Killer Mama Alice started tearing up, her hands pressed to her mouth. “Cutler!”
Her hands fell away and she whispered, “You’re going to propose?”
“What?” I rewound our conversation. “No! I mean, not yet. Eventually, yes, but it’s too soon.”
Her hands lifted back to her mouth and she was holding them in tight, blinking a ton, and then she sniffled. Her hands fell away once again, and she was beaming at me. “She’s the one?”
“Yeah.” Everything clicked in place then. I hadn’t told her we were that serious, but we were. Or I was. I was pretty sure Cheyenne would be, too. “She’s the one.”
She was crying after that, and we never resolved our conversation, but I called their hotel and canceled their reservation. So I won and they were staying on Chad’s side of the house. Chad had moved out, so it didn’t matter. Cheyenne moved in a month ago, though she’d basically been living here since that night of Deek’s confession. I drove her home, and it’d been our home ever since.
Chad moved out a month ago, and the timing hadn’t been a coincidence.
Things had been strained with him. He hadn’t been the dick to Cheyenne he had been before, but he’d been quiet. Really quiet. If she was around, he left and he only came around if she wasn’t around. The thing was that I didn’t think it was because he didn’t like her, not like earlier. He’d been different since Deek’s confession. Well, he’d actually been different since the night Cheyenne attacked him. He came to me one night.
“Give me a lowball offer.”
“What?” I was watching the team we were playing in a few days. I hit pause and leaned forward. “Say again?”
He sat down across from me, dropping into a chair and he scooted forward. Knees to his elbows and a look of determination on his face, mixed with fear.
I narrowed my eyes. Chad had been off, but he’d not been scared. What was going on?
“I want you to buy me out.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Of the house?”
A short clipped nod. He seemed even more determined. “You paid for most of it anyways, so give me a lowball offer. I’ll take it. Cheyenne is moving in and you’ll want some space, and to be honest; I need to get my shit together. I don’t like the guy I was when Cheyenne attacked me and I don’t like how she was with me at the police station.”
I frowned. “You know that her dad had just confessed to killing her mom, right?”
“I know. It’s not that. It’s not on her. It’s who I was for her to have that reaction to. I shouldn’t have been that asshole to her, and I was. I kept telling you I would try and I was trying, but old habits die hard. And I’ve been using your name for my promoting business and it’s not right. I gotta do things on my own. I need to be someone that I like and I hate who I am right now.”
“You think me buying you out will do that?”
“Yeah. I do. I gotta do things on my own for a while. I need to do some right, too. This is stage one.”
So I bought him out, and he moved into a townhome.
He and I got together for a beer every now and then, but it was random. He seemed to have taken his mission to change to heart. Course, he’d been my best friend since we were little and there was a bond there that might’ve colored my lens, but he seemed like a better guy. Kind. Humble. Time would tell. He was supposed to be coming to the hockey game tonight, so I was hoping no confrontations happened when I was on the ice. Killer Mama Alice had been briefed on the situation and she was ready to activate her kill switch. If Chad came in and started acting a certain way toward Cheyenne, Chad would find himself on the receiving end of Killer Mama Alice and I knew Chad didn’t want that. He’d shared with me a few times he never wanted to piss off my mother.
I think the entire hockey nation felt the same.
“I want to hug her. I want to hold her. I want to never let her go.” Alice was tearing up, talking about Cheyenne.
They knew about her. There’d been too much news coverage over us, and over her to keep any of it in the dark. News broke about Deek, then he took a plea deal. He was in prison now, and he’d be there for ten years. All those events shone even more of a spotlight on Cheyenne, but she was handling it fine.
In her words, “The masses learned they love a little Cheyenne, so I’m out and about. I might as well be myself. They’ll love the wavy train just like you do.”
Sometimes Cheyenne said things that didn’t make sense to me, but it was her.
I was learning how to translate. I was also loving how much she accepted that I loved her, and if I loved her, then with her way of thinking, everyone else was going to come and love her, too. Which made sense to me because why wouldn’t they?
Maybe that’s what the ‘wavy train’ was. I didn’t know, but that was Cheyenne.
Sasha and Melanie had been at her side, almost every day. That meant they were over at the house, a lot.
Cheyenne told them to hold off to meet ‘the fam’ until the hockey game. They were watching it in Margo’s box, who had fallen in adoration of Cheyenne as well. She was pushing for Cheyenne to do something official for the team, or even to write a book about her life.
The most Cheyenne had agreed to doing was starting a podcast with Sasha and Melanie.
It was called Decking with the Tomcats.
They tried for Dicking with the Tomcats, but there were issues with that name so they changed it. Reluctantly.
It was in the top five most popular podcast in the local area.
The girls were becoming celebrities in their own right.
“You gotta promise me that you won’t fuck up this relationship.”
We were back to my mom lecturing me about Cheyenne.
“You. I know you. I know my son, and I know that you’ve not had a relationship except for a silly girl in college.”
This was uncomfortable.
“I know you kept girls in other cities when you traveled and you’d call to visit them, but there wasn’t anything exclusive about it.”
She spoke over me, gripping my arm, “I know this because Kathryn Meomeuooux met one of those girls, and do you know who Kathryn Meomeuooux is?”
“Do I want to know is the real question you should be asking me.”
She ignored me, giving my arm a jerk. “Kathryn Meomeuooux runs a crafting Etsy shop in Pine River. She’s across the river. I hold the market in Pine Valley, but not across the river. That’s her. She’s my competitor, Cutler. And she found out all about your girls and it wasn’t a fun scene when she tried to lord that over me at one of our sales events. She had a booth across from me.” She let go of my arm, giving it a soft pat and stepped back. Her voice turned cheerful and her whole demeanor brightened. “But, that’s all done for now because you met Cheyenne. You realized you’d be absolutely stupid to do anything to lose that girl, because she’s one of a kind. I didn’t raise you to be stupid. She’s nice, and smart, and she doesn’t have an ego.”
I grinned at her. “Ask Cheyenne about her wavy train.”
“That’s healthy confidence. You want that in a woman, too. Do. Not. Lose. Her.” A pause. A mean glint showed in her eyes. “Ever.”