“Ha, you’re hired.” She points at me, and though she sounds like she’s joking, I’m thinking she’s serious. I can’t help but let my hopes rise, though I tell myself to remain calm. Rational. Subdued. She doesn’t want a spazzed out nanny. She needs someone she can rely on. “Seriously, sometimes I feel like my life is nothing but a dream and I’m bound to wake up one day to discover that none of this actually happened.”
Should I ask? I have to ask. “Why do you say that?”
“My life wasn’t always this—wonderful.” Her voice turns somber, her expression sad. Her green eyes get this faraway look, like she’s fallen back into the past and it’s full of nothing but bad memories. “I had it hard growing up. Like, really hard. And I didn’t always make the best choices.”
“I’m thinking you made a solid choice when you met your future husband,” I point out.
Her expression softens. “Oh, I didn’t choose him. He chose me,” she murmurs, a secretive smile curling her lips.
Lucky her. “Well, he saw something in you then. Something special.” Hmm, I wonder if I said too much…
She tilts her head to the side, her long blonde hair falling over her shoulder. She looks like a fairy princess, which I guess is apt, considering her name is Fable. “I like you.”
I smile, feeling all that hope rise within me once again. Maybe I do have a chance. “Thanks. I like you too.”
“I think we could work well together. I have to remind you, this would be a live-in position. I’d need you here at all times because my schedule is so crazy, but you’d get time off, of course. I just—I need someone I can count on. Someone I can trust.” She holds her hand out toward me, I take it, and we shake. “I’d like to offer you the job, Sydney.”
Her words send shock waves coursing through my body and I try my best to contain myself. I can’t believe what she just said. My entire body starts to tremble with a combination of relief and excitement. “Thank you. I’d like to accept the position.”
I press my lips together, mentally warning myself not to cry. But the relief is so overwhelming, I sag the moment I let go of Fable Callahan’s hand. I have a job. Somewhere I can live and eat and actually make money. I just proved my parents wrong.
I’m almost half tempted to call them and rub their faces in it.
“Your down and out attitude is bullshit.” Drew claps me on the back so hard I take a stumbling step forward, thankful I don’t fall flat on my face. We’re in his backyard. Me pacing and grumbling, him trying to…I don’t know. Talk me down off the ledge? Though right now I should feel like I’m on top of the world. I’m an ungrateful asshole and I know it.
But it’s like I can’t help myself. My emotions are all over the place. I even talked to my mom about it, and she told me to snap out of it.
Yeah, I lost you too, right? Whatever. Just know this:
I’m an idiot.
“You should be celebrating right now,” Drew says, his expression fierce as he points a finger right at me. I’m surprised he doesn’t poke me in the chest to make his point. “You made it through the initial training. The coast is pretty much clear. You’d have to royally fuck up to lose your position. I’d say there’s an eighty-five percent chance you’re in for the season.”
It’s that leftover fifteen percent that makes me nervous. Fills me with fear that I make one mistake, one wrong move, and I’m off the team.
“You’ve got this in the bag,” Drew continues to say, all the easy confidence that makes him who he is filling his voice. I stuff the envy I’m experiencing deep down inside and try to focus on what he’s telling me. “So quit whining like a pussy. You’ve made it.”
Easy for him to say. He was a first draft pick and went on to take his team to the playoffs his rookie year. He and his team won the Super Bowl in his second season. In the eyes of the entire team—hell to practically everyone in the NFL—Drew motherfuckin’ Callahan can do no wrong.
Me? I’m only just starting out. Everything can fall apart in an instant. I can’t forget that.
“I haven’t made it yet. There’s still a chance they’ll let me go.” I smile but it feels bogus, so I let it fade. I know he’s right. He’s trying to make me feel better and I appreciate it.
I appreciate even more how easily he took me in, like I’m a member of his family. I’m not. Oh, I’m an honorary member, and Fable reminds me of that often enough that I’m forced to believe her. Her little brother Owen is my best friend. He’s like a brother to me. Growing up, we were always together, and we shared a house in college.
Plus, we played football together like no other. He was always there when I needed him and vice versa. We had each other’s backs, and not just on the field either. It was me and Owen Maguire against the world. Even when he met and fell in love with Chelsea, he never pushed me out of his life, while other friends had in the past. It was natural. A girl walked in, rocked their world, and friends always took a backseat.
Never with Owen and Chelsea. And while I admire—and even envy—what they have, I’m not ready to settle down. First, I’m too damn busy focusing on my career. Second, there are just too many beautiful women in this world for me to choose only one. Who needs one woman when you can have many?
Yeah. When it comes to women, sometimes I can be a…pig. But at least I’m aware of my piggish qualities, right? Chelsea says the first step is being aware of your faults, and I’m definitely aware.
I’m just not ready to correct those faults yet.
Besides, I haven’t found a girl I want to be with on a steady basis, you know? I’m too young and all that shit. I like a variety of women. Thin, curvy, red hair, dark hair, blondes. Funny, serious, sexy, shy—I love them all. If I had to settle with just one woman, I know I’d go crazy.
But I consider Owen lucky, because Chelsea is amazing. She effortlessly accepted me into her life and we’re close. I give Owen constant shit that she’s the better part of him, and he never disagrees.
Now, though, I’m pretty certain he’s pissed at me. Maybe not at me per se, but pissed at the situation. I have what he wants. What he wanted so damn bad for so long, but didn’t get. I can’t help it that he was picked higher in the draft. That the Broncos snapped him up because he’s damn good and somehow, by some sort of crazy miracle, I got called up too.