Home > Charming as Puck(16)

Charming as Puck(16)
Author: Pippa Grant

As for me, I’ll love that the neighbors are all at least a quarter mile away, and that Mr. and Mrs. Murphy have enough land that they can legitimately raise a cow here.

She steps closer and rubs Sugarbear’s cheeks. “You’re such a sweet girl, aren’t you?”

“Felicity! Honey, don’t touch the cow. Not in your condition. You don’t know what kind of germs it has.”

“It’s okay, Mrs. Murphy,” I call to her mother, who’s coming out the etched glass front door in a pink tracksuit. Probably on her way to or from the gym. “So long as she washes her hands good, she’ll be okay.”

“Go on, you heard her. Go wash your hands.” Mrs. Murphy marches down the steps. “How old is this cow again? And how long does it need to be here? Felicity. Go wash your hands.”

“She’s carrying Ares Berger’s baby,” she mutters to herself in one of her puppet voices. “The cow germs don’t stand a chance.”

But she dutifully heads for the house.

Probably because we both know her mom won’t stop until she’s sure the baby isn’t in any danger, even if the baby’s father’s genes are most likely as indestructible as he is.

Mrs. Murphy stops in front of the car and shakes her head. “A cow. What will they think of next?” She’s smiling, though. I know that smile. It’s the same smile Nick has. “It’s so nice of you to be the team’s vet, Kami. I’m so glad Felicity and Nick have friends like you.”

Wow, that wasn’t a fireball straight from a guilt monster at all. I smile weakly as I busy myself helping Sugarbear out of the car. “Where do you want her? I promise this is a short-term thing. Just until I can find a petting zoo or something that will take her.”

According to Felicity, who cornered Zeus last week, the cow came from an auction somewhere outside the city. Apparently they knew I’d find her a home.

I hope every one of them gets sprayed by a cat with anal gland issues when they do their shelter volunteer days.

Kami will take care of it. She’s so sweet. She won’t let anything happen to these poor innocent animals we use. She’s so dependable. She’s so fucking boring.

Felicity joins us again as we get Sugarbear set up in the grass behind the pool, which is thankfully covered. “Do you have the yard treated?” I ask.

“With organic fertilizer.”

I smile at her wry tone. “Your insistence?” I ask Felicity.

“No, Nick’s,” Mrs. Murphy answers. “Do you have dinner plans? We’re having tacos, and we haven’t seen you in forever.”

Pew pew goes the guilt blaster. “You saw me just last week at my birthday party.”

“But you were so busy, we didn’t get to talk.”

“Actually, I need to go get ready for a date,” I lie, because Felicity was kind enough to let me know that Nick’s living here while he looks for a new apartment, and I don’t want to be around when he gets home from afternoon practice.

She pinches her lips together and frowns. “You don’t date much, do you, honey?”

“Mom,” Felicity hisses.

“What? I never hear about any of your friends having boyfriends.”

“We’re just waiting until we know they’re good enough to bring them home to you, Mrs. Murphy,” I tell her.

And then I realize what I’ve just said.

Your son wasn’t good enough to bring home to you, Mrs. Murphy.

Felicity makes a strangled noise, green eyes dancing.

“I need to get home,” I blurt. “My dogs…walks…potty time…hungry. I’ll just get those grains out of my trunk. Felicity knows how much to feed her. I’ll drop by again later to make sure Sugarbear’s comfortable.”

There’s that lump in my throat again, but this time I know exactly what it is.

I’m going to miss my cow-puppy.

I turn and hustle back to the front of the house, with Felicity on my heels. “Kami. Whoa. Hey. Slow down.”

“I didn’t mean that,” I whisper.

“Stop.” She grabs my wrist, and because I don’t want to trip my friend, I pause.

And that’s when she tackles me with a huge Felicity hug. “I’m sorry my brother’s a dickhead,” she tells me. “I wouldn’t bring him home to meet my mother either.”

“He’s not…” I swallow, because he is a dickhead. I’ve defended him for as long as I’ve known both of them, and I need to stop.

“He is,” she assures me. “He has his good points too, but he’s a total dickhead sometimes. He can’t help himself.”

“This is so messed up,” I sigh. “I’m sorry. I made everything weird.”

