I'm sorry about the delay, I was feeling a bit under the weather for a few days. Thanks so much as always for the support.
I woke the next morning relatively early, it was not yet quite seven. As I laid there for a second, last night suddenly came flashing back to me. I hoped that things wouldn’t become awkward between Ashley and I, or perhaps that she might think she had made a mistake. The simple fact was, even though I hated to admit to myself, I was fairly certain I had fell in love with Ashley.
I got up, quietly went down the hall into the kitchen and started the coffee. I was standing at the counter pouring my first cup when Ashley walked into the room. She walked right up behind me pressing her body into mine, wrapping her arms around my waist.
“Good morning Brian, how did you sleep ?”, she purred.
“Really good and you ?”, I answered.
“I slept like a baby.”, she responded, squeezing me tightly.
She released me and stepped around me grabbing her mug filling it with coffee. I moved over and sat down at the table, where she quickly joined me. I looked up several times catching her eyes locked on me and smiling every time. I finished up and went back to my room to get dressed , then went to the family room to watch a little TV. It was Sunday, a day that was always relatively quiet around our small town. About an hour later Ashley joined me in the family room, she had taken a shower and dressed. I was watching the end of a movie, it had maybe fifteen minutes to go. I couldn’t help but to keep glancing over at Ashley, I was so ready for a repeat of last night’s fireworks. My cell phone caused me to come back to reality. I reached over and answered it on the third ring.
“Hey Brian, what ya doing ?”, came the soft voice.
“Oh hey Court, not much, sitting here watching TV.”, I answered.
As soon as I mentioned Courtney’s name, Ashley turned to me with a strange look on her face. As we continued to talk I could definitely sense a slight irritation in Ashley’s demeanor. What made it even worst was that Courtney then informed me she was only a few blocks away, would it be alright if she stopped in for a few minutes ? There was no way I could tell her no, I had to agree. She told me she would see me in a few minutes, then hung up.
“Courtney will be here in a few minutes Ash.”, I said quietly.
“No problem.”, answered Ashley.
Maybe five minutes later there was a knock on the back kitchen door, I got up and headed that way. I opened the back for Courtney, she was all smiles. She stepped in quickly and I invited her into the family room where I had been watching TV. As I followed her into the room, I couldn’t help but to notice just how could she looked. She was wearing a pair of skin tight jeans, a tight sweater that was low cut and a pair of high heeled boots. Her ass look incredible in those jeans, I had a hard time looking anywhere else. It was obvious that she had been spending a lot of time working on her appearance, it was definitely working.
As we entered the family room, Ashley turned and looked our way. I’m sure it was the first time in quite a while that Ashley had actually seen Courtney, the look on her face said it all.
“Hi Miss Thompson, how are you ?”, Courtney asked.
“I’m doing fine Courtney, how are you ?”, Ashley replied.
“I’m good, thanks.”, Courtney answered.
Courtney sat on the sofa next to me and we began a conversation, mostly about nothing in general. Just what she had been up to, her job, things like that. Ashley pretended to be watching TV but I am sure she was listening intently to every word. After a few minutes of conversation, Courtney got up saying she still had a few errands to run.
“Oh by way Brian, my Dad wanted me to invite you to dinner tonight if you’re free.”, she asked casually.
“I don’t have anything up, I guess that will be alright.”, I answered.
She told Ashley goodbye and let herself out of the back kitchen door quickly. I went back to watching TV, Ashley quickly interrupted.
“I am surprised at the change in Courtney. The new hair color, the clothes, she looks quite different.”, she said.
“Yea, I was surprised too when I saw her the other day.”, I answered.
“I hope you know what her Dad is up to ?”, she asked.
“No, what is he up to ?”, inquired.
“Oh come on Brian, he wants the two of you back together again, you know that.”, she replied.
“Ashley, he has always been really nice to me, since the first day I met the man. He has never asked me for a thing, I respect that.”, I answered.
She let it go, I think she sensed my tone. While perhaps Courtney’s Dad did want us to be together, he had never put any pressure on me to try and patch things up. In fact on several occasions, he even sided with me against his own daughter.
I showered and left for Courtney’s about six that evening, arriving a few minutes later. Mrs. Timmons answered the door quickly, asking me to step in. She gave me a quick hug then ushered me into the family room where everyone was seated. Mr. Timmons jumped up immediately and moved toward me.
