Page 28 of The Keeper

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“I don’t worry about anything other than my own job. I can control my own outcomes.”

“Spoken like a man who likes to be in control.”

“It’s not a control thing really,” I try to explain it to her. “It’s a routine thing. I like routine.”

“So, you had your routine in Montreal and now you’re figuring out what your routine will look like in Vegas?”

“I suppose I must because it looks like I’m going to be here for a while.”

“Hmm.” She puts her lips together as she makes the sound. Billie has very pretty lips.

“Can I get you a cab to take you home, Billie?”

“Will you share the ride with me, Cal?”

“I don’t know where you live. Does it make sense to share a ride?”

“We’ll figure it out,” she says with a smile.

She goes to hail a cab. I can’t help but think about Emily’s text messages earlier.I think we need some space. I’m sorry.Should I be texting Emily back, agreeing with her? Should I be telling her thatwhile we have spaceandwhile she needs a breakI’m going to sleep with another woman? Would. She. Care?

I look up as a cab pulls up and Billie hops in, leaving the door open. “You okay there, Cal?”

Seeing her beautiful, eager face, I make my decision. I nod, sliding in next to her. “I’m fine.”

“Where to?” the driver asks.

“Just drive for a minute,” Billie tells him. “We’re figuring it out.”

The cab starts moving, and I’m confused. Just as I’m about to ask what she has in mind, she crawls onto my lap, puts her hands on my cheeks, and kisses me hard on the mouth. She bites softly at my bottom lip, and I open my mouth, our tongues mingling, our mouths a mix of beer and chicken and the sweetness of maple syrup. It’s weird and hot at the same time. As our kissing intensifies, she grinds her hips against me. I’m getting hard when I find my hands have moved to her hips, holding her against me. A firm yank pulls her even closer. She feels too good to resist.

I break from her mouth to kiss her neck, her hair tickling my face. She sighs and then rolls away, taking her seat next to me, fanning her face with her hand as she giggles slightly.

“I’m not drunk,” she says breathlessly. “I just want you to know that.”

“Okay?” It comes out as a question, because I feel I should ask her what she wants here. I think I know, but then I’m worse than bad at reading interactions with people I barely know.

“What’s your address?” Billie asks abruptly, breaking through my spiraling thoughts.

I don’t know if I should do this…if we should do this. But then I think of Emily’s texts…

She wants her “space” and needs “a break.”

Well, she’s had both, hasn’t she? I’m far away, in another country even. And I’m all alone. She’s got Nick, whoever that is. The guy she can’t stop messaging when she’s spending what little time I made for us to be together.

Billie is real. She’s here, and she’s warm, and her mouth feels good on mine. She doesn’t seem to care that I’m awkward, that I’m strange. She doesn’t care that I’m a hockey player. She seems, at this moment, to simply want me. And I think I want her too. It’s a hard pill to swallow, to believe you’re in it for the long haul with someone, only to see it fall apart at the first challenge.

But then, a bright light appears in the form of a woman who can beat the hell out of a drum kit, a woman who shows up right when I seem to need her the most.

I look over, and she’s obviously awaiting a response. What’s my address? She asks again, more insistent this time.

I tell the driver my address.


pretend it didn’t happen