Read nets and lies epub format

Authors: Katie Ashley

nets and lies

NETS AND LIES

Katie Ashley

Copyright 2013 Katie Ashley Productions

 

 

Chapter One: Melanie

Chapter Two: Jordan

Chapter Three: Melanie

Chapter Four: Melanie

Chapter Five: Jordan

Chapter Six: Jordan

Chapter Seven: Melanie

Chapter Eight: Jordan

Chapter Nine: Melanie

Chapter Ten: Jordan

Chapter Eleven: Jordan

Chapter Twelve: Melanie

Chapter Thirteen: Jordan

Chapter Fourteen: Melanie

Chapter Fifteen: Melanie

Chapter Sixteen: Jordan

Chapter Seventeen: Melanie

Chapter Eighteen: Melanie

Chapter Nineteen: Jordan

Chapter Twenty: Melanie

Chapter Twenty-One: Melanie

Chapter Twenty-Two: Jordan

Chapter Twenty-Three: Melanie

About the Author

Acknowledgements

 

 

A crisp swoosh echoed over the gymnasium just as the final buzzer rang. The crowd erupted in a roar as they clamored to their feet. I barely had time to wipe the salty sting of sweat from my blue eyes before my teammates pounced on me in a dizzying flurry of back slapping and hugging.

“Way to go, Mel!” they screamed. Their voices were almost engulfed by the cheering crowd.

My face stretched into a wide grin as my mind and body got swept away by the wave of their excitement. A hand on my shoulder caused me to whirl around. It was Coach Thompson, or Coach T as we affectionately referred to him.

“That’s my girl!” he cried, crushing me to him in an appreciative hug.

I couldn’t fight the warmth spreading over my cheeks when his arms lingered on me, keeping me flush against his body. I never liked being the center of attention. I was the epitome of “There’s No I in Team”, so I didn’t like being singled out. “Thanks,” I finally mumbled.

He winked at me and then turned to the others. “All right, let’s do our run through to the other team and then meet me back in the locker room!”

We obediently lined up to high-five the losing team and mutter the obligatory “Good game” line. Many of them glared at me since my foul shots had sent us over the edge to win. As I jogged over to the locker room, my own personal cheering section, my parents and grandparents, swished blue and white pompoms and hollered my name. I grinned up at them and waved.

The Varsity boys’ team lined up to take to the court. Before I could make it into the locker-room, my boyfriend, Will, swept me into a bear hug and then planted a lingering kiss on my lips. “Whoa, get a room, Thompson!” one of his teammates shouted while some others whistled.

“Will,” I protested, as my hands pushed against his chest.

“What?”

I blushed. “I’m all sweaty and gross.”

He grinned. “I like you all sweaty and gross. It’s
sexy
!”

My heartbeat accelerated as I ducked my head. “Whatever.”

“All right, all right, Will. Get your hands off my star and get your head on the game!” Coach T bellowed.

Will’s hands jerked from my waist like he had been scalded by Coach T’s words. “Jeez, Dad, I was only congratulating her.”

Cocking his head, Coach T eyed Will sternly. “Maybe if you had a bit more discipline, you’d bust your ass like Melanie.”

My cheeks burned in embarrassment for Will. Coach T was always so hard on him—too hard for my liking. Will was a gifted athlete, but he would never be perfect enough in his father’s eyes. Then again, it always seemed like whenever I was around, Coach T reigned down even harder on Will.

Will scowled as Coach T stalked by us and threw open his office door. I tentatively put my hand on Will’s shoulder. “Hey, good luck out there.” Then I leaned over and kissed him.

When I pulled away, he smiled. “Thanks, beautiful,” he said, as he playfully tugged on my sweat-slickened ponytail. “Go get a shower and then come cheer me on.”

I nodded and headed into the athletic offices. I’d just gotten through the door when I heard Coach T consoling Amanda Weathers. Backed up against the wall of his office with her head bowed, she was sobbing over the two shots she had missed. Coach T didn’t take mistakes lightly, even when we were victorious, but he always tried to comfort us when felt we had failed the team and ourselves.

Amanda raised her head long enough to shoot me an embarrassed look as I breezed past her. I hurried down the corridor to the locker-room. When I headed inside, I found it teeming with JV and Varsity players, emptying their lockers and getting changed.

After quickly shedding my sweat-soaked uniform, I stepped into the shower. Steaming hot water scalded my body, causing me to moan in a mixture of pleasure and pain. Muscles constricted and screamed in agony at their overuse. I guess you could say I was a firm believer in the “Play Hard or Go Home” mantra.

