Junior Year
Chapter 13: Beloved Cubbies

Copyright© 2016 by G Younger ISBN-10: 0-9988371-0-5

Coming of Age Sex Story: Chapter 13: Beloved Cubbies - David's Junior Year is beginning with a sharp edge to it. His best friend is dead. The girl he'd thought he would spend the rest of his life with is now lost to him as well. He's facing new challenges and pressures due to his rapidly increasing fame. He doesn't just want to survive - he wants to excel. He'll have to reach deep inside himself and find the inner strength and toughness, the resolve and focus, to achieve his dreams. Golden Clitorides: 1st Epic Erotic Story and Erotic Humor Story.

Caution: This Coming of Age Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including mt/ft   mt/Fa   Humor   Sports   School   Slow  

Monday October 12

I loved being in school. Today was Columbus Day, just another excuse for us not to have to attend. Of course, my mom and dad went off to work. I’d called Grandma Dawson, and found out that she not only had tickets for the Cubs game, they were for the Budweiser Patio, located in the right field bleachers. It was an all-inclusive food and beverage area on the right field line. The Governor’s Office had called her, and she’d reserved three tickets for me. I said a silent prayer and thanked Grandpa Dawson, because it was out of respect for him they had called my grandma.

I thought about whom I should invite. Tami would want to go. She loved baseball. The other person I immediately thought of was Brook. She had taken me to the game at Busch Stadium. I rethought Tami and decided to ask Tracy. Both girls said not yes, but hell yes when I called and asked if they wanted to be my guest today. My grandma told me we could arrive two hours early and get into the Budweiser Patio. I planned to soak up every moment I could, so we wanted accordingly for the six o’clock game.

Mom called me just as I had gotten comfortable in front of the TV to watch a Netflix show. I rarely got time to watch a movie, so it was a real treat.

“I found a PR firm to represent you. They have a questionnaire they need filled out before they’ll consider you as a client. I did most of it, but I need you to finish it. Some of the questions are very personal, and I thought you had better answer them,” Mom warned me.

She emailed the file to me, and I opened it and began reading it. The company was IDC – Public Relations and my agent was Frank Ingram, who was a partner. I assumed he was the ‘I’ in IDC. There was a brief bio about the firm. Their list of references included Rita James and several other well-known Hollywood A-listers. They also represented sports and political figures.

I read their list of services and I trusted they would be able to handle everything. Their corporate message was interesting.

Established in 2000, IDC is a dynamic, rapidly growing public relations agency with deep digital capabilities that infuse our work in many specialty areas. We are excited by the changes taking place in our industry and feel that the future holds enormous opportunities for companies integrating digital strategies into their communications mix. We work every day to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations, and we thank each and every one of them for placing their trust in IDC.

I read their fee schedule and they weren’t cheap. Normal services were bad enough, but I about choked when I read what they charged for a scandal. Of course, that was just a jumping-off point. I made a vow to keep my butt out of trouble.

I then opened the questionnaire and I was glad my mom had started it. It looked like either Tom or Kendal had helped her with all my business connections and past jobs. There was also a section about sports and extracurricular activities, including hobbies. I was shocked when they wanted to know all my past and current relationships. They also wanted all my social media, picture and video logon and passwords. Finally, Mom had to sign a release so they could check my criminal and credit records. They would know me better than my own parents would when they finished. I was happy to see there was a confidentiality document they and my mom had signed to protect me. I spent the rest of my morning filling in the blanks on the form.

I made a point to email it directly to Mr. Ingram. I didn’t want my mom to know some of the things I had been up to such as motocross and skydiving. I especially didn’t need to give her a list of my past girlfriends!

On the ride up to Chicago we decided to stop at a truck stop to get something to eat for lunch. I had taken the Charger and we were making good time. After the server had taken our order, the two girls cornered me.

“How many girls are you stringing along right now?” Tracy asked.

Of course, I played dumb.

“What do you mean? When have I ever strung someone along?” I asked.

“By my count you’re seeing at least four of us. When are you going to pick one?” Brook asked.

