My dad hugged me. He was still so tense. I didn’t know why.
Natalie hugged me. “I’m so sorry for your loss, Cheyenne.” She smoothed my hair, her hands fell to my shoulders, and then Little Dude hugged my knees.
I didn’t tell anyone, but my shoulders tingled after that touch from her.
My mom used to be nice like that, but that was a long time ago.
Like, ages ago.
Like, I couldn’t remember now, but she must’ve been at some point.
She had to be.
All moms hugged their kids, right…?
But I didn’t want to deal with that. I got my Little Dude here.
I crouched down and held up my pinkie again. “We’re gonna hang, right?”
He stepped forward, all serious. He wrapped his pinkie around mine and nodded. “Hell yeah, we’re gonna hang.”
“Hunter!” his mom said.
But he just laughed. I laughed back, and it was all good.
I was lit, weak, and horny.
That was not a good combination for me. Usually my willpower was strong, like industrial-strength super-latexed condom strong, but not tonight. Tonight, the combination of the booze and cocktails had melded together and taken down my last holdouts of willpower. I was gonzo and then I got this text.
Dean: Mustang party! Now! Where r u???
Dean was my colleague, but let’s forget about why he would be texting me because we are not ‘texting’ colleagues. Kansas City Mustangs. That was the important part of that text, and it was getting all of my attention.
Dear God. I could hear the whistle of the impending bomb right before it hit.
That was the professional hockey team that he played on.
Did I mention the he that was him? He, as in the only rookie drafted for Kansas City’s newer team? He signed his contract after he had one year at Silvard.
The he that the team’s owners were hoping could be grown into one of the NHL’s newest stars, but that’d been a three-year plan. Nope. He had different ideas because once he hit the ice in their first debut game, he scored a hat trick in the first period. First. Period. Playing against five to ten-year veterans, and that had not gone unnoticed. By everyone. After that he exploded into the NHL scene and in a big fucking way.
They started calling him Reaper Ryder after that.
It was the same he that I perved on during a brief stint in high school, and then again during that one year in college before he got whisked away to superstardom. Though, he didn’t know any of that 411 about my perving habits.
The second text from Dean gave us the address where to go, and the whistle got louder, target hit…direct implosion.
It was two blocks away.
He was two blocks away, and there went my restraint because I’d kept away from him for the last four years when I moved to the same city he was living in—of course he didn’t know that—but this city was totally amazeballs by the way.
I was doomed. I might as well start digging my own bunker at this rate because I was already downtown partaking in some celebratory boozetails, so here we were. Here I was, well we because I wasn’t alone. My main girl since Silvard days, Sasha, was on my right, and Melanie on my left. Melanie came after Silvard, but that didn’t matter. She was one of my girls. The three of us. We were awesomesauce, and we were walking into this building that looked like a downtown loft, one that was probably the humble abode to someone not so humble, but someone with old-money wealth who enjoyed partaking in their own boozetails as well.
I already felt a whole kemosabe camaraderie with whoever owned this joint.
“This place is fucking awesome.”
That was Melanie. She enjoyed coffee, girls, and she was an amazing barista at Dino’s Beans.
That was Sasha. She owned a strip club, told everyone she was an angry Russian, even though there wasn’t one Russian strand of DNA in her body, and she enjoyed using one word for everything. That’s not to say she didn’t speak more than one-word answers, but those were her go-to for speaking.
“Whoa.” That was me.
Melanie had jet-black hair. Sasha had ice-queen white hair, and me—I was the in between. My hair was usually a dusty blonde color, but today it looked a bit more lighter than dusty blonde. I still enjoyed it, and I also had super chill electric-blue eyes. The other two both had dark eyes so I figured I was still the ‘in between’ for the eyes, too.
When we entered that party, all eyes turned to us, and not one of us was fazed. We were used to it. Where we went, we got attention. Guys loved us (sometimes), girls hated us (usually), and we didn’t care (ever). We weren’t going to tone down our awesomeness because of their insecurities.
But we were all works in progress, or at least I was.
I was known to have entire conversations and whole other worlds and every version of apocalypses in my head. That was just me. You’ll understand the more you get to know me, but trust me when I say that I’m a lot better than I used to be. Meds, therapy, and a dead junkie mother will do that to you.
But enough about me.
Melanie was the shit, and she really loved the word ‘fuck.’ A-fucking-lot.
Then there was Sasha, she’d been my roommate from college, and here we were, three years out of graduation (well, four for me since I graduated early, and don’t ask me how that happened because it still shocked the hell out of me) and going strong. But we were on a mission.
That mission was more boozetails.
There were people everywhere. Stuffy people. One woman who had a tiara on her head. There were guys in suits, some in hella expensive suits, and tuxedos, too.
This wasn’t just a party party. This was like a whole shindig party.
Fake Stanley Cups were placed all around with mucho dinero inside.
I started to mentally shift through the emails—easier said than done when one was halfway to boozeopolis—that I liked to avoid and I was remembering some of the subject lines of those that I had skipped. There’d been a bunch from Dean lately, though, and one was about some ‘Celebrity PR for Come Our Way’ and I needed to double down on the crapattitude because I had a feeling we just waltzed into a fundraiser.
Dean rushed over to us, holding a boozetail in one hand, and his eyes glazed over. He was medium height with a more squat build that he easily could buff up more, but I didn’t think Dean went to the gym. He was always at work and because of that, I usually saw him with his hair all messed up. That’s how it was now, and his eyes glazed over.
My dude coworker was lit.
I started smiling, but then no. Not good. What corporate espionage was he up to by telling me to come here?
“Where’s the bar, Deano?” Melanie.
I was impressed she hadn’t used her favorite word.
“There.” Directions from Sasha and like that, both my buds moved away.
I settled back, knowing they’d have my back. They’d be bringing the boozetails to me—even better—so I had the time to grin at Dean. “What’s happening, hot stuff?”
He never got my quotes. Or jokes.
He didn’t react and he grabbed my arm. “Have you read my emails?” Then he looked at me, his head moving back an inch. “What are you wearing?”