8. it's hard to ignore.

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I walked downstairs, muscles still aching from practice yesterday in spite of the hot shower I'd just taken

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I walked downstairs, muscles still aching from practice yesterday in spite of the hot shower I'd just taken. Brutal. I really needed to start getting more sleep to help me recover more effectively. Studying late into the night was helping my grades, but killing my game.

Waiting for me on the main level was a living room that had been subjected to a minor makeover and a vase of fresh flowers sitting on the island.

A knitted blanket lay artfully draped over one arm of the sectional, while a basket was in the corner with another blanket peeking out. And were those throw pillows?

It was official: my bachelor pad had been feminized.

I had to admit, though, it was an improvement.
"Hey!" Ryan said breezily. "I bought a few things to make it a little more homey in here. I hope you don't mind. I'm always cold, and you never had any blankets."

I was never cold- if anything, I ran hot all the time- so I hadn't seen the need for them. Wasn't that what central heat was for?

"No, not at all. It's your place, too. It looks good. More welcoming, this way."

Going into the kitchen, I snuck a peek at the card tucked into the flowers before grabbing an apple out of the fridge.

"So, who's Harry?" I asked, biting into the apple and pointing to the dozen pink roses standing on the kitchen counter. I was trying not to act like I cared too much.

In reality, I was hoping that I wouldn't have to see some new boyfriend all over Ryan constantly. It wasn't my business, but selfishly, I still didn't want to see it.

She looked over at the flowers and frowned.

"My ex. We haven't spoken in awhile. He must have gotten the address from my mother."

"Looks like he doesn't want to be your ex," I pointed out. "What happened?"

"I don't care what he wants," she said. "It just... wasn't working. He was older and the age gap was too much. You know, that kind of thing."

She was being evasive and I could tell that there was definitely more to the story than she let on. But I also sensed that I'd hit a nerve, and I knew I had to proceed with caution. Curiosity had me pressing forward, though.

"Age gap?" I raised my eyebrows. "How much older are we talking?"

She cringed. I hoped that I hadn't pressed too much. "Uh, ten years? Eleven, I guess."

I was thrown. Her ex was 32? I wondered how she ended up with someone that much older. It didn't seem like something Ryan would do. From what I knew of her, she seemed pretty level-headed.

"Well, let me know if you need me to rough him up a bit for you," I joked.

Kidding not kidding. The guy sounded like a creep to me, going after a college-aged girl when he was in his thirties.

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