I tuned out again. He was now attacking.
Me again. “No matter how you spin this where I’m at fault, you know I’m not. You fucked up. You.”
He stopped, his face all red and puffy, and he clamped his mouth shut.
He was seeing me, seeing I didn’t give a fuck what he was going to say, and then he growled. “If you had explained why—”
“No. This is where you don’t get the floor. I will be bringing you in front of the board.”
“What?! You can’t—”
“I can. Now.” I gave him my ticket. “Enjoy the hockey game.”
I was going, but I wasn’t sitting in my seats. Sasha and Melanie were pulling ranks. They wanted to enjoy the game with me, so after Dean looked down, frowning at my ticket, he crumpled it up and stalked off. Sasha and Melanie stepped out from around the corner.
Melanie frowned at me. “You gave him your ticket?”
Sasha was frowning, too. “Why?”
“I told him to come down, that he could go to the game if he wanted. He said yes, but he didn’t know that I was going to ambush him.”
“Cassie told me that you have season tickets. That seat is going to be better than any seat we all get together.”
Sasha was giving me a harder look, her eyebrows pulled together. “You’re setting him up.”
Melanie glanced at her, then to me. “Huh?”
I only shrugged again, but I was.
I would lose if I brought this to the board. They wouldn’t be happy Dean didn’t get my approval, but they would deem his cause was worth it. I didn’t want that precedent. And after Dean found out my family connections next Saturday, I didn’t want him doing something like this again, because he would. He would find out about myself and Cut, and that’d make it so much worse.
I was doing this to get in his head.
I wanted him to feel bad.
I wanted him to feel indebted to me.
I also wanted it to look on paper that if I was actually upset with him, why would I give him my season tickets, because at some point down the line, this could be a him versus me sort of thing, and even though I wrote the grant to get Come Our Way so much money in the first place, it was Dean who continued to bring in more money. The board for Come Our Way liked Dean, a lot, and they should.
But I didn’t like how he went over my head. There’d be consequences.
“Let’s go to the game.”
“Wait.” Melanie grasped both our arms, stopping us. “What if Cassie sees me?”
Sasha inclined her head. “That was the point.”
“I know, but…” Melanie flushed, glancing away. “I’m just really nervous to see her.”
Sasha took her hand from her arm and held it a second. “You’ll be fine. Cassie will see you and know she’s made a dumb mistake.”
“You’re right.” Her head lifted a bit higher and she squeezed my arm before letting it go. “Let’s go.”
Turns out, that’s not what happened.
The game was insane.
They were tied at one to one. The Bravado were pushing hard back at the Mustangs. Cut’s line was tired. The second line was tired. The third. Fourth. All of them. There were so many shots on goal, too, so I could only imagine how tired the goalies were.
I was tired just from the stress of the game, but we were in the third period. Just starting. There’d been no Cassie sightings. I saw Cut looking for me in my normal seats, then skate past when he saw Dean there instead. He had crumpled up my ticket, but I knew he’d still use it.
As seats went, we didn’t get too bad considered we got them the day of the game. With each game that passed, with how well they were doing, this wouldn’t be a thing that could happen soon. Each game would be sold out days, if not weeks, before the game. That’s just how it was. I knew the box seats were gone the first day any opened up, and that was if they weren’t already bought from a years-hold which happened. A lot.
Either way, it was fun to sit and cheer with Melanie and Sasha.
Sasha informed us that she did not want to talk about Chad. Nut-Brother was a douchebag of epic proportions, so we were in the one-word zone during the game.
I asked now, “I’m going to hit the bathroom before things get super nuts. I’m walking by the concessions. Want anything?”
I looked at Melanie. She shook her head. “I’m good. Just hurry back.”
“Will do.” I pushed out our row and headed up the stairs for the hallway.
It was after the bathroom, after I went to get beer for Sasha, when I was turning back to head for my seat.
Cup in hand, I was walking past a wall.
I didn’t think anything of it, not at first.
It was a transparent wall, more of a boundary for crowd control. People walked one way if they were leaving the seats and returned on the side where I was.
A man and a teenager were heading from their seats, and I wasn’t paying attention. Or with me being on my meds, I was enjoying that I wasn’t paying attention. I could do that now, but then the teenager ground to a halt.
I noticed that. It was odd, but nothing out of the ordinary.
I kept going.
The man stopped, turned back. I heard, “Hunter?”
And that, that had me paying attention.
My head whipped back. The teenager was staring at me, mouth hanging open, and he was gaping at me. He was on the other side of the wall, maybe ten feet away, and I was slammed back from a force inside of me.
It was Hunter.
It was my brother.
Then, a third male was coming after that.
I tagged him from my periphery, and I noticed his walk first. I knew that walk, but I didn’t know it enough. It was teasing me, nagging at me, but back to the teenager.
Holy—I was taking him in. Looking at everything.
His hair. Brownish with blond streaks.
His little nose.
How clear his skin was. Youthful. Young.
He had an athlete’s build.
He was wearing Cut’s number.
This was my brother, but he was older. He was a teenager now.
He wasn’t the ten-year-old I remembered, the kid I squatted down to brush knuckles with at my mom’s funeral.
The back of my mind already identified the man—and the other guy coming toward us—Chad. And my father. That’s what made sense, but I didn’t care about them. I was busy taking in my brother when the other two stopped, took in what was going on, and closed ranks.
Chad and Deek stepped in front of Hunter, and a growl came from me. It was automatic. I didn’t know I was going to growl until I heard it, and then I wanted to growl again. I swung my gaze to Chad and stepped toward the wall. “Move!”
He blanched, then shook his head. “Can’t, Cheyenne.”
I surged toward the wall, my heart surging with me, and I slammed my hand against it. Palm flat. One hard pound. Not a slap, a pound. This was the street side of me. This was the part that was still inside of me. I growled again, “Move.”
His eyes went wide, but he took a deep breath and held firm. “I can’t.”