As I lathered the long strands of my blonde hair, I heard laughter next to me. “Was that a moan for Mr. Hot Stuff?” my best friend, Lauren, asked.

I rolled my eyes. “No, it wasn’t.”

Lauren shot me a wicked look. “You’re wasting a prime opportunity there, Mel. He has to be one of the hottest guys in school, not to mention he’s actually decent and not a douchebag.”

I smiled in agreement. Besides basketball, Will was one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. I’d barely even talked to a boy before him. Usually guys were intimidated by me towering over them or at how much basketball dominated my life.

But not Will.

We’d been dating officially for nine months, but we’d spent at least a couple more months as friends, hanging out with our group of friends. He patiently took his time and got to know me. It wasn’t just about me being shy and inexperienced—it was more about the two of us fearing Coach T’s wrath.

And when he finally found out, he was furious. It wasn’t just because it was
his
son I was dating. He didn’t like any of his girls in serious relationships. Our head should be on the game, not on our boyfriends. Plus, there was also the fear of losing a player to pregnancy as he had a couple of years back. But finally Coach T had gotten used to the idea that Will and I were a definite couple, and that no one, not even him, could come between us.

Knowing that Will was expecting me to watch his game, I turned off the shower and then wrapped a towel around me. After blow drying my hair, I started combing through it in long strokes. “So what are you and JT doing after the game?”

Lauren waggled her auburn eyebrows. “The lake.”

I rolled my eyes. “Isn’t it a little cold for the lake?”

“Oh, no, we keep each other hot.”

“You’re terrible,” I replied, packing up my bag.

“And you and Big Willy?” she asked as she brushed her strawberry blonde hair.

“Dinner and then maybe a movie back at my house.”

Lauren fluttered her eyelashes. “Ah, so sweet. Do you think you’ll have a milkshake at the diner, or maybe hold hands over the popcorn?”

I smacked her arm playfully. “Just because I’m having a G-rated evening compared to your R-rated one doesn’t mean it’s bad!”

As I started out of the locker room, Lauren nudged me. Jordan Solano stood before us in a cleavage baring top and low rise jeans.
Her glossy pink lips curled into a wide smile as she talked to Coach T. “Dude, could she be more obvious?” Lauren muttered.

We started past them, and I met Coach T’s eye. Over the top of Jordan’s head, he winked at me. Once again, I couldn’t keep from blushing. Somewhere in the last few months between basketball and Will, Coach T had become a lot more attentive towards me—enough to cause some of the other girls to be jealous. It was more than mortifying to me, and even though I wanted to say something to him about how uncomfortable it made me, I couldn’t.

Lauren pushed me forward and out of my thoughts. “Why the hell does she waste her time and energy flirting with him?” she asked as we waded through the crowd.

“I don’t know. I mean, Coach T isn’t bad looking.”

Lauren snorted. “Bad looking? Jeez, Melanie, the man could've been Brad Pitt back in his day. You think Will got his looks just from his mom?”

I shook my head.

“Plus, it doesn’t hurt that he’s still relatively young…he can’t be forty,” Lauren said.

“Thirty-eight. He was still playing college ball when Will was born,” I answered.

“Right.”

“So if he’s young and good-looking, what’s your point?” I asked.

Lauren scrunched her face up. “It’s just he’s a ball-busting asshole most of the time. And that’s to us. He has no tolerance for prima donnas like Jordan.”

“Yeah, but that’s just on the court and in practice. He’s different in the classroom. I mean, Coach T is everybody’s favorite teacher.”

“True. But dude, who wants to crush and flirt with a teacher? Ew.”

I bobbed my head enthusiastically in agreement. Loaded down with our athletic bags, Lauren and I made our way up into the bleachers. We climbed into the packed student section a little into the first quarter.

The guys’ game was tight. Will took his dad’s comments to heart because he played harder than I’d seen him in a long time. Several times during the game, I’d glance over at Coach T and his wife who were sitting a couple of rows up from us. By his beaming look of pride, I could tell Coach T was enjoying Will’s performance as well.

The buzzer rang, signaling the end to another Newton High victory. Will received the same treatment by his teammates as I had. He grinned at me and pumped his fist as they swept him off the court in a wave of excitement.

We stood around talking to a few people before Lauren’s boyfriend, JT, motioned to her from down on the court.

She grinned. “Guess I’m being summoned by Mr. ‘Why should I take a shower when I’m just gonna get all sweaty again in a few minutes?’”

I laughed. “Whatever. I’ll talk to you tomorrow then.”

