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"Football - A Novel"


Prologue
Introduction

By barbara.wilkey

I'm beginning a new novel and am a little worried about this one. I wrote this novel while at home during the COVID lockdown. It's finished, but as with my many of my novels, my characters took it to places, I had no intentions of going. They've even changed the ending. It's different from any I've written.

It's still a romance, but doesn't have a huge back story. There is one, but it's not as prevalent as in my previous novels. This novel is about a Mother attempting to raise her children while holding down a full time job, with some normal and not so normal twists. It's also a little longer than my previous ones, by about 20,000 words.

Katherine Riley is a widow with four sons to raise by herself. Their ages range from 15 to 6 years old. Of course, being one of my novels there is at least one dog, a yellow Labrador, Daisy. I can promise an additional dog, but I'm not ready to reveal him. I had originally written in a cat, but the cat said too many dogs and wrote itself out.

George Riley, Katherine's deceased husband, died of a heart attack. He was a few years older than her but they went to same high school. Her attraction to him was that he wasn't a jock. They married as soon as she graduated from high school. He was still in college. After college he became a CEO of a large corporation. Business kept him occupied with travel and he was rarely home. Making money was the priority, not the family. Needless to say, Katherine doesn't need to worry about finances, but they do become an issue.

Katherine, now widowed for six months, moved her family from their penthouse in New York City to the small Texas town where she grew-up. Her mother is still alive and lives in that town. She is an important part of Katherine's life.

After Katherine had three children, she went back to school and received an education degree, very much against her husband's wishes. She now has her first job, a high school math teacher.

As with many of my heroines, Katherine is a quiet and soft spoken lady. She finds herself in some interesting situations and struggles coping, especially while trying to protect her children, but she finds her strength when she needs it in the least expected circumstances.

I hope you come along with me while we discover more about Katherine. I don't want to tell too much about the story because there will be no reason to read it. As usual I don't have a decent title for it. I just call it "The Football Novel", but am looking at titles that reveal something about 'life's struggles'. I know the present title has nothing to do with what I've told you so far. Already one mystery. Another mystery is who is the hero of this story?

I'll need plenty of feedback on what works and what doesn't work with this novel. Like I said at the beginning, I have concerns about it. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it.

Author Notes I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm not positive all of this very long novel works.


Chapter 1
Football Chapter 1 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

Chapter 1 part 1 day 1

Dressed for an early morning run, Katherine Riley opened the front door, stretched, and inhaled. What a gorgeous day. It's peaceful. So different from hectic city life.

A cold front had entered during the night and the temperature had dropped to seventy-four degrees. Her yellow Labrador, Daisy waited by her side as she continued stretching.

Minutes later, Katherine and her four legged companion jogged following the sidewalk through the neighborhood. "We'll get this over before the sun heats things up. We're going to struggle getting used to the Texas heat. I never liked it growing up. I doubt I'll like it any better now."

Daisy glanced at her master and wagged her tail.

"I know you won't either. You're too 'cushion and cream'. You enjoy a good air conditioner in the summer and heater in the winter." She petted the dog's head. "It's okay. I doubt we'll need much of a heater this winter. I never understood why homes here have fire places. It's never cold enough to use them."

They followed the sidewalk for three blocks. This seems like a nice neighborhood. It was a good decision to move back home. The boys need their grandma. As she ages, she'll need us. George's parents are also in town, but they never paid any attention to the boys. When they're not traveling the world, maybe they'll drop by. I doubt it. Oh well, it's their loss.

At a grove of crepe myrtle bushes, the sidewalk turned a sharp right. Katherine paused and inhaled. "Boy, they smell good." She screamed and dropped Daisy's leash.

Before her sat a monster of a dog, staring. Katherine froze as did Daisy. Finally, she swallowed and glanced down for her dog's leash. It was under his gigantic paw. Now what? If I move, he might attack. How long before he gets bored and leaves? She continued to stare at the leash, not making eye contact with the massive dog. How long before somebody comes to our rescue?

A few moments later, she heard footsteps. Maybe help's on the way.

"Reggie, there you are," said a male's voice.

Katherine found her voice, "He's yours?"

"He is. He likes admiring pretty ladies."

"I thought there was a leash law in town. I don't see a leash, except for mine and your dog's using it to hold us captive."

The man bent over, lifted his dog's paw, and handed it to her. "I'm sorry Reggie scared you. He's an over-sized marshmallow. Everybody knows him." He glanced down the sidewalk behind him. "Mrs. Jones' Frisky escaped on her again. I stopped to catch him. I guess Reggie got impatient and chose not to wait. Again, I'm sorry."

Accepting the leash, Katherine turned and started home, she said over her shoulder, "Thank you."

*****
He petted the large dog. "Buddy, I don't think you made a friend today." They continued on their jog. She must be new in town. She didn't seem to know who we are. I guess she's not a football fan. Silver Cove isn't that large. We'll meet again. Maybe we'll have another chance to make friends. He grinned at the dog. "Just don't scare her the next time. Not everybody understands how gentle you are. She judged you by your size."

*****
Later that morning, Kathrine and her six year old son, Jeremy climbed into the SUV on their way to the grocery store.

From the backseat Jeremy asked, "Why do I have to go? I could've stayed home."

Katherine watched her son through the rearview mirror. "Because I thought maybe I'd need your help. What if I chose the wrong cereal?" She smiled to herself. The real reason; after your older brothers spent twenty-six-and-a-half-hours in the car with you, they're ready to mail you to the Salvation Army. They needed a break.

"Mom, can I get whatever I want?"

"We need to be cautious because our household goods won't be here for another six days. I don't have a lot of pans. Remember?"

"I remember. My toys haven't made it yet, or my bed. This moving sucks. And I don't have any friends."

"Don't use words like that. We voted as a family to move closer to Grandma. Remember?"

"I remember, but you didn't tell me I wouldn't have friends."

"School starts in ten days. You'll make many new friends."

"I hope so. Are we at the store, yet? Can we stop on the way home? A 'Happy Meal' would taste really good."

Katherine pulled into a parking slot. "I'm sure we can find something healthier than that for lunch."

Jeremy jumped from the car. "Mac and cheese and chicken nuggets are good."

She rushed to catch her son. "We're in a parking lot. Did you forget you need to be careful?"

Inside the grocery store, Katherine started pushing a cart toward the produce section. Jeremy walked alongside her as she chose different fresh fruits. "I'd forgotten how fresh the produce was in Texas."

"Mom, strange things impress you. Can we skip the veggies?"

"No, we can't."

As Katherine reached for a bunch of carrots, she heard a crash and turned her head. "Jeremy, what did you do?" She rushed to him.

A gentleman carrying a fifty pound bag of dog food over his left shoulder pushed the cart aside. He grinned. "Does he belong to you?"

Him again. Is he everywhere? Katherine sighed. "He does. I'm sorry. Jeremy, what happened?"

"I..ah..sort..of..accidently..pushed..ah..the..cart..into..him."

After releasing breath, Katherine asked, "Were you racing the cart?"

Jeremy avoided eye contact. "Not, really, but it..ah..sort of took off by itself."

"Jeremy, look at me." Her eyes met his. "Apologize to this gentleman."

"I'm sorry, Sir. I didn't mean for the cart to crash into you. Why are you carrying so much dog food?"

Her eyes widened. "Jeremy?" She paused. "I'm sorry."

"Not a problem, Ma'am." He glanced at the child. "Because I have a huge dog that eats a lot." He grinned. "Your mom met Reggie this morning. Maybe you'll meet him someday."


"We need to let this gentleman continue his shopping. Again sorry, Sir. Come on, Jeremy." Katherine took her son's hand as she pushed the cart.

"Mom, I want to see this dog."

"That dog's twice your size."

Katherine sighed when she heard a chuckle and the comment, "Yep, Reggie scared her."




CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

gentleman: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a mastiff. This post is a little over 1000 words. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. I don't want to reveal too much until it's time.


Chapter 2
Football Chapter 1 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:


"Jeremy, look at me." Her eyes met his. "Apologize to this gentleman."

"I'm sorry, Sir. I didn't mean for the cart to crash into you. Why are you carrying so much dog food?"

Her eyes widened. "Jeremy?" She paused. "I'm sorry."

"Not a problem, Ma'am." He glanced at the child. "Because I have a huge dog that eats a lot." He grinned. "Your mom met Reggie this morning. Maybe you'll meet him someday."

"We need to let this gentleman continue his shopping. Again sorry, Sir. Come on, Jeremy." Katherine took her son's hand as she pushed the cart.

"Mom, I want to see this dog."

"That dog's twice your size."

Katherine sighed when she heard a chuckle and the comment, "Yep, Reggie scared her."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 1 part 2 day 3

Monday, after her early morning run, Katherine rushed her three youngest sons to her mother's house. On the way to Jordan's, her oldest son, six o'clock football practice, she pulled into the local coffee shop's parking lot.

As his mom parked, Jordan grumbled, "Mom, come on! I'm going to be late for practice. Can't this wait?"

She glanced at the car's clock. "We have time. It'll only take a few minutes. I promise. You wait here." She hurried inside.

Two customers were ahead of her. She studied the menu posted on the wall. The line moved up, and Katherine stepped to the left to see the rest of the menu. As she did, a gentleman bumped into her, spilling his X-large steaming black coffee on her blouse.

"Ugh, Ouch! Hot!" Katherine held her blouse away from her body.

The man grabbed napkins and began wiping it. "I'm so sorry."

"Don't touch me. I'm fine." Their eyes met. "You again? Are you stalking me?"

"Ma'am, I was here first, so I'd say I'm not stalking you." He turned. "Nancy, could you put some ice in a baggy. She needs to cool the burn." He accepted the ice bag. "And two large coffees, one with cream and sugar on the side." He handed the ice to Katherine. "You'll need this."

Katherine accepted it. "You've done quite enough, Sir." She headed out the door.

Catching up, he handed her a coffee. "I didn't know if you like cream and sugar. There's some in the bag."

She grabbed the coffee and then opened the SUV door. "Thank you."

Jordan studied the situation. "Mom, what happened?"

"Scalding coffee was dumped on me. I need to go home to change."

She started to shut the door, but it was held open. "Ma'am, is there anything I can do?"

"Mom, I'll be late for practice. When we signed up, they stated it started at exactly six o'clock. I can't be late for my first practice. How will it look? Football coaches aren't known for their patience."

"Tell the coach your mom had an emergency."

"They won't accept excuses, especially this one. Drop me off and then change."

"Ma'am, I'll take your son to practice. I'm going that way."

Katherine glared at him. "I don't know you. You could be a serial killer. I'm certainly not going to allow you access to my child. No."

He moved his leg to keep the door open and reached for his billfold. "Here. Keep my driver's license, and I'll give you my pick-up registration. In twenty minutes call the school and verify your son's at practice." He took a packet from his glove-box and wrote down a phone number. "This should help ease your fears. My intentions are just to help. Honest."

"Mom, please. I'm going to be late."

After a long pause and a sigh, Katherine said, "Okay, but I'm going to call."

"I'm sure you will." He held out his hand for Jordan to shake as he walked around the SUV.

"I'm Jordan Riley. I see you've already met Mom."

"Sure have on three very interesting occasions." He chuckled. "Let's get to practice."

After they left, Katherine sat for a few seconds. I can't believe I just allowed Jordan to drive away with a complete stranger. She glanced at her watch. "At six-eleven, I'll call this number." She set the alarm on her phone.

As she pulled into her driveway, her alarm sounded. She grabbed the phone and punched in the number.

After two rings she heard a female voice, "Hello, Welcome to the Bears' Cave. Juliet Harper, the athletic trainer, speaking. How can I help?"

"Hello, this is Katherine Riley. We had a difficult morning, and I'm checking to make sure my son, Jordan Riley made it to football practice. Could you tell me if he arrived?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I was told to expect your call. Riley, your mom's on the phone."

The next voice Katherine heard was her son's, "Mom, I knew you'd call, but I wish you didn't. I'll be teased for being the new kid and now a mommy's boy. Great start to a new school. I got to go."



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

gentleman: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a football. This novel is not actually about football, but there is mention of High School football. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I can promise you my rear-end graced many bleachers on Friday nights. This post is a little over 700 words. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. I don't want to reveal too much until it's time.


Chapter 3
Football Chapter 2 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

After they left, Katherine sat for a few seconds. I can't believe I just allowed Jordan to drive away with a complete stranger. She glanced at her watch. "At six-eleven, I'll call this number." She set the alarm on her phone.

As she pulled into her driveway, her alarm sounded. She grabbed the phone and punched in the number.

After two rings she heard a female voice, "Hello, Welcome to the Bears' Cave. Juliet Harper, the athletic trainer, speaking. How can I help?"

"Hello, this is Katherine Riley. We had a difficult morning, and I'm checking to make sure my son, Jordan Riley made it to football practice. Could you tell me if he arrived?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I was told to expect your call. Riley, your mom's on the phone."

The next voice Katherine heard was her son's, "Mom, I knew you'd call, but I wish you didn't. I'll be teased for being the new kid and now a mommy's boy. Great start to a new school. I got to go."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 2 part 1

Katherine accepted the offered classroom keys. "Thank you, Mr. Edwards. I go straight down the hall and then turn right. My room number is 103. Correct?"

"Yes, Ma'am. That's our math hallway. All seven teachers surrounding you teach math. If you have any questions, please come see me or any of them. Please know my door's always open." Paul Edwards opened the office door leading to the hallway.

As Katherine walked through, a person slammed into her and caused her to fall back into her principal's arms. He kept her from landing on the floor.

"Great catch," sounded a male voice from down the hallway.

"Mom!" Jordan leaned over and helped her stand. "Are you okay?"

Katherine straightened herself, took a deep breath, and then studied the football her son held. "I'm fine, but this is exactly the reason for rules about playing ball inside. I think school hallways count as inside."

Jogging toward them, the man said, "I'm sorry. This is my fault."

Her eyes glared into his. "I should've known you'd be involved somehow."

Mr. Edwards grinned. "I see you two have met."

With an offered hand, he said, "Not officially. I'm Coach Gabriel Hudson. I'm glad to meet you."

The principal tried to hide his smile. "Gabe, I'd like to introduce Katherine Riley. She's new to our staff and will be teaching math."

Katherine accepted the offered hand but avoided eye contact. "Nice to meet you." She glanced at her son. "Your ride this morning was with the coach." She searched through her purse and then handed her son the SUV keys. "His vehicle registration and driver's license are in the glove-box. Please get them. I'll meet you in room 103." She hesitated. "Jordan will return your documents." She left.

Paul slapped Gabriel's back. "I can't wait to hear this story. You've made a really bad impression on Mrs. Riley. What happened?"

Gabriel relayed everything that had happened from Reggie scaring her Saturday morning to dumping coffee on her this morning. As he stared down the hallway, he asked, "What's her story?"

Mr. Edwards pointed to his office. "Come in and have a seat. It's long, and you knew or know most the people involved."

Paul poured two cups of coffee and passed one to Gabriel before he sat. "I graduated a year ahead of you. He's probably a year or two behind you. Do you remember George Riley?"

He shook his head. "Should I?"

The principal turned around in his chair and grabbed a year book. He searched until he found the page. "This guy."

"Oh yeah, he was a math geek and captain of the chess club. A real nerd."

"Well. That math geek/nerd graduated with honors and went to Harvard Business School with all-expenses paid. He became a CEO of a huge stock broker firm on Wall Street."

"It pays to be smart."

"Sure does, but it can have its downside. He died six months, ago."

"What does that have to do with Mrs. Riley?" Gabriel took a sip of coffee.

"He was her husband. He left her with four boys. Jordan's the oldest." Paul grinned. "I guess you met Jeremy, the youngest, in the grocery store."

"A typical little guy, full of energy and mischievousness." Gabriel took a long drink of coffee. "I'd think him being a CEO, she wouldn't have to work. I'm sure he left her with plenty of money."

"He did. Let me tell the story." After they both chuckled, Paul continued, "Since George had a prepaid ticket to Harvard, Katherine and he got married the week after she graduated. Literally nine months later, Jordan was born."

"So he was still in school? How'd she get an education?"

"The first three kids, all boys, came one right after another." He paused. "George was never home, so she and the boys were always alone. He traveled literally all over the world."

"She was a trophy wife to be kept on the shelf until needed." After Paul nodded, Gabriel added, "Her life had to be pretty boring, especially since her husband was a world traveler."

"After Joel, her third son was born; Katherine decided to get an education. George knew nothing about it until after Jeremy was born. Three weeks after he was born, she graduated. George was not happy. This is her first teaching experience."

"How do you know all of this?"

"I'm a close friend with her mom. Matter-of-fact, you know her mom and knew her dad." Gabriel's eyes widened, as Paul continued, "Her mom's sweet Ms. Sarah, our favorite volunteer and baker. You knew her dad, Coach Beck."

"Wow, talk about a small world. I remember a young girl following coach around. So that's Ms. Riley. Didn't she run cross country?"

"She did. Still holds a state record. She played softball too."

"That explains her good running form."

"No, you and Reggie scared her. She was running for her life."

"That's true."

They laughed.

After Jordan handed Coach his license and registration and left, Gabriel asked, "Think she can handle discipline?"

"That we'll have to wait and see. I'm wondering if we can talk her into restarting a girls' cross country team. We haven't had one for three years."

"That's a good idea. You'd better ask. She hates me."

"I'm sure with time you can win her over, you usually do."



We have a four day weekend, so my husband and I are traveling to Victoria, Texas and visit with our youngest son. He got his first job there in August and moved. He's on his own and still learning the area. I'm sure before long he won't want his parents around. LOL Anyway, the reason I'm sharing this is I might not post until Monday.


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a high school. This novel is not actually about football, but there is mention of High School football. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I can promise you my rear-end graced many bleachers on Friday nights. This post is a little over 900 words. I don't want to reveal too much until it's time.


Chapter 4
Football Chapter 2 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

"Wow, talk about a small world. I remember a young girl following coach around. So that's Ms. Riley. Didn't she run cross country?"

"She did. Still holds a state record. She played softball too."

"That explains her good running form."

"No, you and Reggie scared her. She was running for her life."

"That's true."

They laughed.

After Jordan handed Coach his license and registration and left, Gabriel asked, "Think she can handle discipline?"

"That we'll have to wait and see. I'm wondering if we can talk her into restarting a girls' cross country team. We haven't had one for three years."

"That's a good idea. You'd better ask. She hates me."

"I'm sure with time you can win her over, you usually do."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 2 part 2

Around one o'clock that afternoon, Gabriel knocked on room 103's classroom door. He waited until Katherine turned around. "Hello, it looks like you could use some help hanging whatever that is."

"Thank you, but Jordan and I have it. They're math formulas, by the way."

"Jordan has his end covered, but you're a little short on the other side." He leaned over her and took it. "Hand me that glue gun."

After he finished, Katherine asked, "Do you always push your way into situations?"

He grinned. "That's what I'm best at. Really I came by to see if you needed help." He glanced at a pile of formulas. "Jordan, why don't you and I take care of this for your mom?" He checked his watch. "The staff meeting starts in twenty-five minutes. We have time. Just show us where."

Katherine sighed. "I can do this."

"Never said you couldn't. Us Texas guys, always help..."

"Don't you dare say 'damsels in distress'," interrupted Katherine.

"Never would've considered it." He grinned and held up a poster-board math formula against the wall. "Is this a good place?"

As the last formula was hung, an announcement came over the speaker system. "All staff report to the cafeteria. The meeting will begin in five minutes."

Katherine turned toward her son. "Jordan?"

He looked around at the numerous boxes in the room. "Don't worry, Mom. I have plenty to keep me busy."

"But..."

Coach touched her arm. "Come on, I'll escort you to the cafeteria."

As they walked, Katherine released a deep breath and then faced Gabriel. "I've never been to a faculty meeting. Are there assigned seats?"

"Don't worry. They're harmless and most of the time useless. Usually the departments sit together, example math teachers sit with other math teachers."

"I don't know who the math teachers are."

"I'll introduce you to the department head. He should ask you some questions because later he'll introduce you to the rest of the staff."

"Okay."

"Paul, Mr. Edwards, will tell a few horrible jokes, welcome everybody, and then the introductions will begin. After that, he'll fill us in on any changes for the upcoming year."

"Sounds harmless."

"It is." After entering the cafeteria, he pointed to the far right rectangular table. "The math teachers. Come on, I'll introduce you." He grinned. "Then you're on your own."

As they walked toward the table, a tall slender man, wearing a button down shirt and a bow-tie stood. "Coach, what are you doing in the academic section?"

"I wanted to introduce you to Mrs. Katherine Riley, our new math teacher."

Katherine offered her hand. "It's nice to meet you."

Gabriel said, "Mrs. Riley, I'd like you to meet the math department head, Mr. Rodney Frost."

Rodney accepted Katherine hand. "Nice to meet you." He nodded toward the door. "We'd better get seated. Mr. Edwards just entered." They both sat.

Katherine watched Gabriel walk up to the principal say a few words, slap his back, laugh, and then he went to his designated area. I wonder what that's about. Is he somebody to be trusted or not?

Mr. Edwards stood at the podium. "For those of you who are new, I'm Paul Edwards, your principal. I'm not new."

Everybody laughed, and somebody called out. "You're right. You've been here since dinosaurs roamed the Earth."

He laughed and waved his arm toward the faculty. "You're right. Silver Cove High School staff, welcome to the beginning of a wonderful new school year. I can feel the enthusiasm. Sitting in this cafeteria, are the best high school teachers in the world. I'm excited for this school year to begin. Tomorrow our meeting will begin at 8:00 sharp. First, I'll go over changes and expectations for the upcoming year."

Turning, Katherine watched and smiled at the various shouted comments. Mr. Frost didn't say a word. He didn't even grin. I wonder why?

After a few unfunny jokes, which people commented loudly about how bad they were, Mr. Edwards grinned. "I see you still enjoyed my humor. We'll take a five minute break while department heads talk with new team members and then we'll have you introduce them to the rest of staff."

Katherine turned to Mr. Frost. Their eyes met, he glanced at her hands, and then he left.

I wonder what that's about. How will he introduce me? He only knows my name.

Almost fifteen minutes later, the principal stood at the podium. "Department heads, please join me." He waited for them to line up on stage and then motioned behind the line. "New staff members, please stand behind them. As your name's called, please step forward."

As the English Department began, Mr. Frost came on stage using the back stairs and took his place.

When Mr. Frost stepped to the podium, he turned and pointed behind him. "I'd like to introduce Mrs. Katherine Riley." Katherine stood beside him and smiled. He continued, "Even though she carries the title of Mrs. I'm sure you've noticed there's no golden band on her finger. Those interested staff members, a word of warning, our resident playboy, Coach Hudson, has already laid claim. You'll have to wait your turn. It's yet to be determined if she can teach math or handle discipline." He stepped away from the podium.

Katherine's face turned crimson. Why'd he do that? She went to the back of the stage.

After the last teacher was introduced, Mr. Edwards dismissed the staff and asked to speak with Mr. Frost.

Katherine stood off to the side, waiting for her opportunity to speak with her department head.

After their private discussion Mr. Edwards started to leave, but he turned toward Mr. Frost. "I'd advise you to stay out of Coach's way until he calms down. By the way, this incident will go in your file." He left.

Katherine stepped up. "Mr. Frost, I need to speak with you." He started to walk past her, but she moved in front of him. "After insulting me in front of the entire staff, you aren't going to dismiss me. I have no idea what you have against me."

She fingered her necklace. "My marital status is none of your business, but I'm not wearing a wedding ring because I'm widowed. I'm a mother of four young sons and work full time. I don't have time for any relationship and have no desire to start one."

Mr. Frost attempted to walk away.

Stepping in front of him again, Katherine continued, "Again, this is none of your business but I graduated from Cornell University with honors so, yes, I know my subject."

She inhaled a deep breath. "As for Coach Hudson, he was nice enough to show me where the cafeteria was. I've never been in this building before today. My suggestion: if you don't know what you're talking about keep your mouth shut."

As she walked away, the remaining staff members applauded her.

Under his breath Mr. Frost muttered, "If she graduated with honors, she slept her way through college."

Katherine turned and raised her hand to slap him.

Gabriel walked behind her and held her hand. "Don't do it. He deserves it, but he'll bring charges. As a new teacher, you don't need that. I promise it'll be handled."

"I don't need anyone fighting my battles."

Gabriel grinned. "I'm sure you don't, but this may be bigger than you." He left.

Katherine sighed. How could I possibly be involved in anything? I just arrived to town five days ago.




We had a wonderful time with our youngest son, Steven, and got back in time to post. I've still been thing about a title. How about 'Game of Love'?




CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Robert Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of question marks. This novel is not actually about football, but there is mention of High School football. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I can promise you my rear-end graced many bleachers on Friday nights. This post is a little over 1200 words. I hope it's not too long. I don't want to reveal too much until it's time.


Chapter 5
Football Chapter 3 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Katherine stepped up. "Mr. Frost, I need to speak with you." He started to walk past her, but she moved in front of him. "After insulting me in front of the entire staff, you aren't going to dismiss me. I have no idea what you have against me."

She fingered her necklace. "My marital status is none of your business, but I'm not wearing a wedding ring because I'm widowed. I'm a mother of four young sons and work full time. I don't have time for any relationship and have no desire to start one."

Mr. Frost attempted to walk away.

Stepping in front of him again, Katherine continued, "Again, this is none of your business but I graduated from Cornell University with honors so, yes, I know my subject."

She inhaled a deep breath. "As for Coach Hudson, he was nice enough to show me where the cafeteria was. I've never been in this building before today. My suggestion: if you don't know what you're talking about keep your mouth shut."

As she walked away, the remaining staff members applauded her.

Under his breath Mr. Frost muttered, "If she graduated with honors, she slept her way through college."

Katherine turned and raised her hand to slap him.

Gabriel walked up behind her and held her hand. "Don't do it. He deserves it, but he'll bring charges. As a new teacher, you don't need that. I promise it'll be handled."

"I don't need anyone fighting my battles."

Gabriel grinned. "I'm sure you don't, but this may be bigger than you." He left.

Katherine sighed. How could I possibly be involved in anything? I just arrived to town five days ago.


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 3 part 1

Katherine and Daisy left the house at four-thirty for an early morning run. "Great morning for a run." She petted the dog's head.

After about twenty-five minutes into the run, Gabriel and Reggie ran toward them. He tightened his hold on the large dog's leash and held it up. "I have my vicious dog under control."

Reggie looked at his master and wagged his tail.

As she ran in place, she pulled Daisy closer. "I'm glad."

"This is a pretty peaceful town, but you shouldn't run alone in the dark. It could be dangerous for a female."

"I have Daisy." As an alarm sounded, she checked her watch. "I'd better get back. I wouldn't want Jordan to be late for practice. I've heard the coach is a stickler about punctuality."

Gabriel chuckled. "You heard right. He's a real disciplinarian." He paused and then motioned the sidewalk she came from. "You live that way?"

She swallowed. "I do."

"I'm going that way. Is it okay if I join you? I'm worried about your safety."

"I guess."

As they headed toward her home, Gabriel asked, "Do you run every morning at this time?" When she didn't answer, he continued, "If you're worried about what Frost said, I'm not hitting on you. He's a jerk." He stopped. "To be honest I only care about a winning football team. If we win the division this year, it'll be my fifth in a row. I'm hoping for my first state title."

She began to walk. "Did you take over after Dad died?"