I looked up at the ceiling and counted to ten before answering. I looked Tracy in the eye because she had known me the longest and we had history.

“Where’s this coming from? Seriously, when have I ever not been up-front with the girls I date?”

“We’ve been talking...” Tracy started.

I raised my hand to stop her. In middle school and before, Tami had told me what to do. During my freshman year I had let Suzanne, Cindy, Tracy and Beth run my love life. Sophomore year Peggy had strung me along with the whole let’s date routine, and then slept with Mitch. My life had been a serial rotation of the girls in my life telling me what to do. That was no longer going to happen.

“While I appreciate everyone talking about me, I will not be told what to do.”

“That’s not what we were going to do,” Tracy said.

“Bullshit, it was exactly what you were going to do. You and your little cronies all got together and decided it was time for David to settle down and date someone. What makes you think I don’t like being a free agent? Hell, in six weeks I’ll be in LA for nearly two months. Why the hurry?” I asked.

Brook and Tracy looked at each other. There was something I didn’t know about going on, and I could tell they wanted to tell me.

“Spill it,” I ordered.

“I guess I’m being selfish, and want to spend more time with you,” Brook said.

While what she said sounded plausible, she was lying. Brook only had to ask, and I would spend time with her. She and I had a great time together! I loved our adventures. Plus, our personal time together was special, too.

The problem was I could say the same about Pam, Halle and Zoe. I wasn’t willing to give any of them up, nor to choose one over the others. If Brook pushed the issue, I would give her up. The other girls were not ready for a commitment. Pam and I had talked about this several times and we wanted to be friends. Halle knew I had finally broken up, or whatever you wanted to call it, with Tami just a short time ago. She told me she didn’t want to be my rebound girl. The only one I hadn’t really talked with was Zoe. We had just been getting to know each other, so I doubted she was behind this. Finally, Brook never once gave me any indication that she wanted anything more than to have fun.

Something didn’t ring true. I gave both girls a serious look and they wouldn’t meet my eyes. I could tell they knew something, but whatever it was, it didn’t have anything to do with either of them personally. The only thing I could think of was Zoe might have stronger feelings for me than I intended. We had just had a romantic evening where she gave me her precious gift. I knew I felt much closer to her than I had just twenty-four hours ago. The thing was that Zoe was not a timid girl. If she had something to say to me, she would be the one to tell me.

Tracy saved them from me putting them to the question.

“Do you think my boobs are bigger?” she asked.

I burst out laughing as she pushed her arms together to make them look bigger. This was one topic of conversation I was willing to indulge in. Soon both Tracy and Brook had me distracted. I would file this conversation away for another day. Today we had a baseball game to enjoy!

We arrived at Wrigley Field just before four o’clock. The parking lot on Sheffield Avenue charged me eighty bucks to park for the game. That was highway robbery. We found the Will Call window and picked up our tickets. I looked at the tickets and the face value was $250. I would have to talk to my grandma. I was sure her still being a major donor was why she received the tickets. I might have to contribute this year.

When we arrived at the Budweiser Patio we weren’t the only ones who had come early. There were about forty people already there. It was nestled in the corner bleachers where right field and the first base line came together. They had installed a seventy-five foot LED message board on the right field wall. It was just under where there were three rows of bleacher seating, and then behind that was the party deck. There had been an uproar when the bleacher seating had been taken out. The Cubs advertised the Budweiser Patio as being similar to the rooftop experience you could have from the buildings behind the outfield.

I made my way through the crowd, introducing myself to everyone. Tracy and Brook had found a table and I saw they each had a beer in front of them. I figured they couldn’t get into too much trouble, so I continued to mingle. I found that the crowd was a mix of big donors and politicians. I smiled when I saw Jack Mass, Harper’s dad.

“Hey, Buddy. I see you’re tearing it up on the football field. You plan on winning state this year?”

“Of course. Where’s your better half?” I asked, referring to Cook County State’s Attorney, Bev Mass.

He turned and waved to her. She was cornered by a couple of guys and looked relieved when she came over.

