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The Faker

Boston Hawks Hockey

Gina Azzi

The Faker

Copyright © 2021 by Gina Azzi

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.



1. Rielle

2. Torsten

3. Rielle

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The Rule Maker

Hey Reader

Also by Gina Azzi


About the Author



“What are my options?” I ask my lawyer, a stand-up guy I’ve been working with since I first came to the United States. I was nineteen years old with dreams of being the next Bobby Orr. Bill Cantrell took me under his wing and kept an eye on me as I struggled in a new country, with no family, and too much money to carefully manage.

Bill blows out a sigh. I can tell he’s weighing his words carefully and his hesitancy causes me to grip the phone tighter. “You really don’t think you’re going to re-sign, Torsten? The Hawks haven’t given you any indication that they’re cutting you loose, have they?”

I lean back against the couch cushion and squeeze my right knee. Twinges of pain spark and my kneecap pops when I straighten my leg. I let my hand fall back to my side. The tough conversation I had with Scott Reland, the Hawks owner; Coach Phillips; and senior management just this morning, flickers in my mind. I clear my throat. “I spoke to Reland. I’m not re-signing, Bill.”

“What?” Surprise is heavy in Bill’s tone. “When? What did Reland say?”

The gnawing ache that has taken up residence in my stomach since the start of this season swells upward into my chest. I had my doubts about my ability to keep playing hockey since September. Now that we’re in April, I’ve had to swallow some difficult truths that I still haven’t admitted to anyone save for the small group of people in Scott’s office this morning. Now, Bill knows the truth too. “My knee is giving me issues again, Bill. Ever since I cracked my kneecap in that game against St. Louis, it hasn’t been right.”

“That was over three years ago.”

“Exactly. I’ve had too many surgeries, too much scar tissue. My shoulder, my rotator cuff, is fucked. It’s time…” I sigh. I never thought I’d see the day I’d hang up my skates. I guess none of us do but then suddenly, it’s here and God, it hurts. “I’m finishing this season. Reland and Coach agreed to give me as much playing time as possible during the playoffs. Of course, I’m gunning for a Cup win. Afterwards, I’ll break the news to the team. My contract isn’t officially up until the end of June anyway.”

“Jesus,” Bill breathes out. “Damn. I’m sorry, kid. Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”

I snort. “Wasn’t ready to admit it.” I tell him the truth. “I’ve spent the past seven months thinking through every goddamn scenario that would let me keep playing. But, after the last few games, the hits I’ve taken, the recovery that just isn’t coming, I know it’s time.”

“You had one hell of a career, Torsten. You should be proud.”

The corners of my mouth turn up at Bill’s praise. In many ways, he’s the closest male I have to a father figure since my father couldn’t give a shit about my career in the NHL. Still, his words fan the ache in my chest until it’s crawling up my throat and forming into a lump I have to swallow against. I had a hell of a career.

Except now that’s nearly over, it doesn’t seem like I have enough to show for it. I’m still alone in the United States with my entire family in Norway. I’m still single, no kids, no real legacy to leave behind. With the exception of a promise I made to my grandmother, my farmor, when I was eighteen, I don’t even have any commitments.

“You really don’t want to go back to Oslo?” Bill asks, cutting through my thoughts.

I think of Farmor. I think of Oslo and my childhood home. The last three visits I’ve made, Farmor was the only family member to see me, to speak to me. As much as I hate to consider a world without her in it, she’s nearly ninety. After she passes, there will be nothing left for me in Norway, save for hurtful memories and broken promises. “Nope. I want to stay here. So, please, what are my legal options?”

“Are you looking into coaching? We can try to file for a green card through Employment-Based Immigration. Your best bet would be to prove your ‘extraordinary ability’ through hockey. But it’s six to eight months processing time during which, you can’t travel internationally.”

I lean back in my chair and brush my fingers over my mouth.

“The last two times we went down this path…” Bill trails off.

“I had to get back to Norway.”

“Yeah.” Bill’s quiet for a long moment. “Honestly, Torsten, your best plan is to wait it out. Commit to the process. Unless you’re planning on getting married, there aren’t many viable options.”

Get married? I know Bill meant it as a joke but the words sting. My reputation as a well-versed flirt and perpetual bachelor do a spectacular job at concealing the truth. That I’d love to find the right woman, settle down, and build a home, a family, a future. Why else would someone date as much as I do, if not in search of a life

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