“No, you didn’t. Actually—” She stops herself and shakes her head.

“What?” I ask, because that’s the same look she was wearing yesterday at my house after the double disasters downtown.

“You deserve someone fabulous. And if I can do anything to help—”

“No!” I shake my head quickly, because my date with William the other night looked positively normal compared to some of the dates Felicity went on before she married Ares. “I mean, no, thank you.”

She’s cracking up again. “Yeah, I wouldn’t take my help either.”

“She’s a terrible judge of male character,” she says in her grumpy puppet voice.

“Utterly awful,” her pragmatic goat voice replies.

“But we still love her!” her cheery cat voice chimes in. “And we’re so glad Ares picked her and took her out of that awful dating pool. Full of dick sharks! All dick sharks!”

“You are such a nut,” I tell her.

“And I’m exactly the kind of nut who’s not going to let my brother get between me and one of my very best friends in the entire world.”

I cannot stop cringing today.

“What?” she asks.

“Do you know—is he planning on sending me thirty of something every day?” I ask in a rushed whisper.

She frowns. “Thirty of what?”

“Teddy bears yesterday, bouquets of roses today…”

I trail off, because there’s that pensive look again.

“I might’ve overreacted to him forgetting my birthday,” I tell the driveway.

She doesn’t say anything again, and I glance up at her once more. Her cheeks have gone a shade pale, and there are worry lines at the bridge of her nose.

My heart thumps hard against my ribs. Part of me wants to show her the text message.

The part where he apologized. She’ll be just as surprised as I was.

But the other part of me knows that getting over Nick is the best thing I can do for all of us.

“Felicity, sweetheart, you’re not touching that cow grain, are you?” Mrs. Murphy calls.

“You have to call me as soon as you get home and fake being stood up by your date so I have to leave, because that’s literally the only thing that could get me out of dinner here tonight. If my mother gives me one more list of grandma-approved baby names, I might explode.”

“She’s just excited.”

Felicity grins, and she doesn’t have to say a word.

I know what she’s thinking.

That’s the Kami we all know and love. Always making excuses for people. Always finding the silver lining.

But I can’t keep doing that with my love life.

I can’t keep doing that with Nick.

“I’m getting the grains,” I call to Mrs. Murphy.

“Does she have any dog toys?” Mrs. Murphy replies. “A pet needs toys.”

Felicity’s phone buzzes. She doesn’t look down, but instead hustles me back to the car. “Practice is over. The boys are on the way. Let’s get this done.”

Two weeks ago, I would’ve made an excuse to linger.

But today, I rush through unloading my car.

Because she’s right.

I don’t want to be here when the boys arrive.

Nothing good can come of me seeing Nick again.

Nothing.

Eighteen

Nick

I can’t stand still Friday morning.

We’re in Arizona for an away game before we hit the road for the Canada circuit half of the week, and everything’s wrong.

Klein’s starting tonight.

We lost Wednesday night. I can’t stop a puck to save my life.

And I can’t get the image of Kami’s bruised knuckles out of my head.

Who’s she with right now? What’s she doing? Fuck, I should’ve called her cousin and warned her not to fucking dare set Kami up with any more losers. What’s her name again? Misty? Megan? Georgina?

“Bro, you need to get laid,” Jaeger says to me. “Take the edge off. Got a number last night. Don’t mind sharing if you want it.”

We’re all hanging out in Frey’s suite before practice this afternoon. Because of that whole royal thing, he travels with a bodyguard and gets upgraded.

Every time.

So every time, we invade his suite and play video games.

Except I’m not feeling like playing hockey on a PS4 today.

“Fuck the number,” Zeus says without taking his eyes off the screen where he’s skating circles around Jaeger. Seriously. They’re playing the Thrusters in the game, and their little cartoon figures are skating circles around each other. “I got a bucket full of charm. All I gotta do is lean out this window, and I’ll get you a whole room of women.”

Jaeger’s shaking his head. “Your wife know you talk like that?”

“She knows it’s the truth.”

“So very odd, she actually agrees with him,” Frey chimes in, looking up from his phone. Dude’s clearly getting baby pictures, because he keeps grinning that dorky grin, which is even bigger than his normal grin. “It’s astonishing.”

“Fuck this,” I mutter. “I’m hitting the weights.”

   
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