“Hey Brian, I’m so glad you could make it. How are you son ?”, he asked.
“I’m fine sir, thank you.”, I answered.
“Come with me, I have something to show you.”, he urged, pulling me along.
We moved to the back of the house when he had built an large office years ago, allowing him to work from home if he chose to do so. I had been in it once, he was decorated with football memorabilia from one end to the other. He opened the door and motioned for me to enter, which I did. He quickly pointed to the wall above the desk, a huge smile on his face. There hung, in a really awesome frame, was the National Championship jersey I had just given him. Right underneath the frame there was a shelf on which the game worn shoes rested inside of a glass case.
“That looks really nice Mr. Timmons.”, I said.
“It will be the highlight of my collection once you go pro.”, he laughed.
“Well, I hope you’re right sir.”, I answered.
We joined his wife back in the family room, she told us dinner was just about ready. I had not seen Courtney yet, I figured she must have been out somewhere. Just as we were entering the dining room, Courtney came down from upstairs. She looked amazing to say the least. She was wearing a very tight pair of black dress pants, a red button down blouse that was opened halfway down, and black high heels. Her eyes sparkled as she entered the room.
“Hey Brian, glad you made it.”, she said, sitting down at her usual spot across from me.
“Thanks Court, you look really nice.”, I answered.
“Why thank you Brian, at least someone noticed.”, she replied, staring at her Dad.
“Hey now.”, he shot back, “I always tell you you’re gorgeous princess.”
We proceeded with the meal which as always was very good. Mrs. Timmons was an excellent cook, I always loved everything that she prepared. Courtney and I helped clear the table, then her Mom ran us out the kitchen saying she would finish. Courtney’s dad had retired to his office to get a few reports ready for work the next day, so we were
alone in the family room. For several seconds that awkward feeling came rushing back all too quickly. Finally Courtney broke the ice, as was customary.
“So have you made any decisions on whether or not you’re going back to school next year ?”, she asked.
“No not really, I am going to call a guy I met at school last week, see if I can get some idea’s on what to do.”, I answered.
“I can’t believe you are really going to be a pro football player.”, she exclaimed.
“Truthfully, neither can I Court.”, I responded.
We talked for about twenty more minutes before I decided it was time to head home. As I was getting ready to leave, Courtney touched my arm softly and whispered to me.
“Brian, I really need to talk to you in private. How about one night this week ?”, she asked.
“I guess so, what’s so important ?”, I asked.
“Later, not now.”, she urged.
I agreed to talk to her the following week, we could get together one night. I thanked her parents for dinner and quickly left. I was home just a few minutes later. The house was dark, apparently Ashley was already asleep. I quietly entered the house, locking up behind me and went to my room. I got undressed, climbed into bed but couldn’t fall asleep. All I could think about was Ashley and our previous night’s encounter. I so wanted to hold her in my arms, kiss her lips, feel her firm body against mine. I know it took well over an hour for me to fall asleep.
The next morning I hit the gym for an early workout, made my way back home and showered. Afterwards I found the business card that Buddy Cullen had given me. I dialed the number and left a message with his secretary for him to return my call. Within an hour he had called me back and we had about an hour long conversation. He offered to talk to a few teams high on the draft board that might be in need of a defensive line player and see if perhaps they would have any interest in me if I decided to make myself eligible for the draft. He assured me he would call me back within a week or so to let me know.
Later that afternoon, Courtney called me and wanted to know if we could go out for dinner one night this week. We agreed on Wednesday night around seven o’clock. That night as I sat in the family room watching TV, Ashley came in and sat down in her chair across from me. Ever since our erotic encounter two night’s ago, Ashley had seemed rather distant, I was wondering if perhaps she regretted what we had done. I wondered as well, should I bring it up or just let things go for a while. I decided on the latter for now but if something didn’t change soon, I was going to confront the issue.
I left Wednesday night to pick up Courtney at about seven o’clock, I could easily sense Ashley was not happy. As much as I tried to get her to talk, she seemed silent and distant. I pulled into Courtney’s driveway fifteen minutes later and rang the doorbell. The door was opened quickly by her younger sister Gia who was a very pretty, young lady of fourteen. As was usual between sisters, Gia and Courtney teased each other relentlessly. As soon as Gia saw me, she turned and yelled back into the house.
