After I finished teaching at the studio, I arrived home to find Ethan in the kitchen wearing an apron and donning oven mitts, staring at a cookbook and frowning. He was taking turkey duty seriously. It was adorable.
"Should I cook the stuffing inside the turkey, or separately?" he asked me as I walked in the door.
I wasn't the one to ask. Though I did make a mean grilled cheese, I wasn't known for my culinary skills. I had put myself in charge of the salad for dinner. It seemed like the most foolproof dish.
"Um... whatever's easier?" I suggested, unpacking the wine and appetizers I'd picked up. "I'm sure it'll be great either way."
He furrowed his brow and sighed, reaching for his phone. "Maybe I'll Google it."
"You seem stressed. How about we crack open a bottle of wine and I'll help you?" I may have been more interested in getting close to him than in actually helping, but that was beside the point.
"I am stressed," he admitted, pointing to the medical tape and gauze on his inner elbow. I hadn't noticed it when I walked in.
He added, "I got a phone call and surprise trip to the lab this morning. Turns out, someone contacted my coach with an anonymous tip that I'm using steroids. Which I'm not."
I believed him. Ethan seemed too ethical to do something like that. Plus, we had studied performance enhancing drugs in pharmacology, and Ethan didn't fit the profile.
He already did all of the footwork: he trained hard, ate properly, got enough sleep, and often turned down plans to go out. And obviously, his performance as a player wasn't lacking.
There was also the fact that Ethan loved to win. He had a competitive streak a mile wide, and I didn't think he would count it as winning if he cheated.
"That's strange. Who would do something like that?" I asked, "Someone else on the team?"
His jaw tightened before he answered. "My guess? Alexis. She was in the stands with her friends at one of our games not too long ago. When I saw her afterwards, she was nice; too nice. That's not her default setting. She's the vindictive type," he said. I nodded sympathetically.
"I know I'll pass, but it's the principle of it," he explained. "The allegation itself casts doubt over me. Some athletes dope and get away with it— they game the tests somehow. Now, every time I do well in a game, I feel like they will be looking at me wondering whether I really earned it."
"If they know you at all, then I'm sure they also know that isn't something you would do," I reassured him.
"I hope so," he said, unconvinced. "We should get going. Everyone else will be over at 6:30." He reached over and handed me a purple apron. Since when did Ethan own all these aprons? Had he purchased them recently? It was both cute and perplexing.
YOU ARE READING
When nursing student Ryan Winters moves into hockey captain Ethan Russell's place, they both agree that they can keep things from getting weird. The only problem? Smoldering sexual tension that they both try to ignore. Ryan tells herself that all s...