“This is insane,” he muttered.
Koey nodded, running his hands through his thick hair before looking up at Erik. “Yeah, but you brought it on yourself. Stop messing with crazy chicks and stay out of the clubs or you are going to be out on your ass, Erik.”
No, he wasn’t. He wanted to play for the Assassins. He loved Nashville. He loved being close to his friends and to his brother’s family. Everything was good here. The women were plentiful and man, were they hot. He liked it that way and wasn’t going to change because of some damn probation. If he needed to stay out of the public eye, he could do that. No problem. But that didn’t mean he was going to change his ways. He was happy, and he’d be damned if he was going to change that.
Nodding his head, he looked down at his agent and said, “Okay, no problem.”
“So you’ll stay out of the clubs? Away from the cameras?”
“And away from the women?”
“Not entirely, but I’ll be more discreet.”
“Cool, come on, let’s get this signed. But keep in mind, if you don’t abide by Elli’s rules you are out and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Erik and Koey entered the room and saw that Elli was the only one sitting at the table. She looked tired and part of him felt guilty for causing her so much stress. But the other part was mad; he was being punished for being a guy who liked to have fun. How was that fair?
Elli stood when the door shut behind them, and then crossed her arms. “Gentlemen?”
Erik wanted to roll his eyes, but instead he asked, “Where did Mr. Fisher and Bacter go?”
“They had other things to do,” she said briskly before coming down to their end of the table and laying a pen on the folder with the probation paperwork. “Sign it, Erik. And don’t make any more mistakes.”
“I don’t plan on it,” he said through gritted teeth, reaching for the pen. He signed his name and rolled his eyes as he leaned back into his chair.
“I don’t want to do this; you know that, don’t you?”
Erik looked up at Elli and saw that she meant what she said. She was a good person, and a loving woman. He knew that she cared for him, but it still didn’t lessen his anger. “I know, but it doesn’t change the situation, now does it?”
Elli shook her head. “No, but hopefully you will.”
“What?” he asked, confused. “Change?”
“Yeah, because the way you’re living will get old. I can promise you that. I just want you to be happy, safe, and the best you can be for the team and for yourself. Maybe I am interfering with your private life, but when your private life is messing with my team, then, I’m sorry, but we have an issue.” She paused, then sat down by him, her eyes never leaving his. “I care about you, and I don’t want to let you go, so please do right by this contract and …” Elli paused again and Erik felt like she wanted to say something more, but instead she said, “Just please, don’t mess up.”
* * *
Please, don’t mess up.
Elli’s words played heavy on Erik’s mind as he made his way to the heart of downtown Nashville to meet Phillip for lunch. The air-conditioning was on full blast in his black Aston Martin Virage. It was too early in the summer for the weather to be so hot. Turning the air vents directly onto himself, Erik drove to the Tilted Kilt restaurant.
Pulling into a parking spot, he sat for a moment trying to deal with his frustration. How did things get this bad? When Phillip started staying in, cutting back on the partying, he should have, too. Instead he was parading up and down Broadway getting into trouble. The women were his drugs, and the alcohol didn’t really help the situation, either. That was the one thing he hated about being a professional hockey player—the fact that he had no privacy and couldn’t do as he pleased. He was grateful for the chance to play the greatest game known to man; he only wished his personal life wasn’t under a microscope. But then again, maybe this was a blessing in disguise. Maybe this would help him get the alternate-captain position he wanted. He would be on his best behavior, show Elli that he could change, and then maybe she’d give him the position and title he wanted.
Erik tried to cheer up. He could quit the life he’d been living the past six months. No problem. All he had to do was figure out a way to not think of Piper Allen. Not that it was all her fault, but yeah, it kind of was.
Just thinking of her made him want her.
He had already made the mistake of thinking of her once today, but that was Elli’s fault. She brought Piper to mind when she mentioned all the women he had been sleeping with lately. Their night together all those months ago was a mistake, he knew that. He hadn’t seen her much since, even when he saw her at Harper and Jakob’s recent family gathering; he was polite but ignored her for the most part. It was fine, though; everything would be fine. He could do this. He would forget about her the way he should have six months ago when he kissed her soft lips goodbye.
Now he was thinking of her soft lips.
With an irritation lacing his exhale, he opened the door and headed inside. He spotted Phillip immediately. His best friend was sitting in a booth with a large plate of nachos in front of him, but they were being ignored while he chatted with the beautiful blonde standing beside him. With a shake of his head, Erik made his way to the table, sliding into his seat and receiving only a curt nod from Phillip as he continued to talk with the blonde.