Teardrop Shot

Page 14

More crackling.

Owen said, “For what?”

“Ice baths.”



“Did you say ice paths?”

Grant swore.

The crackling intensified, and he swore some more.

He almost yelled into the radio, “Ice baths. B. B as in boy. Baths!”



He wound up, ready to throw the radio over my head, but I lunged forward and grabbed it from him. He didn’t even resist. He walked in a tight circle, his arms tucked across his chest and his head down.

I pressed the button. “Owen, ice soaks.”

“Ooh! Yeah. We have enough. The machine is working fine.”

I pressed it again. “Thank you.” Let it go, then pressed it again. “Psychopath.” I said to Grant, “He was messing with you.”


Owen’s laughter sounded over the radio a second later. “I was just having fun. We’ll put out some buckets Grant can use. Owen, out.”

“Fuck this.” Grant started for the door, took one step, and twisted back to me. He took the radio in one hand, my arm in the other, and walked me out the door. “You’re helping me.”

A warm feeling exploded in me. I felt it shoot down my arms, and I couldn’t have stopped my smile if I’d tried.

This was the old Grant, the old dynamic of someone pushing on his buttons for the fun of it. The fact that it had been Owen made it even funnier, and like those previous years, Grant was huffing and puffing, but he was going to get the job done.

And I was going along for the ride, even though I was supposed to stay and man the gym.

“The cage, dude,” I said.

He growled. “Fuck that too.” He shot a look over his shoulder at Reese, who’d lined up for a three-pointer. The ball swished as Grant added, “Keith’s being paranoid if he thinks Reese Forster is going to steal a ball.”

“But where are we going? Tubs won’t have to be filled till after their practices.”

A hard bounce sounded behind us.

Grant hit the screen door with the palm of his hand. “You can help me bring all the stuff up.”

A second hard bounce.

We were out the door and walking for the main lodge when I felt a tingle in the back of my neck. I looked over my shoulder, and as Reese bounced the ball between his legs, I met his gaze.

A shiver ran all the way down my back.

I couldn’t read him. His face was locked down into an impassive wall, and I had to reflect for a second. He’d been pissy, furious, bossy, commanding, and then suddenly he’d laughed at me. Now there was nothing. He was devoid of all emotion.

His eyes were dead.

“The team has to go to their first preseason game. They have to use Fairview’s airport, so you’re going to go with them, show them the way.”

I blinked.

I saw the Boss mug first, then it moved from the opening in front of the cage’s window and Keith appeared. He was hitching his khaki shorts up, his belly jutting out even farther than normal because he wasn’t watching me. He was leaning against the cage, one of his legs crossed over the other, and he was watching the practice.

They’d been running drills for the last hour, with Reese and a few others sectioned off to the back corner. He was being fed basketballs as he was dribbling up to three at a time. He handled four at one point, but that was quickly shot off to the next person in line. They were taking turns, sending him the balls and he couldn’t lose control over any of them. He was bent down, a wide grin on his face, his eyes lit up. So not like the other day, when there’d been no look at all. Since then, he hadn’t looked at me. I was nonexistent.

Well. I was staff. There was a level of invisibility that came along with my position.

I wished that same power was extended to Keith, but alas he was my boss. What could a recently fired and recently dumped person do?

“You want me to do what?”

He waved his mug back to me, speaking distractedly, “You know how that airport is. The GPS always gets it wrong, so I told them I’d send a staff member with them. Trent’s gone. Owen is needed here and Grant’s got other things to do. You’re up.” Now he looked at me.

I wished he hadn’t.

I knew he was trying to grin at me, he was even speaking neutral and like I was a regular person to him, but when his mouth lifted, it just came out as a sneer. I didn’t think I’d be able to see him any other way.

He straightened up, readjusting his shorts. “I told Winston a staff person would direct them to the airport, so they know. They’ve chartered their own plane.”