“Courtney, your lover boy is here.”, she screamed.
“You’re a wicked , wicked child Gia.”, I laughed at the young teen.
“Yep, I am.”, she laughed back.
I followed her into the den when Mr. Timmons was watching TV. He motioned me over to sit down, barely taking his eyes off of the program. I sat down across from him with a quick wave and a hello. I guess we had been sitting there for about five minutes before Courtney made her entrance. As was customary lately, she looked awesome. She was wearing a tight pair of jeans, a very sheer white silk blouse and black heels. She walked over to where I was sitting, touched me gently on the shoulder and sat down beside me.
“So where you kids off to tonight ?”, Mr. Timmons asked.
“Just out to eat Dad, no big deal.”, Courtney replied.
“You guys have fun, see you later.”, he called out as we walked out of the room.
We got into the truck and drove across town to a local restaurant that was kind of nice. In this small town, it was the nicest place to eat we had. We had to wait maybe ten minutes for a table, it was extremely crowded. Our hostess finally seated us at a small table across the room, telling us our waitress would be with us shortly. I scanned the room as we sat down, I noticed several people staring our way.
Our waitress arrived quickly and we ordered two iced tea’s and an appetizer. Our drinks arrived with our appetizer, we then ordered our entrée for the evening. The meal was very good, we took our time and had a very nice conversation, I felt very relaxed. Our waitress came over and asked if we wanted any dessert, which we both declined. She reached into her apron and handed me the small vinyl tablet which held the check.
“Um, excuse me sir. Are you Brian Stevens by any chance ?”, she asked.
“Yes, I am.”, I answered, taking the tablet.
“Oh…um…Hi, I’m Jessica….. My Dad is a big fan of yours, he is not gonna believe you were in here tonight.”, she laughed.
“Well tell him thanks for the support Jessica, I appreciate it.”, I responded.
“Could you uh….maybe …sign an autograph for him ?”, she asked, shyly.
“Sure, I can, no problem.”, I answered.
She reached into her apron again and pulled out a blank guest check which she turned over and handed to me. She told me his name was Phil, which always meant they wanted the autographed personalized. I quickly signed the back of the ticket to her Father with my name and number, plus the inscription National Champs under my name. She quickly snatched the paper holding it tightly.
“Thanks so much, my Dad will be thrilled.”, she said, graciously.
We paid the check and headed out of the door to the truck. I could see a puzzled look on Courtney’s face as we got in the vehicle. I dismissed it as I pulled the truck out of the parking lot. We had not been on the road more than a minute when Courtney spoke up.
“Does that happen a lot Brian ?”, she asked.
“What are you talking about ?”, I answered.
“Girls coming up to you and asking for autographs ?”, she replied.
“Not a lot , but it does happen from time to time. But it’s not just girls, sometimes guys or children.”, I said.
“Oh.”, was all she said.
We made small talk for the rest of the ride home, but it seemed she was still bothered by something. It was close to eleven o’clock in the evening when I pulled into her driveway. I turned off the truck, got out and walked around to her door, opening it. She got out and began walking to the front door, stopped then turned to me.
“You want to come in for a while ?”, she asked.
“Uh, it’s kinda late Court, Your parents should be asleep by now, I would think.”, I answered.
“No, they are out of town, they won’t be back for a few days.”, she responded.
Suddenly I was caught in a very bad situation. I had not been alone with Courtney in a very long time, I had no idea how to handle this situation. While I was still extremely attracted to her, my mind was still focused on Ashley.
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea Court.”, I said, cautiously.
“I just thought you might like to spend a little more time together, that’s it. But I understand.”, she said, softly.
I could tell she was extremely disappointed as she turned to head towards the front door. Against better judgment, I made a snap decision.
“Oh alright, I guess I can stay for a while.”, I said.
I followed her into the house, down the hall and into the family room. I sat on the sofa as she went to the kitchen to get a couple of soft drinks for us. As she walked back into the room, I just couldn’t help but notice how good she looked in those tight jeans. She sat down next to me, leaned back on the sofa and crossed her legs.
