Read From Now Until Infinity (2) Online

Authors: Layne Harper

Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance, #Sports

From Now Until Infinity (2) (21 page)

BOOK: From Now Until Infinity (2)
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I hear Aiden yelling in the background, “Charlie, I haven’t slept with another man since puberty. Tell this sorry motherfucker to come home.”

“Colin, I think Aiden’s kicking you out,” I laugh.

Colin must hit Aiden because I hear him yelp. “Sorry, baby,” he says. “We worked until around two o’clock this morning. I ran back home to leave you the message and grab a fresh change of clothes. We finally finished hammering out all the details just about two hours ago. I think Aiden and I are a bit delirious.”

Back to reality. I am reminded why they were up until almost five this morning. I want to ask Colin a million questions, but I know that this conversation is best had face to face. Instead, I ask, “When are you coming home?”

“I’m leaving here as soon as security arrives. Everyone’s staying at the hotel just up the road. I’ll be home in about thirty minutes,” he informs me.

I tell him that I love him, and we hang up.

Next, it’s time to call Brad. He begins our conversation with updating me on the version of my life that’s being played out on the morning talk shows. Here’s what they’re saying in a nut shell. I’m thirty (I still have two more months in my twenties, thank you very much), never been married, ran off to Harvard to escape Colin when I was twenty-one, and haven’t been publically linked to another man. I guess I have to be pleased with that part of the story about me. It’s all true except the age part, and well the escaping Colin part. That’s a tad harsh. Next, is where it gets tricky. Sasha says that Colin and I’ve been having an affair for six months. That means according to the football world, I could have been giving Colin inside injury scoop since mid-way through last season. Inside sources are reporting that I’m pregnant, and Colin’s going to marry me because of the baby. The pregnancy is also the reason that he dumped Sasha.

Brad is thrilled to report that the media has resurrected our old nickname, and we’re being referred to as CharCol again.

I have to spend a good five minutes reassuring Brad that I’m not preggers, Colin and I are not getting married and if we were, he’d have first dibs on what dress I wore. Once he’s satisfied that he’s completely in the know, he informs me of the office gossip that I missed yesterday because of my migraine.

Apparently, after I left, Carmen had the medical practices’ accountants do an audit on our patient files. Because everything is digital, anyone with clearance can see when the last time a patient’s file was accessed and by whom. The accountants only looked at the professional football players files. Next, Carmen had the accountants running financial models trying to predict the hit that our practice was going to take by the negative publicity. Finally, my dad showed up shortly after the staff left and lost his mind. Brad said that he could hear him ranting and raving about my stupidity throughout the entire office.

I slump down in my bed and pull the covers over my head. Not the most mature thing that I’ve ever done, but I hate hearing how mad my dad is at me.

Then, Brad drops the bombshell. “Caroline, I’m not sure how to tell you this, but appointments cancelled your patients for the next week. Carmen’s made it very clear to the staff that you’re not allowed back until this matter’s been settled.”

“Fuck,” is the best word that I can find to respond with. Well, there goes my need for getting out of bed today.

He continues, “I’m also supposed to inform you that there’s a big meeting at four o’clock today between you, your father, and the practice’s attorneys and accountants. Colin and his team are not invited.” Brad sounds so pathetic when he tells me. I feel sorry for him. This news should have been delivered by my father and not my assistant.

I apologize profusely to Brad for putting him in this situation. We schedule a dinner date for this weekend, and he makes me swear that I’ll keep him in the loop.

As I’m making my promises to the best assistant in the world, Colin walks into my bedroom. Even though he hasn’t slept more than two hours, he takes my breath away. His hair is a disheveled mess from him running his fingers through it. His five o’clock shadow is more into scraggly beard mode, but his green eyes are piercing. He has a determination about his aurora that almost makes me feel like that there’s a chance that I can have a personal and professional relationship with my father and still get Colin.
Dare I dream to have it all?

“You’re looking better this morning, Doctor Collins,” he says flashing me his half smile. “I was worried about you last night.”

“I feel much better. I just need a good shower,” I respond as I pat the side of the bed hoping he’ll join me.

