DUKE Chapter 21
I sat on the couch when suddenly my phone pinged with a message. It was Donovan. When Dash was talking to his dad on the phone yesterday. I got a message from Donovan Graystone through Instagram. I gave him my number and he immediately called me. Donovan was Emilio's best friend, well more like a brother. They were inseparable. He is married now to some model, Grace Rose. I've seen a couple of billboards of her, she was beautiful, with long brown luscious hair, long legs, a flat stomach, and beautiful gray eyes.
He wanted to go to dinner today but right now I can't even keep my eyes open. I've been awake since 5 in the morning and all I wanted was to cuddle with Dash. Poor guy was out. We had gone to eat with the team, sans Aiden. He had stormed off from what Dash told me. The team enjoyed Dash's company. Caleb and Mason seemed to look up to Dash. I can see it in their eyes that they were grateful he was on their team. I know Dash will do great accomplishments. I can feel it with the energy he had at the diner. He joked around with his teammates as I saw the bond form between them.
It was like high school when Emilio had all his teammates at lunchtime. The tables were full and their energy was contagious. But one thing for sure Emilio never left me out and neither did Dash. He held my hand under the table and rubbed his thumb on top of my hand. He made me feel included even though I knew nothing about hockey. I finally asked what the round object was, it's called a puck. Boy did I feel ignorant but it was nice that nobody judged me.
Caleb was a crazy guy, he was the young one of the group but had a high spirit. He was still in college. I think he said he was the goalie. Mason I had met already. He was more of the serious type but laughed with everyone else. He would occasionally check Caleb when he got too loud in our little group. Everyone was comfortable around Dash. It's like they radiated towards him. I noticed how much Dash needed this. He joked around with them as he knew them for years. All that was missing was Aiden but Dash said he'll get over it. He told me they faced off and whoever won, got to play lead for the center position.
I realized I didn't respond to Donovan's text. "I'll pick you up in 15 minutes" and those 15 minutes had passed. I got up from the couch when I heard a honk then my phone started to ring. Fuck, should I wake up Dash?
"I'll be right out." I texted Donovan and went into my room. The last rays of the sun were coming through curtains as the night slowly started to appear. I heard Dash's quiet snore. I stood by the bed and admired how handsome he was. He was shirtless as he had one arm behind his head and the other over his chest. I leaned over and covered his upper half because it was getting chilly.
He moved as his lashes fluttered and his ocean blue eyes revealed themselves. "Hey," he had a raspy voice.
"Hey, I'm going to dinner with Donovan," his eyes quickly opened but then he gave me a faint smirk.
"You're going to leave me all by myself," he pouted his lips like a little kid. I couldn't help but chuckle.
"I won't take long, it's just a catch-up. You need sleep. You had a long day," I lifted my hand and raked his hair back.
"Thank you for being so caring to me. I needed it," he grabbed my shirt and pulled me down. Our lips immediately locked. His lips were so soft and velvety that all I wanted to do was cuddle next to him but I controlled myself. I didn't want to speed things up with Dash but I found myself like a magnet towards him.
I gently pulled away but he gave me one last peck. "Be good," he narrowed his eyes at me then smirked.
"Don't worry he's just a friend," he pulled the covers over him as he closed his eyes. I walked out and did one more glance at him. A dash of hope enveloped my heart. A dash of light slowly woke up what was once numb. I took a deep breath and closed the door.
I walked towards a black Bentley as the passenger window rolled down. I was taken back at how mature and handsome he had gotten. He wore some designer shades as he revealed his glistening white teeth. "Duke! It's been so long. You look good," he shouted. I got into his luxury car and closed the door.
I got a better view of him and I was hypnotized at how handsome he got. He had one of the combed-over hairstyles, he was well dressed in a dark navy polo and some designer jeans, and he grew muscle all over his body. I could tell by how his biceps wrapped around his polo shirt and his thighs filled his black jeans. He took off his shades and that's when those grayish eyes glowed. He was always a good-looking guy, he had all the girls wanting him in high school.
"Wow, you sure did the glow-up challenge," he chuckled. I extended my hand to shake his but he pulled me into a hug.
