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Point of retreat, p.21

  Point of Retreat, p.21

   part  #2 of  Slammed Series

Point of Retreat

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  He pulls the ring out of the box and slides it on her finger. “I’m not asking you to marry me, Sherry. I’m telling you to marry me, because I can’t live without you.”

  Sherry wraps her arms around his neck and they hold onto one another and cry. “Okay,” she finally says. When they begin to kiss, his hand reaches over and turns off the camera.

  The television goes black.

  Sherry presses the power button on the remote and she’s silent for a moment. I can tell the video brought back a lot of emotions in her. “What you saw in that video?” she says. “The connection Jim and I had? That’s true love, Will. I’ve seen you and Layken together, and she loves you like that. She really does.”

  The front door to Sherry’s house opens wide and a man enters, shaking the snow out of his hair. Sherry looks nervous as she hops up and hits eject on the DVD player and puts it back inside the case.

  “Hey, Sweetie,” she says to him. She motions for me to stand up, so I do. “This is Will,” she says. “He’s Caulder’s older brother from across the street.”

  The man walks through the living room and I reach my hand out to him. As soon as I’m eye to eye with him, Sherry’s sudden nervousness is explained. This isn't Jim. This is a completely different man than whoever it was I just saw propose to Sherry on that DVD.

  “I'm David. Nice to meet you. Heard a lot about you.”

  “Likewise,” I say. I’m lying.

  “I’ve been giving Will relationship advice,” Sherry says.

  “Oh yeah?” he says. He smiles at me. “Hopefully you take it with a grain of salt, Will. Sherry thinks she’s a real guru.” He leans in and kisses Sherry on the cheek.

  “Well, she is pretty smart,” I say.

  “That she is," he says as he takes a seat on the couch. "But take it from me…never accept any of her medicinal concoctions. You’ll regret it.”

  Too late for that.

  “I better get going,” I say. “Nice meeting you, David.”

  “I’ll walk you out,” Sherry says.

  Once we’re outside, her smile fades after she shuts the door behind her.

  “You need to know that I love my husband, Will. But there are very few people in this world lucky enough to experience love on the same level that I’ve had in the past…on the same level that you and Layken have. I’m not getting into the details of why mine didn’t work out, but take it from someone who’s had it before…you don’t want to let it slip away. Fight for her.”

  She steps back inside her house and shuts the door.

  “That’s what I’m trying to do,” I whisper.


  "Can we have pizza tonight?" Caulder says as soon as he walks through the front door. "It's Tuesday. Gavin can get us the Tuesday special that comes with the dessert pizza."

  "Whatever. I don't feel like cooking, anyway." I text Gavin and offer to buy them pizza if he'll bring it over when he gets off work.

  By the time eight o'clock comes around, I've got a houseful. Kiersten and Kel showed up at some point. Gavin and Eddie walk in with the pizza and we all sit down at the table to eat. The only one missing is Lake.

  "Should you invite Lake?" I ask Eddie as I toss a pile of paper plates onto the table.

  Eddie looks at me and shakes her head. "I just texted her. She said she's not hungry."

  I sit down to the table and grab one of the paper plates and toss a slice onto it. I take a bite and drop the pizza back down onto the plate. I'm suddenly not hungry, either.

  "Thanks for bringing me a cheese pizza, Gavin," Kiersten says. "At least someone around here respects the fact that I don't eat meat."

  I don't have anything to throw at her or I would. I shoot her a dirty look instead.

  "What's the plan of attack for Thursday?" Kiersten asks me.

  I glance at Eddie and she's looking right at me. "What's Thursday?" Eddie says.

  "Nothing," I reply. I don't want Eddie ruining this. I'm afraid she'll go warn Lake.

  "Will, if you think I'll tell her whatever it is you're planning to do, you're wrong. No one wants you two to work things out more than I do, believe me." She takes a bite of her pizza. She seems genuinely serious, although I'm not sure why.

  "He's doing a slam for her," Kiersten blurts out.

  Eddie looks back up at me. "Seriously? How? You aren't gonna be able to talk her into going."

  "He didn't have to," Kiersten says. "I talked her into going."

  Eddie looks at Kiersten and grins at her. "You're a sly little thing. And just how are you planning to keep her there?" Eddie looks back at me. "As soon as she sees you on that stage she'll get pissed and leave."

  "Not if I steal her purse and keys," Kel says.

  "Good idea, Kel!" I say. As soon as I say it, the reality of the moment hits me. I'm sitting here praising eleven-year-olds for stealing and lying to my girlfriend. What kind of role model am I?

  "And we can sit in that booth we sat in last time," Caulder says. "We'll make sure Lake gets in first, that way we can trap her in. Once you start doing your slam, she won't be able to get up. She'll have to watch you."

