A Game of Inches – Part Eight

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I apologize for the delay in Chapter’s, I had Chapter Eight finished, but was unhappy where the story was going. I have since rewrote this chapter in it’s entirety, I hope you guys enjoy it. As always, this is a work of fiction, and in no way should be viewed as anything otherwise.

I returned to my house near five o’clock in the afternoon, Ashley was already home. I decided to spare her the drama of my recent visit to my grandfather, instead inquiring about her day. We talked for a few minutes before she went to change clothes and get comfortable. I noticed that since I had come back home, the awkward feelings with Ashley had somewhat passed. Maybe what had happened between us was for the best, we now knew what the parameters were. She came back into the kitchen dressed in shorts and a tee shirt, as usual she looked awesome. We resumed our conversation as she fixed some supper, once again I began to feel somewhat overwhelmed, just looking at her. I was glad she was wrapping up dinner, we could eat soon. As I was putting out the plates and silverware, my cell phone rang. I answered it on the third ring, it was Courtney.

“Hey Brian, whatcha’ doing ?”, she asked, excitedly.

“Getting ready to eat dinner with Ashley.”, I answered.

“Oh, I’m sorry, am I bothering you ?”, she inquired.

“No, not at all, what’s up Court ?”, I replied.

“Well, I want to ask you something, you don’t have to say yes, I just want you to think about it. Will you do that ?”, she urged.

“Sure.”, I shot back.

“Ok, here goes. My Mom has a free weekend stay at the Holiday Casino on the Coast. She has two free nights, free meals and some slot play. They decided not to go at the last minute, they were….well I was wondering if we would like to go ?”, she asked.

“Like tonight ?”, I asked.

“Yes, like right now. We could be there in a few hours, we would come back Sunday.”, she answered.

“I don’t know Courtney, I mean ……… , let me finish eating, I will call you back in a few minutes ok ?”, I answered.

“That’s fine, but look Brian, if you feel uncomfortable, or if you just don’t want to go with me, it’s ok.”, she insisted.

“Ok Court, I will let you know.”, I said, hanging up.

I went back to eating, it took only a few seconds for Ashley’s interest to get the best of her.

“What was that about ?”, she asked, in between bites of her food.

“Courtney wants me to go away with her for the weekend to the coast, stay at a casino for a few days.”, I answered, reluctantly.

“Why don’t you go, that sounds like fun. It might be just what the two of you need, some alone time.”, she replied.

“Ashley, I…….. , I know what we said but, you know…. I just can’t seem…”, I started.

“Brian, we have been over that. You need to move on and forget those feelings. Please, if you have any feelings for me, do as I ask.”, she pleaded.

I looked down at my plate, pushing the food around with my fork. I knew she was right, but I guess I had held out just a glimmer of hope. I began to think about Courtney and the weekend, while I finished my dinner and cleaned up the dishes. About an hour later I decided to call Courtney back. She answered the phone quickly, I figured she had been waiting.

“Hey Court, I was talking to Ashley and she thought it might be a really good idea if we made the trip together.”, I told her.

“Ashley approved of it ? That kind of surprises me, lately I have really gotten the feeling she doesn’t quite like me.”, she replied, “But considering my past actions, I can’t say that I blame her much.”

“Ashley has nothing against you Court, she only has my best interests at heart, as I am sure you parents have for you.”, I responded.

“That makes sense.”, she answered.

“I guess a little time away might not be a bad thing. I am really tired for some reason, maybe all the traveling has gotten to me.”, I told her.

“Good, so how fast can you pack ?”, she giggled.

“I can be at your place in about an hour. See you then.”, I answered.

“Ok, good. See you then.”, she said.

I went to my room, grabbed one of my large duffel bags the team had just given me, packing a few days worth of clothes inside. I grabbed all of my personal items, as well as my IPAD and laptop.
I told Ashley goodbye and started over to Courtney’s. It didn’t dawn on me until I pulled into her driveway, her parents had to be aware that we would be sleeping in the same bed. I instantly felt uneasy, her parents had always treated me with the utmost trust and respect, I didn’t want anything to ruin our relationship. I walked slowly to the door, rang the bell and waited. Ms. Timmons answered the door quickly, she invited me in.

“Hey Brian, nice to see you.”, she said, hugging me softly.

I followed her into the den where Mr. Timmons was watching TV alone, a drink in his hand. He quickly motioned me over to join him.

“Brian, it’s great to see you, I am dying to hear about camp, how was it ?”, he asked.

I went on to give him a quick accounting of what I had been up to since I had been drafted and left town. He asked me a few questions here and there, he seemed really excited. We had been talking for maybe five minutes when he actually brought up the subject.

“I’m really glad you and Courtney are going to use the weekend, it would have been a shame to waste it.”, he said sincerely.

“Well honestly Mr. Timmons, I feel really awkward about the entire situation. I mean…… we have never…. Uh, never…. Been alone together .”, I stuttered.

He leaned forward slightly, looked me directly in the eyes and spoke very calmly, with no hesitation in his voice.

“Brian, my wife and I love you as if you were our own son. One of the reasons for that is the way you always treat the both of us with respect. You’re the finest young man I know personally, I have complete trust in you. I know you will treat my daughter with the respect she deserves. But with that said, you’re both adults, you have your own lives to live.”, he said.

“Thank you sir, I appreciate that.”, I answered, “But I still feel uneasy about the whole situation.”

“That’s why I don’t, because I know you will do the right thing.”, he replied.

Just then Courtney walked into the room, smiling from ear to ear. She walked over, bent over and gave me a quick hug, then sat down next to me. We talked for a few minutes more before her Dad cut the conversation short.

“You guys better get on the road, that way you can be there before it gets too late.” he urged.

Courtney wanted to take her car, so I loaded her luggage into the trunk, grabbed my one bag from my truck and tossed it in as well. We pulled out a little before seven o’clock, she was driving. We had a pleasant drive, we talked about her job, football and everything in between. We pulled up in front of the Casino at ten thirty that night, the valet took our vehicle, we headed to the desk to check in. The lady behind the counter greeted us warmly, Courtney handed her the reservation vouchers her parents had given her. The lady stepped to the computer and began to type in the information. I could tell immediately something was wrong by the look on her face. She asked us if we would mind waiting for a second, she had to see the casino manager. Courtney turned and gave me a strange look, but said nothing as we waited. The lady quickly returned with a middle aged man, well dressed in a suit, very professional looking. He extended his hand to me introducing himself as the casino manager, in charge of rooms.

“I’m sorry but we have a bit of a problem. It seems that since check in time was two o’clock this afternoon, the computer must have kicked your reservation out, the room was rebooked.”, he told me.

“The problem is, I am completely booked, I don’t have a single room available. I feel terrible, this is not supposed to happen.”, he continued.

“We just drove over three hours to get here.” Courtney told him, disappointment in her voice.

“I am so sorry, let me make a few calls, I can probably get you a room at one of the other hotels on the strip.”, he offered.

He walked to the phone and made several phone calls, finally able to secure a room at a casino a few miles down the road. He asked the party on the other end of the line to hold on a second. He leaned over the counter and asked me what name to put the reservation under so they would hold the room until we got there. I told him to use my name, handing him my credit card in case they needed it to hold the room. He pressed the button on the phone and began to speak to the party on the other end.

“The reservation is for Mr. Brian Stevens, I have a credit card number if you need it.”, he told the party.

He listened for a second, then he turned and looked at me with the strangest look on his face. I couldn’t imagine what could be the problem now. He once again asked the party on the other end of the phone to hold on.

“Excuse me sir, are you the Brian Stevens who was just drafted by San Diego ?”, he asked.

“Yes sir, I am.”, I answered.

He excused himself once more, pressed the hold button on the phone, then informed the other party the reservation would not be necessary. He thanked them cordially, then hung up. He leaned over and whispered a few words into his female employee’s ear, then stepped back up to the counter.

“Mr. Stevens, I apologize for any inconvience we may have caused you. I am upgrading you to one of my suites, I have two left. Please feel free to stay as long as you want. In addition, please hand this card to your waiter or waitress in any of our restaurants, your meals are covered.”, he stated.

“That’s not necessary sir, the room is more than enough.”, I answered.

“We do it all the time Mr. Stevens, we want you to come back.”, he replied.

Just then a bellman came up to the counter, standing right next to me. The manager gave him quick instructions.

“Please take Mr. Stevens up to Suite Nine, see that he gets anything he may need.” he instructed the young man.

We followed the bellman to the elevators, where we waited in silence for the doors to open. I got several stares as we made our way through the hotel lobby. I guess it’s not everyday, you see a guy my size walking around. Finally the doors opened and we stepped inside. The doorman pushed the button for the top floor, the doors closed quickly. We exited the elevator and made our way down a long wide corridor, to the second to last room. He inserted the keycard, opened the door and led us into the room. As soon as I stepped into the room, I was overwhelmed. It was by far the nicest room, I had ever been in. We entered the main room, which was large with two huge sofa’s, two chairs, a few tables and a large flat screen TV on one wall. To the left were two huge double doors that opened into the bedroom, another huge well decorated room. The bed looked enormous, it was by far the biggest one I had ever seen. I reached into my pocket and handed the bellman a ten dollar bill, he thanked me and quickly made his exit.

As soon as he closed the door behind himself, Courtney let out a scream.

“Oh my God, can you believe this room ?”, she squealed.

“It’s really nice.”, I answered.

She ran through the huge double doors to the bedroom and dove head first into the massive double bed. She bounced twice before settling in. She stretched out as far as she could across the bed, she barely took up a third of it.

“This is sooooooo comfortable.”, she cried out in joy.

I grabbed the bags and carried them into the bedroom, placing Courtney’s down by one dresser and mine by the other. I unzipped my bag and carefully placed the few things I had brought with me in the huge chest of drawers. I left Courtney to unpack, as I went back into the living area to check out the huge TV. Just as I was trying to figure out how to work the TV remote, the phone in the room rang, it was on the table next to me. I reached over and answered it quickly.

“Mr. Stevens, this is Wendy from the front desk. The casino manager wanted me to let you know, he activated all of the pay TV stations for you at no charge.”, she stated.

“Tell him thank you very much, we really appreciate it.”, I answered.

