Chapter 4: The Game

Eric

When I got home the first thing that hit me when I opened the door was Sookie’s smell. I groaned as I closed the door behind me. Jeter’s head popped up with one eye open. When he saw it was just me, his head sank down and he went back to sleep. I looked around the house, trying to figure out what to do with myself. I felt like I should be preparing for Monday, but there wasn’t a whole lot for me to do. It’s not like gym class really requires a lesson plan.

It dawned on me, as I was driving back from Sookie’s, that I probably should have mentioned that we would be working together. I’d wanted to tell her before I’d even taken her home, but I didn’t want Pam around to make crass jokes about us having a workplace romance. I didn’t know how Sookie felt about the whole thing. To be honest, it wasn’t as if we would be working side by side. We would be in different departments. The school was large enough that I was willing to bet we would rarely ever see each other unless we wanted to.

I debated over whether or not to call her. Part of me said she should have fair warning that I was going to be there. The other part of me wasn’t convinced it was that big of a deal. She hadn’t asked what I did for a living. She knew I was Pam’s business partner but she also knew that wasn’t my full-time gig. Then I remembered what she’d said about how last night was supposed to be a one time thing and I started to wonder if she really wanted to see me again. Was she just placating me when she accepted my dinner invitation?

The way she looked at me told me she was curious. The way she kissed me told me she didn’t want the night before to be it for us. I dropped down on the couch next to Jeter who looked at me with one eye. It was a look that told me to get over myself. He was probably right. I scratched the scruff of his neck and hauled myself up off the couch.

I went back to my bedroom and changed clothes, trading in my jeans for a pair of shorts and my sandals for my gym shoes. There was only one thing to do when my brain was that cloudy- basketball. It always helped me focus. So I grabbed my ball and a bottle of gatorade and headed out. There was a park not too far from the house with a couple of courts. When I got there I was happy to see I wasn’t the only one with the game on the brain. There was a group of kids- some of whom I’d probably be teaching come Monday- already playing on the court.

I went to the far end since they were playing a game of three on three. I tossed the ball around, making free throw after free throw. Some I could even do without looking. Still, the longer I played, the freer my mind became. I started getting fancier and fancier with my shots until finally one of the kids called out to me.

“Hey, Mister, we need one more to start a new game since Joey’s girlfriend has him on a tight leash.” One of the boys told me.

“Shut up, assmunch!” The boy I assumed was Joey shouted in response.

“You wanna play?” The kid asked me.

“Sure.” I shrugged and dropped my ball on the lawn that surrounded the court.

It became pretty obvious pretty quick that having me on the team was a pretty clear advantage. “You ain’t bad for an old man.” The kid who invited me to play commented after the first game was over.

“Thanks, and I’m not that old.” I laughed as I sipped my gatorade.

“Where’d an old man like you learn how to play like that?” The same kid asked me.

“Talent.” I smirked at him and he gave me a skeptical look in response. “I went to Duke on a basketball scholarship.”

“No shit?”

“No shit.” I had to hold back a laugh.

“Damn. You’re good for a white boy.”

“Thanks.”

“Shouldn’t you be, like, playing in NBA, or something?” The kid asked.

“Maybe, but I never wanted to. I love the game, don’t get me wrong, but I never wanted it to be my life.”

“And you don’t think that’s a waste of the talent you been given?”

“Not at all.” I made another shot from the half court line that was nothing but net. “What I choose to do with my talent is up to me, and I choose to use it to help other people develop their own.”

“So you a coach?”

“I will be.”

“What’s that mean?”

“How old are you?” I asked when he passed me the ball.

“Seventeen.”

“So you’re a senior at the high school?”

“You you know it. And I can’t wait to get out of that place.”

“Are you on the basketball team?”

“I own the basketball team. We getting a new coach this year, but if he’s anything like the fool we had last year…”

I had to hold back a laugh. “Well, hopefully this year’s coach will do a better job.”

“He better. Unlike you, I ain’t looking to waste my talent on some neighborhood court. I’m going big time.” He said with confidence.

“Hopefully you’re right about that.” It was too soon to get into the lectures of having a good backup plan.

There were plenty of guys who played with the intention of “going big time” who never got farther than college level. It was a mistake for this kid to think that just because he was a big fish in a small pond, it would translate into the same thing once he was in the ocean. The world was much bigger than this one kid, and if he couldn’t get that through his skull, his chances of playing would go down. Being over-confident took away the hunger, and it was the hunger that helped to make a player great.