“David,” she said as she hugged me.

“Hey, where’s your Cubs jersey?” I asked.

“I don’t have one,” she confessed.

I grabbed her hand.

“Come on, I’ll buy you one before this gets too crazy,” I said.

I know. How dumb could I be to buy a jersey at the ballpark? Then suddenly it was all worth it. Signing jerseys was Ryne Ryno Sandberg. He was the Hall of Fame and ten-time All-Star second baseman who played for the Cubs in the 80’s and early 90’s. My dad still told me stories about his historic game against the hated Cardinals. Cub fans knew Ryno as a solid-fielding second baseman. In the ninth inning, the Cubs trailed 9 – 8 and faced the premier relief pitcher of the time, Bruce Sutter. Ryno, not known for his power, hit a solo shot to tie the game. In the top of the tenth the Cardinals put two on the board. Then Ryno came to bat again, and Cubs’ radio announcer Harry Caray described it:

There’s a drive, way back! Might be outta here! It is! It is! He did it again! He did it again! The game is tied! The game is tied! Holy Cow! Listen to this crowd, everybody’s gone bananas! What would the odds be if I told you that twice Sandberg would hit home runs off Bruce Sutter?

The Cubs went on to win the game in the eleventh, as my dad described it.

So here was my dad’s all-time favorite Cub, signing baseball jerseys. I knew I had to get him one. Of course, I might have to wear it today. I brought two of them up to Mr. Sandberg to sign.

“You play baseball?” Ryno asked me.

“Yes, sir. I play for Lincoln High,” I said.

He signed both jerseys and I handed one to Bev. I wasn’t thinking as I pulled my jersey off and put the signed one on. I heard a gasp, and then blushed when I realized I had just given my former girlfriend’s mother a little show.

“Aren’t you going to change?” I asked to tease her.

“I think I’ll wait until I’m somewhere other than in the middle of a store.”

When we got back to the Budweiser Patio the major donors all wanted signed jerseys, so the crowd thinned out. Bev was the hit of the party, and she bragged that I had bought it for her.

That was when I noticed State Troopers enter the party. Governor Higgins and his wife Betty followed them a moment later. While the Governor pressed the flesh, I found Tracy and Brook.

“Let’s grab our seats for the game,” I said.

These were not typical bleacher seats. In front of them was a table where you could put your beer and food. We were seated in the front row, so we had an unobstructed view of the field. I saw Brook had nasty-looking nachos.

“Where’d you get the food?” I asked.

“Get me a Chicago Dog when you go up,” Tracy blurted.

I guess they weren’t on their first beer. Brook made a general pointing motion towards the back of the patio. The good news was the food was free. I think you got what you paid for. They gave me a drink tray and I piled hot dogs on it, along with three beers. I figured it was a special day and I would enjoy one while I watched the game. I had settled in, ate one of my hot dogs, and downed half a beer when I saw a shadow.

“Are you sure you’re old enough to be drinking?” asked a female voice.

I turned and saw Betty Higgins and the Governor standing next to us.

“I think it’s okay for something like this,” Governor Higgins said, shaking my hand.

“Governor, Betty,” I said as I stood and shook their hands. “These are my friends Tracy Dole and Brook Davis.”

The Governor sat down next to me, and one of his aides brought him a beer and an Italian beef sandwich with sweet and hot peppers on it.

“Where’d he get that?” I asked.

“Phil, bring us five sandwiches,” Governor Higgins said.

“You’ll have to take him home if you feed him,” Tracy said. “I think that’s why my mom cooks for him. I heard he took his shirt off for Bev Mass. I wonder what she fed him.”

“David, take your shirt off,” Brook teased me.

“Governor, I’ll have to apologize for my friends’ behavior. I think they’ve had a beer too many,” I said.

Luckily, the Governor was a good sport. He and I talked football, and I caught him up on my season. He then wanted to know about my recruiting trips. I found he was easy to talk to, and that I liked him as a person. His wife was funny and told stories on Kurt. Yep, we were now on a first-name basis. I got really interested when they told me funny stories about my grandpa. I hadn’t known that my grandpa had taken Kurt under his wing and mentored him when he first got started. Then the conversation got serious.