"Nope, they hired a coach, but he didn't make it the full year."

"What brought you here?"

He studied her. "You don't know me, do you?" After she shook her head, he grinned. "That's refreshing, but I'm surprised the daughter of a famous coach doesn't know football."

"I do know football. While growing up it consumed my family's life. I wanted to get as far from it as possible, but as you can tell I've lost the battle with my boys."

"I'm Gabriel Hudson, number 55. I played for the Texans from 2005 until 2016."

"So you were a defensive lineman. Why'd you leave?"

He slightly raised his below-knee-length shorts, revealing two large surgery scars.

She sighed. "A knee injury."

He nodded. "I was getting too old, anyway. Each year the body complained more and more."

"So you became a high school coach. Why here?"

"I grew up here. I played for your dad and then went to UT. I majored in, go figure, PE."

"A true jock. I'm glad you didn't tax your brain," she teased. She stood on the sidewalk in front of her house. "This is it. Thank you for the escort."

Gabriel pointed. "Not a problem. The high school's only three blocks straight and then two off to the right." He paused. "Are you stopping for coffee on your way to work?"

"I usually do. I'll take Jordan, get ready, and then get the boys ready for Grandma's."

"You have a busy morning."

"Not as busy as my mom. She'll bring them back this afternoon in time to get Joshua to practice at the middle school. Jordan can work in my room, until time for his second practice. I just have to remember to get him lunch. I almost forgot yesterday. He should be packing his breakfast now and then eat in my room."

"I'll make you a deal. This week if you'll stop by and get me two large black coffees, I'll make sure you and Jordan get lunch." He checked his watched. "We'll discuss details later."

Katherine shook her head. "Deal, but you shoved your way in, again."

He motioned for Reggie to come. "I told you. It's my specialty." He turned and paused. "I like the way you stood up to Frost yesterday." After hesitating, he added, "His problem isn't with you. He just took it out on you. Paul, Mr. Edwards, will handle him."

Katherine watched him jog. He's an interesting man. Most jocks aren't caring.

Jordan called from the porch, "Mom, you didn't just run with Coach, did you?"

"Not really, but sort of. Daisy and I went for a run, and we just happened to meet up. It was actually strange." She shook her head. "Did you pack yourself breakfast?" After he nodded, she continued, "I'll put Daisy inside, get my purse, and then we'll leave."

On the way to the SUV, she asked, "What did you pack?"

"Two sandwiches, a banana, and an apple. Oh yea, couple pieces of cheese, two bottles of Gator Ade, and two blueberry muffins. Think that'll hold me over until lunch? What's lunch anyway?"

"Good question. I'll worry about that later. Did you remember to pack a change of clothes?" She stopped at the door. "Did you wake up Joshua and let him know we're leaving?"

"MOM?"

"Just checking. That's what Mom's do." She backed out of the driveway. Once Jordan was at football practice, Katherine showered and dressed, and then got the other boys up and fixed their breakfast.

After she threw the paper plates in the trash, she glanced at her watch. "We're on track. Do you guys have what you want to take to Grandma's?" She glanced at Joshua. "What time does your practice start?"

"Four o'clock."

"Grandma, will take you and then bring the other two here. She'll stay until I get home. I think this'll work." She ran her fingers through Jeremy's hair. "Behave yourself. You hear?"

He giggled.

Katherine bit her lower lip. "I was afraid of that. Let's load up."

"Can Daisy come?" asked Jeremy

"All right. Maybe she'll help you behave. We need to get going."


Is 'New Horizon's' too much of a cliche for a title?



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a lady jogging with her yellow Labrador. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews on this novel, so far, I was worried about it because it's a little different than I usually write. Thank you, again. This novel is not actually about football, but there is mention of High School football. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I can promise you my rear-end graced many bleachers under the Friday night stadium lights. This post is a little over 960 words. I hope it's not too long. I don't want to reveal too much until it's time.


Chapter 6
Football Chapter 3 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

"Just checking. That's what Mom's do." She backed out of the driveway. Once Jordan was at football practice, Katherine showered and dressed, and then got the other boys up and fixed their breakfast.

After she threw the paper plates in the trash, she glanced at her watch. "We're on track. Do you guys have what you want to take to Grandma's?" She glanced at Joshua. "What time does your practice start?"

"Four o'clock."

"Grandma, will take you and then bring the other two here. She'll stay until I get home. I think this'll work." She ran her fingers through Jeremy's hair. "Behave yourself. You hear?"

He giggled.

Katherine bit her lower lip. "I was afraid of that. Let's load up."

"Can Daisy come?" asked Jeremy

"All right. Maybe she'll help you behave. We need to get going."


How about 'Against All Odds' for a title.?

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 3 part 2 day 4

Katherine arrived at school about 7:15. Good I have time to work in my room before the staff meeting. I wonder how I get these two coffees to Coach. I won't worry about it, he'll find me. He has a knack for doing that.

As she walked by the front office, Mr. Edwards opened the door. "Coach is looking for you." He glanced at the coffee and chuckled. "I guess at least one of those is for him. He's a bear without coffee."

"Two are his." She held up one. "This is mine. Do you know where he is?"

"I'm sure he's not far. He'll come running when he smells coffee." Paul paused. "I'm sorry about what happened yesterday. I heard you handled Mr. Frost very appropriately. I want to assure you that I also handled it."

"Thank you." She turned her head when she heard running and frowned. "I guess you don't follow any rules."

Gabriel grinned. "The one about running in the hall?" He accepted the offered coffee and took a long drink. "Thanks. I needed that. I smelled coffee and..."

Mr. Edwards opened the office door. "Come to my office, and we'll discuss your nonconforming attitude."

"Won't do any good. You've tried." He held up the coffee. "Thank you, again."

Continuing toward her class, Katherine turned her head when she heard, "Good morning, Mrs. Riley. I see you're an early person too."

Katherine stopped and offered her hand, "Hello. One of my sons needed to be here by 6:00, so I've been back and forth."

"I'm Angie Brooks. I also teach math." She paused. "I'm sorry about what happened. Frost can be a real jerk, but the rest of us aren't like that."

"Thank you. It shocked me. I don't know what I did to upset him."

"I don't think you did anything except get this job. I heard a rumor his son applied and interviewed but you were hired instead."

"That would cause hard feelings. It almost makes sense, but still..."

"I can understand being upset, but it's no reason to verbally insult you in front of the entire staff. Besides I heard his son partied his way through college and didn't really have the grades."

Katherine's eyes widened. "I see there's a strong rumor mill here."

"I think all schools have them."

Gabriel walked by. "Thanks again, for the coffee."

Angie smiled. "Hmm, coffee?"

Stopping in her tracks, Katherine faced her new friend. "Don't even start. There's nothing to what Frost said about Coach and me. We've only talked with each other three times and each time was an accidental meeting."

"Just so you know he's a nice guy if you catch him in non-football mode. He eats, drinks, and sleeps football."

"I understand. My dad used to be a football coach. You might have heard of him, Coach Bob Beck."

"The same coach our stadium's named after?"

"The one and the same. I can promise you, I'll never get involved with a jock." She stood at the door of her room. "I guess I'd better get busy. Do you have any idea what our class size will be and what we're teaching?"

Angie giggled. "Math. It depends on what level math you're teaching. I don't think the assignments have been made, yet." She paused. "We should have our preliminary schedule sometime today, but it won't be finalized until later this week. I hope we have it before our team meetings."

"Makes sense."

Angie went to her classroom door. "I'll come by and we'll go together."

Katherine took a sip of coffee. "I needed this." She turned her head at the sound of footsteps. "Did you have a good practice?"

Jordan frowned. "I think Coach is into torture." He plopped into a chair, opened his bag, and took out a sandwich. "I'm starving."

She set her coffee cup on a desk and opened a box. "Is he into actual torture or tough conditioning? I've heard he's into winning."

"He called it conditioning, but my legs are questioning it." He took a bite and chewed. "He doesn't like losing. He's made that clear."

Katherine checked her watch. "I only have a few minutes." She surveyed the boxes. "Can you empty these and then break them down and stack them?"

"Sure. Will I see you for lunch?"

"Yes, I'll eat with you." Katherine glanced at the lady standing at the door. "Angie, hmm, Mrs. Brooks, I'd like you to meet Jordan, my son."

Angie walked to him and offered him her hand. "Hello. I'm guessing you play football."

"I do, Ma'am. Is your husband by chance Coach Brooks?"

"He is. What position do you play?"

"Tight end."

She grinned. "You'll get to know him quite well."

Katherine's eyes met her knew friend's. "Jordan says the coaches are into torture."

"Mom!"

Laughing, Angie said, "I'm sure this early in the season, all players think that. We'd better get going. Nice to meet you, Jordan."

"Nice to meet you too, Mrs. Brooks."

Katherine waved. "I'll see you around lunch time."

*****
After Angie and Katherine arrived at the designated table, Angie introduced Katherine to the rest of the team. It was decided that the afternoon's team meeting would be held in Angie's room.

As Mr. Edwards walked to the podium, Mr. Frost sat at the table. "I see you're all here."

Frank Collins, another math teacher, said, "We're meeting in Angie's room this afternoon."

Rodney frowned. "I see you're making decisions without my input again. I thought we were past that."

Paul Edwards began with unfunny jokes. After he finished, he pointed to the screen. "We'll start with our mandatory yearly trainings. First, sexual harassment. Please remember, it's not just for staff, but if you witness sexual harassment with the students it's your responsibility to report it."

The morning passed slowly as they watched nine videos.

As the last training ended, Mr. Edwards asked Coach Hudson to come up. When Coach stood up front, he and Paul whispered a little and then Coach began, "I've been asked to talk to you as the Athletic Director. Mr. Edwards and I have decided to bring it to a vote. We feel we don't do enough for our female students. It's been three years since we've had a girls' cross country team, and feel it's about time to start one again. If you agree, raise your arm up high, straight elbow." He scanned the room. "If you're opposed, raise your arm high." He released a deep breath. "We have one negative vote."

Mr. Frost stood. "We have too many sports as it is, and they get in the way of real learning. We don't need another one."

Coach grinned. "We know how you feel about sports, but majority wins. If we get enough student involvement, we'll proceed. Staff, we'll include this in our morning announcements. As it is right now, homeroom teachers, it'll be your responsibility to let me know the number of girls interested. We'll go from there."

Mr. Edwards stood beside Coach and added, "We have a few ideas for the sponsor of this activity." He held up a stack of papers. "I have your schedules. Please understand they may change. Department leads, please come up and then pass them to your team." He glanced at his watch. "Department level meetings will begin promptly at 12:45. Have a nice lunch."

Mr. Frost passed the schedules to each teacher, but studied Katherine's. She held out her hand. "My schedule, please."

He glared at her. "There's no way you're qualified to teach these classes." Turning, he headed toward Mr. Edwards.

They spoke for a few minutes before Paul took the schedule and came to Katherine. "Sorry for the delay, but here's your schedule." He scanned it, grinned, and winked. "It looks good to me."

Katherine accepted the schedule. "Thank you."

As she studied it, Angie looked over her shoulder. "What was Frost so upset over?"

"I don't know. I think he doesn't like anything I do."

Over the intercom system came, "Mrs. Riley, please report to the office."

"Now what?"





CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of hot coffee. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews on this novel, so far, I was worried about it because it's a little different than I usually write. Thank you, again. This novel is not actually about football, but there is mention of High School football. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I can promise you my rear-end graced many bleachers under the Friday night stadium lights. This post is a little over 1360 words. I hope it's not too long. I don't want to reveal too much until it's time.


Chapter 7
Football Chapter 4 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Mr. Frost passed the schedules to each teacher, but studied Katherine's. She held out her hand. "My schedule, please."

He glared at her. "There's no way you're qualified to teach these classes." Turning, he headed toward Mr. Edwards.

They spoke for a few minutes before Paul took the schedule and came to Katherine. "Sorry for the delay, but here's your schedule." He scanned it, grinned, and winked. "It looks good to me."

Katherine accepted the schedule. "Thank you."

As she studied it, Angie looked over her shoulder. "What was Frost so upset over?"

"I don't know. I think he doesn't like anything I do."

Over the intercom system came, "Mrs. Riley, please report to the office."

"Now what?"

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 4 part 1

As Katherine opened the office door, Coach grinned. "I'd like you to meet my parents; Rebecca and Harold Hudson. Mom, Dad, this is Katherine Riley. She's a new math teacher. If she brings me coffee in the morning, I told her I'd make sure she and her son got lunch this week."

Rebecca offered her hand. "I'm glad to meet you. Harold and I have been fixing lunches for the coaches and Paul since Gabe started here. I'm glad our son included you. I hope you like it." She handed Katherine two sacks and set on the counter two glasses filled with tea.

"I'm sure it'll be delicious. I'm curious how did this get started?"

Gabriel moved closer. "I'll explain as I help you carry this. I'm sure Jordan's hungry."

"Thank you. He's always hungry."

Chuckling, Gabriel put both drinks in one hand and opened the door as he continued, "I'm sure that's true. I'll answer your question. I like to have the coaches meet during lunch. Games are so unpredictable that one can never plan enough. With all the coaches getting lunch, there wasn't time, so Mom and Dad offered help. Everybody seems to like what they fix; at least there haven't been any complaints."

"So after all these years football remains a town affair?"

"Things don't change much, do they?" He waited for her to enter the classroom and then he followed.

Jordan glanced up. "Mom, did you remember lunch?"

Gabriel grinned. "She did."

Jordan jumped to attention. "Sorry, Coach. Yesterday..."

"Not a problem," interrupted Gabriel. "She mentioned she'd forgotten it yesterday. We made a deal. She brings me my morning coffee, and I'll take care of lunch." He set the drinks on a desk. "I have a meeting to get to. Enjoy."

Katherine handed Jordan a sack, but called after Gabriel, "Or you should say your parents took care of it." She shook her head as she heard him laughing down the hall, and called after him, "Thank you again. I'm sure it's delicious."

Jordan opened the sack. "Mom, this has two chicken salad croissants, grapes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, and two snickerdoodle cookies for dessert. Wow! Coach doesn't do anything halfway, does he?"

"No, he doesn't." Katherine stared at the door. "Let's eat, and then get busy. This classroom needs to be ready for students in one week."

*****
About 12:30, Katherine gave Jordan a few jobs to complete in the classroom while she attended her meeting and told him if he got hungry he could eat her second sandwich. Ten minutes later she crossed the hall to Angie's room.

Angie glanced up. "Have you had a chance to study your schedule?"

Katherine sat beside her. "I have. I wish I had a break before 2:00, but I'll work with it."

"Our breaks are often in the afternoon because on Friday's the athletes travel to away games. This way they won't miss a lot of class time, especially in the more difficult classes."

"Makes sense."

Rodney Frost walked in. "Of course everything revolves around sports. We certainly wouldn't want to do anything that'd actually increase the learning opportunity for students."

Frank Collins followed Rodney in. "Mrs. Riley, I heard your dad was Coach Beck, is that right?"

Before she had a chance to reply, Alan Green, an Assistant Principal, came into the room. "You heard right. Mrs. Riley's dad was none other than the famous Coach Beck."

Mr. Frost glared at Katherine. "I figured you got the job because you were sleeping with Coach. Then to secure the deal you slept with Edwards. Now, you really sealed the deal with nepotism. Nobody else had a chance."

Mr. Green raised his hand. "Stop it. This is totally..." His glare followed Katherine out the door. "Unprofessional." He used his walkie-talkie and notified Mr. Edwards. He stood in the door watching Katherine and then turned. "Mr. Frost, Human Resources will hear about this. I'm going to recommend a suspension."

"You can't do that. I spoke the truth."

"You better have evidence to back up your accusations."

Coach Hudson was the first to show up. Mr. Edwards was right behind him.

After hearing verbatim what had happened, Gabriel glared at Frost. "The venom you're spouting is even low for you." He left the room. "I'm searching for Mrs. Riley. You better hope she's not working on her resignation."

Paul checked his watch. "Mr. Frost, you need to be in my office in twenty minutes. I'll be on the phone to H.R." He left.

Gabriel checked the security cameras and discovered Katherine went toward the football field. Both he and Paul headed that direction spouting choice words about Frost.



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of chicken salad sandwich. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews on this novel. This novel is not actually about football, but there is mention of High School football. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I can promise you my rear-end graced many bleachers under the Friday night stadium lights. This post is a little under 800 words.


Chapter 8
Football Chapter 4 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Mr. Green raised his hand. "Stop it. This is totally..." His glare followed Katherine out the door. "Unprofessional." He used his walkie-talkie and notified Mr. Edwards. He stood in the door watching Katherine and then turned. "Mr. Frost, Human Resources will hear about this. I'm going to recommend a suspension."

"You can't do that. I spoke the truth."

"You better have evidence to back up your accusations."

Coach Hudson was the first to show up. Mr. Edwards was right behind him.

After hearing verbatim what had happened, Gabriel glared at Frost. "The venom you're spouting is even low for you." He left the room. "I'm searching for Mrs. Riley. You better hope she's not working on her resignation."

Paul checked his watch. "Mr. Frost, you need to be in my office in twenty minutes. I'll be on the phone to H.R." He left.

Gabriel checked the security cameras and discovered Katherine went toward the football field. Both he and Paul headed that direction spouting choice words about Frost.


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 4 part 2

They spotted Katherine sitting halfway up in the center of the stadium.

Gabriel's eyes met Paul's. "Any idea how we proceed?"

"Nope, I was hoping you did."

"At least you're married. My longest relationship lasted almost two months."

"Between seasons?"

"Yep." Gabriel studied Katherine. "We'd better do something. We can't let her sit there all day. You'd better go first. She's probably crying. I don't do tears."

"Think I do?"

"You have a wife and a daughter. You have to do tears."

Shaking his head, Paul said, "Remind me again why we're friends." He went up the stadium stairs toward Katherine. Gabriel followed.

Katherine used the back of her hand to wipe tears from her cheeks. "I see you found me."

Gabriel offered her a handkerchief. "It wasn't hard."

She accepted it and blew her nose. "Thank you. I'll wash and return it." She studied the field. "Does Mr. Frost actually believe I've slept with both of you? If he does, how many other people believe that?" She hesitated. "What have I done to him? When I signed my contract, I remember a morality clause. Are you here to fire me?"

Paul sat beside her. "To ease your fears, I'm not here to fire you. Yes, there's a morality clause and no we haven't slept together. I'm confident you and Gabe haven't either. I have no clue what Mr. Frost believes or how many people he's shared his lies with. I promise you, I'll handle the situation."

"Thank you."

Mr. Edwards checked his watch. "I have a meeting I need to attend in seven minutes." He glanced at Gabriel. "Can you stay until she's ready to return?" Paul stood and patted her shoulder as he left. "It'll work out."

Gabriel moved closer. "Do you want to talk or sit in silence?"

She wiped an escaped tear. "Sit in silence."

"Sounds good."

After releasing a deep breath, Katherine said, "I'm sure you have strategic planning to discuss for this football season. You don't need to sit with me. I'll be all right."

He shielded his eyes from the sun as he surveyed the football field. "It's been a difficult lesson, and one I fought all the way, but I've come to realize football isn't the most important part of life."

"I bet that was a hard lesson. Dad never learned it."

Gabriel searched his pockets. "I still slip back to my old ways, especially during the season." He took a tube from his pocket. "Here it is." Handing it to her, he continued, "Put this on. You'll sunburn. I'm pretty sure since living in New York; you're not used to the Texas sun."

Accepting it and rubbing it on her arms, she said, "Thank you."

Taking off his cap, he placed it on her head. "Your scalp will burn."

She gave a partial smile. "Now yours will."

He took the sunscreen from her, squeezed some on his hand, and rubbed his scalp. "It won't."

After a few moments of silence, he asked, "What are you thinking about? Paul, Mr. Edwards, is worried you're going to resign."

"I know you and Mr. Edwards are friends. You don't need to correct yourself around me." As he grinned, Katherine continued, "My welcome back to Silver Cove hasn't been exactly warm. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't think I can face my team. I know there's a strong rumor mill, and I'm sure by now it's traveled through the school."

"I wouldn't worry about it."

"How can you say that?" interrupted Katherine as she glared at him. "It's not only my personal reputation; it's my professional one. He's implied I can't get a job on my own merits."

"He's wrong, isn't he?"

"Of course he is. You're not a very good cheerleader."

"You're probably right." Gabriel chuckled. "I told Paul that I wasn't the right person for this job." He paused. "My suggestion would be to prove him wrong. All you need to do is be yourself." He hesitated. "Some Faulkner guy said, 'You can't swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore'."

"It was William Faulkner. Do you believe that?"

He stood and offered his hand. "I do. You ready?"

Standing she ignored his hand. "If we walk in together, everybody will think we were together."

He blinked. "We are together. Paul and I searched for you."

"Right, but..."

"But nothing," he interrupted as they walked toward the school.

As they passed the locker room, Gabriel ran in, grabbed two water bottles, and handed Katherine one. "You were in the sun, you need to drink this."

She took a drink. "Thank you."

At the office door, they paused. Gabriel opened it. "You want to come inside?"

Katherine chewed on her lower lip. "I think I'll return to my meeting."

Grinning, Gabriel asked, "You want an escort?"

"Thank you, but I can do it." Katherine continued down the hall.

Gabriel watched her walk. That's one strong lady.

As she entered Angie's room, everybody clapped, and Frank said, "We're glad you're back. Don't let that crazy old fool get to you. We don't believe a word he said."

Angie hugged her. "Nobody does."

The team meeting continued throughout the afternoon.

About ten minutes before four o'clock, Jordan knocked on the door. "Excuse me. Mom, I need to get to practice."

Katherine glanced at her watch. "Call when you're finished and I'll come get you. Have fun."



This is a bridge post. Not a lot happening, but is necessary to the story. I can promise more action very soon.


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of an empty high school football stadium. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews on this novel. This novel is not actually about football, but there is mention of High School football. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I can promise you my rear-end graced many bleachers under the Friday night stadium lights. This post is a little over 900 words.


Chapter 9
Football Chapter 4 part 3

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

At the office door, they paused. Gabriel opened it. "You want to come inside?"

Katherine chewed on her lower lip. "I think I'll return to my meeting."

Grinning, Gabriel asked, "You want an escort?"

"Thank you, but I can do it." Katherine continued down the hall.

Gabriel watched her walk. That's one strong lady.

As she entered Angie's room, everybody clapped, and Frank said, "We're glad you're back. Don't let that crazy old fool get to you. We don't believe a word he said."

Angie hugged her. "Nobody does."

The team meeting continued throughout the afternoon.

About ten minutes before four o'clock, Jordan knocked on the door. "Excuse me. Mom, I need to get to practice."

Katherine glanced at her watch. "Call when you're finished and I'll come get you. Have fun."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 4 part 3

After the meeting, Katherine scanned the classroom. I'll never be ready. I only have a few days. I need to pick up Joshua and then start dinner. I'm sure Mom's ready for a break. Thank heavens she's willing to help.

Once home, Katherine discussed with her mom how the boys' day went.

After her mom left, Katherine changed into some sweats and a T-shirt. She made sure her phone was in her pocket for when Jordan called for a ride. While dinner was in the oven, she played a couple games of Dominos with the boys.

When Jordan called the boys went out back to play. After Katherine reminded Joshua to watch his brothers, she said to Jordan, "I'm walking out the door. I'll be there in a few minutes." She hung up.

As Katherine opened the SUV's door, a tan sedan pulled sideways in front of her driveway. She walked to the car. "Excuse me but I need to leave. Would you please move?"

Mr. Frost rolled down his window and had his phone taping the conversation. "You're not going anywhere until you admit you slept your way into this teaching job."

"I don't know what you're talking about. You need to leave."

He repeatedly honked the horn as he yelled, "You're a slut! Admit it!"

Joshua, Joel, and Jeremy opened the front door. "Mom, are you all right?"

She turned her head. "Everything's all right. Go back inside." She held up her phone. "I'm calling the police."

Laying on the horn, Mr. Frost said, "Go ahead, you should be arrested for prostitution."

*****
After twenty minutes, Jordan went back into the locker room. "Excuse me, Coach, can I call Mom again? She said she was walking out the door. She should've been here by now."

"Sure." Gabriel watched Jordan dial and listened as the phone rang and rang. When nobody answered, he said to Coach Brooks, "I'm taking Riley home. I'm sure this isn't like his mom." He turned to Jordan. "Come on. Let's go."

When they arrived at the Riley house, a police officer was already on the scene.

As Gabriel got out of his pick-up, he noticed the boys peering out the window. "Jordan, go inside and get your brothers away from the window." He opened the back door, waited for Reggie, and then walked over to the officer. "Brad, what's going on?"

"Hey Coach, it seems Mr. Frost won't allow Mrs. Riley to back out of her driveway unless she admits the truth about how she traded favors to get a job."

Katherine exhaled a deep breath. "I've told him numerous times that these accusations are false."

Gabriel raised his cap, ran his hand through his hair, then replaced it. "There isn't an ounce of truth to these accusations."

Frost stepped from his car. Thud! His fist hit the car's roof. "He's lying and he's one of the men she slept with."

Brad's eyes widened. "Coach?"

"I have never slept with this lady. I just met her a few days ago. How could I?"

"You and Edwards slept with her when she interviewed for the teaching job. That's why she was hired," yelled Frost.

Coach took a step closer to Frost. "I wasn't anywhere around when she interviewed for the job. I didn't even know Edwards was interviewing for anything. He doesn't confide staffing information with me. I'm a football coach."

Katherine tilted her head. "That would be impossible. I was in New York City and interviewed through Skype. I already had the job when I arrived. All I needed to do was sign the contract. I did that Monday morning. I've only been in town five days. I arrived last Thursday."

Frost thought for a minute. "You're lying. How did you buy this house? You had to be here earlier to purchase it."

"How do you know I own my house?" She shook her head. "My mom made the arrangements. She sent me photographs as did the realtor, and I remembered the house from when I grew up. My girlfriend, Paula, lived here." She paused. "My boys and I got in town Thursday. Our furniture won't arrive till Friday. My husband left me a large sum of money. I paid cash for it. None of this is any of your business." She glanced at the officer. "I want this man off my property."

"Mr. Frost, your car needs to be to moved. You're coming down to the station." The officer's eyes met Katherine's. "Do you want to press charges?"

She glanced at Gabriel, before she said, "At least I want an order of protection. I don't want this man anywhere around my family or me. He needs to stay away from us. What do I need to do to make that happen?"

"You'll need to come down to the station and fill out paperwork. They'll be filed with the court and you'll need to make a court appearance. A temporary one lasts for twenty days."

Katherine sighed. "I really can't take-off school right now."

Gabriel stepped closer. "You've had your life disrupted by Frost. Now he came to your home. Who knows what he'll do next. Paul will understand and give you the needed time."

"I'm already taking Friday afternoon off for my household goods delivery."

Gabriel removed his phone and spoke with Paul. After the conversation, he said, "Paul will go with you tomorrow to file the complaint. He wants the court clerk to know how this came about. He has inside information."

She nodded. "Okay." She faced the officer. "When will he be released? Will I need to worry about him returning tonight?"

"We can hold him until the morning. You'll be safe tonight."

Frost glared at Katherine. "You haven't heard the last of this."

Gabriel walked to Frost's car. "That sounds like a threat to me, don't you think, Brad?"

"It sure does."

