You and Everything After(3)

By: Ginger Scott

“You’re like this happy little morning elf, and I hate you,” Nate says, throwing his workout towel at me before turning to lock up our room.

“Dude, it’s not like I’m the one putting the hard stuff in your hands. You know, you can get drunk on just beer, bro. You don’t have to do shots and shit like that. That’s why you’re always so tired in the morning,” I tell him.

Nate was a goody two-shoes in high school, always hanging with the same group of guys and his girlfriend. The switch flipped when he found out she cheated on him. Thank God I was home when that happened. He left the party, came home to me, and we shared our first bottle of Jack. Damn, maybe it is my fault—I should’ve started him out on something weaker.

“About that, man…I think I’m out,” he says, pausing right before the doorway exiting our dorm.

“Out of what?” He’s lost me on this one.

“Out…of this partying and trolling-for-random-chicks thing we’re doing every night. It’s…it’s just not me,” he says, and I can’t help but laugh, but Nate’s not in the mood. “Fuck off, I knew you’d make fun of me.”

“Sorry, sorry dude. That was just—”I have to pause again, trying to keep a straight face. Tucking my big-ass grin into the side of my arm to hide it, I force myself to take a deep breath—and to take my brother seriously. “I’m sorry. I guess I just don’t see the downside.”

“You wouldn’t,” Nate says, walking ahead. My smile’s gone at that—he’s right, I wouldn’t. And that stings a little.

Workouts go the same, and when Nate heads off to join the team, I put in some extra time. There’s a posting for personal trainers that I’ve been looking at, I just haven’t had the balls to ask about it yet. But today’s the day. There’s a cute girl working the main counter, so I hit her up first.

“Hey, Nike!” I call her Nike because that’s what her shirt says. She looks down, smirks, and then looks back into my eyes. My grin makes her smile and bite her lip, and I know I’ve got her. “Sorry, didn’t know your name.”

“I’m Sage,” she says, leaning over the counter just enough to give me a nice view of the frilly white-lace trim on her bra.

“Sage, nice name,” I smile, falling right into my routine. “I was checking out the posting for the personal trainer. That filled yet?”

“Nope,” she says, her smile bigger now. “You interested?”

“Yep,” I say, playing off of her flippant answer. She’s oblivious though.

“Hang on, I’ll get the manager,” she says, pushing back with a skip from the counter and heading into a back office. I allow myself a glance at her tiny shorts and perfect ass while she bounces away.

The manager wasn’t as charmed by my dimples and good looks, so I had to win over all six foot four of him with my skills. After six years of physical rehab, I know my stuff; he was happy to hire me to work with freshman students who were just looking to stay in shape.

I type Nate a text on my way back to the dorm, making our now-regular lunch plan for burgers at Sally’s. It’s probably our dad’s fault. Preeter boys like their routine. I think maybe only two or three days have passed that we haven’t eaten at least one of our three meals at our new favorite hole-in-the-wall.

I have a good hour to kill before Nate’s practice is done. Alone time. At least during school, I can sink my mind into something for one of my classes; I usually end up working ahead—just because I can’t stand being idle. But there’s not much to distract me now. Even Sports Center is lame in August. McConnell is not known for its football team, so like hell am I going to get into that.

It’s a bad idea—it always is—but my phone is in my hand, and my fingers are typing and hitting send before I can stop myself. It’s been three weeks since I’ve talked to Kelly. She had her baby two months ago. That was a slap in my face, a reality dose I probably needed. That’s why I broke up with her in the first place—so she could have these things. I did it because I loved her; I wanted her to have it all. But damn did it hurt seeing her live her life and move on from me so effortlessly.

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