“Mkay!” she called over her shoulder. She hustled down the steps to jump into JT’s arms. He smacked her on the butt before they headed to the door. I eased back down on the bleacher and started sorting through my texts.

It wasn’t long before someone tapped me on the shoulder, and I whirled around.

It was Will.

“Hey beautiful,” he said, with a grin.

“You’re not showering?” I asked.

“Nope, I just wanna be with you.”

“Okay,” I replied as I began to gather up my athletic bag and purse.

“Do you mind me all stinky and sweaty?”

I grinned. “Of course not.”

Will grabbed my bag and threw it over his other shoulder. “Um, that’s awfully chivalrous of you, but I think I can manage,” I mused.

“Whatever, whatever.”

As we headed out into the parking lot, I turned to Will. “So where are we going to eat?”

“Anywhere you want to.” Then with a sheepish grin, he said, “Uh, well, anywhere that’s cheap. I haven’t been getting in any work hours with practice and all.”

“McDonalds sound good?”

“Awesome.”

After we pulled into the McDonalds down the road from the school, Will asked, “Are you sure you don’t mind eating here?”

“Of course I don’t. Maybe you could think about letting me pay every once in awhile?”

He shook his head. “Oh no, I don’t think so. It’s one thing to let you carry your own bags, but pay for dinner? Nope, not happening.”

“Okay, suit yourself.”

“That’s probably the only thing my dad ever lectured me on that I actually agreed with.”

I laughed. “Words of wisdom by Coach T?”

Will snorted. “Unfortunately yes.”

He held the door open for me, and then we got in line. After we’d ordered dinner for a little over ten dollars, we headed to a table.

I’d barely opened my nuggets by the time Will had scarfed down his quarter pounder. “Um, hungry much?”

“I’m always starved after a game,” he mumbled through a mouthful of fries.

“Want some of my nuggets?”

“If you’re sure you don’t want them...”

I slid the container over to him. “I just wish I could eat like you and never gain weight.”

“Aw, baby, you always look good to me,” he drawled.

“Yeah, yeah. My only saving grace is your dad runs my ass off at practice.”

“Seriously, sometimes I don’t know how you guys stand playing for him.” Will shuddered dramatically. “What an egomaniac!”

I twirled the straw in my chocolate milkshake. I was used to these comments from Will about Coach T. As an only child, Will was supposed to have the best grades, the best after-school activities, and be an all-star athlete.

“He’s really not that bad,” I protested.

Will smiled. “You’re just saying that because you’re his little star!”

“I am not.”

“Oh yes, you are. ‘Melanie has the best hook shot’, and ‘Melanie plays defense like there’s no tomorrow’,” he said, mimicking Coach T.

“Whatever,” I said, shaking my head.

“You’re his shining star, babe, whether or not you like to admit it.” Will waggled his eyebrows. “Sometimes I think he’s got a serious jonsing for you.”

“Ew!” I cried, throwing my wadded up napkin at him. “That’s not funny.”

Will winked at me. “What you don’t think he’s crushing on you?”

A chill went over me, and I shivered. “No, I don’t. He doesn’t think of me that way at all! I’m his team captain. And most importantly, I’m his
son’s
girlfriend.”

“Yeah, well, you’re the one getting on the praise while I have to hear what a worthless tool I am half of the time,” he grumbled.

I reached over and took his hand in mine. “I’m sorry.”

His hardened face quickly turned into a smile. “Hey, don’t be sorry.”

“Okay,” I said, with a yawn.

Will raised his eyebrows. “Man, am I that boring?”

I ducked my head. “No, I’m just tired, that’s all.”

He squeezed my hand. “I was just teasing you, Mel.” When I glanced up, I met his amused gaze. “Come on, let’s go.”

“But I’m not ready to go home.”

“Oh really?”

“No, I wanna stay with you.”

His eyes crinkled with pleasure at my response. “I guess we could go back to your house and watch some movies.”

“Something romantic?” I asked, giving him my best pleading look.

Will sighed and then raised his gaze to the ceiling. “Lord, please deliver me from the sappiness I’m about to see.”

I smacked his arm playfully. “You know you secretly like them.”

He snorted as he started gathering up our trash. “I swear, watching them has turned me into a total pansy.”

“Oh, please, you’re anything but a pansy,” I said, as I reached over and planted a kiss on his lips.

“Hmm, and you certainly don’t make me feel like a pansy!”

“Whatever,” I replied with a smile.

***

We breezed in the back door of my house to find my parents sitting at the kitchen table. A rainbow- colored array of papers and forms were scattered around them. “Oh jeez, looks like someone’s getting an early jump on tax time,” Will said.

