If Reid Durand had a motto, it was this: keep your personal life personal.
Simple, attainable, crucial. Walking into the coffee shop, this maxim seemed especially relevant. Although a few customers were seated, there was no sign of any of the baristas except for someone talking loudly behind the staff-only door.
More like shouting.
“You can’t just make a snap decision like that!”
A pause, then, “But my stuff is there. And now I can’t access it!”
It all sounded very dramatic, but really such drama shouldn’t be brought to work. People needed to separate the personal from the professional. Better yet, don’t bother with the personal at all.
“Hello?” he called out on the off chance this person might want to do what she was paid to do: serve customers. He dropped his gaze to the counter, longing for a bell like in an old-fashioned hotel. He didn’t like to act all lord-and-master but this was a business, was it not?
The noisy person who wasn’t doing her job had moved away from the door, so he couldn’t hear her exact words. Every now and then melodramatic snatches would float through to the front.
“Locks … Promises … Sentimental value.”
Another customer came in, an older man with one of those reusable mugs. He stood beside Reid and looked behind the counter rather comically as if someone might be hiding.
“No one home today?” All that was missing was a nudge and a wink.
The argument was becoming more heated. “He fucking promised I could stay!”
The new arrival turned to Reid and said rather obviously, “This is ridiculous. They have people waiting here.” His eyes widened. “Hey, you’re Reid Durand! Great game the other night. That goal from Foreman was something else.”
Sure. The incroyable Cal Foreman, Reid’s rival for the coveted right-wing position on the first line.
“You’ll need to get in there more if you want to catch your brother.” The fan—of players other than Reid—nudged with his elbow. And winked. “He was the top goal scorer last season for the Hawks. Your father must be so proud.”
“Right. Stepfather.” The guy went on for another minute about the Hawks-Rebels rivalry and how that was really going to take off now that the Durand brothers were in the same city at last. Finally, the fanboy gush petered out because Reid refused to keep it rolling.
They both looked toward the back area.
The door remained stubbornly still.
“This is a disgrace,” Captain Obvious said. “I have a good mind to call the corporate office and tell them all about it.”
“Uh-huh.” If it means you stop talking to me.
“You know? I think I will. I don’t have time for this!” Unpocketing his phone, he nodded at Reid. “Nice to meet you, Durand. Good luck for the rest of the season.”
Reid breathed a sigh of relief when he left.
The peace didn’t last, and not just because the woman auditioning for a Daytime Emmy in back was in full flight. (She had moved on to bargaining. “At least let me get my belongings!”)
Reid’s phone rang with a call from … well, if it wasn’t that famous brother of his. Usually he would let it go to voice mail, just to annoy him, but Bastian had been making such an effort since Reid moved to Chicago two months ago. Reid really should answer before his younger brother tattled to Mom.
“Holy shit! It can’t be. Is this the Reid Durand?”
“Oh, shut up. Sometimes it’s better to answer so you don’t have a fit, wondering if I’m safe in the dangerous suburbs.”
Bastian chuckled. He was an easygoing guy who found humor in everything, especially his grumpy older brother.
“So I’m calling to invite you over to mine for cards. And before you say you’re busy, remember I know your schedule and I also know you don’t have any friends.”
“I have plenty of friends.”
He growled. “When?”
“Probably Thursday. The guys are dying to know if you’re an asshole off the ice as well as on. I told them you’re even worse.”
“Then I’ll try not to disappoint them.” Hanging with Hawks players? That might be useful.
The door to the staff area crashed open and someone emerged at last.
It was her, the smartass barista with the pink-blond hair.
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