Wildcat: Chapter 33

LEO

INCOMING

LEO

Scarlett comes over to my house after practice with an overnight bag slung over one shoulder. The team leaves tomorrow morning for a series of away games. It’ll be the longest I’ve gone without seeing my girl since we started hanging out.

I take her bag and laugh. “Are you going on a week-long trip I don’t know about?”

“Ha. Ha.” She rolls her eyes as I mock struggle to carry her bag. For real though, it’s way too heavy for one night.

“Did you have a good time shopping with Jade and Cadence?”

“Yeah.” Her tone is distant and distracted, and she looks away.

“That doesn’t sound convincing.”

“I’ll tell you about it on the way to Maverick’s party.” She drapes her arms around my neck and leans in to kiss me. “How was practice?”

“Good. Your dad didn’t glare at me once.”

“See?” She smiles. “You’re already back in his good graces.”

I make a low humming sound deep in my throat. “Ash and Talia are riding over to Maverick’s with us.”

“Okay,” she says. “I’ll get ready. I bought new boots.”

I change shirts and wait for Scarlett on the couch. She comes out a few minutes later, holding the end of her hair in a braid. I’m temporarily speechless as I take in said new boots. They come up over her knees and make her legs look about a million miles long. “Have you seen any of my hair ties lying around? I thought I brought one, but now I can’t find it.”

“No.” I stand and look around anyway.

“A rubber band would work too.”

“I think I have one of those in my office.”

She’s a damn sight in those boots and a tight little dress, walking up the stairs to the second floor. She follows me into the office while I look around for a rubber band. I find a little skinny one and hold it up for her approval.

“Yes, that’s perfect.”

I drop it in her hand and sit back on the edge of the desk while she wraps it around the end of her braid. Who knew watching a girl do her hair was such a turn-on? For the record, everything about Scarlett turns me on.

“You know, you could leave some things here. Or a lot of things.” I push off the desk and crowd her space. “It’s a health and safety issue if you think about it. You keep lugging that bag back and forth, and you’re going to pull something.”

With a snort, she places a hand on my chest. “You want me to leave things here?”

“I want you to have fewer reasons to leave, so yeah. You can have a drawer or several drawers, whatever you want.” If I weren’t afraid of scaring her off altogether, I’d tell her what I really want is for her to move in. I’m not sure how long I have to wait to bring something like that up. I’ve never lived with a girl before, but something tells me living with Scarlett would be a blast.

“I have to tell you something.”

Well that doesn’t sound good.

“O-kay.”

“I saw my ex-boyfriend today,” she blurts out.

I’m quiet for a beat as I let that sink in. “The one that lives in London?”

She nods. “He’s here for a race. Well, not here. It’s in Austin.”

“But he came to Minnesota to see you?”

Another nod.

I rub a pinch in my shoulder while I process this information.

“Nothing happened. I just feel… off.” She gives her head a little shake. “I wasn’t even going to mention it.”

“Nah, I’m glad you did. You can always tell me anything.” I hug her against my chest. I know she was still reeling from the breakup when we first met. I’d like to think we’re in a good place where she isn’t still hanging on to old feelings, but fuck, I don’t know.

She melts into me and speaks quietly, “Two drawers. One in your room for clothes and one in the bathroom for all my hair and makeup products. And a spot on the counter for my toothbrush.”

“Done.” I run my hand along the back of her head and tug on her braid to lift her chin. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah. I’m good.” Her lips curve up slightly.

“We don’t have to go out.”

“No, I’m excited to go out tonight. I can’t wait to meet Maverick’s wife.”

“Dakota. She’s cool.” My phone buzzes in my pocket. “That’s probably Ash. Ready?”

“So ready.”

I sweep her legs out from under her and get the first real smile out of her since she walked in. My worries disappear, at least for now.

Maverick lives in an apartment across from the arena. I lived here my rookie season, as did Ash, so I know the building well.

Music filters out into the hallway when we step out of the elevator onto the eleventh floor.

“Ah, this brings back some memories,” Ash says with a hand at Talia’s back as we head toward the source of the noise.

The apartment is packed with teammates and other people associated with the Wildcats. Even Hercules, one of our strength trainers, made it.

Tyler’s standing near the door with a beer in hand. He lifts it in greeting.

“You’re just in time,” he says and points toward the living room where Maverick is singing karaoke.

The wild rookie belts out the lyrics to some nineties love ballad, loudly and a little off-key.

“That’s his wife, Dakota, in the kitchen,” I say to Scarlett.

We weave through the party, stopping to talk to everyone along the way. When Dakota sees me, she smiles. “Leo Lohan. How are you?”