“David, your grandfather meant the world to me. I’ve had conversations with your grandmother, and if you ever need anything, I want you to call me. Even if I can’t help you directly, I might know who to get you in touch with. I’m not just saying this. I mean it. I would never have gotten to where I am today without Davey Dawson’s help. I hope you feel the same way, because I might need you to help me on the campaign trail,” he said with a smile.

“I don’t know what good I would do, but all you have to do is ask,” I said.

We settled in and watched the game. The good news about having the Governor sit next to you was that we were actually served, instead of having to run down drinks or food. I switched to Coke, but the girls continued to drink free beer. I was glad to see they didn’t go overboard but were having a good time.

In the second inning, the Cubs hit a home run to take a 1 – 0 lead. There was a seventeen-mile-per-hour wind blowing out, and the ball just seemed to hang forever if it was hit towards the outfield. The Cardinals answered in the fourth by putting up two runs, but their lead was short-lived. The good guys hit three homers to take a 5 – 2 lead. In the sixth the Cards stormed back with the long ball to come within a run at 5 – 4. The Cubs hit two more home runs to take a commanding 8 – 4 lead into the ninth. The Cardinals showed why they had won the division and with a swing of the bat added two more runs.

The game ended 8 – 6 in a long-ball fest. The Cubs were built with Wrigley Field in mind. If they could continue to hit home runs, they would win the series.

There was no hurry to get out, because everyone had stayed until the end. They had a photographer, so we had him take some pictures. I had one taken with Governor Higgins, Bev Mass, and Senators Dixon and Caster. The Senators had attended my uncle’s wedding. I gave the photographer my email address so I could get copies.

After the game, I was hungry and asked Jack Mass for a recommendation. He invited us back to his house. He called in an order for Chinese as we left the ballpark. Traffic was nuts, but we followed Bev and Jack, and they knew the shortcuts, so we were soon at their Lincoln Park home. I’d seen it before, but Brook and Tracy wanted the tour. The Mass home was as spectacular as I remembered. It was a credit to his company, which had built it.

“How do you know David?” Brook asked as we sat down to eat.

“David dated our daughter, Harper,” Bev said. “Funny story. My husband met David when he had to bail Harper out of jail. Needless to say, he wasn’t a fan at first.”

“I’m surprised David let her get arrested. He’s usually very good at sweet-talking the police,” Tracy said.

“This was right after his movie. He’d had his head shaved and the tattoos still looked real,” Jack said, while shaking his head. “I’d been led to believe he was this All-American boy. When I show up, here’s this freak who I think my daughter’s dating to pay me back for some perceived slight in her childhood. I expected he’d have a motorcycle waiting to take her home on. He was my worst nightmare, when I first saw him.”

“My dad has said the same thing many times,” Tracy revealed.

“I thought your dad liked me,” I said.

Tracy rolled her eyes.

“My mom LOVES him,” Tracy said. “But Dad, not so much, as far as boyfriend material goes.”

“What is it with moms liking him? I think they like him a little too much,” Brook teased.

“I know what you mean,” Jack said with a smile.

“Admit it. You wish David was still dating Harper,” Bev said in my defense.

Jack just threw his hands up in defeat.

On the ride home, Brook quizzed me about my grandfather, and how I knew everyone. I admitted that I was just getting to know the Governor. I then told them about how Davey Dawson had been a political force up until his death a few years ago. I explained how my grandma had made it a point to introduce me to both political and business people at my uncle’s wedding. I thought my grandma wanted me to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps, and run for office someday.

Tuesday October 13

When I arrived at school, there was a bigger crowd than normal waiting by the front door. What I saw was most of the football team. I walked up and gave them a confused look, but Jim just smiled.

“Wait for it,” he said cryptically.

I then saw Mike walking towards the front door from the parking lot. I looked at Jim and worried he might want to go another round with Mike for hitting on his girlfriend. When Mike made it to the front sidewalk, Wolf pulled out an old-school boom box.

