The summer games settlin.., p.31
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       The Summer Games: Settling the Score, p.31

           R.S. Grey



  A FEW DAYS after we’d returned to the States, life had returned to normal (as much as it ever would). We’d wrapped up our final interview as a team and parted ways in D.C. Everyone headed back to the lives they’d dropped upon getting called up to play for the Women’s National Team. For most of my teammates, it’d been a tough few months away from their families. For me, it had been ideal timing. Before the games, I’d wrapped up my final year of playing college soccer and had started planning for my life after graduation.

  I had a few offers from club teams around the United States including Orlando, Seattle, and Houston, but I was more interested in the offers from soccer clubs abroad. Arsenal and Chelsea were the two I’d actually started to consider before the games had ramped up. They were both great teams, and Chelsea was in need of a goalkeeper immediately—which meant if I signed with them, I’d get to start right away. I’d get a ton of field time and I’d get the opportunity to hone my skills against international competition before the next World Cup in a few years.

  Kinsley padded into the kitchen and sent me a sleepy nod that I half-heartedly returned. I’d been hard at work creating a list of pros and cons for the five club teams I was still considering. Currently, the list only included food. In Houston, I would get great BBQ, but in Chelsea, I’d get fish and chips.

  “How’s the cereal?” she asked.

  “Stale and gross,” I said, dipping my spoon in and taking another bite. It tasted like cardboard, but I was too hungry to care.

  She laughed and looked in the fridge, though I knew she wouldn’t find anything inside. We’d cleared it out before we’d left for Rio, and unless she wanted to eat a pickle or a jar of mustard for breakfast, she was shit out of luck. I’d rifled through the pantry until I found a lone box of Cheerios that had expired two months earlier.

  “Where’s Liam?” I asked.


  I nodded.

  She shut the refrigerator door after reaching the same disappointing conclusion I had thirty minutes earlier: nothing inside was edible. I shook the box of Cheerios in the air and she rounded the kitchen island, pulling back the chair beside mine at the table. I didn’t hide my pros and cons list; Kinsley already knew I had a difficult decision ahead of me.

  “Have you put any thought to what you’ll do now that the games are over?”

  I tapped my pen on the notepad. “A little bit.”

  “With Chelsea you’d be close to Freddie in London.”


  She was watching me with a hopeful glint in her eye, like I would rip up the empty list and toss it in the garbage for Freddie. Freddie. Freddie. Freddie. What did she not understand about Psycho Caroline and her desire to murder me in my sleep? Did she really think I wanted to move to London and play for Chelsea, all so I could continue to deal with Caroline’s crap? It sounded like a nightmare, even with Freddie by my side.

  I shrugged. “I’m not sure where I want to play yet, and I doubt anyone would want me on their team until after I’ve finished rehabbing my wrist.”

  “That’s a copout and you know it.”

  I stared up at her over my cereal bowl.

  “Chelsea will sign you right now,” she continued. “Hurt wrist or not. You’re just scared of actually putting yourself out there.”

  “Maybe I want to play for Houston.”

  She rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah? Name one thing about that city.”

  “They have a lot of cowboys.”

  “Exactly,” she said, tipping the cereal box over so she could get a handful of Cheerios. “If you’re not going to make a move with Freddie now that Caroline is finally out of the picture, then you need to choose a team based on your needs. Chelsea is a good place to start.”

  I narrowed my eyes. “Wait, back up.”

  “Were you not listening that whole time?” She sighed. “You need to figure out what you want for your career—”

  I shushed her. “No! Not that stupid part. What did you just say about Caroline?”

  She furrowed her brow. “You didn’t see the news this morning?”

  “What news?”

  “I thought you had a Google alert on Freddie?”

  My heart dropped.

  In an effort to get a grip on my life, I’d placed a Freddie filter on my computer as soon as I’d returned to the US. No Googling, no Yahooing, no Binging. It wasn’t healthy to spend all day scrolling through every photo of him I could find.

