Reminiscent of his youth, Lincoln Tate, stood patiently outside the large wooden door that led to one his parent’s many different bedrooms that scattered across the globe. Lincoln’s Mother had flown in to attend the draft with him, and only after he had requested through correspondence that at least one family member be there with him. Lincoln was surprised to learn that his Mother was willing to come as she hadn’t attended a single VHLM game this past season, and he was certain that she didn’t even know what the VHLM or the VHL was. But nonetheless, Lincoln was happy to have company. Lincoln had never spent much time with his Mother, he was raised mostly by the hired staff and only saw his Mother on average four times a year. Winnie Tate wasn’t the worst parent, she cared for her son in many ways and had done her best to provide him with the best education money could buy. Out of both of his parents, Winnie had shown Lincoln the most love, and the when it came to the time they spent together during those odd occasions each year, they were pleasant enough and that was all Lincoln could ask for. He wasn’t one to complain.
Lincoln and his Mother had traveled together via the Tate private plan and landed quietly on the night before the draft, travelling by car to their local property and blowing the dust off the doors as they passed through them. The Tate’s were known to have properties all over the world, just for this very occasion. It wasn’t that hotels weren’t good enough, it’s just that the Tate’s preferred to own the hotels they slept in.
Lincoln had woken early on the day of his draft, and even though he had hardly slept through the night he was filled with energy. He felt strangely refreshed and nervous at the same time, and the anticipation that had been building inside of him since he opened his eyes was causing him to sweat too much. Part of the problem that was causing Lincoln to overheat was that he had been dressed in his suit for almost two hours now- unable to quell the excitement pounding in his chest.
What would happen tonight?
When would he be selected?
Where would he be going?
These sorts of questions littered his mind, overwhelming him at times and forcing him to focus on his breathing. He had learned different breathing exercises to help him calm himself down in times of stress and breathing in slowly through his nose and out of his mouth was one of the methods that helped to relax him the most. Lincoln exercised this very breathing tactic as he waited calmly for his Mother, he wasn’t going to rush her, even though he knew very well that if he didn’t do just- that they might miss the draft altogether. The only thing that assured Lincoln was the fact that he was forecasted to be picked in the second round, possibly the first, so even if he and his Mother were late to the draft- He wouldn’t have to be worried about being selected by that point, and everything would still be just fine.
However, Lincoln didn’t want to be late at all. He knew that he had to find a way to convince his Mother that they had to leave a bit early, and the only way he was going to be able to do that was to talk to her- and that wasn’t something he was used to doing. Lincoln leaned into the large wooden door causing the door to slowly creek open and reveal his stick skinny, filthy rich, Mother sitting far across the room on a single chair, admiring herself in a mirror that nearly matched the height and width of the door that Lincoln had just opened. Winnie Tate immediately noticed her youngest son in the doorway and while her eyes only lingered on him for a moment, she knew what it was that he wanted, she could read Lincoln like a book, “Yes?” She asked him, giving him the chance to ask the question that she already knew was going to come out of his mouth.
“I was wondering when we might leave?” Lincoln asked softly, doing his best not to add any inflection in his voice, if he was to have any success with his Mother he would need to tread carefully.
“Soon,” she told him the same answer she had given him earlier that day. They would leave when she felt good and ready to do so. She was aware of how important this event was for her son, she could see it in his eyes alone. But a Tate rushed for no one, and events only really started when a Tate wanted them to. This draft or whatever it was that Lincoln was so eager to get to, could wait.
“Okay,” Lincoln responded just as softly as he had spoken a moment before and he understood then that his attempt had not been successful. He switched tactics and entered the large room with vaulted ceilings and furnishings that had been carved from two-hundred-year-old cedar. Lincoln was calm and fluid in his movements as he edged closer to his Mother, finally reaching her side and smiling back at her through the mirror. “Did you want some company?” Lincoln asked, figuring this strategy might move things along faster, “Would it be okay if I waited with you?’
Winnie was not quik to say yes, and she debated in her mind whether she should ask Lincoln to continue waiting outside the room, as she had done before. She knew that their assistant Ramone was waiting outside, ready and willing to drive them to Lincoln’s event, and she knew that it had been at least an hour or more since Lincoln had last asked to leave. “No that’s all right,” she said to Lincoln as she forced a smile, she wanted to be kind to her boy, even though she had expected more kindness to be shown to her, “We can leave.”