He takes my cue and flops down on the bed putting his head in my lap. I run my fingers through his light brown waves as I catch him up on my conversation with Brad. He’s understandably upset that he and his team are not being invited to the meeting. I’ve given this some thought. I own 49% of the medical practice. The attorneys also work for me. I know that my father doesn’t have the right to dictate who can and can’t attend. I know that the attorneys and accountants are being paid out of the medical practice’s account, not my father’s personal checking.

Colin grabs his phone and sends a text to Aiden and Mark telling them when and where to show up today. I’m not sure that I’m making the right decision, but I’m making the best decision by keeping all my options open and at least listening to what all the parties involved have to say.

When he’s finished with his typing, he says, “Mark would like to have a private conversation with you today.”

I’m a bit perplexed. I know Mark. He started representing Colin as soon as he declared himself for the draft out of college. I don’t necessarily like or dislike Mark. He’s Colin’s agent. From what I can tell, he’s represented him fairly through the years. I have no clue why he would want to talk to me privately.

Colin continues, “Mark knows how difficult it’ll be for you to leave here today so he said that he doesn’t mind coming to the house if you’re comfortable with that.”

“Do you have any idea what he wants to talk about?” I ask hoping for a clue.

“I have a feeling that he wants to get a read on where your head is at before we sit down with your practice’s attorneys. He asked my permission, and I gave it to him. I’ve got nothing to hide from you, Charlie.” Colin reassures me.

“Okay. I guess that would be all right. We can meet in your office while you stay here in the bedroom,” I acquiesce.

Colin picks up his phone and dials Mark. There are no pleasantries when Mark answers. Colin just says, “Come over.”

I’ll never understand how my good Southern, Texas boy can be so impolite on the phone to his agent. Mark has seen his share of abuse through the years.

I make my way into the bathroom and turn on the shower. Colin yells from the bedroom, “Can I join you?”

“No. I need to get my head on straight. I don’t need the Colin McKinney patented methods of distraction.”

He laughs at my corny joke. “Fair enough.”

I take the opportunity of being alone in my shower to evaluate my life and options. My world’s spiraling out of control. My professional and personal lives are in complete upheaval. I’m at a crossroads. Option one is that I can sink back to my old coping mechanisms and run until I feel in control and self-destruct my relationship with Colin so that he disappears for good. I’ll be left where I was before he reentered my life. It wasn’t a bad existence. Part owner in a thriving medical practice at twenty-nine is nothing to scoff at. Not much of a personal life, but maybe finally giving up Colin will allow me to open my heart to other men. There’s got to be other proverbial fish in the sea.

Or, I can choose a new normal. I can step out of my comfort zone, tell the
“what ifs”
to take a hike, and be brave enough to consider following Colin into this crazy whirlwind relationship, without a single guarantee of where we’ll end up. I can give up my medical practice, start over in my career, and essentially gamble my entire professional life for the idea of a fairytale, happily ever after that few couples actually get. This option may take more inner strength than I have.

By the time that I’ve showered, dressed in a comfortable pair of jeans and nice sweater, blown dry my hair, brushed my teeth and smeared on some makeup, Mark’s having a cup of coffee at my dining room table. There are still remnants of melted candle wax on it.

When I walk into my great room, Mark and Colin both stand to greet me. Colin uses his long legs to glide to my side. He grabs my hand and gently squeezes it as he walks me over to Mark. “I know that you remember Caroline. It’s been a few years.”

I put my hand out and shake Mark’s. “Of course,” he replies. “It has been along time.”

“If you don’t mind, Mark, I am going to fix another cup of coffee and then we can go downstairs to my old guest room which is now Colin’s office.”

Mark agrees, and I fix both of us another cup. I notice Mark flashing Colin a look. Colin replies, “I got it. I’ll go take a shower and leave you and Charlie alone.”

Colin very protectively saunters over to me wrapping his arms around me and planting a kiss on my lips that could melt hearts around the world. This is his way of demonstrating to both Mark and me just how much he cares about me. We both get the message loud and clear.

Mark follows me down to the first floor of my home. I take a seat behind Colin’s new desk. I laugh to myself thinking about the insane sex that Colin and I had in this chair and on this desk. My body floods with warmth at the memory, and I inwardly smile. Mark sits on the other side of the desk in a folding chair that was previously in my garage.

