The Not-Outcast

Page 43


Two days later, I was leaving the locker room when Cassie popped out from the PT room. “Margo wants to see you.”

I frowned. Margo was the Mustangs’ owner, one of them. She and her husband owned the team together, but Marcus was usually off doing business around the world. Margo stayed put to oversee the team, or just be on hand. She was involved with the program every day, and she never called me to her office.

“You know what about?”

She shook her head, her ponytail swishing from side to side.

I shrugged, taking my bag with me in the opposite direction.

As I passed her, Cassie shifted. Her hand came up to rest against the doorframe and she asked, “Hey, uh…”

I paused.

“Did you have fun the other night? At Bresko’s?”

It’d been a game changer for Cheyenne and me. I took her home, and she took my hand, leading me to bed with her. We slept and cuddled, but it felt good to wake up with her next to me. Last night was a repeat. I knew we needed to have a conversation about the change, but it was like she came to a different decision. She was letting me in. I was somewhat going with the flow, uneasy to upset the balance either way.

“Yeah. You and your girl looked good. You looked happy.”

She lifted up her shoulder. “I like her. We’re having fun so far.”

“Fun is good.”


I started to head out, but held back again.

She was biting down on her lip, her head looking down. She shifted forward, her heel lifting behind her, and she moved it back and forth in a distracted way. Then, she stopped and looked back up. “I was wrong about Cheyenne.”

“I know.”

She grinned. “Mel mentioned something about a group get-together this weekend, Sunday.”


“Is that something you’d be interested in doing?”

“What? Like you and your girl, me and Cheyenne, and …”

Cassie opened her mouth, then stopped. “I have no idea.”


She laughed. “How’d it end with those two?”

I didn’t have a clue. Chad hadn’t texted or called. I’d only been to the house to go in, get something, and I headed back out. “Who the fuck knows with those two.”


She was fishing, and as long as I’d known Cassie, I didn’t know her as a gossiper. That was telling me she was fishing for someone else. Didn’t need a hunch to know who it was, and that meant that not only the Not-Brother wasn’t sharing, but the Not-Russian must not be sharing either.

And I was starting to think in Cheyenne speak.

“I’m going to head up, find out what the boss wants.”

“Okay. Don’t forget your ice soak.”

“I won’t.” Fuck, I hated those.

Margo was in her office when I stopped in. Her door was left open, and I could hear her on the phone. I waited outside, hearing, “...I’ll run it by him, see if he’s willing or not. Okay… Okay. Sounds good. Yes. Talk to you later.”

I knocked on the door right as she looked up.

“Cutler.” Margo was one of the few who called me by my full name. She was a no-nonsense owner, and I liked that for some reason. “Come in. Can you shut the door behind you?”

I did, moving to take one of the seats across from her. “I don’t think you’ve ever called me up here. What’s going on?”

She pointed to the phone. “Got a call earlier today. You know Deek Fausten?”

I frowned. “He used to be my best friend’s stepdad. You know him?”

No way in hell was Deek calling about Cheyenne. Or I was hoping not, because if that were the case, if this trail was going to lead to where she’d get fucked over, my relationship with Deek would change from being civil to a whole different level.

She nodded, her eyes narrowing. “Kind of. He’s new, and he’s working some of our business accounts. He’s got some friends in high places, personal friends of mine. That’s the only reason any of this is coming from me. We got a request yesterday to do a funding event for that kitchen downtown. Come Our Way. The two connect because I got a call that this Fausten was invited. He reached out to me because of you. Said there might be a conflict of interest.” She paused, her head tilting to the side. “You know anything about that?”

That fuck.

And fucking Chad, because I knew where all this was going, and fuck everyone. Except Cheyenne.

She kept on, “—he explained that you would know what he’s referring to.”

That fucker.

“The thing is, is that I’m confused why we’re getting a call and why he’s not directing his issue straight to Come Our Way. From what I was told, the place is legit. Good staff there. Good morale. They’re doing good work, not corrupt or being greedy. Not scraping by, but their hearts are in the right place. Now, as he explained to me, is that his issue isn’t with you. He’s not saying you can’t be there, which also has me scratching my head about why that’d even be an issue in the first place.” Her eyebrows were fully pinched together. “You want to explain to me what all this is about here?”

This dick of a father was putting me in a position where I’d have to get on the phone and reach out to him, see what the fuck his problem was.

Fuck. Him.

My jaw was granite, I was sure. My whole body felt like one big rock of cement, but I shook my head, a hard clip to the side. “As far as I know, he’s good with Chad, but I can ask him about it.”

“That’s what this is about? Your best friend?”

“At this point, who knows. I’m as confused as you.”

“Conflict of interest indicated he doesn’t want someone there. I know Chad frequents the team’s social gatherings, but I’ve never heard of something like this.”

“Me either.”

It was unprofessional. It was messy, and it put me in a messed-up, awkward position. I was starting to climb on board Cheyenne’s whole motto that she didn’t care about Deek Fausten.

I admitted, “I always thought he was a decent guy.”

“But Chad. He’s a bit of a partier, isn’t he?”

“That’s what he does for a living.”


I dipped my head up and down. “Clubs hire him, and he shows up with a whole group of beautiful people ready to party.”

“That’s actually a job?”

I gave her a look. “Come on. You know it is.”

She only gave me a little wink. “Maybe. Maybe not, but okay. You can squash whatever’s the issue?”

Like fuck I would, but I gave her another nod.

She stood, so did I, and she held out her hand. “You’ve been playing amazing this season. You usually do, but you’re sticking out even more. I know you’ve got a contract renewal coming up in the next couple years. I’m telling you now that we aren’t letting you go anywhere. You got that?”

This was typical business stuff.

She’d say this to smooth over any feelings and as a way to stroke my ego. Some players soaked it up. Not me. My contract would be renewed if I played the same, and if my terms and their terms were all copacetic. I loved this game. I breathed this game, but underneath it all, this game was a business.

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