Opening Frost's car door, Gabriel said, "Good. The keys are in it. I'm taking it to the school parking lot. You can get it there." He glanced at Katherine. "I'll be back. Reggie, stay." He got inside.

Before Gabriel left he watched Brad pat-down Frost. Once Rodney was inside the patrol car, and they left, Gabriel drove away.

Katherine went inside and smiled. Jordan had finished dinner and the boys were eating. "Thank you. I don't know what I'd do without you."

Jordan placed a plate in front of her. "Mom, what was that all about?"

She patted her son's hand. "Nothing for you to worry about. Mr. Frost has some problems he's trying to work out. Everything's fine."

After she finished eating, she sent Jeremy and Joel up to take their baths. "After your baths, I'll be up to read a story."

Reggie was the first to answer the door. Daisy stood next to him. As Katherine opened the door, Gabriel smiled and petted both dogs. "I see nobody's getting inside without approval." His eyes met Katherine's. "How you holding up?"

"I'm fine. Thank you for asking."

Jeremy stood at the top of stairs. "Mom, story time."

She glanced at her youngest son. "I'm being paged."

"A mom's job's never done." Gabriel sat on a folding chair. "I'll wait. I'm not leaving until I'm assured you're fine."

"You're pushing your way in again."

He chuckled. "I've told you, it's my specialty."

When Katherine returned after putting the two younger boys to bed, Jordan, Joshua, and Coach were having a discussion about who were the all-time best quarterbacks.

"I see you three have a lot in common." She smiled.

Coach stood and offered the chair. "Please have a seat."

"No, the guest should sit. Sorry about the lack of furniture. I really do have some."

"I'm sure you do, but a gentleman always gives the lady his seat."

Jordan laughed. "Do you argue every time you're together?"

Coach nodded. "Most times." He glanced at Katherine. "Do we agree on that?"

"Probably." She swallowed. "Boys, could you go upstairs? I know it's a little early for bed, but..."

Jordan stood. "Sure Mom. Joshua, come on."

After the boys were out of hearing range, Gabriel said, "Jordan's a good kid."

"He is. I rely on him a lot. Probably more than I should. He's still young."

"You've done a great job with them." He petted Reggie's head. "Now, how are you really doing?"

"You mean about Mr. Frost?" After he nodded, Katherine continued, "I'm okay." She bit her lower lip.

"I'm not a great conversationalist, but I'm not sure you have anybody to talk with. How about your mom?"

"I don't want to upset her with this. She has enough to worry about taking care of the boys until school starts."

Gabriel ran his fingers through his short hair. "I guess you're stuck with me. Should I go buy a gallon of ice cream? What flavor?" He stood.

"What?"

"I've heard when women have problems they eat a gallon of ice cream."

Katherine smiled. "That's when they have relationship problems. Mr. Frost and I don't have a relationship."

"Oh, then what should I do?"

She reached over and took his hand. "Just be here, and you're doing a great job."

"So my pushiness came in handy?"

"I guess." Katherine petted Daisy's head. "Why aren't you in bed with Jeremy?"

Still having his hand on Reggie, Gabriel said, "Because she knows you're not really fine. Dogs have an extra sense."

"I'm not sure what you want from me. Do you want me to break down in tears?"

"Please don't. I have no experience with tears."

"We agree on something else. I don't usually cry. But I don't know what I'm feeling." Katherine paused. "I guess I'm angry. I don't understand why this is happening. If I've done something wrong, I don't understand what it is."

"You haven't done anything wrong. Frost's the one with the problem. You just happened to come along at the wrong time. He's taking it out on you. He'd be angry with anybody, unless it was his son who Paul hired."

"I don't understand why he keeps accusing me of me of sleeping with everybody."

"Because you're a beautiful lady and that's all he can come up with."

She smiled. "He could be a little more creative."

"I hope to see you smile more often. It brightens the room." Gabriel cleared his throat and stood. "I'd better get going. Morning comes early."

"It sure does." She paused. "I'm curious how Frost knew I bought the house."

Gabriel shrugged his shoulders. "Good question. Even for a small town that news got out fast."

Katherine followed him to the door. "Very true. I'd think they'd have other things to talk about." She opened the door. "Thank you for being concerned."

After Gabriel and Reggie left, Katherine leaned against the door. Does he really think I'm beautiful? Of course not, I'm a mother of four children. He's being kind. Don't let that fool you, he's ultimately a jock and always will be. He's arrogant and his wants will always come before all else.

Jordan came partly down the stairs. "Mom, is everything all right?"

"Yes. Let's get some sleep. Four-thirty's early."








CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a car blocking a driveway. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews on this novel. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I can promise you my rear-end graced many bleachers under the Friday night stadium lights. This post is a little over 1000 words.


Chapter 10
Football Chapter 5 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:


"You haven't done anything wrong. Frost's the one with the problem. You just happened to come along at the wrong time. He's taking it out on you. He'd be angry with anybody, unless it was his son who Paul hired."

"I don't understand why he keeps accusing me of me of sleeping with everybody."

"Because you're a beautiful lady and that's all he can come up with."

She smiled. "He could be a little more creative."

"I hope to see you smile more often. It brightens the room." Gabriel cleared his throat and stood. "I'd better get going. Morning comes early."

"It sure does." She paused. "I'm curious how Frost knew I bought the house."

Gabriel shrugged his shoulders. "Good question. Even for a small town that news got out fast."

Katherine followed him to the door. "Very true. I'd think they'd have other things to talk about." She opened the door. "Thank you for being concerned."

After Gabriel and Reggie left, Katherine leaned against the door. Does he really think I'm beautiful? Of course not, I'm a mother of four children. He's being kind. Don't let that fool you, he's ultimately a jock and always will be. He's arrogant and his wants will always come before all else.

Jordan came partly down the stairs. "Mom, is everything all right?"

"Yes. Let's get some sleep. Four-thirty's early."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 5 part 1

About four-forty A.M. Katherine and Daisy went outside. Katherine began her stretching routine. She paused when she noticed a dark figure jogging toward her. She smiled when she noticed the large dog alongside. "Must be Coach."

As the man got closer, she said, "You don't need to jog with me every morning." She pointed to her dog. "I have Daisy. The only person who bothers me is Rodney Frost, and he should still be at the police station."

"True, but yesterday I told you it wasn't safe for you to jog by yourself in the dark." He chuckled. "I figured you wouldn't pay attention, so here I am. I jog this way anyway." He glanced over his shoulder. "I park my truck at the school. It's only a few blocks back."

She set her watch. "I need to be back here at five-forty. I turn around at the half way point, timewise. Jordan can't be late to practice."

"The best football teams are the best disciplined."

She started jogging. "So I've heard. Come on, Daisy."

Gabriel followed her lead. "Last night when I got home, I spoke with Paul. When you get to school, check with him."

Katherine stopped in tracks and started to say something.

"I pushed my way in again, didn't I?" interrupted Gabriel. "Let's get going." They jogged a few steps. "Just trying to help."

"You honestly believe that, don't you?"

"Hmm."

They continued in silence, until Katherine's watch sounded. She turned. "It's time to turn around."

As they arrived at Katherine's house, she headed toward the front steps. "Two large black coffees, correct?"

"Yes." He rubbed his stomach. "And maybe something to eat."

"Like what?"

"Surprise me. I like everything."

Of course, you do. I'll ask when I get to the coffee shop what you usually order.

*****
After getting the boys where they belonged and arriving at school, Katherine went straight to the office and asked, "May I please speak with Mr. Edwards?"

Paul stepped from his office. "Mrs. Riley, I thought I heard your voice. Please come in and have a seat." After she entered, he closed the door. "I heard you had a visitor last night." He grinned as she juggled the three coffees and the small bag. "Gabe again?"

"Of course, the same person you heard about last night's incident from."

After calling his secretary, he said, "Please tell Coach Hudson to come to my office."

They both heard the intercom.

Within minutes, there was a knock and then the door opened. He saw the coffees and the bag. "I was hoping it was my coffee. What surprise did you get?" Before Katherine could answer, he examined the sack's contents and grinned. "A jalapeno kolache, cherry Danish, and a Southern brunch pastry puff." His eyes met hers. "I..."

"I couldn't make up my mind and you gave me no hints," interrupted Katherine before he continued. "I figured with the workout you needed some protein."

"Sounds like a typical mom. Great choices. Thank you." Gabriel glanced at Paul. "Have you decided what you're going to do about Frost?"

Paul motioned Gabriel to have a seat. "We were just getting started. Any ideas?"

"Only what we discussed last night. I feel he's a threat to Mrs. Riley and needs to be stopped."

"May I say something?" asked Katherine.

"Of course, this is about what's best for you," said Paul.

"I want an order of protection. I don't want him around my boys." She paused. "Jordan's old enough he's asking questions. I don't want him to worry." Releasing a deep breath, she continued, "You have the final decision about him coming back here. May I request if Jordan's in one of his classes, that he be transferred to another teacher; even if it means taking a different math course?"

Pouring himself a cup of coffee, Paul eyed Katherine. "I shouldn't say this, but I will. Frost's no longer part of our staff. I was close to removing him after yesterday's outburst, but then when I heard about last night, it sealed the deal. That's why I want to go to the police station. I want to make sure everything's spelled out."

"Thank you." She glanced at Gabriel. "You two had this all worked out last night, and didn't need me for anything, right?"

Gabriel's eyes met Paul's. "Mrs. Riley feels I force my way into situations and do things without consulting her."

Paul stirred his coffee. "Gabe, that's part of your charm. You see something that needs to be done and do it, without hesitation."

Katherine smiled. "That's one way to put it."

"Okay, now that's settled." Paul glanced over his schedule. "Mrs. Riley, how does ten o'clock this morning look?"

"I have a meeting at nine. It should only take an hour. It should be fine."

"Great. Come to my office when you're finished." He picked up his phone and listened. He covered the receiver. "Sorry, I need to take this."

Both Gabriel and Katherine stood. He opened the door and followed her out. "Can I ask a question?"

"Always."

"Do you really believe I'm arrogant?" When she didn't answer, he continued, "I see that's an area I need improvement."

After they left the office, Gabriel walked toward the locker room area. Katherine stood and watched. I think I hurt his feelings. Why does that surprise me? Because arrogant jocks don't have feelings. Could there be more to him?




PLEASE HAVE A SAFE AND WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!!! IT IS MY PRAYER THAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ARE BLESSED!!!!





CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of 3 coffee cups. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. Raising four sons myself, I know my rear-end graced many bleachers under the Friday night stadium lights. This post is a little over 900 words.


Chapter 11
Football Chapter 5 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Pouring himself a cup of coffee, Paul eyed Katherine. "I shouldn't say this, but I will. Frost's no longer part of our staff. I was close to removing him after yesterday's outburst, but then when I heard about last night, it sealed the deal. That's why I want to go to the police station. I want to make sure everything's spelled out."

"Thank you." She glanced at Gabriel. "You two had this all worked out last night, and didn't need me for anything, right?"

Gabriel's eyes met Paul's. "Mrs. Riley feels I force my way into situations and do things without consulting her."

Paul stirred his coffee. "Gabe, that's part of your charm. You see something that needs to be done and do it, without hesitation."

Katherine smiled. "That's one way to put it."

"Okay, now that's settled." Paul glanced over his schedule. "Mrs. Riley, how does ten o'clock this morning look?"

"I have a meeting at nine. It should only take an hour. It should be fine."

"Great. Come to my office when you're finished." He picked up his phone and listened. He covered the receiver. "Sorry, I need to take this."

Both Gabriel and Katherine stood. He opened the door and followed her out. "Can I ask a question?"

"Always."

"Do you really believe I'm arrogant?" When she didn't answer, he continued, "I see that's an area I need improvement."

After they left the office, Gabriel walked toward the locker room area. Katherine stood and watched. I think I hurt his feelings. Why does that surprise me? Because arrogant jocks don't have feelings. Could there be more to him?

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 5 part 2

After meeting with the police and the court clerk, Paul opened the school door for Katherine. "I think that went well. What do you think?"

"I guess so. Think a thirty day restraining order is enough? I guess we'll find out."

As they neared the office, Gabriel opened the door. "Well?"

As Katherine's jaw set, she glared at Gabriel. "Why didn't you tell me Mr. Frost had a gun and a knife?"

Gabriel exhaled. "You were frightened, so I decided you didn't need to know."

"You push your way into my life and now you're making decisions on what I need to know. Did it occur to you that I have a right to know about things that affect me? I'm not a child."

"I guess I didn't look at it that way. Next time I will."

"Let's pray there's not a next time," interjected Paul. He watched Gabriel walk over to a table.

Gabriel handed a sack and drink to Katherine. "Today's lunch. I hope you don't mind, but I already gave Jordan his."

She accepted the sack. "Thank you for thinking of Jordan. I'm sure he was hungry." After a few moments, she asked, "What's for lunch?"

"Two pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, potato salad, a brownie, and lemonade." He grinned. "I think Mom put two brownies in Jordan's."

"Tell her thank you but she didn't need to do that. Yesterday, he got my second sandwich and will probably get this one. There's no way I can eat two. Anyway, you can convince her to put only one in mine? I hate wasting food."

Gabriel chuckled. "I doubt it. She usually adds not subtracts." He glanced at the clock on the wall. "I need to get to my meeting. Have a nice lunch. Paul, yours is in your office. Beside it I laid an outline for girls' cross country and the cost." As Katherine headed toward the door, he opened it. "Please accept my apology. I'll work on those areas."

Is he serious? Does this arrogant jock have a soft side?

*****
The afternoon was filled with staff meetings and working in classrooms. As Katherine prepared to leave, there was a knock on her classroom door. She glanced up and saw a middle-aged woman. "Hello, may I help you?"

She offered her hand. "Yes, Ma'am. I'm Sandy Frost, Rodney's wife."

Katherine chewed her lower lip. "Mrs. Frost, I'm not sure you should be here."

When Katherine didn't accept the hand, Sandy placed it by her side. "I'm not here to harm you. I want to apologize for Rodney's behavior. He's had problems for a while. They got worse when he was turned down for assistant principal positions at three other schools, and then our son didn't get this math job. All the positions were filled with women, and he felt he was discriminated against. I don't share his opinions."

Katherine smiled. "I'm glad you came in. I couldn't figure out what I'd done to cause your husband's anger. Now I understand I just happened to be a representation of what happened." She hesitated. "I know it's none of my business, but has he seen a doctor?"

Her eyes threatened to tear, and Sandy used a Kleenex to wipe them. "No. I've tried to get him to see one, but he refuses. I'm hoping after this incident the court will force him to seek help."

Offering Sandy additional tissues, Katherine said, "I hope he gets the help he needs."

Sandy glanced at the door. "I guess I'd better leave. I know this is the beginning of the school year and you're busy. Thank you for listening."

"Thank you for taking time to explain the situation. Please let me know if he gets help."

She nodded. "I will. Good bye."

*****
Gabriel and Paul stood outside the office talking as Sandy Frost walked by.

Paul waved. "Have a nice day, Mrs. Frost."

Coach's eyes widened. "Mrs. Frost?" He jogged down to Katherine's classroom.

Following close behind, Paul said, "I wonder what she wanted?"

They both barged into the room. "You all right?"

She glanced up. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Mr. Edwards said, "Because Mrs. Frost was in the building."

"Yes. Sandy came to speak with me. She apologized for her husband's behavior and explained some things."

Gabriel blurted, "So she didn't threaten you or ask you to drop the charges?"

"No. She hopes the court will order medical care that he refuses to get."

The men looked at each other. Paul was the first to speak. "I guess we worried for nothing."

"Maybe so."

Katherine shook her head. "You two are starting to worry me."

Gabriel walked toward the door. "I have practice to get to." He glanced at Paul. "How about you?"

"I have paperwork that needs my attention. Good day, Mrs. Riley."

"Good bye." Katherine watched them leave and muttered, "No wonder they're friends. They're both crazy."

Paul called back, "We heard that."






CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a pulled pork sandwich. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 800 words.


Chapter 12
Football Chapter 6 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

Gabriel and Paul stood outside the office talking as Sandy Frost walked by.

Paul waved. "Have a nice day, Mrs. Frost."

Coach's eyes widened. "Mrs. Frost?" He jogged down to Katherine's classroom.

Following close behind, Paul said, "I wonder what she wanted?"

They both barged into the room. "You all right?"

She glanced up. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Mr. Edwards said, "Because Mrs. Frost was in the building."

"Yes. Sandy came to speak with me. She apologized for her husband's behavior and explained some things."

Gabriel blurted, "So she didn't threaten you or ask you to drop the charges?"

"No. She hopes the court will order medical care that he refuses to get."

The men looked at each other. Paul was the first to speak. "I guess we worried for nothing."

"Maybe so."

Katherine shook her head. "You two are starting to worry me."

Gabriel walked toward the door. "I have practice to get to." He glanced at Paul. "How about you?"

"I have paperwork that needs my attention. Good day, Mrs. Riley."

"Good bye." Katherine watched them leave and muttered, "No wonder they're friends. They're both crazy."

Paul called back, "We heard that."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 6 part 1

As Gabriel walked through the parking lot, a short cut to the practice field, he noticed all of Katherine's tires were flat. He used his walkie-talkie to notify Paul as he returned inside.

Gabriel asked Paul, "Do you think Mrs. Frost did this?"

Paul shook his head. "No, I think she honestly came to apologize. I think Frost did."

"This could get him locked-up, right?"

Paul cued the security video of the staff parking lot. "It will if we can prove he broke the court order. I wish this video would hurry and get back to when we returned. It had to happen after that. At least we have a time frame."

The two men watched the tape. Finally, Gabriel jumped up and pointed. "There. Who's that? It's definitely a male."

Paul moved closer. "That's a knife. Does it look like the knife he had last night?"

"Wouldn't the police still have it as evidence?"

"Maybe. Come on, turn around."

"Frost would know we have cameras surrounding that area."

"True. How we going to identify him? He's the same height and build." Paul picked up his phone. "I'll call the police."

Gabriel placed his finger on the phone stopping the call. "We better notify Katherine, and see how she wants to handle this."

"You're right. I'll call her to come here."

Coach pointed. "You don't need to. Here she comes." He stepped out of the office. "Mrs. Riley, could you talk with us a few minutes?"

She stepped in. "Of course, I was just headed home. Your faces say it's serious. Is something wrong with Jordan?"

"Jordan's fine." Gabriel glanced at Paul.

Paul avoided eye contact. "All four of your tires were slashed."

"What? How?"

Clueing up the video, Paul said, "This is how. Gabriel was on this way to practice when he noticed."

Pointing Katherine said, "Is that Mr. Frost?"

Gabriel was the first to speak, "We think so. How'd you like to handle this?"

Her eyes widened. "I'm surprised you haven't called the police."

Paul sighed. "I tried but Gabe stopped me. He thought we should wait for your instructions."

Her eyes met Gabriel's as she sat. "Thank you." She faced Paul. "Please call the police. Any idea how I'm going to get four new tires tonight?"

Removing his phone, Gabriel said, "I have a friend, Sam, who owns a garage. He'll help. I suggest you call your insurance company. They can communicate with the school's insurance. If we can prove its Frost, he should be forced to pay. Let them fight it out." He glanced at her. "Can you cover the initial cost until they decide who's paying? If not, I can help."

Paul added, "So will I."

"I can cover it. But how will I get home? I need to get Joshua from practice, and then Jordan. I'm sure they can't get it done tonight." Katherine glanced at her phone. "It's almost five-thirty."

Paul offered, "I can take you home, but I have a meeting later so won't be able to help any further."

Gabriel put his phone away. "He'll be here in about twenty minutes. He'll take your SUV to his shop. If it's all right, I can bring Jordan home."

Katherine nodded. "I guess I'll have to tell Mom what's been going on. I've been trying not to worry her. She'll have to be my taxi for everything. Think my car will be fixed by the end of the day tomorrow?"

"It should be." Gabriel checked his watch. "I need to get to the practice field. I'll return when Sam gets here." He left.

Paul pointed to a chair. "You might as well get comfortable."

Katherine took out her phone. "Mom will need to get Joshua from practice. I know I won't be home by six."

*****
When Sam arrived, Gabriel jogged up and welcomed him. Paul and Katherine came outside.

Sam checked the tires and assured Katherine he had all four in stock. For payment, he'd work with her and the insurance companies.

Gabriel assisted him loading the SUV onto the trailer. After it was loaded, Sam wiped his hands on a grease rag, and shook Katherine's hand. "I'll deliver your SUV here by early evening. Is that okay?"

"It'll have to be. I need to pick up one of my sons from football practice around six o'clock."

Sam tipped his cap and eyed Gabriel. "I'll do what I can to have it here by noon. Will that help?"

Katherine's eyes twinkled. "It would, but will that cause problems? I'm sure you already have jobs lined up."

He nodded. "Can't promise but I'll do what I can." He climbed inside the wrecker. "I need to get back. See you tomorrow."

After Sam drove away, Katherine faced Gabriel. "Thank you." She hesitated. "Did you have anything to do with possibly getting it back earlier?"

Gabriel eyed the practice field. "I'm needed."

Paul grinned. "Let's get you home." He pointed toward his car. "I'm parked over here."



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: more information later, owner of a very large English Mastiff

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Car repair shop owner




Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a flat tire. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 800 words.


Chapter 13
Football Chapter 6 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

PREVIOUS POST:

When Sam arrived, Gabriel jogged up and welcomed him. Paul and Katherine came outside.

Sam checked the tires and assured Katherine he had all four in stock. For payment, he'd work with her and the insurance companies.

Gabriel assisted him loading the SUV onto the trailer. After it was loaded, Sam wiped his hands on a grease rag, and shook Katherine's hand. "I'll deliver your SUV here by early evening. Is that okay?"

"It'll have to be. I need to pick up one of my sons from football practice around six o'clock."

Sam tipped his cap and eyed Gabriel. "I'll do what I can to have it here by noon. Will that help?"

Katherine's eyes twinkled. "It would, but will that cause problems? I'm sure you already have jobs lined up."

He nodded. "Can't promise but I'll do what I can." He climbed inside the wrecker. "I need to get back. See you tomorrow."

After Sam drove away, Katherine faced Gabriel. "Thank you." She hesitated. "Did you have anything to do with possibly getting it back earlier?"

Gabriel eyed the practice field. "I'm needed."

Paul grinned. "Let's get you home." He pointed toward his car. "I'm parked over here."



TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 6 part 2

After practice, Coach called, "Riley, over here." As Jordan stood beside him, he continued, "Your mom had some flat tires. After you shower, come to my office I'll give you a ride home. You don't need to hurry. I have a few things to do before I can leave."

"Okay." Jordan went into the locker room.

On the way home, Gabriel asked, "You seem quiet. Is something wrong?"

"Mom put on new tires just before we left New York City. I don't understand what happened." Jordan adjusted himself in the seat. "I know something's bothering her but she won't tell me what. I don't know how to help."

"How do you know something's wrong?"

Jordan's eyebrows rose. "Duh, I've only lived with her for almost sixteen years. In February, I'll be sixteen."

"I guess you're the resident expert."

"Dad was gone most of the time, so I figured it was my job to take care of her."

Coach chuckled. "I've only known your mom for a few days, but I've already learned she's a strong lady and more than capable of taking care of herself."

"Really? How do you know?"

"She's not afraid to express herself and has put me in my place on several occasions."

"I guess I don't understand. Can you explain?"

"Son, I don't understand women. Why do you think I'm single?"

"I figured, because you haven't found the right woman."

Glancing at Jordan, Gabriel said, "Maybe you're right. I never thought about it that way." He parked by the curb. "Let's get inside. Your mom may be worried."

As they entered, Katherine was setting dinner on the table and glanced up. "Good you're home. Coach Hudson, would you like to eat with us? I have plenty." She shook her head when she saw Reggie. "Did you go home and get him?"

Jordan petted Reggie's head. "Nope, he stays in the locker room."

Gabriel eyed his massive dog and Daisy sniffing each other. "I think they like each other. Reggie comes to school with me every day." When Katherine's eyes widened, he continued, "He's an English mastiff. He's docile. I accuse him of being lazy."

He roughed up his ears. "But he doesn't seem to mind. He gets exercise twice a day, the morning runs and then during football practice with the players. Otherwise he sleeps all day." He chuckled. "He's sort of the team mascot. He even travels on the bus to away games."

"Okay." She held an extra plate in her hand. "You haven't answered my question about sharing dinner."

He glanced at Reggie. "Why not? Sure you don't mind?"

"I don't. Sorry about the card table. Our dining room table will be delivered Friday."

Jeremy shouted, "My toys too."

Gabriel winked at him and then pulled a bib from his back pocket. "Jeremy, why don't you put this on Reggie?"

Grinning from ear-to-ear, Jeremy took the bib. "Mom, do we have enough chairs so Reggie can have one? He's ready to eat."

"No," hurried Gabriel. "He's not eating at the table. He's not allowed, but he tends to help himself. He's supposed to lie off to the side. But because of his big jowls, he slobbers, a lot. You have solid wood floors. The two don't mix well." He pointed. "Reggie, go lay by the door."

The massive dog lumbered over and plopped down. 'Thud.'

Looking Katherine in the eyes, Gabriel said, "How can I help?"

"I have a loaf of garlic bread in the oven. Would you get it then I think we're ready."

After setting it on the table, Gabriel held out Katherine's chair as her eyes widened. "Thank you."

"You look surprised. I do know how to act in polite society." Gabriel scanned the table. "It looks good."

"I didn't mean..."

"You're surprised a jock would think to hold a lady's chair," interrupted Gabriel.

As her cheek tinged pink, she said, "Jeremy, pass your plate. How hungry are you?"

"I'm starving, besides spaghetti's my favorite, next to mac-n-cheese." As his mom, placed the plate in front of him, he added, "Mom, I can eat more than that."

"If you eat all of that, you can have more."

Joel grinned. "He never cleans his plate."

"Joel, no comment is needed."

Jordan asked, "Coach, what offense do you usually run?"

"I'll quickly answer your question, but I don't think we'd better talk football during dinner. I like the spread attack but I'll have to wait and see how we do during practice. Some key players graduated and I'm not sure what'll be best this year. Now, Joel, how do you like Texas so far?"

Katherine took a deep breath and mouthed, "Thank you."

Gabriel winked at her.

Joel rubbed his chin. "I think I'm going to like not having so much snow, but I'm not too fond of the heat. Especially at night. It's hard to sleep."

Pointing to four boxes stacked in a corner, Katherine said, "Since heat rises, the upstairs is still hot at night. The central air conditioner doesn't cool the upstairs enough. I've bought window air conditioners, but I haven't had time to install them."

Gabriel glanced at Jordan. "What you say after dinner we put those in, and we can talk all the football we want?"

Joshua piped up, "Coach, I can help."

"Sure can."

After dinner, the boys and Gabriel helped clear the table. Gabriel walked over to the boxes and lifted one. "Jordan, grab one and carry it upstairs." He turned toward Katherine. "Which room first?"

"Jeremy's. He'll go to bed first. Jeremy, show Coach Hudson, your room and then take your bath."

Joel started to follow upstairs. Gabriel nodded. "Help your mom with the dishes, and then come up. Deal?"

"Okay."

*****
After the air conditioners were installed and the younger boys were in bed and the older ones were upstairs, Gabriel petted Reggie. "Jordan knows something's going on and is worried about you."

Katherine released a breath. "How do you know?"

