Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On the right track?

His cell phone rang again. He looked at it for a while allowing his eyes to focus at the caller ID staring at an unknown phone number. Clicking the phone he answers, “Armstrong.”
He grew quiet as he listened; it was a soft voice, feminine, smooth, silky, lilting. “Good morning, am I speaking with the man of the house? I represent-”
He blinked and tried harder to concentrate on what she said. “Not intere-”
The voice on the other end cut him off, the smoothness fading quickly as she became desperate. “Yes, I realize this may not be the most opportune time to call and for that I do apologize, if you could just give me a moment of your time I am sure that-”
He rolls his eyes and sighs, “Listen, I tried being polite. Don’t force me to be rude.”
There was a short pause on the other end of the line. “Thank you for your time.”
He smiled despite himself, “You’re welcome. You have yourself a great day now.”
Another short pause, it was as if he could almost hear her smile. “You’re very kind. I hope your day is wonderful as well.”
He hung up; found himself grinning at the phone.

His eyes scanned the want ads, falling quickly to the bottom ad for stadium workers. Jayden gave a bit of a snort. He would have to be a bit desperate to work at the stadium in any way other than an athlete. A fly flew past his face. He looked around him and chuckled. Well now, he appears to be desperate.
As he went to toss the paper aside a rather large photo of a grinning buffoon caught his eye or more accurately the very familiar beautiful brunette clinging to his arm staring adoringly up at him is what caught his eye.
Turning to the page he felt his stomach flip. ‘Most Eligible Bachelor will Marry at Last.’ With wide eyes he read on, shaking his head in disbelief. Constance, she wouldn’t… she couldn’t! He dropped the paper staring at his empty hands. “That bitch.” He walked towards his garden and punched an apple tree. He hissed as the bark cut in to his knuckles and punched it again. His mind numb, his knuckles going numb, he hit the tree again and again until he heard the distinct crack of the young sapling tree trunk.
He stared at his hands briefly, threw on his sweats and shoes before heading out for a jog.

Jayden did his best thinking when he ran. Usually… Only today he ran all day and into the night feeling as if he hadn’t a coherent thought in his head. He heard nothing around him but his muttering thoughts. Was he really angry with Constance? No. Did he blame her for moving on and finding someone new and replacing him so easily? He grit his teeth and seethed, he wouldn’t mind so much had it been anyone else. Lothario… Constance Lothario… it was so wrong in so many ways.

It was about an hour later that he felt his body protest very loudly. He headed towards home, his empty lot. Clenching his fists he resolved to do something at last about this life he had been handed. He will go after that job at the stadium, he will build a home, and he will get on with his life. If Constance could manage it, he could manage it. After all, he was a resourceful kind of guy. He’s lived and survived and relatively prospered on his lawn so far.


“Aren’t you hungry?”
She smiled softly, hesitant in her response. She looked at the basket of goodies and wrinkled her nose. “I don’t think I can eat.” She bit her lip thoughtfully, “I…”
Mid bite he paused, “What is it, Babe?” He didn’t like this, he didn’t like this at all, something was wrong, something was off, he suddenly felt sweaty, and nervous. “Whatever it is, we’ll deal with it together, okay?”
She took a deep breath and blurted out her news, “I’m pregnant!” He put down his food and took her hand, she was shaking, he lifts her hand to his lips, kissing it softly and giving it a soft squeeze.
“Babe, it’s okay, hell its great.” Well not really, his stomach was pitching and rolling, he felt sick to his stomach and wanted to hurl. His forehead broke out in a sweat; he wiped his palms on his jeans pretending there were crumbs from his burger.
He stood up shakily from the blanket and took a few steps. He took a deep breath of the fresh air. “Ya… this is… great… so we, uh… yanno, raise the kid together and stuff.” He turned and looked at her, gave her a lopsided smile and reached out his hand to her.

