Romance: sports romance: the playmaker (bad boy college football romance) (new adult college alpha ma

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Copyright 2015 by (Carly White) - All rights reserved.

 

 

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Table of Contents

 

The Playmaker

Addicted

Speechless

High Stick

Power Play

At His Command

At His Call

Consequence

At His Request

The Billionaires Request

Double Blindside

Choked

Hooked

Claimed

Knocked

 

The Playmaker

 

A Bad Boy Football Sports Romance

 

 

 

 

 

By: Carly White

 

Chapter 1

Curt

I watched her walk across the field, laughing and tossing her black hair back. It was the second time I had seen her that week, before that never. I thought I knew every girl at school, but she was something all-together different. She was wearing a uniform from the local all-girl college on the other side of town. Those uniforms were made to drive men wild and it was doing a very good job of it. When I looked around, I was not the only one admiring the view.

Last time, the woman had just stayed for a minute, watching us play, but this time her and two of her friends were headed to the coach. I had a moment of jealousy, wondering if he was some kind of sugar daddy. She was too young and too hot to be with a man like Steve LaBelle. When I saw her give him a hug and a peck on the cheek, it was almost confirmed.

“I don’t know why you always look at things you can’t have Curt. She is off-limits and out of your league.”

“No one is out of my league.”

“She is.”

“Who is she?” I had to know where she came from and who she was. Why had I not seen her at any of the clubs or bars in town?

“That’s the coach’s youngest daughter.”

I looked over at Nick surprised. “What do you mean?”

He laughed and slapped me on the back before walking off. “I told you she was off limits.”

I heard his voice, but didn’t look back over, too wrapped up in the woman in front of me. My jealousy was gone, but Nick was right. There was no way that I could ever be anything to her. I was the star quarterback and though my time in school was ending and I was on my way to the NFL, the coach was like a second father to me. I had been playing for him for almost four years and I knew how protective he was of his daughters. It now made sense why no one ever seen them at games. They were too pretty and they would have been a target for guys like me.

I didn’t want to think that I couldn’t have her, already taking her several times in my fantasies. There was nothing wrong with thinking of it, though even that made me feel a slight twinge of guilt. If her legs weren’t so long, chest so bouncy, I may have been able to ignore her, but I couldn’t. Women like her were made to be looked at, I was sure of it.

Getting back to practice, I got sacked twice when my attention was taken away from the game and to the sidelines. The two girls that were with her had went to sit in the nearby stands, while the father and daughter seemed to argue about something. I wondered how old she was. If she was in college, she was old enough, but she didn’t look much older than that. I tried to remember Steve talking about how old they were, he had three of them, but I couldn’t remember.

She was getting more upset and I could hear her tone rising, but not the words that she was saying. It was clear she wanted something and her father wasn’t so enthused about it. I wanted to get closer and hear what it was about, but I knew better.

Out of nowhere, the ball hit me in the chest and I grabbed it out of reflex. Seconds later I was being tackled by two of my teammates. When I cursed them, I was told to pay attention. I nodded, letting them know that I was in the wrong, but I looked back to what was distracting me. The pair was gone and I felt a sinking in my stomach for a moment. What was it that the woman had over me? I have never even spoken a word to her, yet I was already enduring physical discomfort in her pursuit.

I tried to ignore the sidelines and the door going into the building as much as I could. I did a good enough job that I didn’t get plowed over again, but there was still the constant cast of my eyes in that direction. I was saddened when I didn’t see her again. Looking around, it was Nick that ran into me, laughing at me really. “You are going to get yourself killed by the coach or on the field. Pay attention.”

I nodded and mumbled something that even I didn’t understand. “Are you going to tell me that you didn’t find her hot? In that school girl outfit, it did nothing for you?”

“Well hell yeah, but like the two with her, they are all off limits. Beyond the fact that they are from Carvor Prep and won’t look at you anyways, she is the coach’s daughter. Don’t screw up your chances at pro because you want to look under her skirt.”

I knew he was right, of course I did. How could I not? But that didn’t change the fact that it was all I wanted to do and the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t care who her daddy was. I looked back one last time as we were lining up. Lana was coming out of the office with her father in tow and it looked like she had gotten her way. The coach was frowning and she was smiling. I couldn’t help but smile with her and then I heard Nick in front of me and decided that I didn’t want to cause any attention to me.

