The Good Luck Charm Page 46

I’m going to require so much caffeine to get through this day. I’m not sure what time Ethan arrived, but I do know the last time I looked at the clock it was after three in the morning. I throw glares at his peaceful form while I stumble around in the semidarkness trying to get dressed. I stop worrying about being quiet and throw on the bathroom light so I don’t end up wearing mismatched everything. And still, he sleeps like the dead.

I bang around in the kitchen, working out my frustration on the coffee maker. I let Merk out into the backyard, too tired to manage the walk business this morning. I need to talk to Ethan about this, about the way it impacts my job and my schoolwork. I have to tell him about my failed midterm. I don’t want to invite conflict, or put him off his game with playoffs so close and so much riding on the next few weeks, but I need him to respect my boundaries.

I glance up at the ceiling, aware he’s above me, sleeping peacefully while I have to go to work and be productive. I run a finger down the bridge of my nose, trying to ease my frustration. Last night—or this morning, I guess—he’d been so remorseful for waking me, apologetic, needy, wanting. Ethan has always been good at making me feel needed—maybe too good. Back when we were teenagers, there was so much less at stake than there is now, for both of us.

I pour coffee into a to-go mug as a tide-me-over until I can get a double espresso at the café on the way to work.

I open the fridge to grab the cream and find a paper bag from a local bakery that wasn’t there last night. I check the contents and find my favorite muffin inside. When Ethan would have had the time to pick this up, I have no idea, but the sweet gesture only fuels my annoyance.

On my way out the door, I note a bouquet of flowers left on the table at the entryway that I must’ve missed on my way to the kitchen in my caffeine-deprived haze. I pluck the card from the envelope. It’s simple and to the point:


I love you more than Hot Lips.


The romantic gestures are lovely and considerate, but it doesn’t negate the fact that he’s steamrolling my life and I’m letting him. Merk whines, giving me sad eyes as I head for the door. I give him a pat on the head. “Go breathe in Ethan’s face until he wakes up and takes you for a walk.”

By the time I arrive at work, I’m slightly more alert and definitely more caffeinated. I worry I’ll end up jittery on account of how much coffee I’ve already consumed, but it’s better than falling asleep standing up. I drop my things in my locker and head to the nurses’ station.

“Hey! Should I be asking for your autograph this morning? Oh … wow … You must’ve had a night.” Ashley’s eyes go wide as she takes in my appearance.

I’m dressed in scrubs, and my hair is pulled into a ponytail, which is typical, so I’m not sure exactly what’s different about the way I look, other than my bloodshot eyes. I’m guessing the drops I put in before I left for work have worn off already. “What’re you talking about?” I set my extralarge coffee on the desk and flip through the morning case files.

She gives me a funny look. “What am I talking about? Your face is all over the local media, newspapers, Facebook, Insta—you name it.”

I pause my leafing. “I’m sorry, what?”

“I love that you’re his good luck charm. It’s just so cute.”

I rub my temples. “I’m whose good luck charm?”

“Ethan’s. Jeez.” She drops her voice. “Are you hungover or something?”

“Absolutely not!” I snap. I raise a hand in apology. “Sorry. I didn’t have the most restful sleep. I went to the game last night, and it took a while to settle when I got home.”

“I bet.” She gives me a commiserating smile. “Based on the way that man kisses you, I can only imagine the other things he can do with that mouth of his.”

“Ashley! Can we keep this PG? And since when have you seen Ethan kiss me?” I try to think of a time he was anything but appropriate when stopping by my work. Sure, he’s stopped by to steal a kiss, but it’s always been in private, not in front of my colleagues. In trucks on private property is one thing; in the middle of my place of employment is entirely another.

“Um … the whole hockey-watching world has seen him kiss you, live, on TV.”

I set the files down. My stomach drops and my cheeks flush. “No.”

“Oh yeah. He really laid one on you.”

I slap a palm over my mouth because I’m incapable of closing it. Last night, after the game, before I left with his parents, he kissed me. There’d been camera flashes, but I hadn’t considered that there would be video footage as well, or that it would end up splashed all over the godforsaken interweb. Up until now, any PDA caught on camera has been very family friendly. That kiss last night was not. “Oh my God.”

“Right? And then that interview. It’s totally understandable that you’re tired today. I tried to give you the easiest cases this morning.”

“Thanks.” I’m genuinely grateful but still so confused. “What interview are you referring to?”

Ashley frowns. “You didn’t see it?”

“Uh, no. I didn’t even know there was one.” Ethan didn’t mention an interview, although there wasn’t much talking last night, apart from his initial apology.

“I have it bookmarked. It’s so sweet.”

She pulls up a hockey blog on the computer, scanning the area to make sure no one is around before she hits Play. She lowers the volume, the sound of cheering fans far too loud not to draw attention.

“Ethan! Ethan! Can you tell us about your girlfriend? Rumor has it you’re high school sweethearts!”

“Ethan! How’d you feel about your performance on the ice tonight?”

“Ethan! Is this the year Minnesota is going to bring the Cup home?”

The questions keep flying, and Ethan holds up a hand, pointing to one sportscaster. “I’m glad I can be an asset to my team this season. I’m proud to be back home and playing well.”

“What do you attribute your success to this season?”

Ethan ducks his head and rubs the back of his neck. His hair is damp, curling at the ends. He runs his fingers through it, making a mess. “Great teammates, a fantastic coach, and serious determination all help, as well as a little bit of luck.”

“Do you have any superstitions? Anything you do before a game? Rituals?”

“Where do you think that luck comes from, Ethan?” another reporter shouts.

His head whips around, seeking out the asker of the last question. “Lilah.” It’s the first and only word out of his mouth.

My skin prickles, but I’m not sure if it’s in a good way or not. A volley of questions follows that’s hard to keep track of.

“Is Lilah your girlfriend?”

“Is Lilah the woman who was here tonight? Where is she now?”

“You laid one hell of a kiss on her!” Several catcalls follow that remark.

“Would you call her your good luck charm?”

Ethan rubs his bottom lip with his thumb. “Among other things, but yeah, definitely.”

“Does Lilah know she’s a factor in how well you play?”

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