Jackie beamed as she stabbed a shrimp and placed it in her mouth.
“Been telling her for years to enter her quilts; she is so hardheaded,” Bill teased.
Jackie snarled as she shook her head, “I am not hardheaded; I just thought you were being biased!”
Bill laughed before reaching across the table for his wife’s hand. “Maybe I was, but I have good reason to be.”
As Bill kissed the back of her hand, Jackie shot her son a smile. Jordan smiled back, then looked down at his food. His parents were still crazy in love after thirty-five years. It was something he wanted to have. When Aynslee came to mind again for the umpteenth time that day, he let out a sigh.
“So, Jordan,” Jackie said, switching topics, “have you heard from Leanna lately?”
“Mom, we have been apart for almost two years, and, no, I haven’t heard from her, because we are not together.” Would she ever drop this subject? He loved his mom, but it was getting old.
Jackie tsked at him and rolled her eyes.
“I only ask because I spoke with Carol last week.”
Carol was Leanna’s mother and Jackie’s good friend. Jordan disliked her almost as much as he did Leanna.
“That’s nice,” he muttered as he continued to eat.
“Did you know that Leanna is pregnant?” Jackie asked, causing Jordan to choke on the shrimp he was trying to eat.
“Excuse me?” he croaked.
“Yes, the father is a businessman. Carol said they are getting married this month. Isn’t that nice?”
Jordan couldn’t believe it. Leanna never wanted kids when they were together. It must have been a surprise pregnancy. Or maybe she just hadn’t wanted to have kids with him. Either way, he really didn’t care.
“It’s something, that’s for sure,” he managed to reply.
“Yeah, Carol asked who you were seeing. I said that you were too busy with hockey to actually worry about a wife or about giving your old decrepit mother a grandbaby.”
“For the love of God, Jackie,” Bill complained as he shook his head, “you have all the time in the world to be a grandma. Let this boy get his career straight.”
Jackie playfully slammed her hand on the table. “Why can’t you just knock a girl up? I need a grandbaby.”
Jordan worried that his mom’s comment wasn’t all in jest.
“I swear I am never coming home again.”
“I don’t blame you, son,” Bill laughed.
“This isn’t fair. You are thirty-three, Jordan—give me a daughter-in-law and a baby to love and spoil!”
“Please, Mom, stop.”
But Jordan couldn’t completely discount his mom’s plea. Thoughts of Aynslee continued to haunt him. How could he have been so stupid? Twice. He wanted to see her. Hell, he wanted her. Badly. But what was going to happen when the IceCats or some other team wanted him to play as a starting goaltender? It was the main reason he had walked away. He couldn’t hurt her by letting something happen between them. He would be setting them up for failure, because if she wouldn’t move home to be with her family, what made him think she’d move for him? All in all, the whole thing would end in heartbreak, and Jordan couldn’t do that to her. Or to himself.
“I can’t believe he walked out on you twice!”
Aynslee agreed as her nail tech, Brittany, went to work on her nails. She loved Brittany: She was highly inappropriate, cussed like a sailor, and most of her body was covered in tattoos. She was also hilarious, and Aynslee was completely envious of her. If Aynslee could get away with it, she would definitely have a tattoo or two. But it wouldn’t fly at New Life. And she was pretty sure her mother would kill her.
“It is crazy, because she’s hot, right? Tell her, Brittany. She thinks it’s because she’s not hot enough for him,” Sadie complained from the seat beside her. “He’s a sexy hockey player.”
“Not hot? Are you crazy! Hockey player or not, babe, you are smoking! I’d give my left nut to be as gorgeous as you!”
“You have nuts?” Aynslee asked, holding back her laughter.
“Of course I do! I stole my husband’s!” Brittany declared, causing the whole salon to laugh. “But seriously, Ayns, you are beautiful and smart, and funny! Any guy would be lucky to have you.”
Aynslee whined, “But why did he walk away without at least getting my number? Twice! What is wrong?”
“Maybe he’s g*y?” Brittany asked with a shrug.
“That’s what I said, but he plays hockey. Then again, hockey players can be g*y,” Sadie supplied thoughtfully.
Aynslee wanted to scream. “He is not g*y! But I don’t know what to do—do I keep after him or do I give up?”
Brittany shrugged as she concentrated on painting the polish perfectly on Aynslee’s nails. “I mean, I like getting laid regularly, so I think you should go after him, but, then again, maybe you shouldn’t. You’ve given him ample opportunity to get you into bed, and he failed. Move on, my friend, move on.”
The problem was, she didn’t want to walk away. But she was afraid. She had every chance to watch his practice last week and she didn’t. She was afraid to face him again, because even though everyone guaranteed her that it was him, not her, she was beginning to feel as if she wasn’t up to his standard. Maybe he wasn’t attracted to her.
She had replayed their impromptu coffee date over and over in her head, and she couldn’t find anything that would have caused him to run. She didn’t know what to do, but she did know that for the last week all she’d done was search YouTube and Google for Jordan Ryan. When she wasn’t watching the Assassins’ games to catch a glimpse of him, she was online looking at videos of him. She was completely pathetic.