“Love you, you thickheaded bastard.” Gray’s voice is uneven, and I realize then how freaked out he’s been. I would have been too, had I seen his leg broken like a twig.


“Same here,” I say, something stuck in my throat.

He backs out quickly, giving Anna a small smile. “Take care of our boy. See you tomorrow, Drew.”

Tomorrow. When I’ll finally break free of this place. Even though I’m counting the seconds, a wave of black panic washes around the edges of my vision.

Anna sits back down in her seat. I take her hand and don’t let go.

AT NIGHT, WHEN I’m kicked out of Drew’s room once again, I grab his keys and head to his house. Yes, I’m basically breaking in, but things need to be done. Drew’s car is in the drive, one of his teammates presumably having dropped it off with the spare key earlier. The porch light is on, as is the kitchen light, just visible in the back. It heartens me that someone cared enough to protect his house that way.

Hauling up my load of groceries with one hand, I brace a hip against the door and let myself in. I’m halfway across the living room when a massive shape looms up from the kitchen. Naturally, I scream my head off and launch my keys at my attacker. With a loud jangle they bounce of the center of Gray Grayson’s forehead before clattering to the floor.

“What the ever-loving f**k?” He clutches his head and glares.

Sheepish, and my heart still racing, I glare back. “Most people duck.”

“Yeah?” Still frowning at me, he scoops the keys up with one hand. “Most people don’t break into houses and launch keys at innocent victims’ heads.”

Since the groceries are cutting off the circulation to my hand, I push past him and set my bags on the counter. “If I have keys, it isn’t breaking in, now is it?”

Gray comes into the kitchen where a pot of something is cooking on the stove. It smells fantastic. “I don’t know.” He gives me the gimlet eye. “Did you ask Drew if you could use his keys to get into his house?”

Busted.

I shrug. “Drew was otherwise occupied.” I begin to unload the groceries. “I’d meant to come here, clean up and make him some food to get him through the week. But I didn’t know he already had a resident chef.”

Surprisingly, Gray smiles wide. “It’s a simple barter system. I cook and Drew lets me hang out.”

The idea that Gray feels the need to barter for Drew’s company has my heart squeezing for the guy. I know he doesn’t much trust me, but I like him.

I take another look at the pot. “Whatcha cooking?”

“Soup.” Gray stirs it like it’s a fragile brew.

“Kind?” I prompt, my lips twitching.

“White bean with sausage and corn.”

My stomach actually growls. I haven’t eaten all day. “God, I love soup.”

By Gray’s pleased expression, I’ve said something right.

Leaning forward to catch another whiff, I almost dance with impatience. “When’s it gonna be ready?”

Gray’s blond brows rise in mock offense. “This here is for Drew, woman. Get your own supper.”

“Oh, come on. One bowl isn’t going to hurt. Besides,” I pull out a bag of apples, “I plan to make pies. I’m pretty sure I can share one in exchange for dinner.”

Eyes gleaming, Gray licks his lips. “Can you truly bake?”

“Can I bake? Did you seriously just ask me that?”

“Ah…” He holds his hands up in surrender. “Ask you what? I don’t recall saying anything other than we have a deal.”

Smart guy. I smile then. “Good. And when we’re done, you can help me clean.”

“He had to fall for a bully,” Gray mutters under his breath. But he’s smiling too. And we get along just fine after that.

Chapter 31

DREW IS CLEARED to leave, and he acts like he’s been sprung from jail. “Finally! Where are my clothes?”

The doctor laughs at his enthusiasm. More so when Drew leaves his bed and hobbles toward the bathroom, the back of his hospital gown flapping in his haste and flashing his bare ass to the world. I roll my eyes while Gray snorts. He and Drew’s coach are here.

Drew returns, dressed in baggy basketball shorts and a long-sleeved cotton shirt that hugs his lean frame. “I can’t wait to get out of here.”

“I’d worry about you if you enjoyed the hospital,” says Coach Smith with a small smile. He’s a stern man, but I can see his affection for Drew.

All is well until a nurse arrives with a wheelchair. “Ready to go home, Mr. Baylor?”

Drew eyes the chair as if it were a snake. “Yeah. But I’m not getting in that.”

She gives him a patient smile. “Hospital regulations, I’m afraid. Even for you.” There’s steel in the look she pins on him, and Drew’s scowl grows because we all know he isn’t going to argue with her.

“Fine.” He hops down from his bed and spins into position on one leg. He doesn’t look at anyone as the nurse props his feet on the footrests and gives him a friendly pat on his arm. “All set?”

“Yes.” He hates being in the wheelchair. Every line in his body, his sullen glare, radiates that fact. Spitting nails mad is what my grandpa would have called Drew’s expression.

“Good. Now I just need to know that you have someone taking care of you at home for the next few days.”

Drew’s chin jerks up as a dull flush washes over his cheeks. “I do not need someone taking care of me. I’m fine.”

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