He dips his face, but he’s smiling as the team cheers him on too, and deservedly so.
I snag a comfy seat near the front, trying to savor the moment. Maybe if I can capture this feeling, I can use it to spackle my empty heart. Caulk it with accomplishments.
Cohen stops at my row, gestures to the empty seat next to me. “Can I?”
“Of course,” I say, and the rookie joins me.
“Good one,” he says, and I offer a fist for knocking.
“You too,” I say as he knocks back.
We shoot the breeze about the game as the rest of the team boards. When we take off, the conversation slows, and Cohen grabs his phone.
I’m not watching him as he types, but it’d be impossible to miss the massive grin on the young guy’s face. He’s grinning, then, like he’s embarrassed over his happiness, he turns to me. “The woman from the auction wants to see me tonight.”
“That so?” I ask.
He just shrugs, all carefree and happy-go-lucky. “Guess we’re dating now.”
“Good for you,” I say with so much enthusiasm I hope it covers up how jealous I am.
We land in New York well past midnight, and I’m grateful I won’t run into Luke in the lobby.
Well, at least I hope I won’t.
What if he’s out late with some dude he met on the apps? Maybe he hooked up with someone for a quick fuck before training camp. My stomach churns as I stride through the lobby, muttering a hello to the concierge.
There’s no Luke in the lobby, and as the elevator passes the seventh floor, I’m relieved and annoyingly sad all over again.
This heartache can suck it.
The next few mornings I try to run it off, then to work it off in the gym, then to burn it off on the field.
Lucky me—I don’t bump into Luke at all.
My stats love me. The media talks about my hot streak. A reporter finds me after the second game against the Barn Owls, asking if I’m wearing lucky socks or if I’ve stopped shaving.
I fake smile and pretend to laugh, then tell her of course I haven’t shaved. When I head into the dugout, I pat myself on the back for swallowing the real advice that no one wants to hear.
All I have is baseball. That’s why I play so well.
When I go home, the elevator’s empty. That should be a good thing. Wish it felt like one. But as I unlock the door to my penthouse, I’m so damn tired of me. Tired of being lonely. Tired of missing Luke.
It’s time to move on.
I flop down on the couch, swipe open my phone, and text my sister.
Tanner: If Soren is still up for coffee, count me in.
Her reply is immediate.
Amelia: I’m out of town visiting a client, but I’ll work out the deets in the office tomorrow! I know he enjoyed meeting you. Yay!
I re-read my last text. I hope it doesn’t look like as much of a lie as it is.
My lucky streak ends the next morning as I’m heading to the gym, the elevator whisking me down nice and quick, until it slows at the seventh floor.
Please let it be Elsie.
Or anyone else.
But it’s Luke.
I’ve pictured this moment for the last week. Ran through scenarios like they were football plays.
But practicing to heave a ball downfield with precision control is way easier than facing the guy who makes my pulse fly through the ceiling.
Still, I have to get on that tiny lift, no matter how hard it is to be near Tanner when all I want is to—
Nope. Doesn’t matter what I want. Life isn’t about what you want. It’s about how hard you work. Even then there are no guarantees.
“Hey,” I say as I step into the elevator.
“Hey,” he says, with the barest of glances my way as the doors close. “Off to training camp?”
Yeah, with a contract that ends when the season does. But I can’t tell him that. I could have a week ago, but now it feels like an abuse of the friendship code or an excuse. Not to mention, like a complaint, when I should shut the fuck up and be grateful to play ball.
“Wistful, Connecticut, here I come,” I say with a big-ass smile. I knit my brow like it’s the first time I’ve heard that town’s chipper name even though my teammates and I joke about it all the time. “Kind of weird to have a football training camp in a town named Wistful if you think about it.”
“Sure is,” he says, looking straight ahead at the elevator panel.
“Smashmouth-town would be better. Or maybe Blitz-ville. Or Wishbone Formation by the Sea,” I say, running at the mouth, since it’s easier than saying sorry again.
Sorry I’m not available.
Sorry I turned you down.
Sorry I’m not boyfriend material.