Chapter Three: The Inevitable (Re)Meeting
We finally see an interaction between Hayden and her father, Presley, the team owner. They’re watching the game up in the owners’ box and Hayden is not enjoying it in any way, shape, or form. In fact, she spends most of the time lamenting to herself that she’s there and thinking about growing up with her father as a coach. She apparently idolized him and he made sure to take the time to take her to art museums and encourage her interests until she was an adult.
We also learn that her stepmother, Sheila-the-soon-to-be-ex, is only two years older than Hayden, which means I can finally pinpoint ages. Her father, Presley, we know is 57. And Sheila is 29 years his junior, making her 28 and thus Hayden 26. Which, yeah, there’s very little likelihood she could have gotten a PhD by then. (Assuming college at 17, graduation at 21, grad school with a masters in passing, she could maaaaaybe have just finished one. But we know she’s still working on it, and the text tells us she’s been teaching full time, explicitly four classes at least the previous semester.) I won’t rehash my point about academia any further, however.
Evidently, Presley had really invited Hayden to come watch the game because his lawyer wants Hayden to give a deposition since apparently she’d been there when the prenuptial agreement had been signed between her father and Sheila. The soon-to-be-ex is claiming that she was coerced into signing the prenup, so Hayden needs to go on record that Sheila was in her right mind.
By the time this conversation concludes, it’s three minutes to the end of the third period, although Presley has to explain that to Hayden. Is she incapable of looking at the scoreboard? Seriously, I get being ignorant of a sport. I have done my best to remain willfully ignorant of (American) football (and for that matter, soccer), for example. I have zero idea why men are parading up and down the field and hitting each other a lot, and most importantly, why the heck they’re stopping all the time. And I honestly don’t want to know. But I promise you, if I had been raised as a coach’s daughter, filling in my coloring books behind the team bench, I’d at least know when the game was ending. Hayden feels “stupid for asking and even stupider for not knowing” (43) and here I have to agree. I’m not saying she should have a finely tuned appreciation for the game’s nuances, such as whether a particular hit was legal or even what icing is, but to know when the period is going to end because the GIANT SCOREBOARD says so? That’s not too much to ask.
Here, let me help with a few important hockey terms, from Slap Shot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_w4MV_LwMw I’m afraid I can’t help with the part where you read a scoreboard to find out how much time is left, however.
Presley offers to show Hayden around the arena post game and she reluctantly agrees. I’d like to point out that evidently she really and truly managed to ignore the entire game really well, or else Brody played really unnoticeably for a star scorer. Else surely his name would have been said by the announcer if he’d scored a goal, made an assist, or taken a penalty, or even if he was in the starting lineup. The owners’ box isn’t soundproofed—that’d be silly but also the narrative specifically mentions “a deafening buzz followed by a cheesy dancebeat” at one point (42). Again, this has to be a choice in order for the re-meet in the next scene to be a complete surprise, but it makes Hayden seem incredibly unaware (although that was already accomplished by her not knowing how to read the scoreboard.)
Post game, Brody showers, notices he’s already getting a bruise from the player he was warned about earlier in the chapter, and dresses quickly so that he can go back to Hayden’s hotel in the hopes of more sex. (Oh, less importantly, the Warriors won and are now up by two games in the first-round.) He dashes out of the locker room, “promptly colliding with a warm wall of curves” (43). I’m not really sure why that description bothers me, but it does. The narrative has described Hayden as petite (but curvy!) many times, so “wall” seems like an odd choice.
Fortunately, we don’t have one of those distrusting moments that could so easily be cleared up by asking a question – Brody actually does ask a question, saying “I thought you said you weren’t a hockey fan,” but not thinking that Hayden somehow knew who he was but was lying. Unfortunately we get the far more squicky misunderstanding when Presley calls her “sweetheart” and Brody thinks Hayden is the team owner’s mistress. “Oh, man. Had he screwed around with Houston’s mistress?” (44). Thankfully, oh so thankfully, this lasts only two paragraphs until the chapter ends with “I see you’ve met my daughter, Hayden”.
So, chapter one: meet. Chapter two: hot, different-from-everything-before sex. Chapter three: ponder and desire more of the sex and then introduce an obstacle for the couple. Yup, seems about right on pace for Harlequin.
(I would like to take this moment to say that I don’t think that this is a bad book, actually. It’s a pretty good example, so far, of its genre, but you have to like its genre to like the book. Still, it’s situated in a weird intersection of things I know a lot about and feel strongly about, so I’m having quite a lot to say.)