“Well, I didn’t stop all of them.”
Evan lifts a shoulder and takes a swig from his beer bottle. “Enough to give us a win in our first pre-season.”
“A win is a win.”
“Exactly. You looked good out there; did you feel good?”
I nod. “Once I’m on ice, other things go away.”
“I understand that feeling. Guys being nice?”
“And off ice? How are things with your girl?”
I shake my head and work on peeling the label from my beer bottle. “Taking a break.”
“Your call or hers?”
“Hers, but it’s fine. I thought a lot about what you said, and it was hard to pinpoint why we were together. A break is probably the best thing for us right now.”
“Plenty of fish in the sea,” Evan says, though it’s lukewarm. I know he’s a changed man now that he’s married with kids. Dating random women isn’t part of his lifestyle anymore.
“I did make a new friend,” I offer.
“A female friend?”
I hold back a grin at the thought of Billie.Yes, she is very, very female.I have to physically stop myself from drifting off into the thoughts I’ve had about her ever since our night together.
“Okay, so I’m going to assume yes,” Evan says. “Who is she?”
“Billie. We met doing the PR thing with the Crush Foundation Music Workshop at the boys and girls club I told you about before.”
“Oh? You’re teaching kids how to play guitar, right?”
“Right. It’s actually a lot of fun. I’m really liking it.”
He makes a surprised face.
“Well, now, Cal,” he says while taking another pull from his beer, “I just haven’t seen you get excited about much since you got to Vegas. And here you are grinning over a girl and telling me you’re having fun with a volunteer gig.”
My mouth pops open. I’m not sure how to respond, but he’s right.
Evan Kazmeirowicz gives me a wide grin and claps me a hard one on the back. “Be careful, young keeper; someone might think you’re happy here in Las Vegas.”
* * *
I meet Billie at a tiny,dimly lit LA restaurant that looks like a whole lot of nothing compared to some of the flashy places I’ve seen in Vegas. She’s already there when I arrive, looking amazing in black jeans, tall boots, and a black and white plaid shirt. Her hair is in a long braid. There’s something wild about the way she looks. She’s really put together, but she still looks like she’ll fit right in at a rock concert. Maybe it’s the gleam in her dark eyes or the mischievous way her mouth curves. Whatever it is, I have to hold myself back from kissing her right here in front of the hostess.
“Hey,” she says with a little wave and a big smile. “Glad you found me here okay.”I could find you in a crowd with no problem at all.
I look around at the simple environment. “I thought I had the wrong place when the cab pulled up here.”
“I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s delicious. Your belly will be happy after you eat here.”
“Okay. I trust you.”