I ended up playing an enlightening game of HORSE and by the time that was done, my head was a bit clearer. It was also getting close to dinnertime and I was sure Jeter needed to get outside again.

“Anytime you wanna come back, you’re welcome.” The kid- who I found out was named Quentin- invited before I left.

“Thanks, Quentin.” I waved and then headed for home.


I was out in the yard with Jeter on Sunday, playing a rousing game of fetch, when the Red Menace appeared. I turned to roll my eyes. I wasn’t in any sort of mood to deal with her. The second Jeter saw her leering at me over the fence, he barked fiercely, like the good wingman he is.

“He’s feisty.” She stared at me.

“What can I do for you, Sophie-Anne?” I tried to sound polite. I just wanted her to go away.

“I was wondering if maybe you’d want to go grab some lunch together?” At least she was persistent, even if it was pointless.

“No, thanks. I actually need to get back inside.” I whistled for Jeter and he headed for the kitchen door.

“So soon?”

I took a deep breath and said, “Look, I appreciate the attention, but nothing’s going to happen with us.”

She laughed in a way that was intended to make me think I was the one being ridiculous and reading too much into things. “I just wanted to get lunch.”

“Just like you wanted to use my shower or my phone or have me help with bookshelves, right? I know what you’re doing and it needs to stop.” I started toward the house, thinking that was the end of the conversation.

“That girl you left with yesterday, is she your girlfriend?” The Red Menace asked.

“None of your business.” I stalked into the house and closed the door.

As much as I hated that bitch, she got me thinking about Sookie again. Getting her out of my head proved to be more difficult than I’d thought it would be. I tried to remember the last time I was that hung up on a girl and I came to realization that it wasn’t since college that I’d found one who held my interest for more than a few hours, and even then, it wasn’t anything like the way it was with Sookie. I found myself wondering what she was doing to keep herself busy. Was she having as hard a time focusing on things as I was? When I was making dinner the night before I started wondering if she liked green peppers as I was slicing them. Was she a vegetarian? Did she like wine with her meals? All of these random ass questions were plaguing me right and left and I found myself desperately curious to know the answers to all of them.

I hadn’t been joking in the slightest when I said I wanted to know her. I wanted to know everything about her. I wanted to know what made her smile. I wanted to know what shampoo she used to get her hair to smell like it did. I wanted to know where the scar on the back of her knee came from. I wanted to make her happy. The sound of her laugh was infectious, the precious few times that I’d heard it. I wanted to know how she could be a bold, confident woman who asked me for a Screaming Orgasm one minute and a shy school girl the next. I wanted to understand her.

I plugged in my iPod and decided to throw in a load of laundry. I’d been hesitant to wash the sheets on my bed the night before, but it had to be done. As much as I didn’t want to wash away her smell, I figured leaving it there for too long was just plain gross. Not to mention, I didn’t need to cross the line from healthy curiosity into obsession. Leaving sex sheets on my bed for more than one night would put me too close to the line for my own comfort.

Once I got the laundry started I fired up my laptop. I logged into my email to see there were a few things that Pam wanted me to take a look at for the bar. She was thinking about expanding into the vacant space next door so she could increase the size of the dance floor and maybe put in a second bar. It would be quite the project, but it seemed to me like it would be a very worthy investment. Business wasn’t tapering off after being open for little more than a year. That was a good sign.

I looked through the proposals and quotes Pam had put together from various contractors and designers, as well as a copy of the lease for the extra space. We would have to look into building permits and zoning laws and all sorts of things in order to make this happen but Pam would be doing the legwork on this. It was mostly my job to tell her my opinion. I could very easily do that. When it came to business, Pam listened to me, even if she didn’t give a flying fuck about what I thought of her personal life. But I tried to stay out of that.

As I made my way through the messages waiting in my inbox, I was only mildly surprised to see a friend request from Sookie for facebook. I shook my head, marveling at the fact that she’d found me first. Why the hell hadn’t I thought of that? Any doubt that she was interested in me went right out the window at that moment. I clicked on the link in the email and was sent to my facebook page to accept her request. I couldn’t stop grinning. I didn’t care if it made me a douche.

“I think she likes us, boy.” I reached down to take the toy that Jeter had brought me. He wrestled me for it before finally loosening his jaw enough so I could get a hold on it. I teased him for a minute before throwing the old tennis ball down the hall.

Thank God the basement was carpeted, or Jeter would ruin it with the amount of running around he did down there. I leaned back in my chair and clicked on the link to Sookie’s page. After browsing the information on her wall- there wasn’t much there outside of her hometown, employment and education information- I went straight to the albums she’d posted.

