The Not-Outcast

Page 14

At me.

Correction. Me. All me.

His gaze was solidly on mine, and as our eyes connected, his got bigger a fraction of an inch at the same time I wished I could’ve shrunk into my seat.



He was all sweaty and dirty, and fierce.

I felt punched in the windpipes, just looking at him looking at me—and the way he was looking at me. As if he was seeing me naked. Well, he had, but he was seeing so much of me in that moment, all of my truths, that I shifted and ducked my head down.

His gaze narrowed, switching to something beside me, and then he went into the tunnel.

Maisie and JJ were fully staring at me.

JJ’s seatmates? They were going crazy.

“He was looking at me!”

The friend. “No way. Me. I just jizzed in my pants.” A beat. “Sorry, old man.”

Both cracked up, and Otis turned to stare at them.

JJ cursed under her breath. “Respect.”

They both quieted, and I was going out on a limb and guessing that that comment cemented the fact that JJ was not going to invest in that girl’s business venture.

The game was done.

People were standing up, getting ready to leave. Some were chatting. Some were sprinting for the bathrooms. Most of the players were off the ice. The last of the coaches were bringing up the rear. All the while, I didn’t move.

Neither did JJ. Neither did Maisie. Neither did Otis.

All three were staring right at me.

I couldn’t take it anymore. “What?”

JJ raised an eyebrow, a curl of gray hair falling over her face. She let it be. “You know, Girl.”

Maisie’s face was flushed, and she was gripping those crocheted gloves to her chest. “You have something to tell us?” She said it in a hushed voice, a voice that told me she was also speechless.

Otis’s eyes were narrowed, and he tilted his head to the side, but he didn’t add his two cents. I think he knew that nothing needed to be said.

It was then that I noticed a familiar figure breaking from the crowd. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. Of him, but he kept drawing closer. His head was down. He was in jeans and a nice sweatshirt, one of Cut’s. He was wearing a ball cap, too. His phone was out, in hand, and he was looking at the seats, then back to his phone. He kept doing this, bringing him closer and closer.

Now I really froze in place.

He was standing on the top row, just five rows from where we were sitting. JJ’s seatmates had left, I’m sure they were one of the sprinters for the bathroom, so he had a clear line of eyesight when he saw our group.

He saw Otis. Nothing.

He saw Maisie. Nothing.

He saw JJ. Nothing.

Then, his gaze tracked from his phone. He frowned. And lifted—he found me.

It was Chad.

Dread filled me, weighing all of my limbs down because I knew what had happened.

Cut must’ve sent a text to Chad, told him my seat number, and sent Chad to find me.

There was a brief flare of hope. Maybe he wouldn’t recog—recognition dawned and he staggered back.

Yep. He actually staggered back. Blood drained from his face, and he’d just put my vagina together with the correct dick and got the right sexual position.

Me and Cut.

Then his eyes glittered. Anger flared. His jaw firmed.

He put his phone away, turned, shoved his hands into his pockets, and stalked off.

Well. Then.

Now I really needed The Way Station.

From: Koala Boy

To: Cheychey

Subject: I think I like someone.

From: Cheychey

To: Koala Boy

Subject: Is that good? What’s her name? I’ll cyberstalk her.

From: Koala Boy

To: Cheychey

Subject: omg, you’re almost as bad as Mom. Her name is Monica.

From: Cheychey

To: Koala Boy

Subject: the cyberstalking has commenced.



Unknown: It’s true?

The first text woke me.

I checked the time. It was just past midnight.

A second text buzzed in as I was sitting up.

Unknown: You’re Chad’s stepsister? Cheyenne.

I was going out on a limb here…

Me: This is Cut?

Unknown: Yes. I saw you, sent him to grab your digits for me. He recognized you.

Cut: You’re Chad’s sister?

Me: Technically, no. Deek and his mom divorced.

Cut: Same thing. Both Hunter’s siblings.

I sighed.

Me: Yes.

Cut: That’s why you ditched?

I paused. If I said yes, I’d be lying. I didn’t like liars.

Gah. Another sigh.

Me: No.

He didn’t text again that night.

The text came the next day, at nine in the morning.

Cut: Why then?

I’d just pulled into Come Our Way’s parking lot and turned the engine off. Grabbing my phone, I almost oversipped my coffee at the same time. Crap. I usually sipped with caution. My favorite coffee place liked to overheat the heat, you know? It burned my throat, but I read his text and felt a different sort of burning.


And need. Sexual need.

Not heart need, because I was still clamping down on the feelings department there. And go me because that took effort. A lot of effort.

Six times, folks. Six. Times.

I sat back and typed.

Me: I don’t like liars.

Cut: I’m not a liar.

Me: No. I know you aren’t. I’m setting the parameters.

Cut: What parameters? I want to know why you ditched.

Me: And I’m trying to explain my response ahead of time.

A pause.

Cut: The fuck?

I grinned at that.

Me: I don’t want to tell you why.

Cut: Why?

A third sigh from these text messages.

Me: Just...I can’t explain.

I waited.

And waited.

I sat in my car and I gripped my phone, and I kept waiting because this time I wanted him to respond.

I needed him to respond.

He didn’t respond.

His response came at six that evening.

Cut: Dinner.

I was serving dinner to those at the shelter, felt my phone buzz, and stepped away from the line. There was a volunteer helping out, so I headed for my office and read his text.

Me: ?

Cut: Explain over dinner.

I didn’t respond. I didn’t know what to say, but I was feeling things. I was doing all sorts of feeling. My heart was starting to pound in my chest. My hands got clammy.

He wanted to still see me?

I didn’t know how I felt. A wave of relief, but nerves all jumbled together.

Cut: You are the one who rolled out of my bed.

A fourth sigh.

Me: Fine. When for dinner?

Cut: Thursday night. We’re away, then volunteer at your place Wednesday and Thursday. I can do that night and I’m on the road again this weekend.

My stomach started doing somersaults because whoa. I’d get to see him three times this week. A group of them were volunteering for the brunch shift, and they had a home game on Thursday.

Cut: After the game that night.

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