“Every year, Dad swears they’re going to do their own taxes, and then every year Mom just takes everything to the accountant,” I said under my breath.

Will suppressed a laugh by coughing into his hand.

“Hey guys,” I called.

Dad took off his glasses. “Hey there. Boy, were those some nail biters tonight,” he commented.

“Thanks.”

“Want something to drink?” I asked Will.

“Sure. Got any popcorn?”

I laughed. “Let me fix us some.”

“I’ll get it,” Mom offered, heading into the pantry. I grabbed a few sodas out of the refrigerator while she put the popcorn in. As I watched the bag rise and expand in the microwave, Will and my dad ran through the games like ESPN announcers.

The moment the microwave dinged, I cleared my throat. “Okay, okay, enough with the play by play. Will and I are going to watch a movie.”

My dad chuckled. “Oh dear, poor Will. The glory of victory…and the agony of defeat!”

Will snorted. “You got that right, Mr. Reeves.”

“Hey, whose side are you on?” I asked.

Dad smiled. “I just know you and your sweet, sappy romance movies…you’re too much like your mother.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I mumbled, but I smiled in spite of myself. Will and I took the drinks and popcorn in the living room and then settled in on the couch. “And what are we watching?” Will asked, after swigging down half of his coke.


Sense and Sensibility
.”

As I flicked on the TV, he forced a smile. “Peachy.”

I leaned over and brought my lips to his. By the time the credits finished rolling, our tongues were waging war against each other. Will’s hand had just begun roaming over my body when I suddenly pulled away. “Movie is on,” I panted.

He groaned. “Are you serious?”

I jerked my head to the kitchen. “Besides, Mom and Dad are in the next room.”

Holding my breath, I waited for his response. Any other guy would have sulked or demanded we go somewhere to finish what we started. Any other guy would have dumped me months ago because I hadn’t gone all the way with him.

But not Will.

The mention of my parents was the douse of cold water he needed. He straightened up and then downed the rest of his coke. He grabbed the popcorn off the table and pulled me to him. I rested my head against his chest. “This is my favorite position,” I murmured.

“Yeah, I could talk to you about positions,” he retorted through a mouthful of popcorn.

I elbowed him. “Watch it.”

He grinned. “Okay, okay,
why
is it your favorite position?”

I stared up at him and smiled. “Because if I lean my ear in, I can hear your heart beating.”

The muscles in his jaw tensed. “Melanie…”

I rolled my eyes. “I know. Stop being such a sentimental sap.”

He shook his head. “No, that’s not it.”

“Then what is it?”

“I’ve been thinking about next year.”

I frowned. “Will, please. I don’t want to talk about that—”

“Would you let me finish?”

“Okay.”

“I’ve decided not to go to Duke.”

I popped out of my seat like a jack-in-the-box. “What do you mean? It’s always been yours and your dad’s dream to go there.”

Shrugging, Will replied, “Well, things change. Dreams change….people change.”

“But I don’t understand.”

Will broke a piece of popcorn apart between his fingers. “It’s just I like what you and I have. I like it so much that I don’t want to jeopardize it by going far away from you.”

My heart fluttered in my chest. “Are you serious?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I am.”

Slowly, a smile crept on my face. “You’re really going to stay closer to home because of me?”

“Yep.”

I threw my arms around him and kissed him. “That’s wonderful, Will.”

“I thought you’d like it.”

I shook my head. “But I can’t let you do that.”

“Why not?”

“For starters, what about your scholarship?”

“It just so happens that I got an offer from Georgia Tech with the same deal.”

I squealed. “I can’t believe it! When were you planning on telling me?”

“I just decided this afternoon.”

Happiness bubbled over in me. I didn’t think; I just acted by reaching over, throwing my arms around his neck, and kissing him.

“Hey, you better watch it,” he murmured, against my lips.

I pulled away to stare into his eyes. “Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just…You don’t know what this means to me—us not having to be separated.” I bit my lip before saying, “I love you so much.”

“I love you, too.” Cocking an eyebrow, a wicked grin slunk across Will’s face. “You know, you could walk me out to the car and show me a little bit how much you love me.”

I laughed. “Do you ever stop being a horndog?”

“Nope.”

I sighed. “All right, I’ll give you a little victory gift before you leave.” His grin widened at the prospect of some third base action, but I shook my head. “First, you gotta watch the movie.”

He growled against my neck. “Why do I gotta pay to play?”

My hand slid down his chest to rest at the waist of his pants. “Because those are the rules of
my
game.”

“It’s time we rewrote the rules,” he said.

“Maybe it is,” I said, tentatively.

