Romance Fiction posted October 17, 2021 Chapters:  ...55 56 -57- 58... 


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Katherine and Gabriel get closer.

A chapter in the book Football - A Novel

Football Chapter 31 part 1

by barbara.wilkey




Background
After Katherine's husband dies, she struggles raising her four sons by herself. Is Gabriel the father figure the boys never had and the husband she deserves?
Katherine and Gabriel have known each other for 36 days.

ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:

The coach returned to where Mr. Edward and Gabriel stood. "I just realized who she is. She's Katherine Beck. She still holds cross country records for the four-kilometer runs. She had an all-expense paid scholarship to University of Texas."

Gabriel faced Mr. Edwards. "Really? They don't give that type of scholarships for cross country or girls' anything."

Paul turned in Katherine's direction. "Normally, you're right, but she's special. She was in the running for the Olympics, but she chose to get married."

The opposing coach's glare went between Paul and Gabriel. "Okay, since she's a great runner, how'd she get on your staff? What's she teach? Study hall, hallway, or maybe parking lot duty?"

Paul grinned. "She teaches math, and not only math, but our AP courses."

The coach left.

Gabriel watched him leave. "Think we've heard the last of him?"

"I doubt it. Pretty sure Monday morning I'll get a call from the UIL's front office. Maybe even a visit. Between your interesting play last night and this, I'm going to be busy Monday." Paul slapped Gabriel's back. "Since hiring you, I've had job security."

"Glad I could help," teased Gabriel.

Paul walked off. "Between you and your girlfriend, I'll never have any peace."

"She's not my girlfriend."

"Want to bet?"

TODAY'S POST:

Chapter 31 part 1

When Gabriel knocked on Katherine's front door mid-afternoon, Joshua answered, "Am I ever glad to see you. Mom has us cleaning house. I'm pretty sure child labor's illegal."

Gabriel chuckled. "I think it's called being part of a family, but it also builds character and responsibility. My parents made me. I'm sure you'll live through it. I did." He scanned the area. "Where's your mom?"

"Laundry room."

Heading that direction, Gabriel paused and messed up Jeremy's hair. "Hey, buddy. After I speak with your mom, I need a little help. You're just the man for the job."

Jeremy's eyes twinkled.

Standing at the laundry room door, Gabriel knocked. "I didn't want to scare you." He leaned over and pecked her cheek. "Can I borrow the boys for a few minutes? I have some things to carry in."

"Sure. I think they're almost finished anyway. Anything I can do?"

"Nope. When we finish, I'll help with the chores." He turned to leave.

"No need."

Gabriel herded the boys. "Come outside. I need your help." As they stood next to his pick-up, he handed Jordan a fifty-pound bag of dog food. "You got it?" After Jordan started inside, he gave Joshua a twenty pound bag of charcoal. "Is this too heavy?" When he turned toward the house, Gabriel handed Joel three bags of groceries. Joel nodded and carried them inside. He grinned at the pout on Jeremy's face. "I didn't forget you." He passed him a five pound bag of potatoes. "Got it?"

"Sure do."

Gabriel carried in a boxed grill.

Katherine stood with her hands on her hips. "What's going on?"

He grinned. "I'm cooking dinner tonight."

"I see. But..."

"Wanted to help. I know you got home late last night, so grocery shopping would be put off until tomorrow."

"You've told me you don't cook."

Gabriel pointed to the box. "I don't, but I grill. I haven't seen a grill out back, so I got one." He balanced the box on the table while he reached into his pocket for the keys. "Jordan, get my tools from the bed's toolbox. It's locked." He handed him the keys. "Bring them out back." His eyes met Katherine's. "When they've finished inside, send them out."

She scanned the area. "I think we're pretty much finished, except for laundry. That usually takes all day. I do need to check their rooms and make sure they're respectable.

"I'll put away the groceries." He reached inside a sack.

Katherine peeked in. "What you fixing for dinner?"

"A typical man's dinner."

"So we're having corndogs, nachos, beer?"

Gabriel put his hand over his heart. "Ouch, you cut me to the quick." He held up packages of steak. "How about steak, baked potatoes, and salad?"

"Sounds delicious. I should've figured it out. You don't grill corndogs," teased Katherine.

"And you say I'm incorrigible." After putting away the groceries, Gabriel said, "Unless you need me to do something, I'll be out back putting this together."

Joshua stood beside Gabriel. "Coach, I wouldn't ask. Mom's into slave labor."

Gabriel chuckled. "I'll take this one with me. Would that be help enough?" He nodded for Joshua to follow.

"It would. Be careful. I've heard rumors he's unionizing."

After Katherine checked the boys' rooms and decided they were acceptable, she stood at the kitchen window and watched the interaction between Gabriel and the boys. He's amazing with them.

*****
Almost thirty minutes later, Gabriel came inside and washed his hands and splashed cold water on his face. As he dried off, he asked, "Would it be possible to get a cold drink?"

"Of course, what would you like? I have lemonade, tea, and water."

"Will you be joining me?"

"I could."

"Good, how about iced tea and we sit under a shade tree?"

"Sounds good." Katherine poured two glasses of tea and met Gabriel outside.

As she sat beside him, she asked, "We discussing anything in particular or just visiting?"

"Just spending time together. Is that all right?"

