“Is the coffee helping?”
On the surface her question sounded caring, but the pointed gaze and the tightly crossed arms told him otherwise.
“Yeah. I’m drunk and
“Good. So…why are you here?” She pursed her lips stubbornly. She wasn’t leaving without some answers. The sooner he answered, the sooner she would skedaddle.
He blew across the hot liquid before taking another sip. “For Gil.”
“For Gil, or for you?” Her gaze was unwavering as she waited for his answer. Her left index finger was beating a pattern into her right bicep. Tap, tap, tap. Tick tock. Tick tock. Ding. Time’s up.
“I just told you.”
“Well, I think you’re here for yourself because you’re a selfish shit. You need to stop playing with his emotions. You hear me?”
Rip winced. Holy hellion.
“Oh, you are. You need to man up and either be with Gil or leave him the hell alone. He’s not your boy toy. You can’t just take him out to play when you want to.”
Is that what she thought he was doing? Shit.
Did Gil see it like that? “I don’t mean to—”
“Bullshit. I wish I’d never talked him into going to his class reunion. He didn’t want to go, you know. I made him.”
Rip grimaced. “I know.”
“He had a crush on you, and you opened the door to more. Between that night and the weekend at the cabin—”
“I never meant—”
“Listen Mister I’m-a-famous-wide-receiver-for-the-NFL, you knew exactly what you were doing.”
“For your information, I feel the same way about him as he does me.”
“Right.” Katie laughed bitterly. “You do know Gil loves you, right?”
Rip glanced at her, eyes wide. “He… does?”
Sure. Gil has feelings for him. Hell, he has feelings for Gil. But love?
“Of course he does, you shit. How could you not notice? Oh, that’s right, you’re a thick-headed football player that only cares about himself.”
“I care about Gil.”
“Then why don’t you act like it?”
Rip turned away from her and put an arm over his face. “I don’t know,” he muttered.
He was sick to his stomach. Not only from the over indulging but from what Katie said.
He’d never cared for anyone before. Never. His mom had died when he was young, and his pop had been a complete asshole. And, fuck
, he did not want to end up like him. Unfortunately, he seemed to be headed down that same path.
First as being deemed The Bad Boy of the NFL
—not without good reason—and now with Gil. He never meant to hurt Gil. He liked Gil. He always had. Even in high school. Yeah, so they hadn’t been actual “friends” because they ran in different circles. Gil with the geek squad and Rip with the jocks. But that was normal high school shit. Right?
He had never picked on Gil in high school like the other students had. No, it wasn’t just being picked on. It was downright bullying. The night of their tenth-year class reunion, Gil had asked Rip why he hadn’t ever come to his rescue. Rip’s lame answer was that he’d had a reputation to uphold. He was the captain of the varsity team. He was a jock. It was a bullshit excuse and he had apologized, of course. But it came too late for high school. However, here he was again…trying to live up to his reputation of being a badass pro football player.
And look where that got him…
Sobering up in his gay lover’s house. The lover whom he’d been ignoring because Rip was too much of a damn coward to come out of the closet and be his true self.
That’s because he always had to hide who he really was. Always.
All he’d known most of his life was how to be a good football player.
And now he didn’t even have that.
He emptied the mug and handed it back to Katie. “Thanks…and sorry.”
Katie pushed to her feet. “You’re apologizing to the wrong person.”
She beat feet out of the bedroom and slammed the door shut behind her.
The Bad Boy of NFL
was no longer.
Now he was just a fuck up.
Jeanne St. James