Fallen Fourth Down

Page 18

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A voice from the back spoke up, “We can switch.”

Everyone in the room turned to look, but I didn’t need to. I recognized that soft, timid voice. It was Marissa.

She added, “My friends and I will sit up front so they can sit back here.”

Matteo said, “Miracles do happen. Thank god.” Jumping up, he swung his bag to his shoulder and nodded. “Thank you, little Mother Theresas. You will all be blessed in your afterlife and I have no doubt you’ll go to the highest heaven.”

A few in the room chuckled. The professor wasn’t amused. “This is a political science course, not a religious one.”

He touched his forehead, his chest, both of his shoulders, then touched his lips. Offering his hands up in the air, he shook his head. “My prayers have been answered again.”

Marissa and her friends grabbed all of their books and bags. They came up to the front and stepped aside. Matteo was the first to get to the back row and he plopped down in the farthest corner. He pushed the other desks to the side, giving him more space. Stretching his hands in the air, he folded them behind his head and leaned against the wall. “Wait.” He shifted, leaning against the corner of the room. Kicking his feet out, he said, “Much better. Thanks, chicas.”

Drew laughed and went next. I followed him. As I went past Marissa, she jerked her gaze away and followed her friends as they sat down. I tensed, but took the last seat beside Drew. We were in the back of the room and the other people in our row had scooted over so we had even more room.

The professor went to the board, and Matteo leaned forward to whisper, “We have to make sure we piss every time we come here. Once I’m back here, Matteo is not moving until class is over. No mofo, no way.” He pulled out his water and set it on the desk.

Drew took it down. “Don’t drink this until class is almost done. Your bladder’s like a girl’s. It’s barely there.”

“You’re barely there.”

“I remembered your girlfriend saying that to you a few times.”

The two shared insults, both unable to hold back their grins at the same time, but I tuned them out. Marissa glanced back over her shoulder. When her eyes caught mine, her face grew red and she ducked back down, facing forward. Her two friends looked also, but they weren’t the two that had been with her outside the stadium. Judging from the lack of surprise on their faces, they knew of me and knew of my history with Marissa.

I sat back. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t even sure what to think of Marissa anymore either.



I’d been right. Coach pulled me from running with the girls and had me start with the guys. After that one day of being smart-asses and getting a chilly reception from everyone in school, they had no choice but to accept me. I’d been running with them for the past two weeks. Since Heather was working and Logan was at his game (which I promised to go to and was running late), I decided to go on a longer run than normal. I hadn’t been indulging in my really long runs, the ones that lasted a few hours. When I got home, I stopped outside the back door. The world felt alive to me. Even now, being exhausted, I was more energized than ever.

After stretching, I headed inside and was turning for the basement when I heard my name.


David was standing in the kitchen. He wore his coaching jacket, dress pants, and shoes. A foreboding feeling took root in my stomach. It was Friday night so that meant game night. Glancing at the clock, I saw he only had twenty minutes to get there. I moved from the door and came into the kitchen. “What are you doing here, Dad? You’re playing my school tonight. I’m going to be late myself, but you’re the coach.”

He closed his eyes a moment and nodded to himself.

I waited, but the interest turned to alarm. Something was wrong. “Dad?”

“Um.” He shoved his hands into his pockets, and his head went down. “I have something to tell you.”

“Something so important that you’re going to be late for your game?” I glanced around. “Is Malinda and Mark here?”

“No.” He shook his head. “It’s you and me. Mark’s warming up, and Malinda’s already there with her friends. They don’t know I’m here.”

A lump was in the back of my throat. No one knew. “Is it Mom?” Did I care? All the turmoil and pain she caused came back to me. I hadn’t thought about her in a long time. I didn’t want to either. I gritted my teeth. “Is she getting out?”

“No, Sam. It’s,” he faltered for a beat, “it’s your father.”


“Garrett. Your biological father.”

“Did something happen? Is he okay?”

“He’s here, Sam.”

“Um.” I shook my head and laughed. “I heard you wrong. Right?”

“You heard me right.” His head came up and he caught my gaze. His small smile turned sad. “Your father moved to town. He and his wife are both here.”

“This is joke.” It wasn’t funny.

“He came for you, Sam. He wants to form a relationship with you. He said things are good with his wife again. He called me a few months ago and told me his plan. That was before you moved in and things got better between us. I wasn’t sure when the right time would be to tell you and the summer got away from me.” He closed his eyes and hung his head once more. “I’m so sorry, Samantha. I’ve been waiting to tell you during a weekend you were going to see Mason. I know you’re planning on leaving tomorrow.”

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