The tears began. I mean, why even fight them? They were my old friends by now.
“Yeah, okay. You’re right.”
“Look. If Gramps didn’t own it—but you know he’s particular about who stays here and I—”
“So you have stuff of mine?”
“Oh. Yeah.” He sounded stiff. “Just a couple things. Like some old sweatshirts. A Forster shirt. I know you loved it. A couple mugs. Nothing big.”
“The same Reese Forster shirt your gramps was wearing when he propositioned me?”
“Uh…” His laugh was strangled. “I can’t promise he cleaned it.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sakes. Just donate it to Goodwill. Hell. Maybe I can get it there at the rate I’m going.”
I heard someone call his name in the background, a female someone.
“Uh, I gotta go. You sure about donating? Tracy can drop it off at your place, if you’re going to be around.”
“Is that the new girlfriend?”
“Yeah. She’s…” His voice lowered, getting closer to the phone. “She’s not the one, you know.”
“Right. Not the one you cheated on me with. She’s even newer than that one.”
“She’s nice. Sweet.” He chuckled. “I think you’d like her even.”
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah. Sure. Maybe.”
“So, um, when will you be around?”
It was close to ten by now. The drive back would take four hours. “I’ll be there this evening. Anytime after six.”
“Okay. I’ll call you when she’s headed over.”
“Don’t call.” Never call again, in fact. “A text will do.”
And after hanging up with him, I texted Owen, Hadley, Grant, and Trent all the same message.
Me: Keith said the board didn’t have enough funds to pay me, so I packed up my stuff. I’m heading back to try to find a job. If you guys want, come and hang out! I love visitors. Sorry I didn’t stick around to say goodbye. Hope you understand.
And to Reese.
Me: I was fired. I got the feeling your coach didn’t want me around, so I’m heading back to my place. I need to look for a new job. Call later when you have time?
I didn’t expect immediate responses from anyone, so I turned the engine back on, tossed my phone to the seat beside me, and raised the volume on the radio.
It was going to be a painful drive back.
By that night, I’d come to two main conclusions.
I was the definition of a broke-ass bitch, and I’d been ambitious in thinking my friends would care about my most recent firing.
I had heard from no one. Not a one. My phone was silent the entire drive back, and through the entire evening since. The only text I got was when Luc-ass told me his new girlfriend was heading over with a box of my stuff.
I was ready to let loose, but when I opened the door, the sweetest petite little thing stood on the other side. Lucas was such a dick, because I knew that’d been his goal. He wanted to avoid me, and he knew I wouldn’t be able to tear into her.
He was right. She was super sweet, and once she was gone, I had to face the music.
My friends’ silence aside, I had just enough money to cover three months of rent. What had I been thinking accepting Trent’s proposal to work at camp for the last few weeks? I hadn’t been thinking. That’s right—I’d been drinking. I was dumped and fired, all in the span of twenty-four hours. But reality was back, and I had to get my shit together.
If I didn’t shape up, I had no idea where I could ship myself to.
My parents’? Someone’s couch? My car?
It could be a new, sad drinking game. Take a drink wherever you end up, and then just get sauced because what’s a better way to handle it?
Sighing, I opened my laptop and clicked on the classifieds.
Five job applications filled out later, I couldn’t deny as I was getting ready for bed. I was hurt. I thought one of my friends would’ve texted—Reese at least. My phone was still blank when I climbed into bed. I turned it off, then on again, just making sure, but it showed the same thing: no incoming texts or calls, and it had worked earlier with Loser Ex, so it was working.
Still. Because I never liked to admit defeat, I texted Reese.
Me: No words? Are you mad at me?
I waited, and five minutes went by. Ten. I brushed a tear away at the twenty-minute mark.
One hour later, I had my answer.
He wasn’t going to respond.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
I fell out of bed, no joke.
I’d been starting to wake up. I was stretching and scooting to the end of the bed. Then BANG, BANG, BANG, and off I fell.
