“Aiden Marshall.” He stuck his hand out. “I’m one of the trainers for the team,” he said. “Keith mentioned you could be in charge of making sure the water is fully stocked.”
He led me over to the screen door between the outdoor courts and the indoor area. “I was thinking of having a table here. Water. Sports drinks. Protein and energy drinks and snacks. Then towels. Keith said you could help with the towels too.”
I was fairly certain Keith might’ve mentioned I was here to do their bidding, but I refrained from that comment too.
“How many do you need?”
“Anything we need to specially order, we’ll already have, but if you could just make sure the tables are fully stocked. I was thinking around a hundred towels. Some of the players use a couple at a time.”
“Just regular towels?” Not heated? I was already thinking of how we could get a steamer in here to hold the towels and how I could avoid that catching on fire.
“Yeah. Just hand towels. We brought some with us, but any you have on hand would be helpful. And ice baths. Do you guys have enough ice to supply for an ice bath?”
Oh shit. That would take large tubs. And ice, lots and lots of ice.
“I’ll tell Grant about that. He’s maintenance, so he’d be doing the ice baths for you guys.”
Seriously, Keith? He told them we’d handle that? That sounded like an enormous pain in the ass, but it was just like him to offer.
“Grant.” Aiden dipped his head forward. “You’re right. I’ll talk to Grant myself about the ice baths. We’ll need a few tubs filled every day too.”
Tubs. Got it.
I gave a bouncing nod and said, “You think a portable tub would make a good sled on a glacier?”
He stared at me.
“Never mind.” I whipped around, intending to go for the screen door. A quick exit was always a good choice after one of those slipped out. Instead, I smacked into a chest.
Or I would’ve except, two strong hands grabbed my biceps and caught me.
It happened so quickly, not even half a second.
I saw the wall of muscle in front of me and closed my eyes. I opened them after being stopped and was an inch away.
I already knew. I knew because I was this guy’s stalker, and that should’ve made me all giddy and euphoric. It didn’t. Instead, dread surged in my gut like an Olympic runner taking off after the starting gun popped.
My eyes moved up and up and up, over a defined chest to strong biceps and where they met his broad shoulders. His throat had the slightest stubble, as did his chin. I looked over his perfectly formed mouth, up to his nose and landed right on those hazel eyes that I swore were smoldering. Again.
Reese Forster was touching me.
Red alert, red alert.
His hands flexed on my arms before he chuckled. “Again with the questions?”
“Questions?” Aiden looked between the two of us.
He hadn’t dropped his hands.
He was still touching me.
I couldn’t even formulate a response except what was exploding up from my toes, my legs, my groin, my stomach, my chest, my throat. “If scientists are able to add a rhino’s horn to a horse through DNA manipulation, is that a real unicorn?”
Aiden made a gurgling sound, but to his credit, Reese didn’t even blink.
He responded right away. “No. That’d be a horse with a rhino’s horn.”
“Whaaat is happening?”
Reese ignored Aiden, finally dropping his hands—and yes, he left tingles where he had touched me. His eyebrows dipped down. “You’re a little odd, aren’t you?”
I snorted. “Fantastically so.” Somehow my hand found my hip in the most backward movement ever. I twirled and dipped it like it was an airplane going in for a landing. “You know me. Us camp groupies always have to keep you on your toes.”
His eyes remained locked on mine.
I was such an idiot.
Aiden was almost gawking at us now.
Then Reese gave a little grunt and stepped back. “You’re not a camp groupie. I was wrong. I’m sorry.”
Little did he know…
The door that connected the gym to the concessions burst open behind Reese, and I heard the familiar whisk-whisk-whisk of Keith’s khaki shorts before he bellowed out, “Charlie!”
I was right fucking here. I gritted my teeth.
Reese looked back.
Aiden stepped aside to see Keith too, and I stepped out from behind Reese.
“Oh!” Keith ground to a halt, that damn Boss mug in hand. He must’ve put hair product in his curls since breakfast because they looked wet. I’d bet my measly camp salary he was trying to impress the players, or the coaches.
Keith liked to pretend he was an expert on the sport.