"Don't give me that handshake bullshit, come here," his body was rock hard and his aftershave stunned me. His cologne smelled like fresh air, it was soft but still had a strong scent of masculinity. He tapped my back as we stayed like this for a couple of seconds. Then I pulled away and guilt took over. Our eyes aligned as his eyes swirled with confusion and desire. I was confused because he was married to a beautiful model.
I remembered the one time he and Emilio got into a fight. Donovan made a move on me and my guilt ate me alive. I was on the verge of telling Emilio what had happened but Donovan showed up. He confessed to Emilio but Emilio punched him. Donovan tried to apologize to me at first but I was full of guilt. I asked him why he did it but he said he was sorry. He wasn't thinking.
Donovan brought me home after school as we stood by my door. Emilio had gone to Mexico with his parents after his grandpa got sick. They excused him from school for a couple of days. He was coming back tomorrow afternoon and I couldn't wait to see him. He asked Donovan to take care of me. He's a loyal friend to Emilio so he's been like a bodyguard to me. I think he's damn sweet for doing that for Emilio but sometimes he made me uncomfortable with how he gazed at me. His gray eyes would admire me too well and sometimes I thought he liked me but he had girls all over him. So I erased those thoughts until what he did next.
"So you're home safely. I'm going to head out," but his legs weren't moving then I heard his stomach growl. "I'm starving," I noticed his throat move up and down as he swallowed. The vein on his neck popped out but his gray eyes swirled admiration. I gave him a faint smirk and rubbed the back of my neck.
"Would you like a sandwich?" My parents weren't home, they went on their usual date night.
"I would love one," his eyes moved when I moved. I opened the door and let him walk in first. I turned the lights on and closed the door. I immediately walked into the kitchen as the lights turned on automatically. I put my backpack on one of the chairs and started to take products out of the fridge to do a simple sandwich. "Need help?" He stood by the fridge door as he had a smirk on his face. Why was he acting weird?
"It's ok, you can sit while I do a quick sandwich for you," but then he grabbed my wrist and turned me around. He pulled me closer to his hard body and kissed me. I was stunned and startled. I dropped the bag of bread on the floor as his soft lips moved side to side but I quickly pushed him away. He touched his lips and then his face went ghost white. "Don, why did you do that? Emilio is your best friend. I never gave you signals I was interested in you," I was on the verge of tears. His eyes filled with water as he tried to get closer.
"Duke; I'm so sorry I'm not sure what took over me. I've liked you since forever. I'm so sorry please forgive me. Please don't tell Emilio," he almost grabbed my arm but I stepped back.
"Don, I think you should go," my lips trembled. Guilt took over. I was guilty because I betrayed Emilio.
"Please don't tell Emilio," he begged with his hands but I averted my gaze.
"I can't promise you anything, just go please," I saw his body walk past me then I heard the door close. I ran towards the front and locked the door. I ran to my room and slammed the door. I hated myself for having his lips on me. Why didn't I push him faster? I buried my face into my pillow and cried myself to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and found that I was tucked in without my shoes. My mom must have come in. I quickly grabbed my cellphone and saw two texts one from Emilio and one from Don.
"Please I beg you not to tell Emilio, please. He texted me that he just landed. He came home early and is going to surprise you tomorrow morning." My heart skipped that he was coming home early but I needed to tell him what happened.
Then I opened Emilio's text message. "Hey, my lucky number 7. I have a surprise for you." And that's all he said. I swallowed the knot in my throat as tears of guilt came down my cheeks. I'm going to tell him. It's not right keeping this from him. I got into the jersey he gave me and immediately went to sleep.
The next morning. I heard a knock on the door. I looked out the window and saw the top of Emilio's dark hair. I couldn't help myself I ran downstairs and opened the door. I threw myself on him and peppered his cheeks with many kisses. "I missed you too, babe," he laughed but then I started crying. I buried my face into his chest. "Babe, what's going on?"
He pulled me away from him and he cupped my chin. I lost myself into his mossy green eyes. His hair was a mess. He studied me and he scrunched his brows. "Please don't hate him...," I stopped. Did I want to tell him? Would this ruin their friendship? But the guilt was eating me alive, I felt like I cheated on him. My heart thumped inside my chest as my hands trembled.
"Me," Emilio turned around and Don was standing there. "I made a move on Duke yesterday. I kissed him."
