“Noted,” I quipped. It wasn’t exactly a secret why I’d been traded, and I had the feeling he was testing me.
He studied me for a second, then let my hand go with a slow nod. “Good. Listen, unlike the Raptors, I don’t give a shit who you fuck as long as she’s legal and willing. I prefer if you stay away from anyone with a ring on her finger, especially if she’s married to another Cougar, but I also think a man should keep his wife satisfied enough to stay in his bed. But that’s just me.” He shrugged. “You have a place to stay?”
“Yes.” It hit me then, just how real this was.
“Good. Practice tomorrow.” He turned and shook Weston’s hand. “Thanks for the call about this one, but it’s not going to save you at this month’s game. I’m still taking you for all you’re worth.”
“It’s never fun to take your money if you don’t put up a fight,” Weston replied with a grin. “Treat him right, would you? He’s one of my oldest friends.” He nodded toward me.
Gareth looked out the wall of glass that made up a quarter of his office to the hallway beyond, where Brynn paced, talking on the phone. “Funny, I was always hoping you’d say the same thing about that one.”
My eyebrows shot up, and Weston straightened to all six-three of his height, going visibly tense.
“And we’re leaving,” I said quickly.
“See you in a couple weeks.” Maxfield gave Weston a shit-eating grin, knowing he’d rattled him.
Weston was way more obvious about his weakness than he thought he was. Glaringly obvious. Fuck, I bet the guys on the international space station could see it from up there.
“I’ll be the one taking your money,” Weston said as we walked away.
Maxfield just laughed. “Welcome to the Cougars, Hendrix.”
“Thanks for having me,” I called back but kept walking for the good of both men in the room. Maxfield might be rattling Weston just to tease him, but the guy was downright dangerous when it came to Brynn. “How often do you lose to him?” I teased as we made our way into the hallway of the brand-new stadium.
“Never. Why?” Weston’s eyebrows furrowed.
“Your poker face is shit.” I laughed.
“What?” Brynn asked, hearing the last of our conversation.
“Nothing,” Weston rushed. “Let’s get Hendrix settled at his new place so we can get up to Cleveland.” He put a hand possessively on her lower back.
Cleveland. Because he was still the owner of the Raptors…and I was now a Cougar.
A little over a week later, I found myself entrenched in the corner booth of a bar near the Reapers’ arena called Scythe, the name of which probably had something to do not only with it being in Reaper territory, but the long, bladed weapon that hung above the pristine ebony bar. Not that I was any good for company.
The Raptors had posted a picture of Coach and Savannah today on their official Instagram, all smiles and congratulations for the family atmosphere of the team. She’d looked happy—maybe a little paler, maybe darker circles under her eyes, but smiling. She had the exact life she’d wanted.
I’d been exiled.
“So let me get this straight. None of you are drinking, and yet you brought me to a bar?” I asked Nathan Noble, Nixon’s twin, who happened to play hockey for the Reapers.
The guy was also permanently engaged to the owner’s sister.
“Nixon told me you aren’t allowed to wallow, and we have practice in the morning,” Nathan said with a shrug and threw back a bottle of water from his seat next to me, where he watched his fiancée at the bar with a few other women.
“And you all sit like this is a junior high dance?” I asked, motioning to the men at the table around us, and the women perched on the barstools.
“Trust me, the women need a break from you idiots,” the bartender said with a quick smile, blowing a kiss to the guy across the table—Sawyer McCoy, the goalie.
“They won’t let us over there,” Cannon Price grumbled, eyeing his little blonde wife like he could fuck her from fifteen feet away if he tried hard enough. “They said it’s girls’ night. On a Tuesday.”
They all cursed under their breath.
Hockey players were weird.
“So you’ve all played together for years,” I guessed, taking in the close-knit group that had taken pity on me, seeing as I had yet to make any close friends on the Cougars.
“For the most part,” Sawyer answered as a guy with short, black hair and gray eyes took the seat at the edge of the booth. “Sterling here just came back to us.” Sawyer lifted his bottle of water in salute.
“It was a long three years, but man it’s good to be back.” He grinned and stuck out his hand. “Jansen Sterling. Goalie. Nice to meet you.”