“Brian, I need to talk to you about something.”, she said, her tone very serious.
“Ok Court, what’s up ?”, I asked turning towards her.
“I know it’s not even right that I ask you this, I have really did some crappy things to you in the past. But can you tell me truthfully, exactly how you feel about me ?”, she asked.
“You get right to the point don’t you ?”, I laughed.
“Brian, please. I am being dead serious.”, she answered.
I paused for a second and took a deep breath. To be perfectly truthful, I always had feelings for Courtney since the first time we had been out together. Even though she had dumped me twice before, I still had fond memories of her. But the big problem here was Ashley. There was no way I could be honest with Courtney and tell her I really thought I had fallen in love with Ashley. Or admit what the two of us had done several nights before. I knew I had to think fast.
“Court, I have always cared a great deal for you, but I think you know that. You’re a beautiful girl, who wouldn’t love to be with you ?”, I answered.
“You.”, she shot back quickly.
I immediately I knew I had cornered myself, I was now in hot water. I tried to think of a quick response, something that would sound logical.
“Court, it’s not that simple. I really value your friendship and your parents have always been wonderful to me. I don’t want anything to come between any of that.”, I replied.
“Neither do I Brian, but I can’t stand being around you like this. I want so much more than just friendship.”, she said softly.
“Court, we tried that twice before, it just didn’t work out.”, I answered.
“You don’t have to throw it back in my face, I know I fucked up. Believe me I regret it everyday of my life.”, she said, her eyes watering up slightly.
“I didn’t mean to take a cheap shot Court, I’m sorry.”, I replied.
“It’s ok Brian, I guess I deserve it.”, she said sadly.
I felt really bad for her, I had definitely chosen the wrong words. I reached over and took her small, soft hand in mine. She looked up at me here eyes filled with emotion.
“I’m sorry Court, you didn’t deserve that.”, I answered.
“Brian, I’m not sure I should ask you this but I have to. You can tell me to get lost if you want, but here goes.”, she said, then took a deep breath, “Have you ever slept with a girl ?”
“Uh… well no, I haven’t. I mean you know what we did together. That’s as far as I ever went.”, I answered, somewhat embarrassed.
“Well it’s the same for me. I have never slept with anyone either.”, she admitted.
There was an another of our awkward pauses that gripped the room, I had an idea of where this might be going. She finally continued from where she had left off.
“Brian, you’re my closest male friend, I have loved you for a long time. I want my first time making love to be with you, someone I trust completely. I am on birth control, I have been for a long time. So, I guess what I am asking is, will you sleep with me tonight ?”, she finished, her voice trailing off.
“Wow Court, I …. Uh …. Don’t know what to say.”, I replied.
“Brian, I promise, no strings attached, just this one time….. Please.”, she urged.
I felt my resolve melting as quickly as a popsicle on a hot summer day, I was done for. I think she saw it in my eyes, or maybe, she just knew me that well. Without another word she leaned over to me and pressed her lips against mine in a soft, extremely passionate kiss. When she broke our kiss, her lips were inches from mine, her eyes locked into my own.
“I want you now Brian, please take me to bed.”, she pleaded.
She stood up and pulled me by the hand, an invitation I readily accepted. I got up and followed her out of the family room and we climbed the stairs to her bedroom. I had only been up to her once since I had known her, it was years ago. As she opened the door, I noticed the room had changed dramatically since last I had been up here. Gone were the high school decorations, instead replaced by pure white walls, white curtains, a laced white spread on the bed. It was definitely a woman’s retreat, Courtney was no longer a girl.
Courtney stopped and turned, her arms encircling my waist quickly, her head tilted up to mine. I leaned over and kissed her gently, pulling her close to me, she felt so good in my arms. As we broke our kiss she looked at me, a smile on her face.
“Please, let’s take this slow, I want this to be special.”, she whispered.
Before I could respond, I noticed a flash of light pass her bedroom window. I took two steps toward the window and saw her Dad’s car pulling into the driveway.
“Your parents just drove up.”, I warned.
She took me by the hand and we quickly moved down the stairs back into the family room before they were able to get back into the house. I had to smile, I mean after all we were both adults, it’s not like we were still teenagers dating. A few moments later her Dad walked into the family room several suitcases in hand.
