A/N: Double update 10/4/13

Chapter 26

She wouldn't even know what hit her.

I found Melinda sitting in the waiting room, engrossed with her phone, but she looked up when she realized I was coming straight at her. She jumped up, looking alarmed. Jordan noticed me too and said my name sharply but I ignored him. She opened her mouth but I was ready and beat her to it before she could say anything. "Don't you dare stand there and call me a whore when none of my business concerns you!" I hissed at her as I shoved Will's phone in her face. She scowled at me as she snatched the phone from me and began to speak but I wasn't done. "I spent months loving your brother and we have both made mistakes but I couldn't possibly be indifferent when it comes to watching him get hurt! He was hurt!" My voice caught as tears started to threaten me again but I swallowed hard and kept my emotions in check. "Just because Will and I are no longer together doesn't mean that I don't feel anything! In fact I've always felt something when it comes to Will, and he wanted me here tonight, so here I am! He wanted to hold my hand! He wanted me to call you and your parents! He wanted me near him! In fact, I think that if they had let me, I would still be in there with him, except I'm not family! So if that gets you in a snit, tough shit! You can take it up with him!" Her mouth opened and shut a few times before she clamped it shut and slammed her bony ass back down onto her chair, staring past me. I took the chair directly behind her so that I wouldn't even have to look at her.

Jordan sat down next to me but I wouldn't look at him. Then he asked lowly, "Some truth in my words?" I shrugged and he squeezed my arm.

More time passed. Soon after I told off Melinda, Alex showed up but the glare I nailed him with was enough to keep him away from me. He spoke to Melinda briefly and then sat down next to her.

Then, an hour after that, an hour after the 12:00 news came and went, while I struggled to stay awake, Jordan and Will's teammates decided to leave. "I drove your car over here." Jordan handed me the keys to the Mercedes. I didn't even remember leaving the keys with him… right, he had chosen to drive to Raleigh while I had returned phone calls and answered emails about the charity event. "I'll just get a ride back to Charlotte with Kevin."

"Sounds good." I replied. He gave me a quick hug and told me to keep him posted. I nodded and they left. I felt Melinda looking at me but I kept my back to her.

Just after they left, Will's parents finally arrived. Unsurprisingly, they were very tall and blond, just like Will and Melinda. I tried to keep my head down and remain inconspicuous as I watched them have a very tense and emotional reunion. Alex watched me but I ignored him. Will's mother was clearly trying to keep her panic at bay as she tried to find out more information from the nurses, who told her vaguely that he was still consulting with doctors. Will's father was quiet and grim as he put his arm around his wife's shoulders. He was an enormous man… bigger than Will, if that was possible, and built like a lumberjack with tree trunk arms, legs, and a barrel chest. Will's mom, meanwhile, was slender, like Melinda, and I could see even from a distance that Will had gotten his eyes from her. Finally, she noticed me, paused as she tried to place me, and then pursed her lips disapprovingly, just like her daughter had done. Great. I still forced a pathetic smile and rose from my seat as she slowly walked over to me, her eyes assessing me. "Will wanted me here." I offered softly. "I just wanted to make sure that he was okay but he asked me to stay with him… so I did… and—" She abruptly hugged me and I stopped with the excuses. After a stunned pause, I lightly returned her hug.

She murmured into my ear, "Thank you for calling." Then she pulled away and stepped back, eyeing me critically. "You've seen him. How was he?"

Melinda sighed loudly, obviously exasperated, but I ignored her. "He was in a lot of pain." I said cautiously. Will's parents both sucked in their breath and closed their eyes, obviously unhappy with the news, so I quickly said, "He was awake, he was answering questions, he just… he was uncomfortable."

"Who else have you told this information?" Alex piped up, looking at me through narrowed eyes.

"Just my brother and some of Will's teammates." I answered.

"Well keep it to yourself because the last thing we need is for this to get out to the press." Alex snapped back at me.

