"So Gabe," my Uncle Tommy begins. "How's wedding planning going?" 

I pass the mashed potatoes to Marc while waiting for Gabe's reply. We all love Liam and knew that the two of them were going to tie the knot at some point. It was evident since the first time Gabe brought him home that he was going to be apart of the family. 

"So far, so good," Gabe says. "We have a trip to Ohio in a couple of weeks to hash out the last of the details with his mom." 

"That's going to be a fun wedding," Mary says with a genuine smile. "Excited for you two to make it official." 

"Speaking of Ohio," Uncle Tommy says, changing the subject. "EJ, how was your game against Ohio State?" 

I finish chewing my piece of turkey that I had smothered in gravy before responding. 

"It was alright. We lost-2, but it was a good game, and we played well. Ohio State is annoying as fuck, but they're good. I'll give them that."

"Were there any scouts there? Your dad mentioned he thought there could be." My uncle asks. 

Logan puts her gentle hand on my thigh, under the dinner table, calming me down. I found out a scout was coming to that game right before I went out for warmups, and I started to feel a bit anxious in the locker room. But I used Logan's trick she taught me about describing my surroundings, and it brought my focus back before any real panic kicked in. The quick pregame phone call I had with her didn't hurt either. 

"Yeah, there was a scout from the Chicago Blackhawks there. Their lineup is in need of defensemen, so he was more so there to see Zanders from Ohio, but he did come talk to me afterward and told me he was looking forward to seeing me at senior showcase, so that's some positive progress, I guess."

"Definitely positive," my dad says with a nod. 

"Any word from other teams around the league?" Gavin asks as I uncomfortably adjust myself in my seat. Logan tightens her grip on my leg as I take a another breath. 

"Here and there. Nothing to commit to yet. Senior showcase will be a big weekend, and NHL playoffs start soon after that when most of the call-ups happen. So hopefully anytime now," I tell him. 

As soon as the words come out of my mouth, Logan releases her hold on me. I tilt my head to look at her, but she keeps her gaze fixed on her plate before taking another bite of her Thanksgiving dinner. When I look back up, my dad is the first face I see, as he looks between Logan and me. 

"We should talk about senior showcase," Mary says. "Logan, you're coming to Chicago that weekend, right?" 

She nods her head while she finishes chewing. "Yeah. I'm going to road trip out there with Marc, and our friend Ali is coming with us." 

"We met her, right?" Mary asks. "At EJ's game," she adds as Logan nods in agreement, both of us eyeing Marc, but he keeps his gaze locked on his plate, trying to avoid engaging in the topic of his fuck buddy. 

"Dinner was great," Uncle Drew says once everyone's plates are empty and stomachs are full. 

I stand up with the twins to start clearing the table, and Logan stands with us. 

"I can help clean up," she offers. 

"Oh, no, you don't," my dad interjects. "Winning team doesn't do dishes," he says as he pounds his fist with Marc, enjoying today's victory. "Especially the MVP. So kick back and relax," he tells her as she happily plops herself back in her seat, handing me her empty plate with a satisfied grin on her lips.



"How are my two favorite sons?" My dad asks as he walks up to Marc and me, sitting around the fire pit outside, hours after dinner and dishes are done. 

He hands us each a whiskey as he holds his up for a cheers. 

"Glad you're home. Love you both," he says as we connect our glasses with his.

"You too, dad," Marc says before taking a swig of the amber liquid. 

"So," my dad begins, taking a seat between my brother and me, kicking his feet up close to the fire. "Where's my FDIL?" He asks me.

"FDIL?" I question with furrowed brows. 

"Future Daughter-in-Law," he explains with a laugh, finding himself exceptionally hilarious tonight.

"Jesus, dad," I say with an eye roll, shaking my head. 

"And, I'm out," Marc adds as he picks up his glass and takes off towards the house. "Good luck, EJ," he says before leaving me alone with our dad. 

"Mary and the aunts kidnapped her somewhere, but you guys all gotta chill with the whole marriage and kids thing," I tell him.