She slowly walked to him, he took her hand in his, kissed it once more before going down on one knee, “So this is the part where I beg you to be mine. To offer you a… a ring…” He patted his pockets and found a square shape in his pocket… well now that was convenient. He pulled out the box and held it for her to see.
“Babe. I uh… you know… and I hope you… well, accept this and we can live together and happily raise our brood.”
She stares dumbfounded and surprised, her eyes never leaving the small box expectantly, waiting for him to reveal its contents to her.

He opens the box not sure what is inside. From her response he supposes it must be good, she tears up in her excitement, her hands fly to her full lips, squealing happily, “Yes! Oh yes!”
The sweat gets worse, he feels so hot, he can feel how flush his skin must be. He draws the back of his hand across his forehead, the heat from his skin surprising him. She’s holding out her hand to him expectantly, barely containing her joy.
He looks in the box at the object shining so brightly, his eyes close to slits as he strains to see it. Reaching in to the box his fingers touch something hard, cold, smooth, and vibrating. Groaning he answers the phone.
“Armstrong.” His voice was husky with sleep.
The voice hesitates, “Alex Armstrong?”
“This is Gina from Sunnyvale Stadium. We read over your application and would like to schedule an interview for Monday, say 10 am?”
Jayden sat up fully alert by this time and agreed immediately. He thanked her for the call and they hung up. He looked up at the sky and the sun that beat down on him. How late was it? He looked around him, it had to be at least noon.


He gave her a grin, “Pauline, looking as beautiful as ever.”
She smiles back beaming, “Hi Alex.” Her sing-song voice exaggerating his name as usual, “when are you going to give in and go out with me?”
Jayden chuckles, gives her a knowing wink, “Maybe sooner than you think.”
She stops their usual flirty banter and stares at him stunned, “Really?”
He shrugs his broad shoulders, “Only if you were serious.”
Pauline is flustered and flattered, “Wow.” She tries desperately to figure out if he really meant it or not but can’t read his face. She bites her lip self-consciously, her mind racing.
He looks around distracted, “Have you seen Madison?”

Pauline sighs dramatically, “Why would I care, Alex, really?”
Jayden raises an eyebrow, “What kind of response is that? Madison is a great girl… besides, I told her I’d train her today.” He looks around once more not seeing her, “at least I thought it was today…”
This bit of insight gives Pauline renewed hope, “That is so sweet of you, Alex.” She glances around quickly, “Ya I don’t see her so you can skip training with her today and take me to an early dinner?”
Jayden chuckles, playfully pulls one of her pigtails, “Your fiancĂ© wouldn’t care for that in the least.” He presses his lips to her forhead, kissing her softly, “I’m gonna get a work out anyhow. I’m getting too soft around the middle. Too much fast food!”
Pauline sighs softly watching his retreating back, “If only more men looked as ‘soft’ as you…”

Jayden was pumped, he loved working out. It made him feel alive. To his surprise Madison did eventually show up at the gym. “Well now, and where have you been?” His intense gaze devouring her.
Madison giggled nervously under his scrutiny, her face flushed with her soft blush, “I’m sorry I didn’t make it earlier.”
He brushed the hair from her eyes and grinned, “It’s okay. You know me, I still get a good work out.”
She bit her lip and allowed her eyes to take in his form briefly before that heated blush returned, “Yes. I see.”

Jayden raised an eyebrow, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were blossoming, Madison. My shy flower… are you budding? Is it time for you to show your potential and possibly bloom?”
She giggled once more, lowering her eyes, not meeting his gaze and nodded shyly. Her voice soft, almost a whisper, “I did what you told me to do.”
She glanced around nervously praying they weren’t over heard. Her voice so low he leaned in to hear her. He grinned triumphantly, “And?”
She flushed once more, her voice caught in her throat, her knees weak she looked up at him with her innocent wide eyes, “It’s why I didn’t make it to our work out session. I can’t seem to stop.” She looks around again utterly embarrassed.
He gently kisses her cheek whispering in her ear, “Soon, you wont be alone…”