The coach moved to the team and yelled for a few minutes. We had a game the next day and there was the where and when to meet. I was riding in with Nick instead of taking the bus. Coach Steve frowned upon it, but like most everything else in my life, football made it a little easier. He could buckle down and make me take the bus, but he wanted to keep his quarterback happy. Like most older men that played the sport at one point, he spent the rest of his life living the thrill through others. Coaching gave him that thrill and he was more worried about winning then the players were.

I walked up to him after practice, my eyes scanning behind and beside him but the raven-haired beauty was gone.

“What do you want Curt?”

“I was wondering if you had any tips for Lakeview. Last time we played them it didn’t end so well and there is supposed to be recruits in the stands tonight.”

“I thought you already got an offer.”

I nodded, “Several, but I am hoping that Nick does as well.”

Steve sized me up. He knew that I was not telling the truth. It would have helped if I could keep my eyes from looking for her, but I was unable. “You know that Nick isn’t going to get one Curt. Sometimes you have to leave behind some of your life. He is going to be one of them that you have to let go. We have talked about it before.”

His tone had taken on more of the fatherly quality and I knew that he didn’t see through me. He thought I was worried about Nick, which I was. Nick was mediocre and while I was going on to the big times, he was going to have to actually use his degree to get some kind of job, always wishing that he could still be playing. I felt the same honor that I would be able to go on and do what I love for a few more years. Playing into that, I used his tender heart to get an invitation to dinner.

It didn’t happen often and I was surprised. I was more interested in who else in his family was going to be there, but I didn’t ask. I knew when not to push it and that was one of those moments.

“Thanks Sir. I will be there at five. I still remember the cake your wife brought in for championship.”

“Lavie is a good cook, part of the reason I married her.”

The other reason was she was fine as hell. There was no secret where the daughters got their looks and it wasn’t from the blonde hulk of a man in front of me. I told him I would see him later and walked away with a little more hope for meeting Lana I person. I was tired of seeing her from afar. I knew that if I just met her, maybe the strange pull I had to her would go away. I would realize that she wasn’t as great up-close and that would be the end of the obsession I felt for her.

This is what I told myself anyways.

Chapter 2

Lana

“I hate when you have your sports buddies over Dad. All we are going to talk about is sports for the next hour.”

“It won’t be so bad. It is all I talk about anyways. If you want to go to the party tonight, then you have to be nice and respectful for our guest.”

“Why him? You never bring home any of the players before.”

“This one is special. Just be nice Lana. That is all I am asking.”

I nodded that I would, though I would have much rather been anywhere else but there. M older sister was staying there while she was in town and the two of us never really got along. I didn’t like or trust my older sister and even though I hadn’t seen her in a year, I could have went longer. “First Jessa and now some jock from work. You are just trying to ruin my day.”

I knew that I was complaining too much, but it was too much. Jessa was already upstairs and I knew that she was going to be the same Jessa that I knew and rightly couldn’t stand. The fake smile when she had walked in didn’t fool anyone but father.

“Don’t be so dramatic Lana. Sometimes you are a little too much like your mother.”

Lavia nudged him as she set dishes on the table for me. She had heard it all. “You told me that you hoped we would have daughters just like me once.”

“That was before we had three. They got more and more stubborn as time went on too.”

As I saw them together, it was what every girl wanted. My parents had that lasting love and even after 25 years, they were still in love as they had been in the beginning. Their children however, were not so lucky in love. I wasn’t really looking to be honest, but my sister Jessa had been for a long time and she was still single in her mid-twenties. We all felt the pressure with the long looks to start a family and have grandkids. I walked away from their arguing, knowing it was going to somehow lead to them making out.

I heard the knock at the door and started towards it. When I opened it, I just stood there for a moment before I moved aside to let him in. I imagined that this was Curt and he definitely had the beefy jock look going on. His blonde hair was short, skin tanned and he towered over me in front of the door. I was still standing there with the door open.

He was just looking back at me, his brown eyes calling to me in such a way. “Curt, right?”

“Yes and you must be Lana.”

“Must be.”

It was strange how he said it and as he moved closer, I wondered for a moment what he was doing. He closed the door, leaning in and pushing it from my hand. Curt was just too close suddenly and I took a step back to find my back against the now closed door. My reaction seemed to surprise him as much as it did me. “Sorry, I just didn’t want you to be cold.”

