Between the Pipes Chapter 1

Between the Pipes (In the Game Hockey Romance, Book 1)

Chapter One

Dr. Sarah Jain sat at her desk scrolling through the latest version of Medical Travel Alerts. A patient had walked barefoot through a mud puddle in Honduras and had returned home to Canada with an itchy foot. It was definitely a parasite. She had seen it under the skin. The question was, which one? Hookworm, Tungiasis, Schistosomiasis – so many to choose from. That was the fun thing about family medicine. So much variety.

A knock on her door had her looking up.

“Oh good. You’re still here.” Dr. Danni Angelo, her best friend and colleague at the family medicine clinic, walked in. “Are you free Friday night, by any chance?”

Sarah hesitated. Danni was also the team physician for the Clarington Quakes, the local professional hockey team. Friday night was game night. Maybe Danni wanted to catch a movie, but more likely it had something to do with hockey. Sarah wasn’t busy, but maybe she should be.

“I might be washing my hair. Why?”

“I have a favour to ask.”

“The answer’s no.”

Danni put her hands on her hips and tilted her head with a smirk. “I haven’t told you what it is.”

“We’ve been best friends for a long time. I can guess. I’ve successfully dodged those favours for the past two years – it’s a survival instinct I have.”

“Ah, come on. You know I don’t like to ask you, knowing how you feel.”

That was true.

“But this time I really need your help.”


“The Quakes are playing and my sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner is that night.” Danni had taken time off for the wedding and then was indulging in a few extra days off because the hockey team had a weeklong break to accommodate the upcoming All-Star game. “Trevor was scheduled to cover the game, but he just got a call from his mom that his dad had a stroke, so he’s flying home. And Ari’s working in emerg. He asked around, but he can’t find anyone to take the shift for him.”

Trevor and Ari were the alternate physicians who helped with the team. They loved hockey.

“Please, could you go to the game? Please, please, please.”

Sarah sighed at the puppy dog eyes. “Jeez, Danni, is there no one else you can ask?”

“Honestly, no. I know it’s short notice.” Danni sat down heavily in the chair in front of Sarah’s desk. “You don’t have to watch the game; you just have to be at the rink. Maybe it will be a quiet night.” Her voice didn’t hold much conviction.

“Right. What about suturing? You sew more than Jordyn, and she’s a seamstress.” Jordyn Kendra, one of their best friends, designed swimwear and skate-wear for a living.

“Well, perhaps you might have a teeny bit of suturing to do, but what better way to keep up your skills?” She gave a hopeful grin.

Sarah shook her head. “Still no.” Her reluctance wasn’t about the medicine.

“Listen, I’ll make it up to you. If you do this for me, I’ll work one of your half-days.”

Sarah rolled her eyes. If she wanted extra time off, all she had to do was change the schedule.

“Okay, okay.” Danni leaned back in the chair and pursed her lips. “How about I arrange to get the snow tires on your car? And,” she added reluctantly, “you can use my car while I’m away.”

Sarah wrestled with guilt. Danni had a sweet chocolate-brown Porsche that she rarely let anyone else drive. She must be seriously desperate to suggest lending it.

But could Sarah get through the game? It had been years since she’d stepped into a rink. She glanced at Danni’s worried frown. She’d have to try. “All right. But it’s a one-time deal.”

“Of course.” Danni jumped up and scooted around the desk to give Sarah a quick hug. “Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I’ll text Trevor right now.”

“Before I change my mind?”

Danni nodded with a grin and rushed out.

One of the best perks for the Quakes’ team physician was getting waved through all the parking lot checkpoints at the arena and snagging a prime spot right outside the entrance. It was a typical Friday night in Clarington, and the arena was hopping. Sarah carefully manoeuvred the Porsche into the reserved space and shut off the engine.

Danni’s Porsche was a dream to drive – very smooth and powerful. No sneaking off for junk food at the drive-thru, though. People noticed you in this car. She’d laughed, a little embarrassed, at a wolf whistle when she’d been stopped at a stop sign. And she’d accelerated a little too quickly at a green light when a group of men had ogled the car, but she’d managed to make it without a scratch or a ding. Danni would appreciate that.

Sarah sat for a moment in the car, watching the crowds of people streaming into the arena. She wouldn’t be surprised if it was another sell-out crowd. Clarington was very supportive of its hockey team and had raised the money to build the rink. The building, with attached banquet facilities, had opened six months ago. It had been a five-year project that the city council had heartily endorsed and all but a minority of Clarington folk had embraced.

Sarah was part of the minority. She hadn’t been to a rink in over nineteen years and wasn’t looking forward to it tonight. She loosened her coat as sweat gathered on her forehead. The inside of the car suddenly felt airless. She fumbled with the door and stepped out. Think happy thoughts. You can do this.

Danni had lent her a team tracksuit to wear. They were the same height, which was handy, but Danni had a few more curves, so the fit was a bit loose. She hiked the pants up and grabbed a bag off the seat. Danni had also sent along ice-gripper shoes, which were designed to make walking on slippery ice safer. Luckily, they both wore a size nine shoe. She hoped she wouldn’t need to use them, but if she did have to go out onto the ice, at least there’d be less chance of her ending up on the sports channel highlight reel for the game’s most embarrassing moment.

Sarah bypassed the main doors and made her way to the staff entrance off to one side. Security personnel scanned her medic pass, and she was waved in. People milled about in a bright open foyer. Moving ramps carried fans to the second and third decks, and those lucky enough to be in the main arena were directed around the rink on moving platforms. Enormous shiny silver spotlights illuminated the periphery, and navy and silver Clarington Quakes logos flashed at regular intervals. The navy walls, with a band of stainless steel tiles, were elegantly interspersed with pale grey brick columns.

Sarah tried to absorb the fans’ excitement and energy as they made their way to their seats, but her heart pounded and her chest tightened. She struggled to ignore the smothering feeling until her vision greyed. Feeling lightheaded, she sat down on a bench and leaned on her elbows. Her shoulder-length chestnut-brown hair fell forward, hiding her face.

Deep breath in. Slow breath out.

She glanced up, wondering if there might a doctor somewhere in the crowd – one who could look after the team so she could leave. She swallowed past the lump in her throat and tried to settle her racing heart.

Danni had promised to update the injured player list before she left, and she’d suggested Sarah drop by the trainer’s room before the game. Ben Matthews, the head athletic therapist, and his assistant, Dave Reed, would be there with any athletes who needed last-minute treatment. Sarah had met Ben and Dave at a handful of team fundraisers over the past two years.

Danni’s suggestion was a good one, but it wasn’t going to happen. Another wave of nausea hit her, and Sarah put her head down between her knees and pretended to tie her shoes.

After a few minutes, the dizziness subsided and the nausea passed. She rose slowly and made her way into the rink. If Ben needed her, he’d find her in the stands. She’d be the one looking a little green.