Will’s head jerked away from my collarbone, and he stared into my eyes. “Whoa, whoa. Really?”

“Yeah,” I murmured. I felt the intensity of his stare on me, and I realized I needed to give him an answer. “I know you’ve been so patient with me, Will. I’ve always wanted to wait not only until I was in love with someone and they loved me back, but until I knew I had a future with them.” I didn’t tell Will that witnessing the mistakes that my older sister, Natalie, had gotten into by sleeping around made me especially cautious. I stared into Will’s eyes and smiled. “I think I’m ready now.”

He exhaled noisily. “Wow, that’s an interesting turn of events!”

I gave him a shy smile. “February break is coming up in a few weeks. We could go somewhere—somewhere nice.”

He didn’t say anything for a minute. My heart seemed to slow to a crawl waiting his response. Then he grinned.

And I knew things couldn’t get much better.

 

 

I stared at the Budweiser clock hanging over the bar. Inside its worn hands lay the last shreds of my sanity. When the big hand finally, miraculously, inched over seven, I squealed with joy. I untied the apron from my waist and flung it under the counter. “It’s quitting time for me, losers.”

Marcus and Anthony laughed while my boss, Manny, glared at me. “Whatever. You just behave yourself tonight, and you sure as hell better be on time and not hung-over tomorrow!”

I spun on my heels and blew Manny a kiss. “Night Boss Man.”

“Smart ass,” he muttered under his breath.

I’d barely gotten out the door when a horn honked in the parking lot. My best friend, Tara, sat behind the wheel of a silver Mercedes bought with her Daddy’s guilt money while our other friend, Brandi, had claimed shotgun privileges.

“Hey bitches!” I exclaimed as I threw my stuff in the back.

“Hi slut. How were the sausages tonight?” Brandi asked with a grin.

I snorted. “Don’t ask.” Fiorenza’s might have been the best Italian restaurant in town, but they seemed to hire only perverted waiters who loved staring at my ass. “Gah working is such a drag. Not to mention, I’m never gonna get this linguini smell out without a shower.”

“Why don’t you drown yourself in body spray and see if it helps?” Tara suggested.

“I seriously doubt it,” I grumbled.

I tore off my work shirt and tossed on the floorboard. The icy winter air stung my chest as I dug in my bag for my clean shirt. The car next to us began honking. I glanced over to see a carload of sophomore boys. Hanging out of the windows, they whistled and gestured towards me. “Yeah, baby! Take it off! Wanna party tonight?”

Without a second thought, I raised my hand up and flipped them off. They roared with laughter and then peeled off when the light turned green.

“Dickheads.”

I pulled the shirt over my head and stretched it over last year’s Christmas present from my mom—my Double D implants. I nodded in satisfaction as the shirt fit me like a second skin. I caught Tara’s reflection in the mirror. “I’m
so
jealous. My parents said I couldn’t have implants until graduation.”

I snorted. “Yeah, well, if your mom was as flat as my mom used to be, she would probably give in quicker.”

“So who are you scamming on tonight?” Brandi asked.

“No one in particular. You?”

When Brandi didn’t respond, Tara sighed. “Give it up, Brandi.
He
has a girlfriend.”

I slid my Nikes off and glanced at the front seat. “Who has a girlfriend?”

Brandi pinched her lips together and stared out the window. “Hello?” I asked again as I unbuttoned my pants.

“Will Thompson,” Tara replied for Brandi.

I groaned. “Come on, not Thompson. He and Golden Goddess have been dating forever.”

“I hear she’s still a virgin,” Brandi countered, as if that one technicality meant Will was a stud in play.

Crumpling my khakis into the bag, I began wiggling my jeans over my hips. “It doesn’t matter if she’s a virgin or not. He’s crazy about her, and she’s obviously doing some kinda of action to keep him interested. Give it up and move on. There’s got to be somebody else there you’d like to date.”

“At least I wanna date high school guys,” she muttered under her breath.

I flung my head up, tossing my dark hair out of my face. “What did you say?”

Tara glanced from me to Brandi. Her expression silently pleaded for a change in the conversation. Brandi ignored her and turned in her seat to glare at me. “Don’t act all innocent, Jordan. I know you’ve got the hots for Coach T.”

I stiffened at the sound of his name. He was the unmentionable—the thoughts I acknowledged only to myself and once in a drunken sob story to Tara. By her wide eyes in the rear view mirror, I knew she hadn’t blabbed to Brandi.

I flicked my hair. “So what if I think he’s hot?”

Brandi shook his head. “He’s a married man,
and
he’s a teacher!”

“So?”