“This song is for you, Mike,” Wolf called out.

I had to bite my lower lip when the old-school song O.P.P. by Naughty by Nature started. I was impressed when the team began dancing like they were a well-choreographed flash mob. They even knew all the words. It’s a song about being down about snaking Other People’s Property (Pussy). The song actually condoned the practice, but the guys made it clear that the team had just put Mike on notice that if he went after anyone else’s girlfriend, he was dead. I was on board with the message. I was also on board with how they did it. My solution was to fight him. I think I was oh for two with that approach.

Mike’s face went red, and he pushed through the team to get inside. Before we all went inside Jim stopped us.

“No one touches Mike first. If anyone does, they have to answer to David,” he said, throwing me under the bus.

I had a feeling they would put the pressure on Mike to see the error of his ways, but if he threw the first punch all bets were off.

Throughout the day, I heard: You down wit’ O.P.P.? Mike’s down wit’ O.P.P.!

I’d never seen the team turn on someone like this before. The closest had been Bill Rogers when he came after Tracy. Boy, that was a blast from the past. I’d like to have another go at him when he was set free. I think this time would be different.

Because of my concussion, I wasn’t allowed to work out with the team or go to the dojo. Bud Mason, my quarterback coach, thought it was the perfect time to video-chat with him while we prepared for Homecoming and playing Springfield. Our Athletic Director must have had brain damage, because Springfield was one of the best teams in the state. They had lost their first game of the season to Bloomington, who we beat, but they had won all their games since.

Our game last year had been intense. They were the eventual State Champions in the class above ours. From looking at their game films, we were in for a fight.

“You’re going to have to establish the run,” Bud said. “If you don’t, they’ll lay their ears back and blitz you right out of the game. I have some serious concerns about you having success passing. Their defensive backs are solid across the board. I want to show you three plays.”

He brought up the first one. It was against McNamara High, a solid school that was in Springfield’s conference. The play showed a wide-open receiver one moment, and a Springfield defender intercepting the ball the next.

“Look at the play from the offensive side of the ball. They’re lined up with two receivers on the left side. The slotback is covered by the inside linebacker, an obvious mismatch. The quarterback makes the right read and throws the ball to the slot receiver when he makes separation,” Coach Mason said as he went frame by frame.

“Now let’s focus on the outside receiver. The cornerback is five yards off, and when the receiver comes off the ball, he positions himself so the receiver has a clear path up the sideline, putting him between the quarterback and the outside receiver. Nothing out of the ordinary,” Coach Mason said.

“Wait, go back,” I said.

This was how we were taught to defend an outside receiver. You put yourself between him and the ball and used the sidelines as another defender. What I saw was the cornerback hadn’t turned the right way to run with him. I was taught that if you were peeking into the backfield you were beat. The cornerback had turned so he could watch the quarterback’s eyes as he ran with the outside receiver. As the quarterback made the correct read, the cornerback broke for where the ball was going to be. As I watched the play unfold, I could see where I would fall into the same trap very easily. It was an ingenious defensive play.

“What would you do to counter it?” Coach Mason asked me.

“If I saw the corner turn like that, I would throw to the outside receiver,” I said logically.

I could tell by Coach Mason’s chuckle, I was wrong. He let the play continue but focused on the outside receiver who looked like he was running free. That was when I saw the safety had sprinted over and would have a great angle to either disrupt the pass or intercept it. Whoever their defensive coordinator was, he was a genius. This went beyond what I had seen in high school. If it hadn’t been for Coach Mason pointing it out, I never would have seen it. It just wasn’t in my experience to have thought it was possible.

“Let’s look at the next play. The slotback does a nice seven-yard up and then does an out,” Coach Mason said.

I watch as the defensive tackle dropped back and ran with the receiver, and then, when he reached five yards, he quickly turned and put his giant hands out as if he were a basketball defender. I was shocked at the speed with which he did it. The quarterback, thinking a smaller linebacker covered the slot, threw the ball in anticipation of the break outside. The defensive tackle snatched the pass out of the air and rumbled back up field.