Her breath catches in her chest, “Will you…”
She looks at Jayden hopefully leaving her request unspoken. The hunger, fear, and uncertainty burn in her eyes matching the hunger in his. He slides his arms around her pulling her body to his, ignoring the sweat from his work out, she shivers at his touch, he inhales deeply, sliding his hands down to her lower back and grabbing her hips firmly in both hands, “Only a fool would say no to an offer like that.”
She whimpers, her breathing shallow, her full breasts heaving she tries to speak, her voice cut off with a gasp. He pulls her to him firmer, pressing himself against her showing her how much he wants her. Her voice raspy with her emotional and physical need for him, “Alex…”

Pressing his lips to hers, their soft kiss grows in passion and hunger. Tongues dancing, her splayed hands tentatively touching his back become more bold the longer the kiss lasts. She allows him to explore, trying to mimic him and his intensity. At last he pulls back and looks at her, his intense gaze burns through her, “You learn quickly.” He presses his groin against her, once more showing her his desire for her.
“Tonight?” Her eyes search his hopefully, “Maybe?”
He kisses her forehead and shakes his head. Softly kissing her full lips once more, “You’re not ready for me yet.” He releases her, stepping back and smiling. “You’re hunger is only beginning… soon, my flower… very soon.”

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Days went by...

Days, weeks, months flew by since Jayden arrived in Sunnyville. He had fallen in to a rut. His mornings were filled with gardening, he went to the market to sell his surplus vegetables, then to the gym to work out, shower and take care of his basic needs, last he would visit the library to look for a decent floor plan. He was looking scraggly. He hadn’t shaven and was in need of a haircut. One day as he looked in to the mirror at the gym, he didn’t know who it was staring back at him.

The next morning he rose before the sun, cared for his garden until the hunger pangs hit. He winced and grabbed at his stomach sighing softly. The all too familiar waves of nausea washed over him. He waited for it to pass gripping the apple tree branch for support.
Slowly he pulled himself upright, inhaling the fresh air deep in to his lungs. He watched fascinated at the colors of the sky while the sun rose. “Beautiful…”

Grabbing an apple from the tree he bit in to it, chewing slowly. He stood at the top of his cliff watching a boat sail many miles beneath him. Fascinated with the mysteries of life, he began fantasizing lives for these unknowns. The red boat is filled with beautiful women wearing skimpy bikinis, lathering sunscreen on each other’s skin. He grinned imagining them.
He spotted a large white yacht knowing it would most definitely have scantily clad women and more sunscreen to be…
He abruptly cut off his train of thought, shook his head and laughed at himself. He needed woman. He turned back to his garden, grabbing his sack of vegetables to be sold at the market and headed for town.

Jayden went for a jog. He was on his way to the library once more to peruse the internet for floor plans in hopes to find a suitable home. He cut through the park as he customarily did, only to plow in to a woman. His mind so occupied he hadn’t noticed her. He knocked her back a bit, instinctively he reached out for her, grabbing her, pulling her to him, both of their eyes wide with surprise. “Sorry about that. I don’t know where my head is… are you okay?”
A bit winded she put her hand on his chest to steady herself. The heat from his body radiated underneath her fingertips. “I… I’m… okay?” She looked up at him questioningly and he chuckled. Steadying her on her feet he stepped back and extended his hand.
“I’m Alex.”
She smiles, taking the offered hand, “I’m Shannon. I am on my way to work. We’ll have to run in to each other again sometime.”
Jayden laughs easily waving over his shoulder at her. “Have fun at work!”

He slowed his pace. ‘Feast or famine,’ he thought as he took in her looks with a brief appreciative glance.
She caught the look and raised an eyebrow. His easy grin slipping easily in place, starting his introductions once more, “Hi, I-”
“Save it. I’m sure some giggly girl will be along shortly that will care who you are.”
He laughed openly, shaking his head. Jayden had been put in his place. She was a feisty one. “Fair enough. In the meantime, you’re here and a girl is not.” Once more her eyebrow shoots up, this time accompanied by an amused grin. “Name’s Alex, I’ll see you around.” With a quick wink, he moved to go around her, their arms brushing against each other. No point in conversing with someone who has no interest in speaking with you.
She spoke to his retreating back, “Be at the park tonight… 9… don’t be late.” He stopped short, did he hear right? He turned to ask her but she was gone. He looked around finding she was no where in sight and scratched his head confused.
His pace slowed considerably, his mind swimming with the possibilities. This could be a set up, this could be the start of a great friendship, this could be the night he gets some. He stopped and grinned. One way to find out.