By that time, Courtney had emerged from the bedroom, still giddy about the room we had been given.

“Who was that on the phone ?”, she asked.

“The front desk, they turned on all of the pay per view channels for us too.”, I answered.

Immediately a gleam came to her eye, a smile crossed her face. I had seen this look before, I knew it meant trouble was brewing.

“Even the X – Rated Channels ?”, she asked.

“I…. I guess so.”, I stammered.

“Lemme see, Lemme see.”, she said abruptly, grabbing the remote from my hand.

She began to scroll through the menu looking at all of the different channels that were rolling across the screen. She finally stopped and smiled when she saw the words Adult Channel written on the screen. She quickly pressed enter and began to scroll through dozens of movies that were being offered 24 hours a day. She stopped on each one, reading the brief description under the picture and title of the movie. I got up, went over to the desk and picked up the guide for the casino restaurants. I looked up at the clock, it was close to eleven thirty, everything but room service and the Deli Grill had been closed for the night. Courtney was still engrossed in the Adult Channel, still reading the introductions for the different movies.

“You want to go down and get something to eat in the Deli ?”, I asked.

“Sure, I guess so.”, she answered.

We left the room and went back downstairs, walking slowly through the casino, taking in the sights. It was my first time inside of a casino, I had never gambled a dollar in my life. I was amazed at the sheer number of people, there was hardly a single slot machine open from what I could tell. We finally found the Deli near the entrance to the casino, walked in and was seated immediately. We both decided on a hot beef sandwich, a large order of onion rings and two Cokes. We talked as we waited for our food, it didn’t take very long before it arrived. The food was excellent, we talked and laughed, we lost track of time. When our waiter returned to our table, I handed him the card I had been given, he nodded and walked to the register. He swiped the card, returned with a bill that had a zero amount asking me to sign the ticket. I did as he asked, reached into my pocket and handed him a tip for which he thanked me. We left the Deli and walked back through the casino floor, once again marveling at the rate in which the patrons were gambling their money. We were walking slowly through the maze of aisles that held the slot machines, the choices were endless. Courtney finally stopped at a bank of machines against one wall that were some of the biggest and most brightly lit machines in the place. It had a huge screen attached to the machine which was mounted above your head. When you hit the bonus, it activated a whole new game with multiple options.

“You want to play for a while ?’, she turned and asked me.

“Sure, why not ?”, I replied, reaching in my pocket and handing her two twenty’s.

“I have money Brian.”, she answered.

“It’s ok Court, start with that.”, I told her.

She sat down on the black stool and began to look the machine over. It was the only one open, so I just stood behind her waiting for perhaps another machine to open up close by. She inserted the money into the bill changer, the machine sprang to life, credits rolling, lights flashing. She began playing the machine, as she tried to understand the pay out system. Not being familiar with casino’s, I had no clue at all. She started up a conversation with an attractive middle aged woman who was playing next to her, the lady explaining how to bet and what to look for. After several minutes, she began to hit small payouts, her balance going up and down in no set pattern. She had been playing maybe for about ten minutes when casino security walked up to the both of us. They asked if we would mind showing them some identification verifying we were both old enough to be on the casino floor. Courtney had given me her driver’s license before we had left the room, so I produced both of our I.D.’s to the pair of security personnel. They checked the dates, apologized for any inconvience, then made there way back down the aisle as quickly as they had appeared. Courtney went back to playing her machine, I was becoming bored very quickly. I glanced over and saw a large group of people playing dice, I decided to go take a look. I pointed out to Courtney where I would be and walked across the floor and found a spot where I could watch the game progress.

I have to admit, the pace was fast and furious as the game moved along. I was trying to get the hang of how the game was played, it seemed very hectic and chaotic, but the crowd seemed to be really into it. I knew right way, I would have to learn a lot more before I could jump into this game. As I was standing there watching the game, an attractive blonde woman had positioned herself next to me, she appeared to be watching the game. Finally after several minutes she turned in my direction and spoke softly.

“Just how tall are you ?”, she asked, with a smile.

“Almost six foot seven.”, I replied.

“You play basketball ?”, she inquired.

“No , I don’t.”, I answered.

Just as I finished answering her, another woman whom she obviously knew motioned her over to the other side of the table. She walked around the crowd to where the woman stood with another man, they began a conversation. Every now and then, they would all look in my direction. I went back to watching the game for several more minutes, then looked over my shoulder to see Courtney still seated at the same machine I had left her at. I left the table and rejoined Courtney at her machine. I walked up behind her and softly placed my hands on her shoulders.

“Doing any good ?”, I asked.

“Not really, I win every now and then, but I put it all back.”, she answered, “By the way, what time is it ?”

“Almost two o’clock, I guess.”, I answered.

“You want to go back up to the room ?”, she inquired.

“Whenever you’re ready.”, I said.

She played a few more times, then cashed out of the machine, handing me the white voucher ticket. I folded it up and put it inside my front pocket, following her to the elevators. As soon as we got back to our room, Courtney immediately turned on the large TV, settling down on one of the large sofas. I was actually quite tired by this time, I really wasn’t in the mood to watch TV.

“You mind if I go take a shower, Court ?”, I asked.

“No go ahead, I will go after you.”, she smiled.

I went back into the bedroom, grabbed some shorts and a tee shirt, then made my way to the large bathroom that was only several steps from the large bed. The bathroom was just as elegant as the rest of the suite having both a huge Jacuzzi tub and a stand alone, four head shower next to each other. There were double sinks in the counter with a huge mirror mounted right above them. I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to use the tub or the shower, I decided on the shower. The water was extremely hot, which I always love, I know I took well over fifteen minutes before, I stepped out and grabbed the towel. I dried off, brushed my teeth and got dressed. I found Courtney on the sofa still watching TV when I came out.

“Court, you gotta check out the bathroom, it’s really nice.”, I told her.

She got up and walked quickly through the bedroom and into the steam filled bathroom. She turned and leaned her head back out of the door and yelled.

“Wow, what a tub. I just have to get in there and soak.”, she squealed.

She scrambled over to the dresser where she had unpacked some things, and began to sort through the items. I left the room and went to the sitting room stretching out on one for the sofas. I flipped through a few channels as I heard the water running beginning to fill up the large tub. After several minutes I finally heard her turn off the water, I was still channel surfing at the time. I really couldn’t find anything interesting on so I flipped to the sports channel, my old standby. I placed the remote on the table next to the sofa just as I heard Courtney shout from the bathroom.

“Hey Briannnnnnn, can you come here for a second ?”, she asked.

“Sure, no problem.”, I answered, getting up slowly.

I walked around the sofa and into the bedroom, pausing at the bathroom door which was about halfway closed. I gently knocked on the door waiting for a response.

“Come in here silly.”, she replied.

I slowly stuck my head and shoulders inside the partially open door not really knowing what to expect. I kept my eyes pointing down to the floor, not looking in Courtney’s direction. Although we had been intimate at one time, it had been quite a while ago since we had seen each other without clothes on. That and the repetitive words of my Father always telling me, no matter what, treat a woman with the utmost respect, caused me to look away.

“Um I’m over here silly.”, she giggled.

“Yes I know, what do you need ?’, I asked, without looking up.

“Come over here.”, she asked softly.

I glanced in her direction once quickly to see she had filled the tub up to the top, had added some bubble bath, and had only her neck and head visible, the rest of her was covered by water and the soap suds. I took a couple of steps over toward her, placed the toilet lid down, then sat on it.

“What do you want Court ?”, I asked.

“Why don’t you get in with me, this tub is amazing.”, she urged.

“I just took a shower a few minutes ago.”, I responded.

“So ?”, she laughed.

“I’ll pass, thanks.”, I laughed back, got up and walked out.

I went back to the front room and fell back on the sofa, once again to watch TV. I don’t know how much time passed, before I heard Courtney moving around in the bedroom area. The program I had been watching ended, it was three o’clock in the morning. I decided to call it a night. I headed to the bedroom to see how we were going to handle the sleeping arrangements, nothing had really ever been discussed. Courtney was already in the bed, covers up to her neck, just the small bedside lamp on.

“About time you came to bed Brian.”, she said, with a smile.

“Court, I can sleep on the sofa, it’s no big deal.”, I answered.

I could tell I hurt her immediately, the look on her face was plain as day. She looked down at the covers biting her lower lip. She took a moment, then looked back up at me.

“Brian, it’s a huge bed. Don’t be silly, there is enough room in here for the both of us.”, she replied.

I shrugged my shoulders, pulled back the covers on my side of the bed and climbed in. I pulled the covers back up over me, I was laying flat on my back. She was right, this bed was huge, you could have fit another person between us with no problem. She reached over and flipped the switch on the small lamp, the room was immediately engulfed in complete darkness. I am not sure how much time passed without a sound other than the sound of our breathing. Finally Courtney broke the silence, her words soft, but very emotional.

“Brian, I am so sorry, this was a huge mistake. I just thought…….. I figured that maybe if we were alone……, I could explain how I feel, maybe try to make things right with you….”, she started.

“But I know now…….. No matter how much I want to make this right, I can’t……. you simply can’t make someone love you.”, she ended.

“Court, I do love you, I always have, I always will.”, I answered.

“Yes, but not in the way I love you, I had that once, I threw it way…. I broke your heart…I never knew how that felt…… until now.”, she said, her voice cracking with emotion.

I reached across the bed, found her and pulled her close up against me, her back to my chest. I put my arm over her holding her close. I could feel her body as she quietly sobbed into her pillow, it seemed that the more time I spent with her lately, this was always the result.

“I’m sorry Court, It hurts so much to see you feel this bad.”, I told her.

“It’s ok Brian, you’re my best friend, that has to be enough, I guess. Let’s just go to sleep.”, she answered.

I know I laid there for hours, holding Courtney against me, my mind wondering what life had in store for me, asking myself should I perhaps try and open my heart up to Courtney, see if we could really make this work. Finally I drifted off to sleep, I know I was exhausted both physically and mentally.

When I opened my eyes, the room was bright with sunlight. Even with the curtains closed you could tell it was early morning. It took a second for me to remember where I was, I looked over across the bed to see Courtney lying still next to me, her eyes looking right into mine.