Hearing her response Lincoln’s face lit up a smile, his tactic had worked, and it meant that they would be on their way, he would arrive on time for the draft after all. “Thank you,” he told his Mother sincerely, “Thank you so much.”
“How long will this take?” It was a simple question from his Mother and one that Lincoln knew not to take the wrong way.
“I’m not sure,” he said honestly, “It might be a couple of hours.”
“A couple of hours!?” She was astonished, “For a Tate? That’s outrageous, surely you’re not wasting your time with this, ‘hockey,’ Lincoln?”
He shook his head and remained stoic, “No,” he said without any trace of agitation, “My hope is that the wait won’t be long, I just don’t know what’s going to happen. No one can know that.”
“Well,” she said to herself as she turned away to look through the limousine window, and Lincoln watched as his Mother stared at the passing city. He could tell that she was debating in her mind, trying to figure out what was reasonable, “One hour,” she said aloud before she looked back at him, “One-hour Lincoln, and if you’re not drafted by then- then it’s not worth staying. What league doesn’t value a Tate?”
It was now Lincoln’s turn to debate what his next move should be as the very thought of only staying at the draft for an hour was mortifying. How could she make such a demand of him? She had elected to come to the draft when asked, and now she was stating when they had to leave? It was so typical of her to do this to him last minute and try to force him to deviate from his plans. He wondered what her true motive was, at least if it was his Father he would have been more forthcoming. His father was never afraid to admit that he’d rather be doing something else than spending time with his son.
But why even listen?
Lincoln was almost of age and an adult in terms of the law. She would only be considered his legal guardian for two more months. Besides, if she wanted to leave the draft then she could, and Lincoln would stay. They weren’t set to leave the city until tomorrow and depending on who Lincoln was drafted by, he might be getting on a different plane than the one that brought him here.
But what Lincoln didn’t understand was that he had already spent his last night living in the same home as parents, and that everything was about change- forever.
“If it takes longer than an hour, I’m going to stay,” Lincoln was satisfied with how the sentence had flowed out of his mouth. He had spoken with confidence, and when he looked his Mother in the eye, he held strong.
“You will not,” she was insulted by his suggestion, “A Tate will not be embarrassed, and that’s what you are Lincoln. If the hour has passed and they-“
He cut her off, “I’ll come right back after I get drafted, you can go back home and do whatever you want. I’ll get a ride back. I don’t need Ramone to stay,” Lincoln was trying to be reasonable, he didn’t want to make this any worse than it already was.
“It’s not about me WANTING to leave,” she tried to reassure him, “I just- Lincoln, our name is important. We’re a brand.”
“I want to stay there, please,” Lincoln still wasn’t ready to defy her. Not yet. “Just stay the hour with me and if I don’t get drafted by then, you can leave. I’ll be home soon after, the draft won’t take longer than three hours, maybe less.”
“Three hours!?” She exclaimed, focusing on the word three, “How many people are in this thing Lincoln?”
“It’s a professional league Mom,” Lincoln told her, “Once I’m drafted I can sign. I made over a mill-“
“You don’t need to work for money Lincoln,” she was swift in her reaction, “If you want to make real money you should be working for your Father. I’m certain he thought you’d be working for him by now, and you were always so good with numbers.”
“I’m good at this,” Lincoln could no longer resist, “And had you shown up once last season you would have seen that.”
“Is this how you talk to your mother now?” She asked as the limousine pulled to a stop. Ramone opened the door for them, revealing the venue of the VHL draft and a large crowd scattered outside of the front entrance.
Lincoln looked outside and then back at his Mother, “Are you coming?”
“I’ll meet you inside,” she said coldly as she looked down and away from him, reminding him of his younger sister and how she reacts when she doesn’t get what she wants.
“Okay, see you in there,” Lincoln went to step out of the limo and then stopped, he looked back at her, “Sorry about what I said.”
She didn’t respond. Lincoln left the limousine and walked inside alone.