He didn’t want to appear anxious or desperate yet he wasn’t keen on being late either. He found himself in a bit of a dilemma. He spotted her easy enough. She was strolling through the park glancing occasionally at the starry night sky. He walked up behind her glancing at the sky as well. “It’s a beautiful night.”
She didn’t skip a step, didn’t flinch in fear, kept strolling easily, confident, assured, “It is. I love the park at night. No crowds, plenty of fresh air, and the view of the sky is breathless.”
They continued walking together in a comfortable silence. She finally broke the silence. “You’re either too trusting, desperate, or foolish.”
He shrugged, “None of the above.”

She stopped and turned towards him. He had her full attention now. “Oh?” She smiled and leaned in, inhaling. “You showered. A sure sign of desperation.”
He threw his head back and laughed, “I showered as a sure sign of perspiration. If you recall, I had been out jogging.”
She stepped closer to him, he could feel her breath on his neck. They touched with out touching, their bodies inches apart, he swallowed hard. Making no move towards her following her lead, she lifts her face to him, her lips parted. His eyes searching hers for any sign of what she wanted from him.

He leans forward, their cheeks inches apart, his breath tickling her ear, “Curious.”
Her breath caught in a small gasp, “I see.” She softly placed a hand on his shoulder, running her lips lightly across his jaw, lifting her face towards him once more.
His hands found her slender waist, guiding her closer to him, she didn’t resist, she lifted herself up on tippy toes softly pressing her lips to his in a gentle kiss. He looked at her with a small smirk and leaned in once more for another kiss, this one grew hungrier with their passion.

She pressed her body to his, feeling how much he wanted her. She moaned, matching his hunger with her own, their tongues dancing together. At long last she pulls back breathlessly and smiles, “RiiIIiiing.”
He leaned in for one more kiss before suggesting a more private location, when he was abruptly and rudely interrupted by his cell phone. He groped under his pillow for his cell phone. He pulled himself up in to a sitting position, ran his hand through his hair and looked around his empty lot sighing to himself.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Arriving... Page 2

He made it at last. He stared in amazement at the lot. There was no way this could be the right address, he had to be wrong. The view was breathtaking. He pulled the slip of paper out of his pocket once more and noted the address on the side of the mailbox, 15 Summer Hill Court. He let out a low whistle as he took in the view once more. He walked to the edge of the plot of land, his plot of land and looked over the cliff at the ocean below.
Dropping his bag under a nearby tree, he sat leaning against it for a few hours simply taking in the sight.
He winced and looked around. He stunk. He needed a shower desperately. His new ‘home’ was an empty lot. Not a stick of furniture, not even four walls and a roof. Glancing behind him at the massive empty lot he grinned. It may be empty, he thought, but it’s his.

He grabbed up his bag and headed back to town. A shower would be very good right now. His stomach rumbled… or more accurately his bowels. A toilet would be good, too. Like a fish to water, he found himself in front of the gym. He chuckled. Figures out of everything in town, he would end up here instinctively. His stomach gurgled again. Without hesitation he high tailed it inside in search of the men’s locker room.

Jayden stopped in his tracks. She took his breath away and she knew it from the taunting look she cast at him. He let out a low whistle of appreciation and grinned at her. Batting her eyes she walked towards the women’s locker room. Giving him a courtesy glance over the shoulder as he watched her walk, she paused, slowing her pace, a typical move by a woman that wants to be approached. Noting he made no move towards her, she tossed her hair with a huff and went through the door.
Chuckling he went to the men’s locker room. He was in no hurry to find a woman. After losing Constance, his heart wasn’t ready for another round with heartache. Besides, what did he have to offer a woman at this time? A big empty lot, an empty bank account, a fake name and no job… Jayden was definitely a catch for some lucky lady.