Her eyes widened. “All you can say is
so
?”

“We’re seniors. I’m eighteen, and we’ll be graduating in five months. It’s not a big deal.”

“But he’s married.”

“That doesn’t mean he’s happy, or that he isn’t looking for someone to make him happy,” I retorted. I’d heard that line a million times from my mother. Most of the time, she was screaming it into the phone at a wife of one of the married men she slept with.

Snapping open my compact, I shot Brandi a look. “When you slept with your dad’s business partner over New Years, did I say anything?”

A strangled gasp escaped her lips. “I told you I was drunk!”

“Yeah, you told me that.
But
,” I emphasized, “how am I to know it’s the truth?”

When Brandi didn’t say anything, I smacked my lips, which shimmered with newly applied gloss. “So why don’t you mind your own business, and I’ll mind mine?”

She flounced back in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest. “Whatever.” Thankfully, we then pulled up at the school. “Nothing like making an entrance,” Tara giggled.

I peered at the clock. “Yeah, I guess the Varsity girls’ game is almost over.” At the mention of the
girls’
game, my body tingled.
He
wouldn’t notice me as long as he coached. But as soon as the buzzer sounded, he’d be free.

We opened the doors, and silence echoed throughout the gym. I craned my neck to see Golden Goddess, aka Melanie Reeves, at the foul line. A quick peek at the scoreboard showed we were down by one point. If Miss Thing could make her two shots, then we’d win.

I’d known Melanie the last four years of high school. We weren’t exactly what you’d call “friends”. She had her A-Crowd Group while my friends and I were out on the fringes of the popular set. How she ever got Will Thompson I’ll never know. Brandi was warranted a good crush on him since he was a babe. But he was too goody-two shoes for me, just like Miss Thing.

My gaze flicked over to Coach T or Mark Thompson or
my
Mark. He knelt at the edge of the court, one hand over his heart. He flinched as the first shot banged against the rim before finally going in. “YES!” he shouted, pumping his fist and grinning at Melanie.

Motionless, I stood analyzing his every move. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be
Melanie right now. To have that kind of pressure bearing down on you—it made me shudder. The crowd quieted down as Melanie bounced the ball twice before she aimed. It soared through the air and crisply swooshed through the net.

The crowd rose to their feet, and Coach T rushed the court. As he gathered Melanie into his arms and rained
praise down on her, I’d never wanted to be someone else so much, especially not Melanie Reeves, the goody two-shoes everyone adored. A tingle rang through me as I remembered what those arms and hands felt like. Course, Miss Thing had never felt them quite like I had.

If you’d told me six months ago I’d be having an affair with a married teacher, especially Coach T, I would have said you were screwed up in the head. But that was before I was sentenced to a month of Saturday School detention torture with Coach T as the teacher. Yeah, nothing blows like school from eight to noon on one of your days off.

When no one showed up for the second session, Coach T and I spent four hours alone in the In School Suspension room. Instead of making me work on missing assignments, we just talked and laughed. The next Saturday, we passed notes while the others worked. And then after my last detention, he came to eat at Fiorenza’s. We had our first make-out session that day in one of the storage rooms. And then it wasn’t too long before we were sleeping together.

Tara nudged me. “Dude, Jo, you are so out of it tonight!”

“Sorry,” I mumbled.

“I must’ve called your name like five times.” She pulled me along after I saw Coach T head for the locker-room. We bumped and jostled our way through the crowd. When someone touched my ass, I whirled around.

Andy Poletti grinned down at me. “Hey Jordan, looking good.”

“Touch my ass again, and I’ll kick you in the balls!” I growled.

“Ooh, that’s sounds hot.”

I rolled my eyes and started to walk off. “Come on. When are you gonna go out with me again?” he asked.

“Never.”

“But we had such a good time,” he replied, with a wink.

“Ugh, I’d hardly call ten minutes in the back of your car a good time.”

“You seemed to enjoy it then.”

“Fuck off, Andy.”

I stalked away and caught up with Tara. She threw me a questioning glance. “Don’t ask,” I snapped.

By the time we found a seat in the sea of people, the boys’ team was about to take the court. “Will you watch my purse for a second?” I asked.

“Where are you going?” Tara asked.

“I’ll be back,” I called over my shoulder. I headed the opposite way down the stairs to the girl’s locker-room. Coach T stood outside the door, reading his stat book with his assistant coach.

“Hey,” I said, with a grin.

“Hey yourself,” he replied.

“Great game.”

“Yeah, Mel really pulled through for us, didn’t she?”

I nodded. “Those last two shots were tight.”

