Chapter Twenty- Three
“You won’t come to the party so I brought the party to you,” Preston called out as he walked into my apartment. Four giggling females followed him inside. Shit.
I slammed my beer down on the counter and glared at him from across the bar. “I told you I wasn’t interested.”
Preston had his arm around a redhead and reached over and to grab her tits. “But look at these beauties.” He winked at me. “They’re naughty little sorority girls. Our favorite kind.”
This was sick. I shoved off from the bar and pointed to the door. “Take them somewhere else Preston. I’m not in the mood.”
A blonde sauntered over to me and pressed her massive fake tits against my arm. “Awww, don’t be so mean. I can make you feel so much better.” When her hand ran over my uninterested c*ck and squeezed I snapped.
“Get them the FUCK out of my apartment. Now.”
“Damn Cage. You’re no fun at all anymore.”
I didn’t wait for him to take them out. I stalked back to my room and slammed the door then locked it. I’d met girls like those before. They didn’t take no for an answer.
“Can I at least use the guest bedroom? I can take care of all four by myself!” Preston called out.
I heard grumbling as they left. Once the door closed behind them I lay back on my bed and closed my eyes.
Eva. God, I missed her so much. I went to sleep thinking about her and woke up every morning with the reality that I’d never hold her again.
Did she think I just left her? Did she think I got what I wanted and left? She’d given me her virginity and I just left. Fuck. How was I going to live the rest of my life knowing she thought I just left her? She hadn’t called or texted me. Maybe she was relieved. Maybe in the light of day she realized she’d made a mistake. I’d told her I loved her. I hadn’t been able to hold it in. Other than Low, I’d never told anyone I loved them.
I reached for my phone. I know Wilson told me not to contact her but I had to make sure she was okay.
Me: I’m sorry. I had to leave. I just want to make sure you’re okay.
I doubted she’d reply. But I had to try.
Eva: I’m sorry too.
What did that mean? She was sorry I left? She was sorry her dad gave me no choice? She was sorry she had sex with me?
Me: What are you sorry for?
I let my phone fall to the bed and I closed my eyes against the pain.
“Come out of that room and get your butt in here,” Low called from my living room. I really needed to hide the extra key in a better spot.
Rolling over in bed, I stood up and dragged myself into the kitchen.
“What’re you doing here, Low?”
Low took in my appearance and shook her head. “You look awful. You need to get a shower and shave.”
“Thanks. If that’s all you wanted to tell me I’m going back to bed,” I grumbled.
“No, you’re not. I came over here because we need to talk.”
I leaned against the counter and crossed my arms over my chest.
“Talk,” I replied.
Low pulled herself up to sit on the bar. “Why are you doing this to yourself? Why did you leave if you were just going to waste away in your apartment?”
Sighing, I ran my fingers through my bed head. “I told you Low, her dad made me.”
“When has anyone ever made YOU do anything? Hmmm? Because the Cage I’ve known all my life does what he damn well pleases and screw the rules.”
“Even if I had stayed she wouldn’t have ever wanted me. She didn’t want me for anything more than a summer fling. I was a way of moving on for her.”
Low shook her head, “I don’t believe that. I met her. I saw the way she looked at you. She isn’t the kind of girl who just messes around for fun.”
“She rejected me, Low. When it came down to it and she had to choose her family and friends or me she chose them. Yeah, I forgave that and took her back but she was extremely persuasive. She rejected me once. She’ll do it again. When things get tough it will never be me she chooses.”
“And you know this because she made one bad decision? She was put on the spot and panicked, Cage.”
I shoved off from the counter. I didn’t want to get angry with Low. I’d never been mad at her but she was pushing me. I wasn’t going to be able to control my emotions over this. .
“I. Love. Her.” I said in hard clipped words.
“Then take your own advice. Take. A. Chance.”
Take a chance. I’d told her that about Marcus. She’d been worried he’d leave her one day. Like me, she was scared of rejection. I’d told her to give Marcus a chance.
“I knew Marcus loved you,” I replied
Low took a step toward me, “And I know anyone you let get close to you the way you let Eva won’t be able to NOT love you. It would be impossible. You have no idea how special you are. You see the bad. You’ve always just seen the bad. But I see the good. There is so much that is good and wonderful about you. You let Eva see that. You’ve never let anyone else see it before, except me. But you let her. I know, that she can’t help but love what she saw.”