"Leave me alone, Alex." I glared at him.

Then someone called, "Is Will Burke's family here?" We all spun around to see that a doctor had materialized in the waiting room and was looking at us, holding a file in his hands. He looked at us and asked, "Is that all of you?"

"Yes!" Will's mom exclaimed, racing over to the doctor, followed quickly by the rest of us. I didn't miss Melinda shooting me a glare as we gathered around the doctor.

"His foot is broken." We all groaned. A broken foot might not seem like much but, as a professional athlete, he would have to be very careful to take care of it and do proper physical therapy. Considering that hockey players don't have very long professional careers (most retire when they are 35 or 40 years old), any time away from the game wouldn't be good for Will. "We've decided that it doesn't need surgery… it's just a bad break. We had to give him a high dose of painkillers of Vicodin and a small amount of morphine so he's a little out of it… but I expect a full recovery." Will's mom let out a choked sob as the rest of us sighed with relief. "And… which one of you is Olivia?" I jolted in surprise and my movement caught his eye. "You?" I nodded. "He keeps asking for you." All the eyes in the room turned to look at me. Melinda was livid, Alex fumed. My mouth opened, tried to find something to say, and then closed as my cheeks burned. "He'll be out in a few minutes." The doctor turned and walked away.

Will's family and Alex were still staring at me. "Must be the painkillers." I said awkwardly as I looked away.

"Yeah. That must be it." Alex said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Alex—" I huffed, shaking my head, ready to give him an earful for questioning me.

But then the doors opened and a nurse wheeled Will out in a wheelchair. She announced cheerfully, "Here he is." Will looked dazed and sleepy as he slowly smiled, looking at the crowd that had gathered for him. The doctor hadn't been lying when he had said that Will was a little loopy. His broken foot was now encased in a cast... definitely no more hockey for this season.

"Will!" His mother choked out, looking like she was a second away from having a nervous breakdown. For her, it had been a long few hours… and I could only imagine how it felt to watch your child get hurt and feel so helpless. She rushed over, knelt down in front of him, and threw her arms around him. He mumbled hello to her as she held him tight. The nurse handed a bag of painkillers to Will's dad, who thanked her. After his mom pulled away, Melinda gave him a hug as well while his dad stoically clapped him on the shoulder before heading over to the nurses' station to fill out the last of the paperwork.

Finally, Will looked past Melinda and his eyes struggled to focus on me. He smiled wider at the sight of me. "Hey."

"Hey." I smiled back, bending slightly so that I could hug him. His hands found me and I thought he was returning the hug until he wrapped his arms completely around me and pulled me onto his lap. "Hi." I said again, flustered now.

He smiled at me, his eyes droopy, and murmured, "Hey baby." The familiarity of his pet name for me sent a warm jolt through my body, but I chalked up his overly friendly response to me as a side effect of the painkillers. Through his haze of drugs, he slurred, "You stayed. With me. You're here." He buried his face into my neck and breathed me in. I suddenly remembered him doing the same thing after he had come home from a long road trip and suddenly missed him so deeply and so terribly that I felt another rush of tears to my eyes.

This private and familiar exchange might have been okay if his family hadn't been watching us the whole time. My face flushed again as I climbed off Will's lap, cleared my throat, smiled, and then asked him, "Ready to go home?"

"Yep." He grabbed my hand and I could feel Melinda's eyes trying to bore into me. Then he looked at us, suddenly baffled, and asked, "How are we getting home?"

"We rented a car and so did Melinda." Will's dad volunteered.

Naturally, after hearing all that information, Will made his decision: "I want to go home with Olivia."

