Page 48 of The Keeper

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“You must be the boyfriend we never knew about,” her mother says. There’s a tone, for sure, and her side-eye to Billie says the rest. “I’m Ditta Hirsch.”

Ditta Hirsch is a movie producer. A big name that even I recognize. I had no idea.

“I’ve heard of you,” I say, shaking her hand. “Calum Lefleur.”

“And I’m David Hirsch. The dad.”

I shake David’s hand. “Happy birthday, sir.”

“Thanks. Nice shut-out last night.”

“Oh, you saw it?”

“Watched it with my little girl. Didn’t see the part where you got clocked in the eye, though.”

I cringe. “Well, that was an unplanned mishap. It does happen.”

“I’m sure it does in your line of work. How do you like Las Vegas?”

“I didn’t want to come, quite honestly”—I look at Billie—“but I’m finding more reasons to like it every day, though.”

“Good man. Well, the Crush sure have bought up all the good real estate these past couple of years. Think they’re on the way to becoming a legacy team? Hockey’s own Silver State Warriors?”

I shrug. “They do have a powerful first line. Second string is short, in my opinion, so the legacy really depends on everyone staying healthy and second string getting up to par.”

“Kazmeirowicz going to play much longer?”

I shrug. “I don’t see why not. He’s still effective.”

We continue with the hockey talk for a while, until a tall, Hollywood heartthrob-looking guy comes up and barrels into David for a hug.

“Kit, my boy! Nice of you to show up fashionably late.”

“It’s what I do,” the guy says. He turns and looks at me. “And you are?”

My eyebrows shoot up into my hairline. This is Kit Hirsch, the actor. Like, the really huge and famous A-list actor. Emily drools over him every time he’s on screen.

“I’m Cal.”

“Your sister’s hockey player boyfriend,” David adds.

“You’re banging my sister?” Kit levels me with a stare I’m not sure is hostile or teasing.

I cringe again. “We’re just getting to know each other.”

David clips Kit on the back of the head. “You’re cut off until you can act like a gentleman, son.”

“Sorry, I’s just messing with ya,” Kit says, grinning at me. “Happy birthday, Pops.”

As they get into a conversation about casting for some movie, Billie and her mother move in my direction. Ditta Hirsch is eagle-eyed, looking me up and down, and not kindly.

“So, how long have you been seeing my daughter?” Her voice is heavy with the same tone she gave me before.

“Not long. We met through her work.”

“Ugh,” her mother groans, rolling her eyes. “Her pittance of a job in that glorified schoolhouse? Wasting her talent if you ask me.”

“She is very talented,” I counter. “And great with the kids.”