“Thanks. Welcome Curt. You can leave your jacket there.”

I walked back through the foyer and into the large dining room. Everyone was starting to get settled and I saw the look that Jessa was giving him. When she looked over at father and nodded, something between them past and I wondered if this was a set up for her. It would make sense as Curt was older, but there was something in me that wanted him for myself.

While having to go to an all-girls school could be a drag, there was nothing worse than the lack of boyfriends. I had a few outside of college, but I was pretty sure of the reason that my parents had agreed to pay my tuition if I went. Jessa had smeared the family name with her antics when she went to college for the first time. She never did actually graduate though. Instead she would drop out and start another course. She was finding herself and I didn’t want her to try that with Curt.

“So dad tells me that you are looking at several offers in the NFL after you graduate. Have you decided on a team yet?”

I looked over at Jessa and the grin on her face. She was going for it and while I resented the fact that she was, I couldn’t help but wish that I had her kind of courage. I could barely speak when he was around me and she was having no trouble at all. It was the difference between me and most girls.

I waited for the answer as did everyone else in the room. He was noncommittal, but said he was leaning towards our own state’s team. I liked the idea of him staying around, but when the subject got into money and deals, I grew bored. I could have cared less how much he would get on his first contract, but people like my sister were very interested, sizing up the mark. I didn’t know if I should feel bad for him yet. It was unclear if he would take the bait.

As the evening progressed, it became clear that I was to be sent away so that they could have time together. My father and mother were up to their old matchmaking antics, Jessa on the receiving end of it. I had to admit that I wished they had tried to set me up with Curt instead.

So I went off to sit on the porch with a drink I had snuck from the kitchen. It was a clear night and if I couldn’t have the man I wanted, at least there was a good view and liquor. The house was quiet, as well as the neighborhood. It was times like this that I missed the old family house. I was only there some weekends because I had room and board at college. The drive wasn’t too bad, but I had wanted to live more independently instead of commuting. It was days and nights like this though, that made me wish i had made a different decision.

“It’s nice out here.”

I looked up to see Curt standing next to me. I hadn’t even heard him come out.

“Is that something stronger than lemonade?”

I handed him the spiked drink and watched his face as he found out how strong it was. “I guess so. Damn, that is like pure vodka.”

Grinning I took it back and took another drink. It was kind of rough, but I needed something to calm my nerves with Jessa around. There were a lot of things we couldn’t do at school, but drinking was not something that we went without. I offered him another drink, but he put his hands up. “No, I am good.”

“Puppy.”

“Never been called that before.”

“Well I would imagine most people would tell you whatever you want to hear.”

He chuckled a little and sat down on the swing next to me. “I get the feeling that you aren’t that type of girl.”

I had never thought about what type of girl I was, but getting all moony-eyed wasn’t really my thing and even though I had a lapse when I first met him, it didn’t seem that difficult suddenly. Of course the vodka could have been helping as well. I took another drink in case that was the case. “I don’t think you are here to talk to me Curt.”

“Yeah, I get the feeling you are right about that. Seems a waste of time, doesn’t it?”

“It just makes you not believe anything that anyone says. Makes you wonder who is there for you and who is there for the money.”

“I can see that. I bet it’s going to get worse when you get drafted.”

He looked down for a minute and it seemed to genuinely bother him. I couldn’t imagine wondering what people wanted from me all of the time. I suddenly saw it through his eyes, exhausting.

“Stick with the people you know that were there before you got rich and famous. They were your true friends.”

Curt looked at me as if I had given him an epiphany. “You don’t really care about all of that, do you?”

“Not really. I am going into teaching knowing there is no money in it. You have to do what it is you love to do. You love playing don’t you? I’ve seen you at games and at practice, you look so happy, so that is what you should do. That you get paid a ton is just a bonus in my book. Everyone should do what they love.”

“You have such conviction about it.”

“Life is short.”

He got quiet again and I could tell he was thinking about something. I took another sip of the drink and offered it to him. Curt didn’t grimace that time when he took a drink and if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that he needed it just as much as I did.

“Sorry if what I said bothered you. You got really quiet.”

Curt took another drink and it was almost empty when he handed me back the glass. “Yeah I just never thought of it like that. Everyone is always so worried about the money, but I just want to play ball.”