“Your sister got sick on the drive up, she is feeling pretty bad, so we turned around. I hope we didn’t ruin your night.”, he said, setting the bags down.
“Not at all sir. Can I help with the bags ?”, I asked.
“Yes, if you don’t mind can you take these up to my wife ?”, he asked.
I got up quickly and took the bags from him and walked back up the stairs once again. As I rounded the staircase, I heard Courtney’s Mom talking to her daughter. I stopped at the bedroom door looking in, she was helping Gia get into bed.
“Where do you want these Mrs. Timmons ?”, I asked.
“Just set those down right there Brian. Thank you.”, she replied.
I set the bags down just outside of the door, turned and headed back down the stairs. By the time I got to the family room, Mr. Timmons had already settled in and had the TV blaring. Courtney shrugged her shoulders at me, there was not much else we could do. We sat there for a while, then I decided to call it a night. I left and drove straight home, the lights were still on, so Ashley was awake.
I entered through the rear kitchen door as usual, only to find the house deserted. I went back to the kitchen to get a glass of iced tea and noticed a white piece of paper on the counter. I picked up the note and read it quickly.
[ Brian, I went out tonight, will be back late. Don’t wait up. ]
Strange , she hadn’t said a thing about going out, especially on a Wednesday night. I took a quick shower, watched some TV, about eleven thirty I called it a night.
I woke up early, before seven the next morning, went into the kitchen and made coffee. Ashley’s door was still closed, I figured she was still asleep. I was sitting at the table reading the sports section of the paper, when she came in moving a bit slower than normal.
“Good morning”, she mumbled.
“Morning, Ashley.”, I replied.
She stumbled over to the coffee pot, poured a large cup, then fell into the chair across from me. She didn’t say a word for the first five minutes, then finally came to life.
“How was dinner last night ?”, she asked.
“It was ok, no big deal, we ate then went back to Courtney’s, but Gia was sick so I left and came home.”, I answered.
“Oh, I hope she is feeling better today, I sure as hell am not.”, she groaned.
“What did you do last night ?”, I asked.
“I went out with Stephanie and a few other friends, we had way too much to drink.”, she replied.
“That will do it.”, I answered.
I decided a few hours later to go into town and try to find a few pair of jeans. It was really difficult to find them in my size, I needed a long length, big through the thighs, but only a thirty four inch waist. But just to kill some time, I tried a few shops on main street. I was in the second store of the day when my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, it was long distance, I answered it anyway. It was Mr. Buddy Cullen, the consultant for the pro scouts, we had talked briefly before my break. He had put out some feelers around the league to see if any team might be interested in drafting me if I declared before this year’s draft. Surprisingly, he told me he had two very solid hits. One was from an East Coast team that was extremely interested in a young defensive end prospect, the other was more intriguing. One team from up North had talked to him about possibly drafting me as an outside linebacker. They figured to drop my weight to around two hundred sixty five and play me at the Will LB slot. Both teams would be interested in me possibly in the second round. Mr. Cullen also gave me the name of a reputable agent who was representing dozens of pro players, he suggested I call him about the numbers. I thanked him for his time and promised to be in touch with him in a few days.
Later that day when I returned home, I called the agent’s office in California, and asked to speak to him. I relayed my personal information to his assistant who promised me that he would call me back shortly. Maybe thirty minutes later my phone rang. I answered it, on the other end was Mr. Ron Peters, a well known agent for professional ball players. He thanked me for calling him and asked how he could assist me. I informed him of my situation and explained my uncertainty of whether or not to declare for the draft. He listened intently, then told me to let him make a few phone calls to see where I possibly might end up if I did. I thanked him for his time and hung up.
I had exactly twelve days to declare for the draft, or return to school for another year. I knew I had to move quickly. But truthfully at this point, I really was one hundred percent sure I would return to school for another year.
That night I was watching TV in the family room when Ashley’s friend, Stephanie came through the back door. Ashley yelled out for her to come into the family room, which she quickly did.
“Hey guys, what are you up to ?”, she asked.
“Not much, just watching a bit of TV.”, Ashley responded.
“How about we go out and hit the town again tonight?”, she asked Ashley.
“Oh God no, I still feel last night.”, Ashley whined.
