I entered the living room, and took my spot on the left end of the couch, kicking up my feet on the leather ottoman as I picked up the remote.
Trevor glanced up from his place in the recliner. “Thank God.” He nodded to me. “Talk some sense into our boy. He won’t do shit.”
“Yeah, I noticed the social media posts are a little thin.” Frank took a seat beside me, rubbing his thick palms together as he surveyed the platter of wings. “May I?”
“Sure.” I hit a button on the remote, bringing the television back to life.
Trevor picked up his phone, angling the camera at me. I put up my hand and blocked the shot.
“Oh, that’s actually not bad,” he murmured. “Look annoyed.”
“I am annoyed,” I snapped. “Put that shit away.”
“Here’s something to improve your mood.” Frank rolled the paper towel roll around his hand, then smeared the pile of napkins across his mouth, smacking his lips loudly. “I’ve got a grade-A deal that’s just waiting for your signature. You’re going to love this, Cash. Special Olympics called, and they want you as a national spokesperson.”
I couldn’t even muster the energy for a smile. “Okay.”
“OKAY? You’ve wanted Special Olympics for years!” He paused, a gooey wing hanging between his forefinger and thumb. “What is this?”
“It’s love,” Trevor muttered. “Love and heartbreak.”
“With the trainwreck?
“Hey,” I said sharply. “She’s not a train wreck, she’s not psychotic, and if one more person calls her white trash, I’m going to rip out your throats through your bleached assholes.”
“He’s very irritable,” Trevor remarked calmly, and I had probably recycled that threat too many times for it to have proper effectiveness.
“We can get you other girls,” Frank said. “I’ve got a Tanzanian that does this thing with her tongue—”
“No, thanks.” I flipped the channel.
“What if we get you two together? I know the network would go for it. Get some cameras there…in a public place, somewhere where we can have a fan run up and call her a bitch?” He waved the wing, and a drop of sauce landed on his shirt. I stared at him and wondered what the hell I had ever valued in him.
He grimaced, then looked at Trevor with a smile. “What’s with this guy today?”
“He’s heartbroken,” Trevor repeated. “Like I said. Tread lightly.”
“Look, if you don’t want the cameras there, fine. But this is the time to be the rodeo star. Don’t just sit on the bull, man. Wave your arm around. Buck your hips. Dig your spurs into his ribs and PERFORM.” His eyes lit up as he ripped off another bite. “We’ve got to—”
I clicked off the tv and stood. “Seriously. You’re fired. Get the fuck out.”
“You heard what I said about Special Olympics, right?” He looked up at me, his cheeks full, and if he didn’t move his ass in the next thirty seconds, I was going to absolutely lose it.
“Frank.” Trevor spoke quietly, and the manager’s gaze dropped to him. “He’s not kidding. Put down the wing and get out of here.”
The wing hit the plate, and Frank stood, his face darkening as he realized the situation. “This is bullshit. The deals I’ve gotten for you? The exposure?”
“Yeah.” I nodded to the door. “Go.”
He looked from me to Trevor. Paul, who had been prepping another plate of chicken in the kitchen, appeared in the doorway and folded his arms across his chest.
“Fine.” Frank wadded the paper towel into a ball and tossed it down. “Fine.” He raised his hands. “See how you do without me. You think I need this shit?
He shouldered past me and toward the front door. From the recliner, Trevor let out a whistle of breath.
The front door slammed shut.
“That guy was a prick, anyway.” Paul flipped a dish towel over the shoulder of his chef’s apron. “Good move, Cash.”
I wasn’t sure that it had been. But if he didn’t have the emotional intelligence to realize that I wasn’t going to rodeo star up this situation with Emma, then he was the wrong person for me to trust my career with. And maybe it shouldn’t have taken me three years to figure that out.
But this life was like a rollercoaster. You got on and then Frank and Therma and sponsors yanked you from left to right and it was only the moments with Emma that I’d ever slowed to a stop and . . . felt something.
And now I was back on the ride and needing a way off. I hated that I didn’t know where she was now, what she was thinking, what she was facing. And I didn’t understand why she kept her relationship with Wesley a secret. I had too many questions and I was pissed at everyone. Emma, her parents, my parents, Dana… I clenched my fist and fought the urge to break something.