Juan’s eyes just remained saucers. “It is?!”
I was guessing. “I wouldn’t be surprised, but that’s the basement. I’m not sleeping down there.”
He took a breath, suddenly looking more normal. He stepped away from Reese too.
“Shit. Okay.” He grabbed his phone and some of his clothes and padded to the other room. A second later, he tossed Reese’s pillow and blanket into the bedroom.
Scooping them up, Reese gave me a wary look. “We are going to be sleeping. We have this morning off. Then it’s meetings the rest of the day and light hoops. It’s a rest day for us too.”
He said that like I was going to fight him on it.
I just shrugged, stepped into the bathroom for a moment, then slipped back into his bed.
I paused, seeing Reese’s eyes closed. “You want me to sleep there?” I asked. “I mean, this is your bed. Right?”
He rolled over, shaking his head. “I was sleeping in the other room the whole time. Go to sleep, not-really-a-stalker girl. I’m tired.”
Well… When he put it like that… I slipped under the covers and turned my back to him.
I fell asleep much more easily this time.
Juan Cartion moved out.
I convinced Reese to let the fishing cabin go, because I didn’t want to deal with what Keith would do afterward. He’d claim I seduced Reese Forster into taking up my fishing cabin cause, and I wasn’t joking about the janitor’s closet. I’d overheard him one time mentioning to the maintenance crew that if we needed an extra room for someone, a staff member could stay in that closet.
It was big enough for just a single bed to fit in there. The door would have to be turned so it opened the other way, and that person would have to climb on and off the bed to get into the hallway, then walk past the ghosts, the laundry, the maintenance office, and up two flights of stairs before using the bathroom the campers on the first floor used. The only pro for that room was that it was in the main building, which meant it was closer to midnight snacking.
But let’s be honest.
Was I really feeling the impending need to find somewhere else to sleep? Not really.
The Thunder had practices and meetings and scrimmages over the next week, and I did my usual. I manned the gym, did breakfast prep, and did dishes for all the meals. More guys were bringing their trays up to the window now instead of making Owen go and get them from the table. Reese also came in and booted people out of the gym every night at midnight. Not that any guys were up there anyway, but every now and then, one might be doing late-night drills or just shooting the breeze. A few times one of the guys would take a phone call on the benches around the outdoor court. But it didn’t matter. Reese would declare the gym closed. No one argued with their captain.
Then we’d walk back to his cabin and start the routine we’d developed.
I’d go to my cabin and get clothes. He’d be cleaned up by the time I got back, just leaving the bathroom and shower as I got in. Then it’d be my turn.
After that we’d sit in the living area. If he took the couch, I took the extra chair. Or vice versa. We’d work on whatever or read or listen to whatever until one of us got tired and went to bed. Going to bed and falling asleep weren’t a hardship anymore.
I didn’t question why I could sleep so easily with him across the room from me. I was just grateful to be getting around five hours of sleep per night. Reese woke the first few times I got up at five, but after two days of that, he was able to sleep through or just roll over and fall back asleep.
He did argue with me about not getting enough sleep, but I insisted I was getting up at five on my own. That was a battlefront I would die on, because he didn’t know I was going to help Owen and Hadley with breakfast. He was already pissed at Keith about my cabin. I didn’t need to give him more ammunition, at least until after camp, because a part of me was wondering how much damage a pissed-off NBA player could do to Keith? If anyone could get something done about Dickhead Boss, I would put money on Reese. Which made me feel bad, because he was a camper. He shouldn’t have to worry about any of this. Nor should he have to put up with rooming with one of the staff because he was a decent human being.
“Why do you have a laptop if you never use it?”
Reese was lounging on the couch, wearing only shorts with rap blaring through headphones in his ears. No one was around at the gym, so he’d talked me into closing it early. And by talking me into it, I mean he took my keys and locked everything up, then stalked down the path to his cabin.
