I knew all this…and it didn’t stop me from replaying that kiss over and over in my head. Didn’t stop me from craving his touch, his taste, all hours of the day and night.
“You should’ve seen it, Lib,” Savannah said, snapping me back to the present as we sashayed through the costume shop. “Teagan laid Drew’s ass out.”
I chuckled, heat rising to my cheeks.
“You’re kidding? Drew looks like Jason freaking Momoa’s brother!” Liberty said. “That’s badass.”
“Oh, yeah,” I teased. “Totally badass. Right up to the point where I started bawling.”
Liberty stopped in the middle of the aisle, her big green eyes scanning me. “Sometimes,” she said. “Physical therapy can be just as cathartic as mental.”
She would know, holding a doctorate in psychology. The woman worked part-time in the offseason overseas in countries that desperately needed mental healthcare, and during the season she saw clients in the city.
Part of me had entertained the idea of having an off-record conversation with her about some of the darker details of my relationship with Rick, but I was always too afraid in the end. What if she called me an idiot for staying as long as I did? For believing his threats against my family, myself? For always hoping for him to turn back into the man who’d made me fall for him?
“It is,” Savannah answered when I couldn’t. “Seriously, my first week I was a mess. It’s an intense class. There’s something about working your body for survival and defense that bring down other mental barriers. And Drew is super patient and totally understanding, which helps.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I can’t argue with that.” I fingered through some costumes before turning to Liberty. “How is Nicole?”
“She’s a mess,” Liberty said, a smile on her lips. “A total daddy’s girl. I swear Nix is the only one she’ll sleep through the night for. At nearly seven months, you’d think she would give mama a break.” She laughed, shaking her head.
“I’m so happy for you,” I said. “I’ve always wanted a huge family,” I said without really thinking. I cleared my throat. “When, you know, the time is right.”
“I get that,” she said, pausing on a sexy Alice in Wonderland costume. “But you know, the time is never really right.” She winked at me. “I can attest to that.”
True. She had accidentally gotten pregnant on a trip to Vegas with Nixon, but it had all worked out for the best in the end. Almost like that had been planned by the fates to happen.
An image strung itself together in my mind—Roman holding a newborn, one with my eyes and his dark hair.
I shook off the involuntary image. That would never happen for him, and my heart broke at the thought. There I’d been trying to prevent having children with Rick, and Roman didn’t even have a choice. And his only serious girlfriend in college had left him for it. My soul twisted on his behalf every time I thought about it.
“Nu huh,” Savannah said, snapping her fingers at Liberty. “None of that talk. Not everyone gets to have a whirlwind Vegas adventure and find the love of their life.”
“I wasn’t saying that!” Liberty laughed, poking Savannah in the side.
Savannah dodged another attempt. “Some of us are quite content living up the single life.” She wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “Isn’t that right, Teagan?”
I snorted. “Oh yeah, I’m definitely living it up.”
Lounging around like a sloth in Roman’s house—hiding was more like it. Though I had enjoyed the few games I’d attended. Cheering for Roman was effortless, and there was such a freedom in the games now that I knew there weren’t going to be punishment nights if they lost. Those nights were the longest, where Rick unleashed all of his frustrations on me, whether verbal or physical.
A cold chill raked down my spine, and I shook off the memories.
“Well,” Savannah said as we continued to look through the costumes. “The party will be a blast.”
I raised my brows at her. “Are you going to dress up this time?”
She held up a sexy nurse costume before putting it back on the rack. “What’s the point?” She sighed. “They always spot me for who I am, anyway.”
“As Coach Goodman’s daughter?” I teased.
“Yes,” she said. “I love my dad more than anything, but it’s exhausting being his daughter sometimes. I mean, God, it’s like I have sixty-three older brothers.”
I shuddered at the thought.
“They are a bit protective of you,” Liberty said.
“A bit?” Savannah challenged.
“Better than having no protection at all,” I said before I could stop myself, then cringed. I shook off their concerned looks and hurried to another rack of costumes on the next aisle.
Thankfully, they let the comment slide. Amazing friends that they were, they knew not to push. And I wasn’t ready to tell them everything. Hell, I’d barely told Roman everything, and I’d known him my entire life.