Teardrop Shot

Page 21

I nodded, looking up over the tops of my knees.

He still wasn’t looking at me. “He was like that for me. But he didn’t actually need me like that. He just made it seem like he did.” He turned now, his gaze raw, looking right into me. “Was it the same for you?”

I wanted to say yes. That would be an easier battle to tackle. I couldn’t, though.

“No. Not like that,” I whispered

His eyes closed for a second. “Shit.” A soft sigh. “I’m sorry for that.”

“Me too.”

The air was heavy. The room seemed to shrink around us.

Reese glanced around, and I felt a restless edge come from him. He checked his phone and scraped a hand over his jaw before standing.

“Come on.” He put on some socks and shoes. Grabbing a shirt, he picked up the basketball he always seemed to have close by.

“Where are we going?”

I hadn’t moved quickly enough. He tossed my shoes at the bottom of my chair, then took my phone and headphones out of my hands. He waited by the door as I pulled on my shoes.

“I need to turn my mind off, and I use two activities for that. We’re going with the second option.”

I wasn’t asking about the first, but I did ask, “Hoops?”

He nodded. “Hoops.”

The first night he’d been here flashed back to me, and I knew what the next couple hours were going to be like. I stood, and since it was a little chilly, I said, “I want to grab a sweatshirt from my cabin.”

He dropped my phone and headphones on the couch, moving past me to the bedroom. Coming back out, he thrust a sweatshirt at me. “Here.”

Picking up my phone and headphones again, he led the way out of the cabin.

We were heading down the trail when we passed a few of his teammates coming the other way.

I averted my gaze, pulling on his sweatshirt as he stopped.

“What’s up, Forster?”

“Not much. Heading back to shoot some hoops.”

I could feel their gazes.

Reese’s sweatshirt swamped me, but it smelled like him. A hint of sand and pine mixed together. Tugging his sleeves down, I balled them up and pretended to look at them.

“We bus out at ten, right?”

Reese nodded. “Yeah. Breakfast is at nine.”

That was news to me, though not the busing-out part. I knew they had another preseason game coming up.

Fists bumped between Reese and the others as they said their goodnights. We’d walked a few feet before someone murmured something, and the others began laughing.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I knew that laugh was about me.

“They think we’re fucking,” Reese commented.

I smothered a “WHAT?” and let out a strangled chuckle instead. “Yeah. No shit.” A second thought, “You think they’ll tell your coaches about me staying in your cabin?” Because I hadn’t said a word to the other staff. I didn’t want to hear any of the lectures I’d get. Plus I knew Keith would relish the chance to fire me.

“Nah. And to be honest, I don’t think the coaches would give a shit—as long as we show and do our jobs. And you’re not underage.” He laughed. “Juan told the guys about your cabin, but none of them are buying it. I figure it’s easier to let them think that than tell them truth. Is that okay with you?”

I looked up. “What’s the truth?”

He grinned, the look taking him from hot to HOT. “That you’ve become like an annoying gnat that I like for some reason.” He raised an eyebrow. “How’s that for the truth?”

Warmth flooded me. I could be a gnat.

We started forward again, and I kept his sleeves wrapped around my hands. “You could tell them the other truth.”

“Yeah? What’s that?”

“That I’m a stalker with polite boundaries.”

He groaned. “Stop with the stalking bullshit.” He swung, but his fist was more of a tap on my shoulder. It was a soft tap, one between friends.


We’d become friends.

I was okay with that.

“I saw you last night.”

Aw, shiitake.

I had to give Grant some credit for waiting ten minutes after the bus left to approach me.

He had stared at me for a full minute before grabbing his tray and going through the line for breakfast. Didn’t take a genius to know something was up with him. Then once Owen handed him his omelet, he stared again for another thirty seconds through the main glass window.

A shiver had gone down my spine.

His eyes cut from me to Reese, who was eating with Juan, Lestroy, and Crusky.

For the most part, Reese and I acted like we didn’t know each other during the day. He brought up his dishes. He signed out a ball if they needed an extra, but that was the extent of our back-and-forth—at least in front of the staff. Owen, Hadley, and Grant were never around in the evenings. They were all long gone to their homes, done with their hours for the day, so it was really only Reese’s teammates who knew about the extra friendship between us.

Even if it was a gnat sort of friendship.

“Saw me doing what?” I countered.

Keith had already frolicked through the cafeteria, getting his usual coffee and having a “word” with the coaches. All the details had been ironed out, but he’d claimed he needed to know when they’d be back and if food needed to be prepared for them. We were nearing the end of their second week here.

“Something going on with you and Forster?”


Hadley had been scraping the grill, but she stopped. Owen had been pulling the plate dispenser back over to me, but he stopped that too.

I let out a small sigh, reaching for a last bin to rinse. “What makes you say that?”

“Because it’s the third night in a row I saw you walking back to the village with him.”

There was nothing inappropriate about what we were doing. There was some gray area about me staying in his cabin, but nothing had happened. At all. But I felt some twinges of shame as previous accusations from Keith flared up in me.

I never did anything wrong back then either, but it never mattered. Keith always found some excuse to accuse me of something.

I waited a second before answering. Finishing the bin, I put it on the tray and loaded it into the machine, then turned to face Grant. He was in the doorway between me and the rest of the kitchen. Owen and Hadley were waiting behind him, both looking uncomfortable.

“What are you accusing me of?”

“Are you sleeping with him?”

Sophia had just entered the cafeteria, but she paused coming through the tables. There’s no way she could’ve heard Grant, but she must have sensed the awkwardness in the atmosphere. Her gaze was searching. She found Grant first and then me, looking right at her.

Her eyes narrowed as she approached. “Grant?”

He looked, but turned back to me. “I asked you a question, Charlie. Are you sleeping with him?”

“Grant!” She sounded horrified.

I wasn’t sleeping with him in the way he was asking, but saying no felt like I was hiding something. I didn’t want to hide. It felt wrong.

“Charlie!” A second hiss from him.

“No, okay?”

His head tilted to the side. “Why’d you take so long to answer?”

I opened my mouth.

Hadley beat me to it, pushing past him. “Because maybe she wants to sleep with him. How about that? And she can if she wants.”


Little Hadley was all in his face, her two French braids bouncing from her energy.

“She’s not a full-time staff member, and none of us are kids now. I have three little ones of my own. And really, who could blame her?”

“It’s Reese Forster,” Owen added. “I mean, if I swung that way, I’d want to as well.”

That said a lot coming from Owen.

He adjusted his shoulder, rolling it back.

“You saw her walking with him back to the village. That’s the same path she takes to her cabin. So what? She’s allowed to talk to him.” Sophia with another defense.

Guilt bloomed in me.

All three of them had spoken up for me. Gah. I had to come clean. I liked them all too much.

“Okay! Fine. You all can stop defending me because I…kinda, but not really lied just now.” I squared my shoulders and shoved all the shame out of me, because I did not deserve it. “I’m not sleeping with him, but I am sleeping in his cabin.”

Hadley wheeled to me, her mouth open.

“Damn,” Owen breathed.

Sophia just blinked, looking shocked.

A flush was working up Grant’s neck. “You’re sleeping in his cabin?”

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