Jayden stood in the shower letting the hot water roll over his aching body. Running his fingers through his hair he could feel the stress of the past few days slip away. As he bathed he made mental notes of what he needed to accomplish in the near future. There were so many things he needed to do. He felt overwhelmed.
First things first… he needed money. He couldn’t simply live off of free park food handouts, apples and eventually the owner of the gym will notice he’s taking his showers here every day.

Jayden had stopped by the library on his way home. Home, the sound of it still sounded absurd to him given there wasn’t an actual building on the lot. He perused it carefully noting the ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’s about gardening.
While walking around his lot he noticed a small neglected garden. He figured he could nurture this garden and perhaps grow his own food. He hadn’t thought to be a vegetarian, but if he was going to survive this, he wasn’t going to be too picky. He glanced across the street noting the pond and made another mental note to find himself a pole and tackle. Maybe he could take up fishing… of course there is the issue of a way to actually cook the fish. Sighing he put the book in his bag, went under the trees threw the strap over a branch hoisting it up and settled in to take a nap.

Tomorrow was another day… maybe he’ll get lucky and find an odd job somewhere. Oh ya, his luck was changing for the better… he could feel it.

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Arriving in Sunnyvale

Jayden kept his head down and slunk low in the back of the cab. The sun was just coming up when they passed the wreck.

He let out a low whistle which got the old cabbie’s attention. Glancing out the window he agreed, “Ayup. Some guy was killed in that accident. A real shame too. He was said to be a promising up and coming athlete. Woulda been nice to have a Riverview boy make it to the big time.”
Jayden stared out the window at the car as they passed it. So they made good on their word. Jayden Wilson is dead. He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the window.

Exhausted Jayden leans his head back and closes his eyes. It was a long flight from Riverview. Feeling the taxi slow as it approached town, he sat up to take a better look at his new surroundings. The taxi pulled up to the park. Jayden flashes her with a grin and hands the driver some simoleans. “Thanks.”
He waved her off as she tried to give him his change. Her eyes light up at the generous tip, “Welcome to Sunnyvale!”
Now to find his contact and start the rest of his life. He stretched upon exiting the taxi, grabbed his small duffel slinging it over his shoulder, glancing both ways before trotting across the street to enter the park.

He strolled around the park, taking in the sights. He stopped near the small lake noting the clarity of the water, the fish swimming lazily and the sudden rumbling of his empty stomach. Rubbing his stomach idly he walked on spotting apple trees in the park. Plucking a few beautifully ripe red apples he threw some in his bag and bit in to one, enjoying the juice as it coated his parched throat.
The sun was slowly setting and still no sign of a contact.

He was standing looking around aimlessly as a figure approached. Startled out of his thoughts, he grins at the woman. “Hi. I’m… uh… Alex.”
The woman giggles self consciously, looking around him a bit, “Hi, I’m Judy?” He tilts his head looking at her, wondering why when she introduced herself it sounded more like a question than a response. She pointed behind him, “I’m sorry, you’re standing in front of the trashcan. Mind if I get past you?”
At this Jayden simply had to laugh. He hadn’t realized where he stood. “Of course! Sorry about that.” Stepping aside out of Judy’s way, he grinned at her sheepishly.
Judy threw her trash in to the receptacle and addressed Jayden once more with the same hesitation as before. “Are… are you new around here?” Her eyes widen as a deep blush rose to her cheeks, quickly she rambled on. “I mean, I haven’t seen you around town before and I realize I don’t know everyone but I do know a lot of people and I thought you looked more like you’re lost and if you are, maybe I know where you need to go and…”
Jayden held up a hand and chuckled. His ease and charm made her relax visibly, “I give! One question at a time, yes I am new to town. I just arrived and I’m waiting for someone.”
Judy’s blush deepened, lowering her eyes, she bit her lip. Jayden couldn’t help but grin at her reaction. He assumed she doesn’t get a lot of attention from ‘strange’ men. A large man both in height and stature approached the two. Jayden’s grin widened noting the stormy look in his eyes. This would be the husband of course. He extended his hand to the gentleman immediately and without hesitation, smoothly diffusing the situation. “Hello. I’m Alex. Judy here was kind enough to welcome a new comer as myself to the neighborhood.”
Judy’s blush deepened, Beau stopped short of blowing a gasket and looked at Alex’s hand. Shaking the offered hand, he mumbled a name and a half hearted greeting followed by an excuse to take his wife and leave.

