Pucked Page 53

She passes me a folder. “You need to look at this.”

“What is it?” I flip it open; there are endless pictures of Alex with the same blonde woman. The sheer volume of them is disturbing.

“She’s his sister.”

“Say what, now?” I have a vague recollection of Alex mentioning a younger sister while we were on our date.

“Her name is Sunny. She’s twenty-one. According to this article”—she holds up a gossip rag—“he flew her out to a game in LA last week because it’s colder than a snowman’s balls up there in Canada.”

“I had no idea.”

“He called me to explain. Apparently they’re close.” She produces her phone and shows me Alex’s cell number.

“How did he get your number?”

“Good question. Maybe you should return one of his calls and find out.”

I ignore the jab. “What did he explain, exactly?”

“About the photos. He was worried. He couldn’t get in touch with you and figured it might be the reason. You could have avoided all this if you’d called him or done some research.”

I’m too embarrassed to admit I’ve scoured images like a junkie looking for smack, but I didn’t perform a search for this vital information last night. I’ve made a horribly ignorant assumption based on personal expectations.

He really is a good guy. He took the time to seek out my best friend and relay a message through her, which tells me more about him than the flowers or the gifts.

I check my phone to find my voice mailbox full, and I have twenty texts. I fear their content. The first two voice mails from Alex simply ask me to return his call. The third one is several minutes long and the reason my voice mail is full. I feel awful. He’s tried so hard to explain the situation and I’ve ignored him.

I text him immediately. I don’t hear from him all day. He has a game tonight, so he’s likely at practice or he doesn’t have his phone with him.

Karma dictates I put myself in the same shoes he’s been wearing for the past twenty-four hours. After work, I change into comfy clothes, grab a bag of pretzels from the pantry and a couple of beers from the fridge, and make the trek across the driveway to my parents’ house. The massive television in the living room is the best place to catch the game.

The teams are evenly matched for skill. I watch with rapt attention as Alex scores a goal and manages two assists in the third period, leaving the other team unable to recover. Afterward, the sportscasters interview Alex. He’s riding the high of the win; I worry my late response is going to result in a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I’m buzzed by the time the highlight reel is finished. The game has been over for an hour, and still no message from Alex. I return to the pool house and get ready for bed. Clutching the Waters beaver to my chest, I drift into a fitful sleep.

I’m woken some time later by the sound of my phone ringing. I reach for it in frantic confusion, pressing wrong buttons until I finally answer the call.

“Hi. Hello?” I’m so disoriented. I’ve been having Alex boob-fondling dreams.

“Hey.” His voice is a fuzzy blanket of warmth.

“Hi,” I breathe out, porn star style.

“I’m sorry I woke you. I tried to call earlier but my phone died and I had to wait for it to charge. How are you?”

God, I love him. Wait, what? No, no, I don’t love him. I love his sweetness.

“I’m okay. I’m sorry I didn’t call you until today . . .” I feel guilty for avoiding him, afraid he was all up in someone else’s beaver.

“I should’ve warned you. I know how the pictures look. Flying Sunny out was unplanned.”

My remorse overrides my ability to censor my response. “I like you. I didn’t expect to see you with someone else. I thought maybe my brand of crazy was a bit too much to handle.” Goddammit, I was doing such a . . . mediocre job at being unaffected. Now I’ve shot the mediocrity all to shit.

“You like me, eh?”

If I could melt into a puddle, I would. Those Canadianisms get me every time.

“Mm-hmm.” It practically comes out a sigh.

“I like you, too,” he says softly. “Can you take Friday off? I’d love to fly you out to Toronto. You can come to the game, and we can hang out for a few days. I’ll take you to Guelph.”

It’s hard not to get all swoony with Alex offering to fly me out to a foreign country. Okay, not foreign, but Canadians speak French and they have accents. I have vacation days. Time alone with Alex would be fantastic.


Shit. I’ve been silent again.

“Please say yes, baby. I want you to come.” His voice is low, gritty.

He must know it drives me crazy in the best way when he calls me baby. “I want to.”

“We can get a hotel room the first night, then stay at my condo in the city for the rest of the weekend. Just the two of us.”

“You have a condo?”

“I do. My parents stay there when I have Toronto games.”

“Right. Of course.”

The idea of spending a weekend alone with Alex makes my thighs clench. It’s been days since I helped myself out, and now I’m warm and wet and wanting.

“I’ll have to check with work to see if I can get the time off. Last minute tickets will be expensive.”

I slide my palm down my stomach to my parted thighs, stifling a moan. My breathing is already heavy, so I hold the phone away from my mouth.

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