The Not-Outcast

Page 25


“Something’s wrong with your girl.”

“What?” I frowned. “She sick?”

“No, I mean, well, maybe. She was acting drunk, which was fine, but it wasn’t the right kind of drunk. Melanie was holding her up, but not at the same time. It was all off. I took them to one of the VIP rooms, and she went in a side room. She was in there by herself most of the game until suddenly, Melanie got a text from her, and they hurried out of here.”

“She left?”

“Yeah, but, Cut…” She moved closer, dropping her voice, and she was biting into her bottom lip. “I wasn’t getting a good feeling about her. It’s like she was on something. Drugs, maybe. And I know you’re not like that, and you’re definitely not into that with your girls.”


Drugs? But Chad had been quiet about her, said shit was bad with the family, and I knew she was a part of the reason he stayed with us in school for a bit. But drugs?

But her mom had been a junkie.

I didn’t like thinking that.

“I’m real sorry.” She touched my hand, giving it a squeeze. Her phone was lighting up and she swiped to read a text. “That’s Melanie now. She’s offering to meet up.”

“Without Cheyenne?”

She nodded, chewing at her lip again.

It was obvious she felt bad, but drugs? I don’t know. That just didn’t feel right.

I gave her a little nod. “Go out with your girl. Have fun.”

She grinned, easing back. “I don’t know how much fun we’ll have. I feel like I have to tell Melanie what I told you—”

“No, you don’t. You’re looking out for a friend, but I’ll take it from here. Don’t worry about it. Just go, have fun, and do whatever you do.”

She paused again. “You sure?”

“I’m sure. Go.”

She did, after another moment of hesitation, but fucking fuck. Drugs?

Chad didn’t like her, didn’t want me around her, but… Fuck! Fuck.

Jaw hard, I moved forward, ripping open the door a little harder than necessary. Two guys in the hallway jumped, but I stalked past them for the locker room.

Fucking drugs.

No fucking way.



I hadn’t been able to do it. There was no tunnel for me.

Midway through the second period, I was jumping at every roar and cheer and buzzer, and I felt like my skin was trying to rip off of me. I called it quits, but I tried to reassure Melanie I could cab it home alone. She didn’t need to stay. And yeah, she never left my side until I was in my apartment. She still waited until the game was done, which we finished watching on television.

By the end of the third period, I was much more sane.

I hated using that terminology, but it was how I felt.

There’s a reason for everything, not enough receptors or dopamine or neurotransmitters in the brain, but when a person felt the world was spinning around them, that was the general vibe of this. We were nuts. But I was home, and safe, and I knew what was happening, and that was most of the work. It allowed me to become grounded.

Melanie took off after the game, planning on meeting Cassie at Tits, so when she left, I shot Cut a text before turning off my phone.

Me: Feeling under the weather. Went home. I’ll call you tomorrow? So sorry. Great win!

After that, I ran a bath, and by the time I was done with it, I felt a bit better. Almost normal. I was still rattled, the exhaustion was starting to seep in. It’d been there the whole time, but I’d been holding it at bay, which caused it to be even worse. When we got to the apartment, I didn’t let myself crash. I held on, wanting to watch the rest of the game, but now…now I was almost stumbling, needing to head to bed.

That’s when the doorbell rang and I froze.

Who—pound, pound!

“It’s me, Cheyenne. Let me in.”

I sucked in a breath. Oh, holy shitballs.

It was Cut. How’d he—I mean, Chad had no clue where I lived.

He spoke through the door, “Just let me in for a few minutes. I’ll leave after. Promise.”

A few minutes.

Pfft. Easy for him to say. He wasn’t the one feeling his skin trying to jump off his bones.

But, still. I glanced down at me. I was in a soft tank top, my sleeper shorts, and whatever. My hair was a mess, but my toes and fingernails at least looked good. That made me feel better, and with another sigh, trying to ignore all the butterflies and tickling caterpillars in my stomach, I unlocked the door and stepped back.

I crossed my arms over me, hugging myself, warding him off, at the same time as he opened the door.

God. He looked so good.

He was wearing a ball cap pulled low, a t-shirt, and jeans, and the way all of that fit his body…Good Lord…six times. Six times. I was trying not to remember how he worked magic with those fingers of his as a warm-up and I stepped back, swallowing a knot.

“Hey.” That was him.

Gah. Seriously? He was speaking all soft-like to me.

I wanted him to be an asshole, then this would be done with and I’d figure my shit out afterwards. But nooo. He had to be looking at me all kind-like, and sweet, and tender, and his tone sounded like soft caramel and he smelled of fresh shampoo, and I loved his fresh shampoo smell.

“Hi.” A bullfrog had taken over my throat. It was speaking for me.

He cracked a grin. “Can I, uh, can I come in?”

I scurried backwards and he moved inside, his hands going into his pockets.

That made his shoulders look even better.


Here we were.

I let out a breath.

He heard me, frowning. “Are you okay? You said you were sick.”

“I was. I am. I mean, it wasn’t…” Were we doing this? Already? I felt like upheaving. “We haven’t even had a first date.”

He raised an eyebrow. “I know. That was supposed to be tonight.”

Right again.

“No. No. You wanted to know why I left the next morning, and I said I didn’t want to lie. That was supposed to be for tonight, but you’re here, and I’m now realizing that’s a serious, serious topic, and that’s too early. We had sex, and before that you—” OH DAMN! I’d been about to tell him.

I clamped my mouth shut.

He inclined his head. “I what?”


He frowned, cocking his head to the side. “You what? You were going to say something.”

“I wasn’t.”

“You were.”

“Was not.”

His head moved back, lifting, and surprise flared in his gaze. The other side of his mouth tugged up. “Are we fighting about this?”

“We’re not fighting.”

“We’re disagreeing. You were going to say something about me.”

“No, I wasn’t.”

A full-out frown from him, and he edged back a step. He was reassessing me.

Great, now he was looking at me like a mental patient, but for the totally wrong reason.

A slight grin showed on his face. “Look, you’re right.” He scanned me from head to toe. “You seem okay now. Do you want to go somewhere for a drink?”

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