“I miss you,” she breathed into the phone, in a Marilyn Monroe-style voice. She snickered when he cleared his throat.
“I saw you yesterday,” his clipped voice responded. Tate laughed.
“Sandy, I miss you whenever you're not next to me. How are you?” she asked, stretching her legs out and crossing her ankles.
“I am well. And you?” he responded. So prim and proper.
“Lonely without you. When are you going to let me move in with you?” she demanded. He cleared his throat again.
Tate had been trying for weeks to get him to let her move into his hotel suite. Sanders lived in a large, two bedroom hotel suite, there would be plenty of room for her, and they got along ridiculously well. But he kept resisting, and Tate couldn't figure out why. Money couldn't be the issue – not only would Sanders give her the shirt off his back, but her sister had given her a hefty chunk of change as a sort of “get well” present. Ellie had made out very well in her divorce. Tate hadn't gone back to work since she'd gotten out of the hospital.
“It's your birthday tomorrow,” Sanders stated. Almost like she might have forgotten.
“Yes, I know.”
“I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner with me,” he asked. Tate laughed again.
“Sandy, you don't even need to ask. What should I wear?” she asked back.
Tate had learned very quickly that the way a person looked was very important to Sanders. It wouldn't necessarily stop him from going somewhere, but she knew it made him a lot more comfortable if she looked like she matched him. Which meant it always had to be something nice.
“A nice dress, but no tall heels,” he informed her.
“Ooohhh, there's that vanity,” she snickered into the phone. It bothered him when she wore heels that made her taller than him.
“I don't know what you're talking about, I'll pick you up at seven.” Then he hung up the phone. Sanders never said goodbye at the end of his phone calls, just cut the line. It didn't really bother her, but it did remind her very much of someone else. She held the phone cradled in her hands, staring down at the screen.
What's wrong with me? How can I miss someone who only wanted to hurt me?
“Are you okay?”
She jerked her head up to find Nick standing over her.
“Yeah, just said goodbye to Ang. Sorry about him – he's all flustered because he has a new girlfriend,” Tate said quickly, focusing on Nick's smile, on his pretty white teeth. Trying to banish someone's fangs from her mind. Nick squatted down next to her.
“God help the woman,” he laughed.
“I know. How long are we gonna be here?” she asked. He glanced back at the door.
“It's getting kind of rowdy in there. Wanna take off?” he replied, holding a hand out to help her up.
I should like this man. I really, really should.
“Please, god, yes,” Tate groaned, letting him pull her to her feet.
They went back inside to find jackets, but they were both waylaid. Nick was congratulated on having such a nice girlfriend, then there had to be a whole explanation about how she wasn't his girlfriend. Awkward. She had been around him long enough to have met most of his teammates, but they still didn't seem to get it. Either they assumed the two of them were sleeping together anyway, or they tried to hit on her.
They collected their belongings and headed back into the hallway. As they waited for the elevator, she looked at her reflection. Ang didn't like the way she dressed. Most of Tate's clothing was in the house in Weston, and she wasn't about to go get them back. So while she was in the hospital, she had asked her sister to go shopping for her. They were all nice clothes but ..., they were kind of boring. No more leather leggings or see-through tank tops or booty shorts for Tatum.
“Are you okay?” Nick asked, putting a hand on the small of her back to guide her into the elevator. She struggled not to skitter away from his touch.
“Fine, fine. Just thinking. But hey, good party, huh?” she changed the subject. He smiled at her as they started their descent.
“It was okay. Sorry I dragged you guys along,” he told her. She snorted.
“No, it was a good idea. I needed to get out. I think I was becoming one with the couch. Another night and you'd have to surgically remove it from my butt,” she joked. He laughed out loud as the elevator stopped, the doors sliding open again.
“You're so gross.”
“Hey, I can't help it if Judge Judy -,” Tate started to get off the elevator, but he grabbed her elbow, holding her in place.
“Shit. I didn't think this would happen.”
She stared at him, worried about what he was gonna say next, but then she realized he wasn't even looking at her. Nick was looking past her, out the front windows of the lobby. She turned her head to follow his gaze and gasped at what she saw.
Outside the glass doors was a sea of what looked like reporters. A crowd of men and women, some video cameras, tons of digital cameras, microphones, the works. All of them were looking in the glass, into the lobby. A line of uniformed bellmen and doormen were attempting to keep them at bay. Tate's jaw hung open and she turned back to Nick.
“What the fuck is going on!?” she demanded. Nick winced.
“A teammate of mine is in some trouble. Last night, the shit hit the fan. He was using all these crazy drugs, brought some hooker to a hotel room, and his girlfriend caught him. I guess a massive fight ensued. All three were arrested. The press here in Boston is having a field day. I guess they caught wind of this party,” he explained.