"He asked me about it on the way home." When her eyes met his, he continued, "I didn't say anything.

"Thank you. I guess I haven't done a very good job of hiding it."

Chuckling he said, "He's lived with you for almost sixteen years and can read you really well."

Katherine smiled. "I guess he's right. We've spent a lot of time together. George was rarely home. Most the time it was just the boys and me." She chewed her lower lip. "Thank you for helping with the air conditioners. I don't know when I'd have gotten to it."

"Thank you for dinner. I'm not the best cook so it's usually fast food or something frozen. Once in a while, it's a prepared meal that all you have to do is heat it up. A home cooked meal's special."

"Your mom's a really good cook. I'm sure you can get a meal there."

"I can, and you're right she's a great cook. I try to go there not around meal times so she knows I'm visiting with her and Dad not just coming for a meal."

"I understand. That's thoughtful." After a long pause Katherine asked, "Can I ask a question?"

"Always, what?"

"Earlier you made a comment about 'me being surprised a jock knew how to hold a chair for a lady.' What did you mean?"

"I've heard my reputation has preceded me. I'll admit in high school and college I fully embraced jockdom. My first few years playing pro, I did some pretty stupid stunts and earned the reputation of being a jerk. The fame, alcohol, and women were abundant. I woke up one morning after a celebration party and didn't know where I was or how I got there. I looked in the mirror and realized I didn't like who I'd become. It wasn't how my parents raised me."

Reggie laid his head on his owner's knee. Gabriel petted it. "I changed at that moment. Since then I've tried to become a better person. A few times you've mentioned my arrogance, and I've realized I still have a lot to work on."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."

"You're right," interrupted Gabriel. "I still have a lot of areas that need work." He checked his watch and stood. "It's getting late. I'd better go. Thank you for everything." He opened the door and left.

Katherine stared at the door. This jock does have a soft side. She walked up stairs and peeked in at her younger boys. They were sound asleep and then said good night to her two older ones.




CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner




Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a plate of spaghetti. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 1400 words. I'm sorry about the length. After Friday, I am off for two week. I can finally actually review all of your posts.


Chapter 14
Football Chapter 7 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Earlier you made a comment about 'me being surprised a jock knew how to hold a chair for a lady.' What did you mean?"

"I've heard my reputation has preceded me. I'll admit in high school and college I fully embraced jockdom. My first few years playing pro, I did some pretty stupid stunts and earned the reputation of being a jerk. The fame, alcohol, and women were abundant. I woke up one morning after a celebration party and didn't know where I was or how I got there. I looked in the mirror and realized I didn't like who I'd become. It wasn't how my parents raised me."

Reggie laid his head on his owner's knee. Gabriel petted it. "I changed at that moment. Since then I've tried to become a better person. A few times you've mentioned my arrogance, and I've realized I still have a lot to work on."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."

"You're right," interrupted Gabriel. "I still have a lot of areas that need work." He checked his watch and stood. "It's getting late. I'd better go. Thank you for everything." He opened the door and left.

Katherine stared at the door. This jock does have a soft side. She walked up stairs and peeked in at her younger boys. They were sound asleep and then said good night to her two older ones.


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 7 part 1

Predawn lit the Eastern sky, as Katherine and Daisy stepped out the front door. Katherine tilted her head and smiled. "Coach Hudson, you don't need to jog with me every morning. I can do this, really I can."

He grinned. "There are two things wrong with that statement. First, I jog anyway and this is part of my usual route, so there's no way I'm going to allow you to be molested when I can prevent it. Second, I think we've known each other long enough that you can call me Gabriel, or Gabe. May I call you Katherine?"

"I have no control over the first one, do I?"

"Only if you stop jogging in the dark."

"It's the only time I have." She checked and set the timer on her watch. "The second, I guess we can be on a first name basis." She moved her head, stretching her neck from shoulder to shoulder. "Ready?"

"Let's do this. Come on, Reggie."

Both dogs stopped and growled across the street.

Katherine paused. "What's wrong with them?"

"No clue, but they heard something." Gabriel stared that direction. "I don't see anything." He hesitated. "Want to continue or abort?"

"I don't see anything either." She glanced at the house. "Let me make sure I locked the door." She ran up the steps and checked the door. "It's locked, and I woke up Jordan before I left. Let's go."

A couple of times during the run, both dogs stopped, stared, and growled.

As they returned to Katherine's house, she said, "Now, I understand. I'm glad you're with me. Something definitely has the dogs upset, and it's a little unsettling. I wonder if Mr. Frost is planning something, but isn't he in jail? Wasn't he arrested for slashing my tires?"

"I have friends with the police department. When I get to school, I'll make a few phone calls and let you know."

"Thank you." As Katherine started up the stairs, she stopped. "NO!!"

Gabriel ran to her. "What's wrong?"

Her cheeks tinged pink. "I forgot to ask Mom if she can be here about 5:45 to take Jordan to practice." Katherine released a deep breath. "I'll have to walk him."

"No, you won't. It's too dangerous to walk or jog back by yourself." Gabriel ran his hand through his short hair. "Get Jordan, we can run back to the locker room together. We're both going there anyway."

"But..."

"But nothing," interrupted Gabriel. "Get your son."

Katherine opened the door and called him. He walked out of the kitchen. "Mom, Grandma's not here yet."

"I know I forgot to ask her."

"Mom!"

"It'll be all right. Coach Hudson came up with an idea."

"How about you and me run to practice?" he asked.

Jordan grinned and slipped on his backpack. "It works for me."

"Jordan, did you remember your breakfast and a change of clothes?"

"Yes, Mom."

"Okay. I'll see you after practice." She stretched up and kissed his cheek.

Using the back of his hand, he wiped it away. "Mom, did you have to do that in front of Coach?"

"It's what moms do and I'm a mom." She reached over and embraced him in a bear hug. "And they do this too."

"Mom?"

Gabriel chuckled. "I have a mom too. It's what they do. Let's go."

"You really have a mom?"

They jogged down the sidewalk. "Of course. My mom makes the lunch you've eaten every day this week."

"Really?" Jordan glanced back and waved at Katherine, still standing on the porch.

She waved. Of course, he has a mom. Everybody does.

Daisy stood alert and growled.

Katherine turned and scanned the area. "Did you hear something, girl?" She petted the dog's head. "Let's get inside."

*****
When Katherine's Mom, Sarah, arrived at seven o'clock, Katherine and the three boys piled in the car. "Mom, could you please stop at the coffee shop on Second Avenue? I have a deal with Coach Hudson. I supply coffee in the mornings and he'll supply lunch for Jordan and me." She laughed. "Or I should say his mom supplies lunch. I think he got off pretty easy with this deal."

"Coach is a special person. I'm a volunteer for the Quarterback Club. He's one of the good guys."

As Sarah pulled into a parking place, Katherine said, "Mom, you like everybody." She opened the door. "I'll be right back."

A few minutes later, she returned, got inside the car, and then passed a sack back to Joshua. "I got you guys something for breakfast. Wait until you get home to eat. I don't want crumbs in Grandma's car."

Sarah smiled. "Besides coffee what did you get for that hunky coach?"

A pink tinted Katherine's cheeks as she swiped at her mom's arm. "Mom?"

Nodding Sarah said, "I thought so. You can't fool your mom. You like him."

"I don't even know him."

At school, Katherine kissed her sons' cheeks, reminded them to behave, and kissed her mom's cheek. "Thank you for everything. My car should be returned sometime today. I appreciate you."

"I know, Sweetheart. Have a good day. If it doesn't arrive in time, call." She glanced to her right. "Look who's coming right on cue with his trusty dog."

"Mom! Hush!"

Coach Hudson leaned inside the car and hugged Sarah. "How you doing? I'm sure the boys are keeping you busy."

"I'm fine and happy to help. I missed these guys when they were in New York. Now I can see them every day."

"That's true. I need to get inside. Paul, Mr. Edwards wanted to see me." He started to close her car door, but stopped. "Will you be available to help with physicals next week?"

"I'm planning on it. It's Thursday, right?"

"It is."

"Are you including some girls or just the football team?"

"I think that's what Paul wants to discuss right now. We're thinking about a girls' cross country team."

"Oh good. Katherine, you could help with that."

"Mom, I've got to go. I'll talk with you tonight."

Gabriel grinned. "I'll see you later, Ms. Sarah." He reached for the two cups of coffee. "Are these for me?"

Katherine handed him the sack. "Here's your breakfast."

"What do I get today?"

"Two sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits and a blueberry kolache."

They walked to the school's door as Gabriel continued, "Yum. You're great at this. You know your mom's right. You'd be the right person to help with the girls' cross country team. I hear you were really good. I think you still hold a few records. We need to check that."

"Don't get..." She stopped as Reggie turned and growled. "What does he hear?"

"I don't know." Gabriel turned and scanned the area.

"After you and Jordan left this morning, Daisy did the same thing. It's sort of spooky. Something's going on, but what?"

"I don't know." He put this hand on the small of her back. "Let's get inside. We're stuck in meetings all day."

Katherine checked her watch. "I have about thirty minutes to work in my room."

"You about done, or do you need some help?"

"It's getting down to the wire, but I think I'll be all right. Thank you for asking."

"Let me know if you need something. I can help or I'll get somebody in there."

"I know." She continued to her room, as Gabriel went into the office.





CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner


Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a Texas sunrise. I drive to school just as the sun is peaking over the horizon. I will have to admit of all the states I've lived in Texas has the most beautiful skies. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 1200 words and is an information post. It gives the story background knowledge that will help understand future events. I'm sorry about the length.


Chapter 15
Football Chapter 8 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Don't get..." She stopped as Reggie turned and growled. "What does he hear?"

"I don't know." Gabriel turned and scanned the area.

"After you and Jordan left this morning, Daisy did the same thing. It's sort of spooky. Something's going on, but what?"

"I don't know." He put his hand on the small of her back. "Let's get inside. We're stuck in meetings all day."

Katherine checked her watch. "I have about thirty minutes to work in my room."

"You about done, or do you need some help?"

"It's getting down to the wire, but I think I'll be all right. Thank you for asking."

"Let me know if you need something. I can help or I'll get somebody in there."

"I know." She continued to her room, as Gabriel went into the office.


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 8 part 1

Katherine smiled when she saw Gabriel jogging toward her house. She rechecked the door to ensure it was locked and then joined him. "Good morning."

"Good morning to you. I see you have your trusty jogging companion."

She petted Daisy's head. "Daisy and I have been at this since she was old enough to jog. What about Reggie?"

Gabriel chuckled. "He puts up with it, but would rather sleep all day." He paused as both dogs stood alert and growled toward the left.

"They hear it again, don't they?" asked Katherine.

"Sure do. My police buddy said Frost was locked up. So it's not him."

"Maybe he's hired somebody to do his dirty work."

Gabriel pointed down the sidewalk. "Let's get going."

Katherine set her alarm. "I have a busy day. I'll get your coffee, but we won't need a lunch. I'm taking a half-a-day off. My furniture arrives this afternoon."

"I bet you're excited."

"I can't wait to sleep in a real bed and not on air mattresses. Jeremy can't wait for his toys."

"I'm sure." Gabriel stopped and stared. "Not only did the dogs hear it, so did I. It was sort of a click, but I can't identify it."

"Should we go back?"

"No. They seem to remain a distance away. If they move closer, we'll take precautions."

Silence continued until Katherine's alarm sounded. As they turned, Gabriel paused and scanned the area. "I don't see a thing, but the dogs hear it."

In front of Katherine's house, Gabriel said, "I'll make sure you get inside safely."

"Thank you. Please be safe on the way back to school."

"I will. Besides who would bother me with Reggie? He may look like a big lug, but if crossed, he'll react."

At the door, Katherine waved. "I'll see you later."

After Jordan was at practice and reminded that Grandma would pick him up. Katherine returned home and prepared for her day. When her mom arrived, she left.

She stopped by the office, and dropped off Coach Hudson's coffee and breakfast, and went on to her classroom.

As she sipped her coffee, Angie walked in. "I hear you and Gabe are spending time together."

"Who'd you hear that from? He's just worried because I jog in the dark. Since he jogs the same route at the same time, we do it together. That's hardly spending time together."

"My husband, Bill. He's friends with Gabe. I guess Gabe mentioned it."

"I hope it doesn't get around. I'd hate to give Mr. Frost's allegations credibility. It's really nothing."

"Gabe's one of the good guys. He wouldn't let anything happen to damage your reputation." Angie scanned the room. "Is there anything I can help with?"

Katherine took a long drink of coffee. "Did Gabriel send you to help?"

"Huh? Why'd you ask?"

"Yesterday he asked about how I was coming and asked if I needed help."

"Gabriel didn't say anything, but Mr. Edwards dropped by and asked."

"And they're close friends. Hmm. Sounds fishy." Katherine paused. "I've mentioned to Gabriel that he has a bad habit of pushing his way into my business. So I guess he's decided not to make it obvious. Grrr." She laughed and turned a circle with her arms out. "How does it look? What do I need to work on?"

"I think you're close. You have posters, desks arranged." She glanced around the room. "Your targets? Where do you plan to put your targets?"

"Targets?"

"Basically objectives for each subject you teach. They need to be posted."

Katherine studied each wall and then pointed. "I guess I could write them on the white board. They'll change almost daily, right?"

"Yes, you're teaching, what four different math classes?"

"Yes, AP Calculus, Calculus, AP Pre-calculus, Pre-calculus, and Geometry." Katherine's eyes widened. "That's five." She took a deep breath. "That's too many." She plopped in a chair. "I don't think I can do it. How many are you teaching?"

Gabriel walked in. "You're stressing. What's wrong?"

Angie shook her head. "She just realized she's teaching five different subjects. She thought it was four."

"Mr. Edwards is finalizing our schedule. We'll get them at the meeting." Gabriel glanced at his watch. "That starts in fifteen minutes. I came by to thank you for the coffee and breakfast." He glanced around the classroom. "Your room's looking good." He gestured toward the door. "Ladies, after you. I'll escort you two beautiful ladies to the cafeteria." He followed them out the door.

After everybody was seated and Mr. Edwards stood at the podium, a man from the back of the room called out. "We hear you have our final schedules. We heard our classes are growing. How many students? I might need more desks."

Paul grinned and shook his head. "I see you're ready to get right to business." After a short pause, he continued, "Texas Department of Education has increased the class size to twenty-six students from fifth grade to twelfth. The only department that this impacts is the math department. We're down one teacher. So we may not be allocated another math teacher. I'm working on that."

He rubbed his chin. "The Social Studies department has a lot of students signed up this year. I'm not sure why the increase, but we have a staff member, who can cover that. Coach Hudson, would you prefer to teach US History, or Government?"

Gabriel called out. "How long do I have to think about it?"

Mr. Edwards glanced at his watch. "Times up."

"Figured." He took a deep breath. "If it'll help, I'll do both, but I have one stipulation. Instead of taking one of the classrooms in the social studies hall, can I have that empty room close to the office? I think its room 101. Less travel time will be a huge help."

Paul glanced toward the Assistant Principals. After they nodded, he continued, "I don't see any reason why not. But remain flexible for a while. It could change. Thank you for agreeing to take both."

"Just helping."

Paul held up a stack of papers. "Here's your new schedules. Please understand they can change," he laughed, "up until the end of the first nine weeks. We normally don't make changes after mid-quarter progress reports go home. Department leads please come and get them."

Nobody from the math department got up.

Mr. Edwards stared at the papers for a few moments. "I guess I never assigned a new math department chair. Mr. Collins, would you do it?"

Frank stood. "Sure." He got the papers and passed them out.

The teachers studied their schedule.

Katherine released a breath. "Good, my AP Pre-calculus became a regular Pre-calculus class. So I only have four subjects. I can handle that."

Angie smiled. "I knew it'd work out."

After the staff meeting, Katherine went to her room and searched the planning documents and wrote the first week's objectives for each subject on the white board and divided them with colored magnetic strips. I think I'm almost ready. I have Monday to finish anything I've forgotten. I'm in good shape.

She turned her head when she heard, 'Knock, knock' at the door.

Katherine glanced up and smiled. "When did you learn to knock? I'm used to you just walking in."

Gabriel set down a large bag. "It's the new me. I told you that I'd work on a few things." He studied the bag. "I figured you wouldn't think about lunch with furniture being delivered. Mom and I decided to help. There should be enough for all the boys and Ms. Sarah."

Grinning, Katherine teased, "But not me."

Chuckling he realized his error. "Of course you. I'd never forget you." He avoided eye contact. "Hmm, I guess I'd better go."

She touched his arm. "Gabriel, thank you. It's very thoughtful."

"If you need any help, you have my number. It's on the school phone tree." He left.


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach and Gabriel's friend.



Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a math problem. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 1300 words and is an information post. It gives the story background knowledge that will help understand future events. I'm sorry about the length.


Chapter 16
Football Chapter 9 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After the staff meeting, Katherine went to her room and searched the planning documents and wrote the first week's objectives for each subject on the white board and divided them with colored magnetic strips. I think I'm almost ready. I have Monday to finish anything I've forgotten. I'm in good shape.

She turned her head when she heard, 'Knock, knock' at the door.

Katherine glanced up and smiled. "When did you learn to knock? I'm used to you just walking in."

Gabriel set down a large bag. "It's the new me. I told you that I'd work on a few things." He studied the bag. "I figured you wouldn't think about lunch with furniture being delivered. Mom and I decided to help. There should be enough for all the boys and Ms. Sarah."

Grinning, Katherine teased, "But not me."

Chuckling he realized his error. "Of course you. I'd never forget you." He avoided eye contact. "Hmm, I guess I'd better go."

She touched his arm. "Gabriel, thank you. It's very thoughtful."

"If you need any help, you have my number. It's on the school phone tree." He left.



TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 9 part 1

Katherine barely arrived home and changed her clothes before the movers arrived. The boys and her mom had just finished eating.

Sarah handed her daughter a sandwich. "Eat. I got this."

"But, Mom." As Katherine watched Sarah walk away, she took a bite. "This is really good. Mrs. Hudson's a good cook." She exhaled a deep breath and took another bite.

Mid-afternoon, Katherine noticed her mom slowing down. She slipped her arm around her. "Mom, go home. I'll be all right."

"Honey, are you sure. There's still a lot to be unloaded."

"You need to go home and rest. I might need your help tomorrow. If I do, I promise I'll call."

Finally, Sarah agreed to leave.

The movers carried large boxes and more furniture, but left them in the entry way and the living room.

Katherine, with Daisy by her side, approached a mover. "Excuse me. Who's in charge?"

The large man pointed to a taller man. "He is."

Walking up to him, Katherine said, "Sir, I don't understand why these men aren't placing the boxes in the appropriate rooms."

"We were told to deliver furniture. That's what we're doing."

"The contract says you're to put the boxes and furniture in the assigned room, put together any furniture taken apart, and then take the boxes with you."

"Ma'am, that's not how it's done." He walked away. "I have work to do."

Katherine hurried to the kitchen with Daisy following. I need to find the contract. She opened a drawer, then another, and shouted, "Found it!"

*****
A few minutes before four o'clock Jordan opened the locker room door. Coach Hudson walked up to him. "Didn't your mom bring you?"

"No. I didn't want to bother her. I told Joel to let her know I left."

"What's going on?"

"She's arguing with the movers. The contract said one thing, and they're doing something else. It's a mess." He continued to the locker room.

Gabriel hesitated. "After practice come to my office, I'll give you a ride home."

Jordan nodded.

Gabriel walked up to Bill. "When we're done have as many available coaches and players come to Katherine Riley's house. I think the movers are taking advantage." He paused. "You'd better wait for my phone call."

Bill grinned. "You'll get accused of pushing your way in again."

"Probably, but she needs help."

"How about waiting until she asks?"

"She'd never ask. I'll risk the anger." Gabriel walked away. "Let's get some conditioning started."

*****
After practice, Jordan stood outside Coach's office. Gabriel motioned him in. "You were a little off during practice. You worried about your mom?"

"Sorry Coach. I'm needed at home. Not here."

Gabriel shoved his paperwork aside. "I'll do this later. Let's go." He motioned for Reggie to follow.

*****
As Gabriel parked the pick-up at the curb, Jordan sighed. "I knew it wouldn't be good but I never imagined this." He glanced at Gabriel. "There's boxes stacked all the way to the curb and even a cop. Sorry Coach, but I should've skipped practice."

"Understood."

When they got to the door, they saw Joshua talking to the officer and another man, "Sir, I'm sure our dog didn't kill his or any cat. She's been inside with Mom."

Gabriel nodded. "Hello, Eugene." He glanced at the officer and offered his hand. "I don't think we've met. I'm Gabriel Hudson. You must be new in town. What's going on?"

The officer accepted his hand but eyed Reggie. "I'm Don Rolland. This is my first week on the job. Mr. Holland says their dog killed his cat."

Gabriel addressed the wide-eyed officer, "Reggie may be big, but he's a marshmallow." He faced Eugene. "I thought Maggie was allergic to cats."

Eugene bit his lower lip. "Coach, you know how fickle women are. She is to most cats but not this one."

Gabriel nodded. "Did you get a look at the dog? Can you describe it?"

"I got a good look at him." Eugene used his hand to measure about thigh high. "He was big and brown. He ran up, grabbed the cat round the stomach, and shook him 'til it died."

The officer asked, "Did he take the cat with him? Where did he go?"

"The cat's on the lawn. I saw the dog run up to this door." He pointed at Joshua. "And this boy let him in."

Joshua raised his hands chest level. "I did not."

A loud crash, a scream, and a "Help!" rang out. All heads turned toward the stairs.

Gabriel took two stairs at a time and was the first on the scene. He lifted the bed frame and examined Katherine's hand. "Jordan, get your mom two bags of ice."

Katherine alternated her free hand rubbing her hand and then her cheek. "Thank you." She wiped the tears attempting to escape. "What are these men doing here?"

The officer introduced himself and Eugene. "He says your dog killed his cat."

Looking at Daisy, who had since laid her head in Katherine's lap, she said, "That's impossible. Daisy's been by my side all afternoon."

Eugene pointed. "It wasn't that dog. It was your black dog."

"She's the only dog I have."

Jordan returned with bagged ice.

Gabriel examined her hand. "I don't think you broke any bones." He took the ice and placed one on her hand. "Put this on your cheek. It'll help keep down the swelling and bruising." He motioned to Jeremy. "Hold it on your mom's cheek."

Jeremy grinned. "I get to help."

Officer Rolland looked behind him. "Mr. Holland, why don't you show me the dead cat?"

After they left, Gabriel said, "Joshua, watch from the window. I bet there's no cat."

Katherine attempted to stand. "Thank you, your pushiness was needed this time."

Offering his hand, he asked, "What happened?"

"The movers refused to honor their contract. They said they didn't have any tools, never put anything in the rooms, and it's my job to dispose of the boxes." Katherine set her jaw. "I have it in writing. I even called their front office, but got nowhere."

Taking out his phone, Gabriel said, "I got this." After he put the phone away, he continued, "A few friends and some players are on their way. Jordan and I'll set up the beds. You direct traffic. I mean let them know where to put things."

He glanced out the window. "I guess we have an hour and half, maybe two before it rains. Until they get here, take a break and keep the ice in place. Jeremy, keep it on your mom's pretty face. We wouldn't want it to bruise."

"You're incorrigible." Katherine turned and left.

Gabriel chuckled. "At least she didn't say I butted in."

"I heard that, and you did."



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach and Gabriel's friend.




Author Notes Thank you google images for a photo of a moving. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 1100 words and is an information post. I'm sorry about the length. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works.


Chapter 17
Football Chapter 9 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:


Gabriel examined her hand. "I don't think you broke any bones." He took the ice and placed one on her hand. "Put this on your cheek. It'll help keep down the swelling and bruising." He motioned to Jeremy. "Hold it on your mom's cheek."

Jeremy grinned. "I get to help."

Officer Rolland looked behind him. "Mr. Holland, why don't you show me the dead cat?"

After they left, Gabriel said, "Joshua, watch from the window. I bet there's no cat."

Katherine attempted to stand. "Thank you, your pushiness was needed this time."

Offering his hand, he asked, "What happened?"

"The movers refused to honor their contract. They said they didn't have any tools, never put anything in the rooms, and it's my job to dispose of the boxes." Katherine set her jaw. "I have it in writing. I even called their front office, but got nowhere."

Taking out his phone, Gabriel said, "I got this." After he put the phone away, he continued, "A few friends and some players are on their way. Jordan and I'll set up the beds. You direct traffic. I mean let them know where to put things."

He glanced out the window. "I guess we have an hour and half, maybe two before it rains. Until they get here, take a break and keep the ice in place. Jeremy, keep it on your mom's pretty face. We wouldn't want it to bruise."

"You're incorrigible." Katherine turned and left.

Gabriel chuckled. "At least she didn't say I butted in."

"I heard that, and you did."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 9 part 2

It wasn't long before Coach Brooks knocked on the door. Katherine answered, "Hello, you're Angie's husband, right?"

"I am. A few more coaches and players are on their way. I see they left you in a mess, and there's rain headed this way." He scanned the area. "I suggest we clear the living room." He motioned to two players. "Mrs. Riley, tell these gentlemen where you want the boxes and they'll take them."

Katherine looked at a box. "That goes to Jeremy's room." She paused, "Joshua, was there a cat?" After he shook his head, she continued, "You stay in the upstairs hallway and direct traffic." She pointed to the side of the box. "On the boxes, it should say where it goes." She looked back at the boys. "Stack them against a wall. We can unpack later."

Bill grinned. "May I suggest they unpack as much as they can, break the boxes down, and stack them in the garage?" He eyed the boys. "I mean neatly stacked, not just thrown in there."

"Yes Coach," they said in unison.

Katherine petted Daisy's head. "That's a good idea. I hadn't thought of it."
Joel answered the door. "Mom, more help."

"Thank you. I don't know what I'd do without you.

Bill motioned to the other coaches. "I think we need to put together as much furniture as we can. The players can carry boxes."

They all agreed it would be the best use of resources.

About nine o'clock, Gabriel came downstairs, with Reggie by his side, and rubbed his stomach. "Anybody else hungry?"

The boys shouted, "Yes Coach!"

Katherine chewed her lower lip.

Gabriel grinned. "I'm butting in again, but I got this. Bill, how many players and coaches do we have?"

"Total of five coaches and six boys, ten counting Mrs. Riley's boys." He nodded at her. "Of course, Mrs. Riley."

Quickly, Gabriel did the math in his head. "That's seventeen total counting me." He removed his phone and ordered nine large pizzas, four with pepperoni and five with extra cheese and drinks. His eyes met hers. "Yes, I just did it again, and it's already paid for."

"But?"

He headed upstairs. "But nothing. I have two more beds to finish and then yours." From the top of the stairs, he said, "Yes, I'm incorrigible. Mom's mentioned it numerous times while I grew up." He chuckled.

Katherine put her hands on her hips and glared at the stairs.

Bill came up behind her. "I know he's frustrating. Just so you know; he's like this all the time. Not just around you."

"But he just came in and took over."

"It means he cares."

"What?"

"I need to get back to work." Bill left.

After the pizza delivery, work stopped and everybody grabbed a slice, ate it, carried in another box, grabbed another slice, and ate it. This was repeated until the pizza was gone.

The wind picked up and it started to drizzle. As the last three boxes were lifted, it poured.

Katherine went to the door and held it open for the boys. "Thank you. We made it. I couldn't have done it without you."

