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.