Page 78 of The Keeper

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“Is that so wrong? I choseyou.I care aboutyou.And yes, it makes me feel steady to have someone to be close to, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I do love you. You know that.”

“We can love each other and be in different places for a while. Being apart doesn’t mean we can’t still be together. You travel a lot anyway and we talk all the time when you’re on the road now.”

“I know, but if you go to LA, who says you won’t find someone else who’s a better fit for you?”

“A betterfitfor me? Like, you think I’m going to accept résumés for the role of boyfriend? Really. Like I’m going to hire someone who better fits the skill set I’m looking for?” Billie laughs bitterly, shaking her head. “It doesn’t work that way, Calum. I’m in love with you. Withyou. I’m not looking for someone else because I want to be withyou.”

“Emily found someone the minute I left Montreal.”

“Well, I’mnotEmily.” A scowl crosses her face.

“I know, you’re nothing like her.”

“Do you? Because all I can see is someone who’s scared and using his lame ex to shut down on his awesome new rock star girlfriend.”

I look at her, and I hope she can see how this makes me feel, how much I want her to stay.

“I’m not Emily,” she says again, with a shake of her head. “I care about you so much and I know this is hard for you, but I’m not her. And our relationship isn’t even close to what you had with her. But I need to do this and if you love me, you will understand and support that, even if it makes you uncomfortable. It’s just for a couple of months.”

“And then what? After you make your album? You go on tour? You leave me behind again?”

“While you continue to travel for hockey? While you’re never home for longer than a five-day span before you’re back on the road again? While you get to do what you love? You followed your passion even when your parents wanted otherwise. Why is it wrong for me to do the same?”

She’s right, of course, but it doesn’t change what I know about myself.

“I need stability.” I stare down at my hands. “It’s not that I don’t care about your life and your dreams, Billie. I do. I see how amazing you are at the club helping those kids.The band is awesome, but who knows where it will take you. I’m happy for you,I am, but I’m also a realist. I know myself, but more importantly, what Icannotdo. I know that I cannot do what you’re asking of me. The not knowing will fuck me up and I can’t go to that place in my head again…twicein the same season. I’m the goalkeeper for an elite NHL team. My job is to stop pucks. I won’t be able to do that job very well if my head is all fucked from another long-distance relationship breaking down because we’re in two different places.” I pause.Fuck, I hate this. I hate this so much. Like a limb is being torn from my body.“If you go…”

I dare to find her eyes again. One last time of just looking at her and soaking in her image because it will have to be enough. There won’t be more. Her dark, soulful eyes fill with tears, cutting me deep for knowing I’m hurting her.I’m so sorry.“I just can’t go there again.”

“What were you about to say before, Calum? If I go?” she asks so softly I almost didn’t hear her from the blowing vortex roaring between my ears.

I say the words that’ll be the death blow. There’ll be nousafter I say them.

“Then you go, Billie. But we’re done.”


i won’t tell if you won’t


The band is in the studio. We’ve been on a roll, writing some real good stuff that the producers seem happy with. They’ve been arguing back and forth about our name. “Love Scrum is so pretentious,” I hear one of them say in the booth. Sven rolls his eyes as Nikki and I snicker.

As Sven and Nikki play around with a bass line on one of the songs, I sit in the corner with a notebook, writing out some random lyrics that have been swimming in my head lately. Well, ever since I walked out of Calum’s apartment with my heart broken fifteen days ago.God, I miss him.I have no idea how he became my someone so quickly. Stuart and I were friends for over a decade, but his absence has barely touched me. But losing Calum? Losing him has brought so much sorrow to my heart.

I start humming a tune, then add the words to the song. Before long, I’m singing, feeling all the feelings. My fingers tap out the drumbeat on my thighs.

I look up as I trail off, only to find Nikki and Sven staring at me. The production booth is silent, too, all gaping at me.


“Holy hell, girl,” Sven says. “You can sing?”

I shrug. “I was just messing around with an idea.”

“Well, it was good, for something you were just playing around with,” he says.

“Had no idea you had those pipes,” Nikki adds. “Want to give it a try with bass and guitar?”