Jayden breathed easier as soon as they were out of ear shot. “Smooth.” Jumping as his contact finally approached. “Relax, you’re in good hands.”
Jayden could not help but chuckle, “You look like a clichĂ©.”
Simply rolling her eyes, she hands him a slip of paper. “As if I haven’t heard that one before. Here, this is the address to your land. It’s up to you now. Your life is in your hands. Do with it what you will, be a success, be a hermit, be the talk of the town.” She nods at the retreating backs of Judy and Beau, “be a Casanova. It’s your choice.”
Jayden stared at the slip of folded paper and tucked it in to his front pocket. “Thanks. So that’s it?”
“Yes, that’s it. Good luck.”
He shook his head slowly, “I’m only good at one thing. I’ve always been an athlete.”
She touched his arm briefly to get his attention, “Alex. No more basketball. They’ll find you. If you want to be an athlete fine… only you’ll have to pick a new sport.”
He blinked a few times, no more basketball? No more? It’s all he knew from the time he was big enough to hold a ball. Well there was that time in college when they tried to talk him in to soccer. “Do they have a soccer team?”
“You bet. You’ll do fine.” She pulled a small pad from her inside pocket, wrote something on it, tore the slip from the pad and handed it to him. “That is the address to the stadium and the name of the coach.” She looked around a bit nervously, “I have to go. I’ve been exposed for too long. Hang out at the park for a while, it would do you good to meet some of your neighbors.”
He looked at the new slip of paper in his hand and closed his fist around it. He had a shimmer of hope for the first time in weeks. When he looked up to thank her, she was gone.

His stomach rumbled. He sniffed the air. He could smell the meaty goodness everywhere. He wandered around the park. Nodding at some until a random woman handed him a plate. He raised an eyebrow and she laughed, “It’s good, I made it myself. Go on.”
“Thanks.” Setting his bag down, he dug in to his food, savoring each bite. Tri-tip. It was excellent. It wasn’t until he finished his meal that he raised his head, noting the park was emptying. He glanced at his watch noting the ‘late’ hour and looked around once more in amazement. Apparently this small town rolled up the carpet before midnight. He took his plate and tossed it in the trash, grabbing his bag holding his few meager possessions he headed for the road to look for this new plot of land of his.

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The day started... Page 3

The days following were like a whirlwind. Testifying against Angel Lobos, his coach, his mentor, his friend. He felt as if he betrayed the one man he knew the best, to find he didn’t know him at all. Angel Lobos, mob muscle. Who knew? Remaining under protection was the worse part. No gym, no swimming, no going to his usual haunts.

Hannah gave him his new identity, she gave him a bit of money and a new location. “That’s it? I give up my life, my safety… for this?”
“Come along Jayden, we aren’t through with you yet.”
He sighed loudly and followed along.

He looked in the mirror. “You are no longer Jayden Wilson, power forward to the Riverview Wormrats.”
He looked at Hannah apprehensively, “So who am I?”

Hannah handed him the papers, “You are Alex. Alex Armstrong, you now live in Sunnyvale. You will be given some land and funds. Your country thanks you for your assistance. Good luck.”

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The day started... Page 2

The game was a disaster. Don shined while he looked like such an amateur. Karma is a bitch and he had it coming. He never should have treated Constance that way. Sure he needed her but maybe she needed him to understand. Maybe he over reacted. Maybe. He had to find her. He simply needed to find out why. Don was offered the job in the pros. Jayden was beside himself with guilt and regret.