“Good morning.”, bursa merkez escort bayan she said, sqeezing my hand gently.

“What time is it ?”, I asked.

“Almost ten o’clock.”, she answered.

“How long have you been up ?”, I asked.

“About an hour, I have just been watching you sleep.”, she said, a slight smile on her face.

We laid there for a while, then decided to get up, dress and go down for breakfast. We enjoyed a nice breakfast, then decided to go down the road to the beach and enjoy the nice day. We walked along the beach for a while, ran in and out of the water until the sun got a bit too much. We then found a picnic pavilion where we sat at the table and talked about everything from our younger days, to where we hoped the future would take us. Courtney’s was definitely a more certain future than mine, she was being groomed to run her father’s company. She would definitely be very well off someday, failure was not an option. My future on the other hand was more fragile, one injury, a few bad years, I could be out of football for good. As the sun was setting we decided to walk back down the beach to the hotel, it was a really nice evening. As we walked along the water’s edge, Courtney reached up and grabbed my hand in hers, placing her fingers between mine.

“Brian, I just want you to know, I will never have a better friend in my life. No matter where we end up, let’s always keep in touch, no matter what. Promise me.”, she asked.

“I promise Court.”, I answered.

We continued to walk to the casino, hand in hand, just enjoying each other’s company. As I walked, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate I was at this time of my life. Not yet twenty five, on the verge of a multi-million dollar contract to play professional football. I had two women in my life that loved me dearly in Courtney and Ashley. It was painfully ironic that the one I had thought I wanted, couldn’t be with me because of my success. The one who really wanted to be with me, didn’t seem to care about that success, only me. At that moment, it dawned on me, Courtney was indeed my best friend. Yes, she had hurt me bad once, the second time maybe I expected it, I don’t know. But, if you loved somebody, really loved somebody, wasn’t forgiveness the ultimate act of friendship ? I was becoming more confused the more I thought about it. I mean, there was no doubt, I felt at ease with Courtney, I had for years. I felt I could tell her anything, that she would understand and support me. Then the fact that she was drop dead gorgeous, didn’t hurt either. The last year or so, she had underwent a transformation with the change in hair style. Add the fact that she trained six days a week at Carl’s gym, she now had a figure that was to die for. Add the fact that her parents thought of me already as family didn’t hurt either. How many guys really get along that well with their girlfriend or wife’s parents ? In all the years I had known Mr. and Mrs. Timmons, never had they had a harsh word for me. We finally arrived back at the casino, I held the door to the lobby open for Court, then watched her go through it. One thing caught your eye about Court, her ass was firm and tight. You couldn’t help but be drawn to it.

We caught the elevator and went back to the room, it had been a long day. Courtney plopped on the sofa turning on the TV, I headed to the bedroom to clean up. I grabbed some clean shorts and a tee shirt then headed to the bathroom.

“I’m going to take a shower Court, be right back.”, I yelled.

“Ok, take your time.”, she answered.

I took a long hot shower, brushed my teeth and got dressed. I tossed my dirty clothes into my bag, then joined Courtney on the sofa. I sat down and leaned back on the sofa just as she tossed me the remote.

“I’m going to clean up myself. Be back in a little while.”, she said, getting up.

“You want to go downstairs and eat when you’re done ?”, I asked.

“Sure sounds good.”, she answered.

It took Courtney quite some time to get ready, I was wondering what had happened. When she came out, I knew why. She had fixed her hair, put on make-up and dressed in a short skirt and silk blouse. She looked amazing, as good as I have ever seen her look. She smiled at me with that infectious grin of hers, the one that made you think she had a secret.

“I can’t go down dressed like this, if you look like that.”, I told her.

“Look like what ?”, she asked, pretending she didn’t know she ravishing.

“I’ll be right back.”, I told her heading to the bedroom.

I went back to the bedroom and opened my suitcase, rummaging around in it. I found a nice pair of jeans, then grabbed a form fitting Under Armour compression shirt. It was one of those that showed off every muscle and ripple you had, it left nothing to the imagination. I laughed to myself as I pulled the shirt over my head. Two can play at your game Missy, I thought to myself. I tucked the shirt into my jeans, put on my belt. I could tell by the look on her face, I had surprised her. I always wore loose clothing for two reasons. One, it was hard to really find clothes that fit me right. When you’re almost six foot seven and close to two hundred seventy pounds, there’s not a huge selection in your size. Second, I was always critical of the guys in the gym who spent hours admiring themselves in the mirror, it just wasn’t me. But for once, I decided to turn the tables on her.

“Whoaaaaaaaaaa.”, squealed Courtney, “You got a date mister ?”

“Maybe I’ll get lucky downstairs, you never know.”, I laughed.

She walked past me and slapped my ass, laughing out loud.

“Dressed like that, I bet you do. This is going to be fun.”, she giggled.

We rode the elevator down to the main floor, exited and made our way across the casino towards the restaurants. We decided on the steak house this time, it had been quite a while since I had eaten a really good steak. We were met by the hostess in the foyer of the restaurant, she informed us there would be maybe a five to ten minute wait. There was a small seating area to the left where two other couples were seated. We were given a number and asked to take a seat until our table was ready. We walked over and sat down on the long bench to wait our turn. We had been waiting maybe five minutes, when two young women walked over and joined the group waiting for a table. They took the bench directly across from Courtney and I, both of them looked in our direction smiling. We were both sitting quietly waiting for our number to be called when one of the young women leaned forward and spoke softly.

“Um excuse me, but are you a basketball player or something ?”, she asked.

“No, I don’t play basketball.”, I replied, with a smile.

Even though it was nice to have people want your autograph, or to have pictures taken with you, sometimes you wanted to just be a normal person. However, before the young woman could even lean back in her seat to join her friend, Courtney chimed in.

“He’s a professional football player, he plays for San Diego.”, she blurted out.

“Oh, you play football ?”, she replied.

“Yes, it’s my first year.”, I answered her.

There was an older man sitting next to me with his wife, he quickly joined in the conversation.

“Where did you play ball at son ?”, he asked.

“I was at Louisiana , sir.”, I answered.

He looked at me for several seconds, then I guess it came to him. The size, the school, something registered in the older man’s mind. He leaned over to me again.

“You’re not Brian Stevens are you ?”, he asked.

“Yes sir, I am.”, I answered.

“I watched you play many times, in fact I was at the National Championship game last year, you had one hell of a game.”, he said.

“Thank you sir, I appreciate it.”, I replied.

The girl who had started all of this once again leaned forward in my direction, a nervous smile on her face.

“Would you mind taking a picture with me and my friend? You’re the first pro football player I have ever seen in person.”, she asked.

I looked over at Courtney, she was laughing to herself, she knew I tried to avoid this type of thing. I took the girl’s cell phone and handed it to Courtney, so she could snap the picture. I stood up and got between the two girls while Courtney took two quick photo’s. They thanked me and sat back down in their seats. Just about that time, the hostess appeared and told us our table was ready. As I followed Courtney to our table I leaned over and reminded her that getting even can be a really bad thing sometimes. She just giggled and continued to follow the hostess to our table. We were seated in the middle of the restaurant at a table for two, the place was packed.

Our waiter came and took our drink orders as we scanned the menu for our dinner selections. Just about that time, the hostess passed us again, this time with the two young girls that I had taken the picture with. They both waved hello as they passed, I nodded my head in response to them. We both decided on steaks, I was having the T-Bone, Courtney chose the Filet. We both ordered baked potato’s and a vegetable.

Our meal came relatively quickly, considering how busy they were. The waiter had just finished delivering all of our food, when a young teenage boy walked slowly up to our table. I really hadn’t notice where he came from, he stopped a few steps from the table. I looked up at him, he appeared very nervous.

“Hey are you Brian Williams, the football player ?”, he asked.

“Yes, I am.”, I answered.

He extended a paper place mat, the one that was on all of the tables, under your plate.

“Would you mind giving me your autograph ?”, he asked.

Once again, I looked over at Courtney, she was once again giggling to herself. She was definitely enjoying herself.

“Sure, I don’t mind but I don’t have a pen.”, I answered.

“Oh, well…..um, I’ll be right back.”, he said.

By this time, all the commotion was beginning to be noticed. Most people at the tables seated around us were all looking in our direction. The young boy returned quickly, a permanent marker in his hand, offering it to me.

“Do you want me to sign with my college number, or my new number in San Diego ?”, I asked.

“Ummmm……… the new number, I guess.”, he said, smiling weakly.

I quickly signed the standard autograph wishing him good luck, my name and new number with San Diego. He thanked me and began walking back to his table. I noticed several people stop him and question him, I’m sure their curiosity was beginning to get the best of them. I settled back in and started to eat. The food was very good, Courtney and I talked during the entire meal. We asked the waiter for our check, which he quickly brought. We paid our bill and got up to leave. Several people got up and immediately walked over, all asking if I would mind signing various items. I obliged everyone in turn, signing whatever they extended, still amazed at how I had gotten to this point in life. We were finally able to make our way out of the restaurant and back out onto the casino floor. I asked Courtney if she wanted to gamble a bit or make our way back up to the room. She pointed across the way to where the Casino nightclub stood, summoning me to follow her. I walked behind her toward the club, though it was the last place I really wanted to be. I didn’t drink, I was a terrible dancer, therefore this type of club was not my thing at all. As we made our way to the entrance, once again, both of us were checked to make sure we were both over twenty one years of age. After verifying our age, we were allowed to enter the club.

I followed Courtney into the club, she found a small table against the wall, we both sat down. There was a large stage in the front of the club filled with instruments, but no band was present. There was a disc jockey in a small booth next to the stage playing the music. A cocktail waitress quickly came over to our table and ask us what we would like to drink. Courtney asked for a glass of red wine, I settled for a plain orange juice. She left but was back with our drinks in a short time. The music being played was a mixture of pop, rock and some country thrown in. There were a few couples on the floor dancing, mostly when a slower song was on. The club was about half filled, everyone either very young or maybe in their early thirties at best. There were a few very good looking young women scattered about the club, obviously they were alone or waiting for someone. We sat there for about fifteen minutes when Courtney told me she would be right back. She got up and walked over to where the disc jockey was and spoke to him very briefly before returning to our table. As she sat down she informed me she had requested a song for us to dance to.