He and Winston. First name terms, huh?

Wait. “I’m riding with them?”

On their bus?

I was starting to hyperventilate and he hadn’t even answered.

He was eyeing me, his eyebrows pinched together. “Yes. And you’re representing the camp, so don’t do anything nuts.”

I wanted to snort for so many reasons. I refrained, chewing the inside of my cheek. But I did give him a half-salute. “Yes, sir.”

“Good. They leave in about two hours. You’ll go on the bus with them, and they’ll park it there until they fly back.”

Two hours later, I was told to wait in the entryway while all their equipment was first loaded. They left after eating, and one by one, they went past me.

Out the door. To the bus.

A few of the guys eyed me with interest. A couple winked. Two smiled. Then there were the blank stares, a couple disgusted looks, all until the end where Reese was bringing up the rear. Juan was in front of him, a coach walking next to Reese, his hand on his shoulder.

He was nodding to what the coach was saying, then he saw me, and his eyes sparked. He half-turned his head toward me, enough so the coach stopped talking, lifting his head too to see what caught Reese’s attention. Seeing it was only good old me, the coach went right back to speaking, but Reese didn’t look away. He eyed me the whole time as he passed, his head turning to watch me as Juan held the door open for him.

Noting the look, Juan took interest in me too. His own eyebrows pinching together, a slight frown marring his face.

And because they were the rear of the group, I waited a beat before I fell in line.

These guys were giants, all of them except their trainers, and even most of those guys were six feet and in amazing shape. Came with the job, I suppose.

This was my life.

I couldn’t get over it.

I was walking behind the Seattle Thunder. I was going to ride on their bus with them, show them the way to get to the airport—wait.

Oh, shit.

I held up a hand. “Hold on!” I took off, back inside. “Owen!”

The door slammed shut behind me, then I heard it squeak as it was opened again.

“Where are you going?”

I was dying. That was Reese.

“I need directions.”

His nostrils flared and his head moved back an inch. “You’re supposed to be giving us directions.”

“I know, but—” There was a fork in the road and I always went the wrong way, but instead of explaining that to Reese, I yelled for Owen. “Left or right at the fork?”


Hadley yelled, “He means left. He thought you said left, and he was saying right to the left. It’s left.”

I was confused.

A body stood next to me. I could feel Reese’s heat coming off him, and his arm lifted. He had his phone out, was frowning at it. “Why’s the GPS all fucked up out here?”

I gulped. “The signal out here is crap.”

He grunted, putting his phone away. “Makes sense.” He eyed me again, before nodding up at Owen who had come out from his office. “Why can’t you come with us? Make sure we don’t get lost.”

So embarrassing, but then he stepped into my side.

My head whipped up, and I swear, he’d done it on purpose. His face was stiff, his lips pressed tight like he was holding back a grin, and he didn’t look down at me. Then he did it again. He was doing it on purpose.

I tensed, standing to my fullest height of five six. And I had no idea what to do here.

Owen gave us both a grin, eyeing me with a slight wary look. “You know the way?”

I nodded. “It’s left…”

“Right?” Reese added.

I clamped my mouth shut. My neck heating up.

Owen was skirting between the two of us, rolling his shoulder up and tugging on his neck. “At the fork, you go left.”

Hadley yelled from behind the kitchen window, “That’s right.”

Reese started laughing.

I yelled back, “You can’t see, but I’m flicking you off, Hadley.”

“I’m twerking back at you.”

“Yo!” A shout from behind us.

Reese and I both turned. The coach was there, a slight glare on his face. He was holding the door open, one foot inside. “What’s the holdup?”

Reese turned around, stepping into me again. “Direction Girl needed to get directions.”

“What?” His eyebrows shot up.

“No. I mean,” I coughed and started forward, “there’s a fork. I needed to remember which way to go. It’s confusing sometimes.”

Reese was close behind me. “She’s right.”

He was fucking with me.

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