Katherine struggles raising her four sons by herself.
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.
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 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."
"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?"
"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."
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."
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?"
"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.
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