Coach T handed the stat book to Coach Rossen. “Thanks Dave. You can take this with you.”

“Sure. See you Monday.”

As soon as Coach Rossen walked off, Coach T’s demeanor changed. He gave me a wink before his eyes roamed over my body. “That was total bullshit you know.”

“What?”

He grinned. “Saying you enjoyed the game. I’ll bet ten bucks you didn’t get here until the very end.”

I laughed. “Well, you know me too well, don’t you?”

He glanced around before he responded. “I’ve missed you,” he replied in a hoarse whisper.

My heart fluttered, and I wanted to gasp,
“You have?”,
but instead, I kept my cool. “Then you’ve been a naughty boy thinking about me.”

He leaned closer to me. “I can’t wait until Monday to be with you.”

I curled my lips into a seductive smile. “So what are you going to do about it?”

His eyebrows shot up. “Now?”

“Why not?”

“Will is about to take the court.”

“You want me so bad then prove it to me,” I countered.

At that moment, Melanie and her basketball BFF Lauren Elrod, came out of the locker-room. I quickly changed gears.

“So are you really gonna dock me a whole letter grade for not dressing out? That’s so unfair. You’re supposed to be everyone’s favorite coach,” I whined for their benefit.

I shuddered with jealousy as Coach T grinned and winked at Melanie. When they were gone, he inched closer to me. “Meet me outside behind the old concession stand in five minutes.”

“All right.”

I waved bye to him and walked away. I backtracked around the court and went out the front doors. I glanced around. No one was paying any attention. It was dark as hell outside, and I could barely see in front of me. Stumbling, I made my way across campus to the run down area where the old football field had been.

When I turned the corner of the concession stand, Coach T grabbed me. I melted into him as his lips crushed against mine. I couldn’t see anything in the dark, but I didn’t need too. All I needed was the feel of his hands on me.

And I knew that was a certainty.

Cold air stung my bare stomach as he jerked my shirt out of my jeans. I sucked in a rasping breath before he replaced the iciness with his warm palms. They slid up my ribcage to cup my breasts, kneading them roughly. I shivered with excitement as our tongues battled each other. Keeping one hand on my breast, he brought the other down to undo my jeans almost effortlessly. He thrust his hand inside to delve into my panties, seeking out my warmth.

“Jordan, I want you so much,” he breathed into my ear.

As his eager fingers slid inside me, I panted, “Can’t you see how much I want you?”

“Hmm, baby, you’re always so hot and wet for me. I could stay buried inside you all the time.”

Those words were all the encouragement I needed. My fingers tugged at the button on his pants. Once I had the zipper down, I shoved his underwear and pants down over his hips.

When he rammed me back against the metal wall of the concession stand, I cried out. The cold pierced my naked skin like a thousand knives.

His fingers stopped working their magic inside me. “What’s wrong?”

Now my teeth were chattering. “The w-wall is c-cold.”

“I know how to fix that,” he murmured, as he withdrew from me to dig a condom out of his wallet.

After he slid it on, he grabbed my bare ass and lifted me to wrap my legs around his waist. In one harsh thrust, he buried himself inside me, pounding me back against the icy wall. But I didn’t feel the cold. True to his word, Coach T fixed everything. His thrusts were rushed and frantic as I grinded myself against him.

All too quickly it was over, and I wanted to cry. The fact that I needed to be connected to him so much scared me. The one thing I wouldn’t admit to my friends, my mom, or anyone else was I was in love. I hated to admit it even to myself. Somewhere between the flirtation and the affair, I’d fallen for him. He was everything I could ever imagine wanting.

After he zipped up his pants, he kissed me one last time. “Monday as usual?”

“Yes,” I replied, breathlessly.

“Good.”

He peered around the side of the concession stand and then started jogging back across campus. I waited a good ten minutes before I started back to the gym. I skidded to a stop when I saw Tara standing outside the door. “Where were you?”

“Oh, Andy wanted to talk to me for a minute.”

She eyed me suspiciously, but she didn’t say anything. “Come on. The guy’s game is already in the second quarter.”

I smoothed my shirt and hair one last time and then followed her inside. My stomach churned when I saw Coach T with his wife. She sat on the bleacher above him, draping her arms over his neck. I argued against the nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. After all, it was
her
hanging all over him, not the other way around. He didn’t really want her anymore—he just wanted me.

I turned my head and tried to focus on the game, but all I could do was think about him. When I kept grinning like an idiot about our quickie, Tara rolled her eyes.

“Did you go out to the parking lot and hook-up with Andy?”

“Ew, no! Why would you think that?”

