“I’m not ready.” I was talking about talking to Cut.
It was weak. I knew it, and so not like my usual awesome badassness confidence, but he had the power to shatter me. A girl like me, we took that seriously. He could send me right back to who I’d been when I had an entire delusional relationship with him in my head.
I felt safer gawking from a distance than being live and in person in his presence.
“Okay. Well, I have something to distract you with.”
I looked over.
She cringed, before pulling back to the road. “I slept with your stepbrother last night.”
She grunted. “Way.”
We were back to the one-word responses.
From: Koala Boy
Subject: That doesn’t sound good.
To: Koala Boy
Subject: Crisis averted. How are you? MISS YOU SO MUCH
From: Koala Boy
Subject: settle, jeez.
I woke up to an empty bed, and I was in a fuck mood ever since.
It wasn’t that she left. It was that she ran. The girl freaking sprinted from this house, because when that alarm goes off, you shit your pants and she wasn’t anywhere near the door shitting her pants. That means she took off.
Saturday was supposed to be my rest day, but then Chad showed up.
He stalked inside, slamming his door shut on his end of the house we owned.
We technically owned two houses, one on each lot, but since it was the two of us, we merged them together. The bigger house was mine. The smaller one was his. The pool was behind my side of the house, but when Chad had parties, it was both of our houses. (Which meant he used my side of the house.) It was a cool project we did together, but I was getting tired of a few things.
He stalked through the room, to the fridge and yanked it open.
“Not a good night?”
He grunted, taking out some day-old pizza and he tossed the box on the oven. The top was flung open. The slices were dumped on a plate. The microwave door was shut harder than it needed to be.
My roommate/best friend/brother was in a mood.
“Did you go to the event?”
A second grunt. This time he turned with a glare. “You weren’t there.”
“I took off.”
“The guys told me.”
Right. I hadn’t texted him, but we were guys. We didn’t do that.
“Did you see your girl?”
A third grunt. “She kicked me out of bed.” The microwave beeped, and he hit the button. The door swung open and he had a whole slice stuffed in his mouth before he shut the microwave door on the back-swing.
He came over and sat at the table where I was.
A fourth grunt as he stuffed a second slice in his mouth.
Then he was up, going to the fridge, and he pulled out a beer.
He opened it as he came back, and catching my look, he shook his head. “Don’t start.”
So, I didn’t start, not that I ever did.
“Wanna go skating today?”
That was my Saturday.
I bent over to lace up my skates just as Hendrix dropped down to the bench beside me.
“Yo.” He was doing the same thing, his head turned my way. “What happened with that girl from the gala on Friday?”
It was Sunday and we had a game today. I’d tried not to fixate on her, but damn. It was hard. Best I’d ever had. I was riled up and claiming her, because apparently that was a thing with me. I had no clue until her that I could possess such strong feelings…but now, I wanted to punch someone for just being asked about her.
“What?” He straightened up, checking his skate. “You were all gung-ho on her that night.”
“Yeah, but the next morning was a different story.”
I stood, not wanting to talk anymore. Not about her.
Grabbing my stick, I headed out. We’d be going out to warm up soon.
Nodding at each of my teammates, we lined up in the tunnel.
Hendrix was coming right behind me, and he was giving me that look. I could feel it. I knew what that look meant.
I was full of shit.
He knew I was full of shit.
I didn’t want to be full of shit, but I was full of shit.
That girl. Damn.
We never exchanged numbers.
We’d gone faster than that.
There’d not been a lot of talking once we got to my house.
Six fucking times. Six. Fucking. Times.
I’d never had that with another girl, not in a matter of a few hours. Maybe a whole day, but Christ. And when I woke, I was aching for her all over again. But she was gone. The alarm was blaring, and I looked out the door. Nothing. She must’ve just left, so I didn’t know if she got a ride or what, but she was outta there.
I don’t indulge in one-night stands. You never knew what you’d get if you did that. I preferred casual relationships, keeping with the same few girls who knew the score. They lived their lives but were open if I called on them. One recently got engaged, so she called to end our arrangement. I don’t know. Maybe I’d been a little sore on that?
I didn’t think so. I’d been genuinely happy for her when she told me that, but Cheyenne-No-Last-Name was under my skin.
I hated it.
It’s a groin kick to the ego, having a girl dash from your bed and disappear like what we’d just done meant nothing. And it’s not like I won’t see her. We were signed up to volunteer at their homeless kitchen. She’d be there, or I was assuming. I remembered from being briefed on the venture that it was mostly run by volunteers, but they did have a few full-timers. She was probably one of them.
Alex. Hendrix. Frank. I caught a couple side looks, so I was figuring they all knew.
I wanted to get on the ice.
I wanted to get the game going, and I wanted to destroy the Riders.
They were in our city. It was our ice. It’d be our win.
My upbringing wasn’t normal, and that statement was an understatement.
Nothing had been normal about where I grew up, how I grew up, and how I ended up out here in Kansas City. I loved this city. I loved the Midwest. It was different than the west coast. There were different values here, and sometimes I didn’t like them, but it felt simpler at times, too.
Things were calmer for me, for my head, and that was my biggest relationship in my life. But actually seeing Cut, having Cut see me, talk to me, and what else that happened, I was shook. For real. Shook.
I didn’t want to say that I followed Cut out here after college, but when an opportunity came to move here, I jumped at the chance.
Cut had already been here.
He left Silvard after the first year, taking Chad with him so I had a whole three more years stepbrother-free, but also Cut-free and I hadn’t enjoyed that last part. It was probably for the best. I concentrated harder on my head, on my schooling, and being able to open up Come Our Way had been one of those benefits.