than anything. More than listening to his heart, and even more than caring for the infuriating figure skater who gets under his skin. When he crosses the line to get what he wants, he knows he has lost his way. He has to change, but is it too late for both his career and any chance he might have at love?
My Fiction Nook – I loved Trent and Dieter’s story and as a couple they worked really, really well for me and while I know that the next book’s a new pairing…it’s Stan the big, adorable, teddy bear Russian Goalie for the Railers and I’m totally on board for Stan’s story and yes, I do have my fingers crossed for a peek or two at Trent and Dieter…these two worked hard for their HEA and I’d love to see more of these two.
This series just keeps getting better and better for me and I’m definitely looking forward to whatever comes next for the men of the Harrrisburg Railers and their partners…now, if I could just get my hands on a Railer’s hockey jersey…Go Railers!!!
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words – …while you could think this is just an opposites attract story, it also includes much deeper, more serious layers that speak to addictions, recovery, and therapy. And does so in a realistic and even gritty manner at times. For tackling all that, plus the romance, and the continuing overall series arc and pulling them off to a grand effect? Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers #3) by RJ Scott & VL Locey is a story that’s close to perfect. Truly with each story this series just keeps getting better and better.
Padme’s Library – Truth is, there is so many aspects of this story(and series) that made me smile, laugh, cry, frankly pretty much every emotion out there. I know I use the words a lot in my reviews but it doesn’t make them any less true, Deep Edge will warm your heart from page one till the end.
They may not be characters you would meet every day but Scott and Locey present Dieter and Trent in a way that if you ran into them in the grocery store or the gas station you wouldn’t look twice. In my opinion, creating characters that are definitely original and yet have that “every day” element to them takes talent and that is what you will find within the pages of Deep Edge and the Harrisburg Railers: talent and plenty of heart.
I studied the image of me at the Sochi games. I looked so happy with that silver medal around my neck, standing just a few inches lower than Connor O’Day, my teammate who’d grabbed the gold. Even though Connor – the bitch – had won the gold, I’d still been happy. I recalled that feeling. Happy was nice.“Trent?”
Two silvers in the past two Olympics. The upcoming one had been supposed to be mine. I’d been skating stronger than I ever had. Everyone had predicted that I’d finally get past Connor to win the gold. Happy would have been everywhere. I’d have been drowning in fucking happy. I would have been wearing happy and that gold around my neck like a cashmere coat from Neiman Marcus.
Gayle’s touch pulled me from Envy Land. I spun from the newly hung imagery of Trent Hanson on the soft white walls of my new agent’s office. She smiled sadly at me. Gods. Everyone looked at me like that now. I hated it. And I hated not being happy anymore.
“Sorry, I was just admiring that costume. Isn’t that dark blue and silver to die for?” I moved around the short, dark-haired woman who was now in charge of my career. Or what was left of it.
“It is. It still amazes me that you design all your skating costumes. You’re such a talented young man. Why don’t we sit, and we’ll get to the reason I called you in?”
Ah, agents. They were so lovely – when they weren’t embezzling all your money and spending it on whores, vodka gimlets, and a particularly bad run over a week in Atlantic City. Note to the young and innocent – never let your stepfather manage your money, especially when he’s open about how much he dislikes your gay little ass. That way you won’t end up broke, shamed, and trying to figure out how to keep your mother and grandmother from being booted out of their house while your rink teeters on the edge of financial ruin. Where the fuck had all my happy gone? I wanted it back, dammit!
I moved past the windows that looked down on Philadelphia, my hometown. I’d been born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love. I adored this city, and it loved me in return. Or had. Now I was just the mincing and well-dressed queer who didn’t even have two pennies to rub together. How quickly love and adoration turned to titters and cold shoulders. Drawing my coat around me, I sat down in a plush beige chair and crossed one leg over the other, making sure my coat draped properly over my thighs. I hate wrinkles. And beige. Why were straights so afraid of a little color?
Gayle sat down behind her desk, smiled at me yet again, and folded her hands in front of her. I raised a freshly plucked eyebrow. She was still trying to get a handle on me. Tobey & Troy was the largest athletic representation firm in Philly. They handled most of the Eagles, Sixers and Flyers, as well as several tennis players. And now they had me. Trent Lawrence Hanson. Famed gay figure skater and next in line to be a Dickens character in real life. Please, sir, I want some more. Ugh. As if I’d eat gruel. What if I had to? The thought was too much to bear.
“I think that now that the legal issues with your father—”
“Stepfather,” I quickly reminded her.
“Yes, sorry, stepfather. Well, now that he’s been convicted and is serving time, I think this is the moment to start working on marketing you in a positive light.” She smiled again, nervously, and leveled light blue eyes at me. “Where are you in terms of returning to competitive skating?”
I glanced out the window at Ben Franklin standing atop City Hall. I began running my hands over the thin cotton flaps lying over my thighs.