  It’d been a few days since I’d gone Freddie-free and my life was already starting to look up. I’d brushed my hair and my teeth that morning, left my room, and I even had plans to go for a run after I finished eating my stale cereal. See? Progress.

  Kinsley pushed my cereal bowl out of the way and handed me her phone with three tabs already pulled up.

  “Pick one and read it.”


  Freddie freed following shocking report of fiancée’s fraud, extortion

  Caroline’s Inaccurate Conception

  Aspiring duchess faked pregnancy

  A Wolf in Chic Clothing

  Socialite Caroline Montague unmasked as liar, extortionist

  Olympian and Duke Freddie Archibald has been embroiled in a love triangle controversy of late involving his betrothed bride-to-be Caroline Montague and American acquaintance Andie Foster. Earlier reports detailing Archibald’s alleged infidelity at the Olympic games brought sharp backlash and scathing public outcry against Foster, the young American goalkeeper, particularly after Montague revealed that she was expecting a child. However, new evidence suggests the pregnancy was a fabrication used to coerce Archibald into an arranged marriage he never agreed to.

  “I’m glad the truth of Caroline’s poisonous actions have come to light,” said Archibald, speaking to Sky News reporter Sophie Boyle. “For weeks, she has extorted me for my silence and cooperation by using threats and false medical records created in concert with a sympathetic doctor.”

  The madness began when three weeks prior to leaving for the Olympic Games in Rio, the Archibald family put out a statement announcing Frederick’s official betrothal to Montague, a longtime family friend and London socialite. The betrothal came as no surprise to most of London, as Caroline had previously been linked with Henry Archibald prior to his death, but not everything was as it seemed, says Archibald.

  “I never agreed to marry her. My mother suggested it after my brother passed away, but I didn’t want any part of it—the estate, the family legacy. I just wanted to train and swim for my country. The betrothal was announced without my consent.”

  It had been widely speculated that the betrothal would become an engagement after Montague flew to Rio de Janeiro to cheer on her duke, but Archibald reportedly broke the news of his wishes the same day of her arrival.

  “It was after I told her I wanted to end the betrothal that she let down the façade of the soft-spoken, charitable girl the world knew and embraced the role of scheming extortionist. She didn’t care that I would never love her. She would stop at nothing to see the wedding through and to have her title set in stone.”

  With the Olympics finished, the entire conspiracy might have gone unreported, but for the efforts of the amateur detective and youngest Archibald, Georgia.

  “I honestly didn’t care about exposing [Caroline] as a criminal,” she said. “I just couldn’t swallow the thought of 60 or 70 more years of her boring me to tears at Christmas.”

  “Are you done yet? Skip to the end!” Kinsley said, pacing back and forth in front of the kitchen table.

  Boyle pushed Frederick on the subject of Andie and their future together.

  He smiled. “I’m not quite sure what the future holds for us. She and I never really had a chance while Caroline was in the picture, but she’s an amazing person and hopefully once the dust settles on this story, she and I can have a fresh start.”

  I glanced up. “
Is this real life? Did he just tell the world he wants a fresh start with me?”

  She yanked the phone out of my hand. “EXACTLY! He’s in love with you and you’ve been sitting at this table eating moldy Cheerios instead of packing your bags.”

  I leapt out of my chair. “Look up flights to London! I want to be on the next one that leaves LAX.”

  She nodded and waved her hand for me to hurry up. “Go pack and I’ll book the ticket.”

  I ran down the hallway toward my room, already trying to think of what I should take. I needed cute clothes if I was going to fly across the ocean and show up on someone’s doorstep.


  “What did the other articles say?” I shouted down the hall.

  “There was a part about the doctor being in love with Caroline since college. Oh, and apparently Georgie dressed up and recorded them admitting to faking the pregnancy!”

  Holy shit. Georgie did it.


