“Thanks, doll!” He waved as she blew him a kiss.

My eyes slid from Sherman to the women and back again. “You sure are popular around here.”

“You have no idea. Everyone loves me, especially the ladies.” He lifted a hand to the side of his mouth to block them from hearing and lowered his voice. “If you ever need pointers on how to get girls, you just let the Ole Sherm know and I’ll teach you my ways.”

I laughed out loud, so hard my shoulders shook. “Is that so? I’ll remember that one.”

“Okay, you ready to get started?” He clapped his hands enthusiastically. I’d barely had two sessions with Sherman and I could already tell that the man never ran out of energy. He was upbeat and energetic to the point where you couldn’t help but smile when you were with him. It was contagious. And not only was he like that the whole hour with me, he was like with everyone in the center, even other people’s clients. People were constantly coming up to him and giving him hugs or high-fiving him.

Sherman was hilarious to be around, but he was really good at what he did. If I gave him shit about an exercise, he pushed back harder. He explained everything he was doing and never treated me like a dumb jock.

After an hour of more quad sets, what felt like a million straight leg raises, and my new arch nemesis the prone hang, Sherman told me to follow him over to a table in the corner.

“Hop up!” He smacked the top of it loudly.

Confused by what we were doing next, I slowly lifted myself onto the table.

“Lie down and put your leg up on this, please.” He lifted a green plastic wedge up and gently put it under my knee to elevate it.

“What are you doing?” I asked, folding my hands and tucking them behind my head.

“We didn’t do it the first day because you were being a bit of a drama queen, but we’re going to do electronic stimulation of your knee today.” He stuck four sticky things to my knee and attached them to the machine next to him. “What e-stim does is stimulate your quad muscles to contract, stimulate your nerves to decrease pain, and increases blood flow all over, which, as you know, speeds up recovery. Some therapists don’t use it and think it’s a waste of time. Personally, I say it doesn’t hurt, and if it aids in the healing process and gets you back on the ice sooner, why not?”

“This is weird,” I said, staring down at the sticky pads on my knee.

“You’re weird,” he mocked as he put one bag of ice under my knee and one on top of it. “Okay, here we go.”

He pressed a few buttons and my leg instantly felt tingly.

“Whoa!” I sat up on my elbows. “That feels really weird. Is this gonna hurt?”

Sherman pressed his lips together and rolled his eyes. “Really? You’re a professional hockey player and you go by the name “Viper,” yet you’re worried about a little electricity on your knee? Big baby.”

I glared at him and opened my mouth to respond just as my quad muscles started contracting. “Holy shit!” I stared down at my leg, watching the muscles clench and relax, knowing that I had nothing to do with it.

“Trust me, you’ll grow to love this.”

“If you say so.” I lay back against the table.

“You seem extra pissy today. What gives?” he asked after a couple minutes.

I stared up at the ceiling and shrugged. “Nothing.”

I glanced over at him as he arched one eyebrow at me. “We may have only had two sessions so far, but I’m dialed in to you. What gives?”

“I just did something I shouldn’t have done yesterday, and it’s on my mind.”

“Ah,” Sherman said with a small nod. “I’m not gonna ask you to tell me what it is, but I will say this . . . no man ever lay on his death bed pissed off that he apologized too many times throughout his life, but plenty wish they’d apologized more.”

I swallowed hard and looked back up at the white ceiling tiles. “Look at you, Sherman. You’re like a walking, talking fortune cookie.”

“That’s what they tell me!” he boasted loudly as he threw his arms in the air and walked away.

What he said played over and over and over in my mind. The way I’d acted was horrible and I needed to apologize about that, but I still wasn’t sure that I wanted kids of my own . . . now, or ever.

 

After therapy, I was starving and knew exactly where I needed to go, even if it meant that I might see Kat. I drove straight to Gam’s.

When I pulled up, the same car from the other day was in the driveway, but I did my best to ignore it.

“Hey!” I called out as I pulled the door open and walked into the house.

Gam looked up from her book and her face broke into a huge grin. “There’s my boy!” She got up from her favorite chair in the family room and gave me a big hug. “I haven’t seen you in almost a week. How are you feeling?”

“I’m hanging in there.” I shrugged. “Still a little sore but getting better.”

She frowned as she looked past me. “Where’s everybody else?”

“Uh . . . home.”

She straightened and looked at me. “How come?”

I gave her another shrug and slid past her to sit on the couch. “I just came from physical therapy, so they weren’t with me.”

Not a total lie.

She followed me with narrowed eyes. “Should you be driving already?”

“I don’t know, but I am.”

“Does it hurt?” she asked as she sat back down on her couch slowly.

“To drive? No, it’s my left leg. It just kinda sits off to the side anyway. Now can we stop the interrogation, please? I’m starving to death.” I pointed to the kitchen with my thumb.

“Oh, I can tell,” she said sarcastically as she dragged her eyes down my body and back up again. “Come on.”

I followed her into the kitchen and immediately tensed when I saw Kat standing at the sink with her back to us.

“What are you in the mood for?” Gam asked, making her way over to the fridge. Kat turned around and glanced at me before quickly going back to whatever she was doing.

I shrugged and pulled a kitchen chair out. “I’m not picky.”

She lowered her head and peeked at all the shelves. “I have leftover spaghetti, grilled chicken, stuffed peppers . . . anything sound exciting yet?”