“And you get to, plus the life that goes with it. Money, cars, women throwing themselves at you.”

He kind of chuckled and I don’t know why I disliked that sound so much all of a sudden. “You would not believe how many times I have been set up by well-meaning parents with daughters.”

I couldn’t help but think about my own father trying to set him up with Jessa. They were not compatible at all, but I knew that a lot of it had to do with his future career and how well he would take care of his future wife.  I kind of grinned back at him, acknowledging my own parent’s shamelessness. “So how do you like her?”

“Like who?” He genuinely seemed confused for a moment and I really liked that for some reason.

“My sister Jessa.”

“She is nice and all, but not really my type.”

By the way he was looking at me, I had a feeling that I was more his type. I smiled back at his evaluation and leaned back in the swing. My sister didn’t get to have all of the fun after all. Curt was more than I had thought him to be. Dumb jock wasn’t a stereo type for no reason, but he did not fit in that category. I always thought that guys like him loved the attention, but he seemed worried about what that attention meant in the way of how people really were and what their intentions would be. That was something that I never had to really think about. Men wanted me for my looks and that’s about it.

“I like my women a little more free-thinking and less worried about what I can do for them. I have a feeling your sister would try to get me married off and her knocked up on the first date.”

I had to giggle. It was actually exactly what she would try to do. I could see the way her eyes glinted when he had talked about his contract. All she could see was money when she looked at Curt. “She just might and you would no doubt fall for it hook, line and sinker. Jessa has a way with the fellas. I have always been jealous of her for that.”

“Maybe I would have fallen for it, if I didn’t have my eye on someone else. You have absolutely nothing to be jealous about Lana.”

When he leaned in, I panicked and sat up, nearly knocking into him as I got up. I was still a little unsteady on my feet, the alcohol making my senses less than they should have been. He stood up suddenly with me to help steady me with a hard grip around my waist. I pushed his hands away from my hips, the feel too familiar between us and me not able to handle the way he made me feel. “Thanks but I got it.”

He let me go and for a moment I wished that I hadn’t said anything and I had allowed the moment to happen. He had wanted to kiss me and as much as I wanted him to, there was something holding me back. A man like Curt was no good for me. My mother had always told me that if there was a man that made it hard to think, run. I was always supposed to be looking for the man that made me feel safe. I didn’t feel very safe in that moment or around him. Curt had the ability to leave me practically catatonic, so that couldn’t be good.

I took another step towards the door, half-expecting him to try and stop me but he didn’t. Instead he let me go and I was left to wonder why. He was interested, that much was clear, though he must not have wanted me too much if he was so quick to give up.

“What are you doing out here Lana?”

My dad was standing in the doorway and I closed my mouth. “Just enjoying the night. You told me to get lost.”

His eyes narrowed and Steve looked back at the quarterback that seemed to be doing the same thing. I had a feeling that Curt had seen him before me. Maybe he did want me, but couldn’t say such a thing in front of my father. This gave me new hope, but I still couldn’t have him. Even though I couldn’t, I still wanted him to want me.

I bade the two of them a good night and went back into my parent’s house while the coach and player talked. My sister Jessa was telling my mom how much she liked Curt and I just kind of smiled when she said something to me about it. She was so sure that no one could turn her down. “Good luck with that sis. I am going to go lay down for a bit.”

She looked at me strange, but didn’t say much of anything else. I would be happy when she found another boyfriend to go off with. She liked them rich or moving around. There was no middle ground with Jessa, her last boyfriend being some kind of nomad.

I tried to ignore the look that Curt had given me or the one from father when he had seen us out on the porch. I was supposed to go to a party later, but the vodka on the porch was kicking in and I decided I was better off staying in. It didn’t matter if I went then. None of the men would live up to Curt, so there was no point. I was always so focused on what I couldn’t have that I spent the next hour thinking about that very thing before sleep finally took over.

Chapter 3

Lana

Going back to school was a bummer in some ways, the weekend never long enough. But it was good to get out from underneath my older sister’s watchful gaze. She was always in a mood and if nothing else, at least there was peace when I got back to the dorms. My roommate was out when I got back, so there was nothing to do but enjoy the few moments of quiet after the chaotic weekend.