I hadn’t argued. It was nice to feel like I had a night off. It was only around ten o’clock.
Or at least it had been nice until he asked that question.
I shifted in my seat, my phone in hand. I was stalking Lucas, looking at his new girlfriend because the douchebag hadn’t wasted time. She was petite, with long brown hair and the largest almond eyes ever. She looked sweet.
I was tempted to slip into her DMs and see if Grandpa Newt had propositioned her, but I was resisting. Only one stalking target at a time. And I didn’t know what to say to Reese, so I kept quiet, pretending to thumb up my music on my phone.
He grunted, then swung up from the couch. Reaching over, he picked up my headphones…which weren’t plugged into my phone. Flinging them on my lap, he laid back down.
“If you don’t want to tell me, fine. But at least try to lie better. For all your crazy facade, you suck at actually being crazy.”
Oh. OH! Did he just challenge me?
I think not.
But as I was puffing up my chest, I knew he was right. I’d lost the will to be nuts. Even the random questions had stopped. I missed them.
“It’s a therapy assignment.”
I might’ve mumbled those words, my mouth tucked into the collar of my shirt. If he heard, he heard. If he didn’t, he didn’t. Just as long as he didn’t kick me out of his cabin, because his was so much better than mine.
The lack-of-smell alone was worth it.
“What?” His eyebrows rose, and he lifted his head, his hand splayed out on his chest—his very nice and defined and muscled chest that was lean, with that tattoo that I hadn’t yet brought myself to ask about because I couldn’t read it. But damn, I wanted to. It was hot.
“Nothing.” I tried to sink farther into the chair.
He wasn’t having it.
He swung his feet back up and scooted to the edge of the couch. He reached over and plucked my phone from my hands, holding it hostage. His eyes dared me to even try to get it back.
“What’d you say?” he asked.
I knew my place. Professional athlete, I was not. I remained in my seat and only lifted my feet up, scooting my knees against me and wrapping my arms around them. I propped my chin on top and watched him. “You heard me.”
He was giving me a new look. “You’re in therapy?”
“I was.” And damn. I just didn’t have the energy to lie anymore.
I held out my hand, palm up. “Come on.”
He gave me my phone back, but cautiously. “Why were you in therapy?”
“Because…” I took the phone, my hand wrapping around it, but I only brought it back to my lap. My knees remained up, like they were a shield.
My throat burned. Was I actually going to tell him some of this?
This felt weird—too fast, too…too exposed.
Shit. I was going to tell him.
I was crapping my pants as the words formed on my tongue. “I was in a relationship with someone for a long time, and it was…” The burning increased in my chest. I felt an impossible weight there. “It was a hard relationship.”
A lump formed in my throat.
Reese’s eyes narrowed. “Did he hit you?”
I couldn’t answer that. “It was—was he abusive? No. Did he hit me? Once, but it wasn’t a normal situation. I—” God. I couldn’t talk. I closed my eyes, pressed my forehead to the back of my knees, and inhaled. Once. And I counted.
Exhale. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.
Inhale, and repeat.
It helped. Some of the pressure lifted, and I was able to look up again. I knew there were tears on my face, but for the life of me, I couldn’t wipe them away.
“Have you ever been involved in a situation where you felt like the other person needed you so they could live?” I asked. “But you couldn’t stay there because they were taking the oxygen you needed to breathe?”
A deep emotion shone from Reese—one I couldn’t name, but I felt the air switch. He leaned back against the couch and dropped his head.
“Yeah.” His voice was rough. “And it fucking sucks.”
He got it.
I didn’t even get it, but he got it.
I couldn’t say anything for a while after that. So I just sat. I cried. I hid behind my knees.
And Reese waited. Or something. I didn’t feel like he was waiting for me. He looked away, his eyes downcast. I had a feeling he was thinking about something else, or someone else.
“You know about my brother’s shit?” he asked after a minute. “Why we’re even here and not using our normal facilities?”