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What Are The Odds?: Epilogue 2

You’re something else


I manoeuvred through the busy bar until Tripp came into view. After catching my eye, he waved me over. I tightened my grip on Anna’s hand and tugged her the rest of the way. The sports bar was full of people wearing blue and orange paraphernalia. I had mine on, though it was more subtle than the jerseys and beanies I got away with wearing in college. Now that there was a specific corporate section for me to sit, I had to adhere to a dress code. At the start of the season the captain’s wife had ordered personalised jackets for all us girls with our partner’s name and number on the back. I was wearing that now, over a black turtleneck, draped black pants and heeled boots. Stella would be proud. Once I reached the table Tripp pulled me in for a one-arm hug.

“Hey Anna,” he greeted.

Anna smiled back. “Hey.”

There was already a drink waiting for Anna and me. And not just any drink. Delicious looking cocktails. Bless. Tripp was going to make some girl really lucky one day.

“I’m fucking starved so I ordered some food to share,” he said.

He’d read my mind. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. This afternoon had gotten away from me. All my plans had been shot the moment Levi lifted me on the bench. Not that I was complaining.

“How did things go at the house?” I asked.

Tripp’s face contorted in a way that implied not good. I knew him well enough to let the subject drop. Tripp’s father had recently passed away and left Tripp his home in Colorado. It was less than twenty-minutes from mine and Levi’s house. Well, house wasn’t exactly apt for the mansion Levi had bought. Those Holloways sure liked nice things. I’d never lived in a house this big or nice in my life. The master bedroom was like the size of an apartment. And the walk-in robe was bigger than my lounge room back home. Getting used to Levi’s money had been a challenge. And it wasn’t even his family’s money that’d bought our house. It was his signing bonus from the Eagles. After college, when I’d been looking for work, we’d been forced to have a very open conversation. Whilst Levi could very comfortably support me, and he’d very much wanted to, I’d explained that I wanted my own thing. To feel like I was contributing to our life as well. And although it would never be as much as him, we’d found a happy medium. One where I had a routine still, could go to work, pass on my years of experience, and get paid for it. Levi never acknowledged the discrepancy in percentages our incomes added to the joint account. It was just our money. Everything was ours. He hadn’t been interested when I suggested keeping things separate. He was always going to bring more to the table than I would. At first, that realisation had made me uneasy. But then he’d asked if I’d feel the same if the roles were reversed. If my family had money, and I had a professional athletic career, would I expect there to be a clear divide between what was his and what was mine? Of course my answer had been no. After that, I hadn’t had an argument. Besides, I’d be lying if I hadn’t begun getting used to the perks. At my refusal of him – I mean us – buying me a brand new car, he’d conveniently decided he needed an upgrade and given me his old one. I never turned the heated seats off. My ass was in a constant state of toasty.

“Do you think you’ll be in town for much longer?” Anna asked Tripp.

He nodded. “If Hughesy is still happy to have me.”

“Are you kidding?” I clutched my cocktail in my hand and took a long sip. “You’re not allowed to go anywhere. This next month would be brutal without you.”

The waitress arrived, placing down the food. In Tripp style, it was a lot. But between the three of us, we managed to finish it off.

“Should we head over?” I asked, standing as I slipped on my jacket.

Tripp glanced at the door. “Nah. Let’s give it another five. I haven’t finished my beer yet.”

There was barely a mouthful left, but whatever. I sat back down.

Anna scooped up her bag. “I’m gonna pee. Be right back.”

Another NHL game was being cast on a large TV. I focussed on that while Tripp rotated his practically empty glass. He was wearing an Eagles beanie, white button up and denim jacket. He continuously cast his gaze to the door, as though waiting for someone to walk in. I narrowed my eyes at him.

“Are you waiting for a girl?”

He jerked to attention. “What? No.”

I snickered. “You are.”

“Am not.”

I raised a sceptical eyebrow. “So, there’s no girl?”

“No. Well. Not here. But maybe at the resort.”

