Breaking Through The Ice Ch. 10byMugsyB©
Thanks for coming along for the ride. I loved writing it and I hope you loved reading it.
It's a long chapter, settle in and enjoy!
Take care and happy reading.
Drew didn't go home right after that awful fight with Mina. He sat in his car for about a half hour first, then he drove around in ever-widening circles through Arlington. When he found himself close to the exits for the Beltway, he headed home. His mood remained foul as he got home and it was lucky for Carter, Drew thought, that his little brother was out. The way he was feeling, he'd have torn a strip off Carter.
Drew grimaced when he recalled what he'd said to Mina. He knew he'd crossed a line and hated himself for it. I'd promised myself I'd never hurt her like that. Then at the first unpleasant thing she tells me, I snap.
He grumbled to himself as he walked into the house and headed upstairs to shower and change. After that, he couldn't sit still. He ended up going for a jog and then coming back and working out in his makeshift gym in the basement. He stopped when he heard Carter come into the house but stayed downstairs. He was still too worked up and he knew if he started talking to his brother, he'd get mad and drive him away.
Just like I did to Mina.
A sick feeling settled in the pit of Drew's stomach and he sat on the weight bench with his hands on his knees for a long minute. He couldn't believe he'd lost it on her. He wasn't like that. He wasn't that guy, on or off the ice.
He groaned and rubbed his hands over his sweaty face. He pushed up from the bench and grabbed a towel off the nearby equipment rack. Then he walked upstairs, figuring he'd have to talk to Carter sooner or later. Maybe his little brother could explain why he'd gone to Mina instead of him.
"In the kitchen," came the response.
Drew wiped his face and head as he walked down the hall. "How was work?"
Carter stood by the fridge, making a sandwich. "I was at an interview for a new job."
Drew stopped just inside the doorway. "What? Why?"
Carter shrugged and finished up with the mustard before putting it back in the fridge. "The Verizon Center is all right but I need to start making more if I'm going to be able to move out."
Drew shook his head. "What are you talking about? You don't have to move out."
Carter tossed a grin over his shoulder. "I know you're not kicking me out, bro, but I can't stay here forever." He turned and pulled a plate out from the cupboard. "You and Mina aren't going to want me underfoot every time you're here."
Drew scowled. Carter laughed at his expression as he slapped the sandwich on the plate and carried it to the table.
"Actually, I was thinking of moving out in the fall. Maybe earlier." Carter winked at Drew as he bit into his sandwich.
Drew clenched his hands into fists. "Cut the crap. When were you going to tell me about your plans to go to cooking school?"
Carter's eyes popped open wide and he swallowed his bite before speaking. "Mina told you?"
"You should have told me."
"I was going to."
Drew raised an eyebrow. "Oh yeah? When? The day you graduated?"
Carter snorted. "No. Before that. I'd want to make sure you could come to the ceremony."
Drew threw his sweaty towel at Carter. It hit Carter in the face and he yelped before chucking it back with a scowl.
"Don't be an ass, Carter. Tell me now what's going on and don't make jokes."
Carter eyed him and ate another bite of his sandwich before responding. "I've always liked to cook, I guess. I never really thought about doing it, like, as a job or anything but then you started going out with Mina. I saw how cool it was, everything she does. I wanted to learn more." He shrugged. "So I asked if she'd meet with me and tell me what she had to go through and all that."
Drew moved over to sit across from Carter. "Were you going to do all this without telling me?"
"I was going to tell you."
Drew sighed. "Carter..."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to keep it from you for this long."
"Why'd you feel the need to keep it from me at all?"
Carter shrugged and looked away.
Drew waited but Carter remained silent. "Come on, Carter, tell me why you were lying. You made Mina lie to me too."
Carter shot to his feet and pointed a finger at him. "Don't do that. Don't make this out to be something else. I asked Mina not to say anything. This has nothing to do with her. And anyway, she'd never do anything to hurt you."
Drew grimaced at Carter's words. His brother was right; Mina would never have hurt him. Not like he'd done to her earlier. God, I am the world's biggest ass. He sighed and rested his elbows on the table.
"Wait a second." Carter sat down again. "What did you say to Mina when she told you?"
Drew couldn't meet his eyes.
