God, I hope it’s him.
But when I click on my texts, there’s only a note from my father. Great game tonight! I’ll be at your first home game. Bringing my new girlfriend Belinda. Can’t wait for you to meet her!
My stomach twists with the sharp, painful realization.
I chose to be like my father, never sticking with anyone, not even the one person who understood me best in the world.
I can choose differently though.
I might not have the security I want on the field now. Hell, I might not ever have it.
But I miss Tanner so damn much. I want him more than I want a sure thing in my career.
Screw emptiness. Screw shutting down. I want what my teammates have—normal lives right along with their football lives. I want Cruz’s easy acceptance of plans change. I want to go home and see my person. And I want to go back to work the next day.
I don’t have to wait for a new contract to do that. I just have to choose that. He’s worth it, but more so, I’m worth it.
I go to my contacts, find Tanner’s sister’s digits, and call her. After I say hi, I ask a crucial question: “When’s the wedding?”
It’s Saturday night, and our team’s plane just touched down on the tarmac. As I gather my bag, I call out to the rest of the Comets. “You’re welcome for the day off tomorrow.”
Our first baseman, Tucker, snort-laughs as he reaches for his duffel. “You bat third and do our scheduling? Glad they’re keeping you busy,” Tucker says.
“I’m basically awesome,” I say, then I make my way out of the jet and hightail it through the airport. I need to get home, stat, so I can get some shuteye before Zach’s wedding tomorrow.
As I’m heading to a waiting town car, I check my texts.
Not gonna lie—there’s a part of me that’s hoping to hear from Luke again. He texted me last night, and since there are no new missives, I read that message again as I slide into the car.
Luke: Hey, I didn’t want to say this last time I saw you, but I’m not getting an early renewal. And I’ve decided I’m okay with it. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you when I found out before Jason’s wedding. I should have but I was embarrassed. And it’s unfair to keep that from you as a friend. You don’t have to say anything to make me feel better though. It’s fine. Truly, it’s fine. I just didn’t feel right not telling you. I hope you’re okay with me telling you now.
I felt for him when I read that in Miami. Wished I could have given him a hug. Instead, I told him to keep on playing his heart out like he always does. Told him I believed in him too.
I read our notes again, and I don’t feel as lonely as I did the last time I read them.
Maybe we can be friends again eventually. I don’t know if it’ll ever be like it was before. But I want to try.
For now though, I should focus on tomorrow. I wish I were more excited to see Soren at the wedding. He’s a good guy. We had a nice coffee earlier in the week. He’s easy to talk to, but I didn’t feel any spark. I don’t think I will in time either. It’s not him. It’s me. I’m not emotionally available. Time to do the right thing.
I click on his name in my texts.
Tanner: I truly enjoyed having coffee with you, and I think you’re a great guy. But I’m not in the best place to date right now. Honestly, I’m a little hung up on someone. And it’s not fair to you.
Seconds later, a response lands.
Soren: Thanks for being honest. That rarely happens. I appreciate it. And no big deal. I wish you the best.
He’s going to make some guy very, very happy.
As the driver cruises into Manhattan, I close my eyes, then wake up when the car stops at my building.
Damn. I was more tired than I thought.
But it’s eleven at night and we played hard in Florida. “Thanks for the ride,” I say, then hop out of the car and walk into my building.
I turn around as the concierge calls out to me. “Yes, Denny?” I ask heading over to the desk.
The mustached man hands me a small box. “Package for you,” he says.
There’s no label on it. Just my name in black marker. “Huh,” I say, concerned, but not quite alarmed. “Is it from a fan?”
Denny looks like he’s trying to fight off a smile. “It’s safe. Nothing to worry about. You have my word.”
“Okay,” I say, relaxing. “Appreciate it.”
In the elevator, I tear off the tape then rip open the package. When I reach the penthouse floor, I fish around in the tissue paper till I find…a key fob.