"But I broke up with you," I said, more in my own head as I tried to calculate my way out of this problem. "I broke up with you so he wouldn't trade you. I —"
"I got traded anyway," Hendrix finally spoke, and the sound of his voice was both like ice and a breath of fresh air. "Isn't it easier this way?" he asked, lowering his voice to a whisper. He shifted that box in his arms, stopping next to me. "Use me and lose me, right? Just like everyone else."
The words sank like daggers into the center of my chest. Weston pretended like he hadn’t heard as he followed Hendrix down the hallway. Until they were out of sight, out of the building, out of my life.
I’d torn us apart for nothing.
I felt my entire world shatter around me, in the one place where I’d thought I’d finally found my home.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Roman said as we watched my last two suitcases being loaded onto Weston’s private jet.
My best friends looked as stunned as I felt. It had all happened so fast. If not for the stifling August heat reflecting off the tarmac, I would have thought this was all a dream. It was that surreal.
In the span of twenty-four hours, I’d lost the respect of a man I admired, my relationship with the first woman I’d ever loved, and my spot on the Raptors.
Out of all of that, the loss of Savannah hurt the worst. I wasn’t even sure this debilitating, crushing pain in my chest that made it hard to breathe could even be reasonably called hurt. It was more like…excruciating and terminal. I wasn’t sure how there was any real chance of long-term survival.
“Did you talk to Coach?” Nixon asked, shoving his sunglasses up his nose.
I shook my head.
“Why not?” Roman damn near shouted, throwing his hands up before lacing his fingers behind his neck. “Maybe this is all a misunderstanding. Maybe he doesn’t realize—like the rest of us—” he stared me down, “—that you’re in love with Savannah.”
“Not sure there’s much to misunderstand.” I folded my arms across my chest as Weston and Brynn chatted with the pilot. “His first rule was to not touch his daughter. I definitely touched his daughter.” There wasn’t an inch of her skin I hadn’t touched, kissed, or licked. And now she was gone…and I was no longer a Raptor.
“Shit, this is all my fault,” Nixon snapped. “If I had stuck around after the game, I could have found you before the cake did.”
I huffed a laugh. “Not everything is your fault, Nix. I knew the risk. This is on me.”
“I just…” Roman shook his head. “I can’t reconcile myself with the idea that this is how this ends.” His brow furrowed.
“It’s okay,” I shrugged and forced a smile. “It’s life. People get traded. Relationships end. I’m just not one of the guys who gets the white picket fence and the happily ever after. And let’s all be honest, it’s not like I deserve that, anyway. I never deserved her.” And yet it hadn’t stopped me.
It hadn’t stopped her from trampling all over my heart, either.
“Hendrix, are you ready?” Brynn asked, touching my elbow gently.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” I offered her a smile, but she saw straight through it—I saw it in her eyes. She didn’t out me, though, just nodded and gave me a quick squeeze.
“This is bullshit,” Roman hissed.
“We should at least be the ones taking you,” Nixon grumbled.
“You two are supposed to be on a plane in a few hours for the Cleveland game,” Weston lectured, cleaning the lenses of his sunglasses as he walked over. Had to give it to the guy—he somehow managed to look unfazed in a three-piece-suit and hundred-degree heat. “He’s in good hands.”
“He’s our best friend,” Roman argued.
“He’s my best friend,” Weston countered with a grin.
Both Roman and Nixon looked at Weston like he’d lost his mind.
“Since high school,” I agreed, coming to stand at Weston’s side. “We just kept it quiet so no one thought I didn’t earn my spot on the team.”
Weston scoffed. “Anyone who’s seen you play knows you earned your own spot. We kept it quiet so people couldn’t use him to get to me. Sorry. I was the one who insisted. He would have told you, I promise.”
“This week just keeps getting weirder and weirder,” Roman muttered.
“As long as you’re in good hands,” Nixon said slowly.
They weren’t the hands I wanted, but it wasn’t like hers were an option, anyway.
“He is,” Weston answered for me.
“And don’t stress. I’ll be back up. I still have to sell my house.” That was the best I could do without falling apart.
We said goodbye with the required back slaps, and I made it a point to get the hell out of there before I let my emotions get the best of me.