The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(3)


by Mariana Zapata

It wasn’t a big deal? The promoters wouldn’t feel that way, much less his agent, but then Aiden was used to getting his way. No one ever told him no. They told me no, and then I’d have to figure things out.

Despite what some people thought, the defensive end of the Three Hundreds, Dallas’s professional football team, wasn’t really an asshole or hard to work with. For all his faces and grumbling, he never cussed and hardly ever lost his temper without good reason. He was demanding; he knew exactly what he wanted and how he liked every single thing in his life. It was honestly an admirable quality, I thought, but it was my job to make those requests come true, regardless of whether I agreed with his decisions or not.

Only for a little bit longer though, I reminded myself. I was so close to quitting, I could feel it. The thought made my soul rejoice a bit.

Two months ago, my bank account had finally hit a comfortable number through sheer willpower, penny-pinching, and working long hours when I wasn’t Aiden’s assistant/housekeeper/cook. I’d hit my goal: save up a year’s salary. And I had. Finally. Halle-freaking-lujah. I could practically smell freedom in the air.

But the keyword there was ‘practically.’

I just hadn’t gotten around to telling Aiden I was quitting yet.

“Why are you making that face?” he asked suddenly.

I blinked up at him, caught off guard. I raised my eyebrows, trying to play dumb. “What face?”

It didn’t work.

With a fork hanging out of his mouth, he narrowed his dark eyes just the slightest bit. “That one.” He gestured toward me with his chin.

I shrugged in an ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ expression.

“Is there something you want to say?”

There were a hundred things I wanted to tell him on a regular basis, but I knew him too well. He didn’t really care if there was something I wanted to say or not. He didn’t care if my opinion was different from his or if I thought he should do something differently. He was just reminding me who the boss was.

AKA not me.

Asswipe.

“Me?” I blinked. “Nope.”

He gave me a lazy glare before his eyes lowered to focus on the hand I had hidden on the other side of the kitchen island. “Then quit flipping me off. I’m not changing my mind about the signing,” he said in a deceptively casual voice.

I pressed my lips together as I dropped my hand. He was a goddamn witch. I swear on my life, he was a freaking witch. A wizard. An oracle. A person with a third eye. Every single time I had ever flipped him off, he’d been aware of it. I didn’t think I was that obvious about it either.

It wasn’t like I gave people the middle finger for fun, but it genuinely bothered me that he was cancelling an appearance without a legitimate reason. Backing out because he changed his mind and didn’t want to take an afternoon off from training, didn’t seem like one. But what did I know?

“All right,” I muttered under my breath.

Aiden, who I was pretty sure had no idea how old I’d turned this year, much less what month my birthday was, made a face for a split second. Those thick, dark eyebrows knit together and his full mouth pinched back at the corners. Then he shrugged, like he’d suddenly stopped caring about what I’d been doing.

What was funny was, if someone had told me five years ago that I’d be doing someone else’s dirty work, I would have laughed. I couldn’t remember ever not having goals or some sort of a plan for the future. I had always wanted something to look forward to, and being my own boss was one of those things I strived for.

I’d known since I was sixteen at my first summer job, getting yelled at for not putting enough ice into a medium-sized cup at the movie theater I’d worked at, that I would one day want to work for myself. I didn’t like getting told what to do. I never had. I was stubborn and hardheaded, at least that’s what my foster dad said was my greatest and worst personality trait.