To his credit, he did know quite a bit. He coached his daughters’ basketball teams, and one time I had to help. I’d been slightly impressed with the way he blew his whistle. Until it became annoying. He blew the thing every five minutes.
“I’m Keith Gimpel.” He stuck his hand out. “I run this place.” His smooth-talker voice was on. He was hoping to impress Reese Forster now.
Reese just nodded at him and moved back a step, to the side. “Thank you for letting our team use your facilities.”
Aiden stepped forward, shaking Keith’s hand instead. “I’m Aiden, one of the team’s trainers.”
Reese stepped back again, as if Keith’s presence repulsed him—or maybe that was my wishful thinking. Either way, Aiden moved forward again, engaging Keith in further conversation, and somehow, Aiden had Keith walking back into the concessions area a second later.
I was in awe.
I might need to be friends with this Aiden if he could handle Keith like that, because that’s what they both just did. My boss got served, in the best way ever.
Reese had gone back to watching me, and I couldn’t help myself. “That was awesome! It’s like you have creepy-guy radar, and Aiden’s your superhero,” I gushed.
Reese winced. “I don’t know if it’s like that exactly.” He lifted a nonchalant shoulder. “Your boss is a dick. I can tell.”
Stalker mode: engaged. Again.
“I think I want to be your best friend.”
I cringed, hearing those words before I could take them back, but a second later, Reese Forster laughed. It was small, brief, but it was there. And the sound flooded me with a warm, slightly gooey feeling.
“Let’s just keep it at weird camp buds, and by that, I mean you give me a damn ball. Now.”
That edge from last night was back in his voice. It was slight, but it was there, as if he’d been trying to hold it back.
I nodded, turning for the cage. That was the guy who’d showed up last night and practiced for four hours straight by himself, and with a vengeance—as if he needed to save the world with his basketball skills.
I felt honored he was even trying to hold back with me.
After handing over a ball, which Reese took in the same instant half-dribble, go-between-the-legs motion as he walked toward the court, the screen door slammed shut once again.
Please, not Keith. Please, not Keith.
Grant walked around the corner. “Hey—”
I shot my hands in the air and clapped them together. “It worked!”
I must’ve shouted, because Reese stopped dribbling. He and Grant both looked at me, but I didn’t even care. At this point, both were aware of my quirks.
“Okay.” Grant shook his head, rubbing his hand over the side of his face. “I’m not even asking. Did that trainer guy find you?”
“Yes. We need tubs.”
“Tubs?” His eyebrows rose.
I nodded. “Tubs and other stuff. Water. Sports drinks. Towels.” I indicated the spot behind him. “He wants a table set up there with all of that, and a second one outside. And he wants ice for the tubs.”
“Oh. That doesn’t sound so bad.” He had twisted around, probably gauging what size table he’d need to get.
“No, no.” I leaned forward and tugged on his sleeve.
He looked back.
I knew what he was thinking. “He doesn’t want the tubs for drinks or food.” Because that was a normal thing here. “He wants the tubs for the guys, for ice baths.”
And now I waited.
“Are you kidding?” His eyebrows pulled together, matching the sides of his mouth. “Fucking ice baths?”
I smiled. “Keith told him we could do that.”
He swore under his breath. “Goddamn fucking Keith. Where the hell are we going to find tubs that size? We’ve never offered that service before.”
I had a feeling it was going to be a regular thing now. I said as much. “You know Keith will want to get more pro teams. He’ll put images of them on the website.”
Grant went back to growling because he knew I was right, and that meant it’d be on him to get it done. Finding tubs wouldn’t really be a problem. Grant hated ice. His only use for ice was making drinks colder, but because winter retreats were offered here during the off-season, that meant he had a large hockey rink to maintain. Then there were polar bear plunges. Igloo making. Ice carving. And I got the newsletter—they were boasting a brand new ice carnival. All of those jobs fell on Grant’s shoulders to maintain, and during a time when staff was cut in half and sometimes to a third of what he had during the summer.
He pulled his radio from his back and pressed the button. “Owen, you there?”
A crackle, then, “Owen here. What’s up?”
“We got enough ice to fill up a couple of tubs for ice baths?”