“Well how about you Brian, you up for some fun ?”, she asked, her eyes turning in my direction.
I could sense immediately by the change in Ashley’s facial expression she was not happy with her friend’s invitation to me. At that split second it dawned on me that perhaps Ashley enjoyed the fact that she had me on pins and needles, waiting for her to make the next move.
“I… uh, really don’t drink Stephanie, never have. I wouldn’t be any fun at all.”, I replied.
“You never drink ?”, she asked incredulously.
“Nope never.”, I answered.
“Oh, well then…… how about a hamburger or something ?”, she inquired.
I decided to try and light a fire under Ashley, maybe I had to force the situation, one way or another.
“That sounds ok, let me get dressed, be right back.”, I answered.
I quickly dressed and returned to the family room when the two women were seated. I could definitely sense a chill in the air, Ashley was indeed not happy. As I was putting on my sneakers, Stephanie giggled as she watched.
“What’s so funny ?”, I asked.
“What size shoe do you wear ?”, she asked.
“I wear a sixteen, why ?”, I inquired.
“Just wondering.”, she giggled.
I decided to at least try and do a bit of damage control before I left. I turned to Ashley, who was doing her best to avoid us.
“Hey Ash, why don’t you come with us. Get out of the house.”, I asked.
“No, I’m good, you guys go.”, she answered, never looking up from the TV.
We left together, Stephanie wanted to drive, so we got into her car and pulled out of the drive. We drove across town to the diner, which was about half full when we arrived. We found a booth near the front and sat down. A few students from the high school waved to Stephanie, you could tell by their faces, they were surprised to see us together. Our waitress came over and we placed our order and settled in waiting for our food.
“What was wrong with Ashley tonight ?”, Stephanie asked.
“I dunno, I never noticed really.”, I answered, not about to get into this discussion.
“She seemed upset or mad, something was not right.”, she said.
“She’ll be fine.”, I answered.
Just about that time, my cell phone rang, I recognized the number, it was Ron Peters’ office. I quickly answered the phone, this could be the answer I had been waiting on.
“Brian, how are you ?”, he asked.
“Good sir.”, I answered.
“Well, I made a few calls to the pro scouts and I think you have at least six teams interested, two seriously. The determining factor would be how well you perform at the Pro Camp which would be held later that month. It would be a week long event, that would test your mental ability, physical strength, speed, quickness and agility. As he informed me , the camp usually is the deciding factor on what round a player is drafted. You shine at the camp and your stock goes way up.” he told me.
He also relayed the same information I had been told earlier in the day about one team that was seriously interested in drafting me as a outside linebacker. He told me he would make a few more calls, then get back to me in a couple of days, but at this point, he was optimistic about the situation. I thanked him and hung up.
“You’re really going to play pro football ?”, Stephanie asked.
“Well, it looks like that. At least I should get an opportunity to make someone’s team.”, I answered.
We continued our conversation, soon our food arrived. We talked and ate, she was really fun to be around. I guess maybe since we were so close in age, I related well to her. She seemed wide eyed and amazed at the fact that I might get a chance to play pro ball.
“I guess I should be ashamed to say this, I might be the only one in town who has never seen you play before.”, she said, somewhat embarrassed.
“You haven’t seen me play ? Oh, I am offended.”, I kidded her with a straight face.
“I’m sorry, I promise the next time you play, I will watch.”, she quickly said, apologetically.
“I’m just kidding Stephanie, it’s actually refreshing to be with someone who doesn’t care about football.”, I answered, “Besides, anytime you want to see a game, let me know, we have the National Championship game on DVD at home.”
“Oh great, I want to see it.”, she exclaimed.
We finished eating, got back in her car and pulled out of the parking lot. We had only been gone maybe ninety minutes when we pulled back into my drive way. We walked around back and came in through the kitchen, Ashley was still watching TV in the family room. We both joined her, I think she was surprised we were back that quickly. I went into my room and changed into a tee shirt and shorts and went into the kitchen for iced tea. When I rejoined the women in the family room they were in a discussion about school. After several minutes Stephanie turned in my direction.
“Could we watch that game you have on DVD ?”, she asked.
“Oh I doubt Ashley wants to see that again, how about you just take it home and watch it later ?”, I responded.
“No, it’s ok. You can put it on Brian.”, Ashley replied.