If looks could kill, Melinda would have me dead and buried. She knelt over and gently asked him, "Why don't you come home with us instead?" Will had lost his battle with the painkillers and was quickly nodding off, his chin slowly drooping down to meet his chest, but he still managed to mumble my name and hold my hand tightly. Once it was clear he had fallen asleep, Melinda lost all of her gentleness and spoke angrily immediately: "I don't think that's a good—"

"I don't mind." I interrupted her, trying to head her off from upsetting Will. "If that's what he wants…" I trailed off and then shrugged. I didn't really care what she thought anyway. Will's hand became heavy and slid out of mine, flopping down into his lap. He snorted softly, his head lolling, but didn't wake.

She looked furtively at him to make sure that he was still asleep and then hissed back at me, "What he needs is to be with his family."

"But what he wants is Olivia." Will's mom spoke up, looking hard at me. "If that's what he wants, and she doesn't mind, then fine with me. I just want him to be happy." A shadow crossed over her face and I could see that she was still worried about him. "I'll ride with them."

"What?" Melinda demanded.

"Calm down." Will's mother snapped back at her. "She's not a serial killer, Mel. She obviously cares about Will." She turned her eyes on me and I blushed yet again. Then she asked me pointedly, "Right?"

"Of course I do." I said softly, truthfully, and then turned to Melinda. "I told you that I care about him."

Melinda glared at me, glanced around at everyone else, and could obviously tell that she was outnumbered. She spit at me, "Fine," and then she stormed off. Will's dad called after her and then followed when she didn't stop.

"She's not always like this." Will's mom told me, her voice soft. "She's very upset that he was hurt, both on the ice and off, and being an overprotective control freak is how she shows she cares about him."

"Okay." I nodded, feeling ashamed about how I'd hurt Will.

"I never even introduced myself. Or Will's dad Rich." She smiled faintly at me. "I'm Sandra. I've heard a lot about you." She raised her eyebrows at me.

"I bet." I tried to force a smile, embarrassed. The nurse, who had been silently watching us, asked us if we were ready to go and I said yes. We started walking down the hall.

"Wha…?" Will slurred, waking up when the nurse started rolling him down the hallway. "Livy? Livy? Livy?" He slowly swung his hand around, trying to find me through his haze of opiates. "Livy? Where… you? Livy?" Now I knew what the doctor was talking about when he had said that Will had been asking for me. Sandra watched me closely as I took Will's hand in mine. It killed me to see him so out of it and I turned my head slightly away as I quickly blinked back tears. Once he had my hand, he recognized me, quieted back down, and dozed while we made our way through the hospital.

By the time we were outside, I had controlled myself, and told Sandra, "I'll go grab my car." She nodded and I let go of Will's hand.

That woke him up again. "Olivia?" He slowly searched for me, looking dazed, his eyes mostly closed.

"She's going to get the car." Sandra soothed him, looking quickly at me and waving me away. Disgruntled, he shook his head slowly, still trying to reach for me, so I decided to be as quick as I could.

I found my car, climbed in behind the wheel, and started my car. As I gripped the wheel, I felt exhaustion and all of the emotions inside of me climbing up and threatening to spill out of me. A choked sob came out of me before I took a big deep breath and controlled myself again. He was okay. Just a little broken. I drove my car out of the parking garage and back to where I'd left Will, his mom, and the nurse.

Will's dad had joined them while I had been gone. Thank goodness he was there because it took all of us to get Will into the car without bumping his foot or dropping him. Will groaned and his head lolled around but didn't say anything as his dad belted him into his seat. The nurse advised us on the painkillers, gave us a set of tall crutches, strongly recommended against him walking on his foot (obviously), and then told us cheerfully that she hoped he felt better. We all halfheartedly thanked her and Sandra climbed into the back of my Mercedes while Rich climbed into his rental car. We drove out of the hospital and I started following the signs that directed me toward the interstate.

Will was semi-conscious, trying to fight the painkillers, and occasionally let out a groan as his head rolled back and forth with the movement of the car. Trying to soothe him, I took his hand in mine and said gently, "We're on our way home. We'll be home soon."