The teenagers grinned as they acknowledged a job well done. The one who'd entered first, asked, "Is there anything else we can help with?"

Glancing at her watch, Katherine said, "It's getting late. Take these boxes to their rooms and then you'd better get home. How'd you get here? I don't want you walking in the rain."

One of the boys said, "I drove. I can take them."

Bill joined the discussion, "I want you guys going straight home. Understood?"

In unison, they answered, "Yes Coach."

As they walked away, Katherine faced Bill. "You guys are strict."

Grinning, Bill said, "What makes a good football player doesn't necessarily make a good citizen. They're good boys, but tend to find mischief or at least it finds them."

"I get it." Katherine's head turned as Gabriel joined them. "We just sent the boys home."

Reggie nuzzled Daisy.

"I think they like each other." He checked his watch. "Good. I didn't realize it was this late."

His eyes met Bill's, and Bill answered, "I warned them to go straight home."

"Good. Jordan, let's get your mom's bed put together." Gabriel glanced at Bill. "I'm almost finished. You and the others might as well leave." He and Jordan went to Katherine's room.

Katherine thanked and said good-bye to the coaches. They offered to help tomorrow. She assured them she and her boys could finish.

Just as she finished putting the younger boys to bed, Jordan came to her. "Coach wants to know if you want that ruffle thing on the bed before we put the mattress on."

"What ruffle thing? I'll be down in a minute."

Within minutes, Katherine walked into her bedroom. Gabriel held up a ruffled ivory bed-skirt. "Do you want this on before we put on the mattress?"
Her eyes widened. "I do. I'm surprised you know what it is."

"Not sure its official name, but I do have a Mom who likes rufflely things. I do come out of my cave once in a while."

"Sorry, I didn't mean."

He chuckled. "Yes, you did." He tossed a corner to her. "Help me adjust it on that side." After it was on, he motioned to Jordan. "Let's get this mattress on and then we're finished."

After the mattress was adjusted, Jordan sighed. "Mom, am I done for tonight?"

She gave her eldest son a big hug. "Yes, you were a huge help. Thank you." She reached over and picked-up a fitted sheet.

Gabriel held out his hand. "I'll help. You have to be tired."

"I'm doing all right. I'll admit it will be great sleeping in my own bed tonight."

"I can't even begin to imagine."

After the bed was made, Gabriel walked around the living room. "It looks a lot better than it did when I arrived. It's almost manageable."

Katherine touched his lower arm. "Thank you. I really mean it. I couldn't have gotten everything inside before it rained. There's no way I would've gotten the bed frames made."

He touched her cheek. "It's only slightly bruised. I'm sure you can cover it with make-up." He held her badly bruised hand and shook his head. "There's no hope for your hand. It may be really sore in the morning."

"Along with my entire body. Tomorrow will be another hard day."

Gabriel motioned to Reggie as he walked to the door. "I need to get home. If you need any help tomorrow, you have my number." He held out his hand. "Give me your phone."

"Why?"

"You have my number on the staff roster, but I'm putting it in here so you have it readily available." He added it. "How do you want me to identify myself?"

"What?"

"I'm pretty sure you have a few choice names for me."

"Why don't you just put it under Gabriel Hudson? I think I can find it."

He handed her phone back and grinned. "You sure?"

"Yes." She hesitated. "Really, I'm indebted to you. I hate to admit it, but this is one time your pushiness was needed. Thank you."

He cupped her hand in his. "You're welcome and thank you for saying it."
"You're still incorrigible," she teased.

"Like I said, Mom would agree." He opened the door. "Good night."

"Good night."


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach and Gabriel's friend.




Author Notes HEY!!!! It's snowing in Texas. WOW!!! Thank you google images for a photo of pizza. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 1200 words and is an information post. I'm sorry about the length. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works.


Chapter 18
Football Chapter 10 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Gabriel motioned to Reggie as he walked to the door. "I need to get home. If you need any help tomorrow, you have my number." He held out his hand. "Give me your phone."

"Why?"

"You have my number on the staff roster, but I'm putting it in here so you have it readily available." He added it. "How do you want me to identify myself?"

"What?"

"I'm pretty sure you have a few choice names for me."

"Why don't you just put it under Gabriel Hudson? I think I can find it."

He handed her phone back and grinned. "You sure?"

"Yes." She hesitated. "Really, I'm indebted to you. I hate to admit it, but this is one time your pushiness was needed. Thank you."

He cupped her hand in his. "You're welcome and thank you for saying it."

"You're still incorrigible," she teased.

"Like I said, Mom would agree." He opened the door. "Good night."

"Good night."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 10 part 1

As Gabriel drank his first cup and read the front page of the newspaper, he set it on the table. "Reggie, what are we doing here? Are you worrying about Kate and the boys as much as I am?"

Reggie made a grunting sound.

"I thought so. We're both concerned." He downed another cup. "Let's go and push our way into her life, again." He petted the dog and grinned. "It's part of our charm."

*****
Once parked at Katherine's house, he walked to the door. "You know we're going to hear about it, don't you?"

Reggie lay down.

"What are you worried about? She's never lectured you." Gabriel knocked. No answer. He knocked again and then listened. He heard boys arguing. I have a feeling things aren't going well. He bent over and rubbed Reggie's ears. "Should I just walk in?"

Reggie stood.

"I take that as a yes." He opened the door and saw Joel standing on the couch holding an action figure out of Jeremy's reach. "What's going on?"

With tears streaming down his cheeks, Jeremy said, "He took my Hulk and won't give him back."

Gabriel took it from Joel. "Did you take his toy?"

"Yes, because..."

Holding up his hand, Gabriel continued, "Is there ever a reason to take somebody else's belongings, especially a brother?"

Joel hung his head. "No, but..."

"Okay, Jeremy, before I give this to you, what did you do?"

Joel crossed his arms and grinned. "Coach just ditched you out. Tell him."

Gabriel gave Joel a warning look. "Jeremy, do you have something to tell me?"

"It wasn't me. The Hulk was saving the world, and the bad guys hid in the Lego fort Joel built, and he destroyed it. I didn't do it, The Hulk did."

Gabriel held out the action figure. "So you're telling me this piece of plastic on its own power smashed a Lego fort. Do I understand correctly?" When Jeremy nodded, he continued, "Show me how he did it." He set the figure on the floor. "Don't touch it. I want it to move on its own."

Jeremy sighed. "It had a little help."

"Thought so. Maybe you owe Joel an apology."

"Okay." With tears running down his cheeks, Jeremy walked up to his brother and gave him a hug. "I'm sorry and so is The Hulk."

Gabriel asked, "Joel, how about you?"

"I accept your apology." Joel sighed. "And The Hulk's too."

Petting Reggie's head, Gabriel muttered, "One emergency solved, but you'd better remain with these two." He scanned the room. "Jeremy, where's everybody?"

"Jordan and Joshua are supposed to put our rooms together, and Mom's yelling at the washing machine."

Gabriel pointed toward the kitchen. "The laundry room's this way, right?"

He nodded. "I think so."

As Gabriel headed that direction, he heard water splashing and a loud, "No!"

Gabriel rushed to the washer and turned off the water source. He turned around, attempting to hide his grin. "Joel, bring your mom a towel." He scanned the large sorted piles of clothes. "Before I left yesterday, why didn't you tell me that you needed the washer and dryer hooked up? I would've done it. You could've gotten an early start."

"It was late, and you'd already done so much." Katherine paused, studied the floor, and the drenched dog. "I couldn't ask one more thing."

He used his finger to raise her chin so their eyes met. "I would've preferred you asked." He used a finger to move a stray strand of hair. "You're pretty cute soaking wet and hair falling out of your pony tail. The look suits you."

Joel handed her the towel. "Mom, what happened?"

"She fought the washer and the washer won."

Huffing, she turned. "I'm going to change."

He called after her. "I already know I pushed my way in and am incorrigible."

*****
When she returned, she noticed he had put the first pile in the washer. "Thank you, but you didn't need to do that."

"Just helping."

"Since you helped me again, I hate to say this, but you can't just walk in my house. I thought the new you knocked." She shook her head. "You need to knock and..."

"Stop right there," interrupted Gabriel. "I did knock, but nobody heard me. You were back here, and the two older boys were upstairs, and the two younger ones were fighting. Before I came back here, I solved their fight. I left Reggie with them and gave him instructions to referee." He took her bruised hand and checked it, but didn't comment.

"It's fine." She moved her hand out of his. "I want to thank you, again for everything." With her back against the wall she slid down to the floor. Her knees were chest high and her head in her hands. "I don't know what I was thinking when I thought I could make this move by myself."

Daisy nuzzled in and licked her cheek.

Gabriel knelt to her level. "You're doing fine. Everybody needs a little help once in a while."

"I bet you don't. You're always in control."

"Even me. Why do you think I have a large coaching staff supporting me? They have my back." He offered his hand, helped her up, and scanned the area. "I won't be much help putting all this where it goes. While you were changing, I took the liberty to get help. If it's all right, I'll take the boys fishing on my parents' farm. Bill will come with me. Angie will help you. Ms. Sarah and Mom will be here shortly. I haven't mentioned a word about this to the boys, in case you disapprove."

As she set her jaw, he added, "I know I over stepped, again, but you need help. Accept it, please?" He grinned. "There's a benefit. I'll be out of your hair all day."

She shook her head and laughed. "Okay, that's something positive." She scanned the boxes. "And you're taking the boys with you?"

He nodded. "I told Bill to bring some lunch. After they eat, we'll be out of the way."

"You know I can feed my own kids."

"I know. Matter-of-fact, I happen to know from experience that you're a good cook. Dinner Wednesday evening was very good." Gabriel turned his head as he heard a knock on the door. "It's probably Bill and Angie." He started toward the door. "I'll get it."

Katherine exhaled. "It's my house, but I'll let you answer it." She headed for the door with Daisy by her side. "Is it okay if I follow?"

He paused. "No, it's not." Placing his hand on the small of her back, he added, "It is okay if you walk beside me." He stopped and his eyes met hers. "I never want to give you the impression I think you're less important than me. If I ever give you that impression, please tell me."

After swallowing, she said, "I will."

"I'd never degrade you."

After Katherine nodded, they continued to the door. Gabriel waited until she opened it, and they both greeted Bill and Angie.

Bill shook Gabriel's hand. "I began to think nobody was going to let us in."

Gabriel glanced at Katherine. "I acted like me again and gave an impression I had no intention of giving and had to quickly correct it." He hesitated. "We good?"

Katherine touched his arm. "We're good."

Angie held up a large bag. "I have sub sandwiches and chips for everybody. Anybody hungry?"





CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.





Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of The Hulk. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little under 1300 words. I'm sorry about the length. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works.


Chapter 19
Football Chapter 10 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

As she set her jaw, he added, "I know I over stepped, again, but you need help. Accept it, please?" He grinned. "There's a benefit. I'll be out of your hair all day."

She shook her head and laughed. "Okay, that's something positive." She scanned the boxes. "And you're taking the boys with you?"

He nodded. "I told Bill to bring some lunch. After they eat, we'll be out of the way."

"You know I can feed my own kids."

"I know. Matter-of-fact, I happen to know from experience that you're a good cook. Dinner Wednesday evening was very good." Gabriel turned his head as he heard a knock on the door. "It's probably Bill and Angie." He started toward the door. "I'll get it."

Katherine exhaled. "It's my house, but I'll let you answer it." She headed for the door with Daisy by her side. "Is it okay if I follow?"

He paused. "No, it's not." Placing his hand on the small of her back, he added, "It is okay if you walk beside me." He stopped and his eyes met hers. "I never want to give you the impression I think you're less important than me. If I ever give you that impression, please tell me."

After swallowing, she said, "I will."

"I'd never degrade you."

After Katherine nodded, they continued to the door. Gabriel waited until she opened it, and they both greeted Bill and Angie.

Bill shook Gabriel's hand. "I began to think nobody was going to let us in."

Gabriel glanced at Katherine. "I acted like me again and gave an impression I had no intention of giving and had to quickly correct it." He hesitated. "We good?"

Katherine touched his arm. "We're good."

Angie held up a large bag. "I have sub sandwiches and chips for everybody. Anybody hungry?"

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 10 part 2

Once the men left, it was agreed that Sarah and Rebecca would unpack the kitchen and set it up. Katherine would work on her bedroom and the den. Angie would put the living room together. Each area was close enough they could visit as they worked.

Katherine walked into the living room but avoided eye contact with Angie. "I shouldn't ask, but I have to. How well do you know Gabriel?"

"I wondered when you'd get around to asking."

She turned and went into the bedroom. "Never mind. I shouldn't have. Besides you're Bill's wife."

Angie followed and sat on the edge of the bed. "I'd never share our conversations with Bill. That being said, I've known Gabe for three years. He has faults, he's a man, but he's a good guy."

Katherine refolded a sweater, twice. "I guess I'm wondering about his life when he was a pro player. He says he's changed, but I'm not sure." She set it in a drawer.

"I didn't know him back then. All I know is the stories I've heard. He supposedly fell into the rich, playboy trap. He went to and hosted wild parties and had numerous women. Many of his escapades were mentioned in tabloids." Angie took a few pairs of shoes out of a box. "Where do you want these?"

After Katherine pointed to a place in the closet, Angie petted Daisy and continued, "Now, he's a homebody; just him and Reggie. I've only known of him dating three women and none of them went past a second, maybe a third, date. I've known women who made ridiculous plays for him, but he wasn't interested. It seems he's honestly turned his life around and content with it."

Katherine took a stack of books from a box. "These belong in the den." She went to the den and then returned. "I've made a few comments about his pushiness and arrogance. Those comments seemed to bother him. Earlier today he just walked into my house without knocking. He said he knocked; he came on in when he heard Joel and Jeremy fighting. Later on, when everyone arrived, he headed to the door first, giving the impression I might just follow him to my own door. I made some little comment and he seemed truly upset."

"I wondered what was going on." Angie paused. "I don't know where it comes from but he's a huge advocate for women. He wants to make sure women are treated equally and they should come to expect it."

Angie picked up some books. "You want these in the den too?" Katherine nodded, and Angie continued, "He's not really pushy, well...yes he is, but he sees something that needs to be done and does it. He doesn't think about the consequences until it's too late. That's a problem but also part of his charm. He's always willing to help. Just so you know he does it to everybody, not just you. Does this help?"

After Katherine nodded, Angie added, "I better get back to the living room." Over her shoulder she said, "Please ask me anything. I think you two would make a great couple."

Katherine replied, "I have no desire to be in a relationship with anybody. I've only been widowed six months. I have children who need me." Under her breath she added, "Especially a relationship with a self-centered jock."

*****
When they arrived at Gabriel's parent's farm the boys and Bill readied the fishing poles, while Gabriel and Reggie went inside. He noticed his mom and dad cooking. "What's going on? This looks like you're cooking for an army."

Harold grinned. "We are."

Rebecca kissed her son's cheek. "When you're finished fishing, you're going to bring this for dinner."

"Mom, I didn't ask you to do this. Kate will think I've pushed my way into her life again. She doesn't like it when I do."

"I know you didn't ask and I'll tell her that. Moving is hectic and I wanted to do it for her. I like her, a lot. But more importantly, I like her for you. I think you two are good together."

"Mom, we barely know each other, and most of the time she's upset with me."

"You'll work everything out and realize how right I am. Now get, and take those boys fishing."

When Gabriel walked outside, Bill asked, "We ready?" He studied his buddy. "What's wrong?"

"Mom's matchmaking." He grabbed his pole. "Let's do this."

They walked to the pond.

As Jordan showed Jeremy how to put a worm on the hook, his youngest brother asked, "When you were my age, did Dad teach you to do this?"

"Nope, Dad never had time. He was always gone."

"Who taught you?"

"Mom sent us to camp for two weeks every summer. You're getting old enough to go. Maybe she'll send you next year."

Both Bill and Gabriel looked at each other as they listened to the boys.

Bill leaned over and whispered, "These boys never really had a dad."

Gabriel grabbed a bobber and fingered it. "Paul alluded to it, but I didn't realize the depth of his comment." He took the bobber to Jeremy and added it to his line. "I think this'll help. If it goes under water, you've caught a fish. Why don't we go over here?" They walked down the bank a little farther. "I think there's more fish."

"I can't wait to catch a huge one. Think Mom will cook it?"

"If we help her, I'm sure she will."

After about an hour of fishing, Gabriel went to the truck to get snacks and drinks. As he carried them, Bill met him partway. "I'll give you a hand." He took an ice chest. "Hey, is your mom trying to match you and Katherine?"

Gabriel nodded. "Ever heard of anything so ridiculous?"

Bill chuckled. "I think she's right. Katherine's a good match for you."

As his eyebrows rose, Gabriel said, "Are you forgetting how often she's angry with me? Most of the time we're barely speaking."

Setting down the ice chest, Bill said, "That's a mark of a good relationship." He grinned. "Guys, want drinks and a snack?"

Gabriel put down the second ice chest. "Chips and cookies over here." He held up an apple. "And if you want to make your mom happy fresh fruit."

Jeremy walked to him. "Coach, you're funny. Why'd I eat an apple when there's cookies?"

Grinning, Gabriel answered, "Good point. Just trying to stay on your mom's good side."


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of fishing. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 1000 words. I'm sorry about the length. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works.


Chapter 20
Football Chapter 10 part 3

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After about an hour of fishing, Gabriel went to the truck to get snacks and drinks. As he carried them, Bill met him partway. "I'll give you a hand." He took an ice chest. "Hey, is your mom trying to match you and Katherine?"

Gabriel nodded. "Ever heard of anything so ridiculous?"

Bill chuckled. "I think she's right. Katherine's a good match for you."

As his eyebrows rose, Gabriel said, "Are you forgetting how often she's angry with me? Most of the time we're barely speaking."

Setting down the ice chest, Bill said, "That's a mark of a good relationship." He grinned. "Guys, want drinks and a snack?"

Gabriel put down the second ice chest. "Chips and cookies over here." He held up an apple. "And if you want to make your mom happy fresh fruit."

Jeremy walked to him. "Coach, you're funny. Why'd I eat an apple when there's cookies?"

Grinning, Gabriel answered, "Good point. Just trying to stay on your mom's good side."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 10 part 3 day 8 Saturday evening (post 20)

Around five o'clock the ladies gathered in the living room. Katherine smiled. "It looks great. The majority of the boxes are emptied. Thank you so much. I doubt I could've gotten it done by myself."

Rebecca pointed at the kitchen. "You need to check the kitchen. We put things where we thought they should go. You may have different ideas."

"I doubt it. I think most kitchens are set up for user convenience. I can't imagine things would be that far off. Thank you." Katherine entered the dining room and slid her hand along the antique walnut wood cabinet. "My china looks great in this. It came with the house." She turned her head at a commotion outside. "It must be the boys. Peace and quiet just ended."

Moments later in rushed the boys with Reggie running behind. Jeremy led the pack, stopped, and held his arms wide. "Mom, I caught a huge fish. This big. Can you cook it?"

Gabriel followed behind. "On the front porch is a bucket of enough bluegill for a fish fry." His eyes met Katherine's. "What do you want me to do with them?"

"Hmmm." Katherine closed her eyes and then opened them. She witnessed the anticipation on her youngest son's face. "We cook them."

Harold walked in carrying two large containers. "Tonight's dinner."

Bill followed with more containers. "Here's more." He glanced behind him. "Jordan and Joshua have the rest."

Katherine glared at Gabriel.

He held up his hands. "I'm innocent. It was all Mom's doing."

Rebecca came up and held both Katherine's hands. "Gabe's right. I did this on my own. He knew nothing about it. I know how stressful moving is and wanted to help."

"Thank you but setting up the kitchen and dining room was more help than you'll ever know. You didn't need to do this."

Embracing Katherine, Rebecca said, "I did."

When the hug ended, Rebecca glanced at Sarah. "Let's get this dinner started." She pointed to the couch. "Katherine, sit and take a break. We got this."

Katherine walked up to Gabriel. "I have a problem. What do I do with the fish?" She paused. "I know how to cook fish, but are they cleaned?"

Gabriel grinned. "Are you saying you don't clean fish?" He paused. "So you're admitting you need help?"

Katherine sighed, "You're incorrigible."

Rebecca called from the dining room. "I've known that for years. You should've seen him at Jeremy's age. I think he can identify with that child."

Opening the front door, Gabriel paused and adjusted Reggie's bib. "Come on boys, let's clean fish."

"Dinner will be ready in ten minutes," said Sarah.

"Okay boys, we'll do it after dinner. Go wash up."

Angie hugged Katherine. "I can't wait to start our family."

Katherine's eyes widened. "Are you sure?" She paused and then teased, "Maybe daughters, I wouldn't suggest four sons. To be honest, I wouldn't change a thing."

Katherine eyed the brisket, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, and banana pudding. "This is too much. You really didn't need to do this."

Rebecca took her hand. "I've already told you, I did. Now sit and enjoy."

*****
After dinner, Gabriel, Bill, and the boys went outside and cleaned fish. After the dishes were done, Harold and Rebecca went home and soon Sarah followed. Once the fish were cleaned, Bill and Angie left.

Katherine glanced at Jeremy, who said, "I know Mom, time for a bath." He stomped up the stairs.

Joel glanced up the stairs. "I already know, I'm next."

Gabriel grinned. "They have their routine down."

Folding a dish towel, Katherine said, "They do. That's a good thing."

Gabriel scanned the room. "Before I leave is there anything that needs to be done. I don't want something like the washing machine incident to happen again."

Hesitating Katherine said, "I was wondering..." She exhaled. "I was wondering if you'd..."

"Just spit it out."

"Would you like to come tomorrow night for fish dinner?"

His eyes twinkled. "I'd love to. Anything I should bring?"

"Reggie."

"Of course, I don't go anywhere without my trusty companion." He petted Daisy's head. "She'd miss him."

"Then it's a date." Her cheeks tinged pink. "I didn't mean a date. I meant friends..." She inhaled. "I don't know what I meant." She turned and walked away.

Gabriel reached out and touched her hand. "I know what you meant. It's definitely not a date."


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a bucket of bluegill. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 730 words. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works. I've figured out the busier I am at my paying job the more mistakes I make with my writing. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 21
Football Chapter 11 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Gabriel scanned the room. "Before I leave is there anything that needs to be done. I don't want something like the washing machine incident to happen again."

Hesitating Katherine said, "I was wondering..." She exhaled. "I was wondering if you'd..."

"Just spit it out."

"Would you like to come tomorrow night for fish dinner?"

His eyes twinkled. "I'd love to. Anything I should bring?"

"Reggie."

"Of course, I don't go anywhere without my trusty companion." He petted Daisy's head. "She'd miss him."

"Then it's a date." Her cheeks tinged pink. "I didn't mean a date. I meant friends..." She inhaled. "I don't know what I meant." She turned and walked away.

Gabriel reached out and touched her hand. "I know what you meant. It's definitely not a date."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 11 part 1

Early afternoon Gabriel adjusted Reggie's bib before he knocked on Katherine's door. Waiting for an answer, Reggie turned and growled. Gabriel sighed. "I heard it too. I have no idea what's going on. It seems every time I'm around Katherine it happens. Makes no difference if it's here or at school."

Katherine, drying her hands, opened the door. "Sorry, I was cleaning up after lunch. Have you eaten? We have plenty of leftovers. I meant to send some home with you last night and forgot. Please remind me today."

"We'll see." Gabriel scanned the room. "How can I help?"

Katherine eyed the football in his hand. "It looks like you planned a game."

"Well, to be honest I planned on helping you and then a game. I thought if you finished getting the house in order, you could join us. You need to relax too."

She tilted her head, "And you think playing football's relaxing?"

He grinned. "How about playing a game with the boys?"

"I'll give you that." She checked her watch. "I might be finished in about two hours. The boys are out back, if you want to join them."

Taking her hand, he checked it. "I see the bruise is already changing colors." He searched the room. "Where's Daisy?"

"Outside with the boys."

He glanced toward the back door. "Before I go out, how can I help?" Watching her eyes scan the room, he grinned. "Out with it."

"I have a few boxes in the bedrooms that need to be put on the closets' top shelves. Each room has at least one."

Gabriel tossed the ball to the couch and headed for the stairs. "Let's do this. Is Jeremy's room first?" He noticed she stood still. "I need you to tell me which box and exactly where." He took her hand. "Now's not the time to be shy."

After Gabriel put numerous boxes up on shelves in each of the boys' rooms, he asked, "If you need to get something from those boxes, how you going to do it?"

"I guess I'll worry about that later. They can't stay in the middle of the rooms."

"Are there boxes in your room too?" After she nodded, he continued, "Any others?"

"There's one in the den. I'm not sure where to put it."

"Is there anything on the top shelf of the coat closet?"

"Good idea. Let's put it there I didn't put anything on the top shelves because I can't reach there."

Gabriel chuckled. "I've noticed you're height challenged." He paused. "Exactly how tall are you? Can you even claim five and a half feet?" He stood beside her and put his hand on top of his head and looked down. "I'm six feet five inches. I'm well over a foot taller to you. You barely come to my chest. Come on, out with it."

"I'm not sure it's relevant." She started down the stairs but over her shoulder said, "All you'll do is tease me."

He cocked his head. "That short. Hmmm. I wouldn't think of teasing you. But now I'm curious."

"If you tease me just a little, I'll never, and I mean never forgive you. I'm trusting you. I'm five feet two even, usually."

Grinning, he asked, "Usually? Either you are or you aren't." As she started to frown, he added, "I'm not teasing, I just don't understand, either you are or you aren't."

"Sometimes I'm five feet two and a few times I've been measured at five feet and one and a three quarter inches. It depends which doctors' office measured it."

"Thank you for clearing that up. I'm pretty sure you're every bit of five feet two inches."

"You're teasing."

"Maybe a tad. Let's take care of the boxes in the den."

After all the boxes were put up, Gabriel asked, "What else you need help with?"

She picked up the football and passed it to him. "Nothing. You're free to play with the boys."

"Thank you, Ma'am." He headed for the back door and then turned. "Are you joining us?"

"I want to double, well, triple check and make sure everything's set, then I'll be out."

He continued outside. "If you take too long, I'll be back."

"I'm sure you will."

*****
After spending time in each room, Katherine decided there was nothing more that needed to be done. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sipped it as she watched Gabriel and the boys play. He's so good with them. Better than their dad.

She paused. I guess it's a little over a week since we've met and he's already taken them fishing and, now, playing football. She laughed. "Probably because he's an overgrown kid himself."

Gabriel came up to the kitchen window and shouted, "I thought you were watching. Do I need to drag you out here?"

She set her coffee cup down. "I'm coming."

With Katherine standing beside Jeremy, Gabriel said, "This is your mom. Although, she's one tough lady, please remember she's a lady and no rough stuff."

"Oh, you don't think I can handle it, huh?"

Gabriel chuckled. "I guess she's ready. Let's go." He hesitated, "Teams, your mom, Jordan, and Joshua. Jeremy, Joel, and me on the opposing team. Sound fair?"

Everybody agreed.

After forty-five minutes, Jordan went back to pass to his mom. Katherine dropped back. Gabriel came up behind her and reached over her. She slipped back into him. Joshua came up and grabbed Gabriel's knees for a tackle, knocking him down. Katherine fell on top."

Jordan yelled, "Mom!" He ran to her and helped her up. "Are you okay?"

She glanced at Gabriel. "He blocked my fall. You'd better ask if he's okay."

