What’s Next

THE CHANGE UP

Prologue

 

MADDOX

 

Have you ever said something you regret?

 

Something you haven’t forgotten about an hour later?

 

Something that sits with you, stews deep in your belly, and then seeps into your bones, burying itself so far into your marrow that all you can think about is the one thing you said . . . and how you wished you could take it back the minute it slipped past your lips?

 

That’s where I am.

 

Full of regret.

 

People always say, “Don’t regret anything. It’s what makes you who you are.” That was said in a whiney, nasally voice. Did you hear it?

 

Well, those people, the ones trying to spew rainbows and sunshine up your ass about blatant mistakes . . . yeah, they’re only saying that because they fuck up on a daily basis.

 

Think about it, what REAL person is okay with all their regrets? No one. There is always that one thing you did, that one time, that you will always, always, always think . . . “What if I’d done that differently?”

 

It keeps you up at night.

 

You wonder, what transformed, what took over my brain, to utter such words. To alter your life completely and send it down an entirely different course.

 

Yeah, my life has been fucking altered all right.

 

Everything was fine.

 

I was pitching one hell of a fucking season for the Rebels, my ride or die team. I was getting along with my teammates, even the infamous Cory Potter, who made a splash after last season. I’ll hand it to the man, he really is the boss. I was getting laid whenever I wanted, which is always a plus for a guy who has massive amounts of adrenaline pumping through him daily, especially on a pitching day. And there were no strings attached.

 

None.

 

Yeah, I might have a rotation of women I call, but any single player in the major leagues does. You need the outlet. Even the prestigious Cory Potter had some booty call numbers before he found Natalie.

 

I was living a great life, and then it all changed. And it changed fucking fast.

 

Before I knew it, I was staring into my fridge at dairy products not made from a cow, but rather from oat. What the fuck is that? Oat milk? Explain to me where an oat has a goddamn nipple.

 

My toothbrush is made from bamboo, which gives off a very woody, splintery taste, and I’ve been using toothpaste tablets instead of paste from a tube . . . because apparently, tubes suck up life in the landfill.

 

The eco-friendly toilet paper in my apartment disintegrates in my hand and is worthless, making bathroom breaks a fucking nightmare.

 

And there’s a goddamn three-legged dog in a suit and tie sitting on my couch that goes by the name Herman.

 

I don’t have any privacy, I barely remember what meat tastes like anymore, and Herman has a goddamn staring problem. And the three-legged motherfucker, yeah, he’s stealthy. I find him waiting for me outside the shower . . . staring.

 

When I wake up . . . staring.

 

When I’m trying to make a goddamn tempeh sandwich . . . staring.

 

Every time I tell him to “get a life” or to “fuck off” or for the love of Christ “get a new hobby”, he doesn’t even bat an eyelash.

 

He just stares!

 

I can’t fucking take it anymore.

 

I’m losing my goddamn mind and I don’t know . . . maybe it’s because I haven’t had sex in what feels like forever, or because my burgers are now made of imposter “meat”, or maybe because I’m forced to do things I don’t want to do. Either way, something needs to give, because I’m pretty sure from all the vegan shit I’ve been eating, my armpits are just about ready to spring their own mung beans.

 

Christ.

 

One phone call.

 

That’s all it took.

 

One fucking phone call from a person I cannot say no to, a person who will forever and always be . . . my insanely beautiful and free-spirited best friend.

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