I was a little scared of Killer Mama Alice myself now. “Not planning on it, Mom.”
Another pat on my arm and she lifted up on her toes. She pressed a kiss to my cheek. “Now go and make your momma proud on the ice. Fucking reap, Cutler. Fucking reap. Named you that for a reason, I did.”
Yes. Still scared.
“Got it, Mom.”
The crowd was beyond tonight.
The crowd was always beyond, but it was a playoff game and so the crowd was beyond beyond.
You feel me? Good.
I was golden.
I’d embraced my new lease on life, and that was the life of loving and being loved. Not that I hadn’t loved before. I had all sorts of golden goodness love for Sasha and Melanie, but being loved by someone like Cut and then his family? That was deep and something I never thought I’d get. But I did. I got it. That was the cherry on top of everything. The goose egg of all eggs, and I was loving life right now.
That was JJ. She, Maisie, and Otis were up in Margo’s box with me. Sasha and Melanie were enjoying their seats instead, because they now came to the games a lot with me. In an unofficial way, Margo had taken me under her wing. She wanted all sorts of goodness for me, and she kept wanting me to write a book. I wasn’t a writer. I was barely a typist. I could do what I needed for Come Our Way, but that shindig was it for me and writing. Talking. Doing our podcast. Laughing with my girls, that’s what was the easiest so I was getting my story out that way.
I turned to JJ. “Girl.”
“Gurl.” She was beaming at me, and she grabbed my arm. “I am so glad I took that phone call for you.”
I laughed, because it was true. I grabbed her arm. “I am, too.”
Maisie came on my other side, a beer in hand. She was already flushed, her cheeks all red, and that was just from laughing. They only stepped into the owner’s box two minutes ago.
“Otis is tickled pink by this.” Maisie’s eyes were shining. There might’ve been some moisture there. “He’s been telling his buddies all week he’d be watching the game from the owner’s box. They’re all green with envy.”
Otis came over, a pink drink in hand with a little umbrella sticking out of it.
He was shaking his head, the tops of his cheeks almost matching his drink. “You tell her about my buddies?”
He was asking Maisie, and she nodded. “I sure did. All week.”
He focused on me, a somber look coming over him. “We’re loving your new friends and all, but in all seriousness, Cheyenne, we’re just real happy to see you happy. We’re also real glad to have met your friends, the Tits owner and Melody—”
“Melanie.” From his wife.
“Melanie, but I swear she told me her name was Melody. I made a joke that it’d be easy to remember, I just needed to sing a tune and she was all for it.”
Knowing Melanie, she might’ve gone with it.
We were all staring at him.
He blinked, and his head popped farther up. “Anyways, moving on to the meat of what I mean to say. We’re just happy for you. It’s not that you weren’t happy before, but you deserve everything good that’s coming your way and I’ve a feeling there’s more coming.”
And now my cheeks were the pink ones, and I was flushed, and I was a little weepy.
“Thank you, guys. You guys were the best seatmates ever.”
“Oooh!” Maisie was gushing and she started to lift her arms to put around JJ and Otis for a hug, but JJ caught Maisie’s drink in hand. JJ now had two so as Maisie was throwing her arms up, JJ shuffled in.
Otis threw his free arm around me, and all four of us got close for a group hug/huddle. Hugdle.
“Is this an exclusive thing or can anyone get in on the group hug?”
We stepped back.
Margo was standing there, a wide smile on her face.
“Oh, girl!” Otis pulled her in and we had our second hugdle for the day.
Margo laughed, her head leaning forward. “I’m feeling like we should be devising a plan to take over the world or something.”
“We’re just gushing to Cheyenne about how she deserves everything that’s been happening to her.”
Margo’s gaze came to mine, our foreheads a few inches from each other. A soft smile came over her face. “I agree, wholeheartedly.”
It was after our hugdle that Margo pulled me aside.
She’d been curious when she first met me, then kind and only kind after that. I felt a distinct maternal nurturing from her and there were times I didn’t know how to handle it. I loved it, but I also didn’t know if I could let myself love it. Cut told me every time I expressed those concerns to open my channels and let people into my river.
That’s what I was doing. Who was I to exclude people from the river of love here? It was now a golden river of love.
But I’d never seen her get serious like this. She took my hand, staring at both our hands for a moment before lifting her head. “I need to apologize to you, and it’s been a long time coming.”
“Apologize? For what?”
“I got a call from a personal friend of mine, who had a conversation with your father. Based on that call, I pulled Cutler into my office and I put him in an awkward position. It wasn’t the right thing to do, and even though I didn’t know what was going on, there’s been a lot of nights that took me longer to fall asleep because I realized later Deek had been pulling strings to try and control you, or try and control Cutler. I don’t know the reasons behind why he did what he did, but I do know it was wrong. It was wrong for me to put Cutler in that position, and it was wrong for your father to use personal connections how he did.”
I opened my mouth.
She kept going, hurrying, “And I’ve been waiting to make some calls, but yesterday I got word. I can tell you today that your father no longer has any friends within my social circle. The last one turned his back on him yesterday, so I know that your father took a deal. He’ll be getting out in ten years, but you don’t have to worry about him. Those doors will remain closed to him when and if he returns here.”
He was technically still here. Leavenworth wasn’t far.
I squeezed her hand gently. “Thank you for telling me that. It does mean a lot.”
A relieved smile came over her, and she blinked quite a few times. “Thank you. Has Cutler ever talked to you about me at all?”
I shook my head. “Just that you’re good people.”
“I was never able to have children, and there was a time in my youth where I was in a shelter for a bit. It wasn’t long, but I was there. That time will always stick with me.”
“Oh.” Whoa. Super smart big bad boss Margo was in a shelter? “Can I ask what kind of shelter?”
Her smile turned sad, just the slightest bit. “It was one that my mother and I needed to be in, but again; it wasn’t for long. I’m sharing that because while I know that Cutler’s mother is here and is going to claim you as a daughter to her, if you’re with Cutler or not. I’m also hoping that you and I can somewhat have a mentor/mentee sort of relationship.” Her hand trembled, a tiny tremble. “It would mean a lot to me. We could do tea, or meet for a walk at Powell’s. Or even a weekly luncheon. You could go with me on some of my trips.”