I didn’t see Curt again after leaving him on the porch. There was some talk when I was going in the house, but he never came back to court Jessa while I was there and she seemed genuinely surprised that she didn’t get what she wanted. I left wondering what would happen between them, but it wasn’t for me to know. He wasn’t for me to be around and the best thing I could do was try to forget about him.

Getting back into the school routine, I found myself thinking less and less about the football star Curt. Exams were coming up and there was always something to do and keep me occupied. I did hear that Jessa had run off with a new beau, but the thought of it being Curt never crossed my mind. I liked the idea that he had turned her down, even though it did nothing for me. It was nice to know that she couldn’t have him.

It was almost a month until I seen dad again. Between the two of us, we just didn’t have time. While mom would come up and see me on campus, dad was a little trickier to pin down and I had to resort to tracking him down at work again. I would have been lying to myself if I didn’t admit that I wanted to see Curt, but I was too late and practice was already over.

He was on his way out when I came into his office and with both of us in there it was cramped and I was thankful that he wanted to get a bite to eat. I don’t know how he worked in there, but he was content with his job.

“So how is school going?”

“Good I guess. I am just ready for the break. It’s only a couple of weeks away.”

“Where are you going to go?”

I didn’t know, but I wasn’t going to go down to Myrtle Beach again. I did that for my senior year in high school with an older friend and after a week had to call my parents and beg for bus money home. I wasn’t going to let it happen like that again, but it was hard not to see the smug look on his face.

“Well I think that is a good decision Lana.”

I walked a little faster to keep up with his long strides. “I was thinking of coming home. I don’t have much of a stipend left anyways and I was thinking I might pick up a couple of shifts at Maryanne’s greenhouse in town. She always has a big rush when the spring plants come in.”

“I know that your mother would like to have one of you around. Ever since your sister left, she has been moping and I just don’t have the strength to keep up with her.”

I laughed a little. Mom liked to talk and dad was the quiet stoic one of the two. It had always worked out because the three girls helped buffer for him. Now that we were all growing up and moving out, poor dad was going to have to find another way to silence his wife. “Fine dad, but you owe me.”

“I will help you with your short fall, just please come home for break.”

I will. There was nowhere else I could go on little to nothing for cash, so it was the best of both worlds. I had this silly need to ask about Curt, but I didn’t want dad to know that I was still thinking about him. We had only met once and though it was enough for me to think about him nonstop, I didn’t think that I could explain how I felt to dad. He wouldn’t get it, I know it.

“Anything else exciting going on since I have been gone?”

“Our boys went to the championship. You remember Curt?”

I nodded my head slowly as if I just barely did.

“Well he has been playing better than ever. It was a good way for him to go out like that. He tried really hard to make a good impression and he did. Now that he is graduating, it feels almost like one of you are graduating.”

“You have always wanted a son.”

“Yes and if you three would marry, I would have one. But it wasn’t like that. He lost his dad a couple years back when he was playing his freshmen year. Curt has had it rough and I think both of us looked at each other as if we were more. I always saw him as a son.”

“I know. I didn’t realize he had lost his own father. That must suck because he didn’t get to see him achieve everything he wanted.”

“That’s what he said.”

“Then you have to be there for him.”

“Do you think I should go to the graduation?”

I shook my head that he should. “He looks up to you, it was obvious. There is nothing wrong with going to support one of the students. That’s why you got into coaching in the first place right? To make a difference.”

“You’re right. Your mother says that I am just over thinking it too much and I should just relax.”

“Well…”

“I know, but easier said than done. I think you are right though. I don’t know why I am thinking about this so much. Of course I should go and see my guys graduate.”

He seemed more relaxed when we got to the restaurant. I hadn’t seen him so on edge before and I wondered why. I wanted to ask more questions, say something clever, but I couldn’t think of any way to ask what I wanted to without getting him suspicious as to why I am asking it in the first place.

“So what else is going on with you dad? I haven’t seen you in over a month and mom doesn’t tell me anything.”

“No I guess she is too excited to be planning your sister’s wedding.”

“Which one?”

“Jessa of course.”

“Oh.” I wasn’t expecting that. “I thought she took off with some singer?”

“She did, but apparently she found the love of her life when she was on the road with him.”

“Why do I get a feeling that it wasn’t the singer that she fell in love with?”