I winced, rubbing my elbow. That hurt, but then the banging on my door started again.
“You took my phone!” a voice yelled.
That was Reese and, oh shit—had I?
I hurried to the front door. My neighbors were hardcore Thunder fans. If they were home, they would recognize Reese’s voice. They watched every one of his interviews on ESPN. I knew, because I could hear them blasting them from their computer at all hours of the day. I used to think I was dedicated, but they put me to shame.
Flinging open the door, I grabbed him. “Stop talking.”
He was alone.
He was glaring, and he was pissed. Really pissed. His jaw was doing the clenching thing too.
“You fucking left, that’s what!”
Oh. He did care. I bit my lip to stop a grin from showing.
“I texted you what happened.”
“Yeah.” He scoffed, starting to go through my apartment. Finding my bedroom, he went in and began pulling items out of my bag. I hadn’t unpacked, like, at all. I still had on the clothes I’d left camp in. I just hadn’t had it in me to take off his shirt, and he noticed, his scowl lessening, but then he pulled out a pair of shorts I hadn’t realized I’d grabbed.
“A-ha.” He pulled his phone out of the pocket and tried to turn it on. “It’s dead.”
Crap. I felt a pounding behind my temples and rubbed there. “Sorry. It must’ve been with the pile of my clothes. I was packing in a hurry.” And I was slightly hysterical at the time. “Oops.”
He didn’t answer. Seeing my charger, he took my phone off and put his phone on. When it started charging, he turned back to me, his arms crossed over his chest.
“That crisis is averted. Now you want to tell me what the fuck happened?” His eyebrows went up. “Because I have news to share with you also—news about you.”
“Yeah.” He yawned. “But I need coffee first. Your friends showed up at my cabin, pounding on the door. Then I had to go and pound on Coach’s door, and there was a fucking early-ass meeting this morning. I had to promise two extra charity events before Coach let me come here today and not leave with the team.”
My head was spinning. “What are you talking about?”
Reese ignored me, going into my kitchen. My coffee pot wasn’t on, so he began looking through my cupboards. “Where’s your coffee?”
I moved him aside, ignoring the tingle at just feeling him again, being so close to him again, and pointed to the table. “Sit. I’ll do this. You tell me what happened.”
He went over and sat down. “You tell me first, because I think what I have to say is going to take longer.”
I pulled out the coffee, put in a new filter. “Nothing really major. Keith told me the board hadn’t approved me working there, so they only had the funds to cover me for two weeks. So, you know, I was fired. Then I came out and your coach was there. I thought maybe it was him behind it, which he confirmed when you left. He wanted me gone, and to be honest, I kinda understand why. He was protecting you.”
“Yeah, well, he feels like a dumbass.”
Pouring water into the machine, I hit brew and went to a chair across from Reese. Tugging my knees up, I hugged them to me. “What do you mean?”
“He told me in the afternoon what he’d done and wanted to apologize. The reason he did it was justified—we already knew that—but the way he did it was dickish. I went to my cabin to call you, saw your shit gone, and couldn’t find my phone. I went to find your friends and discovered them having a little meeting in the kitchen guy’s back office. They were upset.”
I swallowed over a knot. “At me?”
“They didn’t say that, but they asked if I’d be willing to speak about why you were staying in my cabin if they needed me. I told them I’d more than say a few things, and my coach too. After that, I decided just to wait till we were done, then try to bargain a deal with Coach to let me come here and get my phone.”
The coffee was starting to brew.
“You said my friends came to your cabin in the middle of the night?”
He nodded. “They had to wait until another guy showed up, the speaker dude, but they’d convened the board and had them willing to do some form of emergency meeting about your boss.”
“Keith?” I leaned forward.
The coffee was ready to pour, but I was on the edge of my seat.
How had this all gone down when I wasn’t there?! The laws of karma were not on my side.
“They were so mad about what he did to you, what he’d done to you the whole time you were there, that they got fed up.”
I might’ve been wrong about karma.