“Two things caused this to work,” Coach Mason said. “First is the athletic play of their defensive line. The second is the blitz by the linebacker he replaced. The offensive guard was not able to pick up the linebacker when his assignment dropped back. His momentary confusion allowed the linebacker to run past him and get into the quarterback’s face. This forced the quarterback to dump the ball off to his slot receiver, a play they’d practiced a hundred times. While he made the right read and throw, it turned to disaster because of the size of the defender. Personally, I think the big guy got lucky and caught the ball, but I would bet that nine times out of ten he could knock the pass down.”

Coach Mason had a knack for helping me understand what I was watching. I watched the games Springfield played, and it became apparent that they were playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers. One thing I learned from Coach Mason was the three Ps: Prepare, Practice, and Perform.

I didn’t get home until late. Once practice had finished, the coaching staff found me in the video room talking to Coach Mason. He walked them through everything he had shown me and then continued to coach. I wasn’t surprised when they started taking notes. Coach Diamond almost looked sick.

Then Coach Mason showed why his more than forty-five years of high-level coaching experience was invaluable. He showed us how to prepare to beat Springfield. Like all plays, there were reads that tipped them off, and we had enough game film to make educated guesses. Simply put, Coach Mason was smarter than Springfield’s defensive coach was — or so I hoped.

They kicked me out when my mom called to track me down. Moreover, I was damned hungry. When I walked in the back door, my boy was all wiggles and needed some loving. There’s a saying that you should always wish you were as good a person as your dog thinks you are. If Duke’s response to me was any indication, I was due for sainthood any day now.

“Check your phone,” Dad said. “You have some people trying to track you down.”

I’d turned it off during my session with Coach Mason. He didn’t tolerate interruptions, like a cell phone, while he worked with me. For what I paid him, he could have my undivided attention without a problem. I turned it on and found I had messages from my USC friends, Ridge Townsend and Bill Callaway. The other message was from Frank Ingram with IDC. I decided to make the business call first.

“Mr. Ingram, David Dawson returning your call.”

“I reviewed your application and I would like to ask you a couple of questions to see how we can help.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said.

“The first question I have is, do you have video chat? I would much rather we speak face-to-face, if that’s possible.”

I told him what I used and he joined my chat group. I was soon talking to him on my iPad.

“Much better,” he said.

I was surprised he was so young. I expected him to be older if he was a partner. He looked to be in his mid-thirties and what you would think of as a California guy. He had blond hair and a deep tan. I could imagine him comfortable either on a golf course or surfing. He was sitting in an outdoor restaurant with his sunglasses on the table. He wore a fitted button-up shirt that was light blue.

“I took the liberty of talking to Rita. I hope that was okay?” he asked.

“Yes, that’s fine. I’ve asked for her guidance.”

“What do you expect we will do for you?”

I’d had a few days to think about this, and I thought they would be more help once the movie came out. I decided to play it close to the vest and see what he thought.

“Rita told me I should look into help with my image. I’m fairly new to this, so I’d appreciate any help you could give me.”

“David, I know you’re more on the ball than that. Tell me what you want,” Mr. Ingram challenged me.

“I’ve had my friends help me up to this point. I think they’ve done a great job, but I’m concerned about when the movie comes out. I think there’ll be a window of opportunity that I need to take advantage of.”

“What about sports? What do you want from football and baseball?”

“I don’t really know. What are you getting at?” I asked.

“If you could dream, what would the perfect world be like, sports-wise?” he asked.

“I would be like Bo Jackson and play both baseball and football at the highest levels,” I said.

“Is there room for modeling and acting if you do that?” he asked.

“I originally started modeling because our family was tight on money. Then I found I really liked it. The movie I made was a lot of fun. I can see both as being vehicles to make me comfortable.”

He laughed at my last statement.

“After you’re done with sports, what’s the plan?” he asked.

“I don’t really know. I own a farm. I might settle down and raise a family.”

