The Blueprint(The Game #1)(9)

By: S.E. Harmon


Congratulate me. It bothered me that he wasn’t bothered that I was possibly getting engaged to someone else. I felt a little… deflated.

I cleared my throat. It was hard to hear him clearly over the din in the background—a hip-hop beat, loud voices, and the occasional raucous laughter. “Where are you, anyway? I thought you had a game.”

“I did. One of the players wanted to show off his new boat, and it turned into a thing. I thought I’d swing by after—”

“There is no after. We’re pretty much wrapping things up over here.” The fact that his party sounded a thousand times more fun than mine didn’t improve my mood. “Sounds like you guys are having a good time. You must’ve won.”

“Of course. I can’t think of a better way to kick off a season than winning our last preseason game.” At my lack of response, he went on. “So where’s Robert?”

Probably at a witch doctor’s house asking him to construct a skinny, black-haired, gray-eyed voodoo doll named Kelly.

“Gone,” I said shortly. “I told him no. Well, to be perfectly accurate, I said yes, and then I said no.”

“Fuck, Kel.” Even over the noise in the background, I could hear the exasperation. “I thought you liked Robert.”

“I did. Just not enough to marry him.”

“Wow.” He seemed nonplussed for a moment. “I don’t know what to say to that.”

“It is what it is.”

Somewhere in the background, a feminine voice murmured something. She sounded close. Like almost in his ear. Something… flirty? Blue murmured something back, and then she giggled. Giggled. I tightened my hand on the phone. I couldn’t lie—I wanted to hurt him right then, even though I had absolutely no right to be angry, no right to expect his exclusive attention.

This.

This was why I’d been pulling away from Blue. Because he had no idea how hard it was to be just friends. But the more I pulled away, the harder Blue pushed for things to remain just the way they were.

“I have to go,” I said shortly.

“Maybe I could drop by sometime this week. I know things have been kind of crazy lately, but we could hang out. Catch a movie? I know I could stand to watch something other than game film.”

The smile in his voice invited me to laugh along, but I wasn’t in the mood. “I’m going to be pretty busy this week.”

I heard the question in his voice. “The entire week?”

“Yes. I have a job, you know.” Defensiveness made my voice sharp, and I couldn’t seem to stop myself. “I can’t just drop everything every time you decide to stop by.”

“I’m not asking you to. If you’re busy, you’re busy.” He paused. “Are you sure you’re okay? You sound weird.”

“I’m fine. Call me later, okay?”

“Sure. As long as you’re really all right.”

Why wouldn’t I be? Did I sound pissed? Annoyed? Irritated that I couldn’t have his undivided attention for two minutes? I was feeling pretty raw. Alone. Jealous that he was somewhere with some woman having a perfectly good time. I was ready to curse out whoever said love should be multiplied, not divided. I wanted Blue’s love all to myself, and that was… well, ridiculous. I had to hang up before I said some shit I probably shouldn’t say.

“Of course I’ll help you with that,” I said loudly, pretending to talk to someone else. “Blue, I’ve got to go.”

I jabbed the end button and sent the phone to sleep. He called right back, and I put the ringer on silent. I honestly didn’t know what else there was to say. Hey, I know you’re trying to comfort me and all, but I’m secretly in love with you. And listening to you mack on some football groupie is making the two slices of chocolate cake I wolfed down want to reappear. All right, all right, three slices.

One of my coworkers, Paige, stuck her head in the kitchen doorway. “Kelly, I’m taking off. I only have the babysitter until eleven.”

“Of course. Let me walk you out.” The moment I reached her side, she linked our arms together. We headed for the front door and bumped hips every now and again.