Axel had to understand that, right?
Then why do I feel like my world is spiraling?
“Okay. If you’re sure,” he said. “Tell that husband of yours that I’ve got him covered with Silas. There’s a clause in every contract about missing games for the health emergencies of our children, and given that Axel raised his brother, he qualifies. I know he said he only needs a week, but if it turns out things are worse there, and he needs to extend, just tell him to call me. You know my personal philosophy is family first, and I respect the hell out of every man who feels the same. ACL tears are nothing to joke about. They’re excruciatingly painful to start with, and even if the surgery goes well, that kid’s hockey career is probably over.”
He only needed a week? Gage knew more about the trip than I did.
“I’ll tell Axel, and I’ll have a sit-down with Cannon in a couple of days. Give him time to cool off before I get the real story out of him.”
“Good luck. He wouldn’t talk to anyone.”
“I’ll do my best,” I said, hand on the knob. “And Gage?”
“You ever start doubting yourself again?”
His brows rose.
“I’ll slap some sense into you.” I winked and walked out the door, his laughter following me out of the locker room.
I was met by a duo of meowing from Slytherin and Hufflepuff when I walked in my door twenty-minutes later. They were obviously starving, having not been fed since this morning. God, it had been a long day.
I kicked off my pumps and padded barefoot through the house, never realizing how empty it felt without Axel’s presence. I dumped some cat food into their respective bowls and headed to the bedroom, not even bothering to find something to eat for myself.
I shed my tailored blazer and skirt, sliding into my softest pair of cotton pants and shirt, sighing with the contact. The “business me” gone, I sank onto my bed and let everything I’d been holding at bay wash over me.
Tears flowed freely, and I truly wanted to wreck myself for what had happened.
But he’d called me cold when he’d known what having to choose between my career and my personal life meant to me. He knew and yet he’d still pulled that card.
Of course, I was worried about his brother. Even if it were Faith in that hospital, I wouldn’t have been able to leave. Not until this was handled.
Of course, I wanted to be with Axel. Wanted to support him and tell him it was okay. But, when the League got involved in these matters worse things could happen than simply losing a player. Gage could’ve been investigated. It could have been a mess. A mess I was still in the process of cleaning up. I’d only cooled off the League. I had three days to prove it was a provoked attack or shit would really hit the fan.
That’s why I wasn’t on a plane right now flying to Axel.
Because the job wasn’t done.
I reached for my cell, wanting to call him, but he was likely still in flight.
And the way he’d left…
God, I hoped he understood. Hoped things would be better when he came back. That he’d give me the chance to explain properly. Explain what it meant to me that he understood and accepted both sides of me—business and personal. Because I didn’t know how to be anyone else.
And I thought…I had thought he knew me better than anyone.
Slytherin and Hufflepuff hopped onto the bed with quiet cat-feet, curling up next to me in the incredibly vacant spot Axel had left on his side of the mattress. One tabby, one all black. Two different personalities, two different houses, yet they’d found a way to get along. To thrive together.
Surely, Axel and I could too.
“Stop flirting with the nurse and eat your lunch,” I lectured Tage as I sank back into the armchair that flanked his bed.
Tage scoffed in my direction as the young nurse shot me a shy smile and basically ran from the room.
“First you boss around the entire staff, kick my teammates out of my room, and now you’ve scared off my only possibility of fun.” He rolled his eyes. “Exactly when are you going back to the states?”
Because that’s where I lived now. It didn’t matter how badly he was going to need me here during the recovery process, I was under contract for seven-and-a-half more years. I wasn’t just a Reaper, I belonged to the Reapers.
“Four more days, and considering you’ve just had a double ACL repair, flirting is the only fun you’ll be having for a while.” I was on day three of Tage-watch, and soon, I’d have to hop a flight back to Charleston in time for the Hurricanes game. We’d kicked their ass on their own home turf the first time, and they were itching for a rematch. But hey, I guess you’re not an NHL team until you have a rival, and we may have found ours.