Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle

I’D ARRIVED EARLY. It was an old habit, but one I doubted I’d break anytime soon. One of my first coaches had always told us that to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late… Well, you’d just better not be. Now, a decade or more later, I couldn’t seem to make myself show up anywhere merely on time. Hardly anyone else was there yet for the rehearsal—no one I knew, anyway—so I plopped down on one of the seats up near the front, right by the altar, and pulled out my cell to scan the half a million texts I’d gotten in the last hour from Levi.

Levi was my younger brother, the oldest after me. We had five more brothers younger than him, too. There were kind of a lot of us. And he’d been texting me like crazy all day because tomorrow was the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft, and he was expected to be picked in the top five. No matter what, he should definitely be the first defenseman taken in this year’s draft. Two years ago, I was in a similar spot. I was selected seventh overall by the Portland Storm, and I somehow made the team right out of training camp as an eighteen-year-old rookie.

Because I had been in that same position and could coach him on what to expect, right now I felt like the shittiest brother in the world. Levi and the rest of our family—even our uncle and cousins—had all been with me when I’d been drafted. And they were all in New York with Levi right now, helping to keep him calm as he went through his meetings and media interviews and physical tests, and all of the other insanity that goes with being a top prospect.

But where was I when I ought to be with him? I wasn’t in New York; I was in Providence, Rhode Island. Two of my teammates were getting married tomorrow. That made me a good teammate, I supposed, but not a very good brother.

Team captain Eric Zellinger—Zee to the guys—and his childhood best friend, Brenden “Soupy” Campbell, were both tying the knot, and for some reason they’d asked me to be one of their groomsmen. I wasn’t sure why they’d chosen me and not one of the guys who had been around the team longer, like Ny or maybe Monty. I mean, yeah, I’d lived with both of them, but that didn’t make me groomsman material, did it? Either way, they hadn’t asked those guys; they’d asked me.

I looked around the mostly empty chapel. At least being here early gave me time to respond to Levi’s texts. I spent a few minutes poring over them. He’d had a good meeting with Jim Sutter and the rest of the Storm’s executives at the draft, but Jim had already warned me countless times not to get my hopes up. He wasn’t slated to make a pick until number eighteen this year, and Levi would be long gone by that point. The only way Levi would be drafted by the Storm was if Jim somehow worked out a trade with another general manager and was able to move up. But he had told me again and again that it just wasn’t likely to happen. Which wasn’t news to me. Trading up would mean losing prospects, and they were a commodity he was trying to stock up on, not trade away.

Since Levi knew he wasn’t likely to be chosen by the Storm, he had his sights set on the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were the team we’d always been fans of, my brothers and I, growing up in Ontario. They had the fifth pick this year, but Levi said his meeting with them hadn’t gone well at all so he didn’t have a good feeling about it.

It went much better with the Montreal Canadiens, but they weren’t picking until number twelve. He felt pretty confident about his interviews with the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders, too—both were slated to pick within the top five—so in all likelihood he’d be playing for one of those two teams.

His best interview of the day, though—at least so far—was with the Winnipeg Jets. There was a small part of me that hoped the Jets would choose him. They were a Western Conference team, like Portland, and so Levi and I would get to play each other more often than if he were with some team in the Eastern Conference. They were slated to pick sixth, and everyone was saying that they were looking for defensemen in this draft, so there was a definite possibility there.

Levi still had meetings scheduled with five other teams for later on in the day, so it was anyone’s guess where he would end up.

I was just about to respond to his slew of messages when the door opened and about a dozen people came in—Zee and Soupy, their fiancées Dana and Rachel, and most of the others in the wedding party like Liam “Kally” Kallen and his girlfriend, Noelle Payne. I only had eyes for one of them, though—Katie Weber, the oldest daughter of my former teammate, David Weber.

I’d had a thing for Katie for two solid years, ever since I first joined the Storm. These days, it was much more than that. I was half in love with her.

I hadn’t seen her since I left Portland almost six weeks ago, and it took me by surprise to discover that she had some hair now. A few months back, she’d been diagnosed with leukemia. She’d had to go through radiation and chemotherapy and all that, so she’d lost her hair and wore scarves to cover her baldness most of the time. Or at least she did the last time I saw her.