Romance Fiction posted December 13, 2020 Chapters:  ...11 12 -13- 14... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Gabriel and Katherine talk.

A chapter in the book Football - A Novel

Football Chapter 6 part 2

by barbara.wilkey

Katherine struggles raising her four sons by herself.

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."


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?"


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.


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

Book of the Month contest entry


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.
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