Emilio let me go. He glanced at me with a shocked expression but then I didn't expect him to do what he did. He ran towards him and punched him in the face. Then another swing and another. Don was just taking it. "You son of a bitch. I trusted you! I said take care of him not kiss him, fucker!" Emilio had Don on the floor. I ran over and tried to pull Emilio off him but he was too strong. He kept punching Don and that's when my dad came running out.
"Hey, hey!" My dad yanked Emilio off Don. "Stop it you two. You're two are like brothers. What's going on?" My dad held Emilio who was like a raging bull. I've never seen Emilio so full of rage.
"He's not my friend anymore, get the fuck out of my sight!" Emilio yelled. I ran towards Emilio as his eyes softened. I glanced at Don who had scratches all over his face, his lip was busted, and I could see swelling from his right eye.
My mom came out and was going to attend to Don but he ran to his car. He bolted out in his car. "Sweetie, what happened?" My mom said.
"Let's leave the boys alone," my dad let go of Emilio and gave me a faint smile. My parents went inside as Emilio glared at me. His nose flared and his chest heaved.
"Do you hate me?" His eyes softened as I hide from him. I never saw him so angry.
"No, no," he got closer and pulled me into his chest. "I could never hate you, babe. I know you wouldn't do that. I never thought that he would do that," he kissed the top of my head.
"That fucker better not even cross paths with me."
They didn't talk for a couple of weeks. Don went to school with a busted face. But I tricked them into a lunch date weeks after because Emilio missed Don. Don practically begged me to get Emilio to trust him again and their football plays were awful. So eventually they mended their friendship. Emilio just warned him that if he ever tries anything on me again that their friendship was over, for good. After that incident, they became closer. But I was careful around Don because I didn't want to give him an indication I was interested.
But after high school. He got drafted into NFL. He was still good friends with Emilio but they drifted away. Don was a professional football player with a busy life and Emilio worked with his parents. Their lives were different. I saw Don at Emilio's funeral but it was very quick. He didn't stay long because he had a game the day after. Now he suddenly came back into my life.
We laughed and had a good time catching up. He told me about his marriage with his wife. They were steady and happily married. They had a busy schedule and she was in Europe at the moment. He moved back until the new football season started. "I'm happily married, she's the one for me," his eyes shined brightly and I was happy for him.
We were seated in a private area but a few fans caught him and asked for a picture. He was nice to give them a selfie. "Wow, look at you being all famous," he chuckled but then I saw those gray eyes of him go dull.
"Yeah, it's cool. I miss him, Duke," he caught me by surprise. He was talking about Emilio. My heart pricked a bit. He leaned in to grab my hand but I retracted. "Sorry, I didn't mean to. I was trying to console you."
"Sorry, it's just...brings old memories," he retracted his hand and took a sip of his wine.
"I miss him too but it's easier now."
He smirked. "I know I've seen who you're dating."
How did he know?
"Dash Mitchell. Please tell me you follow the media, there are pictures of you and Dash in Mexico," my cheeks went red. I knew I was going to be in the spotlight sooner or later. I just didn't think sooner.
"We are just talking, nothing serious."
"Yet," he chuckled. "He seems like a nice guy. Very Emilio-like. I follow hockey. He was big then a car accident happened and his career went downhill," when he said car accident it reminded me of Emilio.
"Yeah I know but he's dealing," my heart pricked but I held myself together.
"Duke, be happy. I know Emilio was everything for you. He was everything for me, he was the brother I never had. It broke my heart when I heard the news. I wish I could've stayed longer to help you but you know football got in the way," I saw him swallow hard as water filled his eyes.
"Let's not talk about this. We came to catch up not to get depressed. I miss Emilio with all my heart but I have to accept he's gone. I'm trying with Dash and it seems like it's working," he gave me his charming smile.
The evening went well. We laughed and talked about life after high school. He says he loves his football career but he's slowly losing interest. He wants to do other things with his life but right now football is his priority than his wife. He fought with me about the bill until I gave in. We left the restaurant as my thoughts went a million miles per hour.
Now we stood at the steps of my house. It looks like Dash was still sleeping. "I had a great time, Duke. I'll be around for a couple of days if you want to hang out again just like old times," his gray eyes swirled with admiration again. My hands trembled at his gaze. I hope he doesn't want to kiss me again but then the door opened and Dash stood there without a shirt. He glared at Don.
"Good evening," Dash's words came out a bit harsh. Shit.