Both dogs faced the same direction and growled.

Katherine sighed. "They hear it again."

"They do." Gabriel touched her arm. "Are you sure you're all right? You hit pretty hard."

"So my fall bruised you? Jordan, you'd better get Coach Hudson a bag of ice."

"Coach?"

Gabriel shook his head. "She's teasing."

Glancing at the sky, Katherine said, "I'd better start dinner. Before I do, I better check the menu, I was thinking, of course, fried blue gill, hush puppies, coleslaw, corn on the cob, now, comes the hard part, rice or French fries?"

The vote was unanimous for French fries.






CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a family football game. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 1000 words. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works. I've figured out the busier I am at my paying job the more mistakes I make with my writing. Thank you for having patience with me. It's official I turned in the first part of my retirement stack of papers last week. My last official day of work is May 28th.


Chapter 22
Football Chapter 11 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After forty-five minutes, Jordan went back to pass to his mom. Katherine dropped back. Gabriel came up behind her and reached over her. She slipped back into him. Joshua came up and grabbed Gabriel's knees for a tackle, knocking him down. Katherine fell on top."

Jordan yelled, "Mom!" He ran to her and helped her up. "Are you okay?"

She glanced at Gabriel. "He blocked my fall. You'd better ask if he's okay."

Both dogs faced the same direction and growled.

Katherine sighed. "They hear it again."

"They do." Gabriel touched her arm. "Are you sure you're all right? You hit pretty hard."

"So my fall bruised you? Jordan, you'd better get Coach Hudson a bag of ice."

"Coach?"

Gabriel shook his head. "She's teasing."

Glancing at the sky, Katherine said, "I'd better start dinner. Before I do, I better check the menu, I was thinking, of course, fried blue gill, hush puppies, coleslaw, corn on the cob, now, comes the hard part, rice or French fries?"

The vote was unanimous for French fries.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 11 part 2

While Katherine prepared dinner, Gabriel walked in. She glanced at him. "Football game over?"

"For now. Is there anything I can help with?"

"I'm using your mom's left over coleslaw. I hope it's all right."

"Of course. Why wouldn't it be?"

She smiled. "Good. You said you're here to help but you've mentioned before you lacked cooking skills."

"They do, but I can follow directions."

"Okay, then I'll put you to work. In the refrigerator's bottom left drawer there's a bag of sweet corn. Do you know how to clean it?"

"You're asking this country boy if he knows how to clean corn. Shame on you."

"I wasn't sure how much pro-status corrupted you."

As soon as the words were heard, Gabriel flinched.

She touched his arm. "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I was disrespectful."

"I deserved it. So you've checked the tabloids. I'm sure you don't want me around your boys. I'll leave." He started toward the door.

Katherine took his hand. "I haven't checked anything and I have no desire to. As far as I'm concerned, you're a great role-model for the boys. I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary."

Gabriel studied her hand holding his. "I've told you I'm not proud of my actions during those years."

She used her other hand and put her finger to his lips. "Please stop. The past is the past. You've done wonderful things since. You should be proud of everything you've accomplished."

He softly pecked her finger. "Thank you." He picked up an ear of corn and started shucking. "I guess I'd better get busy."

After dinner and the kitchen was cleaned, Gabriel suggested, "Let's go outback and continue the game."

Winking at him, Katherine checked the time. "Let's play a quiet inside game. It won't be long before Jeremy needs to take his bath."

Gabriel's glance alternated from boy to boy. "What do you guys suggest? I don't know what the choices are?"

Jeremy jumped into his mom's lap. "What games can we play?" He faced Gabriel. "Sometimes we argue so Mom puts games in time out."

Grinning, Gabriel said, "I see." His eyes met Katherine's. "Suggestions?"

"We can take a vote. 'Busytown', but it has to be played on the floor because the board's large," she paused, "or 'Hoot Owl Hoot'.

Jordan frowned. "Mom, not that game. It uses strategies and Jeremy's too young to understand."

"I was thinking we could play with partners."

Jeremy yelled, "I get Coach."

Katherine took out 'Hoot Owl Hoot' from the closet. "Get your teams ready."

Jordan and Joshua made a team, Joel and Katherine, and then Jeremy and Gabriel.

The game continued until the grandfather clock chimed seven-thirty. Katherine started picking up. "Jeremy, you need to take your bath."

"But Mom..."

"Jeremy, everybody has a busy day tomorrow. School starts Tuesday, the following day."

All eyes focused on the young child as he stomped upstairs.

Katherine called after him as she returned the game to the closet. "Let me know when you're ready for your story."

Gabriel stood. "I think the dogs want out." He walked toward the back door with both dogs. Jordan grabbed the football and Joshua followed.

The three of them passed the ball around until Katherine stood at the backdoor. "Boys, you need to begin to settle down. Jordan, four-forty-five comes really early. Joshua, five-forty-five comes early too."

Jordan tossed Gabriel the ball. "I know, Mom." He faced Coach. "Why do we start practice at six?"

"It's cool and as a team we need two practices a day."

"Figured it was something like that. See you in the morning."

Before the boys went upstairs, they hugged Katherine.

When Gabriel walked in the door, he passed Katherine the ball. She accepted it. "Thank you for spending time with the boys. It means a lot to them." She hesitated. "And to me."

After she entered the living room, she sat on the couch and set the football beside her. "You know you didn't need to bring your own. We do own all sorts of balls, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, and basketballs. Even a kickball or two. I'm sure I'm forgetting some."

Gabriel sat on the opposite side of the football. He tapped the ball a few times.

Katherine put her hand on his hand. "Something's on your mind. What?" When he didn't say anything, she continued, "I'm really sorry for my earlier comment. I know you're sensitive about that time in your life."

He took a few of her fingers in his hand. "Don't worry about it. I'm not." Their eyes met, as he continued, "I've wondered what your life was like before George died." When her eyes widened, he said, "The boys have made a few comments."

She nodded, "That explains your question."

"If you don't want to talk about it, I understand."

"It's fine. You've shared a little about your previous life. It's only fair I do." Katherine exhaled. "Where to start?"



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of the Hoot Owl Hoot game. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little over 800 words. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works. I've been home since Thursday because Mother Nature decided Texas needed to experience winter. Go Figure. From the looks of the weather forecast, I may be home another week. The only thing Texas knows about ice and salt is a Margarita. Thank you for having patience with me. I


Chapter 23
Football Chapter 11 part 3

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

When Gabriel walked in the door, he passed Katherine the ball. She accepted it. "Thank you for spending time with the boys. It means a lot to them." She hesitated. "And to me."

After she entered the living room, she sat on the couch and set the football beside her. "You know you didn't need to bring your own. We do own all sorts of balls, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, and basketballs. Even a kickball or two. I'm sure I'm forgetting some."

Gabriel sat on the opposite side of the football. He tapped the ball a few times.

Katherine placed her hand over his. "Something's on your mind. What?" When he didn't say anything, she continued, "I'm really sorry for my earlier comment. I know you're sensitive about that time in your life."

He caressed a few of her fingers. "Don't worry about it. I'm not." Their eyes met, as he continued, "I've wondered what your life was like before George died." When her eyes widened, he said, "The boys have made a few comments."

She nodded, "That explains your question."

"If you don't want to talk about it, I understand."

"It's fine. You've shared a little about your previous life. It's only fair I do." Katherine exhaled. "Where to start?"


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 11 part 3

She scanned the living room. "It was pretty much the same as here, only in a New York City penthouse."

"That doesn't make sense."

"The boys and I lived by ourselves in a huge penthouse. Here the boys have my mom, large backyard to play in," she smiled, "you and your parents." Katherine noticed Gabriel's dark brown eyes staring at her. "George was gone months at a time. Every few months he'd stop by for a few hours on his way to another city. As time passed, the visits became less frequent and eventually nonexistent." She checked her watch. "He'd call Sunday evenings around nine o'clock. He made sure the boys were in bed so he wouldn't have to speak with them."

After folding her hands in her lap, she added, "The boys were pictures in his wallet he'd show off. My purpose," she glanced at a photo on the fireplace hearth, "he'd have a dress sent to the penthouse for an appointed dinner engagement. He'd even hire a babysitter. Most of the time, he'd send a taxi. I'd meet him there and enter on his arm."

"A trophy wife."

Katherine nodded. "Exactly. After a baby was born, and please note, I had four, I was given a month to lose the weight. George got upset because after Jeremy I retained about ten pounds, and do to this day."

Gabriel leaned forward. "Go ahead and slap me, but I think you look really good."

"I'm not going to slap you." Katherine tilted her head. "Actually it felt nice. I haven't been complimented for a very long time. Thank you."

"You deserve it." Gabriel touched her hand. "Why'd you stay?"

"Nobody would believe me. I had all the money I needed and a gorgeous furnished place to live. He called once a week."

"To check on you and the boys?"

"No, to tell me what city he was in and how much fun he was having."

"I see." Gabriel chuckled. "He had an arrogance problem. I guess athletes aren't the only ones with that issue."

"You're right. Enough about me." She turned her head as a large gust of wind slammed against the window. "It sounds like a storm's brewing."

Gabriel stood. "Reggie and I'd better head home."

Katherine checked her dinging phone. "My weather app shows a large dark red band on top of us. It's supposed to have high winds and golf ball size hail." She walked to the window. "I wish I had the boxes out of the garage so I could use it."

He joined her. "I'll take care of that tomorrow."

"You don't need to." Another gust of wind hit the window. "I think you missed your opportunity. You'd better wait it out."

"I hope it doesn't settle in for the night. The neighbors will really gossip."

"I hadn't thought of that. Maybe..."

Katherine jumped into Gabriel's arms as loud clash of thunder echoed overhead followed by a crash. The lights flickered twice and went out.

His arms surrounded her. "You all right?"

She backed away. "I'm sorry."

Before Gabriel could comment, another clash of thunder sounded and she, again, leaned into his arms.

"I'm guessing lightning hit a transformer. You may be without electricity for a while. Do you have flashlights or candles?"

"I'm sorry, again. I have both, but I'm not sure where." With a gulp, she backed from him. "Jeremy's afraid of storms. I need to check on him."

Gabriel used his cell phone for light and led her to the couch. "Wait here. I'll check on him and the other boys. Then we'll search for flashlights." He used an afghan and covered her. "You look like you could use this."

When Gabriel returned, he sat beside her. "Jeremy slept through everything. The football game must've worn him out."

"You're probably right. Storms make him nervous."

He slipped his arm around her. "I have a feeling they make his mom nervous, too."

"Maybe slightly."

He chuckled. "Slightly?"

"Okay, more than slightly." She released a deep breath. "Sorry about my reaction."

"You mean jumping into my arms? Twice?"

"Yes, that." Katherine stood. "Let's look for flashlights."

He stood. "I haven't seen Daisy."

"She's hiding. Storms make her nervous too."

"Of course." Gabriel took Katherine's hand. "I don't want you getting lost. Where should we look first?"

"Our moms unpacked the kitchen. I'm guessing they'd put them in a kitchen utility drawer."

"Sounds like a mom thing."

A loud clap of thunder sounded and Katherine inhaled deeply.

Gabriel touched her arm. "Breathe. I'm here. I won't let anything happen."

Katherine moved closer and whispered, "I know that." She leaned her head onto his chest.

His arms circled her. After her breathing returned to normal, he pointed to a drawer to his left. "You check that one and I'll check here."

This continued until Katherine opened a drawer with two flashlights and packs of batteries. "I found them." She turned on one.

Gabriel held up candles. "And I found these. What do you want to do?"

"Go to bed."

Laughing Gabriel said, "If it's what you want, but I'm pretty sure rumors would fly."

She slapped at his arm. "That's not at all what I meant."

"I know. Teasing, but I think I can even see you blushing by flashlight." Gabriel stood quiet. "I think the storm has slowed. I'd better leave."

Katherine walked him to the door. "I'm sorry about..."

Gabriel took her hand and caressed it. "Don't worry about it. I'm glad I could help." He opened the door. "Come on, Reggie." Before he left, he added, "I'll see you in the morning for our run."

"So now it's 'our' run."

"Yep. I told you I wouldn't let anything happen. Good night."



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of the lightning. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High School football is a national past-time in Texas. This post is a little under 1000 words. Again, I made changes as I posted. I hope it works. I
Thank you for having patience with me. I


Chapter 24
Football Chapter 12 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

A loud clap of thunder sounded and Katherine inhaled deeply.

Gabriel touched her arm. "Breathe. I'm here. I won't let anything happen."

Katherine moved closer and whispered, "I know that." She leaned her head onto his chest.

His arms circled her. After her breathing returned to normal, he pointed to a drawer to his left. "You check that one and I'll check here."

This continued until Katherine opened a drawer with two flashlights and packs of batteries. "I found them." She turned on one.

Gabriel held up candles. "And I found these. What do you want to do?"

"Go to bed."

Laughing Gabriel said, "If it's what you want, but I'm pretty sure rumors would fly."

She slapped at his arm. "That's not at all what I meant."

"I know. Teasing, but I think I can even see you blushing by flashlight." Gabriel stood quiet. "I think the storm has slowed. I'd better leave."

Katherine walked him to the door. "I'm sorry about..."

Gabriel took her hand and caressed it. "Don't worry about it. I'm glad I could help." He opened the door. "Come on, Reggie." Before he left, he added, "I'll see you in the morning for our run."

"So now it's 'our' run."

"Yep. I told you I wouldn't let anything happen. Good night."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 12 part 1

Katherine stretched inside and then walked out when Gabriel and Reggie came into view.

Gabriel was the first to speak. "Good morning, where's your jogging partner?"

"Daisy and Jeremy had a rough night. They're sound asleep, hugging each other."

As they talked, Reggie turned and growled. Gabriel stared in that direction. "Whatever it is; is still there." After a brief pause, he asked, "Did Mom have a rough night too?" he teased. "That second round was worse than the first."

"Let's put it this way, both Jeremy and Daisy ended up in my bed."

"Did you get any sleep?"

"Not a lot." She set her watch. "Our electricity's still off and my phone needs charging. It's going to be a difficult day." She stretched her arms above her head. "Let's get started."

"Yes Ma'am."

As they began, again Reggie growled. Gabriel clenched his jaw. "I've had enough." He moved closer to Katherine and continued the jog.

When her alarm went off, they headed home.

At the sidewalk leading to her steps, Gabriel said, "The district provides lunch today. Will Jordan need lunch?"

"No, Mom's picking him up."

Gabriel paused. "I have a little bit of free time. I'll bring him home and have him help load the boxes."

"Are you sure?"

He nodded. "Yes, I have a few things in the locker room that need to be taken to the landfill. Don't forget to tell Ms. Sarah. I'll wait until you get inside before I leave. See you at school."

"Bye, until later." She paused as Reggie growled.

As Katherine closed the door, she watched Gabriel make a call. I wonder who he called.

*****
When Sarah arrived, Katherine relayed the message that Gabriel would bring Jordan home. As she got inside her SUV, she paused. Since Gabriel's parents won't be supplying lunch, should I get him coffee. He didn't say. I will anyway. I don't think there's such a thing as too much coffee with him.

Katherine stopped by the office and left Gabriel's coffee and breakfast. After he was called, she waited a few minutes. When he didn't show, she went to her room. I need to make a math word of the day bulletin board.

As she completed it, Angie stopped. "What's this?"

"I thought I'd do a math word of the day competition. The kids write down the definition and the first person who gets it correct gets a free homework pass. They'll have to have their name, the correct definition, date and time they turned it in. The basket's right inside the door. I thought I'd do it all year. How hard should the first word be?"


"Medium hard. What are you thinking?"

"Aggregate, maybe?" She scanned the hallway. "You haven't seen Coach this morning have you?"

"Not really. Is he missing?"

Katherine smiled. "No, but it's unusual he hasn't been under foot. So I guess, yes, he's missing."

Angie took out her phone. "You want me to check with Bill?"

"Heavens no! We have a faculty meeting in a little while. I'm sure he'll be there. Don't you dare say anything."

"So you don't want me to tell anybody you were concerned because you didn't see a certain hunky coach, right?"

"That's not at all what I said. You're almost as impossible as he is." Katherine stood back and stared at the bulletin board. "Think it looks okay? Or should I ask will kids participate?"

"For a free homework pass, I think they will. Is it only for your classes or can anyone participate?"

"I was thinking mine, but if Mr. Edwards agrees it can be open to the school. I hadn't thought about it."

"Put your things away, let's go to the cafeteria."

*****
As they sat and talked, Angie touched Katherine's hand. "Don't be so obvious. Others will notice. He'll show up."

After the meeting started, Gabriel walked in. He held up the two coffees, the sack, and mouthed, "Thank you," to Katherine.

With pink tinged cheeks, she nodded acknowledgement. He shook his head and grinned.

Mr. Edwards glanced in her direction. "Mrs. Riley, would you come up, please?"

Her hand flew to her chest. "Me?"

He nodded. "Yes. I noticed something on your hallway bulletin board and thought the entire school could benefit. I'd like you to explain it."

At the podium she faced the principal. "Do you mean my math vocabulary board?"

"Yes. I thought it was a great idea. We'll see if it's something the entire school wants to participate in."

Katherine explained the idea and the free homework passes. It was decided the school would participate and she would be in charge of the words and the passes.

As she sat, she noticed Gabriel wink at her.

The meeting continued and ended just before lunch so the caterers could set up.

Gabriel walked up to Katherine. "Something came up. I had to call Ms. Sarah to pick up Jordan. When I bring Jordan home from afternoon practice, I'll take care of the boxes."

"You don't need to."

"I told you I would and I keep my promises."

"You never promised."

He turned his head when he heard Mr. Edwards call his name. "I'd better see what he wants." He faced her. "Thanks for breakfast. I needed it. See you later."

Katherine watched the two men walk toward the office.




CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of math bulletin board. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 900 words. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 25
Football Chapter 12 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

The meeting continued and ended just before lunch so the caterers could set up.

Gabriel walked up to Katherine. "Something came up. I had to call Ms. Sarah to pick up Jordan. When I bring Jordan home from afternoon practice, I'll take care of the boxes."

"You don't need to."

"I told you I would and I keep my promises."

"You never promised."

He turned his head when he heard Mr. Edwards call his name. "I'd better see what he wants." He faced her. "Thanks for breakfast. I needed it. See you later."

Katherine watched the two men walk toward the office.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 12 part 2 day

After a few minutes, Katherine was called to the office. When she opened the door, Nancy, the principal's secretary, motioned her directly to Mr. Edward's office.

When she knocked; Gabriel opened and then closed the door. Her eyes met Mr. Edwards. "Have I done something wrong?"

"No. Please have a seat." He faced Gabriel. "Gabe, share what you discovered after your run this morning."

"I contacted a few friends and discovered Frost hired a P.I. to prove we're having an affair. I'm guessing the dogs heard the click of the camera."

Katherine's eyes widened. "But we're not having any type of relationship."

Gabriel touched her hand. "I know."

Mr. Edwards leaned forward. "Gabe already explained the early morning jogging and helping you move. I see nothing inappropriate with either of them. It's obvious from what he explained that he jogs from the school to your house, meets up with you, and then returns to the school. I agree your early jogs are dangerous, even with your dog."

Paul released a deep breath. "However, I've noticed a few winks and smiles passing between you. If I've noticed, others have too. I believe there may not be a relationship right now, but I feel there's one starting."

"And my previous reputation..." interrupted Gabriel. He hesitated. "I wouldn't do anything to hurt Katherine. You should know that."

"I do. I know you have the upmost respect for her. It's obvious." Mr. Edwards tapped his desk.

While waiting for Mr. Edwards to continue, Katherine said, "Gabriel, I don't understand why you didn't come to me. You went to Mr. Edwards first. I think I should've been the first to know. This affects me."

"I can address that," interrupted Mr. Edwards. "I need to be in the loop. If photos end up in the community or with the school board, I need to be aware so I can answer their questions. I don't want you judged by public opinion." He clasped his hands together. "Be careful. Don't give this P.I. any ammunition." After a pause, he continued, "I have a feeling there's more to this than we know." His eyes met Katherine's. "Any questions?"

"I understand you need to be in the loop, but I still should've been informed first." After a pause, she said, "I'm sitting here shocked. I'm not sure why anybody would be interested in my boring life. I'm not interested in starting a relationship with Gabriel or any man. My only concerns are my boys and my job. Unfortunately in that order."

Mr. Edwards grinned. "Mrs. Riley, don't worry about your priorities. We're talking as friends," he faced Gabriel, "What's eating you? We need open communication to stay ahead of this. We've been friends too long, so out with it."

"I don't even know how to verbalize what I'm thinking, no feeling."

Turning around in his chair, Mr. Edwards reached for a photo of Gabriel as a professional football player and then turned back around. "I bet I can. You're beating yourself up for behavior you exhibited during these years, am I right?" After Gabriel nodded, he continued, "You need to forgive yourself. That's not who you are or were back then."

"I'm afraid that behavior has come back to haunt me and now Katherine. She's being judged because of it." Gabriel touched her hand. "I'm sorry."

Katherine laid her other hand on top of his. "I told you yesterday, I'm not concerned about what you did."

"Maybe you should so you know what you're up against. Frost's playing dirty."

"I don't feel I need to. I have a general idea of what pro players of any sport do. They have parties with plenty of alcohol, drugs, and have sex with different women. Am I close?"

Mr. Edwards grinned. "I'd say she nailed it."

"May I continue?" After both men nodded, she added, "Do you still have wild parties?"

"Once in a while, I'll have a beer. That's all."

"So the answer is no. We've not even shared a kiss, of any kind. How many women have you dated in the last month or two?"

Gabriel studied his feet. "This is hard to admit but my dating life is nonexistent."

"Sorry to damage your macho image, but the way I see it there's no reason to worry about the past. Besides we're not in a relationship, other than friendship. So we're good."

Mr. Edwards glanced at his ringing phone. "I need to answer this. Why don't you two get lunch." He paused. "But before you leave, Gabe invited me to help you move. I already had a family commitment or I would've helped. And Katherine, I need to ask a question before you leave today." He nodded toward Gabriel.

Katherine faced him. "Do you know what that's about?"

"Maybe, but I'm not at liberty to say." He grinned. "It's above my pay-grade. I'm hungry."



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of women partying. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 800 words. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 26
Football Chapter 12 part 3

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

"Sorry to damage your macho image, but the way I see it there's no reason to worry about the past. Besides we're not in a relationship, other than friendship. So we're good."

Mr. Edwards glanced at his ringing phone. "I need to answer this. Why don't you two get lunch." He paused. "But before you leave, Gabe invited me to help you move. I already had a family commitment or I would've helped. And Katherine, I need to ask a question before you leave today." He nodded toward Gabriel.

Katherine faced him. "Do you know what that's about?"

"Maybe, but I'm not at liberty to say." He grinned. "It's above my pay-grade. I'm hungry."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 12 part 3

That afternoon when Katherine arrived home, she opened the front door. "Mom, did you talk to Mr. Edwards?"

Sarah walked toward her daughter. "No. Why?"

"He asked me to coach the girls' cross country team, and the other day you mentioned something about it."

"I've been too busy with your boys to visit with Paul." She smiled. "How'd you answer? You know if you did, you'd be required to spend more time with Gabriel?"

"Mom! There's nothing between Gabriel and me. I'm recently widowed. I'm nowhere close to being ready for any relationship. I'm still trying to get my life together."

Her mom swiped her with a dish towel. "You didn't really have a marriage. You deserve a man who'd be a real husband and father."

"And a man whose first commitment is to football would be that man? I don't think so."

"Just remember, this is the beginning of football season and where has he been these past few days?" Sarah hesitated for effect. "He's been helping you."

"He's a jock. I don't date or even want to be around jocks."

Sarah laughed. "Yeah and where did marrying a nerd get you? The same place some jocks would've gotten you. Jocks don't have the patent on being horrible husbands."

"I'm going to get Joshua from football. I'll be back shortly." Katherine left.

*****
About an hour later, Gabriel called and reminded Katherine that he'd bring Jordan home so he could load up the boxes.

When they arrived, Gabriel told Jordan to go inside and ask Joshua to meet him in the garage.

Joshua entered. "Coach, Jordan said you wanted my help."

"Sort of. I wanted to talk with you, alone, and figured we could do this at the same time." Gabriel tossed a few folded boxes into the bed of his pick-up. "Coach Carroll stopped by my office this morning. Any idea why?"

Hanging his head, Joshua said, "I'm not sure. Why?"

"By your body language I'd say you have a pretty good idea." He threw a few more boxes in the bed. "It'll be easier if you come clean."

"A group of us were looking at girlie magazines. They weren't mine. Another kid brought them. They were his big brother's. We got caught."

"Since the magazines weren't yours, it makes it okay?"

"I guess not. Coach wasn't too happy. Are you going to tell Mom?"

"What'd you think your mom would do?"

"Kill me."

Gabriel grinned. "I doubt that, she loves you. But she wouldn't be happy. You'd get a long lecture and maybe grounded for a month."

"Probably for life."

"Could be. Do you think it's okay to degrade women by gawking and probably making rude comments and gestures?"

"These girls get paid for it."

"Many girls do it because it's the only way they can afford college, some are run-a-ways and have to support themselves, and some are tricked into it with a promise of acting careers. They do it for many different reasons."

"I didn't think of it that way. Some of the guys said you used to hang around with models and had a different one every night."

Gabriel made a fist before he inhaled a deep breath. "That's right. I made a lot of mistakes while playing pro-ball. One morning I woke up and realized I didn't like the man I'd become. I've worked hard to change that. I try to treat women with the respect they deserve."

He tossed a few more boxes on the pile. "How do I treat your mom?"

"With respect. Does Mom know about your past?"

"She doesn't know the details, but she knows. I've told her since that part of my life wasn't a good role model I'd stay away." Joshua's eyes widened, but Gabriel continued, "She said she's willing to give me a second chance." A couple more boxes went on the pile. "How'd you feel if I disrespected your mom?"

"Horrible. I like you. I'm glad she lets you hang around."

Chuckling, Gabriel continued, "Me too."

Adding boxes to the pile, Joshua said, "Mom smiles around you. She didn't use to smile."

Swallowing, Gabriel asked, "Did you bring any magazines home?"

Joshua nodded. "One."

"After we finish, give it to me, and I'll destroy it. What kind of example would it set if Jeremy found it?"

Joshua frowned. "Horrible."

"Here's the deal. Right now this is between us. If it happens again, your mom will be told. Understood?"

"Yes. It won't happen again. I promise."

After the boxes were loaded, Gabriel and Joshua went inside. Gabriel nodded for Joshua to get the magazine.

Katherine walked into the room. While Joshua was upstairs, she said, "I can tell something's up. What is it?"

Gabriel's eyes met hers. "It's a guy thing. I hope you trust me enough to believe I've handled it."

Inhaling a deep breath, she released it. "Okay." She turned toward the kitchen. "We're having left overs. Want to stay for dinner? There's more than enough."

"I don't think so. Lately, I've eaten here more than I've eaten at home. The neighbors might talk."

"At least let me make a plate. Please?"

"That'll be fine."

While Katherine fixed his dinner, Joshua brought down the magazine. Gabriel shoved it inside a sports-bag. "I'll destroy it at my place."




CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of Playboy Magazine. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little under 900 words. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 27
Football Chapter 13 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

After the boxes were loaded, Gabriel and Joshua went inside. Gabriel nodded for Joshua to get the magazine.