“You know I don’t dance Court.”, I reminded her.

“Oh hush, it’s a slow song.”, she replied.

Several more songs played before her request finally started, a fact that she acknowledged by reaching over, grabbing my hand and pulling me up out of my seat. I followed her to the dance floor as a slow, definitely country song, began playing. I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her close to me, as she laid her head on my chest. Courtney was right at five foot eleven, so even though I am close to eight inches taller than she is, it still didn’t look that bad. I didn’t recognize the song at first, the words did sound familiar.

I’ve got a funny feeling
The moment that your lips touched mine
Something shot right through me
My heart skipped a beat in time

There’s a different feel about you tonight
It’s got me thinkin’ lots of crazy things
I even think I saw a flash of light
It felt like electricity

I knew immediately why she had chosen this song, she was again, in her own way sending me a message. We were the only two out on the floor dancing, several couples were watching intently.

They’re all watchin’ us now
They think we’re falling in love
They’d never believe we’re just friends
When you kiss me like this
I think you mean it like that
If you do baby kiss me again

Everybody swears we make the perfect pair
But dancing is as far as it goes
Girl you’ve never moved me quite
The way you moved me tonight
I just wanted you to know

The song ended, we separated and walked off the dance floor hand in hand back to our table. It’s funny how words to a song can sometime mirror life so closely, this one especially. Courtney was silent for the next few minutes, I guessed she was hoping I would let the meaning of the song sink in. She finally leaned across the table and suggested we head back to our room, we were due to leave early the next morning. I agreed, we got up and made our way out of the club and on to the casino floor. We moved across the floor to the hotel elevators which took us back up to our room. It was close to nine thirty when we settled down, I thought I would watch some TV before going to bed. I flipped through the channels, but honestly couldn’t find a thing that interested me. Courtney came back in the room and sat down on the sofa with me, but not too close. I tossed the remote to her, suggesting she find something interesting. She scanned through the channels, much as I had done just seconds before, not finding anything either. She turned to me, with that wicked evil grin, I knew so well .

“Hey you ever watch an X-Rated movie ?”, she asked.

“Uh no, can’t say that I have.”, I answered.

“You wanna ?”, she inquired.

I had seen standard porno on computers several times, but I had never ever really seen a complete movie. I never owned a computer in high school, so I was only exposed to it while at college. Most of the time at college, my time was so limited between school and practice, I spent little time surfing the web.

“I guess so, but let me get ready for bed first.”, I suggested.

“Good idea, I will too.”, she replied.

I went to the bedroom, grabbed some clothes and took a quick shower. Courtney went in the bathroom as I was coming out and did the same. About thirty minutes later we were both back on the sofa. I had on shorts and a tee shirt, she was wearing a very short burgundy terrycloth robe. She accessed the adult channel on the cable system and began to scan the different movies. I had to laugh when I saw some of the titles of the movies, they were quite funny. She finally selected a movie, they all looked the same to me so it didn’t matter. I was sitting on end of the small sofa, Court was sitting on the other end. She swung her legs up on the sofa and rested her feet in my lap, leaned back on the arm of the sofa as she started the movie.

The movie was based entirely on women having intense orgasms on screen. It was a series of very short clips explicitly designed to show the female having orgasms with male and female partners, as well as several women alone masturbating to orgasm. I have to admit that after just ten minutes of the movie, I felt my cock begin to stiffen in my shorts, it was quite arousing. I reached down and pushed Courtney’s feet forward on my thighs so she wouldn’t feel my growing erection. As I did, I began to slowly give her a foot massage, trying to keep my mind off of my growing problem. From time to time I would glance over at Courtney, I could see she was intently staring at the movie. Her face had a slight flushed look to it, I am guessing she was become aroused as well. I took a quick peek up Courtney’s legs which were slightly parted, her crimson panties slightly visible.

Another scene started where two women were alone in bed with each other. It was extremely sensual, as both women softly, gently caressed and made passionate love to each other. One of them was performing slow, passionate oral sex to the other as she exploded into a violent, mind numbing orgasm. It seemed that Courtney was especially engrossed in the female / female scene that had just finished. In fact, she had slid her feet back up in my lap, and was using her toes to gently stroke my rock hard cock through my shorts. Several times I pushed her feet forward, only to have her work them back into position.

“What’s wrong with my boo-boo, getting a little uncomfortable in the shorts ?”, she giggled.

“Nope, I am fine.”, I replied, lying through my teeth.

“Sure you are.”, laughed Court.

We continued watching the movie, not saying much else, but you could cut the sexual tension in the air with a knife. The next scene started with a three way scene, involving two girls and one guy. I have to admit that once or twice in my life, I had wondered what it would be like to have sex with two women at once. I could feel Courtney’s eyes on me as I watched the trio go at it with reckless abandon.

“Would you like to do that sometimes Brian ? Two girls at once ?”, Courtney asked, grinning from ear to ear.

Courtney was enjoying tormenting me, she loved to see me squirm. I decided to turn the tables on her for once.

“I sure would, what about you ? Could you handle another girl in bed ? Or would the competition be a little too much for you ?”, I inquired.

Courtney blushed immediately, it was funny to see her at a loss for words. She swallowed deeply and thought for a minute, then with the most sincere tone gave an answer.

“As long as you were there, and there was no doubt you loved me with all of your heart, I would do anything for you. If you were mine, I would do anything to keep you happy.” , she replied.

“That’s good to know.”, I laughed.

I tried to make light of her comment, but I truly believed she meant every word she had said. The movie had just ended, the credits were beginning to roll, I figured that was the end of this conversation for the night. It was getting close to midnight, check out time was anytime before ten o’clock in the morning. She reached over , grabbed the remote and shut off the TV. We both made our way to the bedroom, turned down the bed and climbed in. She reached over and turned off the one table lamp on her night stand, the room was thrust into complete darkness. I had no idea what Court was thinking, but my heart was racing a mile a minute, I was extremely aroused after watching ninety minutes of the movie. That and the conversation Courtney and I had, well it left me extremely horny to put it mildly. We both laid there quietly for maybe five minutes before she broke the
silence .

“Brian, you’re my best friend right ? I can tell you anything, can’t I ?”, she asked softly.

“Of course you can Court. After all we have been through, not much is sacred anymore.”, I answered.

“Well, I uh……. I don’t think I am going to be able to go to sleep……
unless I …….”, she stopped in mid sentence.

“Unless what ?”, I asked.

“I really need to ….get off, bad.”, she responded, “How about you ?”

“The thought had crossed my mind.”, I laughed.

She rolled over towards me and placed her arm across my chest, placing her head on my shoulder. She gently stroked me chest with her fingers, I could feel her warm breath on my face.

“So how about we cum together ? No strings attached, just friends.”, she asked, “I mean it’s not like we haven’t done it before.”

“You have a point.”, I replied.

I felt Courtney roll back over in the bed away from me, a second later the light came on. She flipped the switch on the bed lamp three times so that it was set on a very dim light. She sat up in the bed, turned and faced me. She had on a burgundy silk top, with a matching pair of panties, that were barely visible. She reached across the bed for my hand, urging me to sit up and face her. I did as she asked, we were sitting face to face, our knees touching, our eyes locked on one another. She slid her hand down her stomach, lifted the silk tee exposing her panties to me. I looked up into her eyes, just as her tongue licked her lower lip coating it with saliva. By the time my eyes moved back down between her legs, she already had inserted her right hand inside of her panties , her fingers stroking her pussy in a constant rythme. She leaned forward closer to my face , her mouth inches from mine.

“Show me your cock baby, stroke it for me.”, she whispered hoarsely.

I reached down between my legs, reached inside of my shorts and pulled my stiff cock out for her to see. I wrapped the fingers of my right hand around the shaft, just under the head using just the right of pressure. I began to slowly stroke my cock up and down as I once again gazed into Courtney’s eyes. She moved back for a second, pulling her panties off, tossing them to the floor. She then quickly pulled her top over her head throwing it aside as well. I followed her lead quickly, pulling off my shorts and tee shirt. She then extended her legs out in front of her and moved forward towards me. I did the same until we had placed our legs over each others, we were just inches apart looking into each other’s eye’s. I once again began to stroke my rock hard cock, as Court began to plunge her fingers in and out of her steamy hot, wet pussy. We were so close to each other that the hands we each were using to pleasure ourselves, were rubbing and touching each other as we both stroked ourselves in unision. Courtney leaned over, kissed me quickly on lips, without closing her eyes.

“I love to watch you jerk off Brian. The sight of your hand wrapped around your fat cock is so sexy, knowing that you’re doing it just for me drives me nuts.”, she said softly, “God, I’m so fucking wet right now.”

I reached across with my left hand, extending one finger and ran it along one side of Courtney’s pussy. She removed her fingers, took mine and pushed them deep inside of her. She was not joking, she was absolutely drenched. I pushed my fingers in and out of her several times, them removed them, rubbing her juices all over the head of my cock. She instantly drove her fingers back inside of herself, as she softly moaned, her eyes closed.

“Brian, do you jerk off a lot ?”, she asked, without hestitation.

“I don’t know what you call a lot, but yes, I do it from time to time.”, I answered, still stroking myself slowly.

“I do it all the time. In fact, I have reached the point now, I can orgasm five or six times in one session. Sometimes in the middle of the workday, I will close my office door, reach up under my skirt and get myself off.”, she confessed.

“Oh you’re a bad, bad girl Court.”, I laughed.

“I like to be a bad girl Brian. It feels so good.”, she answered.

By now my cock was rock hard and aching for release. Courtney’s body was unbelievable, her waist small, her tits firm and hard. The sight of her with two fingers buried in her pussy was almost too much to take. That along with the erotic dialogue we were having had the cum boiling in my balls. Without any warning, Courtney reached across and pushed my hand off of my cock, wrapping her small, delicate hand around the shaft, then resuming my motion. I almost came right way, the feeling was so intense.

“You like me to jack you off ?”, she asked in a husky voice.

“Yes, it feels so fucking good bursa merkez escort bayan Court.”, I answered.

Once again, she leaned forward, extended her tongue and licked my lips, top and bottom. She pulled back just several inches, looked into my eyes and pleaded with me.

