Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle

“Not as much as I love you,” I teased.

“Bullshit. I fucking love you more than I love coffee.”

“Fine, but I suppose I should admit that I might love your shoes more than I love you.”

Sara shoved me away, but her weepy pout had turned to a sexy pout. “Jackass.” She pushed past me out of the bathroom and sat on the edge of the bed…and she eased the hem of her skirt up, inch by inch, revealing those amazing shoes and the ribbons lacing up her calves, her eyes never leaving mine.

I groaned. I couldn’t help it.

She let out a sultry, throaty laugh when I dropped to my knees and set to work showing her exactly what her shoes could do to me.

FOR THE FIRST time in my life, I really wanted a fucking beer.

It probably wouldn’t help, though. I doubted anything would help. Today was supposed to have been a happy day, a day of celebration, but all I wanted to do was find something, somewhere, to drown my misery.

World’s worst brother? Check. I hadn’t been there for the biggest moment in Levi’s life to this point.

Lost my best friend? Check. Razor was going to Buffalo next week to find a place to live and meet the GM and coaches and everyone else involved with his new team. Then he was going to head back to Portland and pack up his house to move it all across the country. We’d only play Buffalo twice a year, so it looked like our relationship was going to devolve to text messages and the odd call here and there.

Lost my girl before she was ever really my girl? Double check.

That one was the real kicker. I knew that Zee was right, that she needed to have the opportunity to find out who she wanted to be or she would end up miserable. I didn’t want that for her. I wanted Katie to blossom like a damn butterfly or whatever, to go out into the world and become the best fucking version of Katie Weber she could be. I wanted her to be happy with herself, first, because that was what she needed in order to be happy in a relationship. I got all that. But wanting that for her, understanding her needs…none of that made it hurt any less to walk away, to let her go off and do her thing.

I’d done everything I could to make it easy for her so she wouldn’t change her mind on account of me, but that only made it hurt more.

And that just made me want a fucking beer.

I knew I could get one. I was underage in the States, but that wouldn’t matter. I could have gone out with Razor and the boys who were heading to the bar, and they would have made sure I had all the beers I wanted. I could have knocked on the door to Burnzie’s hotel room and he would have gotten me whatever I wanted, and as much of it as I wanted, no questions asked.

I didn’t do any of that, though. Instead, I texted Nicky to see if I could hang out with him for the rest of the night. He wasn’t drinking. He probably needed a buddy. Lord knew I did. It didn’t take long for him to respond, telling me to come on up.

So I didn’t mess around. I headed up to his room. When he let me in, we sat and talked for hours—about Razor leaving, about Levi getting drafted by the Storm, about Katie moving to LA to start her career, about the first girl he’d ever loved and how she’d cheated when he came to the US to play hockey and stomped on his heart.

Before I was really prepared for it, Nicky was telling me how he’d started taking pills during the season—sleeping pills, pain pills, you name it—because of the headaches he’d been getting from his concussion.

“I don’t want to take them anymore,” he said. “I got rid of all of them a while back, but then I couldn’t deal. I felt like I needed them again, and it was easy enough to get a doctor to prescribe them.”

I’d never known anyone who was an addict before. Not really. We’d been pretty sheltered from that stuff when I was growing up. We lived in a good community, my parents had always been on the straight and narrow, and my brothers and I had all taken after them in many ways. I mean, I knew of people who had addictions, but they had never been a real part of my life.

Until now.

“Do you have any now?” I asked.

“Nah.” Nicky shrugged. “I got rid of them again. I’ve done that a few times, but then I always go back and get more.”

“So it’s not alcohol that’s the problem?”

“Alcohol just makes it worse. I can drink as long as all I’ve had is alcohol. But if I’ve taken a pill, it screws me up bad. Sometimes I think maybe I need to just stay away from beer, but I don’t know if I’m just telling myself that so I can keep taking the pills or what.”

“What can I do to help?”

“You are helping. All of the boys are.” Nicky leaned back against the headboard, crossing one ankle over the other, his long legs stretched out. “Kally babysat me through the reception. Burnzie brought me back here instead of going out for the night. You’re hanging out here with me, keeping me away from all that shit.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” I said, but it didn’t feel like enough. It felt as though there was something more I should be doing, only I didn’t have a clue where to start.

“I talked to Jim and the coaches a lot before I left Portland. There’s a program I’m going to get into back home. Bergy told me about it and got me all set up.”

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