When Ramone arrived, and his Mother did not, Lincoln was not surprised. He wasn’t angry either, just disappointed and unsure as to why he extended her an invitation. Lincoln had been alone for most of the season, staying in empty homes or hotels, sometimes at the team’s expense but mostly at his parents. They expected a Tate to live by a certain standard and it was a high one and far too pricey for a VHLM team to afford. Still, Lincoln had found time to make friends and win himself over with the group and if there was a highlight so far to the draft it was getting to talk with his soon to be ex teammates Phil Marleau and Greg Eagles beforehand. The small talk was fun and upbeat and they all wondered collectively what would happen, and as Lincoln wished them well he watched them with envy as they headed back toward their family- the people who waited for them with open arms.
When the draft started Lincoln missed most of the beginning speech, he was too focused on the door to the arena floor and anxious to see if his Mother would come. “I took her back to the estate, she’s not here,” Ramone finally said to him, not wanting Lincoln to continue to hope for her presence. “I’m sorry Lincoln,” Ramone spoke with sincerity and compassion, he rarely showed emotion but even he was astounded at the fact that Lincoln’s Mother had decided to leave.
“It’s okay, I’m not upset,” Lincoln’s response wasn’t truthful and Ramone knew it, but he needn’t comment any further, there was nothing left to be said about it.
Ramone could sense that there was some confusion on the draft floor and he leaned into Lincoln, lowering his voice as he asked, “What’s happening?”
“Something’s going on,” Lincoln told Ramone as he watched the crowd move about, Executives on the floor appeared upset, “There’s technical difficulty I think.”
“Will they shut it down?” Ramone asked naively.
“I don’t think so,” Lincoln shook his head, “I doubt it.”
“You want some French fries or anything?” Ramone asked, feeling a sting of hunger hit his belly.
“No,” Lincoln said, “You go ahead,” and before Lincoln could finish his sentence Ramone was up on his feet and headed toward the concession. Lincoln sat alone as he waited for the draft to start, and he looked around for Ramone the moment the announcement was made. Ramone had not yet made it back from the concession as members of the Riga Reign worked their way to the main stage.
“With the first pick of the VHL Entry Draft the Riga Reign are proud to select, Lincoln Tate.”
The crowd surrounding Lincoln seemed to find him immediately with hands reaching out to touch him as Lincoln was lifted from his seat and embraced by strangers. Lincoln smiled as he shook hand after hand and said thank you to people he had never met before, looking around one last time for Ramone but still not seeing him. Lincoln was thrust forward in disbelief as he seemingly floated to the arena floor and found himself on stage with a Riga Reign jersey being pulled over his shoulders and a Riga hat being placed on his head.
“Welcome to the VHL,” a voice said to him.
“Welcome to Riga,” another told him.
“Thank you,” Lincoln said as his eyes bounced from one man to another, “Thank you,” he continued to repeat. FLASH! Cameras went off in front of him as he took photos with the team and for the first time in his life Lincoln was the center of attention. He wasn’t sure how to react or what to do and instead allowed the group to guide him.
“How does it feel to go first overall to Riga?”
Lincoln was seated in a chair next to his new General Manager, Benjamin Zeptenbergs and looking across at him was an attractive television host expecting an answer. Lincoln was at a loss for words and stuttered as he started to speak, “It-it’s beyond words, I’m honored.”
“You were expected to go a few picks later than first, were you surprised?”
“Very,” Lincoln was forthcoming, “But thrilled that it happened.”
“Are you excited to play next year in Latvia?”
“What do you hope to bring to the team?”
“Offense,” Lincoln was quik to say, “I want to be a weapon out there, shoot to kill.”
“Do you have anything you want to say to the fans of Riga?”
Lincoln smiled, “Let the Reign begin,” he said with an excited laugh- he still couldn’t believe this was all happening to him, and just as quik as it all came, it was over. The attention moved now from Lincoln to the next in line, and as Seattle called out Funk’s name the camera’s seemed to shift in unison away from Lincoln and the noise around him softened.
“Where you off to?” The question came from behind Lincoln and as he turned around, he saw his new General Manager, Zeptenbergs, looking back at him with a curious expression.
Lincoln grinned sheepishly, “I was going to try and find my ride home.”
Zeptenbergs laughed at the remark, “We’re your ride home now, don’t you want to come with us?”
Lincoln looked over Hedge’s shoulder at the floor of the draft, watching as the people continued to hustle back and forth and cheer the names that were being called over the speakers. “Yes,” Lincoln said to Zeptenbergs, “Lead the way,” and he followed Zeptenbergs back onto the arena and over to the Riga Reign table, to where he belonged.