The Not-Outcast

Page 66

I could see why Cheyenne loved this place so much, and why Hendrix wanted to come back.

The workers were cool. They were laidback. Funny too. The only guy who had an agenda was Dean, but he came out when we were in our third hour of working, and he seemed to have accepted he wasn’t going to get what he wanted, whatever it was. He picked up some of the dessert trays and took ’em around to the people eating. And all the people coming in, they were characters.

Some just wanted the food and wanted out of there.

Some had a story for each person. A few looked ready to collapse, but after being in Come Our Way for a few minutes, they relaxed. A lot of guys stuck around, sharing an extra cup of coffee, and one of the guys went over to the piano. He started playing, and most enjoyed. There were a couple who made cracks about the sound, but those were hushed or told to leave by the other patrons.

Thirty minutes into the piano concert, a guy sat down and started singing.

I glanced back, saw that Cheyenne had taken her earbuds out, and there was a small little grin on her face. Yeah. She seemed a lot better.

“All right, folks.” If Boomer wasn’t his given name, I heard why it was his nickname. He boomed out on our fourth hour there and held his hand up in the air, “We’re good to go. Time to close up shop.”

A few guys whined, but most picked up their items and headed for the door.

A couple lingered back, and I saw Reba handing out food in closed containers. When she caught me watching, she winked. Each guy stuffed the container under a coat or shirt before heading out the door. She came over when she was done, putting the empty pan on the counter where I was standing. “That’s not legal, but most everyone here’s done something not legal.”

“Not going to hear a word from me.”

She winked again, nodding to where Hendrix was sitting at a table talking to a few of the patrons who were the last to leave. “Enjoyed having you both here. Real nice of you, and even better that no press was called in.”

“That happens with some, but a lot of the guys on the team aren’t like that.”

“That’s why you guys will do real good this year. Can already see it.” Then, her gaze trailed past me, and I waited, expecting her next comment about Cheyenne. I was surprised when I heard instead, “Don’t let him know about you and her. He’ll use her, and it’ll wear on her after a bit, even if she thinks she can handle him. She can’t. None of us can when he’s got his mind set on something.”


Her eyes moved back to mine. “Watching you watching her today, I can tell you feel a right sort of way with her. Take care of her. She deserves it.”

“That was noted a long time ago.”

She grinned at me, a slow nod, and moved past me with a pat on my arm. “You’ll do, Mr. Big Celebrity Athlete. You’ll do right well, I can tell.”


As soon as she left, Hendrix came over. He nodded in the kitchen’s direction. “She’s still working. You two coming tonight?”

“Yeah.” I glanced back, then to Dean’s office.

“He took off.”

“He did? When?”

“Five minutes ago, or so. He was rushing out and checking his watch. I was expecting the social media pics at the end, but it seems like he’s the only one who would worry about that. He must’ve been late for something.”

“Maybe.” That meant I could talk to Cheyenne without leaving and not speaking to her. That felt wrong in a deep-sort of way.

A few of the volunteers came over. They must’ve got the go-ahead by Boomer, because we were approached for selfies and autographs. Once they left, it was literally the two of us. Cheyenne had gone to her office and Boomer and Reba weren’t around.

Boomer then came out, startled at seeing us. “Thought you two would’ve left long ago.”

Hendrix shot him a grin. “I’m on my way out. It was a pleasure, sir. You run a tight ship here.”

He held his hand out, and Boomer took it, giving him a slow nod. “You both faired real well. Real well.” He said to me, “She’s in her office, so you can head on back.”

Hendrix and I shared a look.

A low chuckle came from Boomer. “That girl’s a looker, and she’s got the it that guys salivate over. Knew something was up when neither of you asked about her. Knew something was more when I caught you checking on her, and knew something was really up when Reba was giving you a once-over a few times. Deano’s gone and I won’t say a word. I’m going to head on out myself in a few, but Cheyenne’s got keys to lock up. I’m assuming you’ll stay to make sure she gets to her car safe?”

That had me frowning. “Does she walk out alone normally?”

“Never. We always have one of the volunteers keep an eye on her, same with Reba. Though, most of the guys who linger around here are scared of Reba. Rightfully so. She can snatch a tongue in three seconds flat.” He shuddered, before giving us both another nod and heading into the kitchen.

“Right. There’s my cue, and I’m not a third wheel.” Hendrix clasped me on the shoulder. “Girl or not, I want to do this again. Okay?”

“Sounds good to me.”

“See you at mine later?”

I nodded. “That’s the plan.”

He was going down the back hallway as I went over to Cheyenne’s office and rapped lightly.

There was a second before she answered, “Yeah?”

I bent my head down. “It’s me. Only Boomer is here.”

“Oh.” It was another couple beats before she came over. The door was unlocked, and she opened the door. “Hey.”

I felt punched in the gonads.

She looked pale and the strain lines were worse.

I stepped inside, my hand instantly cupping the back of her neck and I shut the door behind me. “You were faking out there.”

“I wasn’t.” But she didn’t say anything else, resting her head against my chest, and I worked the muscles in the back of her neck. We stayed like that as I worked around to the pressure points on her face, working over her temples and down the rest of her face. It was a weird sensation your first time, but then it was damned addictive, and relaxing. I kept going when her head grew limp. She was giving herself completely over to me so I bent down, caught her up in my arms, and carried her over to her desk chair.

Sitting down, her on my lap, I positioned so she was sitting sideways, and I kept massaging the rest of her.

We didn’t talk.

I massaged her until an hour into it, I realized she’d fallen asleep, and I kept working even after that.

I worked until I just sat there, just holding her, and that’s when I knew.

There wouldn’t be a day where I wouldn’t want to do this.



I woke to Cut carrying me to his vehicle.

He was putting me inside the front seat when I started to stir.

“Go to sleep. I called and got directions on how to close up, and Reba is keeping your car at her place. I’ll give you a ride back in the morning, or whenever you need it.”


I loved him.

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