Teardrop Shot

Page 36

He was looking around as I pulled out of the lot. “This is actually a nice place.”

“The underground parking is nice. The apartment building itself is okay. Nothing great.” I didn’t tell him how the lights in the laundry room would dim, so if I used those machines, I had to prop the door open with a rock. Or how I’d only do my clothes between seven in the morning and nine. Nine was the latest. After that, people were stirring, and there were a few neighbors I wasn’t so sure about.

Reese whistled as I pulled up to departures seven minutes later. “You weren’t kidding. That’s close.”

“And you’ve barely had your coffee.”

He yawned now, blinking a few times. “I’ll grab some inside. You can have it.”

I parked, but didn’t shut off the engine.

“Do not get out,” he warned.

I grinned. “Wasn’t planning on it. We really don’t need to go to that level, with the hugging, would we kiss or not… Too many strings, friend.”

He smiled back, but his eyes had started to smolder a bit. He leaned over, dropping his voice, “I’ll answer one of those questions.” His lips caught mine in a good, firm kiss, one that sent my senses spiraling and stole just the slightest bit of oxygen from my lungs.

I might’ve needed to gather my bearings as he pulled back and grabbed his bag from the back. Before he turned, he gave me a second kiss, this one lighter. “Go home. Go to bed,” he said as he reached for the door. “Text me when you park, and again when you’re inside your place. Humor me. I’m a friend. I can care.”

He was starting to leave, but I tugged on his shirt.

He paused, looking back.

“And after that?” I asked.

“We’re friends. Let’s play it by ear.”

Our gazes held, a shared reminder of the other details in our agreement. I saw his darkening, so I let go. “Okey-dokey. Hope you don’t get mauled.”

He laughed. “It’s too early for that.”

But we both knew the truth. It could happen.

As if reading my mind, he amended, “It’s usually not that bad. If it is—and I don’t think it will be—airport security is good with celebrities here. They’ve got a special room and everything. Plus…” He reached in his bag and pulled out a baseball hat, dragging it low over his eyes and flicking up his hood. “This is pretty incognito.”

His height wasn’t, but I decided to pick my battles. “I’ll expect twenty questions by the time you land.”

He laughed. “Don’t think so. I’m going to be sleeping that whole time, but I’ll text you updates just to annoy you.” He got out, but bent back down, his tone more serious. “Do me a favor? Only take that job if you want it. Don’t take it because you feel desperate. I can loan you money, if anything.”

That wiped all joking aside. “Reese.” Dammit. “I’ll never lose myself in a guy again. Ever.”

“Yeah, but before you didn’t have a friend who could loan you money until you got to a place where you could pick something that actually made you happy.” His eyes flashed a warning. “Now you do. Just think about it. It’s a loan. I’d give one to another friend in the same spot.”

I rolled my eyes.

He chuckled. “Drive safe. I liked screwing you. Let’s do it again and soon.”

“I changed my mind. Get mauled!”

I could hear his laugh as he shut the door and headed inside, his bag over his shoulder. Only a couple guys squinted at him, their heads cocked to the side. He was right. His incognito look really was incognito, but he was still frustrating.

And I was hoping for the soon too.

Driving back, my phone kept buzzing.

Reese: Checking in.

Reese: I had to check my bag. It’s too big for a carry-on.

Reese: Two autographs.

Reese: Going up the escalator now.

Reese: At the security line. The guards are cool. They promised not to be angry when Thunder beats the Coyotes.

Reese: Through security.

He knew I couldn’t answer. I was driving.

Reese: I’m at gate A6.

Reese: This is a nice airport. I always forget till I get here.

Reese: I upgraded to first class.

Reese: Coach wants to make sure I get back in time for meetings this morning.

Reese: Still not boarding. Just letting you know.

After parking, I grabbed my phone.

Me: It’s supposed to be questions. Like, if I asked security if I could put a body in my bag, could I still check it? Questions like that. You’re not following the rules.

Reese: Fuck the rules. These are my rules.

Reese: You do questions. I do updates. Deal with it.