Her profile picture was one that appeared to be taken at graduation the previous spring with the woman she’d come into the bar with. They were both standing on the football field and there were kids standing around in their caps and gowns. Sookie was wearing a white sundress with red flowers on it. Her hair was held back from her face with a headband, while delicate waves of gold hung down her back. Her smile was radiant. God, she was beautiful.

I figured out quickly, in going through the albums that she only posted pictures that were student friendly. I wouldn’t be seeing any of the pictures that had been taken at the bar on Friday night. I knew there were some because I’d seen her friend with a camera. The friend’s name was Amelia, according to the way the pictures were tagged. There were a few pictures of Sookie with her cheerleading squad. Turns out they weren’t cheerleaders, so much as a dance team that worked with the cheerleaders. Interesting. There were pictures from a lock-in they’d had in what appeared to be a dance studio. They were all dressed in pajamas and huddled together on sleeping bags while laughing and doing whatever it is that teenage girls do.

There were pictures of Sookie with what I presumed to be other members of the faculty, including a guy named Bill Compton, who appeared to be rather smitten with Sookie. I’d have to see who that guy was. I hadn’t met him at any of the interviews I’d been on, or seen him on any of the tours I’d taken of the school. She was also photographed with Alcide Herveaux and Claude Crane, who I knew were other members of the physical education department. I’d met them a few months before. Alcide coached the varsity football team.

In every single picture of her I saw, Sookie was smiling brilliantly. She looked genuinely happy and content with her surroundings. I started to wonder, once again, if maybe I should call her and give her a head’s up that she would be seeing me in the morning when she got to work. After a few minutes of debating about it I dug my cell phone out of my pocket and went in search of her number. I found it in my phone book and pressed the send button.

As luck would have it, the call went straight to voicemail. “Hi, Sookie, it’s Eric. Listen, there’s something I need to talk to you about. Give me a call when you get this.” I hung up and set the phone down on the desk.

I stared at the phone like I could will it to ring using only wishful thinking. When that didn’t work, I decided to put my energy into other things. I finished up the emails that needed checking and response. I switched loads of laundry. I let Jeter out of the house. I even made dinner and cleaned up. In all, a few hours had passed and there was no word from Sookie. I thought about calling her again but I didn’t want to seem desperate. Was it really that big of a deal that we’d be working together?

Finally, it got late. Bedtime came and there was still no word from Sookie. I didn’t know what her habits were when it came to returning phone calls. Maybe she was just one of those people who was terrible at calling others back. Not knowing was part of what drove me crazy. For all I knew, some psycho broke into her house and…no, I wouldn’t go down that path. She was just busy. I’d see her in the morning. If she was going to freak out there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it, but honestly, I didn’t see the big deal. I convinced myself it would be fine and then I dropped into a deep sleep.


The voice of Scott Weiland filled my ears as I lifted the weights. Sweat rolled down my face and dripped to the floor. The cool air from the air conditioning unit blew over me, sending a slight chill through my body. I was concentrating on breathing as I lifted and lowered the weight above me. I didn’t hear the opening and closing of the door of the weight room, nor did I hear the click of her shoes as she walked toward me. But there she was, suddenly, standing over me in that white dress with the red flowers. Her hair pulled back much the same way, and that healthy glow to her skin.

She grinned down at me, watching as I lifted and lowered the weights. She ran her fingers through my damp hair before slowly walking around the bench press to my left side. Her cool fingers traced up my bare side, lightly tickling my ribs just under my heart. I felt that familiar fluttering I got every time I thought of her. The sensation of her touch caused several reactions from my body. There were goose bumps on my arms. I felt my chest tighten up and then there was the beginning of a tent forming in my shorts. She smiled at me knowingly and worked her way down closer to my legs.

She stepped to stand between them, angling her body just so I got a good glimpse of her cleavage when I looked her way. Her hands braced themselves on my thighs. She smiled at me for a moment before standing up straight again and stepping closer to me. Her fingernails grazed my legs, sending another round of chills through me and increasing the hardness in my shorts. Without warning, her legs swung over mine one at a time until she was straddling me. I set the weight down on the braces and pulled the earbuds from my ears.

