Daddy didn’t eat breakfast again this morning. I had even tried fixing something light: oatmeal and peaches. He said he wasn’t hungry just yet and kissed me on the cheek before heading out the door. I was trying to remember that Jeremy had said his pain meds probably messed with his appetite. I just wished he’d eat.
I sat down at the table alone with a cup of coffee. The early morning sun out the window didn’t cheer me up the way it used to. Today I had too much weighing on my heart. Daddy not eating and Cage not calling.
The kitchen door swung open and Jeremy walked inside. His easy smile was comforting. I didn’t feel like smiling but it was nice to see someone else smile.
“Good Morning, sunshine,” he drawled, and walked over to fix himself a cup of coffee. “You aren’t looking real chipper this morning. Do I need to go kick someone’s ass? ’Cause you know I will.”
If I wasn’t so worried about everything in my life that would have gotten me to smile. “No. I’m okay. Just having a moment to feel sorry for myself. Pathetic I know.”
Jeremy spun his chair around and straddled it before sitting down across from me. “Don’t let me hear you call yourself pathetic again. I’d hate to kick your ass.”
That time I almost smiled. “Thank you,” I said. I didn’t have all the words to say more.
Jeremy however didn’t need them. He understood. “You’re welcome. That’s why I’m here,” he replied.
We drank our coffee without saying much for a few minutes. Finally he sat his coffee down on the table and looked at me. “He didn’t call?”
I shook my head. I had expected him to call or text when he got home late. It was just odd. It also hurt. I wanted him to have fun and make friends. I didn’t want to hinder his life their but I was used to being first. Last night something else had been first. I was afraid this was the beginning of many nights like that.
“He’ll call and he’ll have a reason for last night’s text. The dude worships the ground you walk on. Don’t stress over it. You got enough to worry about.”
I set my coffee down and reached over and took Jeremy’s hand and squeezed it. He squeezed mine back then stood up. “I need to go help your daddy. He’ll be doing shit by himself he ain’t supposed to if I leave him alone too long.”
I nodded because he was right. Daddy wasn’t giving in easily to cancer. He was determined to live life like he didn’t have it. Each day I watched him go on about his life and ignore the treatments that could give him a few more months I wondered if this wasn’t a better way to spend the rest of his days. Seeing him enjoy the life he’d always lived instead of seeing him sick from the chemo treatments. If the chemo could cure him then I would force him to take them… but they couldn’t. So maybe… maybe this was better.
My phone rang startling me from my thoughts. I jumped up and ran to get it off the counter. It was Cage.
“Hello,” I said, unsure of what else to say. It was six in the morning.
“Baby, I am so f**king sorry. I couldn’t find my damn phone last night. I lost it. Then I got it back and the motherf**king battery was gone. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Ace found it in his car and brought it in here and left it by my bed in the middle of the night. I almost called you then but I was worried that you’d be sleeping and I didn’t want to disturb you so I’ve been waiting until I knew you’d be awake to call you.”
He didn’t mention the text. “It’s okay. I was confused after the text you sent, but I went on to bed early. Did you have fun last night?”
There was a pause on the line. My stomach knotted up. Why wasn’t he responding to that? Was he going to tell me something I didn’t want to hear? Oh God. Was I ready for this? “What text? I didn’t text you. My phone was gone then it was dead.”
He didn’t text me? Yes he did. “Um, yeah you did. Hold on a sec. I’ll send you a screen capture.” I pulled the phone back and found the text from last night and quickly took a screen shot of it before texting the photo to Cage. “There it’s sent.”
Another pause. I knew he was looking at his text. Maybe he’d been drinking and didn’t remember. It could have been a drunk text. That would make more sense. “Motherfucker’s gonna get his ass beat,” Cage roared into the phone.
Uh-oh. “Cage’s what’s wrong?” I asked, trying to think of a way to calm him down over the phone.
“I didn’t send this shit text, Eva. I’d never send you a f**king shit text like this. It had to be Ace. He had my damn phone.”
“Cage, wait. It’s okay. I was confused when I got it, but knowing you didn’t send it makes sense. It’s okay. Please don’t go hurt your roommate. He was probably just trying to get you away from the ball and chain for a little while,” I joked hoping to make him smile.
“Don’t! Don’t f**king call yourself that, Eva. Ever. I’m not in a good place at the moment and I don’t need you calling yourself that. I can’t take it.”
“I was kidding. I wanted to make you laugh. This isn’t a big deal. I swear it isn’t.”
“It wasn’t funny. You are my world. Don’t ever accept something like that from me because that shit will never be me. You get a text like that again and you know it isn’t me. Also know your probably going to have to come bail my ass outta jail because I’m about to hurt a motherfucker.”
Oh, crap. What could I do to calm him down? “Cage, please. If you get into trouble you might not get to come home Saturday and I really want you to come home. I miss you. Please don’t hurt anyone.”
“Baby, ain’t nothing keeping me from getting in my car and coming to you Friday afternoon. You got that? Nothing.”
“If you get in a fight with a teammate that could be a problem. What if you have to move out of your apartment?” I tried to think of reasons why he needed to keep a calm head. Anything to make him chill out. I wasn’t a fan of this Ace either if he’d been the one who sent the text I wasn’t sure it was meant for a good reason. I was the girlfriend keeping Cage from partying with the guys.
