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HUGE PLAYERS: Chapter 23


Joshua doesn’t stay long after that, and he doesn’t explain what he means. Instead, he tells me that I should take a shower and relax and leave everything in his hands.

If only I could.

I do as he suggests and use the water of the shower to wash away my tears. The sound of the running water and the warmth it spreads over my skin naturally calms my anxious heart. When I’m dried and dressed in my yoga pants and tank top, I finally feel brave enough to look at my phone.

Sara has been trying to get hold of me for hours. I feel bad that I’ve ignored her. If the situations were reversed I’d feel really awful not knowing what is going on. When I call her back, she picks up on the first ring.

“Maisie, oh my God. Are you okay?”

“Not really,” I say. “It’s been a difficult day.”

“I can’t believe what has happened. I really can’t.”

I hang my head. “I know. It was such a big mistake.”

Sara pauses for a second and then makes a disapproving noise. “I’m not talking about the sex, you idiot. I’m talking about the asshole who filmed it and made it public viewing.”

I should have known that Sara wouldn’t be judgy about what I did with Jameson, but hearing her say it does lift a tiny part of the weight from my shoulders.

“I don’t know who it was,” I say. “But it’s given me the creeps. We trusted the people we invited into our home and they betrayed that. These people were all supposed to be friends.”

Sara is quiet for a moment, and I fiddle with a tiny hole on the knee of my favorite yoga pants. “I didn’t think of it that way,” she says. “We really need to find out who it is.”

“Joshua is on a mission,” I tell her. “He won’t tell me what he’s doing but he’s pretty adamant that he’s going to find out who the rat is.”

“That’s good. It’s good you have your stepbrothers to help you. Does Jameson know?”

“No. We’ve told everyone we know not to send it to him and we’re not planning to tell him either. This will set him back, for sure. I was supposed to be keeping an eye on him, not exposing him to the whole campus. This is all a big fucking disaster.”

“The sex looked good, so there’s that,” Sara laughs.

I snort at the complete inappropriateness of that comment. “I can’t believe you watched it,” I say. “Gross.”

“Well, I didn’t know who it was. If I’d have known, I wouldn’t have, unless you told me to, that is.”

I can almost imagine her wiggling her eyebrows and I laugh for the first time since I arrived at campus and was surrounded by people talking about me.

“I don’t think I’m going to be able to come back to school.”

“You don’t need to be talking that way. You’re not going to let some douchebag ruin your life. This will all blow over.”

“That’s what Jessie said but I just can’t see how. I’m always going to be known for that video. I’m always going to be the girl who slept with her stepbrother.”

“So what,” Sara says. “Am I always going to be known as the girl who fucked the biggest guy on campus? Maybe. But should I give a flying fuck about that? No. Absolutely not. Anyone who wants to judge you for something you’ve done in your past doesn’t deserve to share even a moment of your future.”

“Wow, that’s profound,” I say, a lump forming in my throat. Do you ever get the feeling that someone was placed in your path for a reason? Of all the people I could have sat next to on the flight here, it was Sara. Sara with her amazing attitude to life. I wish that I could be more like her. Carry less uncertainty and fewer worries about meeting expectations.

“I’m not just a pretty face,” she says.

“I’m so glad you sat next to me on that flight,” I say. “You are an awesome friend.”

“And so are you, honey. Now, you need to get ready to get your ass back into your routine tomorrow. I expect to see you on campus bright and early in the morning. We can grab coffee before classes start and I can help you deal with any assholes who want to make comments about your private life. It might be tough, but it’ll be like ripping of a Band-Aid. Okay?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “But I’ll message you in the morning.”

“Not good enough,” Sara replies in a sing-song voice.

“It’ll have to be for now.”

 

Hours pass and I’m restless and hungry. I’m also worried that I haven’t checked in on Jameson. It’s hard to know what to say to him. If I don’t tell him what’s going on then I’m effectively lying to him, and I really don’t feel comfortable with that.

In the kitchen, I make myself a ham and cheese sandwich and find some potato chips in the pantry. I sit at the counter to eat, my feet dangling from the high stool.

“That looks good.” Kameron is back from training. That must mean all the boys are.

I listen for the sound of more feet on the hardwood and more voices in the hall but there are none. “Where are your brothers?”

“They’re busy,” he says, swiping a chip from my plate and crunching it noisily.

I hand him the bag so he doesn’t rob me of all of my snack. “Busy doing what?”

Kameron shrugs and my suspicions are raised immediately. These boys always know what each other is doing. They grew together in the same womb and have been inseparable ever since. Something is going on.

“You have no idea what they’re doing?”

Kameron shakes his head, popping a bunch of chips in his mouth and heading to the fridge.