Constance wasn’t at the gym. Why would she be? It was late. His stomach cramped. He still hadn’t eaten. Nausea kicked in. He gripped his middle wincing. He growled to no one in particular, “Okay. I get it. I was an ass. Can I get some slack? Just a little? Huh?!”
Jayden left the gym and went to Constance’s home, to her favorite spots, any where he could imagine she may be at this late hour. She was no where to be found. He refused to go home. He couldn’t rest until he found her and begged her for forgiveness.

He camped camping on her front porch. Morning broke and he still hadn’t found her. He made the rounds once more of her favorite places. Where could she be? He felt desperate. Panic welled in his chest.

Jayden’s luck was changing. He finally caught up to Constance at her parent’s home. She was tending their garden when he walked up. “Constance!”
Constance didn’t bother looking up at him, “Yes, Jayden.”
Jayden ran up to her, relief flooding him at finding her safe fighting the urge to grab her and shake her for worrying him. “I’m sorry. I should have let you tell me why you weren’t coming to the game. I should have listened. I was a jerk. I… I’m sorry.”
Constance stood, wiping her soiled hands on her pants and looked at him. Was that sadness in her eyes? He wasn’t sure. Karma. She’s a cruel, cold hearted bitch. He reached out for her, she shrunk back from him shaking her head, “I’ve met someone. It’s over.”

Jayden was thrown. His anger barely maintained, “You met someone… who? Who!”
Her eyes narrowed and she turned her back on him, “Angel. Angel Lobos.”
He shook his head slowly, “Coach?”
Constance looked back to him once more, urgency in her words and actions. “Run Jayden. They will be looking for you. Nadine’s death wasn’t an accident. They’re looking for you.”
Jayden was taken aback. Not an accident, Angel, Nadine, Constance. What was she saying? Sirens could be heard in the distance. His eyes widened. “Con…”
Tears in her eyes she shook her head and pushed him away, “Run, Jayden. Be safe. Run!”

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Monday, June 22, 2009

The day started as any other day.

His routine dictated his day. Go to the gym by 10 am for a light work out, a quick swim, a shower, grab an apple and off to work by 3 pm. He glanced at his watch, and picked up the pace. He was off by three minutes, if he didn’t get there on time, Don would get to the machine before he did. It wasn’t as if there weren’t other machines, that one was simply his favorite and Lothario knew it. Some may think him superstitious, and that suited Jayden just fine. What athlete out there today doesn’t have a routine, a set way of doing things, a pattern of game day good luck?

He liked this particular gym. They knew him there, it was clean and it’s where he met Constance. Thinking of her always managed to put a smile on his face. He was taking it slow with this one. She’s a keeper. One of those nice girls you take home to meet your Mom. She was good for his professional image. She is the epitome of a devoted girlfriend sitting in the stands cheering on the power forward as he dribbles down the field.
Jayden got to the gym, stopped at his locker and froze. Staring at the lock on his favorite locker he shivered. “Bad omen.” Slowly opening the locker to the right, he sets his bag inside, changes, closes it putting his lock on the door and backs away.

Glancing at his watch, he takes the stairs two at a time. He’s faced with the site of the inevitable. Don Lothario is on his favorite machine. He shakes his head wondering what else can go wrong today. Heading in to the side classroom to stretch he passes another teammate, of sorts. Gloria plays for the women’s team. Both teams share the stadium. He’s slightly taken aback by her expression. Not sure what her husband just said to cause such a response in her, he steers clear and starts his yoga stretching.