  “You can read the rest on the plane!” Kinsley continued. “Get to packing!”



  THINGS I CARRIED with me off the plane in London:

  - The 2mg Xanax my seatmate offered upon hearing the condensed version of my story

  - An abysmal understanding of the London transit system

  - A healthy dose of panic and anxiety (see: why I held on to the Xanax)

  - My iPhone loaded with the theme song from Rocky, Wonderwall by Oasis, and Your Song covered by Ellie Goulding

  - A text message from my mom that read: “This is crazy. You cannot fly halfway across the world and show up on the doorstep of a man you hardly know. What do you think will happen once you get to London?! You need to call him first! Meemaw is having heart palpitations.”

  My mom was wrong. She had to be. Freddie’s article was his way of putting the ball in my court. He’d gotten rid of Caroline and he’d all but shouted to the world that he wanted to be with me. It was my turn to show him I was capable of a grand gesture. After my plane landed in London later that same day, I pulled my luggage into the first bathroom I found and glanced in the mirror. Oh, sweet Jesus. The long flight had done a number on me, and without a deep clean in a shower, there wasn’t much I could do. I washed my face and swiped on some mascara and blush. I could feel the woman beside me watching me freshen up, and when I finally glanced over and met her eyes, she smiled.

  “Going somewhere fun?” she asked as she washed the soap from her hands.

  “Umm…well.” For some reason I couldn’t come up with a lie on the spot, so I shrugged and told her the truth. “I’m going to try to find the man that might be the love of my life, now that his ex has been outed as a psychopath.”

  Her mouth dropped open in shock and I laughed, trying to ease the awkwardness.

  “Oh my lord…you’re—”

  I cleared my throat and nodded before she could even say it.

  “Right,” she said with a conspiratorial smile. She rifled through her purse and handed me a can of dry shampoo. “Here, take this dear.”

  I glanced up at my reflection and took note of my rat’s nest. “Ah, good thinking.”

  She nodded and patted my shoulder. “You’ll knock his socks off, I’m sure.”

  I sprayed in some dry shampoo and pulled my hair up into a messy bun. After a dab of perfume behind my ear, I pulled my luggage out of the bathroom behind me and headed for the taxi line out front.

  I felt good, like maybe I wasn’t a crazy person for flying to London without Freddie knowing. If Random Bathroom Lady believed in me, then this would surely work out in my favor.

  “Where to?” the cabbie asked as I slid into his back seat and pulled my suitcase in after me.

  “Miss? Where to?”

  He stared back at me in the rearview mirror and I froze, unable to give him an answer.

  “Oh. Right.”

  I had no clue where Freddie lived. How had I not thought this far ahead? Maybe because I’d shoved clothes into a suitcase, hightailed it to the airport, and jumped on the plane just as they announced the final boarding call. Now I was in London with nowhere to go.

  “Ma’am, where do you want to go?”

  “I actually have no idea,” I said with a tight, strained laugh as I opened the backdoor and pushed my luggage back out onto the sidewalk. I probably looked like a whack job, and truthfully, I was starting to feel like one.

  I stepped back up onto the curb and dropped my suitcase beside me. It was 9:00 PM London time, and I wasn’t sure if Georgie would have her phone on her, but I tried her anyway. The traffic around the airport made it hard to hear the phone ring, and for two seconds I feared I’d be stuck on that sidewalk with nowhere to go. I’d have to find a random hotel and stay the night like a lonely loser.

  “ANDIE!” Georgie squealed into the phone. “Took you long enough!”

  I sighed with relief at the sound of her voice. “Hi Georgie.”

  “I take it you’re phoning to shower me with praise on my excellent detectivating?”

  “Uh, well…yes, something like that.” I glanced around. “I’m actually in London.”

  She screamed so loudly into the phone I had to hold it away from my ear to keep from going deaf. The few people hovering on the curb beside me, waiting for their taxis, sent me awkward glares.

  “Georgie, stop screeching.”

