Going Under Page 2

Great. I was the one that was going to get rimmed out. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, it was only natural that the rich kid would get away with murder.

I followed Coach to his office. He shut the door, then told me to have a seat. Shutting the door was never a good sign and sitting meant he had a lot to say, an even worse sign. I prayed he wasn’t about to throw me off the team. I needed this spot desperately, so I inhaled deeply and put on my best pokerface to shield my nearly overwhelming fear of being told to get out.

“Are you aware of the magnificent talent you have, Boone?”

I shrugged my shoulders. I wasn’t use to hearing any kind of praise, but I knew what I could do was special.

“There’s a lot of colleges out there that dream of getting their hands on someone like you.”

I felt like I could breathe again when I realized I wasn’t being shown the door. I admitted, “I’m glad to hear you say that. I hope you’re right because I have to get a full ride if I want to go to college.”

He looked a little torn about what he wanted to say and I felt a stab of nervousness return.

“Boone, I’m a straight shooter so I’m just going to ask you. Have you not gotten the physical because you didn’t know about it, or can you not afford it?”

Every important time in my life has always come to this, the part where I’m forced to admit I come from nothing. I hesitantly said, “I didn’t know about it, but even if I had I can’t afford it. I plan on talking to my boss this afternoon. He might let me have an advance on my paycheck.”

Coach began writing on a notepad and said, “My wife’s brother is a physician. This is his name and the location of his office. I’ll let him know you’ll be coming to see him. He’ll take care of you at no charge.”

No one had cut me a break in my life except for my boss, Earl. I stared at the writing on the slip of paper. “Why would he do that for me?”

“I want you. The sooner I get you practicing, the sooner I can see exactly what I can do with you.”

No one had wanted me my entire life and what I felt inside was foreign. “Thanks, Coach.”

I was glad I wouldn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay for the doctor visit, but I didn’t like feeling like a charity case. I hoped the other guys wouldn’t find out Coach arranged a free physical for me. They’d never finish ragging me about it.

When I walked out of the field house, a lot of the guys were hanging out in the parking lot and more than a dozen girls had joined them. They were all wearing short athletic shorts and T-shirts that read EFHS, so I decided they must be the cheerleading squad arriving for practice.

My new arch rival was holding hands with the hottest one in the group. She was a petite little thing with a tiny waist and a tight shirt to show off her perky breasts. Her long hair was pulled into the classic cheerleader ponytail and I couldn’t decide if it was brown or red, so I settled on calling it auburn.

I walked to my truck, totally expecting a cheap shot, and Henderson didn’t surprise me when he yelled across the parking lot, “Hey, superstar. Are you still waiting for the NFL to send your first paycheck so you can buy a ride that didn’t come from the junkyard?”

As he laughed caustically, his apparent girlfriend jerked her hand from his and I heard a loud pop as she slapped him across the chest. I was disappointed it wasn’t his face, but she had no reason to defend me and I was surprised she didn’t join him in humiliating me.

I opened the squeaky door to my truck and said, “Wow, Henderson. That was creative for someone that just got bumped to second string.”

I got in my truck and shut the door before he had the opportunity to retaliate and belittle me further in front of the cheerleaders. I hesitated in starting the engine. I prayed it wouldn’t stall out on me as it sometimes did. Luck was with me today and I was incredibly thankful when it started on the first try. I left the field knowing this thing between me and Forbes Henderson was only just beginning.

2 Thumbing a Ride


“Claire! Please, hurry up. Payton is here and you don’t want to be late on your first day of school,” I heard my mom yell from downstairs.

“Great,” I muttered to myself as I grabbed my short, ivory floral dress and quickly slung it over my head. I had the intention of braiding the front of my hair today, but I didn’t have time, so I twisted the front section and pulled it to the side, pinning it securely with a pair of brown bobby pins in an X.

I looked at the clock. “Ugh!” I groaned. Payton was going to kill me. Tardiness was the story of my life. It was never my intention to be late, but I must have been genetically engineered that way because as hard as I tried, I couldn’t not be late.

“Payton, give me another minute and I’ll be right down,” I yelled from my room as I sprayed myself with a soft peach and jasmine scented body spray, then rubbed my legs and arms with the same scented body lotion.