“Brian, would you please lick my pussy baby ?”, she asked.

I didn’t respond, I simply extended both hands, placed them on her shoulders and pushed her down on her back. She spread her legs, as I lowered my mouth on her pussy for the first time in years. There was no soft and gently touch this time. I extended my tongue and drove it as deep as I could between her lips causing her to cry out in pleasure. I immediately sucked her clit between my lips and began to lick it, as I alternated plunging my tongue in and out of her dripping wet vagina. She lasted maybe twenty seconds, before she arched her back, grabbed my head and erupted in a violent, trembling orgasm, the blood running to her face, neck and shoulders, causing her complexion to turn a light shade of red.

I brought her down slowly, as I licked and nibbled on her sensitive clit, my finger tracing her full puffy lips from top to bottom. The color was returning to her face, her breathing was becoming normal, her eyes were full and bright. She rolled onto her side and faced me, her lips touching mine softly, gently like I was so fragile she wanted to protect me. I saw something in her eyes I had never seen before, I can’t describe it, I didn’t know what it was. She moved down my body slowly until I felt both of her hands gently caressing my cock, as if it were fragile, extremely breakable. She opened her mouth and placed just the head of my cock inside of it, her tongue tasting it as if it were an exotic food she had never experienced.

Even though I had been with Courtney once or twice before, this was different, much different. She softly took more and more of my cock into her throat as her fingers gently caressed my balls, her fingertips grazing me ever so lightly. My cock was rigid, purple and throbbing for release, I wanted to cum bad, but I didn’t want this to end.

“Oh my God Court, that feels incredible.”, I whispered to her.

She then began to swirl her tongue all over my cock, as she increased her suction pressure, her fingers still massaging my balls. I couldn’t hold back any longer, I felt the cum racing up my shaft. I tapped her shoulder and warned her of what was coming, literally. She lifted her mouth off of my cock until only the tip of my head was between her lips. I felt her tongue flicking across the opening of my penis just as the first explosion of cum hit her tongue. My cock kept pulsing over and over, the cum was flowing from her mouth down my shaft coating my balls. She continue to gently suck every last drop from me, then using her tongue began to lick my cock from bottom to top, scooping up what she had missed.

She finally moved back up and bed and laid her head on my chest, her arm around my waist. My breathing was just starting to get back to normal, my heart was still racing. She laid therefore a few moments, then jumped up grabbed me by the hand trying to lift me off of the bed.

“Let’s take a shower.”, she urged, tugging on my hand with all of her might.

I got up and followed her to the bathroom, that gorgeous tight ass just within arms reach. She turned on the water for the shower, then went to the vanity and began to brush her teeth. I stepped into the shower, the hot water felt refreshing, the room filled quickly with steam. Seconds later, Courtney opened the door and stepped into the shower with me, closing the door behind her. She stepped to me, wrapped her arms around me and held me close as the water ran over the both of us. She stayed there for several moments before reaching out, taking the large bar of soap in hands. She began to gently rub the soap over my body, softly, almost as if she were washing an infant. She washed me from head to toe, slowly, her touch loving and gentle. When she was finished I took the soap and did the same for her, my hands gliding over her firm, young body. She both rinsed off, got out and dried ourselves off, then made our way back to the bed.

She slid in next to me, again laying her head on my chest, her arm thrown across me. I held her with my right arm, as I gently ran my fingers through her hair with my left. As we laid there, every now and then I could feel her shudder, or at least it seemed that way. I thought maybe she was cold, so I reached down and pulled the blanket over us.

“Is that better ?”, I asked.

“I’m not cold, but thanks.”, she said, her voice shaky.

I took my right arm from around her, reached down taking her chin in my hand and lifting her face towards mine. I could immediately see the tears streaming down her face, her cheeks were glistening in the soft light.

“What’s wrong Court ? Are you ok ?”, I asked softly.

“I’m fine Brian, it’s nothing.”, she replied.

“It seems like it’s motre than nothing. Tell me what’s wrong.”, I urged.

“It’s nothing silly, I’m just very happy, that’s all.”, she answered.

“You’re crying because you’re happy ?”, I asked.

“Yep, you better get used to it. That’s how women are, we are never predictable.”, she said softly.

She laid her head back down on my chest, the room was bathed in silence, it was a nice feeling. Sometime had passed, I wondered if perhaps she had fallen asleep. Just as I was about to check on her, she lifted her head up and turned to me.

“Brian, you are my best friend, I mean that. I trust you as much as I trust my father. You’re the only other man in my life that I have loved, other than my father. That’s why I want you to be the first man to make love to me, I want it to be special.”, she asked softly.

I just laid there for a few seconds, her words ringing in my ears. I reached over and once again began to run my fingers through her soft, silky blonde hair. On and off I had been with Courtney most of my adult life, she was as she said, my best friend. We had shared our hopes and our dreams, through good times and bad, somehow we always wound up together. I didn’t say a word in response, I simply pulled her up to me pressing my lips to hers. She placed one hand softly on my cheek as she passionately kissed my lips, her tongue brushing mine softly. There was no urgency, no rush, it was as if we had until the end of time to make this happen.

I had heard that the first time for a woman can be painful sometimes, the last thing I wanted to do was cause Courtney any discomfort. I reached over and pulled Courtney on top of me, my lips pressed to hers. Courtney lowered herself on me, her pussy pressed against my cock, which was rock hard again. She began moving her hips and grinding her wet pussy lips all over my cock, the feeling was amazing. She pulled her lips from mine, opened her eyes looking at me. She smiled softly as she moved her right hand between her legs, grabbing my rigid shaft. She lifted her lips slightly, pressed the head of my cock into her wet opening, then took a deep breath. She began lowering herself slowly on to my cock, her face etched with cautious desire. She moved ever so slowly until she stopped completely, her face wincing in pain.

“You ok Court ?”, I asked softly, brushing the hair from her face.

“Yea, it just hurts a little.”, she replied.

As she once again tried to lower herself on me, I felt the obstruction against the head of my cock, then suddenly I felt it give way. Court cried out in pain , as she collapsed on top of me, burying her head in my shoulder. I held her gently, not moving a muscle, kissing her neck softly. After several moments, she began to move up and down, gingerly, her eyes closed. Seconds later, her pace increased, her eyes opened, a smile formed on her face.

“Better ?”, I asked

“Oh yea, much better.”, she replied.

She leaned over and kissed me, as she slid her pussy up and down on my rigid cock. She lowered herself down on me, then extended her arms on the bed, one of each side of my head. Her face was a few inches from mine, her eyes were locked directly on mine.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about having you inside of me, like you are now. This feels so good, so right.”, she whispered.

She then started moving her hips again, back and forth, her eyes closed tight, enjoying the feeling. She was incredibly wet and extremely tight, it felt as if the walls of her pussy were actually squeezing my cock. I could feel my orgasm coming, it was close. I urged Court to slow down a bit, I wanted to make sure she was able to cum before I did. She opened her eyes and looked down at me, her tongue coated her bottom lip.

“I want you cum with me Brian. I want to feel your hot cum inside of me as I get off.”, she whispered hoarsely.

“I’m not gonna last long Court.”, I warned.

“It’s ok baby, I’m ready to cum too.”, she answered.

She suddenly began moving up and down on me in a rapid pace, her body slamming into me on the down stroke. I could tell she was very close, so I grabbed her hips and began to push up into her as deeply as I could. I felt her body begin to tense up, her thighs become rigid.

“Oh God baby, now …… cum with me baby…nowwww.”, she cried out.

I pulled her down hard on my cock, as I exploded deep inside of her womb. Just then she cried out in ecstasy, her body spasming as waves of pleasure swept through her body. She finally collapsed on me, breathless and exhausted.I rolled to my left easing her down on the mattress next to me, I gently brushed the hair from her face. We held each other close as we drifted off to sleep.

We woke the next morning, dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. We then returned to our room, packed and checked out. Somehow, neither one of us had brought up last night, not a single mention of it. To be honest, I was relieved, I was not sure how I felt about what had happened between us. There was no doubt, I loved Courtney. But was I in love with her ?

We pulled out of the Casino about eleven o’clock that morning, we had about a three hour drive to get home. For the first hour or so Courtney was extremely quiet, which is not at all normal for her.

“You ok Court, you’re awful quiet.”, I finally asked.

“Yea sure, I’m ok. Sorry, I was just thinking.”, she replied.

“About what ?”, I inquired.

“Oh …… Uh, just about how much work I have to do this week. I have a big contract to finalize and …Uh…a few other things.”, she responded, “By the way when do you have to fly back to San Diego ?”

“I leave this Thursday, around noon, I think.”, I responded.

“Oh.”, was her only response.

The rest of the drive was pretty mundane, Courtney really seemed preoccupied. We finally pulled into her drive way about three o’clock that afternoon. I took my bag from the trunk and tossed it in the back of my truck. I grabbed Courtney’s bag and followed her into the house. We found her parents sitting on the back patio having drinks.

“Hey, there they are. How was the weekend you two ?”, Mr. Timmons asked.

“We had a nice time. Thank you for letting us go sir.”, I replied.

“You’re quite welcome.”, he replied.

Mrs. Timmons got up, put her arm around Courtney and led her back into the house. They were leaning close to each other, whispering back and forth. I must have had an odd look on my face, Mr. Timmons noticed immediately.

“Women will always have their secrets Brian, don’t even try to understand them.”, he told me.

We talked for a few more minutes, then I thanked him again and got up to go home. Courtney and her Mom were in the family room talking, I kissed them each goodbye, then let myself out. I drove across town quickly and was home in a just a few minutes.

As I pulled into the driveway, I noticed David’s car in the drive behind Ashley’s SUV. I parked along side of him, so he could get out later. I grabbed my bag and entered through the kitchen door quietly. I heard them talking in the family room, I wanted to make sure they knew I was home, just in case.

“Ashley, I’m back.”, I called out.

“In here, Brian.”, she called out.

I walked slowly into the family room where David and Ashley were sitting side by side on the sofa. Ashley got up and walked around the sofa and gave me a hug, kissing me on the cheek.

“Hey hotshot, how was your weekend ?”

“It was ok.”, I answered.