"Oh man, what did you say? Were you a jerk?"
"That's one way of putting it."
Carter stared at him. "What's the big deal?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, sure, I should have told you and I definitely shouldn't have put Mina in that position, but it's really not that big a deal."
Drew looked at him for a long second and then nodded. "It's not a big deal to you. I guess...I don't know. I guess I was ticked that you felt like you couldn't tell me about it."
"You haven't exactly been easy to talk to lately." Carter took another big bite of his sandwich before speaking again. "Every time I've come close to telling you, you've bitten my head off for something."
"I have? Like what?"
"Like going for lunch with my friends. Not coming home right after work. Not telling you what I'm doing every second of every day." Carter paused and gave Drew a look. "You're not Dad, you know. You don't have to "
Drew frowned. "I'm not like that, am I?"
"You weren't. I don't know what's been eating at you lately but you're not as laid back as you were."
"Maybe it has something to with the fact that my brother quit college and ran away from home."
Carter snorted and shook his head. "I'm nineteen. It's not running away, it's 'moving out.'"
Drew chuckled, some of his tension easing. Carter was a smartass but he was also just plain smart. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize I was getting that bad."
Drew shook his head and stared out the window over the sink for a few minutes. Carter finished his sandwich and carried his plate to the sink. As the silence stretched on, Carter poured himself a drink and looked at Drew as he downed half of it.
"I can't believe you didn't tell me about it." Drew sat back in his seat and returned Carter's narrow look. "You made me think you were sneaking around, finding parties, being an idiot again."
"No, you chose to think that about me."
"What else was I supposed to think?"
"You were supposed to give me the benefit of the doubt." Carter set his drink on the counter and glared at Drew. "You're my brother, not my father. Why couldn't you trust me to not repeat my mistakes? Why did you always automatically assume the worst?"
Drew had no response. Did he do that?
"You wonder why I don't tell you what I want to do?" Carter shrugged. "I guess because I think you won't take me seriously. You'll say it's stupid or that I'm not old enough to make an informed decision."
"No, I wouldn't." Drew's protest was automatic.
Carter's eyebrows shot up. "Yeah, right." He sighed and rubbed the side of his neck. "Look, the main reason why I didn't say anything was because I didn't see the point until I was sure I could do it. I wanted to be accepted first and have all the plans in place before I told you. That way you'd be impressed."
Drew straightened in his chair and stared at his brother. He was dumbfounded that Carter had been planning and thinking this through. "Oh wow, I really am a gigantic ass."
Carter laughed and shook his head. "Not a gigantic one."
"Thanks." Drew ran his knuckles over his chin, thinking about how badly he'd screwed everything up. "God, I wish you'd just told me."
"If I'd known you'd be a jerk to Mina, I'd have brought it up ages ago." Carter sat down across from Drew again. "What did you say anyway?"
"Nothing worth repeating, believe me." Drew closed his eyes and sighed. "I can't believe how badly I overreacted."
Carter chuckled. "Seriously, what's the deal? We've been going around in circles for weeks."
Drew sighed and scrubbed his hand up and down his face. "I just... I don't know. I felt so helpless all the time when Mom would call and tell me what trouble you'd been getting into. I wanted to help. Then you showed up here and I know I was a jerk at first but I really thought I could help you."
"Did I? Then how come you ran to Mina when you had your great idea? Why didn't you say anything after Mina made us dinner that night?"
"I don't know. I didn't want to bother you with it. You were so busy with the end of the season and Mina and all..." He shrugged one shoulder and let his sentence hang in the air.
"You're my brother. I would have made time for you."
Silence fell between them and they both considered each other's side of things. Carter toyed with one corner of the towel while Drew drummed his fingers on the table.
Drew stopped tapping his fingers and sighed. "Late as I am with figuring all this out, I am sorry."
Carter lifted his head and smiled. "I know. I know you never try to be a jackass, it just seems to work out that way."
As they shared a laugh, Drew felt better having resolved at least part of this issue with Carter. Now if only he could take back the boneheaded things he'd said to Mina.
"Are you really planning to go?" he asked.
Carter shrugged. "If I can get accepted for the fall program."
"And if not?"
"Then I'll keep working, save as much as I can, learn what I can on my own, and be ready for the next semester."