As usual, she was on time and it put me on edge knowing I might make us late on our first day of school because I knew I would catch hell from her.

I hated thumbing a ride, even if it was with my best friend and I cursed the ignoramus that backed into my car at the mall and left a huge dent in the bumper. Hopefully, I would have my own ride back from the shop before the back to school bonfire out at Harrison’s Cleveland’s on Friday night since we planned on using my sound system for the music.

I quickly put on my new boots, took a look in the mirror and thought I was missing something. I looked too plain, so I looked in my closet where I stored my accessories. I draped my apricot scarf around my neck because it looked like it was made to go with my dress and the color looked fabulous with the red in my hair. Once I was satisfied with the way I looked, I grabbed my backpack and ran down the stairs.

My mom was dressed for work and standing at the bottom of the staircase to either greet me or scold me. I decided it was scold when I saw she was clearly agitated. She watched me scurry down the staircase while standing with her hands on her hips and I knew she was thinking she didn’t raise her daughter to always be late.

“Claire, I have group late tonight and your dad is on call, so you’ll have to fend for yourself on dinner, but I should be in around nine or so,” she said as she walked to the kitchen, then returned with my travel mug of coffee.

I took it from her hand and said, “No problem, mom, and thanks for the coffee.” I held it up to my nose, breathed in the aroma, and played our little guessing game of identifying the flavor. “Chocolate Raspberry?”

“You got it, baby girl.” Even at seventeen years-old, I still loved to hear my mom called me that.

“You’re awesome, mom,” I said as I hugged her. After she told us to have a great first day at school, Payton and I left my house and headed toward school. She drove faster than she should because I caused us to run a little late and I promised myself I would do better the rest of the week since she would be driving me.

My phone went off and we both recognized the tone as Forbes’. I grabbed my purse, dug for my phone and waited to see what Payton would have to say because it was always something interesting. She reached to turn the music down, then said, “Let me guess. The guy that thinks only with the head not located on his shoulders wants you to come and blow his mind before homeroom.”

“Leave it to you to say something like that.” I read the text from him asking where I was and told Payton, “He’s looking for me because he’s afraid I might talk to another guy. He puts on such a front, but I think he’s scared I’m going to dump him since he isn’t starting quarterback anymore. But, don’t you dare say a word about it.”

“Claire, his insecurities are highly unattractive. How shallow does he think you are? I mean, is he really thinking you’re going to dump him for the new guy from Collinsville just because he’s the new starting quarterback?”

“I don’t know exactly what he’s thinking, but cut him some slack, Payton. He’s not use to losing,” I defended.

She laughed and said, “Yeah, I get that, but failing to see you’re not it anymore is also unattractive. He’s still stuck in the mentality that he’s the superstar at East Franklin and he lost that spot when he got bumped by the new guy.”

None of that was news to me. Forbes despised the air the guy breathed and I knew firsthand how poorly the new guy’s position was going over with him because I heard about it incessantly.

“So, what is New Hot Guy’s name anyway?” Payton asked.

“I don’t know because I only hear him referred to as some type of profanity, but please don’t refer to him as New Hot Guy in front of Forbes. I so don’t want to hear him go off on you.”

“Screw Forbes Henderson. I’ll tell him myself that the new guy is a sexy mother scratcher and I dare him to say anything about it,” she threatened.

Yeah, I knew she was right, but Forbes was humiliated about losing his spot to a guy from Collinsville and today he had to face everyone at school. He was so certain the student body was laughing behind his back, but in reality, they wouldn’t care who was quarterback as long as our football team was winning. I wouldn’t really care either if I wasn’t dating the former starting quarterback,

The whole pity party attitude was a complete turn off, but I didn’t mention it because I was the perfect girlfriend, but I had cut as much slack as I planned to. If he kept it up, I would be forced to say something about it because he was using it as a reason to try to get in my pants and I was getting sick of it.

“How about you try to not jack around with Forbes today?” I pleaded.

“What would be the fun in that?” she said in a daring tone.

“Please don’t, Payton.”

“Ugh!” she groaned. “Okay, I won’t jack with him, but please know it goes against my better judgement to not take advantage of him because I might not get another opportunity anytime soon,” she said.

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