Scott Weiland filled the room, crooning about a woman in a dress and all the things he wanted to do to her. I knew that feeling all too well. Sookie looked at me through her lashes, nibbling her lower lip, daring me to make my move. My hand slipped into her hair, cradling the back of her head as I pulled her face to mine. Her little hands began to untie the drawstrings of my shorts. No sooner had our lips met than she was stroking the painfully hard length she’d found inside. Her hand twisted on the upstroke and I growled into her mouth.

She ground her center against my thigh in search of the friction she needed. I felt her warmth and wetness on me. I couldn’t take my mouth off of her. She stroked faster and faster, twisting just the right way with each pump of her small fists. She groaned against me as her own climax built.

“Here I come.” She whispered to me, her breath warm and sweet on my chin as her eyes closed when she came. “Here I come, I come, I come.”

Only it wasn’t Sookie’s voice anymore- it was Scott Weiland. My eyes opened and I was in bed alone. My alarm clock had gone off. Fuck. I didn’t even need to look down to see the hardest case of morning wood I’d had since I was fourteen, and I’d had my first serious crush on my English teacher, Miss Thompson. I forced myself out of bed and into the shower to deal with my little problem. I had to get a move on if I wanted to go for a run around the track at the high school before my day really got started.

I stepped into the shower and wasted little time giving myself the attention I so desperately needed. There would be no willing this particular hard on away. I closed my eyes and thought back to my night with Sookie. I remembered the noises she made and how I’d heard them all in the dream I’d had. I remembered the smell of her hair and the way she tasted. I remembered the way her eyes got darker the closer she got to her release, and how her little hands would grip at any part of me she could reach to pull me closer to her. I stroked hard, almost like I thought I could exorcise her from my memory if I came hard enough.

When I did, I leaned against the tiled wall of the shower and took a few deep breaths. I tried not to think about Sookie for the duration of my shower. I washed up and then wrapped a towel around myself when I was finished. I went to the kitchen and made myself a bowl of cereal and got a glass of orange juice. I ate quickly and then went back to the bedroom to get dressed. Being a PE teacher meant my wardrobe was pretty casual most of the time. I planned to institute a policy of shirts and ties for game days. There was no reason to be dressed like a slob just because you were an athlete.

But for the first day of school a pair of jeans and a Duke polo would suffice just fine. I neatly folded the clothes and put them in my gym bag. I’d wearing shorts and a wifebeater for my run. I put on my running shoes and let Jeter out. I’d be able to stop by the house on my lunch break to let him out, assuming Sookie wasn’t using that time to ream me out for not telling her that we would be working together. I checked my cell phone to see if she’d called back after I went to sleep. There was nothing there.

I called Jeter back into the house and then headed out to work. I tossed my bag into the car and quickly made my way over to the school. I got stopped once for a Metra that was inbound from the city. Luckily, the train passed quickly and didn’t add too much time to my commute. Well, actually, it doubled my commute since it took four minutes to drive to the school and that was the same amount of time the train took to pass. Still, it could have been worse.

I parked near the Field House since the boys’ locker room was underneath it. My office was down there. I decided to leave my bag in the car. I’d come back for it when I was done running. I pulled my iPod from my pocket and slipped my earbuds in. I hit the play button and then put the machine in my pocket before I starting on my jog. I watched as the school buses were lined up in their caravan way before heading out to pick up the kids. Faculty members began to trickle in slowly. I was on my third lap when I was stopped by Andre, the head of the Phys Ed chairman.

“Northman, good to see you here so early.” Andre said once I’d slowed to jog in place.

“I thought a run before school would be good.” I explained.

“I see that.” Andre nodded. “So, I take it you’re ready? You don’t need anything, do you?”

“Nope, I think I’m all set.” I smiled at the man.

“Good. Carry on, then.” Andre stepped out of my path and I got back to running.

I was just coming up on the turn that would take me close to the theater at the end of the school opposite of the Field House when I saw her step out of her car. There was Sookie in a pinstripe pencil skirt and a crisp white shirt. Her hair was pulled back in a sleek ponytail and she was wearing glasses. Hard on renewed. Immediately. Painfully. She looked like a naughty librarian. If this was what I was going to get every day, I was fucked. Big time.

I watched her pull her bags from the car and then close her car door. Her hips swayed beautifully as she strutted toward me on a pair of three inch heels that made her legs look even more amazing than I remembered. She walked tall and with confidence. Her ponytail slapped against her shoulders as she walked. I wanted to throw her up against the brick wall out of sight of others and fuck her. I was so screwed.

But then she saw me standing there and she stopped walking. A faint smile crossed her lips for a just a second and then she looked pissed. Really, really pissed.

 

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