Pucked Off (The Pucked Series)(12)

By: Helena Hunting

My reputation is an issue. I’d never go after one of my teammate’s girls, but I don’t want to make Lily uncomfortable, or give Randy a reason to mistrust me around her. It’s better to avoid those kinds of situations altogether.

I pick up what’s been left for me, but before I can disappear back into the guest room, Lily steps into the hall from her bedroom, Wiener running around her feet. She’s dragging a brush through her chin-length black hair.

“Oh. You got the—” She scans my torso, then reaches out like she’s considering touching me, but thinks better of it. “Oh, God. Are you okay?”

“It looks worse than it is. It’s just bruises for the most part. Thanks for these.” I nod to the clothes I’m holding, step back into the room, and close the door with Lily still staring.

I change into Randy’s clothes. He’s a little narrower, so the jeans are snugger than I’m used to, but at least they’re clean and don’t smell like a bar—or have any blood on them. I probably should’ve pressed charges, but being drunk didn’t help my cause last night. Neither did being in the hospital.

I’m careful pulling the shirt over my split eyebrow. It’s tight on my arms and across my chest, but it’ll do until I get home.

Once I’m dressed, I fold up my clothes and make the bed, even though I’m sure they’ll be changing the sheets after I leave. I hear noise coming from the kitchen, so I follow the sound.

The smell of food cooking hits me as I round the corner. “Thanks for the hospitality. I’m gonna grab a cab and head out.”

Lily looks up from the stove. “You don’t need to do that. I don’t have to work this afternoon. I can drive you wherever you need to go.”

“You’ve already done more than enough.”

“Well, I’m making grilled cheese, and two of these are for you, so you have to stay now, or it’d be rude.”

I lean against the doorjamb. “You didn’t have to do that.”

She props a fist on her hip and points her spatula at me. “You’re part of Randy’s team, and you’re his friend. That makes you like family. There’s coffee on, and there’s cream in the fridge if you want it. You can’t go to practice without eating.”

She’s so matter of fact about it, like it’s nothing that she’s making me something to eat. I pour a coffee for myself and search the cupboards until I find plates. Then I get the ketchup from the fridge and find dill pickle spears at the back of one of the shelves.

I set everything out on the kitchen island, leaving a stool between us so we’re not sitting right next to each other. Lily sets a plate in front of me. Cheese oozes out of the middle of the sandwiches she’s cut in half.

“Sorry they’re a little messy. Randy has a hard time keeping weight on when the season starts, and, well, that’s the story of my life, so I go a little overboard with the cheese. I hope this is okay.”

My throat closes like I’m being choked, like my body is preparing for a backhand to go with her kindness. But it doesn’t come. All there is is a plate in front of me with two golden, gooey sandwiches and my friend’s girlfriend looking apologetic for going out of her way to help me.

For a second I’m jealous of what Randy and Lily have. I try to imagine Tash doing something like this for me, but I can’t. I don’t think it’s in her to care about people this way. It was always just about her, and what she wanted. And that was never really me.

Lily sits in the place I’ve set for her. She squirts an ungodly amount of ketchup on her plate, dips the corner of her sandwich, and takes a bite, chewing thoughtfully.

“When I was growing up, we only had plastic cheese slices, but I’d go to Sunny’s house and her mom always made grilled cheese with Gouda or Swiss. There were always globs of melted cheese on my plate at the end. Even though it was messy, I loved it so much. I loved the ones my mom made for me too, but God, it was like cheese magic at the Waters’ house.”

“Sounds pretty awesome.” Waters has known Lily his entire life. His sister is her best friend. They’re close like family should be. I don’t have those kinds of memories from my childhood, even though it was a privileged one. After my brother died, everything good fell apart.