She took a sip of tea. "Sounds great. You have an away game next week, right?" After he nodded, she continued, "I'm driving. Before we leave, I'm checking my spare and jack. Tomorrow I'm buying a phone charger and keeping it in my purse."

"Probably a good idea." He held up his glass. "After I'm finished with this, I'll check and make sure your spare has air."

"You don't need to."

"Yes, I do. Saturday you have an invitational cross country meet and it's away."

"Have they changed any since I ran? How many schools will be there?"

"They haven't changed. There'll be four other schools besides you."

"I'll need to prepare my girls." Katherine hesitated, before she continued, "Will you be there?"

Gabriel's eyes widened. "I never expected that question. I may be a little late, but I'll be there." He watched for a reaction. "Does it make a difference?"

Her cheeks tinged pink. "It does. I've gotten used to you being around, but if you're too busy, I understand. I know you have morning practice and other commitments."

He took her hand and his eyes met hers. "Please understand something. There is nothing more important in my life than you and the boys." When Jeremy came out and crawled in his lap, he added, "All the boys." He faced Jeremy. "What's going on?"

"You said you'd tell me why you didn't slug that coach last night. He deserved it."

"He did, but it wouldn't have solved the problem. It would've only made it worse. He got into trouble and ejected from the game. I got to continue coaching, but I still stood up for my player. Did you want me to get ejected too?" Jeremy shook his head, and Gabriel continued, "Fighting isn't the answer. Using your brain and solving the problem the smart way is best."

"But you had your hands behind your back."

"It made me so angry I wanted to punch him. Nobody touches my players. I wanted to make sure I didn't do something stupid. If I'd have hit him, I'd been wrong too. I know this is hard for somebody your age to understand. It took me most of my adult life to figure it out. I hope it helps."

"Sort of." Jeremy jumped down and ran off to play.

"I totally confused him, didn't I?" asked Gabriel.

"I don't think so. I think it'll be in the back of his mind, when he comes across a problem. At least I hope it does."

Gabriel stood. "I'll check that spare tire and be right back."

*****
It wasn't long before Gabriel returned. "The spare has plenty of air." He studied Katherine for a few moments before he asked, "What's going through that pretty little head of yours?"

"Nothing much." When his eyebrows rose, she said, "You're not buying it, are you?" After he grinned, she asked, "Why you doing all of this?"

"That's simple. I want to."

"But..." She folded her hands in her lap. "Okay, back in New York I had a friend, Tina. While Tina dated her ex-husband..."

"I'm guessing the operative word is 'ex-husband," interrupted Gabriel.

"Maybe, it'll help me explain my question. While they were dating, he helped with dinner, dishes, and they went to the laundromat together. He was perfect."

"Then?"

"They got married, and suddenly he didn't know how to do anything. He was a slob and a completely different person. When Tina tried to speak with him about it, it'd cause a fight. He started drinking. She eventually divorced him."

"So you're worried I'm only helping so you'll marry me and then I'll stop."

Her cheeks tinged pink. "I didn't say that."

Gabriel chuckled. "Sounded like it to me."

Katherine studied her hands.

He knelt on a knee so he could see her eyes.

Joshua yelled from inside, "Guys, come quick! Coach's proposing to Mom!"

He stood and faced the kitchen window. "Get out here." When all four boys stood in front of him, he said, "When it comes time to ask your mom to marry me, I promise I'll ask each of you permission before I ask. Deal?"

Jordan, Joshua, and Joel said, "Deal."

Jeremy hugged his legs. "You already have my permission."

Gabriel hugged him back. "I'm glad, Buddy."

After the boys went inside, Katherine said, "You know they'd scare off most men."

"I'm not most men." Gabriel hesitated before he continued, "Now for what we were talking about. If you remember, when we first met you'd get upset saying I forced my way in." He grinned. "At least we're past that. I'm one of those people who sees a need and helps. Mom says it's one of my endearing but aggravating qualities."

"Bill has mentioned it on occasion."

"I'm going to promise I'll never stop helping and not because I'm trying to convince you to marry me." He cocked his head. "That doesn't sound right. When the time's right, I hope you'll agree to marry me. I understand the time isn't right for either of us." He scanned the area. "I think it's safe." He leaned over and kissed her. "Nothing would make me happier than someday making you my wife."

Katherine swallowed hard.

"I'm sorry that scared you." Gabriel stood. "I need to start the potatoes." He walked inside, but stood at the window and watched Katherine.

~~~~~~
I want to thank those of you who have expressed concern and have asked about my broken wrist. I see orthopedics again Thursday. I am off the prescription pain pills. Yesterday I only took 2 Tylenol pills. So far today, none, but keeping it heavily iced. I hate finger typing.
~~~~~~

CHARACTERS:

Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons. She teaches high school math and also coaches girls cross country.

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.

Judy 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

Grace Former friend of Gabriel and featured in porn magazine

Janette & Jackson Riley Katherine's in-laws

Dr. Martin Jordan's doctor

Troy Elder Lawyer and friend of Gabriel from his pro-football days

UIL The University Interscholastic League exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests. The UIL was created by The University of Texas at Austin in 1910 and has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world.




Recognized

#10
October
2021


Thank you Google images for sharing a photo of grill. A side note: Arianna, my granddaughter, took second at the district track meet yesterday. 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 1,500 words. Thank you for having patience.
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