  "Great idea," I say. I may not be a role-model, but at least I'm raising smart children.

  "I want to go," Eddie says. She turns to Gavin. "Can we go? Aren't you off Thursday? I want to watch Will and Layken make up."

  "Yeah, we can go. But how are we all getting there if she doesn't know you're going, Will? We can't all fit in Layken's car. I really don't need to be driving all the way to Detroit in mine after all the deliveries I've been making."

  "You can ride with me,” I say. “Eddie can tell Lake you're working or something. Everyone else can ride with Lake."

  Everyone seems to agree on the plans. The fact that they all seem determined to help me win her back gives me a sense of hope. If everyone in this room can see how much we need to be together, surely Lake will see it, too.

  I grab another plate and throw three slices of pizza on it, then take it to the kitchen. I glance over my shoulder to make sure no one is paying attention. I reach into the cabinet and pull out a star and set it under one of the slices of pizza before I wrap it.

  "Eddie, will you take this to Lake? Make sure she eats something?"

  Eddie grabs the plate and smiles at me, then walks out the front door.

  "Kids, clean the table. Put the pizza back in the fridge," I say. Gavin and I walk to the living room and sit on the couch.

  He lays on the couch and rests his head on the arm of it. He pinches his forehead with his hand and closes his eyes.

  "Headache?" I say.

  He shakes his head. "Stress."

  "You guys decide on anything yet?"

  He's quiet for a moment. He inhales a slow, deep breath and exhales even slower. "I told her I was nervous about going through with it the other night. Told her I think we needed to weigh our options. She got really upset," he says. He sits back up on the couch and puts his elbows on his knees. "She accused me of thinking she would make a bad mom. That's not what I think at all, Will. I think she would make a great mom. I just think she would make an even better mom if we waited until we were ready. Now she's pissed at me. We haven't talked about it since. We're both just pretending like it's not happening or something. It's weird."

  "So you're both carving pumpkins?" I say.

  Gavin looks at me. "I still don't get that analogy."

  I guess he wouldn't. I wish I had better advice for him.

  Kiersten walks into the living room and sits down next to Gavin. "Know what I think?" she says.

  Gavin looks at her, agitated. "You don't even know what we're talking about, Kiersten. Go play with your toys."

  She glares at him. "I'm going to let that insult slide because I know you're in a bad mood. But for future reference, I don't play." She stares at him to make sure he doesn't have a response, then she continues talking. "Anyway, I think you should quit feeling sorry for yourself. You're acting like a little bitch. You aren't even
the one pregnant, Gavin. How do you think Eddie feels? I'm sorry, but as much as the guy likes to think he's got an equal part in these kinds of situations, he's wrong. You screwed up when you got her knocked up in the first place. Now you need to shut your mouth and be there for her. For whatever she decides to do." She stands up and walks to the front door. "And Gavin? Sometimes things happen in life that you didn't plan for. All you can do now is suck it up and start mapping out a new plan."

  She shuts the door behind her, leaving Gavin and I speechless.

  "Did you tell her Eddie was pregnant?" I finally ask.

  He shakes his head, still staring at the door. "No," he says. He continues to stare at the door in deep thought.

  "Dammit!" he yells. "I'm such an idiot! I'm a selfish idiot!" He jumps up from the couch and puts on his jacket. "I'll call you Thursday, Will. I've got to go figure out how to make this right."

  "Good luck," I say. As soon as Gavin opens the front door to walk out, Reece walks in.

  "Hi-Reece-Bye-Reece," Gavin says as he passes Reece. Reece turns around and watches Gavin run across the street.

  "You've got strange friends," he says.

  I don't argue. "There's pizza in the fridge if you want some."

  "Nah. I'm just here to grab some clothes. I already ate," he says as he walks down the hallway.

  It's Tuesday. I'm pretty sure he and Vaughn went out for the first time yesterday. Not that it bothers me in the least, but things seem to be progressing a little fast with the two of them. Reece walks back through the living room toward the front door. "You work things out with Layken yet?" He’s shoving an extra pair of pants into his bag.

  "Almost," I say, eyeing his overnight bag. "You and Vaughn seem to be hitting it off pretty well."

  He grins at me and walks backwards out the door. "Like I said, I've got skills."

  I sit there on the couch and ponder my situation. I've got an old best friend who's dating the girl I spent two years of my life with. My new best friend is freaking out about becoming a dad. My girlfriend isn't speaking to me. I've got class in the morning with the very reason my girlfriend isn't speaking to me. My parallel eleven-year-old neighbor gives better advice than I do. I'm feeling a tad bit defeated right now. I lie down on the couch and try to think of something going right in my life. Anything.

  Kel and Caulder walk into the living room and sit on the other couch.

  "You with wrong what's?" Kel says backwards.

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