Home > The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(7)

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(7)
Mariana Zapata

I nodded and let a sense of hesitant victory tickle my throat. I wasn’t going to let that smart-ass comment at the beginning bother me. This was exactly how I was going to be.

He waved a hand in front of the screen. “I’ll let you know once I find someone.”

Without another comment, he logged off the chat like a rude jerk. He reminded me of someone else I knew with his lack of manners. If it wasn’t for Zac and some of the other Three Hundreds he’d introduced me to over the years, I would have figured everyone in their industry was self-absorbed. But no, it was only a few people, specifically the ones I had to surround myself with. Go figure.

It wasn’t going to be my problem anymore though, was it?

“Vanessa!” a familiar voice bellowed from somewhere upstairs.

“Yes?” I yelled back, exiting the app on my tablet, and wondering if he’d overheard my conversation with Trevor or not. I mean, he was the one who told me to call him in the first place, wasn’t he?

“Did you wash the sheets?” Aiden hollered from where I could only assume was his bedroom.

I washed his sheets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I had every week since getting hired. For someone who worked out almost every day of his life, and sweating had become as natural as breathing, he was religious about having ultra-clean sheets. I learned from the very beginning how important it was that his damn sheets were clean, so I never missed doing them. Ever. “Yes.”

“Today?”

“Yes.” Why the hell was he asking? I always… oh. I always left a piece of the chocolate peppermint patties he liked on his pillow—because it made me laugh—and I hadn’t put one on there this afternoon. The store had been out of them. I guess I couldn’t blame him for being uncertain, but I could blame myself for spoiling him. He’d never acknowledged my little gift, or told me to stop leaving them, so I hadn’t figured he cared. Now I knew better.

Aiden didn’t immediately respond, and I could already envision him humming to himself with uncertainty before sniffing the sheets to make sure I was telling the truth. When there wasn’t a response, I figured he confirmed I wasn’t lying. But then he started yelling again. “Did you pick up my clothes from the dry cleaner?”

“Yes. They’re in your closet already.” I didn’t flinch, roll my eyes, or have an annoyed tone. I had the self-control of a samurai sometimes. A samurai who wanted to go ronin.

I’d barely managed to put my tablet back into my purse when he hollered again. “Where are my orange runners?”

That time, I couldn’t help but cross my eyes. Dealing with him reminded me of being a little kid and asking my mom to help me find something after I’d looked about a total of five seconds. They were where he’d left them. “In your bathroom.”

I could hear movement upstairs. Zac hadn’t made his way back to Dallas yet, so it could only be the big guy looking for his tennis shoes, or when his Canadianisms kicked in—runners. I rarely ever touched his shoes if I didn’t have to. It wasn’t as if his feet smelled—strangely, they didn’t—but they did get sweaty, and I mean, really sweaty. He’d been training so hard the last two months, the sweat had reached an all-time high. My fingers tried not to go anywhere near them if it could be avoided.

I was in the middle of looking through a cookbook trying to decide what to make for dinner, when the thunder that followed a two-hundred–and-eighty-pound man jogging down the stairs started. Seriously, every time he came down the stairs any faster than a slow poke, the walls trembled. I wasn’t sure how the stairs survived. Whatever kind of materials the builder used on them, it had to be good stuff.

I didn’t need to turn around to know he’d made his way into the kitchen. The refrigerator door opened and closed, followed by the sound of him munching on something.

“Pick up some more sunblock for me. I’m almost out,” he said in a distracted tone.

I’d already ordered him some days ago, but I didn’t see the point in telling him it was cheaper to order it than to buy it at the store. “You got it, big guy. I’m taking two of your shorts to the seamstress later. I noticed when I was washing them that the hems were loose.” Considering he got half of his clothes specially made because ‘size behemoth’ wasn’t widely carried, I was a little unimpressed those same shorts already needed to get patched.

Juggling the pear he was eating and two apples in his other hand, he tipped his chin up. “I’m running some drills tonight. Anything I need to know before I leave?”

Fiddling with the leg of my glasses, I tried to think about what I had planned on telling him. “There’s a few envelopes I left on your desk this morning. I’m not sure if you saw them already or not, but they look important.”

That big handsome face went thoughtful for a second before he nodded. “Did Rob cancel the signing?”

I almost winced from thinking of the conversation with his agent, another asshole I wasn’t fond of. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if his mom wasn’t fond of him either. Rob was that much of a dick. “I told him to, but he never called back to tell me if he did or not. I’ll find out.”

He nodded again, crouching that massive six-foot-four frame to pick up his duffel bag. “Make sure you do that.” He paused. “Leslie’s birthday is this month. Send a card and a gift card over, would you?”

“Your wish is my command.” In the entire time I’d worked for him, Leslie was the only person who got a gift from him. I couldn’t even be remotely jealous that I didn’t get at least a verbal “happy birthday” on mine. Not even Zac received anything, and I’d know, because if he did, I’d be the one buying the present. “Oh, I made those granola bars that you like in case you want to take some with you,” I added, pointing at the plastic container I’d left by the fridge.

He headed to where I’d indicated, opening the container and pulling out two wax-paper-wrapped bars before shoving all his snacks into his duffel bag. “Come by the gym tomorrow with the camera and my breakfast. I’m going in early and staying until lunch. ”

“Sure.” I had to make a mental note to set my alarm for half an hour earlier than usual. Most days when he was in Dallas during the offseason, Aiden did cardio at his house, had breakfast, and then left to do his weightlifting and other kinds of workouts with whatever trainer he’d deemed to honor with his presence. Some days, he woke up earlier and went straight to the gym.

The facility was located on the opposite side of town, so I’d either have to make him breakfast at my house and go straight there, or wake up even earlier to drop by his house, which was out of the way, and then head over there. No thanks. I barely survived on my usual four to five hours of sleep most nights. I wasn’t about to lose what little I had left.

I stepped back from the counter and grabbed the gallon of water I’d refilled earlier, holding it out for him, locking my gaze on his thick neck before forcing myself to look him in the eye. “By the way, I talked to Trevor about me leaving, and he said he’d start looking for someone else.”

Those dark orbs met mine for a second, only just a split second, cool and distant like always, before he looked away. “Okay.” He took the jug from me as he threw his bag over his shoulder.

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