Jayden tried desperately to get his mind back on track. Tonight was a big night for him, for the team. A couple of scouts were attending and he had to be on his game. It was his chance for the big time… his or Don’s.
He had been so wrapped up in his thoughts he didn’t hear the door open. His ready smile instantly in place and lost just as quickly. Gloria was on the verge of crying. He opened his arms and she went to him. He wrapped his arms around her and let her sob. Her tears were hot on his bare skin, her face buried in his strong chest, long dark tresses hiding her face, her strong petite hands splayed across his back clinging to him.
Jayden did his best to console her as he often has, “Glo, when are you going to leave him? You deserve so much more. You deserve a man that will treasure you and treat you like the wonderful woman you are.”
Gloria scoffed through her tears, never moving from his embrace, “Someone like you? You’re already taken, remember?”
Her words were muffled by his chest, yet he heard them clearly enough. Jayden held her to him, comforting her, his right hand had been rubbing her back to console her stopped and his body stiffened defensively. “Glo…”
Gloria kissed his chiseled chest, her hands ran smoothly over his skin, her voice soft, barely audible over the music playing around them. “Its okay, Jay, I’ll be fine.”
Jayden’s eyes pleaded with her to stay as she backed away shaking her head. “I’m fine.” She plastered a fake smile on her face, one that clearly did not reach her eyes, she turned, ran out of the room crying fresh tears and out of sight. Jayden felt like a heel and sighed. His mind shot, his stress level rising, he gave up and went to the locker room to change in to his trunks. Maybe a few laps around the pool will clear his head.
Slipping in to the cool water of the pool, he relaxed for the first time that day. He grinned at the girls playing and the woman who was watching over them before starting his laps. Some time between the entering the water, swimming twenty-five laps and hearing the little girl’s horrified scream, tragedy struck Riverview.

Jayden was exiting the pool when he heard her scream, he turned to look at what would frighten the little girl and saw the woman fighting the water for dear life.

Without thinking he dove back in to the water and dragged her out. He laid her on her side, thwapped her back firmly a few times in an attempt to dislodge the water. He looked up at the girl still crying and sent her to look for help. He slid the motionless body on her back and began CPR.
By the time help arrived it was too late. She had slipped away. Jayden stared at the woman as recognition struck him at last. “Nadine.”
The paramedic looked at him questioningly, “You know this woman?”
Jayden was shaken from his thoughts, answering questions as best he could without divulging too much personal insight.

He glanced around the room, standing pool side still dazed by the day’s event. Irene walked out of the women’s locker room. She had no idea she just lost her mother, his heart ached for the girl.

“Wilson, you’re going to be late.”
His look said volumes, Jayden simply nodded and walked away. Naturally, where there was Nadine, Angel wasn’t too far away. The pretense of their daughters being best friends, what better excuse did they need to spend together?
What a day. It had to get better. Wrong locker, wrong work out, possibly losing a dear friend, a death in the pool of his coach’s lover… what more could happen? He’s always been deemed as a lucky guy. How lucky was he that tragedy was all around him today.

“Jayden…” Constance hesitated to interrupt his carefully planned game day schedule but from the look on her face, it couldn’t wait.
Jayden flashed his patent grin at her, relieved to see a friendly familiar face. He hugged her tight, his voice lost in her hair, “Constance, I’m glad to see you.”
Her body was stiff and unresponsive, rather unlike her. He closed his eyes, inhaling her scent before letting her go. He looked at her, lost in her gaze noting her discomfort. He took a step back, distancing himself to what could only be more bad news. “You wanted to speak to me.” It wasn’t a question. It was written on her face.
Constance fidgeted awkwardly, “I wont be at the game, Jayden.”

He didn’t speak. He didn’t have to. The hurt and frustration was clearly written on his face. He shrugged noncommittally before walking away. “No problem, Constance. It’s only the most important game of my career. I’ll see you later.”
He didn’t turn back. He regretted the words as soon as they left his lips. Childish, selfish, hurtful words… they were out there now and there was no making amends. He didn’t care. He had a schedule to get back on, nothing was going right. Nothing. If his own girlfriend couldn’t be there for him then so be it.

He showered slowly, his schedule already shot. He was late for the game, they’d all be in the dressing room by now. He didn’t care. His life was thrown in to turmoil. He stood in the shower for too long, the water began to turn cold. Cursing his stupidity he quickly finished bathing.

On his way out of the guy he received strange looks. He was accustomed to people staring at him, only these stares were different. Almost accusing… Accusing him of what exactly he had no clue. He brushed it off for later. He had to get to the stadium. Fate was waiting for him. Scouts would be watching him. That should be his focus, not strangers. Not today.

The perks of being the star player, the attention, the fame, the fans, the limo… he could get used to this. He picked up the pace once more. His stomach grumbled. He forgot his apple.

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