He smiled and shrugged. We both knew Jessa and though it was hard to imagine what she was going to do from day to day, it was clear that she was up to her old tricks again. “Yeah I guess she fell in love with a roadie that helped take the equipment from place to place. The marriage just came up out of nowhere and your mother thinks that there is a reason for the rush.”

I couldn’t help smiling back. It sounded about right and the fact that she didn’t care was funny to me. It also meant that maybe there would be less pressure now for me. With Jessa pregnant and about to be married, that gave me some breathing room.

“So she is happy about it?”

“Of course. She has wanted a grandchild for a long time now. As soon as Jessa went off to college, she started to plan her grandchildren.”

We sat down at a corner booth and ordered drinks. He kept giving me this look that I wasn’t all too comfortable with. Dad had something to say and he wasn’t sure how he was going to say it. I waited for him to say something, but the drinks and food had come before he said anything of real consequence.

“So about Curt…”

My ears perked up. He was bringing up the very person I wanted to talk about but couldn’t ask about. I looked over at him and then back down like I was not that interested. “Yeah, what about him?”

“I think he has a bit of a crush on you Lana.”

He just stopped and I was left holding my breath. For one it was the last thing that I would think that he would talk about and for two, I couldn’t believe my ears. Surely I had heard it wrong.

“What do you mean?”

“Come on Lana. I don’t know what you guys talked about on the porch that one evening, but I could tell there was something there.”

I felt my cheeks growing red. “Dad, I can’t talk to you about this.” I was becoming mortified to be honest and I wanted him to stop talking immediately. I had never talked to him about boys and now that I was an adult, the reality of it was even worse than the fiction I had created in my head.

“I am not trying to talk to you about it, just to say that if you are going to be in town, you should go say hi. I gave him your cell number. He has honestly driven me crazy asking about you.”

“Okay.”

There was nothing else to say and the rest of the meal was as awkward as those two minutes were. I don’t know why he said anything to me about it, but I couldn’t help but have a little hope. What had I said to him to make me so unforgettable to a guy like Curt?

Chapter 4

Curt

“Curt are you ready?”

I was back home for the afternoon to go to the graduation with mom. She was excited and Nick was there as well. His parents were vacationing and couldn’t be bothered to come home. So he was riding with us and then we planned to go to a huge party in town later that evening.

“Yeah, just give me a minute.”

The tie was not a clip on like I asked for. I still do not remember how they tie and after another few minutes of staring at myself in the mirror and getting no closer to anything resembling what I wanted for a knot, I pulled it off and went into the other room.

“Your coach just pulled up. Is he coming too?”

I looked out to see Coach Steve walking up the steps. I had mentioned something about it to him a couple of weeks ago, but he hadn’t said one way or another if he was going to come or not. I figured that he wouldn’t. I had messed up and asked about his daughter one time too many. I didn’t mean to, but I just had to see her and talk to her. The last time I had talked to him, he had given me a number to call her, though I still hadn’t called her yet.

“I asked him a couple of weeks ago, but he didn’t tell me one way or another.”

“Well I guess he is coming. Go answer the door while I put my earrings in.”

I went to the door and opened it before he could hit the doorbell. “Hey Curt. Looking good. I am glad they went without the robes this year. Suit and tie is always a better choice.”

“You think so? I was hoping for the robes, but either way it doesn’t matter. As long as I get the degree and don’t have to go back.”

“You did good Curt. You should be proud of yourself. I am proud of you.”

“Thanks Coach.”

I moved back to let him in and shut the door after him. He saw the tie in my hand and offered to help. There was a moment, a second that I wished it was my dad asking, but it was gone and I was left thankful for the offer. I was ready to just go without.

“I was just coming by to make sure you were going. I will be riding in with my daughter, so I will see you there.”

I tried to hide the glimmer of hope. It was so not like me. If I wanted a girl, she always wanted me just as bad and I could just take it. Half the time it was offered to me, but ever since I had finally met Lana, she was all I could think about. It was her father though, so I just shrugged and told him I would see him there.

“I thought your coach was here?”

“He was. Just letting me know that he was coming and to wish me luck.”

“That was nice of him. He has always been good to you. Ever since…”

I couldn’t talk about it. “I know. Let’s just get going before we are late mom.”