He managed to mumble, "Okay." Then he was quiet, either succumbing to being knocked out or had fallen asleep. I was acutely aware of Sandra watching me as I followed the signs for the interstate. It was only a matter of time before she started asking questions…

Once we were finally heading south on I-85, the questions came. They stared innocently: "How long is it going to be until we get to Charlotte?"

"Probably three hours." I replied, weary but running on adrenaline. I'd probably have to stop at a gas station so that I could drink an energy drink to get all the way home.

Her next words were clipped: "Then we'll have plenty of time to discuss what exactly is going on between you and my son." I winced and tightened my free hand around the steering wheel. Maybe I wouldn't need that energy drink after all. "What's going on? Are you guys together? Because I thought you were with someone else."

"I was." I allowed after a guarded moment. Then I honestly said softly, "I haven't sorted out my feelings."

"The last I heard, you were with the other man." She definitely wasn't a woman who minced words. I winced again, feeling the sting of guilt while Will's fingers warmly embraced mine. "Is that what's going on?"

"I'm not with him." I said softly, staring out at the road.

She sighed heavily, sounding a lot like Melinda, and then demanded, "Then what's going on? Because you're not with Will and yet you're acting like you are. We can all see how he feels about you. I'm not about to stand by and allow him to get hurt again. Because you really hurt him."

"He was the one who broke up with me." I couldn't resist pointing out. She made a small noise of displeasure and then we were quiet for a long time while I tried to find an answer that would appease her. Why did this matter so much to me? She was my ex-boyfriend's mother… I had no reason to please her. "I care about Will." I said finally. "I've never not cared about him. When we broke up…" I trailed off, remembering how I fell apart, and swallowed hard. "It killed me. Then I saw that he was back with Eva—"

"He never got back together with her." Sandra contradicted me, just like Melinda. "She was just using him once again. She wanted her face back in the tabloids and she used him to get that."

"Well, at the time, when we weren't speaking, that's what it looked like to me. And it pushed me to…" I paused and found that I couldn't say Jamie's name, not when Will was sitting right next to me. Even if he was knocked out, it just didn't feel right. I cleared my throat and added, "I have a long and complicated history with this person. I thought that I should be with him."

"Well, what is it going to be?" Sandra demanded, sounding annoyed. "Are you with him or Will? I want you to make a choice because I hate watching my son get jerked around."

"I'm not jerking him around." I shot back, my fingers gripping the steering wheel in a vise grip. "This isn't black or white."

She scoffed and shot back, "Yes it is! Either you love Will or you don't!"

Exhaustion and frustration made the words pour out of me: "Of course I love Will! When I saw him go down on the ice, I…" I stopped as the lump in my throat returned and took a few deep breaths. Sandra was silent in the back seat. "I have never stopped loving him." I finally choked out.

There was another long silence. Then she finally said, "Then be with him."

I had no reply for that. What about Jamie? I again hadn't called him back tonight… I wondered if he had desperately hopped a flight down to Charlotte and was standing on my doorstep, wondering where I was. I hadn't checked my phone since Jordan had left the hospital… I released Will's hand, dug my phone out of my bag, and checked it. Sure enough, there was a text from Jamie: "Why aren't you answering?" I tossed it back into my bag and grimly watched the road. Will began to stir so I took his hand again and he went still.

We were finally almost home when Will started stirring again. His fingers tightened around mine and then he mumbled, "Wha…? Where…?"

"We're almost to Charlotte." I said quietly.

He digested it and then groaned, "Foot…"

"Does it hurt?" I asked, concerned. "Do you need more drugs?"

"Uh huh," he groaned. In the backseat, Sandra turned on the dome light and immediately began rustling around. As she looked through the bottles, he mumbled, "Thanks for staying." I squeezed his hand and then helped pass him another Vicodin. He managed to figure out a way to drink water and take his pill and then sighed as he sank back into his seat, grabbing my hand again. "Thanks baby." I squeezed his hand back but didn't say anything. "Hey baby?" Now I could hear the smile in his voice as it got deeper. "Do you remember that one night when we—?"

