The Not-Outcast

Page 53


If that didn’t scare him away…

He looked at me, and his head cocked to the side. It was like he was now seeing me in a different way.

Like he was finally seeing me.

“What does that mean?”

What did that all mean? I had no clue.

Then, I thought about it.

“I think I’m willing to give up the river for you.”

His eyes took on a tender and loving look. He softened, and he leaned toward me. “If you’re saying what I think you’re saying, then… me too.”

I laughed lightly, almost laughing into his mouth because he was right there. “Although, in your world, your river is probably frozen over and you’re out there, skating away, playing hockey to your heart’s content.”



“Shut up.”

His mouth settled over mine, and I shut up.



Hendrix was eyeing Sasha. And that was not making Chad happy.

My box was next to the one that the Mustangs’ players used. I got my own because of my investment so when Chad showed up, I knew things would kick off with a bang tonight. And they had.

Hendrix cozied up to Cassie as soon as he showed up. Cassie had Melanie there, and whatever they’d been sharing with him, he had a whole different look when it came to Sasha.

Sasha, on the other hand, had barely left the booth where she was sitting with Cheyenne and myself.

I left, though.

I left to talk to Hendrix. I left to talk to the others. I left because it seemed that Sasha needed Cheyenne, so I was giving them some time. That’s when Chad walked in, and then Hendrix’s eyes lit up.

I recognized that look.

It was the same one he got when we had an opponent he really wanted to destroy. Of the other guys from the team, only Crow and Alex came out tonight. They were the single ones, and both were in a far booth with five girls hanging around them. Two to each, and a third going between them. Totally in their element.

Chad headed my way at the same time Hendrix decided to make his move.

He slid into my emptied spot, but I know he did that so Sasha would have to see his face. When I would return, Hendrix would apologize, get up, and sit right next to Sasha instead. He’d make sure his arm was brushing against hers, but he’d wait to see if she was into it. If she wasn’t, he’d cut his losses and leave. I’d seen him do it a thousand times.

“Hey.” Chad approached, but he was swinging a frown in Sasha’s direction right away.

Hendrix lifted his drink to us in a salute, before doing exactly what I thought he would do. He sat in my seat and leaned forward, making sure Sasha had to see him to respond.

“What the hell?”

“How about you and me have our conversation before you head over for that one?”

His gaze swung back to me, and he nodded. “Yeah. You want Cheyenne involved?”

I shook my head. “Cheyenne’s made it clear that this is between you and me more than her.”

He frowned.

Yeah. It confused me, too, until I thought about what she’d said. Then it made sense and it also made me feel a certain way about her, even more.

Hendrix and the others had joined my box once we got here, so theirs was now empty.

Chad and I had our drinks and headed over. There was a booth overlooking the dance floor, but some of the sound was more muted there. I slid in.

Chad slid across from me, and then he leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table.

I started it. “How about you tell me what went down.”

“Didn’t Cheyenne?”

“I want to hear your version.”

He nodded, his head down before he spoke. “Deek reached out. Thought it’d be fun to catch a game with Hunter and myself. Personally, I think he wanted to talk about Cheyenne and get a feel for what all was going on. He knows things have changed, that you’re seeing her now. I mentioned it when I went over to hang out one night with Hunter. But, yeah. He and Hunter were heading for concessions tonight. I came up behind and saw Cheyenne hassling them. I felt a certain way and got in there. I—”


Chad quieted. “That’s what Deek said. Hunter looked uncomfortable.”

“Deek said that? Her father said that?”

“If he said it, I don’t know. I’ve never not believed him.”

What the fuck was Deek’s problem?

“He’s supposed to be her dad, too.”

“If she doesn’t want him around, he can’t force his way in there. You know?”

“What the fuck, Chad? What the actual fuck?”

He quieted again, frowning. He was looking to the right, to the left, up, down. He grabbed his drink, drank all of it in one go, and held it up, motioning for a refill.

He was stalling.

Fine. I’d let him.

For now.

But still, what the fuck?

When the server brought over another one, she slid it over with a smile and included me with that. “You want another, too?”

I shook my head. I’d barely touched my drink.

As soon as she was gone, it was my turn.

“Okay. Let’s go over this timeline. Cheyenne’s mom goes to rehab.”

Chad nodded. “Correct.”

“You had any interaction with her before that?”

“Not a one.”

“She comes into the house, you’re shipped out.”

“Hunter too. Mom was worried about…” He trailed off, then added, his eyes darting down, “Cheyenne had a history of shoplifting.”

“Shoplifting from stores?”

He frowned, thinking, and then shook his head. “No. The neighbors, I think.”

“So, food and water that the neighbors put out for Cheyenne, but she thought she was stealing?”

He opened his mouth, had nothing to say, and shut it.

That’s what I thought.

I kept on, “According to Cheyenne, she was never told about Hunter. She found out his name in a meeting with her social worker.”


Everything in me went flat. How’d he not know any of this shit? “Thinking about my own brothers, if they existed and I was never told, I’d be going Reaper on someone. That would not fly with me.”

He swallowed, reaching for his second drink. “Yeah. I can see what you mean.”

Moving forward. “Her mom dies and she stays with her uncle. That ever hit you weird?”

His mouth opened, again.

His mouth shut, again.

He had nothing to say, again.

Except, “What are you getting at, Cut? You want me to light up the torches or something? I’m not going to do that. Deek’s not my bio dad, but I gotta say, he’s way better than the dad I did have. That guy was an asshole, and I love my mom. She did the best she could for us. If you’re trying to insinuate things a certain way, then back up because you’re wrong.”

I was out of patience. “Cheyenne doesn’t hassle. Ever. She runs. She hides. She doesn’t hassle. You spend more than two minutes around her, and not fucking glaring at her, you’d wake the fuck up. You’re dead wrong about her, and I don’t know what Deek and Natalie were thinking when—”

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