It’s hard to describe Mark’s appearance. You can’t put an age on him because he obviously has either had a face lift or does cosmetic dermatology. He’s neither tall nor short. His hair is dark mixed with some grey. The first time that I met him, I instantly thought he looked like Count Dracula from Sesame Street. I don’t necessarily think that anymore. Now, I think that he looks like a politician - the kind drawn in cartoons. He knows when to flash his kiss babies and flip pancakes smile, and when to pull out his dagger and shove it in someone’s back. I have a feeling that I’m going to get the dagger during this meeting.

Mark, being the agent and attorney that he is, begins our conversation with flattery. He flashes me the kissing babies smile. I look so great. Very healthy. Blah…Blah…Blah…

I’m not stupid. I know that this isn’t a friendly conversation because he’d have said all of this in front of Colin. My patience has worn thin. “Mark, what’s the nature of this private meeting?”

I think that I just knocked Mark for a loop, but he recovers quickly. “You are one brilliant lady, Doctor Collins.”

I politely smile and wait for him to continue.

“Alright Caroline. I’m going to lay all my cards out on the table.” If anyone believes that then I’ve got oceanfront property in Arizona to sell them. Mark shifts in the metal folding chair and crosses his legs as if he’s about to give me the deal of a lifetime. “When you left Colin after his rookie season, I almost lost my client. I won’t go into specifics, but you broke him mentally and physically. Clay South, a couple of coaches, Aiden, and myself saved him. I don’t mean save him in some sort of metaphorical way. I mean we saved his life.”

Colin had mentioned that he had a rough time after we broke up. I knew about the drinking and rebound marriage. I’m not sure if that’s what Mark’s referring to or not. I keep my poker face on and let him continue.

“In the two weeks that you’ve been back in Colin’s life, I’ve dealt with more shit than I have in all the previous years that I’ve represented him. I’ve got a crazy ex what-ever-in-the-hell-she is trying to ruin his endorsement deals and kill his reputation which, I might add, he doesn’t seem to care about anymore. I have Colin killing his ten million dollar worldwide underwear endorsement deal and trying to get out of everything but the shoe and clothes commitments. Then, I have this heap of shit with your father dropped in my lap. Either you’re some sort of dark angel sent by the devil to punish me for my misdeeds while I’m still here on earth, or you’ve been hired by one of my ex-wives to seek revenge. Now, which one is it, and don’t tell me you’re in love with Colin because I don’t believe you.” When he finishes his speech, he uncrosses his legs and leans forward as if he’s anxiously awaiting my reply.

Wow! Okay. I wasn’t exactly prepared for that level of animosity to be slung my way. Apparently, he’s decided to use his dagger in my heart so I could see it coming. I inwardly cringe at his words. I hate that my relationship with Colin has created this level of drama for Mark. Is Mark trying to convince me to walk away from Colin? Is Colin’s professional life in as much jeopardy as mine? It never occurred to me that Colin was making bigger sacrifices professionally than I’m considering making. I guess I’ve thought all along that Colin will still get to throw a football every Sunday so I’m the one having to start over, but if he’s walking away from all that money and fame for me, then he’s sacrificing also. This revelation is definitely helping me see that maybe he/we are strong enough for option two. Maybe we can make this relationship work despite all the drama that’s sitting in our laps. Maybe Colin isn’t manipulating me.

I take a deep breath and reply. “First, let me tell you how much I appreciate your candid speech. I now understand why you wanted Colin to not overhear this conversation because he would fire you on the spot for talking to me that way.” Mark knows how to play poker also because he doesn’t so much as bat an eyelash.

I continue. “I’ve got nothing to do with the Sasha Stone story. From what I understand it wasn’t a serious relationship on Colin’s part. Although, I can see how she could fall in love with him so quickly.” I pause for affect. “I know that I have. I have no response on the endorsement deals. Colin and I’ve only briefly discussed why he wishes to no longer pose essentially nude. I support his decision if it’s what he wants. As for this mess, as you call it, with my father, this is my career at stake. I’ve worked my entire life to be a doctor. When my friends were out drinking and partying in college, I was studying. I made a lot of sacrifices in my life to get my medical degree from Harvard. Unfortunately, Colin seems to have been a victim of my determination, at least in your eyes. Forgive me for wanting to have it all. Why can’t I get the dream job and the boy?”

BOOK: From Now Until Infinity (2)
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