Katherine walked into the room. While Joshua was upstairs, she said, "I can tell something's up. What is it?"

Gabriel's eyes met hers. "It's a guy thing. I hope you trust me enough to believe I've handled it."

Inhaling a deep breath, she released it. "Okay." She turned toward the kitchen. "We're having left overs. Want to stay for dinner? There's more than enough."

"I don't think so. Lately, I've eaten here more than I've eaten at home. The neighbors might talk."

"At least let me make a plate. Please?"

"That'll be fine."

While Katherine fixed his dinner, Joshua brought down the magazine. Gabriel shoved it inside a sports-bag. "I'll destroy it at my place."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 13 part 1 day 11

As predawn lit the Eastern sky, Katherine opened the front door and stood on the porch. Daisy waited beside her as she began stretching. "I wonder if we're being watched. Of course we are." Smiling she added, "Here comes our running partners."

Daisy wagged her tail.

"I see you have a crush on Reggie."

As Gabriel and Reggie came closer, Katherine said, "I think Daisy has a thing for Reggie."

"Good, I think this guy has a thing for that pretty lady."

The dogs turned and growled.

Gabriel faced that direction. "I guess our friend's here too."

"Shouldn't we do something?"

"No. Paul and I checked the school cameras. We can prove I park my truck early in the morning and then begin my run. It's time stamped, so we can prove, that's where I started. I'm sure it's well documented I'm not spending my nights here."

"I hope so." Before Katherine set her watch, she said, "I doubt Mr. Frost can afford a P.I. I'm wondering how he's paying for it."

"I'm betting somebody, for some reason is encouraging him, but I have no clue who or why. How about you?"

"Me either. I lead a very boring life. I don't know why anybody would be interested in me." After a pause, Katherine said, "Let's get started."

As they began, Gabriel asked, "Have you decided if you're accepting the coaching job?"

"Not sure. I have no idea how to coach. I've never had any training."

"Right here, beside you is the best coach who ever walked the Earth," teased Gabriel.

"What could possibly go wrong?" She laughed.

"Honestly, all of us are here to help. We have your back. I doubt many girls will sign up the first year. It'll be a rebuilding year."

"I'm thinking about it. I'll let Mr. Edwards know when I get to school. Deal?"

He grinned. "Deal."

*****
After Katherine arrived at school, she stopped by the office and dropped off Gabriel's order and asked to speak with Mr. Edwards.

As she waited for the principal, Gabriel came in and picked up the coffees and breakfast. "You didn't need to do this. Our agreement was only till school started."

"I wasn't sure if you'd have time to stop and get it. I stop anyway. It's easy to get additional coffees."

"Since you put it that way..." He hesitated. "I'll run by the coffee shop later today and put money in my account. I don't want you paying for it. It'll get expensive."

"But..."

He started to hand back the coffees. "It's the only way I'll accept these."

"You're used to getting your way, aren't you?"

"It's a hazard of being an only child. We
agree?"

Mr. Edwards walked from his office, said hi to Gabriel and then asked, "Mrs. Riley, were you waiting for me?"

"Yes, Sir." She walked toward his office but stopped. "You get your way for now, but don't get used to it. By the way, you're incorrigible." She continued into the office.

Gabriel sipped his coffee. "Nancy, what's going on?"

Her eyes widened. "I'm shocked there's something going on in this building you don't know about. But to be honest, I don't know either. Mrs. Riley brought in your coffee and asked to speak with Mr. Edwards."

Nodding, Gabriel said, "I wonder if she's accepting the coaching job." He took a seat. "I think I'll wait. I'd like to know the answer."

Before she came out, one of the other secretaries called, "Coach, you're needed in the locker room."

He glanced at Mr. Edwards' door. "I guess I'll find out later." He left.

*****
The bell rang at exactly 8:35, and Katherine welcomed her homeroom class. As morning announcements began, Mr. Green hurried into the room. "Mrs. Riley, you're needed in the office. I'll cover your class. It shouldn't take long."

Katherine rushed to the office as Mr. Edwards covered the telephone. "You need to make the announcement about the girls' cross country team."

"What?" He handed her a paper and the phone. She read, "Good Morning, Silver Cove Bears. This is Mrs. Riley. I'll be coaching girls' cross country. I know it's late, but here's the information. Tomorrow, I'll need the names of interested girls. Please drop by my room, 103. We need a minimum of ten to have a team. If we have enough for a team, Wednesday evening, Coach Hudson will take the number of interested girls to the school board meeting. Other girls can still join. Thursday evening starting at 5:00 free physicals will be given at school. You can use your own doctor if you prefer, but you cannot begin practice without a physical. Also a signed permission slip will need to be turned in before the physical. You can get the permission slips by dropping by my classroom, room 103, or the office. I'm sure Coach Hudson will have permission slips. If ten or more girls sign up, the first practice will be Monday after school at 4:00. Come to the girls' locker room ready to run. Thank you."

Katherine handed the phone to Mr. Edwards. "Just a minute, Mrs. Riley. Students, she has one more announcement. Mrs. Riley, please tell the students about your math vocabulary word of the day and the free homework pass."

After Katherine explained the rules for the math word, she handed the telephone back to Mr. Edwards. "Can I get to class?"

He nodded. "You did great." He handed her a stack of permission slips. "You're going to need these."

At the office door, Gabriel opened it. "I heard you accepted the coaching job." He glanced at her hand. "Where'd you get permission slips?" He grinned. "Since you said I'd also have them, I'd better make sure I have some. It'll be nice working with you."

Katherine glanced toward her room. "Mr. Green's watching my class. I need to hurry."

"Catch up with you later." He watched her walk away. "You did a good job over the intercom."

She continued toward her classroom.






CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a girls' cross country meet. I also want to thank everybody for the wonderful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 1000 words. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 28
Football Chapter 13 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

At the office door, Gabriel opened it. "I heard you accepted the coaching job." He glanced at her hand. "Where'd you get permission slips?" He grinned. "Since you said I also have them, I'd better make sure I have some. It'll be nice working with you."

Katherine glanced toward her room. "Mr. Green's watching my class. I need to hurry."

"Catch up with you later." He watched her walk away. "You did a good job over the intercom."

She continued toward her classroom.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 13 part 2

When Katherine and Daisy stepped out the front door for their morning jog, Gabriel and Reggie were waiting. She smiled when she saw Gabriel doing jumping jacks. "Are you posing for the camera?"

"We got here a little early and got tired of running in place."

Katherine glanced at her watch. "I'm four minutes early. I'm not late. You could've gone on."

"I don't want you running in the dark, plus I was anxious to find out how you're feeling about coaching?"

"A little nervous, but okay." She set her watch. "Let's get going. I have a busy day." She hesitated. "Joshua has football games Thursdays at 4:30. If I accept, I'll miss them. I'll need to figure that out."

"Dad announces the games. Why don't I ask him to video the game and you can watch them later?"

"Mom and the younger boys could represent the family, and I could still see them. Do you think your dad would mind?"

"I know he'd like to help."

As they jogged, both dogs faced the same direction and growled.

Gabriel turned his head. "I guess our buddy's keeping track."

"I'd feel better if he gave up."

"Me too." He paused. "To change the subject, how'd your first day go?"

"I'm afraid if I talk about it, I might jinx it. It went surprisingly well. It couldn't have gone any better." Katherine faced Gabriel. "How'd your first day in the classroom go? You didn't have time to prep or set up the room."

"It went well. We did calisthenics the entire period," he teased.

"I know better, but you just found out Monday and then agreed to teach both classes. How does one prepare?"

Gabriel chuckled. "You don't. You just go with it. History was always my favorite subject, so it won't be a problem. If it were math or science, I'd have to prep."

"Don't you need to take a test to show competency? I did. They didn't just accept my degree."

"This isn't the first time. My first year here, I took all the history competencies. I just haven't needed them for..." he paused to think, "maybe two years." He grinned. "I'm glad you showed up. I'm not sure I could pass the math competencies."

Katherine's timer went off. "Time to start back." As they did, she continued, "I feel that way about the English. I doubt I could pass them. I enjoy reading, but when it comes to the classics, I find them pretty boring."

"So if I quote Shakespeare, you'd be lost?"

Her eyes widened. "You quote Shakespeare?"

"No, I was just asking." He chuckled. "Do I look like somebody who's read any of the classics?"

"Not really."

"Good. I was afraid I needed to up my workout."

"Your workout keeps you in perfect condition." Katherine stopped in her tracks. "That's not what I meant."

He touched her arm. "I know what you meant. Don't worry about it."

Standing on the sidewalk, Katherine glanced at her door. "I'll see you at school sometime today."

"You will. Don't forget I need the number and names of cross country girls for the school board meeting tonight. It starts at six-thirty." He teased, "Glad you think my workout routine keeps me looking good."

As she ran to her front door, she called, "You're incorrigible."

"I know."

*****
At school, Katherine dropped off Gabriel's coffee in the office and headed toward her classroom. She stood at the door and scanned the room. I'd say I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I hope today goes as well as yesterday.

Three girls came to her. The taller one asked, "You're Mrs. Riley, right?" After she indicated she was, the girl continued, "We're interested in girls' cross country. Can we sign up?"

"Sure, follow me and I'll get your names and give you the paper to bring back tomorrow night for the physical."

About the time they finished, students entered the room, and class began.

During lunch, Katherine sent out an all-school email reminding staff members she needed the names of girls wanting to participate in cross country by the end of the business day.

*****
After the final bell, girls came to her classroom wanting the paperwork and more information about cross country. It was after five-thirty before the girls left. Katherine had eleven girls interested.

She opened the computer, checked her emails, and discovered four more were interested. I'm wondering if that allows me a helper. Fifteen teenage girls are a lot. Should I speak with Gabriel or Mr. Edwards? She opened a new document and started typing. "I'd better get this list together." She began typing.

After Katherine finished, she checked the time. It's six o'clock. I'd better hurry. Gabriel's probably still at practice. I'll leave it on his desk. She gathered her things and headed toward the locker rooms. I'm sure his office is in that area. Surely it'll be labeled.

She entered the locker room section of the school and glanced around. "Why isn't the Athletic Director's office labeled?" She opened a door and walked in. "Maybe it's in here."

As she stood inside, Gabriel walked in wearing a towel and using another one to dry his hair. "Kate, what are you doing in the male locker room?"

She turned around so her back was to him. "Looking for you."

"You found me."

She held up the paper. "I have the list of girls interested in cross country."

"Good. The meeting's in less than thirty minutes. Are you going to give it to me or hold it?"

"You're not dressed."

"I know. I thought I'd better shower before the meeting, and then you showed up." He chuckled. "I didn't think it was possible but even your arms are blushing."

She set the paper on the floor. "Here's the list." She ran out the door.

Mr. Edwards passed her in the hall. "Mrs. Riley, are you all right?"

"No!"

*****
He opened the door and walked in. "Gabe, what did you do to Mrs. Riley? She ran out of here like..." He closed his eyes. "You didn't."

"I didn't do anything but walk out of the shower. I guess nobody told her she wasn't allowed in the male locker room. I wasn't expecting her or any female. I'm just trying to get ready for the meeting. At your feet is the list she brought. That's as close as she came."


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a man wearing a towel. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 1000 words. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 29
Football Chapter 14 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

As she stood inside, Gabriel walked in wearing a towel and using another one to dry his hair. "Kate, what are you doing in the male locker room?"

She turned around so her back was to him. "Looking for you."

"You found me."

She held up the paper. "I have the list of girls interested in cross country."

"Good. The meeting's in less than thirty minutes. Are you going to give it to me or hold it?"

"You're not dressed."

"I know. I thought I'd better shower before the meeting, and then you showed up." He chuckled. "I didn't think it was possible but even your arms are blushing."

She set the paper on the floor. "Here's the list." She ran out the door.

Mr. Edwards passed her in the hall. "Mrs. Riley, are you all right?"

"No!"

*****
He opened the door and walked in. "Gabe, what did you do to Mrs. Riley? She ran out of here like..." He closed his eyes. "You didn't."

"I didn't do anything but walk out of the shower. I guess nobody told her she wasn't allowed in the male locker room. I wasn't expecting her or any female. I'm just trying to get ready for the meeting. At your feet is the list she brought. That's as close as she came."


TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 14 part 1 day 13

Early Thursday morning, Gabriel waited in front of Katherine's house. After fifteen minutes, he petted Reggie's head. "She's not coming. I'm actually innocent this time. Let's go." He continued his run.

At school he waited in the office, hoping to talk with Katherine. When she didn't show, he checked her schedule, and saw her planning period started at two o'clock.

As Gabriel started to leave, Bill walked up. "Why you hanging around the office?"

"I was hoping to talk with Katherine."

"After what happened yesterday, it might be a while before that happens. She was pretty shaken."

"You heard about it?"

"She's friends with Angie and called last night. You really messed up this time." Bill scanned the area. "Maybe we should go someplace more private." After they went in Gabriel's classroom and locked the door, Bill continued, "She's not sure she can face you."

"I didn't do anything."

"Except walk out of the shower wearing a towel."

"Exactly. She was in the male locker room. I wasn't expecting anybody, especially her."

"She didn't know where your office was."

"Why's she upset? I'm the one who was compromised. She was married and had children with the man. She's the mother of four boys. She's seen half naked males before. It doesn't make sense. This is a 'have an embarrassing moment and then laugh it off.' It's no big deal."

Bill unlocked the door. "I've already said too much. You need to talk with Katherine."

"That's what I'm trying to do. I also need coffee."

Both men left the room.

As Gabriel passed Mr. Edwards in the hallway, he said, "I'm getting coffee."

"She's still not talking to you?"

"Nope." He left the building.

*****
As Katherine's fourth period pre-calculus class filed out, Gabriel entered. "Mrs. Riley, we need to talk."

Studying the top of her desk, she said, "I have nothing to say."

After locking the door, he walked to her desk. "I don't want somebody walking in and overhearing something that's none of their business." He set a paper on her desk. "Here's a map of the school. Highlighted in yellow is my office. Now, you know where it is. The male locker room is off-limits to females."

She fingered the map. "So you're saying this is my fault."

"Yes." He paused. "I had to go to the meeting and didn't think I should show-up all sweaty from practice. It was 105 degrees outside. I didn't have time to go home and shower. We have a perfectly good shower system in the locker room. How was I supposed to know you were going to walk in an entirely male area?"

Katherine still refused eye contact. "Because you knew I had to give you the number of girls who signed up. It would stand to reason I'd bring them to you. Any reasonable person would come to that conclusion."

"In the male locker room?"

She was silent for a few moments and then attempted to walk around him. "I need to be somewhere."

Gabriel moved in front of her. "You're not going anywhere until this is solved. We work together. We'll need to communicate." When her blue eyes met his, he continued, "I've come to enjoy our friendship." In almost a whisper, he asked, "Why'd this incident bother you so much?" When she didn't answer, he continued, "This is a 'we both get a little embarrassed and laugh it off situation'. I'm confused."

Katherine released a deep breath. "I'm not sure."

Gabriel hesitated. "When we're finished with the physicals, I'm coming by, we're going to talk." He leaned over and gave her a brief hug. "I care about you."

*****
That evening, Angie walked by Katherine's SUV in the parking lot and knocked on her window. "Are you getting out? I thought you were helping with the physicals."

"I am, but after it's over Gabriel wants to talk about yesterday."

"What are you going to say?"

"I have no idea. He has six pack abs. I can't tell him he's the sexiest man I've ever seen and how it made me feel. His ego's already too big."

"You'd better figure it out. He doesn't give up."

"I know."

As the ladies entered the gymnasium, Gabriel walked to them. He handed Angie a map. "Can you direct traffic like you did last year? Here's a list of areas the kids go for their physicals."

He bit his lower lip. "Kat..., Mrs. Riley, would you mind managing the girls' cross country table? You'll collect their signed physical permission slips and remind them practice starts after school Monday. The first meet is next Saturday morning starting at eight o'clock. You'll only have a week to practice. Sorry, about that. It's the best I could do on short notice."

"Gabriel, I mean Coach."

"We'll talk later." He walked away.

When the last student followed the line for physicals, Katherine arranged papers. I wonder what the best hill would be to practice running up and down. I'll have to ask around.

She noticed Gabriel talking with her mom and took a deep breath.
He's going to expect answers. I have none.

Jordan walked up. "Mom, how soon can you leave?"

She glanced around. "I think as soon as I give Coach these papers."

He took the papers. "Pack-up. I'll give them to him."

After Jordan handed Coach the stack of papers, Gabriel glance at Katherine and nodded.

*****
When Katherine and Jordan arrived home, she had the boys follow their nighttime routine. I wonder how much time I have before Gabriel shows up.

She answered her ringing phone. "Hi Angie. He's not here, yet." She listened. "I have no idea what I'm going to say." Again, she listened. "I'm positive the truth is out of the question. I'm not going to tell him that I find him incredibly attractive. His ego barely fits on the football field as it is." After listening, she said, "Just because I find him attractive doesn't mean I have feelings for him." She was silent. "There are headlights outside. Wish me luck."


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a frustrated woman. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 1000 words. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 30
Football Chapter 14 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

When Katherine and Jordan arrived home, she had the boys follow their nighttime routine. I wonder how much time I have before Gabriel shows up.

She answered her ringing phone. "Hi Angie. He's not here, yet." She listened. "I have no idea what I'm going to say." Again, she listened. "I'm positive the truth is out of the question. I'm not going to tell him that I find him incredibly attractive. His ego barely fits on the football field as it is." After listening, she said, "Just because I find him attractive doesn't mean I have feelings for him." She was silent. "There are headlights outside. Wish me luck."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 14 part 2

After Katherine answered the door, she knelt, greeted Reggie, and adjusted his bib. "Hi buddy, I didn't notice you in the gym. I'm sure you were there."

"He stayed in my office and slept." Gabriel hesitated. "Hello."

"Hello."

"Are you going to invite me in or are we having this discussion in the doorway?"

She moved aside. "Sorry, please come in." She pointed to a chair. "Have a seat. Can I get you anything? Maybe a drink?"

"I'm fine."

Katherine walked toward the kitchen. "I think I'll get some water." She returned with a pitcher, two glasses with ice, and sat a distance away. "In case you change your mind."

Gabriel stared at her. "Thank you." After a few silent moments, he asked, "Are the boys upstairs?"

"Jeremy and Joel are in bed. Jordan and Joshua are in their rooms. Daisy's in bed with Jeremy."

"I'm glad everybody's accounted for." Gabriel continued to study her. "Please explain why an incident where two adults should've had a slight embarrassment and then laughed at it has turned into a situation where you won't talk or even look at me? Help me understand."

"I told you I don't have an answer. That hasn't changed."

He reached for the pitcher, poured a glass of water, and handed it to her. "The drink you needed."

Katherine swallowed. "Thank you." She stood. "Maybe some..."

Gabriel got up and took her hand. "You don't need anything else." He motioned her to sit beside him. After she did, he continued, "You're a nervous wreck. Why?"

When she remained silent and tears threatened to spill from her eyes, he said, "Katherine, in Paul's office you said you knew I wouldn't do anything to hurt you, what has changed?"

"Nothing."

"Then why won't you trust me enough to talk to me?"

Katherine got up, walked to the fireplace, and touched a photograph of her family. "I got married at seventeen. I immediately got pregnant with Jordan. I was a mother before my eighteenth birthday. Before Jordan was two, Joshua was born, fifteen months later, Joel. Four years later Jeremy."

Gabriel stood beside her. "What are you saying?"

"By the time I was twenty-four, I had four young children."

"That had to be difficult, especially with the added stress of George being gone."

She wiped a tear rolling down her cheek. "Don't get me wrong. I love my boys and nothing could make me happier than to be their mother."

Gabriel turned her and put his arms around her. "I know. It's obvious watching you with them."

As she cuddled into his chest, the tears flowed. "I'm sorry. I don't know why...."

"Whatever you're trying to say is safe with me," interrupted Gabriel.

She nodded and then backed away. "George was not affectionate." She used both palms and wiped her cheeks. "The first time I was ever with a man was on my wedding night. That's when I got pregnant with Jordan."

Silence continued, until she released a deep breath. "I was married for sixteen years. You're not going to believe this, but I've only had sex five times. I've never really seen an adult male partly dressed." Before Gabriel could speak she added, "I've never been in an adult relationship and you're incredibly..."

"Don't say anymore. I get where you're going," he interrupted as he took her in his arms and held tightly. "Thank you for sharing. I'm sorry I pressed the issue."

Katherine remained in Gabriel's arms, until her confidence returned.

When she backed away, he asked, "You okay?"

She nodded. "I think so." She walked to the couch. "Let's sit." She took a long drink of water. "I bet when you asked you never expected all of this, did you?"

"Not in my wildest dreams." Gabriel cupped her hand as his eyes met hers. "Thank you for trusting me. I promise it's safe with me." He scooted closer and hugged her. "I was serious this afternoon when I said I care."

"I know."

From the top of the stairs, Joshua called, "Mom?" After both Gabriel and Katherine jumped up, he asked, "Is everything all right?"

"Of course. What do you need?" asked Katherine.

"The first football game's tomorrow. You're planning on going, aren't you?"

Gabriel teased, "I'm planning on her being there."

Katherine shook her head, "You're incorrigible." She laughed at his grin. "Yes, Mr. Edwards asked me to supervise section C. He said you guys could come and sit with me." She eyed Gabriel. "You had something to do with that, didn't you?"

"I figured you'd be there anyway, so why not put you to work." When she frowned, he stood. "I think I've worn out my welcome. Come Reggie, it's time to go."

Katherine walked him to the door. As he put his hand on the doorknob, he turned. "We good?"

"Yes. I'll see you early in the morning. Good night."

"Are you going to sleep all right?"

"Better than I did last night."

"Good."




CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a couple having a discussion. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 800 words. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 31
Football Chapter 15 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

From the top of the stairs, Joshua called, "Mom?" After both Gabriel and Katherine jumped up, he asked, "Is everything all right?"

"Of course. What do you need?" asked Katherine.

"The first football game's tomorrow. You're planning on going, aren't you?"

Gabriel teased, "I'm planning on her being there."

Katherine shook her head, "You're incorrigible." She laughed at his grin. "Yes, Mr. Edwards asked me to supervise section C. He said you guys could come and sit with me." She eyed Gabriel. "You had something to do with that, didn't you?"

"I figured you'd be there anyway, so why not put you to work." When she frowned, he stood. "I think I've worn out my welcome. Come Reggie, it's time to go."

Katherine walked him to the door. As he put his hand on the doorknob, he turned. "We good?"

"Yes. I'll see you early in the morning. Good night."

"Are you going to sleep all right?"

"Better than I did last night."

"Good."

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 15 part 1

Friday morning, Gabriel was early. I hope Kate show's up. I hope she's not worried about what she shared. He grinned and petted Reggie. "Good, here she comes." When Daisy ran out to meet Reggie, he petted her. "I see you're glad to see Reggie." He watched Katherine walk toward him. "Good morning."

Both heads turned as the dogs faced the same direction and growled.

"Good morning. I wonder when he's going to get bored following our jogging routine." As they jogged, Katherine asked, "Where's the best jogging hill?"

"I like the one off First Street. It's a nice steep hill and only about five blocks from school. Why?"

"I want my girls to jog it for conditioning."

Gabriel chuckled. "Ouch. You sure? My players run it. Are you sure you want girls to?"

"Are you saying my girls can't do it?"

Holding up both hands chest high, he said, "I'd never say that. What time are you looking at? I don't think it'd be a good idea to have them there the same time as my guys."

"True. You do homework from four to five o'clock, correct?" When he nodded, she continued, "Okay, we'll run the hill first. We'll be finished before your guys start. You're holding the guys until eight o'clock. That's a long time."

"I know. It's too hot with the pads. We do the major work after it cools down. That's why we finish homework before. The guys don't have to worry about it after practice."

"Ready for tonight's game?"

"We'll find out, but I think so."

They turned around as Katherine's timer went off. "I have another question. Are all our meets Saturday mornings?"

"I have the schedule in my office. I'll get it to you today. I was able to schedule all but one on Saturdays. It's a home meet and is on the Thursday before Homecoming. I thought it would be easier for you, well for Jeremy, to have them on Saturdays. There are seven in all. I'll have my secretary add it to the athletic site."

"You're probably right. It'd make for a long day for him. You have a secretary? Wow," she teased.

They stood in front of Katherine's house.

"I guess I'd better get back to school. I'll see you there."

"Okay." Katherine started up the sidewalk to her door. "Gabriel, one more thing. With fifteen girls, I was wondering if I could get some help."

He jogged down the sidewalk. "Already, taken care of. Angie will be your assistant."

"Thank you, for everything and I mean everything."

He turned and waved.

*****
When Gabriel stepped out of the school's main office with two coffees and a sack, Bill walked up to him. "I see you and Katherine have mended fences. Do you know why it bothered her so much?"

"We did, and I do. I won't talk about it." Gabriel started to walk away.

"That bad?"

He turned and faced his buddy. "Yep." He continued to his office.

*****
At exactly three o'clock, Mr. Edwards quieted the playing band and the students as he welcomed the students to the first pep rally. He then introduced Coach Hudson.

Gabriel walked up to the microphone. "Welcome to our 2020 -- 2021 school year. Most of you know me as the football coach, but I'm also the athletic director. I want to share everything Silver Cove High School has to offer for this fall semester. First, freshman, Junior/Varsity, and Varsity Football." He raised his hands above his head, clapped, and cheered. "But I'm not at all prejudiced. As you already know our first varsity game's tonight and we're hosting Stony Point. It's a non-conference game. In case you don't play football, we also offer tennis, volleyball, cross country, bowling, softball, baseball, basketball, wrestling, track, and golf. This year for the first time in three years we're offering girls cross country."

He winked at Katherine as he waited for the cheering to quiet. "In case you're not into sports, I want to remind you that at Silver Cove High School, we offer something for everybody from academics to the arts and more. There's band, vocal music, art club, chess club, FFA, FTA, school newspaper, year book, theater, math club, science club, computer lab, gaming club, and more. If you can't find something to do, then you're not looking very hard. Every student should be busy with something. If you're interested in something and you can't find it come see me, and we'll see about starting it."

Coach motioned for the other coaches to stand and then changed his mind. "Before I introduce my coaching staff, I want to introduce everybody who helps make this school great. Faculty, if you sponsor anything besides the course you were hired to teach, join me." He waited until three-fourths of the staff joined him. "I wanted to do this because I wanted the students to realize how much the teachers care. Like I said if you can't find some way to get involved, you're not looking very hard. We're a very busy school and it should be that way."

The band played while the staff members returned to their seats. Gabriel nodded. "Now, for the coaching staff. You can't have a winning team without winning coaches. So I'll introduce my help." Once he finished, the varsity football players came to the front and one-by-one announced the position they played. Afterward the band director, the band, and finally the cheerleading coach and the cheerleaders were named. He turned the pep rally over to them.

*****
As Katherine headed home, Gabriel caught up with her and handed her a T-shirt. "I didn't think you had a school T-shirt. You'll need to wear this tonight." He scratched his chin. "I didn't know the size. It's probably too big. I figured it was better than possibly being too small."

Katherine held it up and smiled. "It may be a little large, but you're right too tight wouldn't be good." She paused. "You don't let the boys leave the school before the games, do you?"

"No. I think its better they remain at school. There's no possibility of them getting into trouble. Matter-of-fact, I need to get back."

