Sucked Into Love(2)

By: Rochelle Paige

I wasn’t able to skate competitively, but I still looked good on the ice. And that’s where the second twist of fate came into play. One that would change my life forever.

Cee-Cee started up a conversation with the trainer who helped the school’s ice hockey teams. She chatted him up because he was a hot twenty-something guy and she was shameless, but when I skated over and she introduced me, nobody could have known that that moment would spark my career path.

And now here I was, returning to my hometown with all my belongings packed into my car to move back into the house I’d eventually figured I’d never live in again and hoped it would only be for a short time now. I just received my Doctorate in Physical Therapy and had an interview next week at the local minor league hockey team. One I was convinced I would nail because I was uniquely positioned to understand the needs of hockey players. My years spent on the ice as a child and the time I’d spent helping school teams over the years would come in handy now. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I had a friend back from my Brower days who had been drafted to play for them a couple of years ago and told me about the job in the first place.

The house was quiet. My dad had let me know that he had to go out of town for a couple of weeks, and I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if he’d scheduled his trip for my return in the hope that I’d get the job and find an apartment while he was gone. His text telling me he would be gone had crushed the small amount of hope I’d had that things would be different now that I was grown.

The trill of my cell phone pulled me out of my woolgathering. I dropped the bags I’d been holding and grabbed my phone out of my purse. As I glanced at the screen, I wasn’t surprised to see that it was Cee-Cee calling me. She had been beyond thrilled when I’d told her I was moving back to Chicago since she had just taken a job with a PR firm here.

“Hey,” I answered after connecting the call. “Do you have a tracking device on me I don’t know about?”

“Nope. Just BFSP,” she retorted.

“BFSP?” I asked even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what the heck she was talking about.

I heard Cee-Cee’s laughter filter through the line. “Best Friend Sensory Perception. So be warned, because I know what’s going on with you even before you do.”

“How in the world do you come up with this stuff? And why does it actually make sense?” I replied.

“You know I’m always right, Jo-Jo,” she teased.

“Ugh, except when you use that blasted nickname,” I complained. “You know I hate it. Anything but that!”

The silence on the other end of the line worried me. A silent Cee-Cee was usually a plotting one and almost never meant anything good for me. “I promise to never, ever call you Jo-Jo again if you’ll do me a teeny tiny favor.”

“What’s the favor?” I demanded.

“Now, don’t say it like that. You make it sound like I’m going to ask you to go to prison for me or something,” she grumbled.

“Like that’s out of the question? There was that time you asked me to be your alibi,” I reminded her.

Cee-Cee gasped in outrage. “You didn’t even have to talk to the cops for God’s sake!”

“But I would have if they’d come calling,” I retorted.

“And that’s why you’re my best friend. But if you’ll recall, I decided against keying the douchebag’s car, so nobody would have come knocking on your door anyway,” she pointed out.

I thanked my lucky stars that she hadn’t done anything stupid back when she’d finally dumped her college boyfriend. I’d never been quite sure what she had seen in him except that he was hot. They really hadn’t had very much in common. Cee-Cee had a plan for her life and was willing to work for what she wanted, but he’d been content to do nothing related to school or work. He’d had a free ride to our school with a football scholarship and acted like the world owed him everything—and like Cee-Cee should have been thankful that he was willing to date her. Douchebag wasn’t a strong enough word for him, and I was happy that she was finally free of him, but it hurt to watch the effect it had on her dating life. He’d taught her not to trust after she’d spent so much time listening to all the negative things he’d had to say about her, and she didn’t let guys get too close emotionally anymore.