“I have no money, my professional reputation is shot, and both my rink and my mother’s house are two months away from foreclosure. Do you honestly think I could find the mental clarity and focus to skate again?” As soon as I heard how bitchy I sounded, I placed a hand over my mouth. “I’m so sorry,” I mumbled into my fingers.
“It’s quite understandable,” she replied. She was far too nice to be saddled with a miserable cow-bag like me. I wanted to cry, but didn’t. I’d do that later when I visited Mom and my Lola. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Water would be lovely,” I coughed into my fingers. She rang her receptionist. “I’m better now. See.” I lowered my hand and smiled brilliantly at her.
Gayle nodded, but melancholy lingered in her gaze. A tiny blonde hurried in with a bottle of water and handed it to me. I was about to ask if she could possibly find a cold one, but I bit my tongue. Bitchy Trent had already escaped once today.
She nodded and scurried out, closing the door behind her slim backside. Her shoes were terrible. Who wears black flats with a peach dress in late June? Honestly, women, learn how to dress. I took tiny sips of the tepid water. Gayle waited. I capped the bottle and balanced it in my left hand so my coat didn’t get watermarked. I was a beggar now. I had to keep my wardrobe in good shape. Tears threatened again.
Gayle broke into the building weep-fest. “I understand that you’re not mentally ready to return to figure skating. To that end, we need to find you something to do that will bring in good money so you can get your assets back in sound fiscal shape.”
“You mean pull my rink and my mother’s house out of the snapping jaws of foreclosure?”
“Well, I wouldn’t have been quite that dramatic…”
“Few are.” I sighed as I returned to working out the crinkles in my duster.
“Right, well, I’ve been approached by GLBTQtv about a reality show with you as the star.”
My chin dropped to my chest. “Get. Out.”
“I’m very serious,” Gayle said, her smile spreading into a grin. “They’re waving a nice fat contract at us.”
“I’ll do it! Wait. Are there lots of zeros mentioned in the contract?” I was so excited I grabbed my duster and wadded it up in my right hand.
“There are several zeros,” she whispered as her grin grew even wider.
“I’ll do it!” My gods, I was such a whore. Wave a ten in front of me and down to my knees I went. But zeros meant money. Money that would keep my family safely housed and my rink operational. Rainbow Skate was my rink. I’d bought it and refurbished it. It was where I practiced. And it was where little gay and straight children who wanted a safe place to skate and express themselves and their art could come. No hateful slurs or brutes were allowed at Rainbow Skate. That was my rule. I hated bullies. I’d dealt with them from the time I was eight and discovered how fabulous I was on skates and how amazing my sewing skills were. By the time I was fourteen and came out officially, not one person was shocked. My stepfather was disgusted, but then again, he was a thieving twat.
“Wonderful! I’ve read over the contract and it’s pretty straightforward.” I bounced in my seat as Gayle talked. “They’re asking for six to eight weeks with exclusive access to you and the Railers as you work with them.”
The bouncing slowed. “I’m sorry…” I tapped my right ear. “Did you say Railers? What are Railers?”
“They’re the hockey team that’s expressed a pointed interest in working with you on this show.”
I couldn’t control the laugh that burst out of me. I roared so long and so heartily that I was close to hyperventilating when the laughter began to die down. Gayle sat behind her desk, staring at me as if I’d gone around the bend.
“Phew. Oh, my gods and garters,” I panted several minutes later. Dabbing gently under my eyes, I saw a blur of black on my fingertip. “And I thought this was waterproof eyeliner. Do you have tissues?”
She got up , grabbed a box from the edge of her desk, and handed it to me.
“Thank you.” I wiped my finger on a Kleenex, then gingerly pulled a tiny corner under my right and then left eye. “I hate this cheap stuff. I’m going to throw it out when I get home. Why did I even buy anything other than waterproof?”
“Is there a problem with you working with hockey players?” Gayle asked after she sat back down.
I tittered. “How much time do you have?” I asked.
She gawked at me.
“I do not do jocks.”
“But you’re a jock.”
“Uh, no, no, I am not. I’m an artist. I don’t go skating around hitting people in the face with sticks. No, sorry, this sweet thing,” I motioned to myself, “does not do hockey players, footballers, baseballers, basketballers, or those men who run around with nets to catch balls in. Lacrosse! I don’t do them either. I will do tennis players or an occasional fellow skater, but they can’t be on my team. Cat fights amongst team members are so ugly. I rather like Russian skaters. It’s the accent. I once did a Russian skater. He was delicious. I called it my Boris Godunov phase.”
I giggled at the witty, but Gayle simply continued to gape. I was so happy now – why was she being a prude?
“What?” I asked when she didn’t speak.
“Trent, this contract is contingent on you working with the Railers.”
“No, sorry. I don’t do hockey players. Didn’t we just cover that? They’re rude bullies who have never passed up an opportunity to shove me into lockers, dunk my head into toilets, or taunt me in front of everyone at the rink. Nope. Tell them I don’t do hockey players.”
“Trent, the contract is very specific. The Railers recently had a player come out.”
I passed the water bottle from my left to my right hand. “Good for him. I wish him all the success in the world. This impacts me how?”