"Okay, what time should I be here?"

"Probably around six."

"I'll be there. Are jeans okay?"

"Of course. See you then." Gabriel walked away.





CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a high school pep rally. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 1000 words. I removed and entire paragraph, so I hope something isn't lacking. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 32
Football Chapter 15 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

The band played while the staff members returned to their seats. Gabriel nodded. "Now, for the coaching staff. You can't have a winning team without winning coaches. So I'll introduce my help." Once he finished, the varsity football players came to the front and one-by-one announced the position they played. Afterward the band director, the band, and finally the cheerleading coach and the cheerleaders were named. He turned the pep rally over to them.

*****
As Katherine headed home, Gabriel caught up with her and handed her a T-shirt. "I didn't think you had a school T-shirt. You'll need to wear this tonight." He scratched his chin. "I didn't know the size. It's probably too big. I figured it was better than possibly being too small."

Katherine held it up and smiled. "It may be a little large, but you're right too tight wouldn't be good." She paused. "You don't let the boys leave the school before the games, do you?"

"No. I think its better they remain at school. There's no possibility of them getting into trouble. Matter-of-fact, I need to get back."

"Okay, what time should I be here?"

"Probably around six."

"I'll be there. Are jeans okay?"

"Of course. See you then." Gabriel walked away.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 15 part 2

A few minutes before six o'clock, Katherine and three of her boys arrived at the football stadium. She stood in the parking lot and stared.

Joshua touched her arm. "Mom, are you okay?"

"Yes, this field is named after your grandpa, Bob Beck Field. I never expected to attend a football game here, let alone working during one."

"Why? I don't understand."

"When I grew up, football ruled my life. I practically grew up on a football field. I swore I'd never have anything to do with football. Then you guys came along and all love football, so here I am."

"Don't forget Coach Hudson."

Why would Gabriel have anything to do with it? Katherine took Jeremy's hand. "Let's go."

She had the boys sit on the second row of section C. It wasn't long before the team ran out single file and started warming up.

Gabriel spotted her and nodded in her direction.

After she smiled back, she watched him walk to the other half of the field. Dad used to do that. He always wanted to check-out the opponent.

On the way to his team's sideline, Gabriel stopped in front of the stands where Katherine and the boys sat.

She leaned over the railing. "Can I help you?"

He grinned. "I thought I'd better warn you. I can get animated during the game."

"Oh really?" she teased. "I figured you did. I've heard rumors about your need to win."

His eyebrows rose. "Huh, I wonder how those started."

Jeremy tapped his mom's arm. "Is it time to eat? I'm hungry."

Katherine glanced at her watch. "I think so. Just give me a minute." Her eyes met Gabriel's. "I have a feeling they're more than rumors."

Gabriel grinned. "You could be right." He reached up and touched Jeremy's hand and then pointed to his right. "At the Quarterback Club's concession stand they have the best Frito Pie and your grandma works there. You might want to go, if your mom will let you. The one on this end is closer."

"Mom, can I go please. I'll take Joshua with me."

"But will you listen to and stay with him?"

"I will. I promise. Really I do."

"I guess, but if you mess up, you won't be going back. Do you understand?"

"Yes, yes."

"Okay. Just give me a minute." Her attention went back to Gabriel. "You started something. You know that, don't you?"

He nodded. "I know. How much trouble can he get into?"

"I'll let you know later." Katherine hesitated. "Good luck tonight."

He lifted his cap, ran his hand through his short hair, replaced the cap, and glanced toward the other team. "We got this." He noticed the coaches sent the team toward the locker room. "It's time for me to do my thing." Jogging, he followed the team.

*****
The opposing band played as the visiting team ran single file onto the football field. After they finished, Silver Cove High School's fight song began as the team rammed through a large football helmet with smoke blowing from it. Coach Hudson led the way.

Then Harold, the announcer said, "This is Texas High School Football, and in this state we sing The Star Spangled Banner loud and proud."

Harold still announces the games. I guess things don't change.
Katherine turned toward the boys and reminded them to set their food down and stand.

Jeremy shoved another bite of Frito Pie into his mouth. "Coach was right. This is really good."

She put her finger to her lips. "Shh."

After the band finished, Katherine walked back-and-forth in section C. Angie was at section B and walked to her. "Just wanted to let you know that Gabriel struggles controlling his temper during games."

Katherine nodded. "He warned me that he gets animated."

Angie laughed. "That's a polite way of saying it."

"I'm used to it. Dad used to get animated. If he had a bad game, I stayed in my room the following day."

"So you understand." She noticed a group of students standing in the aisle. "I'd better get back."

The time clock started at kick off.

Four minutes into the first quarter, Silver Cove scored and got the extra point. It was zero-to-seven.

At the end of the first quarter, the other team got a field goal. It was now three-to-seven.

Immediately at the beginning of the second quarter, the quarterback threw a pass to Jordan. He was tackled and a yellow flag thrown.

Katherine jumped up and put her fist in front of her mouth and jerked down, yelling, "Facemask!"

Bill tapped Gabriel and pointed. "She knows the game."

Gabriel laughed. "Why wouldn't she? Coach Beck was her dad. She could probably coach better than me." He huddled the team.

The last minute before half-time, the quarterback passed to Jordan again. This time he ran the ball in for a touchdown.

Katherine jumped up-and-down and cheered.

As the team huddled, Gabriel glanced at Katherine and grinned.

The boys took the field for the extra point. Gabriel nodded at the quarterback, who then called cadence. They went for a two-point conversion and made it.

Harold screamed. "Wow! And in the first game! Coach Hudson must be confident in these boys. What was he thinking? What other tricks does he have up his sleeve this year? It's going to be a fun year."

The fans in the stadium jumped up-and-down while they cheered.

The score at half-time was three-to-fifteen.

Katherine sighed. "What was he thinking?"

Joshua took a drink of his soda. "Mom, did you see that?"

"Maybe he wanted to try it before conference play starts."

The final score was nine-to-twenty-nine.






CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Harold Hudson Gabriel's dad and football announcer.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a football teams running onto the field before a game. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little under a 1000 words. I removed and entire paragraph, so I hope something isn't lacking. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 33
Football Chapter 16 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

As the team huddled, Gabriel glanced at Katherine and grinned.

The boys took the field for the extra point. Gabriel nodded at the quarterback, who then called cadence. They went for a two-point conversion and made it.

Harold screamed. "Wow! And in the first game! Coach Hudson must be confident in these boys. What was he thinking? What other tricks does he have up his sleeve this year? It's going to be a fun year."

The fans in the stadium jumped up-and-down while they cheered.

The score at half-time was three-to-fifteen.

Katherine sighed. "What was he thinking?"

Joshua took a drink of his soda. "Mom, did you see that?"

"Maybe he wanted to try it before conference play starts."

The final score was nine-to-twenty-nine.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 16 part 1

As Katherine opened the front door and saw Gabriel and Reggie, she called, "I was wondering if you'd come by this morning."

Gabriel studied his feet. "Can I be honest?" When she nodded, he continued, "I couldn't find an excuse to come by this weekend."

Her cheeks tinged pink. "You don't need one. You're welcome anytime." She hesitated. "The boys missed you."

"I missed the boys."

Katherine set her watch. "I guess we'd better get started."

As they jogged, Gabriel asked, "You ready for your first cross country practice?"

"I think so. I'll find out for sure during practice. I thought we'd warm up with exercises and then run the hill. Warm up and cool down are important. I want to emphasize that. All I remember from my cross country days is running."

"That's pretty much what you do."

Katherine turned to face him. "I do have a question." She waited until he acknowledged her before she continued, "What were you thinking going for two during the first-half of the first game?"

Gabriel laughed. "I wanted to see how much about the game you understood."

"So it had nothing to do with showing off? It had to do with me." She hesitated. "So you were testing my knowledge?"

He grabbed his chest. "Now you hurt me to the core."

"Oh please." She shook her head. "I never thought you'd be into drama." Waiting a few seconds, she searched his eyes. "If it had to do with me, you would've had an excuse to come by this weekend."

"You're right. The truth is I wanted the other conference coaches to think about it, to put them on edge. I know they're talking about it. It was a bold move, but I have confidence in my team. They're a good bunch of kids."

Katherine's timer went off.

As they switched directions, Gabriel gulped. "I have a confession." After a pause, he continued, "I didn't come by because I was worried you'd be self-conscious about what we discussed the other night."

She stopped in her tracks. "I don't understand why, but for some reason I'm relieved I told you."

"I'm glad."

Silence continued until they arrived at her home.

Katherine started walking up the sidewalk to her front porch. "Any suggestions for your breakfast? I'm running out of ideas."

"Nope, you've made perfect choices so far. I like the surprise element." He started jogging toward the school. "You hear that, Reggie, she's glad she confided in me? She trusts me. That's a good thing."

*****
After school, Katherine changed into workout clothes and waited outside the girls' locker room.

Gabriel came up behind her and slightly tugged her pony tail. "I'm glad you got the right locker room," he teased.

She turned. "Ha, ha. You're just a barrel of laughs."

"I thought so." His eyes met hers. "Seriously, if anything at all comes up, text or call. Even if you just have a question. I mean it."

She nodded. "I will."

"You'd better."

Gabriel called to Reggie, "Come on, slow poke." He shook his head. "He's the epitome of lazy."

Out of his office meandered Reggie with a yawn and a stretch. He paused by Katherine to get petted.

She knelt and rubbed his large head. "He's precious."

"I'll go with my best bud, but not sure precious fits." Gabriel started to leave. "Catch up with you later." When she agreed, he continued, "So you don't have to make an extra trip back, I've got Jordan."

"Thank you. It's going to take a few days to make this schedule work. Mom has the younger boys. I think my timing will be good to pick up Joshua, at least I hope so. Then I'll start dinner." She smiled as the first three girls came out of the locker room. "I need to get busy. I don't have an extensive coaching staff."

"Where's Angie?"

"Still changing. She had a late student."

Four more giggling girls joined the group.

Gabriel called over his shoulder, "Have fun."

Katherine walked to the door of the locker room. "Come on! We're waiting. It doesn't take that long to change."

After all fifteen girls were ready; Katherine introduced herself and Angie, and then had each girl introduce herself. Angie took attendance.

Katherine started, "The two most important parts of cross country are the warm up and the cool downs. If you don't do them properly or rush them, you'll injure yourself. In a few minutes, we'll start. Our first meet is Saturday morning at eight o'clock. I'll want you here at seven."

Sandy raised her hand. "Mrs. Riley, didn't you run cross country?"

"I did. That brings me to my next point. Practices need to be so hard that the meet's easy. We'll run five kilometres each meet. They'll actually be fun. So let's go outside and begin our warm-up."

Judy asked, "How far is five kilometres?"

"Three point one miles."

When everyone stood on the grass, Katherine, continued, "Okay, from now on, we'll meet here at..." she glanced at her watch, "at three-forty-five. That gives you twenty minutes to get in here and get changed. If you can't make it on time and can't give me a good reason, then you can run extra laps. Understood?" The girls nodded. "Good. My hope is you get home in time to have dinner, complete homework, and get to bed on time. Maybe even have time for fun."

Katherine described the warm-up exercise as she modeled it. Angie followed her and they both watched and paused to help any girls who struggled.

After thirty minutes of warm up, they jogged toward the hill off First Street. When they arrived, the girls complained about how steep and long it was.

Katherine smiled. "I told you practice would be difficult. Yes, it's steep. We're going to run up and down it three times. Some of you won't make it, and that's okay. It's your first attempt. Do your best. That's all I ask. Mrs. Brooks and I'll run with you." She released a deep breath. "We may not make it, but that's okay."

Rhonda asked, "You're not going to sit and watch. You're actually going to run?"

"Why would we watch and let you have all the fun?" Katherine started up the hill. "Let's do this. I find it's easier if we follow the cadence of a song. One of my favorites is 'This is My Fight Song.' Sing along if you know it. We're going to fight this hill and win."

Katherine sang. Angie only knew the chorus but soon caught on to the rest. The girls quickly learned the chorus.

The first trip up the hill, Katherine and Angie made it, all but two girls made it without walking the last few feet. The second trip up, seven girls had to walk partway. The third trip, Katherine barely made it, Angie had to walk at the end and all but two girls had to walk.

As they jogged back to school, they met the football team. Gabriel jogged in place beside Katherine, and asked, "Well?"

Jogging in place, she said, "We did okay. I'm proud of the girls. All but two dropped out on the third try. Not bad."

He nodded. "Walk it out."

"I know. I'm not an amateur."

"Sorry. Occupational hazard. I've watched you jog."

*****
When Gabriel and Jordan arrived at the house, Katherine and the boys were setting the table. Jeremy ran up and hugged Gabriel's thighs. "I've missed you and Reggie so much. I'm glad you came. Are you eating dinner with us?"

Gabriel eyed Katherine. "I'd better go. I just wanted to say hi."

Katherine put her hand on the extra chair. "I think this chair and place setting has your name on it."

"Oh really?" His eyebrows rose.

"Really."

After dinner, Katherine and Gabriel cleaned the dishes, while Jeremy took his bath and the rest of the boys finished homework.

Folding a dishtowel, Katherine said, "I'm sorry about Jeremy. He really enjoys having you around."

"Don't worry about it. I enjoy being around."

"I'm glad you feel that way." She paused. "How many times do your boys run the hill?"

"Five, but that being said, the linemen never make it five." Gabriel laughed. "I'm not sure some of them make it three. I'm surprised you tried three times on the first attempt."

"Had no choice. Our first meet's Saturday. I don't want the girls to be embarrassed." Her eyes searched his brown eyes. "In case you're wondering. I made it three times. Angie almost did."

"I wasn't wondering. I knew you would. Angie runs with Bill every day. That's why I asked her to help. I knew she was a runner." He avoided her eyes. "To be honest the first time we met I noticed your form. I could tell you were a runner."

Before Katherine could comment, Jeremy called, "Mom, story time."

Gabriel nodded. "You'd better get to that story." He watched her walk up the stairs. As much as I enjoy being around her, I can't have dinner here every night. That P.I. is out there taking pictures. Until she works out her schedule, I'll have Bill bring Jordan home.




Thank you Rachel Platten for 'My Fight Song'. A friend and I used to actually jog to this back in my jogging days,










CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Harold Hudson Gabriel's dad and football announcer.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a running hill. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little under a 1600 words. Sorry about the length. The place I felt I could break it up caused too short of a post. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 34
Football Chapter 17 part 1

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:


After dinner, Katherine and Gabriel cleaned the dishes, while Jeremy took his bath and the rest of the boys finished homework.

Folding a dishtowel, Katherine said, "I'm sorry about Jeremy. He really enjoys having you around."

"Don't worry about it. I enjoy being around."

"I'm glad you feel that way." She paused. "How many times do your boys run the hill?"

"Five, but that being said, the linemen never make it five." Gabriel laughed. "I'm not sure some of them make it three. I'm surprised you tried three times on the first attempt."

"Had no choice. Our first meet's Saturday. I don't want the girls to be embarrassed." Her eyes searched his brown eyes. "In case you're wondering. I made it three times. Angie almost did."

"I wasn't wondering. I knew you would. Angie runs with Bill every day. That's why I asked her to help. I knew she was a runner." He avoided her eyes. "To be honest the first time we met I noticed your form. I could tell you were a runner."

Before Katherine could comment, Jeremy called, "Mom, story time."

Gabriel nodded. "You'd better get to that story." He watched her walk up the stairs. As much as I enjoy being around her, I can't have dinner here every night. That P.I. is out there taking pictures. Until she works out her schedule, I'll have Bill bring Jordan home.

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 17 part 1


Katherine peeked out the window. When she didn't see Gabriel, she did her stretches inside. It's already Wednesday. Every day's pretty much the same. I jog, teach math, coach cross country, come home feed the kids, go to bed and start all over the following day. I think I need to get a life. The only thing that changed is Bill brought Jordan home last night, instead of Gabriel. What's wrong with me? I missed him. That can't happen.

When she opened the door, Gabriel and Reggie still weren't waiting. I wonder if something's wrong. I'll wait a few more minutes. If he doesn't show, we'll start. She petted Daisy's head.

As she did one last stretch, she noticed a figure turn the corner and smiled. "I started to worry."

"You were actually concerned?"

He got closer, and she asked, "Are you okay? What's wrong?"

"I'm fine. I didn't sleep very well last night."

"Anything wrong?"

"Want to run or want to talk?" Gabriel motioned toward her watch. "Set the timer. Maybe a good run will help."

Katherine set the timer. "Okay." She chewed on her lower lip. "It seemed strange Bill bringing Jordan home."

Gabriel stopped. "That's sort of what kept me up last night. It bothered me that I didn't come by." He faced her. "The reason I didn't;" he released a deep breath, "I was afraid if I kept coming around it'd look bad. I never want to do anything that would reflect poorly on you." Katherine started to speak, but he held up his hand. "Let me finish." He hesitated. "Then I got angry for allowing Frost to dictate my actions."

"Thank you for being concerned. First, you only come by during normal hours. You never stay past nine or the latest nine-thirty. During this time we are out in public. Everybody can see what we're doing, we're jogging. We've never done anything that could be considered even slightly immoral."

"I know, but with my past I worried."

"Please stop. One question, do you feel we've done anything wrong or should be ashamed of?" She paused. "I don't."

"You're right. Thank you for putting things into perspective."

The timer went off. "Glad I could help."

As they turned around, Gabriel said, "Your race's Saturday morning. Are you going to run the hill all week?"

"You're questioning my coaching skills." He started to respond, but she continued, "I know what I'm doing. The short answer to your question is no. Do you want the long answer?" When he nodded, she added, "Since today is Wednesday, I thought we'd run up the hill one and a half times, and then come back. At the school, maybe run some knee highs and butt kicks. Then slowly jog the track. You don't use the track, do you?"

"No. What do you have planned for Thursday?"

"We'll go once up the hill and then maybe skipping and controlled sprints. Again, slowly jog the track. I'm thinking bringing them together Friday just to stretch after school. Nothing else."

"Sounds good."

"So you approve of my coaching skills?"

Gabriel chuckled. "I'll reserve my opinion until after Saturday's meet." He glanced toward her house. "We're back. Thank you for putting things in perspective."

"No problem. Glad I could help. If you stopped coming by, the boys would miss you." Katherine walked up the sidewalk to her house and said under her breath, "And so would I."

"I heard that."

"You must be hearing things. I didn't say anything." She ran up the steps and into the house.

"I'd miss you too." He turned. "Come on, Reggie. We need to get back to school."


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL THE MOMS OUT THERE!!!


CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Harold Hudson Gabriel's dad and football announcer.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a couple jogging. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over a 600 words. Thank you for having patience with me.


Chapter 35
Football Chapter 17 part 2

By barbara.wilkey

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

Gabriel chuckled. "I'll reserve my opinion until after Saturday's meet." He glanced toward her house. "We're back. Thank you for putting things in perspective."

"No problem. Glad I could help. If you stopped coming by, the boys would miss you." Katherine walked up the sidewalk to her house and said under her breath, "And so would I."

"I heard that."

"You must be hearing things. I didn't say anything." She ran up the steps and into the house.

"I'd miss you too." He turned. "Come on, Reggie. We need to get back to school."

TODAY'S POST: Gabriel and Katherine only met 19 days ago.

Chapter 17 part 2


As Katherine waited outside for the girls, Gabriel came over and asked, "How's your day?"

"It's been good, but I'm pretty sure you didn't come by to see how my day was."

"Maybe I just wanted to say hi, is that a crime?"

"Only in forty-five states," teased Katherine.

Gabriel grinned. "I'm pretty sure Texas is one of the five it's not."

They watched the girls walk out in groups of three or four.

Katherine tapped her watch. "Two more minutes or a few will be running extra laps."

Grinning Gabriel walked away. "Slave driver."

"Aren't you the one who said a winning team is a well-disciplined team?"

Chuckling, he walked away and added, "Lies, all lies."

*****
After the girls finished practice and were showering and changing, Sandy asked, "Coach Riley, can I speak to you?"

"Of course, come over here with me."

"I thought it was strange that Rhonda was wearing long sleeves in a hundred degree weather. While she was showering, I noticed bruises all over her arms and legs."

Katherine closed her eyes. When she opened them she said, "Thank you. I'll handle it." She texted Gabriel. Something has come up. I need you ASAP in your office.

As they waited for the girls to finish dressing and for their parents, Katherine asked, "Angie, can you wait for the parents? I need to speak to Rhonda. Have her parents meet me in Gabriel's office."

When Rhonda was ready to leave, Katherine guided her to the office. Rhonda questioned, "Why we in coach's office? I haven't done anything wrong."

Katherine motioned her to a chair. "I know you haven't, please have a seat. I'm wondering why you're wearing long sleeves when it's stifling hot."

Rhonda avoided eye contact and folded her arms across her chest. "I'm cold."

"Okay."

Katherine glanced up when Angie escorted Rhonda's parents inside and said, "Coach Riley, Mr. and Mrs. Morgan. I'm needed outside."

Motioning to chairs, Katherine said, "Please have a seat. We're waiting for Coach Hudson."

Mr. Morgan asked, "Why we here? Has Rhonda done something?"

"No, she hasn't. I'm concerned about something." Katherine checked the hall. "While we're waiting, I'll start." Her eyes met Rhonda's. "Please raise your sleeves."

Rhonda put her right hand on her left wrist and shook her head.

Leaning forward, Mr. Morgan asked, "Why you want her to do that? Are you checking for needle marks? She's not a druggy."

"I know." Katherine hesitated. "Rhonda has numerous bruises on her arms and legs."

Mr. Morgan jumped up. "I've never laid hand on her." He glanced at his wife. "Neither has her mom."

"Coach Riley isn't blaming you of anything." Gabriel walked in and offered his hand. "Hello, I'm Coach Hudson, the Athletic Director." He nodded to Katherine. "Please have a seat, and we'll continue."

After Mr. Morgan sat, Katherine continued, "Sir, I'm not accusing you of abusing your daughter. All I'm doing is stating a fact that Rhonda's covered with bruises. As a parent myself, I'd want to know. I'm sure you'd like to know what caused them."

Mrs. Morgan stared at her daughter. "Rhonda, raise your sleeves."

Tears rolled down Rhonda's cheeks, and she shook her head. "Mom, please, no." Both parents stared her, as she slowly shoved up her sleeves, revealing both arms covered with bruises.

Katherine swallowed. "We won't ask you to remove your slacks." She glanced at each parent. "When you get home, you'll probably want to check her legs. They're bruised too."

Gabriel set his jaw. "What happened?"

Katherine knelt before the crying girl and cupped both her hands. "We want to help." She hesitated. "I want to help. I can't help unless you tell me what happened. I know as a parent, your parents want to help. Coach Hudson does what he does because he cares about kids. He wants to help."

She reached up and hugged the crying child. Rhonda slid out of the chair closer to Katherine.

Drawing her closer into an embrace, Katherine almost whispered, "We can't help unless you talk. Nobody has a right to hurt you."

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan held hands as tears fell freely down their cheeks. Mrs. Morgan pleaded, "Please tell us what happened. Who did this?"

Rhonda whispered, "Kenny."

Katherine faced the parents. "Who's that?"

Mr. Morgan clutched his fists. "Her boy friend."

Gabriel moved closer. "Kenny Clark?" After both parents nodded, he continued, "I know him. I'll handle it." He answered Katherine's wide eyes. "I got this."

Mr. Morgan stood. "Thank you. Rhonda, we need to go home and have a serious talk."

Mrs. Morgan reached for her husband's hand. "Walter, calm down."

"Don't tell me to calm down when this scumbag's been abusing my daughter."

Gabriel's eyes met Mr. Morgan. "I said I'll handle it. He won't go near your daughter again. It's my promise to you. Now take your daughter home and tend to her bruises."

As Gabriel and Katherine watched the Morgans leave, Katherine answered her phone. "Thank you, Mom." When Gabriel turned toward her, she said, "When I wasn't at the school, Joshua figured I got held up and called Mom." After releasing a big sigh, she continued, "I can't take care of everything. There's not enough of me."

"That's why you have your mom and me. We'll pick up the slack."

She touched his arm. "Thank you. I really do appreciate it."

He turned toward the door. "You need to get home. I'll bring Jordan home. I'll have a talk with Paul and bring him up to date and then speak with Kenny. That boy needs some attitude adjustment."

"Be careful. I don't want to visit you in prison."

He chuckled. "You'd actually visit me in jail?"

She turned to leave. "I'm needed at home."

*****
When Katherine walked into the dining room, she stopped and her eyes opened wide. "You're here? I didn't hear the door."

Jordan tilted his head. "Mom, where did you expect me to be?"

Gabriel chuckled. "She didn't expect me. She thought I'd be in jail."

Turning toward Gabriel, Jordan asked, "Coach?"

Katherine frowned. "It's a private joke. Don't worry about it. Your brothers are upstairs finishing homework, please get them." When she was sure Jordan was out of hearing range, she asked, "Did Kenny admit it?"

"Naw, and after meeting his parents, I have a feeling he's re-enacting what he's been watching since he was born. Paul is taking it up the channels."

"That's the problem with abuse it's learned behavior and flows from generation to generation."

"Monday Kenny starts on the football team. Since he likes to hurt people..." He quieted as the boys came downstairs and then headed toward the front door.

Walking up to Gabriel, Katherine asked, "Where are you and Reggie going? Aren't you staying for dinner?"

He grinned. "I wasn't invited."

She took hold of his wrist and guided him toward the table. "Come on. You have your own seat at our table. You have a permanent invitation. Reggie has his own bowl right next to Daisy's. He's already wearing his bib."

His eyes twinkled as they met hers. "You know this could be misinterpreted, don't you?"

*****
After dinner, Gabriel said, "Jeremy, take your bath, after you're done let your mom know so she can read your story. You other three help me with the dishes. Katherine, sit and prop up your feet."

Katherine's eyebrows rose. "You're awfully bossy, aren't you?"

Gabriel chuckled. "Since I have a permanent seat at the table, I figured I could." He took her hand and led her to the couch. "Have a seat. Seriously, I got this. You need a break. Let me do it for you."

After the younger boys were in bed and the older ones were upstairs, Gabriel and Katherine sat on the couch and she asked, "How did you convince Kenny to join the football team?"

"I told him it was either that or I'd call the police. Since it's against the law to assault anyone, and that includes girlfriends."

"How's that going to stop him?"

"I don't only coach football. I try to teach boys to grow up to be respectable young men. When it gets closer to Homecoming we'll discuss how to treat these young ladies." He hesitated. "Thank you for what you did for Rhonda. You handled it really well, good job."

"I honestly didn't know what to do. I just knew I needed to do something and it sort of fell into place."

"You have good instincts."

"Thank you for showing up when you did. Mr. Morgan was getting upset. Your presence calmed him."

Gabriel patted her hand. "I need to leave."

Katherine walked him to the door. "Good night."

"See you in the morning."

She shut and locked the door. "He's a great guy, but..."



CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Harold Hudson Gabriel's dad and football announcer.

Sandy Teenage girl on cross country team.

Rhonda Morgan Teenage girl on cross country team, and victim of
dating violence.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan Rhonda's parents.

Kenny Clark Teenager - Rhonda's boyfriend and abuser.

Author Notes Thank you google images for the photo of a teenage dating violence. It's very real and not discussed nearly enough. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little under 1500 words. Sorry about the length. Thank you for having patience with me.


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