“But you were at practice together?” He doesn’t answer and I’m beginning to lose my patience.

“Kameron, what the hell is going on?”

“I can’t talk to you about it, okay? I promised Joshua.”

“Yeah, well, Joshua doesn’t get to make all the decisions around here.”

Kameron places the carton of orange juice on the counter next to me and rests his hand on my shoulder. “It’s not because we don’t trust you, okay. We just don’t want you getting involved with something that could be dangerous.”

“And what makes you think that I want any of you to be doing something dangerous on my behalf? You might want to protect me, but I want to protect you. All of you.”

Kameron’s blue eyes soften and I remember the way he looked at me after we had sex. His gaze could melt an iceberg. “We know, honey, but this isn’t negotiable, okay.”

Before I have a chance to object any further, Kameron’s phone rings. He pulls it from his pants pocket and glances at the screen. “Kyle.”

I can’t hear what Kyle is saying but I see Kameron’s face drop with shock and my heart skitters. “Arrested?”

Oh my God. What is going on?

“We can’t call Don, okay? Mom will find out. The shit will hit the fan.”

Kyle’s voice raises.

“I’m coming now,” Kameron ends the call and starts to stride out of the kitchen without saying a word.

“What the hell is going on?” I call after him. “Who got arrested?” I have to slide off the stool and abandon my food to chase after Kameron, who seems intent on leaving without telling me a thing. I grab his arm as his hand makes contact with the latch on the front door. “You’re not leaving without telling me, okay? This is getting out of hand.”

“Jessie’s been arrested.”

“What for? What did he do?”

“For rape.”

The word echoes in my mind, too horrific to comprehend. Jessie might be an arrogant ass. He might have hurt my feels more than once, but he’s no rapist. Of that I am certain.

“Who?”

Kameron blinks slowly. “We found out who filmed you and Jameson. Joshua confronted him. Told him that he was going to report him to Coach and the college administration. It’s the guy’s girlfriend.”

“What?”

“She’s accused Jessie of raping her today. Kyle said she’s really messed up. Cuts on her face and hands. Bruises on her body. She was seen at college by one of our friends being comforted by a female cop.”

“So she really has been assaulted?”

“It looks that way.”

“When did she say it happened?”

“Two o’clock.”

“Jessie was here with me at two o’clock,” I say. “You have to take me to the station so I can tell them and get him released. This is bullshit.”

Kameron takes a deep breath, the relief that his brother has an alibi washing over him. “Did anyone else see you together?” he asks.

“Jessie found me by the Coffee Club. I was with Hannah and Millie and a girl called Bridgit. They saw us leave together.”

“Okay. That’s good.”

“I can’t go like this,” I say, glancing down at my clothes. “Can I change?”

Kameron tugs his sweatshirt over his head with one hand and passes it to me. “Put this on. We need to get going.”

I slide Kameron’s huge sweater over my head. The arms are way too long so I roll them as we stride to the car. It smells of him in a way that makes me want to bury my head in the fabric and inhale forever. He opens my door and waits until I’m settled before rounding the car to the driver’s side.

“The police station isn’t far,” he says, starting the engine.

For the first time in years, I find myself nibbling at my fingernails anxiously. Poor Jessie must be so stressed. Are they holding him in a cell, or interrogating him? I bet the cops are just desperate to get him to confess. I’ve seen so many documentaries about people who have confessed to crimes they didn’t commit because they’ve been worn down by questioning. I’m praying the Jessie is strong enough to stand up to them, at least until we get there.

The station is quiet when we walk in. Kyle and Joshua are both sitting in the waiting area, slumped over, resting their heads in their hands.

“Kyle, Josh,” Kameron says, striding toward them. They both stand, noticing me and looking to their brother. I’m guessing that Kyle was adamant about me staying home. “Maisie’s here to give a statement. Jessie was with her at the time of the alleged assault.”

“He was with you?”

“Yes,” I say. “He took me home.”

“So you’re his alibi.”

I nod, holding the rolled cuffs of the sweater in my palms and shifting my feet. Giving a statement to the police isn’t something that I have any experience of and it makes me nervous. Their whole aim is to try and trip up people making false claims. I’m sure they see lots of family members attempting to get their loved ones off charges. Is this going to look like the same thing?

I don’t feel like I’m dressed right for this. I should have changed into something that would make me at least appear confident and trustworthy. As it is, I look as though I’ve just rolled out of bed.

“We should ask to speak to someone. I want to get Jessie out of here as soon as we can.”

Kameron puts his arm around my shoulders and leads me to the front desk. The woman there eyes me over her glasses and stops typing.

“Can I help you?”

I take a deep breath and muster all the courage that I have. I’m going to need it.

“I’m hoping you might be able to.”


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