She took the cue and I followed her out to the car. She insisted on driving with me, so I was forced to listen to her country music the whole way. I wasn’t thinking about her or the radio or even graduation, I was thinking about the soft-spoken Lana that had caught my attention months before. I had admired her from afar and was better off than when I met her. Now all I could do was think about her and since no one else compared, that left me a long time to miss the physical aspects of women. They were all a waste of time though and I hadn’t even tried.

Nick noticed, but after a time, I think he knew. He knew me too well and we had talked about her once or twice. Nick thought I was crazy to talk to the coach about her, thinking that giving me the number was a set up. The piece of paper was in my pocket, had been for a week, still unused.

“You are awfully quiet Curt. Are you sure you are okay?”

“Yeah, just thinking. A lot is going to change. The draft is in a month and then who knows.”

“That is what is exciting about it. I thought you wanted to play football?”

“I do. Of course I do, what else is there? But I don’t know where I am going to go and it just seems like a big change.”

She looked over at me with those sad eyes. “It will be good for you to have a change. I will be doing some traveling and you will be living your dream. I think we should be thankful son, not so stressed. It is all going to be okay.”

It was what mothers said. I knew that, but I really wanted to believe her optimism. I really wanted to believe that is was all going to be okay and work out somehow. I should have been excited, she was right. My life was spelled out for me already. I had a job and salary that was going to be more than anyone else in my town, as well as most of the country. I should have been happy, but there was something holding me back. There was something missing and though I didn’t even say her name in my mind, there was one part of my life that was not where I wanted it to be. What was the point of having everything if I didn’t have anyone else to share it with?

I just nodded to her, lost in my own thoughts and what was going to happen the rest of the day. We arrived on time, which was pretty surprising and even though the outside area was packed with people, my eyes scanned for one girl in particular. When I saw the coach and then Lana, my heart skipped a beat. I got bumped from behind and Nick just shook his head. “Let’s get through this Curt and then you can go over there and embarrass yourself.

“Am I that obvious?”

“To me you are and it wasn’t like you were hiding it when you were asking the coach about his daughter all the time. He gave you her number and brought her here. Looks like a good chance that he is okay with it.”

I agreed, but I was still hesitant of it being a trap. What man would want their daughter with someone like me? The last couple of years I had really lost my way and if it wasn’t for Steve, I probably wouldn’t have even made it to graduation. He had seen my anger for what it was, a cry for help or more specifically, pain seeping out of every part of my being. Now I was feeling better, not just because of him, but his daughter as well.

“Let’s hope so, because I was hoping to ask her out after the ceremony. See if she wants to go with me to the party.”

“I don’t know why you would bring a date. There will be plenty of girls at the party to choose from.”

“Yeah, but they aren’t her.”

He just shook his head at me. He didn’t understand it and if I wasn’t the one feeling goo-goo for her, I might not have understood it as well.

“I don’t know what it is you see in her. She is hot Curt, don’t get me wrong, but look around you man, there are gorgeous girls everywhere you look.”

I looked around with him and what he said was true. There were plenty of pretty girls to choose from, ones that weren’t the daughter of my mentor or too young, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t explain it. I just knew and just being around her and the possibility of her had made me change my ways. How could I know that and not wonder what would happen if I could kiss her, touch her? What more could she do for me with one kiss?

“She is going to be my wife.”

He looked at me and smiled like I was joking. I wasn’t though. Since the first time I seen her from across the field, I knew she was the one for me.

“I am starting to think that you have been hit one too many times in the head my friend.”

“Yeah, that could be it I suppose.”

I took one last lingering look at the one on my mind and then turned my attention to the dean calling all of the graduates to the stage. It was show time and I had to get through this first, before I could talk to her and see if she was as willing as I was.

Following the crowd up the stairs, I looked back out to the visitors and though I had my mind on other things, I knew this was a big moment in my life. I hoped to never need the degree, but I knew that what I had learned would come in handy, the piece of paper a trophy for all of the hard work.

When they called my name, I saw my mom and coach clapping and cheering for me. Next to Steve was Lana and she waved ever so slightly, almost making me trip down the stairs as I exited the impromptu platform. I got a chuckle from the crowd, but it was only one girl in particular that I really wanted to impress. My face was warm as I waited with the rest.

Last commencement speech was done by the president and then in true fashion, everyone threw up their hats in the air. It was one tradition that we hadn’t wanted to break and with the scatter afterwards, it took a few minutes to find the people there for me in the crowd of milling people.

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