“Don’t you think you’d get bored? I’ve seen some of the videos and I get the feeling you like excitement and a challenge. I would’ve thought you had bigger plans,” he said.

“My grandpa was in politics. My grandmother has suggested I go into that. I’ve also thought about going into business.”

“So your image needs to remain the clean-cut young man with a touch of danger mixed in. Would it be okay if we portrayed you as being single?” he asked.

“Maybe you could get me to be the sexiest man alive,” I teased.

He gave me a sad look as he shook his head.

“There’s only so much we can do.”

I started to like him.

“You know what I really want? I want to have Kate Upton go to prom with me. I want to see the look on my brother’s face,” I said with a huge smile.

“I like how you think. I’d be jealous if you pulled that off,” he said and then got more serious. “I got the impression family is important to you. Will they be supportive?”

“We’re a close-knit group. I can count on them.”

“Good. I’d like to take you on as a client. We have a lot of work to do between now and when you get to LA. I have some ideas to raise awareness of who you are. My goal is to help you achieve your goals. The other thing we realize is that we’re both in business. My services have to justify themselves. Put simply, I have to make you money, be that in your billable hours modeling, or your football contract. Does that sound like something that would interest you?”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

“Great. I’ll get the contract sent to your lawyers. Could you do me one favor?” Mr. Ingram asked.

“Yes, sir,” I said.

“Call me ‘Frank’. We’ll become close, and I hope you’ll consider me a friend.”

“I can do that,” I said.

We said our goodbyes.

I sent a text to Bill and had him jump onto video chat. I smiled when a familiar face greeted me.

“Sage! Long time no see,” I said.

Sage had been on my Range Sports photo shoot when we did Napa Valley. She had been a ballerina before she became a model. She could pick her foot off the ground, put it on my shoulder, and use her foot to pull me into a kiss. GRRrrrrr. She was FLEXIBLE. I had hooked her up with Bill when he went to USC, last summer. They’d hit it off, and had been going out ever since.

“Hello, Handsome. Both Ridge and Bill went out to pick up dinner. When are you coming to LA?” she asked.

“End of November. I’ll be out there for two months. First shooting my new movie, and then the premier of Star Academy which will be after the first of the year,” I told her.

Then I spotted Penny, Ridge’s high school sweetheart and the girl who tried to force me to do a threesome.

“David. How’ve you been?” Penny asked.

“Good, and you?”

“Not bad,” she said and then turned. “It sounds like the boys are back.”

“Ridge, Bill!” I called.

They both came in with bags in their hands. Penny and Sage took the bags and went to the kitchen to give the guys some privacy.

“Did you hear what happened?” Bill asked.

Yesterday it was reported that the USC football coach had been fired for being drunk one too many times. Plus, they were crushed by Washington on Saturday.

“Yeah. You play Notre Dame this week. How’s the team taking it?” I asked.

“After last week’s loss to Washington we need to focus and turn things around against Notre Dame. It’s going to be tough, but I think we can give them a game,” Ridge said, and then smiled. “Guess who’s starting their first game?”

“Bill!” I shouted. “Man, that’s great news. You must be psyched.”

“You’re still planning on being there, aren’t you?” Bill asked.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I can’t wait to tell the guys,” I said.

“We might be able to get to your game. I’ve been invited back for Homecoming, and Ridge told the coaches he could talk you into accepting an offer from USC,” Bill said.

“They have to actually offer for that to happen. If you guys come, we’re playing Springfield. It should be a good game,” I said.

“It’s not a sure thing. They don’t let us wander off to watch high school games when we travel, but we’ll work on Coach and see if we can make it down,” Ridge said.

The girls called them to dinner and we promised, at the least, to hook up at Notre Dame.

Thursday October 15

I felt no residual effects from my concussion, and according to my instructions I was free to do everything today. That was good news, because I hadn’t been able to do anything but throw on the sidelines, and I was eager to get back to playing football.

When Duke and I went downstairs, Buster and Rachel greeted us. Duke ran to the back yard. As I began to stretch, I noticed that Precious was nowhere to be seen. She was normally waiting for us. I admit, I had slowly become fond of the cat from hell. I would have to ask Brit what was going on.