I looked over at David, he was sitting there, his hands in his lap, looking rather uncomfortable. I could see from the look on Ashley’s face , she was afraid of what my reaction to him might be. Ashley meant the whole to me, if she cared for this guy, then I had to accept it.

“Hi David, nice to see you again.”, I said, extending my hand.

“Oh, hello Brian, nice to see you again too.”, he replied, shaking my hand weakly.

“If you two don’t mind, I going to turn in for the night, I’m really tired.”, I said.

“Sure Brian, sleep well.”, Ashley replied.

I woke that Monday morning to the sound of my cell phone ringing, I looked at the clock, it was quarter to eleven. I couldn’t believe I had slept that long, I must have been exhausted. I looked at the number on the phone, it was from my agency. I answered the phone, I must have sounded like I was still sleeping.

“Is this Brian Stevens ?”, said the soft, sultry female voice.

“Yes, it is.”, I answered.

“Hello Mr. Stevens, my name is Alexis Clarke, I am Mr. Phillip’s assistant.”, she responded, “Do you have a minute to talk ?”

“Yes mam.”, I replied.

She went on to tell me that she was working with my agent on finalizing my contract, they wanted to have to done by the opening of training camp. She asked if I could fly out immediately and help iron out the final details, so we could get it done. She asked if I could catch the first plane out today , no matter what the time. She asked if I would call her with the flight details, adding that she would pick me up at the airport. I thanked her and told her I would call her when I was in the air.

I got up quickly, showered, dressed and packed my bags. I called a cab and left for the airport immediately. When I arrived at the airport, I was able to get a flight that was leaving in two hours, that was the best they had. I used the time to call Courtney and tell her what had happened, her mother answered the phone.

“Hi Mrs. Timmons, this is Brian, may I speak with Courtney ?”, I asked.

“Oh Brian, Courtney is not feeling well, she is upstairs asleep.”, she replied, concern in her voice.

“What’s wrong with her ?”, I inquired.

“She has had a terrible headache since last night, this morning she is throwing up, she also has blurred vision and feels extremely weak.”, she told me.

“Has she gone to the doctor ?”, I asked.

“No, but if she is not better tomorrow, I am going to take her.”, she answered.

I went on to explain to her what had happened about my contract and how I had to leave immediately. She promised me she would relay all of the information to Courtney when she woke up. I promised her I would call Court as soon as I got settled in. She wished me good luck and hung up.

I then called the school and asked the secretary to give Ashley a message telling her what had happened, adding that I would call her later that night at home as well.

I had no choice but to buy a first class ticket, that was all that was available at such a short notice. As soon I was shown to my seat, I called Alexis to tell her I would be arriving in San Diego right about five o’clock that evening. She thanked me and assured me she would be there to pick me up.

My flight was pretty routine, I landed in San Diego about quarter after five. As I exited the plane and walked down the ramp to the concourse, I realized I had forgot to ask Alexis where she would be waiting at. Since I had no luggage other than my carry on, I hoped it would be right as I entered the main terminal area. As I was walking up the concourse ramp, I was getting more than my fair share of stares, though I’m not sure anyone really knew who I was. As I passed the security section at the entrance to the concourse, I scanned the crowd looking for any sign of my party. I had been standing there for perhaps three minutes or so, when a female voice boomed over the public address system.

“Mr. Brian Stevens, will you please pickup the white courtesy phone. Brian Stevens, please pick up the white courtesy phone.”

I scanned the area for any sign of a courtesy phone, finding one about fifty feet from where I was standing. I walked over and picked up the phone and told the operator who I was, she asked me to hold on for one second. There was a short pause, then a click, the voice telling me I was connected to my party.

“Hello, this Brian Stevens.”, I said.

“Hi Mr. Stevens, this is Alexis Clarke, I am waiting for you in the VIP Parking lot. If you would walk to the main entrance of the terminal, I will pick you up outside the main entrance in about five minutes or so.”, she answered.

“Ok, on my way.”, I replied.

I hung the phone, picked up my bag and made my way to the front entrance to the airport, walking out to the pickup area. I was standing there for maybe about three minutes when a dark maroon BMW 550i pulled up right in front of me. The passenger side window lowered slowly and smooth, an absolutely stunning black haired young woman leaned over toward me.

“Hey Brian, put your bag in the trunk and hop in.”, she said with a smile.

I walked to the back of the vehicle where the trunk suddenly popped opened and the lid rose very slowly. I tossed my bag in the large compartment and cautiously shut the trunk lid. I walked back to the passenger side, opened the door and slowly climbed inside of the car, closing the door behind me.

“Hi Brian, I’m Alexis, it’s so nice to finally meet you.”, she said, shaking my hand with her soft, small hand.

“Thanks mam, it’s nice to meet you as well.”, I answered.

“Mam ?”, she laughed,” Brian I am not even two years older than you are. Please call me Alexis or Alex.”

Alexis looked like she could have been a model for a major magazine. She was wearing an extremely expensive business suit. A short skirt and matching blazer, a while sheer blouse, stockings and high heels. She had shoulder length, charcoal black hair that was extremely straight. She had a slight olive complexion with light green eyes. She had slight , very minor asian facial features, not enough though to be sure she actually was. Her fragrance was extremely understated, but intoxicating none the less. I could not tell for sure since she was seated, but she was taller than the average woman, judging from her legs. As hard as it was for me to admit to myself, she was probably the most beautiful woman I had ever been this close to. That was tough for me to swallow since Ashley had always been the goddess of my dreams.

We pulled out of the airport and drove across town to the agency’s main offices. By the time we arrived and made our way up to the floor they occupied it was after six o’clock that evening, most of the staff had already left for the day. I followed Alexis to Dave Phillip’s office where he was busy with some paperwork. He jumped up from behind the desk as soon as he saw me, extending his hand.

“Brian, it’s good to see you. I am so sorry about calling you out here on such short notice, but we need to finalize your deal.”, he informed me, shaking my hand.

“We have a ton of things for you to go over, Alexis is new to the firm, this is her first deal, so I am going to turn you over to her and let her bring you up to date.”, he finished.

“Fine.”, I answered.

“Brian, if you would please come with me to my office, we can get started.”, she stated, pointing to the door.

I followed her down the hall nearly to the end, to a very nice, smaller office that was extremely well decorated. You could definitely sense it was a woman’s office. She offered me one of the high winged back chairs that sat directly across from her desk. She removed her blazer, hung it on the coat rack in the corner, than sat down behind her desk. With the blazer off, you could tell that she had an amazing figure, you knew she definitely spent time on herself. She picked up the large folder on the right hand side of the desk, opened it up and looked up at me with a beautiful smile on her face.

“Brian, even though you are the first client I will be representing in my career, I want you to know that I will work relentlessly to see that you completely satisfied with any venture we enter into.”, she started.

“If at any time, you feel like you’re not happy with my work, feel free to let me know, I will turn your file back over to Mr. Phillips.”, she continued.

“This is a tough business to get into, especially for a woman. People look at me and think I can be pushed and intimidated into giving them their way. Trust me, I have never been pushed around in my life. I put myself through college working full time, I have never asked anyone for anything in my life. All I am asking is you give me a chance.”, she finished.

I can’t say why, but something in Alexis’ demeanor told me immediately she was being straight up and honest. I also believed one other thing she told me. I doubted anyone had ever pushed her around in her life. She was smart, professional and very sure of herself. I learned all of that after spending only ninety minutes with her.

“I’m fine with that Alexis, I’m sure we will work well together.”, I replied.

It appeared as if the entire weight of the world had been lifted off of her shoulders. She sank back for a second in her chair, brushed one strand of hair out of her face and took a deep breath. She leaned forward and began to shuffle through the papers.

“Ok, this is where we stand at this point. They have offered you a four year, thirteen million dollar contract. Of that number, roughly seven million is guaranteed. You will get a seven hundred fifty thousand dollar signing bonus upon the execution of your contract.”, she started.

“Based on where you were drafted, then taking a look at last year’s contracts near the same spot in the draft, I feel they are coming in a bit low. They are about a million off in the total, and the signing bonus is about four hundred thousand too low. I want to counter with a new proposal reflecting those numbers, then wait to see what they do.”, she finished.

“Wow, that’s quite a bit of information to process, but I’m not sure you understand what went on prior to the draft. I played defensive end in college, they are attempting to move me to tight end. I don’t want to appear that I am ungrateful for the faith they have in me.”, I answered.

“Brian, where they want to play you is their choice, not ours. It’s their gamble, not yours. You deserve at least what last year’s pick in the same position got, if not more. You have to undrstand this is a business, nothing more, nothing less. If you get injured permanently they will cut ties with you in a heartbeat. If they find someone more talented, you will be cut with nothing more than a handshake at best.”, she told me.

“I’m sure you’re right Alexis, this is just all strange to me.”, I answered.

“Brian, you’re paying this firm, you’re paying me a great deal of money to represent you. Please let us do our job.”, she urged.

“Whatever you think is best Alexis, I’m on board.”, I replied.

“Good now let’s see if I can throw this ball back in their court.”, she answered, picking up the phone.

She dialed the number quickly, asking the party on the other end to speak with Wayne Hiller, who I knew was the General Manager of the San Diego team that had just drafted me. It took about minute for him to pick up the phone.

“Mr. Hiller, this is Alexis Clarke from PSA, I’m Brian Stevens agent, do you have a moment for me ?”, she asked, very professionally, “Great, thanks I appreciate it.”

“I have Brian here with me now in my office as a matter of fact, we are reviewing your offer. We want to get this deal done as soon as possible, I want Brian to be in camp for the first practice next week. But let’s be honest, you’re low balling us here. This is below what last year’s pick got in the same slot.”, she continued.

She listened intently to his comments, several times a smile coming to her face. She finally was able to get back command of the conversation.

“Mr. Hiller, I understand the situation, but you drafted Brian in the first round. No matter what position he winds up playing, you’re going to pay him first round money. Now here’s what we feel comfortable with.
We are willing to sign at fourteen million for four years, with seven million, seven hundred seventy five thousand guaranteed. We also need a one and a half million dollar signing bonus. This is less than what last year’s pick was paid and a very good deal for you.”, she ended.

She intently intently for a couple of minutes then thanked him for his altıparmak escort time and hung up. She looked over at me with a smile, then leaned forward over her desk.

