Fallen Fourth Down

Page 76

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“Okay.” I could do this. “I will, Coach.”

“Good.” He clapped me on the shoulder. “Do what you need to do. I’ll see you at the finish line.”

With that said, I set my internal speedometer to full force. Once I did this, I knew this was how I would go the whole way. I didn’t pay attention to who I was passing. I didn’t look to the sides as people were lining up ahead, trying to keep up with me. It wasn’t long until I realized I was alone. Either I was in first or the girls who were in first were too far ahead of me.

I wasn’t running against them. I was running against myself.

The first marker was set up. I soared past it. The second had a small group of people. My eyes were focused, but I caught movement from the corner of my eye. They were waving their arms. I heard the yelling, but it was muffled. I rounded for the third. This time, a larger group was there. Someone was running to get there, to be there when I went past it.


That was Logan. A small tear came to me, but it flew off my cheek. I kept going.

The fourth marker had more people.

The fifth doubled in size.

The sixth and seventh were the same. As I flew past, I realized they were there for me. I heard my name clear as day, but it didn’t slow me down. I didn’t let it distract me.

I remembered Mason’s last text as I cleared a hill and started down it: Run your ass off. Run to me. All roads, Sam. I’ll be there.

I had one more marker. A referee was supposed to be at each one of them, but I didn’t remember seeing him. I wasn’t seeing anyone. The finish line wasn’t far and I wasn’t tired yet. My legs stretched wider. I envisioned everything in my mind. My heels dug into the ground. My muscles bunched, pulling me forward with my momentum, and my toes went next. I pushed off from them, sending myself forward into another sprint. Over and over again. I could go faster. I saw the end and the large crowd that had formed, waiting on me.

I soared over it and my head went back. My chest was gasping. That had been the fastest run of my life. I wanted to keep going, but I forced myself to stop. As I did, people ran at me.


That was Logan. I turned to him, a wide smile on my face, and saw Mason instead. He was standing in the middle of the crowd, a proud look on his face. I registered that he was wearing Cain U athletic clothes, a warm-up jacket and pants. They hugged his form, accentuating his muscular build and lean waist. His pants rode low on his hips. He looked good enough to jump. I met his gaze. I couldn’t look away. His eyes were lit up with love.

I didn’t think. I leapt for him. My legs wrapped around his waist, and I clung to him as my arms went around his neck. I didn’t think he would be there and he was. I wasn’t going to question it. I was just going to revel in it.

“Okay. Where’s the sharing means you’re caring?” Logan held his arms out. “I’m right here. I care too.”

Mason started to let me go, but I clung tighter to him, pressing my face into the crook of his neck and shoulder. He wrapped his arms around me once more, and his hand splayed out over my back as he rocked me back and forth. For a moment, just one more moment, it was only him and me. I breathed him in, remembering what it had felt like as he pressed me down on the bed. With him inside me, holding me, kissing me.

He was home.

“Logan.” He cleared his throat. “Standing right here. The two love-tweeties can get alone time later. Still wanting to share some caring here.”

Laughing, I lifted my head.

Logan patted his chest and spread his arms wider. “Sam, you just kicked major record ass today. I’m still willing to be your bitch, but I want a hug.”

Before I could unwind my legs from Mason’s waist, I was transferred from him to Logan. “Oh!” My legs dropped to the ground and Logan lifted me back up. His arms were tight around my back as he whirled me in a circle. When he set me back down, he leaned back and grinned down at me. A stupid happy look was on his face and he shook his head. “I’m so fucking proud of you. You have no idea.”

“We all are.” Malinda was next. She pulled me in for a hug. Then David. Heather. Mark was last, and it was an awkward hug. There was no body contact. His arms lifted up and around me, then he patted me on the back and moved away as soon as it was done. From a safe distance, he nodded. “You did really good.”

I laughed. I had to. “They’re not going to hurt you for hugging me.” I pointed to Mason and Logan, and realized Logan was gone. “Logan?”

Mason was looking past my shoulder, and I turned to follow his gaze. He was greeting Kris, who looked ready to fall down. Her hair was soaked with sweat. After he hugged and kissed her, he handed her a water bottle.

“Uh.” Mason stepped forward. He sent an apologetic smile to Malinda and David, his gaze sweeping over everyone as he touched my elbow. Applying pressure, he guided me away from the group again. “I have to head back right away.”

“That’s right. You play today, don’t you?”

He nodded. “I do. It was nice seeing everyone.”

Malinda held her arms out and shook her head. “Oh no, you big muscular football hottie. Get that tight ass over here. I am the mama bear and I want a hug. I don’t get to see you that much anymore.” Instead of waiting for Mason, she lifted his arms and wrapped hers around him. They were standing close so I heard her whisper, “David’s relieved you’re not going to be around for Christmas break, you know with the slumber parties, but not me.” She moved back, brushed a tear away, and cupped the side of his face. “You’re just so handsome. I miss you, and I know Sam does too. Everyday.”

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