When we started to run I took a deep breath; you could feel the crispness and the scent of fall in the air. The leaves were in full color. It was my favorite time of year. It was cool enough I could run all day. I was in my own little world when I felt someone jab me in the butt. I turned to see poor Rachel about ready to collapse. I’d forgotten she was with me. I pulled out my earbuds and smiled at her.

“Sorry,” I said.

“I would have slowed down, but you have Buster,” she complained.

Duke was better behaved when we ran, so we had traded dogs. Buster seemed to mind me better, and if he did decide to act up, I was strong enough to get him back into line without him dragging me across someone’s front yard. One day last week he’d seen a squirrel, and Rachel had gone for a ride. He could be a real bull if he got it in his head.

Of course he tended to keep an eye on me because I ran with my Bo staff, and I could tap his butt with it if he got distracted. I had actually started to feel comfortable with the Bo staff. While I felt it in my hands, wrists and forearms, they no longer ached after I worked with the weighted rod.

“You did very well to keep up. You’re getting better,” I said.

She gave me a dirty look, so I started to run home so I could drop her and Buster off.

“Dick,” she mumbled.

I smiled as I picked up the pace. Rachel was game and she tried to pass me. I let her get a little ahead and then I increased my pace. For being in middle school, she was fast. She gave me a dirty look when I flipped around and ran backwards. When we got to the end of the block, she put on a burst of speed. I let her beat me to the front yard. When she went to collapse, I scooped her up and made her walk it off. Buster was done, also. I grabbed Duke’s leash and we finished our run.

Yesterday the harassment of Mike had continued. Before practice, he’d had enough, and it looked like he was going to take a swing at Wolf when Cassidy stepped in. I don’t know what she said, but they both thought better of fighting. When I walked up to the school, I saw Mike get out of his car and we both saw the football team waiting on him. This had gotten out of hand.

“Hold up, Mike,” I called out, and he scowled at me. “Settle down. Wait here. I’ll talk to the guys and get them to back off.”

He didn’t look happy, but he waited by his car. I strolled up and got everyone’s attention.

“I appreciate everyone coming together and letting Mike know that what he’s been up to is not acceptable. I think we all know this is not going to end well. While I’d love to kick his ass, I also want to play football. We’re hitting the tough part of our schedule, and we can’t lose any of you for doing something stupid and getting suspended. I’m asking you all to stop harassing Mike until the season’s over,” I said.

“Can I kick his ass after the season?” Wolf asked.

I was surprised Wolf seemed to be the most upset. He normally was more of a fun-loving kind of guy and could joke his way out of a confrontation. What I saw on his face was something new.

“While I don’t condone violence...” I started, but they all drowned me out with laughter and scoffs of derision.

I motioned for Mike to come forward. The guys gave him hard looks, but no one said anything. I had a bad feeling we wouldn’t make it through the season before something happened.

Right before football practice, my phone rang.

“This is David,” I said.

“Hey, David,” Devin Range said. “I hear you received your skydiving license.”

Brook and I had completed our required twenty-five jumps. It had become much more fun towards the end when they allowed us to do solo jumps. Part of the training was fun also. You had to learn to handle different scenarios. An example was what you did if your main chute failed. We also did a low-altitude jump that was a rush. When the ground is that close as you hurtle towards earth, it seems like it takes forever for your chute to deploy.

Brook had done some internet searches and found two things we were going to try. The first was a wing suit. You looked like a flying squirrel. She’d shown me some spectacular videos of people base jumping. She had me half-talked into flying to one of the locations to experience the thrill of screaming down the side of a mountain. I finally talked her into trying it out of a plane first. Even I wasn’t crazy enough to try it for the first time off the edge of a mountain.

The second was skysurfing. This was like snowboarding, but in free fall. The videos looked like a total blast. I could do almost everything I did on the jet waterboard. It had the added bonus of not being tied to the Jet Ski. Of the two, I thought I would enjoy skysurfing more. The deciding factor was that I could do it right here.

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