“He is going to call me right back, hang on for a few minutes.”, she urged, “I’ll be right back.”

She got up and exited her office walking down the hallway. A few moments later her secretary came in and asked if I wanted something to drink. I told her a Coke would be nice, she left and returned quickly with the ice cold drink. Alexis returned several minutes later, sitting down behind her desk.

“While we wait, let’s go over a few other things we need to discuss. First and foremost are your endorsements. Do not in any way, commit to anyone, about anything. Refer any invitations, any type of offer you receive for anything to me. I will handle those requests, as I see fit, based on the monetary value to you.”, she started.

“Secondly, I need you to either start some sort of charitable foundation, or choose an existing one , something you can donate your time and money to. I can help you with some existing programs if that’s the way you want to go for now. It’s very important you maintain a high profile, a very clean reputation in this community.”, she continued.

Before she could continue, her secretary interrupted her, telling her she had Wayne Hiller on line three. Alexis smiled at me, as she picked up the phone.

“Yes Wayne, what can I do for you ?”, she said.

She listened intently for several minutes, her facial expressions not changing at all, which could not be a good thing. Then all at once she smiled and spoke into the phone.

“Let me run it by my client, I will get right back to you.”, she said, hanging up the phone.

“I didn’t expect this at all. They went up to thirteen and a half million over four years. They are still are only offering seven million guaranteed. But here’s the kicker, they are offering you two million to sign. It’s really close to what we are asking, but it helps them with their cap space if they go with the large signing bonus. It’s up to you, I can go back and hold them to the fourteen, it’s your call.”, she said.

“What do you think Alexis ?”, I asked.

She sat there for a moment looking over the numbers on her papers, shuffling them about. She looked back up at me, her eyes wide and bright.

“Let me run down the hall and talk to Mr. Phillips, I’ll be right back.”, she said, getting up and leaving quickly.

She was gone for close to a half hour before she got back. By now it was close to eight o’clock in the evening, It had been a long day. She walked back in, sat down and leaned forward, a smile on her face.

“Brian, I think we have a good deal here. I can hold out for a little more, but because of your odd situation, the gamble they are taking on you, I think we make the good faith gesture and accept their offer.”, she said.

“Let’s do it.”, I replied.

She picked up the phone and dialed her counterpart, this time he answered the phone very quickly.

“Wayne, I am extremely pleased to tell you that Brian has accepted your offer. Let me know when we want us in your office to sign the paperwork. Brian will report to camp on time, he is looking forward to being a part of your fine organization.”, she said,”Thanks Wayne, you too.

She hung up the phone and sunk back into her chair, letting out a deep breath. She brushed her hair back over her shoulders and gave me that wide eyed, warm smile of hers.

“He will call me tomorrow, let me know when we can formally finish the contract. Congratulations Brian, you are a millionaire.”, she told me.

“I still can’t believe it’s real. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this day would come.”, I answered.

“Brian, please let me take you out to dinner tonight and celebrate. This is a big night for the both of us. This is your first pro contract, but it’s my first as well. You just earned me quite a paycheck, the least I can do is buy you dinner.”, she laughed.

“Oh I don’t know Alexis, it’s been a long………

She cut me off immediately getting up from behind her chair and grabbing her blazer from the coat rack.

“Nonsense, I insist. Please let’s enjoy a nice meal and relax.”, she urged.

“Sure, why not ?”, I answered.

I followed her down the hall slowing down as we passed Dave Phillips office, while she stuck her head in. She informed him we had closed the deal, asking him if he wanted to join us for dinner. He congratulated her but declined on dinner saying he was trying to finalize a deal of his own at that moment.

We left the building, got her car and drove across town to a very nice restaurant in the heart of the city. We pulled up in front of the building, where the valet met us, taking her car keys. I followed her to the front door, opened the door and we entered together. We were met in the small front room by the hostess, who immediately had a look of surprise, covering her hand with her mouth quickly.

“You’re the guy we just drafted …you’re um…”, she stuttered.

“Brian Stevens, and yes it’s him.”, Alexis answered.

“Oh wow, the owner is going to be so excited. Please follow me, I will get you seated immediately.”, she said.

We followed her into the main room where dozens of people were seated, eating. You could tell immediately this was a really expensive, high class restaurant. I was probably the most under dressed person in the room. We were seated at a large table, near the center of the room. Our hostess told us our waitress would be with us very shortly, then disappeared into the kitchen. She reappeared quickly with a man who appeared to be in his mid thirties, dressed in grey and black, plaid pants, a white chef’s jacket, extremely clean cut and shaven.

“Hello, I’m Paul Sheffield, the owner and head chef. I’m very pleased to meet you Mr. Stevens, I’m looking forward to watching you play this year. I have season tickets.”, he told me, shaking my hand.

“Call me Brian, and thank you, it’s nice to be here.”, I answered.

He turned to the waitress and ordered her to bring our order to him personally, he would prepare it himself. I thanked him and we took the two menu’s from her. I decided to have a quick pasta dish with a salad, while Alexis ordered salmon. It had been a really long day for me, I just wanted to get to my hotel and crash. As we waited for our meal, Alexis interrogated me about my early years, wondering what had gotten me to this point in my life. I could tell she was genuinely sympathic when I spoke about my Father and how much I missed him. I did so wish he would be here to see me play my first game as a pro. By the time the food came, I had pretty much brought her up to date on my life to this point. The one thing she was really surprised at was that I had no serious relationship going with anyone, in fact that I had never really had one, other than the time I had been on and off again with Courtney. Of course, I didn’t let on to her about Ashley and how she was the one I truly wished I could be with.

As we started to eat, I turned the tables on Alexis, and asked her about her childhood and early years. The story she unfolded was incredibly interesting, to say the least. Her grandfather, a U.S. Marine in the early years of the Vietnam War had met her grandmother, a beautiful young girl in Saigon. Over the course of his deployment, they had fell in love and she had become pregnant with Alexis’s mother. After much drama and danger, her grandfather had managed to get her grandmother out of Vietnam and back to the United States, where they led a pretty normal life.

Her mother had married her father, another service man, who had been killed in First Gulf War. Alexis had only been two years old when her father had died, she barely remembered him. Her mother had never remarried, instead working two full time jobs to send Alexis to the best schools she could. Alexis started playing volleyball in junior high and excelled quickly. Due to her height, she was in fact almost six foot one, she had started all four years in high school and became an consensus all – state player. She was recruited by at least a dozen major colleges across the country, she chose instead to stay close to home and play where her mother could see her.

Although she had been one of the best setter’s in the state, as soon as she arrived in college her coach switched her to an outside hitter. She trained religiously on her lower body, and could soon play above the nine foot level as a sophmore. By her junior year, she was considered as one of the best outside attackers in the country. With her height, and a twenty nine inch vertical leap, she was indeed intimidating. Upon her graduation from college, she was offered to play professionally overseas in Europe, but instead chose to start working full time and get her master’s degree. She had joined PSA less than a year ago, climbing quickly up the ladder as an associate agent.

As she told me her story, it all made sense. Now looking more closely, you could see the Asian lineage in her facial features. Her body was incredibly fit and athletic from years of intense competition and training. Her mother’s fierce desire to succeed, her own demanding will for athletic excellence, had made her a powerful young, aggressive woman. By the time we had finished dinner and talking, it was extremely late.

She dropped me off at my hotel, the agency had kept a room booked for me, about thirty minutes later. My rental SUV was stilled parked in the lot, so I was set to go. Alexis promised me, she would be in touch with me shortly about the contract signing and I could call her if I needed anything else at all. I thanked her for all of her efforts, then made my way to my room.

As I finally climbed into bed that night, I wanted to call Courtney but I knew it was too late. I decided to call her first thing in the morning.
I must have feel asleep quickly, I sure needed the sleep.

I woke the next morning about ten, sat up and grabbed my cell phone. I had one text from Ashley, asking me to call her later and let her know how the contract details were going. I scanned my contacts , then called Courtney’s cell phone. It rang several times, then went to voice mail. I hung up, scrolled down and dialed her office. Her secretary told me she was still not feeling well and had stayed home. I then called her house, her mother answered after several rings.

“Hi Brian, how are you ?”, she asked me.

“I’m fine, how is Courtney feeling ?”, I asked.

“Not good Brian. She can’t get rid of the headache, she has been nauseated for days. She has a few tests scheduled later today, I will call you after they are done.”, she offered.

“Thank you Mrs. Timmons, I hope she feels better soon.”, I answered, hanging up.

I sat there in the bed for a while just thinking, I had so many things to do. Sooner or later, I was going to have to go out and find a place to live. Either rent something, or buy a condo, maybe a small house. I needed my own car as well. I had to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards, get a new driver’s license and meet with investment agents. It was all rather overwhelming to say the least. I decided the only way to tackle this was one thing at a time. I decided to go look at vehicles first, since I didn’t need any help with that. I drove to the center of town and visited several dealerships, nothing really standing out. I had a late lunch, then headed back to my room. Sometime after three o’clock my phone rang, it was Courtney’s mom.

“Hi Brian, we just arrived back home from the hospital. They admitted Courtney, it’s not good.”, she said, emotion heavy in her voice.

“What’s wrong.”, I asked softly.

“She has what appears to be a huge mass on her brain stem, they are going to have to do a biopsy tomorrow morning.”, she answered.

I sat there stunned, this was not possible. Courtney was my age, surely there had to be a mistake. I really didn’t know what to say, I was speechless.

“Brian, you there ?”, she asked.

“Yes mam, I’m sorry. I just don’t know what…..”, I started to reply.

“I know.”, she answered.

“I am going to fly home right away, as soon as I can get a plane.”, I told her.

“Don’t you have to be at camp on Wednesday ?”, she asked.

“Yes, but I can come home until then.”, I replied.

“Brian, there is nothing you can do right now. I will call you tomorrow after the test. We will know more then. You can decide tomorrow what to do.”, she urged.

“Will you call me as soon as it’s over ?”, I pleaded.

“Yes Brian, I will.”, she promised.

