39. daddy issues

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A sense of impending doom weighed on me as I went upstairs to change into a fitted pair of jeans and a linen button-up shirt; I'd been living in sweats lately, but seeing my father always necessitated nicer, less comfortable clothing

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A sense of impending doom weighed on me as I went upstairs to change into a fitted pair of jeans and a linen button-up shirt; I'd been living in sweats lately, but seeing my father always necessitated nicer, less comfortable clothing. It was fitting, given that spending time with him was generally uncomfortable, too.

As I searched the drawers for a belt, I marveled at how much nicer the bedroom looked now that it was Ryan's as well. A few small touches had gone a long way, even if I would never openly admit to liking her girly scented candles. I would take that to the grave.

My ringtone trilled from downstairs, interrupting my train of thought. I sprinted down the stairs, hoping that it would be Axel with an update on their game, but it was a blocked ID with no one on the other end-- again. Irritated, I brought my phone back with me upstairs while I finished changing.

Shortly after, the ringer sounded again. I was about to answer and yell at whoever was on the other end, but this time it was Axel. "Hey man, how are you feeling?"

"Better, but still not quite one hundred percent. What's the news?" I asked, holding my breath. Tonight was game number four, make-or-break after three losses in a row.

He paused and I could hear him swallow on the other end. I knew what was coming.

"We got knocked out."

It felt like another slide straight into the boards.

"It was a good effort from the team. You'd be proud. But it just didn't go our way. A couple of bad calls and a couple iffy plays. Those are the breaks."

"Right. Well, I'm sorry to hear it. But we can regroup and come back stronger next year," I said, trying to hide my disappointment.

"Totally." His tone was chipper but I knew he was doing the same.

"And thanks for stepping up as captain while I was out," I added.

"No prob. It was fun to wield all of the power for once. We're going out for beers next Friday night. End of season celebration. You in?"

"Sure. I think I'll be freed by then. I have a doctor's appointment that morning."

"Think Ryan will come too?"

"I'll check. Probably, as long as she doesn't work."

We ended the call and despair surged through me. It was irrational, but on some level I felt as though I'd let the team down. Being down a scoring forward in the playoffs was like the kiss of death. I needed the solace of my man cave-- a.k.a., the office.

Ryan had gotten home at some point and was curled up in the corner armchair, lost in a book with a mug of tea on the table beside her. She looked up as I came down the stairs and said, "Hey, I heard you on the phone when I got in and I didn't want to interrupt. I put the lasagna in the oven already and everything else is good to go."

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