Drew blinked, surprised that his brother had thought so far ahead. "I'm impressed."
"Yeah, well, I wasn't always a mindless party animal, you know."
Drew laughed. "I never thought you were." At Carter's pointed look, Drew laughed again. "Seriously. You were just a kid on his own for the first time making some bad choices."
Carter chuckled. "That's the simple explanation, I guess."
Drew smiled. "I've always wondered what happened. You did so well in school and then six weeks into your first semester at Boston College, you start to struggle. So, what was it?"
Carter sighed and rubbed his forehead. "I don't know. It wasn't any one thing that happened. It was great to be on my own at the dorm and I didn't always put homework first but I thought I still thought I could handle things. My first couple assignments were really tough and I was frustrated that I couldn't make the same grades right away."
He paused and Drew remained silent, waiting for Carter to collect his thoughts.
"The professors I talked to didn't really seem to care when I asked for advice so I stopped caring too. I didn't complete a couple more assignments and stopped going to every class. I started to spend more time with my friends and I found every party to go to that I could. I didn't want to tell Mom and Dad, and they probably would have just said something like they'd paid for it, so I needed to stick with it." Carter shifted in his seat and gave Drew a weak smile. "It wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done but I didn't know what else to do."
Drew nodded. "What classes were so awful? I thought you were going to major in economics?"
Carter rolled his eyes. "Have you ever studied economics? I'd rather watch the Golf Channel for a week straight."
Drew laughed. "Oh, come on. Math was always your favorite subject in high school, wasn't it?"
"I know, that's why I took the math and economics courses. I thought there'd be some way to make that into an interesting career. I was so wrong."
Drew studied his brother, listened the way he talked about his schooling, and realized that that's how he would have sounded if he'd decided to become a history teacher or something.
I love hockey and lucky for me, my family supported my decision.
Drew leaned forward with a smile. "Carter, if you could really get into this chef thing, and really make a career out of it, then I support you, one hundred percent."
His brother looked up with a surprised smile. "Really?"
"Of course. I was being stupid, thinking I knew better than you." Drew sighed and shook his head, hearing Mina's voice in his head telling him almost the same thing. "If you really want to be a chef and you have a plan all worked out, then I want to help."
"I don't need help. Just knowing you're not going to be a jerk about it is enough."
"Nice." Drew swatted Carter with his towel as his brother laughed. "I'm serious. I don't want you struggling to make rent or tuition when you need to focus on your studies."
"What are you talking about?"
Drew took a deep breath. "I'm talking about your plan. You say you're going to work all summer then hopefully make it into the fall program?"
"Make sure you get into the school, then I'll help you make all your payments."
Carter's eyes just about bugged out of his head. "Drew, I...that's not...I mean...You don't have to do that."
"I know. I want to. And anyway, it's not a gift, it's a loan. Interest free." He grinned. "You can have the errant family member discount."
"Are you serious?"
"Yes. I told you, I want to be supportive."
Carter stared at him and Drew stared back. Then Carter let out a whoop and almost leapt across the table to hug Drew. Drew laughed and pushed him off.
"I'm going to call Mom and Dad right now," Carter said. "They'll be so excited."
Drew watched him run from the kitchen, glad he'd been able to make things all right with him.
Now if only I hadn't completely screwed up with Mina.
He groaned and dropped his head to the table with a thump.
Mina was hesitant to say anything to Hilary or Lena about her fight with Drew. Mostly because she was still so confused about what happened, but also because she was afraid they might say something to Mark or Obie. She didn't want them to say anything to Drew or throw off their team spirit. With the playoffs coming up, Mina didn't want to have any part in ruining the team's chemistry.
That's assuming I have that kind of effect on Drew, she thought as she stared at the blank TV.
It was midmorning four days after Drew had made all those asinine assumptions and accusations. She was off for the day, the first day off she'd had in a while when she wouldn't see or speak to Drew.
She bit her lip as she considered. She could call him. Then she shook her head and steeled her resolve. She'd done nothing wrong and the olive branch should come from him. At least, that's what she told herself. In the late hours when she couldn't sleep, she was reminded of how she'd kept Carter's secret from Drew and how she had yet to tell him about Lawrence's visit.