When he’d moved in with Levi and me, Tripp had secured a job as a snowboarding instructor at a close-by ski resort. The tips he made off wealthy travellers literally took my breath away. I’ll bet the women were the most generous. He certainly knew when to turn on the charm.

“She’s one of Morrison’s roommates,” Tripp went on. “And she works at the bar we always seem to end up at.”

As it turns out, Morrison was also from Colorado. He’d returned home after graduation and started managing the bar the ski resort workers most frequented. I’d gone a few times. I’d managed to convince him to add some Australian music to the juke box. Tripp pulled up a girl’s Instagram account and showed me a picture. She was gorgeous. Of course she was. All the girls he liked were.

“She’s cute,” I said.

“She’s not cute. She’s fucking hot. And she’s snarky as all hell.”

Sounds like a match made in heaven for Tripp.

“Anything going to happen?”

He shrugged. “We’ll see.”

“I’ll stay tuned. Now finish your last mouthful of backwash so we can get out of here.”

Tripp’s eyes widened. “Another five.”

“The game starts in twenty minutes. And I told Levi’s parents I would–”

“This seat taken?” a voice drawled from behind me.

“No actually. None of them are. Because we’re leaving and–”

I stilled as my brain kicked into gear. This seat taken? I knew that voice. I knew that accent. Whipping around, my gaze collided with Seth’s, my eldest brother. Dylan was a few steps behind him, clad in winter clothing. They were both beaming at me, their bright smiles offset by their tanned skin. I shook my head, waiting for them to dissolve into thin air. After months and months of FaceTime calls, seeing them in person was too strange to fathom. They weren’t here really. Were they?

Dylan stepped forward. “Get in here and give me a hug, Gracie.”

I reached out, touching his forearm. It was as solid as mine. Holy shit. They were here. I jumped from my seat, throwing my arms around both of them at the same time. Two firm arms wrapped around my body, pulling me closer. It was a rib crushing group hug. But I didn’t want to let go. When I finally did, I shook my head in disbelief.

“How – what – when.”

I wasn’t sure which question I was trying to ask.

“We teed things up with Levi,” Seth explained. “He mentioned he’d be away for most of January, so we figured we may as well head over now and get Christmas in too.”

“Tell him the seat upgrades were a nice touch,” Dylan added. “Now I’ve gone first class, I don’t think I could go back.”

I laughed. Of course Levi had upgraded them. He never flew anything lower than business. Said it was because he was too big to sit in economy. But we both knew it was because he never had, and didn’t have to either. I hadn’t seen Dylan or Seth since last Christmas. I’d planned to fly out in August, before Levi’s season started. But they’d talked me out of it. Now I understood why. I’ll bet this trip had been in the works for a while. I looked over my shoulder, eyes narrowing at Tripp.

“You knew.”

He smiled smugly. “Of course I did. Levi’s been like a giddy kid at Christmas since organising it. He needed someone to be excited with.”

I wanted to see Levi so badly. To thank him. To kiss him. To tell him I loved him. But that would have to wait until after the game. Tripp picked up his glass and drained the remainder of his beer at the same time Anna returned from the bathroom. She smiled warmly at my brothers, not at all phased by their presence. I guess she was in on it too.

Now we can go,” Tripp said.


Whenever friends or family came to watch Levi’s games, I’d either sit with them in the stands or they’d join me in whichever box Levi sorted tickets for. But nothing had topped this. Watching it with Dylan and Seth was as good as it got. I didn’t have to explain the game to them. They understood the rules. They made a conscious effort to watch as many of Levi’s games as they could, which wasn’t always easy given hockey wasn’t big back home. As expected, Tripp and Dylan had hit it off. Those two were going to be a dangerous combination over the next six weeks. That’s how long Seth and Dyl were staying for. Six whole weeks. While just shy of three of them would be without Levi, it’d be the perfect balance of time just with my brothers and time all together. I couldn’t wait to see Levi and my brothers in the same room. I mean, we kind of were now. But it wasn’t the same when Levi was all the way down there on the ice.

