Authors: Emerson Rose
Prism Heart Press
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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This one is for all of the hard working nurses. May you always get a lunch break and have comfortable shoes.
I had to save them,
Had to be the hero,
To protect my family.
And I ruined it all.
I walked out on the only woman I ever loved.
I broke her,
And destroyed myself.
I'm determined to fix it,
To win her back.
When I left Amethyst Amero,
She may have crumbled,
But she's far from shattered now.
She's strong, sexy, and secure.
And she wants nothing to do with me.
When Adam Silver walked out of my life for a football career,
It was over for me.
He was everything to me,
And he walked away without warning.
But I survived,
I built myself back up, recreated myself,
And never looked back.
But now, he's ready to pick up where we left off.
I refuse to let that happen.
Too many wounds,
Too long ago.
That was the past.
This is the present.
And he certainly isn't my future.
Or is he?
The crowd is counting down the last five seconds of the playoff game when a flash of blazing red hair flies past my face.
“Brea, shit! What the hell?” I hop off of my barstool to offer my best friend a hand. She’s sprawled out on the floor with a bearded man who looks like a lumberjack, lying five feet away tangled up in the legs of his own stool. The big lug is cursing his team, his stool, and Brea.
“I don’t know why you’re so mad at me, asshole. I’m not the one out there on the field, maybe you should call up Coach Hampton and ask if you can shove
off a barstool!” she yells at the grumbling man.
I pull her up and she huffs, brushing the dust from the dirty bar floor off of her jeans with both hands. The air is pungent with the smell of beer and pizza, and the crowd is hyped up after a South Carolina Leopard win.
“Brea, that guy’s 220 lbs. of muscle; maybe we should head out?” I say.
“Even more reason to give him a piece of my mind.”
Brea never did know how to keep her fiery Irish temper in check. Usually, her good looks worked in her favor, but she’s been messing with lumberjack guy all afternoon.
I imagine her mane of red wavy locks and perfect porcelain skin had a lot to do with how long it took him to retaliate. By halftime, I was surprised and impressed that he hadn’t snapped her pretty delicate neck. She ribbed him every time the Leopards made a touchdown, and every time he turned as red as the plaid shirt he wore over his Redkings jersey.
I would have had more sympathy for him if he hadn’t been rooting for the team I despise most in the National Football Association. There’s nothing wrong with the team as a whole. There’s only one player I can’t stand; the arrogant prick that shredded my heart six years ago when he walked out of my life with no goodbye and no explanation.
He makes my blood boil and my heart flutter simultaneously every time he steps out on the field. Adam Simon Silver, aka ASS, and his lucky number seven weren’t so lucky today. I’m not ashamed to be ecstatic about it.
Now, it’s time to step in and save my best friend’s life.
“Sir, let me help you,” I say, freeing lumberjack’s foot from the stool.
“Ame! He pushed me, and you’re going to help him? What kind of loyal friend does that?” Brea crosses her arms over her chest in a pose of pure defiance, and I roll my eyes.
“Shush, you’re okay, and he’s drunk as hell. Help me.” I say, tugging on one of his thick biceps. Brea glares at me before she stomps over to help me hoist the man from the floor.
“Sorry, Red, you okay? I can’t believe those fuckers won. I got money on the damn Kings,” Lumberjack says to Brea as we help him to his feet. She mumbles something about being fine—no thanks to him—and we prop him against the bar.
“Stacey, this one needs a cab,” I say to the bartender, who’s been watching the incident unfold.
“And no more alcohol.”
“Yea, already called him one. Carl, you gotta stop betting your paycheck on these games. You got kids to feed, ya know?”
Stacey pats Carl’s hand, and he softens like a warm stick of butter.
“I know,” he says. hanging his head low.
“Okay, see ya, Carl. Next time, bet on the Leopards. The Redkings have an asshole for a quarterback.”
Carl grumbles something inaudible as I take Brea’s hand to lead her out of the bar.
have to leave when he’s the drunk pushing women around?”