“Good. You?”

“Good.” Her gaze flicks to Maverick. He’s added hand motions now, waving one arm dramatically toward her. “Thinking about investing in ear plugs, but good.”

“Probably wise.” I circle an arm around Scarlett’s waist. “This is my girlfriend, Scarlett.”

“Hi.” Dakota smiles. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“You have?” my girl asks tentatively.

“Oh yeah. Maverick gossips about the team like a schoolgirl. I’ve been following along since the night he found out Leo’s dream girl was the coach’s daughter.”

I pull Scarlett tighter into my side and leave my arm wrapped around her waist. She looks up at me with those killer brown eyes, and my heart beats faster.

It’s a fun night, letting loose with the team. During the season, nights like this are few and far between. And it seems like everyone is taking full advantage.

The booze is flowing, the karaoke is loud and awful, and I can’t stop touching my girl. Though that last thing has little to do with the boozy atmosphere.

We’re sitting on the couch: me, Scarlett, Ash, and Talia. The latter is trying to convince Scarlett to sit in the WAG section at the next home game.

“You have to,” she says. “It’s so much fun.”

She looks to me for help.

Before I can tell her to sit wherever she wants, Ash leans over. “I don’t know. Do they let friends sit in that section?”

I’m gonna kill him.

I hook an arm around his neck and hold him in a headlock.

“Not the hair,” he says, while sending an elbow into my ribs.

We’re just playing, but Talia gasps beside him.

I let him loose, but when I look over at her, it isn’t us she’s staring at it.

“Oh my god.” Her eyes widen, and she looks up from her phone like it personally accosted her.

“What’s up, babe?” Ash asks and tucks his hair behind his ears.

She hands over her phone, and when his face makes a similar shocked expression, an uneasy feeling settles in the pit of my stomach.

“Everything okay?” I ask.

“Yeah.” He hands the phone back and whispers something to Talia, then stands. “Lohan, can you help me in the kitchen?”

“Umm… Sure.”

Scarlett looks between us, as confused as I am. I shrug and tell her I’ll be right back.

Ash grabs two new beers from the fridge and hands me one. “We have a problem.”

“Your hair looks fine.”

“Of course it does.” He fishes his phone out of his pocket, and several long seconds pass before he thrusts it in my direction.

There she is, my dream girl on the front page of some trashy tabloid.

“What the fuck?” I mutter under my breath. I skim the article, but the pictures are what makes my heart pound in my chest. So this is the ex. Or as the headline puts it, Formula 1 Bad Boy Rhyse Fletcher.

She failed to mention that she kissed him. Fuck.

A sick feeling comes over me.

“What are you going to do?” Ash asks me.

“Show her.” I hand his phone back. “I’m sure there’s an explanation. She told me she saw him today and that nothing happened.”

Ash doesn’t look convinced, but I owe her an opportunity to explain. Fuck, I hope there’s a good explanation.

“Incoming,” Ash says behind his beer.

I open my stance as Scarlett steps to my side. “Is everything okay?”

Ash doesn’t speak, and Scarlett glances between us.

“Show her,” I say.

Her brows pull together as Ash moves closer. I look anywhere but at the phone. I don’t need those images burned in my brain again.

I know as soon as she sees it. She inhales sharply, and her hand flies to her mouth. “Oh my gosh.”

She swipes his phone and scrolls frantically. I focus on her expression, which is horrified. That seems like a good thing.

“It isn’t what it looks like,” she says. “He kissed me for a millisecond. I didn’t see it coming. You have to believe me.”

I nod. “I do.”

Or I want to. I can’t think of a good reason that she’d lie about it.

“I need to call Rhyse.”

“What?” His name on her lips makes white-hot jealousy course through my veins. “Why?”

“This isn’t good for him.”

It isn’t good for anyone.

She starts off, and I follow, gripping her bicep lightly. “Wait.”

We move into one of the bedrooms out of earshot. The news must be making the rounds because we have more than one set of eyes on us.

“I should have asked this earlier, but I just assumed I knew the answer. Maybe I don’t. Do you still have feelings for him?”

“Not like you mean, but I do care about him, and if he hasn’t already seen this, he needs to know.”

Shit. Maybe it shouldn’t sting that her first reaction is to call up the guy she was photographed kissing today, but it does. I shove my hands in the pocket of my jeans.

Scarlett closes the distance between us. “I am crazy about you. I want to be with you. Seeing him made me more sure of that than ever.” She moves before I’m ready to let her go. “I’ll only be a few minutes.”

I leave her alone and head back out to the living room.


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