  “Where are you!? I’ll come round and pick you up.”

  “I’m still at the airport. My plane landed like thirty minutes ago.”

  “You’ve come for him haven’t you?” She sounded so excited by the prospect.

  “Unless he’s already found someone else?” I joked with a flat, anxious laugh.

  “Are you kidding me? The prat has been lolling around his flat like the world is ending. He’s clearly been waiting for you to call, and any time I try to go over he nearly bites my head off about giving him space and what not. It’s all been very dramatic, I assure you.”

  I smiled. “Well if you wouldn’t mind giving me his address, I think I’ll just head straight there.”




  I groaned at the sound of Georgie banging on my door. “Go away, G. I’m not up for company.”

  She ignored me, used her key, and shoved her way into my flat like a Tasmanian devil. I kept my head tucked in the fridge—looking for something to eat—but she strolled past me and picked up an empty bag of crisps from the kitchen counter.

  “Listen, you insufferable hermit,” she said, crumbling up the empty bag. “You need to tidy this place up and then maybe consider having a shower yourself.”

  I picked up my shirt, sniffed it, and only recoiled a bit. “It’s not so bad,” I said, returning to my search for food. I’d already eaten dinner a few hours earlier, but food was distracting and since Andie was on my mind, a distraction was more than welcome. I shoved the vegetables aside and reached for a cheese stick.

  I let the refrigerator door fall closed and then glanced over to see Georgie drop a heavy paper sack at the base of the kitchen island. It sounded like there was a bowling ball stuffed inside.

  “What’ve you brought, G?”

  She ignored my question and walked toward me with determination. I’d barely pulled back the cellophane wrapper on my cheese stick when she slapped it out of my hand. It fell to the ground with a sad thump.

  “Hey,” I moaned. “I was going to eat that.”

  “Are you listening to me?! Leave the cheese stick!” she said with fire in her eyes. “You need to shower! Now!”

  I’d seen a few different versions of Georgie over the years. She was excitable and loud and opinionated and crass, but this was Georgie on a whole new level. Her bright eyes were wide and anxious, urging me to take her seriously.

  When I didn’t move quick enough, she groaned and shoved past me to get a bin bag out of the broom closet. She whipped it open with a lou
d POP and tore through the kitchen, throwing away anything in her sight: trash, papers, an empty pizza box. She nearly tossed one of my gold medals (I hadn’t gotten around to putting them up with the others yet) but I reached out and caught it before it fell into the bag.

  “Georgie, you’ve gone completely mental. Should I ring a doctor?”

  She ignored my teasing and turned back for the broom closet where she’d found the bag.

  “Do you have a candle or something?” she asked, pinching her nose closed with her fingers.

  “What’s going on?”

  She shook her head. “Nothing. Just…” She glanced around, trying to think up a lie. “I think you needed to freshen up a bit.”

  “I have a housekeeper who comes twice a week. Now fess up. What’s gotten into you?”

  She was a terrible liar, made worse by the anxious energy she put off when she was up to something.

  I pulled the bag out of her hand and let it drop to the floor. “You’re being really weird. Either tell me what’s going on or—”

  A loud knock on my front door interrupted my ultimatum. Georgie’s eyes widened even more as she swept her gaze to the door.

  “Oh no.” Her hands covered her mouth. “I’m too late. You’ll mess it all up with your manky apartment.”

  “Mess what up, Georgie?”

  She didn’t respond.

  “Who’s at the door?”

  She shrugged and turned back for the broom closet, rooting through my cleaning products. “Go see for yourself,” she said. “I’ve got work to do.”

  I wiped my hand down my face, annoyed at the idea of company. I didn’t know what Georgie was up to, but the person at the door was knocking again, so I stepped over the bin bag to go answer it. I’d barely turned the knob when I heard Georgie spraying something in the kitchen. She’d truly gone off the deep end. I shook my head and whipped the door open.

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