Fallen Fourth Down

Page 77

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Mason’s gaze met mine. I let him see the truth in her words. Having him there made everything right.

Seeing the look, Malinda made a crooning sound. Her other hand lifted to cup the side of my face. She was holding us in the palm of her hands, looking back and forth between us. “You two will go the distance. I just know it. Neither of you need to worry. True love always survives. It’s supposed to.” She patted us both on the cheek and groaned. “I just love you both so much, and on that note, I will step back. You two love-tweeties, as Logan called you, need some time alone. It was so nice seeing you again, Mason. I’ll invest in a teleporting machine. I think everyone would be happier with that invention.”

He laughed. “Yeah, that would be nice.”

“Okay.” She turned, waving as she did. “Love you and drive safe.”

“Malinda,” David called, “leave them be.”

“Mom,” Mark groaned.

I glanced to Heather who was waiting beside Mark. She gave me a two finger salute. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but assumed it wasn’t bad as she watched Logan and Kris. A small smirk was starting to form on her face when I looked back to Mason.

He was waiting for me. He sighed and pulled me close for another hug. He had to go. That’s what he was saying. When his chest tightened and he lifted his head, I knew he was going to say something. I shook my head. No talking. Not now. Just us. That’s all I wanted.

But when he pulled back and dropped a soft kiss to my lips, it wasn’t enough. It was never enough. As he headed for his car, the feeling of victory dimmed a little bit.


I turned and hugged the rest of my teammates as they came over the finish line.



I was heading for the locker room when a guy passed me. A second later, I heard, “Kade?”

Turning around, I asked, “Yeah?”

He was wearing a Cain U athletic jacket, so he was on staff. I glanced to the clipboard in his hands, but couldn’t place him. He was my height, over six feet, with a trim build and tan complexion. A whistle hung from around his neck. He was probably in his forties, his dark hair was combed to the side with grey on the sides. He pointed at me, a phone cupped into his palm. “Mason Kade. Wide receiver on the football team.”

“Yes, sir.”

He patted his chest, still holding his phone. “I’m Douglas Montgomery. I just got off the phone with a buddy of mine. He’s at the state cross country meet, and he mentioned that he could’ve sworn he just saw you there.”

“Yes, sir. I was there.”

“That’s an hour away.”

I nodded. I was aware because I was late getting into my uniform. The buzz from the stadium was loud and parking had been a nightmare. It was the first game of playoffs. Everyone was ramped up more than normal and this guy, whoever he was, was going to make me even more late. “Yes, sir. My girlfriend ran today. I wanted to be there for her.”

“Your girlfriend?” He eyes narrowed and he tilted his head to the side. His hand lifted, rubbing his chin. “You’re from Fallen Crest, right? My buddy was going to watch a girl from there. Which one was your girlfriend?”

Hearing his question, I was filled with pride. I tried to hold back a smile, but I couldn’t. I said, “The one that won.”


“Yes, sir.”


Hearing my coach, I gestured behind me. “I need to go or I won’t be seeing any playing time. It was nice meeting you.”

“Yeah, yeah.” A keen look came over him and he held his hand out. “It was nice meeting you.” After shaking hands, he patted me on the shoulder. “You’re going to go far. I can tell. Maybe your girl too. How about that, huh?”


“I’m sorry, but I really have to go.” And with that abrupt statement, I sprinted and crashed through the locker room door. Once inside, I ducked my head down and ran through the team. They had already formed a circle in the middle of the room, all in uniform, all raring to go. Even though I just got there, I felt the nervous excitement from the guys. “I’m here. I’m here. Sorry, Coach.”

“Get your gear on, and you will be giving me a damned good excuse why you’re late.”

I nodded. He meant after the game. He had already taken his spot in the middle of the room with his coach’s jacket on and his whistle in hand. He never used it, but he liked to swing it around for his speeches. I caught the look in his eyes. He was primed and ready to go.

As I dropped my bag and started changing, Drew patted me on the back. He leaned in close and whispered, “Did she win?”

I nodded, not saying a word. Coach was still watching me. Matteo started to lean in close, from the other side, but Coach pointed at him. “Swallow your words, Robards.”

Matteo scooted away. “Swallowing, Coach.”

“This is team time.” As he said those last two words, he pointed at the floor. His hand moved up and down in an abrupt motion. “Team. Time. Not social time. Not time to ask how his girlfriend did. Team. Time. My time. Mine.”

He swept his gaze around the room, waiting, watching. That one gesture changed the feel of the room. There’d been nerves, some jokes, but as our coach lifted his chin, everything settled in the room. As he started his speech, I finished getting my uniform on and slowly sat down between Drew and Matteo.

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