"Let's talk about that later." I said loudly, squeezing his hand tightly, trying to stop him from reliving what sounded like an "inappropriate for mom" memory.

"But you did that thing with your hands—"

Oh no. "Later, Will." I said sharply and then asked too loudly, "Everything okay, Sandra?" She answered yes, sounding embarrassed. You and me both.

"Mom's here?" Will asked, sounding mostly incoherent.

"Yes." I said, turning off I-485 onto the city streets.

He was quiet for a minute and then asked, "Are we home?"

"Almost." I answered, squeezing his hand again.

The man who worked in the garage of Will's building still recognized me and it helped that Will was sitting in the front seat. I told him that the two cars behind me were Will's family members and he gave me a thumbs up. We parked our cars in three visitor's spots and then climbed out.

Rich asked almost immediately, "How are we going to get him upstairs?" We looked at each other and then turned to Will. Then, somehow, some way, we broke through his haze of opiates and convinced him to use his crutches. He was wobbly but he made it, thankfully. I unlocked his apartment door and we led him inside.

Sandra and Melinda helped Will settle into bed. They propped his foot up on pillows and spoke soothingly to him, especially Sandra. I hovered next to the doorway, unsure of whether I should stay or go. But as they began to leave his bedside, I heard Will mumble my name. "I'm here." I said softly, taking a few steps forward. He held out his hand to me and then flopped it down on the bed a few times, which I took that to meant that he wanted me next to him on the bed. I sat down on the edge of the bed and he muttered my name again, still reaching for me. I took his hand and he pulled me toward him until he could wrap his arm around me. Embarrassed, I looked at the rest of his family, gathered in the doorway, and then Sandra hustled everyone away. She stared at me as she closed the door quietly behind her, her mouth set in a hard line. But I didn't even have time to think because Will let out a sigh of content as his arm around me tightened. "I'm here." I whispered as I relaxed into his side. Fatigue quickly set in and made my whole body ache. I was exhausted… this day had gone on forever. I should go home… but Will was so big, so warm, so familiar… and he wanted me here. I felt my eyes closing against my will.

We drifted off to sleep together.

What was making that awful noise? Too loud… too early. What was that? I cracked open an eye and then realized that I was sweaty and still sandwiched between Will's chest and his arm. I blinked, disorientated by the morning light pouring in through his bedroom window, then sat up, and tried to find my purse as Will let out a groan. Finally, I found my purse on the floor where I had dropped it the night before and realized that it was my phone ringing… and it was ringing Jamie's ringtone. Shit. I had spent the night with Will and now Jamie was calling. "Hello?" I mumbled, raking a quick hand through my hair.

"Can you not hear me knocking?" Jamie demanded. What time was it? I checked Will's alarm clock… 9:45. It wasn't that early after all but it was only four hours after I fell asleep… still too early. "I'm at your front door!"

"What?" I asked stupidly as Will groaned loudly again. He probably needed to take another Vicodin.

"What the hell was that?" Jamie asked immediately. "Who the hell was that?"

"Wait, where are you?" I asked stupidly instead.

"Staring at your front door," he snapped back. "I've been knocking for the last five minutes. Can you not hear me?"

"You're in Charlotte?" I demanded, feeling slow and stupid from lack of sleep.

"Yes," he answered impatiently. "Come let me in."

What could I say? The only thing to say was the truth: "I can't." I finally replied. "I'm with Will." There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. Then Will groaned again and his pain outweighed my drama with Jamie. "I'll call you back." I hung up on him without another thought and turned to Will, who was looking at me through half opened eyes. I placed my hand over his and told him, "I'll go get you some toast and another Vicodin. Sit tight." He nodded once and screwed his eyes shut with a grimace.