“It looks so much faster in person,” Seth said, leaning forward on his elbows. “Have you gotten any better at skating?”

I chuckled. “No. Levi has well and truly given up on that fantasy.”

After the game, which we won, I tracked the familiar walkway to wait for Levi. Seth draped his arm over my shoulder, walking beside me. Tripp and Dylan were a few steps ahead. Tripp was telling Dyl all about the ski resort he worked at. Skiing and snowboarding were generally reserved for guests only there, but Tripp had gotten us in before. A work perk I suppose. Anna was a few steps behind me, talking to one of the other partners.

“How has your first official year been living in America?” Seth asked.

I shrugged. “It’s gone fast. And having a job now makes me feel more like a resident than a tourist.” I smiled sheepishly. “I do miss home though.”

“I bet you always will. But it looks like you’ve carved out a pretty good life here.”

I was extremely lucky. I knew that. I had two amazing homes. Two amazing families. And right now, both were here. Together. I wouldn’t take advantage of that for a second. Many other people were waiting for the players to file out. There were other wives and girlfriends. Plenty of friends. And some kids. How long Levi took depended. On games like tonight, where he’d scored, he’d often get held up in interviews or press. At least I had the best company while we waited.

“What the hell, Gracie,” Dyl drawled in an accent I would never get sick of hearing. “Tripp said your place has a sauna.”

I shrugged. “It’s good for Levi’s recovery.”

There was an ice bath too, but I never used that. Purposely making yourself colder? No thank you. As players began filtering through the door, I watched anxiously. Noah came out. He caught my eye and smiled before finding Anna. Next was the captain, whose kids ran towards him and threw themselves into his strong arms.

“I think I’m going to get a little starstruck,” Dylan mocked. “Meeting the potential rookie of the year.”

There were already talks of Levi being nominated for the Calder Trophy. And Will too. Both were having incredibly killer starts to their first seasons. There was a group chat which Ryan and Tripp constantly updated, summarising the guys’ games and who had played better. Levi had played Will earlier in the season. The game had been in Texas and a day before my high school swimming carnival, so I couldn’t make the trip over. Ryan and Will had though. Since college, the guys had all made an effort for the big things. I’d been worried the distance would be hard on Levi. But they all still spoke every day. And. Reminder. Tripp lived with us. Not to mention Ryan was living less than an hour away, super close to Levi’s parents’ house. We caught up with him and Lana most weekends. Really, it was only Will who was faraway. But he had his own support network. Not to mention the most amazing girlfriend. I spoke to her almost every day. The breath knocked out of me when Levi walked through the door. He was dressed in his post-game suit, the tips of his hair still wet from his shower. A smile transitioned his face as he caught sight of us. Seth dropped my arm and made his way over to Levi. They embraced in a man hug. A combination of a handshake, clap and hug. Dylan was right behind him, having to press onto his toes to reach over Levi’s shoulder. Seeing the three of them together was – well, I don’t know what it really was. But it was pretty bloody good. And I never wanted this moment to end.

“It’s good to finally see you face-to-face,” Seth said.

Dylan looked Levi up and down. “You’re definitely bigger in person.”

Tripp hung back, a gentle smile on his face. I guess he was being polite and giving us space. But I didn’t need it from him. He was as much of my family as Levi and my brothers. Levi edged past everybody and made his way to me. I wrapped my arms around his neck, gripping tightly when my feet came off the floor. I pressed my lips to his ear.

“You’re something else, Holloway.”

Smiling, he set me on my feet. “I know.”

He crouched down, planting a polite kiss on my lips. While he never held back in front of his friends, I guess that would be a bit different now my brothers were here. I suppose kitchen sex would be off the table for the next six weeks.

“I love you,” I told him.

“Love you more, Hughesy.” Gripping my hand, he turned back to my brothers and Tripp. “What do you say? Should we head home?”

I tightened my fingers around his. I already was.


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