Chapter 9: Subplots On and Off the Page
After telling Jennifer about his past, Axel (off screen) tells Kyle, as well. (Unlike with Jennifer, it’s not during post-coital snuggles but during some pre-game training in New York. Apparently he’d never told his foster family before—which is weird because in previous chapters we saw him contact them to have them up their security at their “compound.” Apparently they just took that warning/request with no concern? No questions? Also, apparently Kyle has four brothers. I have no idea if that’ll be important later (although Kyle offers the five of them to fight the motor cycle gang with Axel), but I thought I’d better mention it since they’re given names.
At any rate, it turns out that Kyle isn’t surprised at this Big Revelation because his father had already researched Axel’s history before adopting him. That makes a great deal of sense to me. It makes Axel angry though—not for the invasion of privacy but because they adopted him knowing that his background wasn't pristine.
“What the hell is wrong with you people?” He slammed the stick on the floor. Twice, for good measure. “I could have been a total head case. A violent lowlife who carried drugs in my suitcase” (86).
This seems like misplaced anger given that it’s a decade late and, y’know, Axel wasn’t any of those things. But this leads to some adorable brotherly banter that suggests that Axel had fit seamlessly into the family, and the news that Axel’s news isn’t news (if you see what I mean) means that everyone is likely to be better able to keep themselves safe. Kyle suggests that Axel can either call the police, which Axel dismisses as a death wish, or he can confront the gang, so “they can settle up face-to-face rather than threatening your girl” (88).
Uh, has anyone told Jennifer that she’s Axel’s girl? She’s still planning on returning to NYC in a few weeks.
At any rate, this is where Kyle says he’d fight beside Axel who doesn’t “fight alone anymore” because he has family (89).
The scene ends with Axel determined to protect all his loved ones by facing the gang, after one more last night with Jennifer, although he fears he’ll have to leave them all to keep them safe. Aaaaaaaaangst.
The chapter switches over to Jennifer at this point, who is directing her cameramen during the game against New York. (I’m sad that the text doesn’t give us names for the Montreal and New York teams.) Here we learn that the film crew was at the date with Vincent and Chelsea the night before, but the footage is useless unless Chelsea agrees to let it be aired. (Apparently the rule is that non-players have to be aware that they’re being recorded for the blanket waiver to apply.)
Also, apparently there’s a whole bunch of other interesting subplots happening in this novel completely off-screen. (Well, off our screen/page, but on Jennifer’s, since she’s a filmmaker.) Besides Chelsea/Vincent and Jennifer/Axel/motorcycle gangs, there’s more. Leandre Archambault, the one who resents Kyle and Axel, is trying to find love but he’s been typecast as a “male bimbo” which makes that difficult.
Kyle Murphy had recently become involved with a professional matchmaker whose mother was a former pop star (91).
I guess it’s good to see that the wildly improbable isn’t limited to the main characters of this novel but also includes barely-mentioned off-screen ones.
The narrative then switches over to Vincent who has brought Chelsea on the team plane as they fly back from New York. I will admit here that I am completely clueless as to whether that is likely or not (whether players can bring groupies on the team plane.) It seems unlikely, especially since the plane already has the entire team, the coaches, the media, and now the film crew. But Vincent tells Chelsea that she belongs with them because she’s the team’s number one supporter. I’m so sure that the support staff feels the same way…
Chelsea has never flown before. And Vincent is thinking about the kiss he put on her hand-- that damn hand kiss—which leads to him suggesting she hold his hand for takeoff. Also, apparently Vincent’s love for Chelsea, despite one date, is such that he’s sure that if he had to, he could leave hockey to be with her. (I don’t know why he would have to, but it’s presented in comparison to a previous girlfriend who gave him an ultimatum and he chose hockey.)
During the flight, Jennifer comes over to them to ask Chelsea if she can use the aforementioned footage. Vincent immediately snaps “no,” which on one hand is cute in his protectiveness. On the other hand, both he and the narrative have made a big deal about how strong Chelsea is, so let her speak for herself, dude. She actually puts her hand on his knee and says she’d like to see the footage. Given they were holding hands and Vincent had his arm around her when Jennifer came to see them, and now the knee pat, Chelsea seems to be getting over her fear of men (well, this man in particular) incredibly quickly. Plus, before she follows Jennifer up the airplane to go see the footage, she tells Vincent in no uncertain terms that “last night… was one of the best things that ever happened to” her before “she sauntered her way up the aisle” (96).
I like the Chelsea/Vincent subplot and I know that Harlequins have to move fast—triply so if you’re shoe-horning in multiple relationships—but given how much was made of Chelsea’s reticence, this feels off to me.
And yet I still wanna know more about Kyle and his matchmaker girlfriend and her former pop star mother.