I opened his door and hurried out into the kitchen. Melinda was asleep on the couch and Will's parents were sleeping on an airbed next to the couch but they stirred when I found his loaf of bread, put two slices in the toaster, and jangled his painkillers. "What's going on?" Sandra sat up blearily.

"He woke up so I'm making him toast and getting him another Vicodin." I answered quickly as I poured a glass of water and the toast popped up. I grabbed the toast and then headed back into Will's room.

He slowly opened his eyes and looked at me as I sat down next to him. He obediently took the toast I offered him but his next question caught me off guard: "What are you doing here?" He didn't seem upset, just confused.

"You asked me to stay." He frowned and raised his eyebrows at me. "Obviously you don't remember asking me…" I said slowly. He shook his head slowly while he chewed his toast, staring at me. "Well, I stayed. So here I am." I said briskly with a faint smile. My phone began ringing again but I ignored Jamie's call. I ran my hands through my hair a few times in another effort to tame it and then realized he had finished his toast. I grabbed the glass of water off the nightstand and passed the pill to him. He took the pill and the water from me but stared at me instead of swallowing it. "Take it." I supplied helpfully. He didn't, he continued to stare at me. "Why aren't you taking it?" I asked, growing impatient.

"I'm trying to figure this out and apparently my thought process is worthless when I'm drugged," he replied. "What exactly has happened? Why are you here?"

"I think the nurse said they gave you morphine last night." I commented, smoothing the sheets around us. "You were pretty out of it when we got home."

"Vicodin usually makes me really drowsy and knocks me out," he answered, jiggling the pill in his hand. He looked at me, his eyes glazed with pain, and then asked me again, "Why are you here?"

"You told me to stay with you." I answered, then frowned, concerned that he looked so pained, and urged him, "Now take your pill… does your foot still hurt?"

Will looked hard at me and then looked away, his expression grim. Then he managed to bite out: "But you're with Jamie."

Stung, I bit my lip. I deserved that. "No. I'm here with you." I said firmly.

And then… finally…

I finally realized it as I stared at him: it's you.

I want to be with Will.

Will was the one that I wanted to be with me.

Not Jamie… it was Will. I had never felt more certain.

A warmth spread all over my body from inside out and I couldn't believe that I hadn't realized it until now. Everything fell into perfect place as I looked at him.

I wanted Will. Here he was.

I had to tell him—

But when I opened my mouth to tell him, Will turned his eyes back to look at me and told me lowly, "I don't want you here."

I recoiled away from him, verbally slapped. "But—" I whispered, stunned.

"Just go." His expression didn't change… he was done with me. He didn't want to hear what I had to say. Then he looked away.

He didn't want me anymore.

I turned away, stared dazedly out the window at the early morning light as everything shattered into pieces around me. Then I jerkily rose from the bed, grabbed my purse, and bolted out the door without another word. He didn't call me back.

I hurried past Will's family, who were blinking blearily at each other. "Everything okay?" Sandra asked, confused, as I rushed out the front door. "Olivia?" I didn't say anything as I shut the door behind me.

Jamie called me again but I kept ignoring it as I moved as fast as I could.

He didn't want me. He didn't want me there with him.

I had screwed this whole thing up.

Now it was too late.

I started going through the stages of grief as I drove back to my apartment.

Shock and denial: Did that really just happen? No, it couldn't have. I couldn't have been about to spill my feelings for him when he had instead asked me to leave.

Pain and guilt: This was all my fault. I was such an idiot. I'd let Jamie worm his way back into my life and for what? What did he even offer to me? A bunch of pretty words and then he had stood by while his former fiancé, who he had chosen to break up with, accused me of being his whore. The pain started in the center of my chest and started radiating outward… I slowly hunched forward over the steering wheel, curling my body inward as I physically tried to fight the pain.

Anger… anger was rising up in me as I parked outside of my apartment. This was my fault… but it was equally Jamie's fault too.



I slammed the driver's side door shut and stalked to my apartment.