“Think I’m gonna move out now anyway. I don’t like people touching what’s mine. I sure as hell don’t like them sending my woman text. That shit don’t fly. I hate to think about you going to sleep last night thinking I’d sent you that damn text message.”
The pain in his voice hurt my chest. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the text. I didn’t want him upset. I just didn’t imagine that he hadn’t sent it. “It’s okay. I wasn’t hurt. I was glad you were with friends. Having a good time. Take a deep breath. I love you and everything is fine. Okay?”
Cage let out a frustrated growl. “God I miss you. I want to see you. I need to hold you right now.”
“Just a few more days. We can make it,” I assured him.
“You doin’ okay? How’s your dad?”
I looked out the window as Jeremy helped Daddy load some feed onto the truck. “He’s okay. He doesn’t eat like he used to and he rests a lot more but other than that he is like he always was. Sometimes that scares me. I want to make him come inside out of the heat and rest. But then other times it makes me happy. He’s doing what he loves. He still can do what he loves.”
“I’m glad you’re with him. As much as I miss you I’m glad you’re there. You need this.”
“I love you and miss you like crazy.”
Smiling, I pictured his sexy smirk. “I love you more.”
I jerked open Ace’s bedroom door and ignored the nak*d females in bed with him. I walked over and slammed my fist against the wall over his bed. “You got five f**king seconds to get your ass up,” I roared. My blood was boiling. I wanted to hurt someone. The idea of Eva going to sleep last night thinking I had sent that text infuriated me. I’d tried to calm down talking to her on the phone but I wasn’t calming down now.
Ace sat up his eyes wide. One of the girls fell off the bed and squealed. “What the fuck, man?” he grumbled sleepily. I’d had to listen to his ass in here with these two for hours last night before he found it in his heart to bring me my battery.
“I talked to Eva this morning. You know what the fuck. Now stand up. I’m giving you two seconds to get out of that bed before I beat the shit out of you. No one f**king messes with my woman. No one.”
Ace looked a little concerned now. He moved the other girl over and she made a scared squawking sound. I waited until he was out of the bed before I shoved him against the wall with my arm against his neck. He started to fight back and I pressed hard enough that I knew his oxygen intake was limited. “Don’t f**k with Eva. Ever. You have no idea. No idea what she means to me. I did this cheap shit once too. It was my life. Then I met Eva. Everything’s changed. She doesn’t deserve anything but my complete devotion. And if this is gonna work with us then you need to understand that. Respect it.”
Ace’s eyes had gone from sleepy to wide. He hadn’t expected this reaction. Well, now he knew. My relationship with Eva wasn’t to be screwed with. He nodded and tried to push me away but I stayed firm. “Only warning you’ll ever get.” I said before dropping my arm and stepping back.
Ace rubbed his neck and glared at me like I was crazy. I was crazy and it was best he figured that out now. The next time he’d wake up in a hospital and I’d be in jail.
“I shouldn’t have sent the text, but I wanted you to have fun last night. You worry about her all the damn time. This life aint’ easy. It gets to be too much sometimes. You need an outlet for relief. I was just trying to help you out. We all come to college with hometown sweethearts. They never last. This life isn’t something they can handle and eventually we need more. You’ll see.”
He had no clue. “No. You’ll see. She’s the reason I wake up in the mornings. She’ll also be here once her. . .” I couldn’t say it. I wasn’t ready to think about the pain losing her daddy was going to cause her. “She’ll be here soon and when she is you’ll understand.”
Ace shook his head. “Whatever dude. I’ve seen her pictures. You got them all in your room and in on your phone. She’s hot. I mean I’ll admit she is a serious looker but she’s a country hometown girl. You ain’t tasted this life yet and when you do you’re gonna want it. This is where we’re headed. The big leagues. Women, women, and more women.”
There was only one woman I wanted. Only one I’d ever want. I shook my head and walked out of the room. Ace wasn’t going to understand. I was pissed at him but I had gotten my point across. He wouldn’t be f**king with my life anymore. I was sure of it. I had been Ace once. I knew his deal. He just hadn’t met someone like me yet. Someone with an Eva.
* * *
I didn’t wait for Ace before heading to the weight room to work out. I wasn’t ready to look at him yet. Plus I didn’t want to hang around in case he decided to have another round with those girls before they left.
Problem with this was I hadn’t made myself any damn coffee before I left. After a night of no sleep I needed caffeine. I opened the door to my car when I heard someone whistle behind me. Turning around I saw Hayden walking in my direction. Shit.
“Hey, you, where you headed so early?”
Again. I wasn’t here to make friends with females. Especially ones that dressed like her. “Workout,” I snapped and got in my car.
“You’re a rude sonuvabitch. You know that?” she yelled back at me.
“I’m a taken sonuvabitch,” I replied.
“I wasn’t trying to have your babies, Cage the shit York. I was just trying to be neighborly. Damn.”
I slammed my door and left. I didn’t give a flying f**k what she was trying to do. I wasn’t getting anywhere near that. Not even small talk.