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Going to work the next day was like walking to my doom, and Taz was quiet in the car. There was no point in pretense when we rolled up at the arena to park because I doubted there was a single person who wasn’t aware of how the pooch was screwed last night.
“It will be okay,” Taz reassured. “Worst case I get traded one end of the country, and you get a job at the other end. We can handle that. That’s why we have planes.”
It was worse than that, but I wasn’t going to say a thing. Acting inappropriately and getting fired, my reputation ruined as an analyst was only one small part of it. What if Henry McAllister decided to press charges for what Taz had done? That was assault plain and simple and could involve a court case. His career would be over right here and now.
Somehow when we saw the man waiting for us in the lobby, my fears spiraled to hell and back.
Layton Foxx, social media manager extraordinaire for the Railers. If he was here, then the shit had to be hitting the fan big time.
“Morning,” he said as we approached him.
Taz’s arm brushed mine, and God I wanted to lean into him and steal all the confidence he was using to build this wall around us. He said he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me, but I wanted to protect him right back.
“Can I talk with you alone,” I said before Taz could launch into some noble, self-sacrificing shit.
Layton held up a hand. “Can it wait?” he asked. “Taz, a word please.”
“Yep,” he said and stepped away from me. It was like a real wrench for him to move apart as if he needed to face this alone.
“He was doing it in self-defense, or defending me, Goog was there, he’ll tell you.”
Layton narrowed his eyes and opened the door into the arena. “We are not doing this in the lobby of the arena,” he said. “Both of you with me.”
We followed him in, right past the dressing rooms, and to the offices, heading directly for Henry’s office. Shit, this was intense.
When the door was opened, it was Sam I saw, no sign of his dad, or indeed anyone else. My expectation of the cops being here to arrest Taz vanished.
“Take a seat.” Layton shut the door behind us and leaned against it. Was he stopping people coming in, or us getting out?
Taz sat, and I took the seat next to him.
“Sam? Want to tell me why your father contacted the GM of the Railers about an incident at the charity event last night.”
Sam lifted his chin. “Because he’s an idiot.”
“That’s not your official statement, is it? That will need one hell of a lot of work if it is.” Layton crossed his arms over his chest. I’d only met him once when I was doing some work with the Railers, and he’d seemed like a fair guy, one who could see both sides to a story. After all, he was with one of the players on the team, Adler.
I looked at Sam who wasn’t even in the room with us in spirit. He looked exhausted like maybe he hadn’t slept all night, but not for good reasons. Then I checked out Taz who was staring at Sam with a concerned expression on his face.
Guess it was up to me.
“Henry has an issue with the fact that his son came out at the event last night. He wanted Sam shut down, but Taz got him away and outside, and I followed as did Goog.” Sam lifted his head at the mention of Goog, and he looked so miserable. Apparently, things had not gone well between the two of them last night after they’d left.
“And then?” Layton prompted.
“And then Henry shoved Mike, so I shoved him back. Henry was creating shit with Sam and Mike got in the way trying to calm the situation,” Taz explained before I could think of a way to spin it.
Layton looked at me for confirmation, and after a short pause, I nodded. What was the point in hiding it when it seemed like Taz had detailed in all so clearly?
Layton pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. Then, after one deep breath, he looked at us all.
“Sam? You have something you want to say?”
Sam pushed up from the chair he’d slumped into.
“He wants Mike gone. And he says he won’t press charges for any of it as long as Taz decides to ask for a trade.”
Taz leaped to his feet and stopped Sam from taking a step to leave the room, and Layton straightened at the sudden movement, looking wary, and ready.
“What did you do, Sam?” Taz demanded.
Sam shook his head. “Not now, Taz—”
“What did he make you agree to—”
“Everything, okay. This is my fault, I caused this.” He shoved Taz out of the way, no mean feat considering the size of Taz. Layton moved from the door in what was probably an act of self-preservation. Sam stalked down the corridor and away.
“I’m sorry, Mike, I think this is going to be for the best.”
Taz rounded on him, “Better for who?” he demanded. Layton held his ground. Apparently, he’d had experience with hockey player dramatics.
Layton held up a hand. “Taz, I will do everything I can to make this right. But, for now, Mike, the Railers could use you for some work, pack your stuff and move on there, and we’ll talk when I get back.”
I looked from Layton to Taz and then nodded.
What else could I do?
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