Jamie was sitting on the floor, leaning against my front door, and glaring at his phone. Was this the third time he had been outside of an apartment, waiting for me? He looked up at me when he heard my footsteps and jumped to his feet. But when I opened my mouth, he grabbed my arm and demanded, "You were with Will?"

"Yes and I don't appreciate you grabbing me." I snapped back, yanking my arm away from me. "Will got hurt last night during the game and he asked me to stay with him."

"So if Roshelle suddenly got hurt and needed me, it would be totally fine with you if I spent the night with her?" I'd never seen Jamie so mad… but he had a lot of balls to be bringing up Roshelle.

"No, it wouldn't be okay." I shook my head. "But I wouldn't begrudge you for taking care of her."

He shook his head, visibly seething. "Olivia—"

"Jamie." I interrupted. "We're done." He blinked in surprise at me, his mouth flapping open and closed a few times. "That's it." I stated simply and then shrugged. I didn't feel anything… no second thoughts, no pain over letting him go…

We were done.

"If you're trying to punish me for what happened last weekend, this is a really shitty way to do it." Jamie said after a long pause. "I'll be staying at a hotel. Call me when you've decided to stop acting like a child." He grabbed his duffel bag and stalked away. I watched him go… if he thought I was really going to call him any time soon, he was in for a long wait.

I unlocked my front door and stumbled into my apartment, suddenly overcome by my sleep deprivation. I fell face down onto my bed and my eyes crashed shut.

I slept until Jordan called me later that afternoon. After I said a bleary hello, he demanded, "Were you asleep? It's like… 2:00."

"I didn't get home from Raleigh until late." I mumbled back as I stretched out across my bed and realized I was still in my clothes from yesterday. Gross.

"So… how long have you been asleep?" Jordan asked faux casually. While it was nice that he asked, he sounded like he was gently prodding me instead of genuinely curious. Something was up.

"Since I got home around 11:00 this morning." I answered as I sat up and then asked suspiciously, "What's going on? You sound weird."

"It's Jamie." Jordan said slowly. "The paparazzi are still following him and… he said some stuff about Will."

I froze for a second, considering what he could have done, and then asked sharply, "What about Will?"

"That Will is trying to steal you away from him." I groaned, closing my eyes as irritation swept through me. "He also said that he's ready to fight for you, which I thought was rather dramatic." His smirk, even though I couldn't see it, was still audible.

"I'm glad you find this so amusing." I shot back, digging my hand into my tangled hair.

"I'll send you the link." Jordan replied helpfully. I muttered curses under my breath as I grabbed my laptop and waited for it to power on. "Is there something happening today? Isn't the band coming for a sound check or something?"

I gasped, cursed, and jumped up from my bed. "Right! They're coming at 4:00! I have to go, I need a shower. I'll see you at 4:00." I hung up, ripped off my clothes, and jumped into the shower.

Post-shower, I sat down in front of my computer and quickly brushed my hair while loading the video of Jamie. When it started, he was right outside my apartment building, trying to push through the paparazzi. Why hadn't I seen them when I had gotten home? "Excuse me," he said through gritted teeth, obviously seething. "Excuse me!"

Then one of the vulture paparazzi taunted him: "Where's Olivia?"

Jamie stopped and snapped back, "She's too busy being stolen away from me by Will Burke!" I groaned loudly and threw my head back, exasperated. "You know what? This is a message to Will!" Jamie stepped closer to the camera and I began furiously shaking my head, as though that would stop him from what he was about to say. "If you see my girl again, I'll beat your ass!" Then he stormed away, the paparazzi shouting more questions at him.

My phone beeped on my nightstand and I picked it up. Oh no. Alex had called me while I was in the shower. I swallowed grimly and then called him back. When he picked up, he didn't even bother saying hello, he just snapped back, "Olivia."

"Yes I know that Will is not trying to steal me away." I answered his unspoken question, my tone weary. "Jamie's just jealous."