I hung up the phone and laid back on my bed, I was in a state of disbelief. I looked at the clock but because of the time difference, I knew Ashley was not at home yet. I really needed someone to talk to, but I would have to wait at least three hours. I had to get out of the apartment, the walls were closing in on me. I dialed Coach Reed’s cell phone, I was hoping he was available. He answered his phone on the third ring.

“Coach, is it ok if I go to the practice facility and workout ?”, I asked.

“I guess so Brian, I’m not sure any of the trainers are downstairs right now though.”, he answered.

“I don’t care Coach, I have to get out of here.”, I replied.

“Something wrong Brian ?”, he inquired.

“Yes Coach, but nothing you can help with.”, I said, thanking him and hanging up.

I headed over to the practice facility which was about thirty minutes away. The parking lot was pretty empty, I made my way past security into the training area. I went to my locker, changed clothes and entered the weight room. There were two other player’s working out, I didn’t know who either of them were. They barely acknowledged me as I entered, which was fine with me.

I decided to work my upper body, it was easier to do alone with no spotter. I turned on my IPOD, put my earphones in and began my workout. I tried to block everything and everyone out, I had a lot of anger to get out. By the time I had finished both the flat bench press and the incline bench, I was dripping wet. I knew I was out of control by the amount of weight I was slamming on the bars. As I glanced across the room once, I saw both of the other players watching me intently.

I was working on my shoulders and had just finished a set, dropping the heavy bar on the rack. I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was Coach Reed. I pulled the ear phones out, just in time to hear him speak to me.

“Brian, what’s wrong son ?”, he asked.

“I’m ok Coach, it’s my….. “, I stopped, I didn’t want to get emotional.

“What is it ?”, he asked, concerned.

“Can I come up and talk to you later ?”, I asked.

“Sure, you can. I’ll be in my office.”, he told me.

I went back to my workout just as relentless as I had been. After close to ninety minutes, I was exhausted, I hit the showers. I dressed quickly then made my way to the third floor, which housed all the main offices. I wandered down the long hallway until I found Coach Reed’s office, he was working intently behind his desk. I knocked softly on the open door, he looked up right way.

“Coach, you busy ?”, I asked.

“No Brian, come in, close the door.”, he offered.

I did as he asked, sitting in one of the chairs directly across from his desk. It was a really nice office, decorated with years of memorabilia from his coaching career, much as I remembered my own father’s office had looked.

“Brian, is there something I can help you with. I know sometimes, all of this can be a bit overwhelming for young players. I want you to know my door is always open to you. Anything I can do to help you, if it’s in my power, I will try.”, he offered.

“Thanks Coach, but this is a kind of tough one.”, I replied.

I went on to tell him what had happened, pretty much the whole story of Courtney and I, but more importantly how close I was to her father. He had in many ways, taken my father’s place after his death. It didn’t take long for me to realize two things. One, Courtney was more important to me, than even I had realized. Two this man that sat across from me, the one who had just taken a huge gamble on me, was as concerned about me as a person, as he was a player. By the time I had finished, it was clearly evident he was truly sympathetic to my plight.

“Brian, I really don’t know what I could say or do that could possibly help ease this burden you’re carrying. All I can offer to you, is that this entire organization will stand behind you through this. Whatever you need from me or this team, you just ask.”, he offered.

“Thanks Coach.”, I replied.

Later that evening, Courtney’s mother called me as she had promised. The biopsy had showed the mass was indeed a tumor, worse yet, it was malignant. Courtney was going to be flown to another hospital where more tests and possible immediate surgery would be done. Once again Mrs. Timmons urged me to be patient, to wait until things were settled before flying home. She promised to let me know as soon as she could, so I would know when and where to go.

I called home later that night and talked to Ashley for hours. It was good to hear her voice. It was the second time Ashley and I had cried together, only this time she wasn’t there to hold.

The next four days were a blur of phone calls, text messages and emails. Courtney had indeed been flown to another hospital when countless tests were performed. The ultimate decision was still hanging in limbo, the doctors were still carefully weighing their options.

I woke up early Wednesday morning, ate breakfast then drove to camp. We had to report by nine in the morning, practice would start around ten, it would be outdoors. I was only a block away from the entrance to the camp but I could already see fans lining up along the facility to attempt to get in and watch the practice. Several people waved as I pulled into the player’s entrance, although I doubt any of them seriously knew who I was. I entered the locker room, found my locker and began to dress for practice. I hadn’t paid much attention to who was where as I had walked into the facility. I was tying the shoe laces on my cleats when I heard a voice behind me.

“This is the offensive side of the room rookie, you’re on defense, you belong over there.”, said the gruff voice.

I turned and looked up as several players bust out laughing and clapping. There stood Billy Huber, a smug look on his face, basking in the attention. I knew he was a veteran who had earned his dues, I let it go without saying a word. I leaned back over to tie my shoes.

“Hey rookie, don’t you turn away from me boy. I said get over to the other side of the room.”, he snarled.

Once again, I ignored him and continued to get dressed which seem to get him all the more angry, He finally let his emotions get the best of him and slapped me on top of my shoulder.

“Hey boy, I’m talking to you.”, he grunted.

I had all of him I was going to take today, veteran or not. I got up quickly and turned, I was face to face looking down at him. He was perhaps six foot three at best, weighed maybe two hundred forty pounds. Being a ten year veteran, he relied more on technique and knowledge of the game, then he did size and strength. You could tell his time in the weight room had slipped over the years, as does happen. I could tell from the look on his face, I had surprised him. The room got deathly silent.

“Look you got a problem with the locker assignments, I suggest you talk to the trainers that give them out. That’s my locker and I don’t give much of a fuck whether you like it or not. Now if you still have a problem, I’m thinking I can solve it right now for you.”, I said, sternly but under control.

Before he could day a word, I heard Coach Reed’s voice behind me breaking the silence.

“What the fuck is the problem here ?”, he asked, his voice booming.

I didn’t take my eyes off Billy, I wanted him to back down.

“Huber.”, he growled, “What is the malfunction?”

Billy took his eyes off of me and turned to face Coach Reed, his face turning a bit red.

“Nothing Chief, just having some fun with the kid.”, he answered.

“Well knock it the fuck off, get dressed and get out there.”, he fired back, turning and walking out of the locker room.

Billy turned and looked me square in the eyes again, attempting to muster his angry look.

“This ain’t over boy. You and me have business to settle.”, he said.

The entire room erupted with ooh’s and ah’s to his remark, apparently he had been a team favorite for quite some time, he had his own clique. I didn’t even wait for the peanut gallery to quiet down.

“Anytime you want to settle up old man, I ain’t hard to find. I’m the guy taller, bigger, stronger and faster than you. Oh and by the way, I’ll be lined up in your old spot, so it will be easy for you to find me.”, I shot back, reached over grabbing my helmet from the bench and walking out to the field, as the player’s whooped it up, giving Billy back his own medicine.

As I walked slowly out to the practice field, I realized just how different football was at this level. It was all about the money, and what you had to do to keep it. I guess no matter who you were, you were replaceable. I was close to the field when Josh Henson, our starting quarterback ran up from behind me.

“Hey rook, I love it. That’s the way to stand up for yourself.”, he said, slapping me on the back.

“I’m sorry, that’s really not me, things just are really bad now. I’m usually not like that.”, I answered.

“Screw him, Brian. Billy has coasted for the past three seasons and he knows it. He is worried because for the first season in years, he might be in trouble. Believe me Coach Reed didn’t waste a first round pick for you to sit behind him long. You hang in there baby, you’ll be fine.”, he said, slapping me on the butt.

We practiced for close to four hours, mostly in our position groups which meant I was next to Billy for most of the four hours. Neither of us said a word as we went through our drills. It was clear he was more polished than I was, the years of experience showed. But I was definitely quicker, faster and physically stronger than he was. And at my height, I could play the game at an altitude, he simply couldn’t. That became evident as we ran about thirty minutes of red zone offense. Several times Josh simply lofted the ball to me either in the corner or back of the end zone. He put it up high where no one other than myself could go up and get it. We scored at least three times during the session. Most of the players walked over to the bleachers where the fans were sitting, it was customary to sign a few autographs and acknowledge their dedication for sitting through a four hour practice. As much as I wanted to go over there, I wanted to call home and check on Courtney. I quickly trotted off the field and into the locker room to shower and change. I was out of the facility in less than an hour.

As soon as I was back at my hotel room, I called Mrs. Timmons cell phone to try and get an update. She answered the phone, in just a few rings.

“Hey Mrs. Timmons, I’m just checking to see if you have found anything else out ?”, I said slowly.

“It doesn’t look good Brian. It appears the tumor cannot be completely removed safely. And this morning, we found out the cancer has metastasized into her bones.”, she said softly, “We are waiting to see the specialist now. Can I call you back in a while ?”

“Yes mam, I’ll be here.”, I answered.

I tossed the phone on the bed and laid down next to it. It was not even feasible to me that I had been gone from home less than a month and Courtney was this sick. She had been fine just several weeks ago, or at least she appeared to be. I must have dozed off because the phone startled me back to consciousness. I reached over, looked at the number and answered it.

“Hey Brian.”

I could tell by the sound of Mrs Timmons voice, the news was not good. I laid back down on the bed not wanting to hear what was coming.

“There’s not a lot they can really do Brian. At least nothing that will help. The tumor is pressing into her brain stem, they have to keep her sedated to some degree. If they don’t remove part of it, she is going to die. If they do remove enough of it to ease the pressure, we will have to watch her die slowly and painfully from the bone cancer.”, she said, sobbing softly.

“Now they are asking us to make a decision”, she cried, “God help me Brian, I can’t.”

By this time the tears where streaming down my face, I felt like I couldn’t breath.

“I’m so sorry…… this is ….”, I choked up again.

“Brian, we have to make a decision now. If we decide to let her go, can you come see her ?”, she pleaded.

“Yes mam. I can leave now.”, I replied.

“One of us will get back to you in a few hours.”, she answered, hanging up.

I decided not to wait, I called Coach Reed immediately to tell him what was going on. He told me he understood, that he could excuse me from practice for a few days, but I had to get back quickly in order not to fall too far behind. I thanked him and told him I would stay in touch. I went out, got something to eat and made it back to my room. I had already packed a small bag by the time the phone rang.

“Brian, it’s Gerald. You need to come quick son.”, he cried softly.

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