Tears were streaming down Low’s face when she finished.
I closed the distance between us and pulled her into a hug.
“Thank you,” I whispered as I rested my chin on the top of her head.
“Don’t thank me. Just go get her.”
I stepped out of the barn just as Mrs. Elaine drove up. I hadn’t been expecting her but that didn’t mean anything. She used to drop by to see me often. With Jeremy gone off to school she was probably just needing to talk about him.
“Sure is good to see you with that guitar again,” she smiled brightly.
I walked up the porch steps toward her and opened the door.
“It’s nice to be playing it again. You want to come in?”
“Yes, I wanted to come talk to you for a little bit.”
Great. Another heart-to-heart. The last one had caused a lot of heartache. This time I was going to remember I wasn’t a kid who needed guidance but an adult who knew her own mind.
“Of course, come on in.”
I set my guitar case on the table and went to the counter to get two glasses of sweet tea. Mrs. Elaine loved sweet iced tea.
“I hear from your daddy that the boy who was helping out is gone,” she said from behind me. My stomach knotted up. I didn’t want to talk about Cage with her. I couldn’t. She didn’t understand. No one did.
“Yeah, he is.”
‘That’s good. He just wasn’t the kind of boy you needed to be around. There are such good boys out there. Boys that will make good husbands and fine men.”
If she wasn’t Josh and Jeremy’s mother and if she hadn’t been there for me growing up I’d show her the door. I owed her respect for those things and biting my tongue was best. I would just nod and then get rid of her.
“You know Chad has been asking about you a lot. He talks to me when Jeremy comes home. I think he is smitten with you.” She grinned as if she had just let me in on a big secret. I was aware Chad liked me. He wasn’t being secretive about it. The texts were getting on my nerves. I’d asked Jeremy to tell him to stop.
“He is going to inherit all that land and the construction company from his dad, ya know. He’s a great catch.”
He was also a momma’s boy who whined when he didn’t get his way. His chest was also scrawny and thin. Once you’d touched Cage York’s chest there was no settling for less.
“Hmmm,” I replied, taking a big gulp of my tea. Please let this conversation end soon.
“I’m having Chad and his parents down Labor Day weekend. Jeremy will be home too. I thought maybe you would like to come over and celebrate with us. It will be the same thing we do every year. Ribs on the grill. My potato salad you love so much and green bean casserole.”
“Um, well, uh, thank you Mrs. Elaine but I’m not sure yet what Daddy is planning on doing and—“
“Oh, he is invited too of course. We haven’t had a family gathering between our families on a holiday since before Josh passed away. This will be good for all of us.”
A door slamming and yelling interrupted our conversation. I jumped up and ran out on the porch. Daddy was blocking my view. I couldn’t see who he was yelling at but I knew the car he was standing in front of. It was Cage. What was he doing here?
“Oh my. What is that boy doing here? Should I call the cops?”
“Shhh, no. Don’t call anyone,” I snapped and turned my attention back to the driveway.
“I told you not to come back around here, boy. “ Daddy roared.
“I shouldn’t have left. I want to talk to Eva. You should’ve never made me leave without talking to her,” Cage replied.
“I gave you a choice and you chose your baseball career over her. Ain’t no boy good enough for my girl that would choose anything else over her.”
Cage slammed his fist down on his car hood. “ I didn’t choose anything over her. You threatened my life and my education. It was never about baseball. Fuck baseball!”
“Get in that car and leave. Don’t come back. I’ll call the cops next time and you’ll go to jail. Don’t mess with me. I protect what’s mine.”
Cage’s eyes shifted and our gazes locked. I didn’t understand what I’d just heard. I didn’t know what had happened between my daddy and Cage. At the moment I didn’t care. I was getting to look at him again. He was here and I could see him. He didn’t look like a guy who wanted to throw me aside.
“I love you, Eva Brooks. No matter what you’ve been told or what you think of me. I love you!”
Everything and everyone melted away. Cage was yelling for everyone to hear that he loved me. Even with my daddy breathing down his neck. I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to do. He had left me. Without saying a word. Now he was back and he said he loved me. What was the truth? Love didn’t just run off without an explanation. He’d broken my heart.
Cage turned and to open his car door and climbed inside. Numbly, I watched him pull out and drive away.
I let him go. Why had I let him go?