Page 53 of The Keeper

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“Then what?” I’m gritting my teeth so hard it’s almost painful.

“Well, you’re you.”

The words hang between us.I am me.Whatever that means.

“But you were willing to stay with me because of who I am in hockey? Because of my money? Neither of those things have changed, so why walk away from it?”

“I could ask you the same thing. You talk about wanting to be with me, but you don’t know me. You don’t care about the things I care about. You’re not interested in the things I’m interested in. You just like the stability of your routine. You want things to stay the same.”

She’s not wrong. I can’t argue, so I ask, “But why didn’t you even try?”

Emily huffs at me through the phone. “Why didn’tyou? It’syourphoto in the newspaper. God, this is so embarrassing.”

“Why are you embarrassed?”

“Because,Calum, you’re my boyfriend. You’re in another city, with another woman.”

“Wait, you just told me you were in love with someone else. Weeks ago, you told me we were on pause. But it’syouwho’s embarrassed?”

“People here don’t know we were on pause.”

“Oh, well, that’s convenient. You get to look like a victim when it was, in fact,you,who actually cheated withNick.”

Emily laughs. “Whatever, Cal. What is she to you?”

“Why does it matter, Em? You just told me you think you’re in love with someone else—who you’ve been seeing, and probably fucking—while we were on a pause. The pause that you demanded. So, I had sex with someone. Why does it even matter to you?”

I look up at the sound of footsteps and find Billie, a look of hurt or shock or something on her face. I wonder how much of this conversation she’s heard. I know she’s not happy as she holds up a hand, shakes her head, and turns away, walking back down the hallway.

“Fuck,” I growl, forgetting for the moment that Emily is still on the other end of the line.

“I know you don’t like talking about emotions, Cal, but there’s no reason to curse at me.”

I can’t take it anymore. Her voice. The tone in it. The ridiculous, hypocritical nature of this whole conversation. “Hanging up now.” As I hit the button to end the call, cutting her protests off gives me a small measure of satisfaction. As opposed to not caring at all. Which is far more typical for me. I don’t have these kinds of messy conversations. Ever. I don’t get upset or feel glad because others are.Except right now because Emily deserves it.

I follow Billie’s retreating form all the way up a set of stairs toward the hallway that leads to her office.

Lingering at the doorway, I watch as she studiously ignores me, logging into her computer. She types furiously, lips pursed. When she finally stops, she looks up at me with an expression of forced ambivalence.

“You never told me you had a girlfriend.”

My jaw clenches. “We were on a break. We haven’t been together—it hasn’t been the same since I came here.”

“That didn’t sound like a conversation between people on a break. It sounded like a conversation between two people who are trying to hurt each other.”

“That’s not it at all,” I say firmly.

“Well, I thought we were friends, Cal.”

“We are.”

“I feel like friends would tell each other important tidbits of their lives, like, say, if they had significant others. Especially if said friends were, you know, kind of intimately involved.”

“It’s just sex, Billie. There are things you don’t tell me, like why you didn’t want your parents to know you’re in a band.”

“That is not the same and you know it.”

“I just don’t get why this is such a big deal to you, when you were the one to ask if we could forget about the sex and put it behind us afterward.”