“Because little red-headed firecrackers shouldn’t be goading drunk lumberjacks during the game—especially when they’ve bet their whole paycheck on the losing team.”
“I didn’t know the dumbass bet his kids’ grocery money.”
“Exactly, you don’t know what people are going through.”
“All right, Florence Nightingale, whatever,” Brea says with her nose in the air, leaning all of her weight on the heavy wood door of O’Malley’s Bar and Grill.
We’re regulars here. We like to watch football in a certain kind of atmosphere—the kind where the room is packed with overly enthusiastic fans and beer. It’s not the same at home on the couch; we need the adrenaline and electricity of a hundred people rooting for the same team, usually. The Redkings were the favorite in today’s game. I’m not really a Leopards fan, but I can support any team for a day—if it means the Kings lose.
I squint in the late afternoon sunlight and pull my coat tightly around my waist, hunching down into the furry collar as we hurry to the building next door. January in the Midwest is no joke; I’m lucky to live so close to the bar.
“I hate the wind. Without the wind, it wouldn’t be half as cold,” Brea says, hustling into the small foyer of my building.
“I know. I’m so glad my next job is in Florida. I can’t wait to get some sun and swing in a hammock between two palm trees,” I say, cupping my hands together to blow warm air on them as we climb the stairs to my apartment.
“Oh, shut up! Some of us don’t get to jet set all over the country for work. I’ll be stuck here in this hellhole freezing my tits off while you’re at the beach.”
“I told you to take a vacation and come spend a week with me. That’s your fault for not planning ahead.”
“I have to have time off for Katelyn’s wedding in March. I can’t use my PTO.”
“Oh yeah, sorry. I forgot.”
Brea’s sister, Katelyn, is getting married fresh out of high school, and her family is less than thrilled to say the least. I feel bad she has to waste her paid time off attending the hopeless union.
“Well if you change your mind, you know where I’ll be,” I say, hurrying up the last three steps, covering my ass with my hands in anticipation of an attack from the rear for that last comment.
“You’re such a bitch,” she says, swatting at my behind.
“You’re just jealous.”
I slide the key in the lock and open the door to my two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment that I share with no one. Brea pushes me in and slams the door. My cheeks prickle when the heat hits my frozen skin.
“Oh God, it’s so warm in here. I love you.”
“Oh, now you love me, but two seconds ago I was a bitch?”
We kick off our boots and sit on the couch in our coats for a few minutes to thaw before taking them off.
“You should come work for MBS; they’d hire you in a second with my recommendation.” As one of the original traveling nurses specializing in home care of professional athletes for a private organization called Mind Body Soul, I have a lot of pull.
“I don’t like change. No way could I travel all over the country living in strange apartments and hotels. Nuh-uh,” she says, shaking her head back and forth.
“Not even for double your salary?”
“Nope. I’ll keep on freezing until I’ve got enough saved to move somewhere warm permanently. Then, I’ll get another job in another hospital and live there forever.”
I pull a blanket from the back of my couch and cover our legs.
“Turn on the TV. I want to watch replays of the game,” I say, pointing at the remote on the glass end table next to her. She turns it on, and ESPN pops up on the screen.
“So you can watch your
?” she says, dragging out the word boyfriend like a thirteen-year-old in junior high school. Brea loves to give me shit about having dated the hottest and most talented quarterback in the NFA.
“Stop. Why do you do that anyway? You know it’s been six years since we broke up.”
I never told her that we didn’t actually break up; he disappeared. One day we’re celebrating his graduation, and the next day, he was gone. No phone call, no text, no goodbye.
He was a number one draft pick, and I knew the scouts were sniffing around early, trying to sway him with an offer he couldn’t refuse. But we never discussed what team he was leaning toward or when he would be moving. Apparently,
anymore; he was he and I was just me—left behind to pick up the pieces of my broken heart.
“Because you won’t tell me why you two broke up after thirteen years of being glued to each other’s sides. You’re my best friend; I should know these things.”
Brea is my best friend, but some things hurt too much to share. Losing Adam is on the top of my list of un-sharable experiences.