The door to the apartment opened and Hilary called out as she walked in.
"Hi, Hilary." Mina dragged her pajama-clothed butt off the couch for the first time all morning. "You want some coffee? I was just going to make a pot."
Hilary nodded as she took her jacket and shoes off. "Sounds great. I'm just going to change."
Mina went into the kitchen as Hilary disappeared down the hallway to her bedroom. Mina stood at the counter, watching the dark liquid drip into the pot when Hilary walked in.
"Whoa, Mina, haven't you ever heard that expression about the boiling pot?"
Mina smiled. "It's the water in the pot that boils and this is coffee anyway."
Hilary raised an eyebrow and Mina sighed. She knew she wasn't fooling her friend. Hilary hadn't pressed for details but Mina knew she was curious. Mina moved to sit down at the table and Hilary sat across from her.
"Drew and I had a fight the other day."
Hilary nodded. "I figured as much. What was it about?"
Mina sucked in a breath and shook her head, wondering where to begin. She still didn't know how it had gone bad so quickly. Then she recounted the argument and how it had ended with Drew's harsh assessment of her career choice.
"Oh, Mina." Hilary reached across the table to clasp her hand. "I'm sure he didn't mean that. You know he's always been supportive of your career. Look at how he planned that night out and sent you those flowers when you got the job at the club."
Mina shrugged. "Maybe he was just doing all that to get me in bed."
Hilary scoffed. "You know him better than that. Drew's not that type of guy."
"You're right. I don't know why he did all that and then called my career a waste of time as soon as his brother decided he wanted to be a chef."
"Drew's always been overprotective of his brother. He was probably hoping Carter would decide to be an accountant or lawyer or something."
Mina frowned. "What's wrong with being a chef?"
"Nothing, but you have to admit it's a tough job and not everyone who enters the field finds real success."
Mina couldn't argue with that. She supposed if she looked at it objectively, an accountant or lawyer might have a better chance at a stable, long-term career. It still stung, what he'd said, along with everything else. She sighed and stood up to get their coffee. Again they sat across from each other, holding their warm mugs and thinking.
"I'm assuming he hasn't called since then?" Hilary asked after a minute or two.
"No. The playoffs start in a couple days so I don't know if he'll call at all."
Hilary smiled and patted her hand. "He'll call. Once he realizes what an ass he was, he'll call to apologize and you guys can talk it all out."
Mina couldn't return her friend's smile. Something about the whole argument still ate at her. She couldn't help but think she might have overreacted, which led to Drew's temper rising. She shook her head to lose the thought. It was always what she'd done when she was with Lawrence. She'd turned everything around so that she was always accepting blame, even when she'd done nothing wrong.
"What?" Hilary frowned. "You have a strange look on your face."
"I was just thinking about when I used to fight with Lawrence."
Hilary's eyebrows shot up. "Tell me you're not still comparing him to Drew."
"Not exactly." Mina shifted in her seat and lifted her mug to her lips. "I was thinking about how I would have just shut up and agreed with him when Lawrence and I argued."
"You shouldn't have." Hilary pushed her hair over her shoulder. "And you don't need to feel bad about your fight with Drew. Yeah, you both said things you maybe shouldn't have but it'll work out in the end. You'll see."
Mina did smile then. "When did you become such an optimist?"
Hilary flushed, her fair skin going rosy pink in an instant. "Uh, I think it was around the time Mark asked me to move in with him and I said yes."
Mina gaped for a second before jumping out of her chair and embracing her friend. "Oh my God! That's awesome, Hil!"
Hilary laughed and returned her hug. "Thanks. I'm pretty excited."
Mina pulled back with a grin. "You should be. What a milestone. We should go out and celebrate."
"Oh, we don't have to." Hilary's smile slipped. "I wasn't going to tell you right away."
"Why? Because I'm nowhere close to living with a man?" Mina waved off Hilary's protests. "Don't worry about it. I'm not so selfish I can't be happy for my best friend."
Hilary smiled and hugged her again. They moved to the living room where Hilary told her how Mark had broached the subject. Mina was happy for her friend and thought it might be good for her to live on her own. She hadn't since having her own room at Baltimore International but that hardly counted. Five feet from her door in any direction had been other students.