Win Big:A Bad Boy Sports Romance(8)

By: Bella Love-Wins

“No, no, honey. He’s never mad at me or upset about anything I did. You know that. It’s just one of the NFC semi-finals is on today, and he’s…”

I put a hand on my forehead. “Oh, right. I forgot. And remind me how come you’re both off shift today?”

“I’m not off all day. I’ll be heading in for seven tonight. Don’t you worry about me. I’m so glad you got the placement you wanted!”

“Thanks.” I wasn’t as happy as I’d been before getting on the phone, of course, but I appreciated her intentions. “Do me a favor?”

“Of course, love.”

“Go to Aunt Aggie’s for the rest of the day. Or Aunt’s Edna’s. Or go to a movie. Just get out of the house. You know?”

She sighed. “Yes. I have a few things to do, but maybe I will a bit later. You know how he gets when he’s alone and his team’s losing.”

Yes. I knew. He threw food and empty beer cans at the TV screen, and expected her to clean up after him, even though they had a full-time maid. For a highly educated and intensely trained professional, he really did some downright ignorant stuff.

“Mom, I don’t like that you’re there alone with him. I know he won’t do anything completely off the charts, but I can drive back now. We can go to an early dinner.” I heard a crash in the background. He was already deep into his nonsense. Sometimes I think he just acted this way to round out the nerd that he truly was. No one could be angry for this long. “I’m leaving now,” I said, getting off the bed, gathering my purse and keys. “I won’t take no for an answer. Just stay in the bedroom and wait for me.”

If anybody ever asked me why I hated football, I would give them my father’s name. Every time he watched football, attended a college level or NFL game, or even threw around a ball at the park with his physician buddies, he went all Jekyll and Hyde on us.

I sent a text to Kristy before hitting the road, letting her know that I’d be back late that night.

‘Everything okay?’ she texted back.

‘Fine. It’s NFC Championship day. Taking Mom to dinner.’

A few minutes later, she replied. ‘Oh. Got it. Give her my love. See you later.’

I didn’t need to explain anything to Kristy. That was one thing about being friends since the early days of preschool. She understood without needing to be told.

How old was I when I started hating football? Pretty young. It didn’t take long to associate Sundays in fall and early winter with absolute misery. Dad’s behavior would start when the preseason rolled around in early August, just when the newscasters started talking more and more about the teams. He’d go from being a relatively stable, mild-mannered physician to a dude who drank too much, swore too loudly and threw shit at the TV with really bad aim. It didn’t even help during the years when the Saints had a terrific season and were the analysts’ favorite to go all the way to the Superbowl.

Inside, I was groaning as I drove home, and promising myself yet again I’d never be that way. I wouldn’t let something at arm’s length make me bitter and gripy. He wasn’t an athlete, so why did he act like there were such life and death stakes to these games? Well, I knew why, but still, I would never make my family suffer like this. Not when all they wanted to do was love me. No one deserved the crap he doled out. I was kicking myself for even wanting to tell him my good news. It had nothing to do with football so he wouldn’t care anyway.

It took an hour to get to the house, and by then he was amped up. I pointedly ignored him, going straight up to the master bedroom, collecting my mother and escorting her out the door. We made it to the Crab Shack at the wharf and had a bite to eat. After that, I dropped her off at the house and waited for her to get in her car before I drove off.

And people wondered why I was hell bent against getting close to anyone. Let alone anyone remotely into the game of football.



“Come on! Work it out!” I ran circles around my buddies as we lapped the football field. “Come on, grannies! You call that a game face? It’s weak as shit.”

“Dude, you gotta slow the hell down,” one of them panted out.

“Yeah, man. We can’t keep up with you. Okay? We admit it.” I thought that might have been Chad, but I wasn’t sure. It didn’t matter which one of them it was, really. They were all pathetic.

“So you admit it. Can’t measure up. Good for you, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep trying!”

I took off, leaving the rest of the team in the dust. Why bother trying to get conditioned if you were only giving it a half-hearted attempt? I didn’t understand that mentality. My philosophy from early on was to always give a hundred and ten percent to whatever I did. I prided myself on that attitude. Luck didn’t factor into winning. I was one of the best players because I worked my ass off and gave it my all, every fucking day, all year round. Yes, that applied to being a loud-mouthed, opinionated asshole too.

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