“Cause you’re acting all sex glowy.”

I snorted. “I promise if I touched Andy, it would be to slap the shit out of him.”

Brandi was talking up some guy beside her, so Tara leaned over to me. “I saw you talking to Coach T.”

I stared straight ahead, not allowing my face to betray anything I was feeling. “Yeah, I ran into him on the way to the bathroom.”

“You didn’t go to the bathroom,” she argued softly.

“Why don’t you say what you want to or forget it?” I asked. My knuckles were white from twisting my purse strap over and over in my hands.

Tara hesitated, biting her lip. “Is there really something going on between you and Coach T?”

My heartbeat accelerated in my chest. “Jesus, no! Can’t I think a man is hot without it meaning something else?”

She shrugged. “You just seem really flirty with him.”

“I flirt with everyone,” I argued.

“I know,” she said. “But there’s something about the way you look at him. It’s different.”

“It’s
nothing
,” I emphasized.

Tara nodded, but I could tell she didn’t completely believe me. For the rest of the night, I tried to reign in my behavior so I wouldn’t make anyone else suspicious.

 

 

Squeak, squeak, squeak, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh
. It was Monday afternoon, and my ears hummed with the familiar sounds of Coach’s T’s kill and drill practice sessions. As captain and guard, I ran play after play, bringing the ball down the court safely until it passed to the next player’s hands. But I didn’t feel truly successful at my job unless the ball also made its way into the net.

The sound of Coach T’s whistle caused me to screech to a halt. “Becca, go in for Melanie,” he ordered. Becca raced off the bench without a question. “Mel!” He waved me over. I handed the ball to her before trotting off the court. “Yeah, Coach.”

He motioned towards the players. “I want you to tell me what’s going on with the Packed Ten play. Nothing seems to be working right.”

I nodded.

“All right, let’s run a Packed Ten,” he barked. The rest of the girls ran the play at least three times before Coach T turned to me and arched his eyebrow. “Whatcha think?”

I closed my eyes and saw the play again in my mind. Although I hated to admit it, I knew it was Lauren’s fault. She kept forgetting to stay with her man. I bit my lip. With my eyes still closed, Coach T’s voice hummed close to my ear. “I guess you agree with what I’m thinking.”

My blue eyes snapped open to meet his dark ones. Amusement twinkled in them. “You’ve got too much honor, Mel. You’ll never make it as a head coach if you can’t learn that.”

“Who says I want to coach someday?” I asked, even though I knew the answer. There was no doubt I wanted to become a teacher and coach just like him. I’d realized that freshman year when I sat at half court and listened to one of his pep talks. He made rules, technique, and skills so clear, and he made the game like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I wanted to bring that same enthusiasm to girls someday. To have them change their view that basketball was just a sport
and to embrace it as something so much more than they ever imagined.

Reaching over he poked the place above my heart. “That right there. It tells me you’re gonna make a hell of a teacher and coach someday. If,” he paused and grinned, “you learn that in basketball, you have to be tough with your emotions. There’s no friends, no loyalty—just the game.”

I smiled. “All right. Lauren’s screwing up the play. You want me to tell her that and then make her run until she gets her act together?”

Coach T cocked his eyebrows at me. “Ah, look whose showing her tough side.” He looked from me out to the court. “I tell you what, Terminator. I’ll let you off the hook this time. I’ll call Lauren over and chew her out. How’s that?”

Inwardly, I cringed. Lauren had a temper, and I dreaded having to go into the locker room with her after one of Coach T’s ‘Come to Jesus’ bawl outs he was famous, or maybe infamous, for.

He nudged me playfully. “You don’t look too convinced, Mel.”

“No, no, you’re right. Go ahead and call her out.”

Coach T grinned at me before blowing his whistle. Becca came back to warm the bench some more, I jogged back onto the court, and Lauren got blessed out on the sidelines.

At the end of practice, Coach T spared me from the wrath of Lauren by saying, “Mel, run these balls into the athletic closet for me, and then bring me one of the pumps.”

I nodded and hustled off the court. The smell of age and rubber greeted me as I opened the closet door. Grunting, I pulled the rack of balls inside before going in search of one of the pumps. The closet needed a serious spring cleaning.

My shoes got caught in an old basketball net, causing me to pitch forward. “Fabulous, let me kill myself all over a stupid pump,” I grumbled. I scanned the rickety shelves. “All right, Coach T. Where the hell did you put the pump?” Finally, I found it on a top shelf. As I pulled it off, the shelf made an odd creaking noise, and then everything went black.

And after that moment, it would take a long time to come out of the darkness that enveloped me.