Title: Power Play
Series: Sophie Fournier, Book Five
Author: K.R. Collins
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Pairing: No Romance
Genre: Contemporary Sports, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, sports, ice hockey, international tournament, injury, demisexual, questioning, bisexual, asexual
After two seasons without winning another Maple Cup, the pressure is on for Sophie Fournier to win the NAHL’s biggest prize. It’s her sixth season in the North American Hockey League, and she knows what she needs to do, and how to do it.
Only, she isn’t the only one feeling the pressure to win. Coach Butler’s job is in jeopardy if he can’t repeat the success from Sophie’s third season. As his vision for the team drifts away from Concord’s identity, Sophie is left with a difficult choice.
Does she unite the team behind Coach Butler’s vision and risk losing her team’s identity? Or, does she unite the Condors against their coach and risk her captaincy and her future with the team?
K.R. Collins © 2021
All Rights Reserved
And that’s how it’s fucking done.
Lexie’s text is accompanied by a link to an article: Indianapolis’s Young Stars Sign Matching Contracts 10×10. Lexie dragged Chad Kensington into her contract negotiations and demanded they be paid equally.
Sophie texts back.
Good for you.
She means it. Sophie was the first woman to re-sign, and her team undervalued her. The contract Lexie signed is what Sophie deserved. Her term and salary are much lower. She was told to be grateful she was re-signed at all.
This will mean a resurgence in questions about her contract. With so few women in the League, reporters jump at every opportunity to compare them. And, knowing Lexie, she’ll jump at the opportunity to measure herself against Sophie. At least it’ll be a break from talking about another disappointing season.
Sophie made history in 2014 by winning the Maple Cup. It was Concord’s first Cup in franchise history, and she did it alongside Elsa Nyberg. They were the first two women drafted to the North American Hockey League and the first two to win the League’s most coveted prize.
The following year saw a second-round exit. Last year they made it to the Conference Finals, but they lost in five games. This year will be their year again. They locked up Teddy and Kevlar last summer, and Elsa’s negotiating her contract now. They have a strong core. They’ll win another Cup.
She isn’t sure how much longer she’ll last if she doesn’t.
Growing up, her dream was always to play in the NAHL. She fell in love with hockey the first time her brother took her on the outdoor pond with him. The NAHL became her ambition as she watched the Montreal Mammoths lift the Cup, year after year, in their historic Cup run. Her mémé spoke of the players in reverent, hushed tones. She bought Sophie her first jersey and took her to her first professional game. She saw the way the whole city loved their team and told herself one day it would be her lifting the Cup. And she has.
But once isn’t enough. She has a Maple Cup ring, proof of the achievement. She has NAHL records and scoring titles and a sandwich named after her at the arena, but she also has two disappointing seasons, and people are looking for someone to blame. Sophie, as the captain, is an easy target. So is the coach.
She and Coach Butler haven’t always been on the same page over the years. He’s a demanding man who knows how to wring the best out of his players. He’s blunt and brash and, in his opinion, is always right. He’s a contrast to Sophie who grew up learning to moderate herself. On the ice, she can be dynamic but off it she’s composed and calm to the point of being boring. The difference in personality has put her and her coach at odds in the past, but this season they have the same goal: win the Cup and silence the doubters.
Sophie’s phone buzzes with another text from Lexie.
You should come train with me. You might learn something.
There isn’t enough room for anyone else next to your ego.
Lexie sends her a couple of laughing emojis.
Next summer. I’ll even let you crash my Cup party.
Sophie rolls her eyes.
Lexie isn’t content heckling Sophie via text. She does a bunch of interviews after she signs her contract, and she pokes at Sophie in every single one.
“Sophie Fournier is the only other woman to sign a contract extension, and yours is much better than hers,” Carol Rogers from After the Whistle says. “You haven’t had nearly the same success she has. How did you convince the front office to give you this deal?”
“Everyone knows Concord lowballed Sophie, and she let them. It meant I wasn’t going to use her as a comparable. Indy drafted Kenny and I together and put us on the same line. We negotiated together. We’re equals.”
“You two have certainly become synonymous with Renegades hockey. Do you worry with your contracts Indy won’t have the room to sign Steele next year? Is this the beginning of the end of the red, white, and blue line?”
“There’s room for the players we need.”
Sophie watches and reads everything Lexie does and uses it to compose her counternarrative.
“Your contract is back in the news,” Ed Rickers says over the phone. Sophie can hear the smile in his words. “Do you regret signing it?”
“No, I’m proud to be a Concord Condor. Being the first woman drafted into the NAHL means I’ve navigated many other firsts. I’m glad Lexie was able to sign a good contract.”
“And yours?” Rickers prompts.
“It was a good contract for me.” I’m being paid to do what I love. Is there anything better? “And it was a good contract for the team. We had the space to extend Teddy and Kevlar last summer, and Elsa’s signing her extension this summer. I want to be a Condor for life, and I want to keep this core together.”
“Are you suggesting Engelking’s contract will hurt her team?”
“I was talking about my contract, not Lexie’s. I know I make an easy target, but I did think before I signed. Was the money or term as high as Dmitri Ivanov’s or Lexie’s or Kensington’s? No. But money wasn’t my only consideration. Concord has become my home. I want to make my career here.”
Rickers reads between the lines of her answers, adds a journalistic flair, and publishes an article propping up Sophie’s team-friendly deal and predicting how long until Lexie and Kensington’s contracts sink the Renegades.
It doesn’t take long for Lexie to call her. “So, I’m a selfish, money-grubbing bitch?”
“And I’m a spineless, desperate one.”
“I really pissed you off, didn’t I?” Lexie sounds happy because she’s a hyper competitive freak. “That or you don’t want to admit how shitty your contract is.”
“We’ve been over this. It was the best they offered. I would’ve signed for twelve years if they asked. But there’s a difference between what I feel and what I say. It’s called having a filter.”
“It’s called being a liar. Did you tell Nyberg she should accept the first shitty offer to keep the front office happy?”
“After your signing, I’d say she’s looking at twelve years, twelve million since she has a Cup and an Alain Benoit to her name.”
“Are you going to bring any of this fight into the season?”
Lexie hangs up before Sophie can answer.
Meet the Author
K.R. Collins went to college in Pennsylvania where she learned to write and fell in love with hockey. When she isn’t working or writing, she watches hockey games and claims it’s for research. Find K.R. on Twitter.