"Is he really going to try to fight Will?" Alex demanded.

"Of course not." I scoffed. "He's way too WASPy for that."

He sighed loudly. "Not finding this funny, Olivia."

"Well that makes two of us, Alex." I snapped back. "I seriously doubt that Jamie would try to beat Will up. And, if I remember correctly, Will tried to beat the crap out of Jamie last time so I think Will would win that fight anyway."

"Make him stop." Then Alex hung up.

"Make him stop?" I muttered aloud, staring incredulously at my phone. Like they were three year olds fighting over a toy and I could just separate them and take away their toy… please.

Later, when I was driving to Jordan's house, I got a text from Holly. "So Will's out for the rest of the season?" How did she know? I pulled into Jordan's driveway, parked, and then did a quick Google search on my phone. Sure enough, the Hurricanes had just officially announced that Will was going to be out for four to six weeks with a "lower body injury." I guess I'll never understand why the NHL lets teams not announce injuries and cloak them in the mysterious "lower body injury" label instead of just saying "broken foot." I threw my phone back in my bag, deciding to deal with Holly later, and hurried inside.

The eight piece jazz band was already setting up inside the house. Jordan was sitting at one of the tables, his feet up on the chair next to him, lazily half watching them as he checked his phone. "Hey." I said as I sat down next to him. He jerked his chin back at me as a greeting, obviously too cool to say hello. I rolled my eyes and then announced, "I watched the video."

Jordan rolled his eyes. "If Jamie thinks he's going to beat the crap out of Will, he'll have to go through me."

It still boggled my mind how quickly they had gone from enemies to friends. "Are you guys besties now?" I asked dryly.

"Shut up." He scowled at me. I rolled my eyes and we both watched as the band finished setting up.

The bandleader checked everyone and then looked at me: "Miss Taylor?" I nodded and rose from my seat. "We're ready."

"Great." I answered, folding my arms across my chest expectantly. They began playing a jazzy cover of "Tender is the Night."

Jordan joined my side and we listened in silence for a moment. Then he muttered, "I think that only our grandparents would jam to this song, Livy."

"I'll request some Jay-Z next." I smirked. We listened for a few more minutes and then they stopped, looking expectantly at me. "Sounds good. Thanks for coming." I nodded and smiled, sitting back down at the table. They began packing up their instruments.

Jordan looked at me for a moment, like he was assessing me, and then asked, "How's Will?" I pressed my lips together and looked away. He sighed. "What happened?"

"I'm just… I'm too late." I said slowly after a long pause. "Timing has never been my strong suit. I mean, I waited until Jamie was engaged to another woman before idiotically blurting out my feelings for him. And then I finally made my choice and decided that I wanted to be with Will the moment he decided to order me out of his apartment." Tears suddenly rushed to my eyes and I blinked rapidly, looking away.

"What?" Jordan demanded, his hackles obviously rising as his brotherly instincts kicked in. Great. If I started their fight all over again, I would never forgive myself. Then he growled, "He ordered you out?"

"It's not that big of a deal." I said quickly. "He just said that… that he didn't want me there." I bit my lip, stared up at the ceiling, and tried to keep my tears at bay. "So I left."

"Did you tell him how you felt?" Jordan demanded, sounding exasperated.

"Why bother?" I shot back, feeling miserable and exasperated as well. "He said he didn't want me there. So what was I supposed to say to that? I love you?"

"But you do love him!" Jordan shot back. "And I'm pretty sure he loves you back!"

"But HE DOESN'T WANT ME!" I shouted, really shouted, at him. His jaw flapped open and shut a few times before he snapped his mouth shut and glared at me. The band members paused, curiously looking up at us, and I blushed. "Sorry." I muttered.


But I was finished with this conversation. "I don't want to hear it." I held up my hand. "I'll see you tomorrow." I grabbed my bag and stalked away.


But I slammed the door shut behind me without looking back.

until next time,

a smile that explodes