Reese: Except now. Are you back at your place?

Me: Yes. Walking upstairs now.

Reese: No updates from you. Well. Yes. Tell me when you get in your place.

I turned down my hallway. Bill’s door opened and his head popped out. His hair was scruffed up like he’d been trying for a Mohawk. “No bullshit. Was that him?”

I was about to break a fellow Reese Forster fan’s heart. “It was my brother.”

He glared. “You’re not fucking with me?”



That was it.

His head went back in, and he slammed his door shut.

Immediately Mrs. Rings yelled from her apartment across the hall. “STOP SLAMMING THE DOORS! EVERYONE FUCKING SHUT IT!”

And her parrot a second later.


And then, “SHUT IT, BORIS!”

And her parrot again, “EVERYONE FUCK IT AND GO TO SLEEP!”

My phone kept buzzing. I didn’t read them, just typed back.

Me: In my place. I lied to Bill, broke my heart to do it.

Reese: He’ll get over it. There’ll be other chances for you to lie again.

Reese: They’re letting me board early. For this time, there’s a lot of ball supporters here.

Me: The life of a celebrity. Poor you.

Reese: Image of me giving you the middle finger.

Me: Image of my big toe.

Reese: What the fuck is that?

Me: Now you won’t be able to stop wondering. Okay. I’m going back to bed.

Reese: Turn your phone off so I can keep sending you updates while you sleep.

Me: Shouldn’t you try to sleep too?

Reese: Yeah, but in case I can’t. Your friends said they’d just show up and bang on your door anyway, so sleep. For real. Turn your phone off.

Me: It’s like you care about me. Friend.

Reese: Don’t do that. But I care about certain activities with you. How about that? Better?

I laughed, and something settled in me. I wasn’t going to question it. It’d been with me since we woke up—an uneasiness sitting on my stomach.

This might’ve been a good feeling, but I was scared to feel it. Even while we were doing the jokes, the teasing, using the crude words, that feeling wouldn’t dislodge.

Whatever it was, it was there, and I knew when it left, I would miss it.

I typed back.

Me: Turning phone off. I care about fucking you too.

But I didn’t turn my phone off. I silenced it, left it on, and propped it so it was facing me.

The screen lit up as his texts came in, and that unsettled feeling became more permanent.

It was two weeks later and I still hadn’t made a decision. Shortly after Reese left, Trent, Grant, Owen, and Hadley had all shown up at my apartment. Things went down just as Reese said they would.

My friends gave me their dramatic interpretation of the events that had happened after I left camp, and also brought me a job offer. It was a part-time head of promotions position. I would be given an allowance for moving, but that was it.

I wasn’t sure what to say.

Was I desperate enough to take something like that to tide me over. I could hear Reese’s words in my head. The salary wasn’t great—I really needed full-time work, but could I be too picky? I’d had a couple job interviews since I got back, but no one had called me for a second one. And I’d applied at a bunch of places. I was open to all sorts of possibilities. My degree was in social work, but I’d never used it. I took what jobs I could get.

Eye doctor’s office receptionist. Guest services coordinator at a hospital. Research assistant. My last job was data management. I’d liked that one the best, except for the boss and, you know, being fired because she mistook me for her husband’s mistress. There’s that. But the pay hadn’t been bad, and I’d enjoyed looking at numbers all day.

I was a closet nerd, until Reese found out.

He kept asking for a pic of me in a skirt and wire-rimmed glasses. I’d succumbed once as I walked past an eyeglasses kiosk in the mall, but I itched my nose with my middle finger in the photo. The sales guy thought it was hilarious—until I handed him back the glasses and tossed a “thank you” over my shoulder. He’d been dropping hints about when he got off work and asking what kind of food I liked. I booked it before the proposition could happen.

The text I’d gotten back from Reese was an image of him pulling his shorts away from his waist.

Reese: Are we doing this?

Me: Is that growing? Can’t tell. Your boxer briefs are in the way.

Reese: I have a game tonight or I’d be buying you a plane ticket right now.

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