“He and his coach…”
“Ew. His coach? Oh, yuck. Have you seen coaches? Ugh. They’re usually old Russian men with nose hair and breath that always reeks of potato soup and pickles.”
“Trent, what the man looks like isn’t important…”
“Maybe not to you.”
“They’re hoping to have this gay player and his teammates spend a few weeks with you at Rainbow Skate. It will show the world that gay athletes are caring, competitive, normal people.”
“If the nematodes out there in TV land don’t know that we’re normal people, then fuck them in the ass with a splintery wooden spoon. Again, I state that I do not do hockey players.”
“Then the show goes to Connor, since he’s recently come out as questioning.”
I shot to my boots. “There is no way in hell I get beat out by that simpleton again. How dare he try to out-gay me?! Gods above, I hate that little shithead. Fine. Fine! Tell the TV people I’ll work with the Cro-Magnons on skates, but the first time I hear one homophobic remark or one of them corners me in the bathroom, I am out of there!”
I slammed the water bottle on her desk and stalked to the door, my duster snapping around my leather ankle boots.
“Before you go, you need to read and sign the contract,” Gayle called, stopping my perfect diva exit, cold.
I glowered at the door, turned, and walked with purpose back to my seat. I snapped the contract from her and flopped down. Oh my. There were so many zeros. I needed zeros so, so badly. Why was nothing easy? Hockey players. I shuddered, read, and signed.
“I feel so cheap and dirty,” I mumbled ten minutes later when I was standing on Broad Street. I tied my coat around my waist. Some fool walked past and asked if I knew what fucking month it was. “Yes, I know it’s June. The outfit needed a coat. Don’t judge me.”
I hailed a cab. I don’t drive cars unless I must. I do have a scooter, but it had looked like rain when I left.
“2020 South 16th Street,” I told the driver after I was in and seated. He flipped the meter on and off we went to my mother’s house.
I was torn now. On one hand, I was the happiest I had been since my stepfather had run off with all my money. On the other hand, working with big, dumb hockey players was going to be dreadful, even if one of them was gay. I spent the ride staring out at the city and the narrow streets.
Newbold – or Point Breeze – was where I’d been raised. There was a nice Asian community there, with plenty of people from Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines, which was where my Lola was from. Mom and my grandmother had been trying to keep their heads above water since the debacle with my stepfather. The taxes were overdue on her little brick rowhouse. I’d paid them for years, but now…now I didn’t have the cash to pay my own rent. Then there was the mortgage on Rainbow Skate.
“My life sucks,” I groaned when we pulled up in front of my mother’s place. There was no way the cab could get to the curb. Cars were parked bumper to bumper.
“Welcome to life, kid.”
“I’m twenty-three,” I told Mr. Cabbie. He shrugged. Someone behind us blew their horn. The driver gave them the finger. I paid, and tipped the best I could. I felt the dark look for the measly buck tip as I hurried out of the yellow cab and up the cement steps to blessed relief from the nasty old world.
Lola was in the kitchen when I blew in. She gave me one look and opened her arms. I ran to the short, round, silver-haired woman and pulled her close. She stroked my back and murmured to me in Pilipino. The room smelled of soy sauce. Maybe she was making chicken adobo. I really needed some of her cooking, but I needed her hugs more.
“Where’s Mom?” I asked during the embrace.
“At the shop,” Lola whispered.
I grimaced, then gently stepped away. “I thought she had today off,” I sighed, peeling my coat off and draping it just so over the back of the battered chair. I sat down and quickly had a platter of dark chicken thigh meat cooked in soy, garlic and vinegar served over rice in front of me. “She works too hard.”
“Not more or less than any day since he run off with money.”
I blew out a breath and forked up some rice. Mom needed rehab. But, again, rehab cost money.
“I got an offer to be on a TV show. They want me to star in it with hockey players,” I told my grandmother.
She stopped waddling around long enough to point to the bright orange shirt she was wearing. “You make TV with Flyers?!” She pointed at the logo on her boobs.
“No, not the Flyers.”
“Pah, then bad hockey team.”
“They’re from Harrisburg.”
“Almost as bad as Pittsburgh!”
Lola loved her Flyers. As did everyone in the city except me. I didn’t do hockey players. Ever. Except now it looked like I was. Curse my stepfather to hell and back.
“They’re going to pay me a lot of money to do the show, Lola. We need the money. I can pay off the house and the rink. I can help Mom financially so she’s not giving mani-pedis for dismal pay and tips seven days a week.”
She sat down across from me at the table that was as old and worn as she was. Hell, as the whole house was.
“You are good, sweet boy. Eat more.” She patted my hand.
Try maintaining a skating weight with two Pilipino women in your life. It’s almost impossible. But, since I’d probably never skate again, why not have more rice? Who cared? It wasn’t like one of the Railers would be looking at the delightful curvature of my ass. Shit, it had been ages since anyone had looked, commented on, or even patted the delightful curvature of my ass.
“May I have more rice?”