Pucked Off (The Pucked Series)(5)

By: Helena Hunting

He laughs and shakes his head. “She must’ve screwed you over real good.”

I pour myself another hefty shot and raise my glass. “That she did.”

He leaves me to my wallowing. My phone keeps vibrating in my pocket. I pull it out and drop it on the bar, watching the screen light up. The contact reads DO NOT FUCKING REPLY. I wish I was smart enough to take my own advice, but apparently I’m not.

There are eleven new messages. I’m sure they’re all quite lovely. As much as I know I shouldn’t look at them, I don’t know how long I can contain my curiosity.

Tash will be gone tomorrow, back to LA. If I can wait until she’s on a plane, I won’t run the risk of trying to see her again. I hate the panicky feeling that thought brings. I hate that I almost regret not fucking her. I hate that I’ve already forgiven her for slapping me across the face.

I flip my phone over so I can’t see the alerts as the texts keep coming. There’s a fight on the TV over the bar, so I focus my attention there instead. I wish I had a place to put all this anger. Since I don’t, I get this feeling in my spine—it’s a tingle that turns into a burn. Everything starts to feel hot, like I’m a volcano preparing to erupt.

I pour another shot, hoping it’ll dull the fire. Sometimes I don’t know what to do when I get like this. And Tash makes me worse. I know this. Every time I see her now it takes a few days for me to get things back under control. Last time I did five thousand dollars worth of damage to my bedroom.

One of the girls from the pool table sidles up to me. She wears her hard life in faint lines on her young face. I look over just as her friend squeezes her way between us.

She gives me a lopsided smile and scans the bar, maybe looking to score a drink while she checks me out.

“Hey.” She sits on the stool beside me, knocking my elbow as I tip my glass.

The drink misses my mouth and runs down my forearm.

“Oh, God! I’m so sorry!” She reaches over me and grabs for a napkin.

I don’t think she’s drunk—she doesn’t have the glassy eyes or loose body for that—so I have to assume she’s either clumsy or did it on purpose to get my attention. Which was unnecessary. She had it the second I walked into this place, she and her friend being the only two women without a guy attached to them.

“You’re fine.” I take the napkin from her so she’ll stop touching me.

The first girl, the one who looks like life hasn’t been all that easy on her, says something to her friend and gives me an apologetic smile. It fades a bit after a moment, and her eyes narrow slightly, then flare.

“You look familiar.”

“I don’t think we’ve met before.” I turn on my grin and my charm, even though I don’t feel like being all that friendly or charming. “I’d remember that pretty smile.”

“I’ve got a pretty smile,” says the clumsy one. Then she points to my bottle. “Hey, you wanna buy me and my friend a drink?”

“Barbie!” the other girl chastises.

Of course her name is Barbie, although she doesn’t look like one in the traditional sense, with her brown hair and brown eyes. Her friend, the one who’s embarrassed now, is more Barbie-looking, with sandy blond hair and eyes that could be blue or green, depending on how the lighting in this corner of the bar messes with things.

“What? He’s got a whole bottle. He can share.”

“Sure. You got a glass?” These two seem like a decent enough distraction, and I need one. Besides, I probably shouldn’t drink the rest of this bottle on my own unless I want practice to be hell tomorrow.

“Over there.” Barbie thumbs over her shoulder. “You should come sit with us.”

My phone buzzes on the bar again. I flip it over. I’m up to twenty messages from Tash. Fuck her.

“Yeah. I can do that.”

Barbie helps me out by grabbing the bottle, and I follow them to their table. It’s conveniently located in the darkest corner of the bar.

Barbie sits beside me on the bench seat, and her friend sits perpendicular to her. She pours them both a generous shot of whiskey and fills my glass too.

She props her cheek on her fist, mashing her face into it. “You do look really familiar.”