Page 29 of The Keeper

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Iwant to fuck him so badly.

Such a very crass thought to be crashing around inside my head right now, but it’s exactly how I feel.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a relationship, a long time since I’ve had sex with anyone other than battery-powered devices. Because I am not a one-night stand kind of girl. This is not random, of course, because it’s Calum Lefleur, a well-known goalie in the NHL. Also, the guy I have to work with once a week on a music program at my job.

This is stupid. Of course, it’s stupid. I can’t have hookup sex with a guy I have to see every week for the next few months. It’ll be terribly awkward and weird, and he’s already terribly awkward and weird. And I don’t even know if I like him that much. He doesn’t think before he speaks. He’s judgmental. He’s aloof. He’s infuriating as hell to me, more often than not.

He’s also a gorgeous guy who doesn’t at all act like he even knows it.

Which is a very rare quality for a man who looks like he does. Cal is such a conundrum in so many ways.

“I’m sorry,” I blurt. “Maybe I shouldn’t have—”

“Did you change your mind?” His intense blue eyes swing over to me, holding me in place, keeping me from telling the cabbie to pull over so I can get out and run fast in the opposite direction.

“No, I…” Big breath in, big breath out. “If we do this, can we pretend it didn’t happen afterward? Like, when we work together at the center, can we pretend it didn’t happen so things don’t get weird?”

“Yes, we can pretend it didn’t happen. If that’s what you want, Billie.”

“It is.”

The cab stops at what I assume is his building, and we tumble out, Cal paying the driver before shutting the door. Then he stands on the curb, hands in pockets, chewing on his bottom lip. The look on his face is definitely one I’d describe as pensive, but as usual, he doesn’t give anything away.

Neither of us say a word. We just stare at each other.

I want to give him all the time he needs because I get it—I’m not a hookup person, and maybe he isn’t either. It’s hard to decide if this is a step we should take or a huge, messy misstep that’ll land us both in a big pile of something unpleasant.

This feels crazy and complicated, but also exciting. There’s definitely something drawing me to this man, at least sexually, and I do want to be with him. I tell myself there’s always tomorrow. Tomorrow…I can go back to finding Calum Lefleur strange and annoying if this doesn’t work out.

Finally, after what feels like ages, he nods to himself, his decision made apparently. There is a subtle movement of his hand as he starts walking ahead of me. Just a quick reach in my direction—an offering of a sort.

So, I put my hand into his much bigger one. His grip, firm and warm, envelops mine as he leads me inside the building.

My heart is pumping heavily inside my chest, but yet, I know I won’t change my mind.

His sixth-floor apartment is a compact two-bedroom, sparsely decorated. The things that are visible are neatly organized, folded, and put in their places. The colors are beige and gray, navy blue. Everything feels controlled and impermanent. It’s a nice space, but it doesn’t feel like a home. It doesn’t feel like he plans to invest any time in it because he doesn’t plan to stay long at all, but he’s invested enough in his own comfort to ensure that things don’t feel untidy or unmanaged. It’s so contained…much like the man himself. Strangely, I like the quietness of it, which is very unlike me.

“Ah…” he says, putting his keys on the kitchen counter.

I let out a bubble of a laugh that sounds stupid—far girlier than I think I come off on a normal day. It makes my cheeks heat with a blush that I’m hoping he can’t see in this dim space lit only by a standing lamp near the door. I clear my throat nervously. “They say you can tell a lot about a person from the way they arrange their private space.”

“I’m not that complicated. And nothing in here isarranged.”

“We’re all complicated. Humans are complicated beings.”

Cal chews on that for a minute as I take in the look of him. He’s tall, a robust six foot three. I know this because I’ve read his official NHL bio. Yeah, ya got me. I’m guilty of googling Calum Lefleur and searching the Internet for details about how tall, broad-shouldered, and long-legged he is. How he has really good hair the ladies are just dying to drag their fingers through. How he has eyes the color of the deep blue sea they could drown in. Yeah, I might have read some stuff like that about him. And none of it is untrue. Opinions are individual, but I agree with what the writer said about Calum Lefleur. He does have good hair—a sun-streaked brown artfully mussed into place. It suits him. His clothes work similarly in their suitability: a long-sleeved, navy T-shirt, dark jeans, and navy Adidas shoes. Understated and simple on their face, but once attached to his sculpted form become something arresting that catches the eye. I suspect the rest of the clothes in his closet transform in a similar way once he puts them on his body.

He takes the few steps back so that we’re facing each other. “I’m not, ah…”

“You’re not what? Not sure what to do next? Not sure this was a good decision?”

“Maybe both?”

“I’ll take the lead if you can relinquish control?”

He nods, just once. He still looks like he’s thinking on something.

“Don’t overthink this,” I tell him. “We’ll get this…whatever this is…out of our systems. We’ll move on from it after. Deal?”

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