“I’ve told you a hundred times. We went our separate ways. I had two years left of college, and he was going into the NFA. It’s not that hard to figure out.”
“There’s more you’re not telling me. I can tell, and it drives me nuts.”
“Well, I hope you have a nice time at the funny farm, because there’s nothing to tell.”
“Ha ha. You’ll tell me someday, mark my words.”
I hold up my finger and make a big invisible check mark in the air, and Brea shakes her head.
“Oh, look! Speak of the devil,” she says, pointing to the television. I look and there he is, Adam Silver, the devil. No one man should be allowed to have as many beautiful features as Adam. Even in the fourth grade when we moved to St. Louis from San Diego, I knew he was exceptional.
When I walked into Mrs. Albee’s classroom and he hit me with those cornflower blue eyes, I was a lifetime goner. Those same eyes can still render me speechless—the same way they did back then.
I tune out Brea’s taunting and listen to his deep husky voice. Adam isn’t one for interviews, especially pre-game interviews. He’s so superstitious, he’s never done one—not even in college. But he is required to do a few post-game sound bites, and I’ve caught them all, even though I hate him.
No matter how sexy he is pushing his blond mop of waves off of his face, or how adorable his dimples are piercing his cheeks, I can never forgive him for devastating me the way he did.
Not that I’d want to anyway.
The NFA has turned Adam into a cocky, arrogant manwhore. He’s known world-wide for his precision passes on and off the field. Tabloid rags have reported that my lifetime high school and college sweetheart has had more girlfriends, lovers, and lady friends than a male gigolo.
Today is not a good day. He’s pissed off, and he’s not hiding it. Adam doesn’t lose, he’ll push himself to the edge of death for a win, but he can’t do it alone. His team let him down today.
Deep frown lines cut a path between his eyes, and there are no dimples in sight. I feel sorry for the reporter asking the questions he hates to answer. My sympathy is short lived, however, when I remember seeing them on the front of the tabloid
coming out of a hotel together a few weeks ago. The headline read, “Reporter Straddles The Snake
“Ame, you need to go take a look in the mirror. Every time that man’s face fills the screen, you melt, but you also clench your teeth so hard that I worry you’ll break a tooth.”
“Yea, well some people do that to you, ya know? I’m not interested in him personally, but he’s a damn good football player—and I love football.”
“Mm hmm, sure that’s it, you love football. You have any dates lately?” she asks, knowing full well I rarely date. She suspects that Adam is the reason for my empty dance card, and she would be right, but I’ll never admit it.
“Well, nosy butt, as a matter of fact, yes, I had a date last week. But we aren’t seeing each other again until I come back from Florida. I’m leaving the day after tomorrow, no sense in starting something I can’t finish.”
“Wow, I’m impressed, but why can’t you keep in touch while you’re gone? He could visit, couldn’t he? Who is this guy anyway, and why haven’t you told me about him?”
“His name is Vinnie, and it’s not serious. I met him a week ago. Next door at O’Malley’s. He bought me a drink while we watched the Kings play.”
“Did you sleep with him?”
“Brea, no,” I say, frowning. “I have morals, you know. Like I said, it’s nothing.”
“Sometimes a little casual does a body good,” she says with a wink.
“I don’t do casual.”
I swipe the blanket we’ve been sharing off of her legs and bunch it around my own.
“Because when I do something, it’s not a game.”
“Everything’s a game, Ame. Some are just more serious than others.”
“So what kind of game is Adam?” I say, lifting my eyebrows high.
“He’s a pro at casual hit ‘em and quit ‘em games.”
be a pro at the monogamist serious game for eight years. I hate him now.”
Brea tips her head to the side, looking at me intently, “You know hate is just as powerful if not more so than love.”
“So, what’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you profess your hate for him so passionately it’s obvious you still love him.”
I drag my eyes back to the screen, and Adam looks into the camera to thank his fans for supporting him. His sparkly blues are dull today and his words insincere. I wonder if anyone else picks up on that or if it’s only me. My heart clenches in my chest, and I bite the tip of my tongue to keep from crying.