I shrugged my shoulders and got up and moved to the TV, opened the lower cabinet doors and retrieved the disc. I inserted it in the DVD player and pressed play. I fast forwarded the introduction and started the disc from the opening kickoff.
“What number are you Brian ?”, she asked naively.
“He’s number ninety nine, up at the top of the screen.”, Ashley replied to her friend.
“Oh yea, I see him.”, Stephanie replied.
For the next few hours we watched the game, with the ladies exchanging small talk back and forth. For some reason, watching a game already played on film had little enjoyment for me, I found myself always critiquing my effort. I left and came back into the room several times during the replay. Finally the disc ended, I was ready for bed. I said my good night’s and made my way to my room. I’m not sure how long the two of them stayed up talking, I fell asleep rather quickly.
I received another phone call early the next morning from Ron Peters from Pro Sports Agents Inc. in California. He had made several more phone calls and had confirmed that two teams were definitely very interested in selecting me if I were available. Both drafted late in round one meaning they were both good teams with winning records. With that said, I could possibly be a very late first round pick, or a very late second round pick. The difference between the two rounds meant a large amount of money. Mr. Peters told me he would fly out one of his associates to talk with me in person if I thought I might be interested. I told him absolutely, we set the meeting at my home for Saturday morning at ten o’clock. I knew Ashley would be available, I also wanted to ask Coach Mike if he would consider being present. We set the details and agreed to talk later in the week. Ashley had entered the kitchen during my conversation with Mr. Peters, so she had heard most of the details.
“So you’re really thinking of leaving school and turning pro ?”, she asked.
“Yes I am. If everything falls out right, I have nothing to lose. If I come back next year and blow up a knee or something worst, I may never get the opportunity.”, I replied.
“What about your education, you still have four semesters till you graduate ?”, she asked.
“Mr. Peters told me pro players always go back to school and get their degrees, it’s not that odd.”, I answered.
‘Well, I think it’s a mistake, but it’s your decision to make.”, she responded.
Later that day I called Coach Mike and asked him if he would mind sitting in the meeting with me. He answered that he would more than happy to be there, in fact he would look forward to it.
The rest of the week dragged on, I virtually got no sleep Friday night, thinking of the upcoming meeting. Before I knew it, Saturday morning was here, I was waiting on the agent. A few minutes before ten o’clock a large black SUV pulled into our drive, a man and woman got out. I opened the door and welcomed both inside, ushering them to the family room. The man introduced himself as Dave Phillips, a player agent, the young woman was Cindy Taylor, a financial consultant for players who signed with Pro Sports Agents Inc., both were here to offer guidance.
I introduced both of them to Ashley and Coach Mike, both sat and we began the meeting. Over the next two hours, I was introduced to the intricate world of professional sports. I was bombarded with information on standard contracts, signing bonus’s, guaranteed money, agent’s commission, financial investments and everything in between. This particular agency not only represented you as a player but offered you investment opportunities for the future. I had to admit I was impressed with their presentation. At the end of the meeting, I was reminded by Dave Phillips that once I declared, there would be no turning back. I would immediately have to retain an agent so that the agency could try and secure me a spot at the annual combine workout. They both told me my window of opportunity was closing quickly. As they left I promised to talk it over with Ashley and Coach Mike, they would have my answer by Monday morning.
I talked with both Ashley and Coach Mike in depth over the weekend, in the end both thought it was probably best I return to school. I slept on it Sunday night, but on Monday morning their comments had not changed my mind. I was going to declare myself eligible for this year’s draft. I called Mr. Peters at eight o’clock and announced my intentions to sign with his agency. He congratulated me and informed he would forward all contracts and paperwork to me overnight, I could have an attorney review them and get them back to him. By the time Ashley woke up and entered the kitchen it was a done deal.
“So what did you decide ?”, she asked shortly after she entered the kitchen.
“It’s done, I agreed to sign with Mr. Peters this morning, the contracts are on the way.”, I replied.
“So that’s it ?”, she answered, a slight annoyance in her tone.
“That’s it.”, I answered.
For the next two days, Ashley was very quiet, I could tell she was upset, I was just not sure why. In the meantime, I called Coach Ray and informed him I would not be returning to the team next year. He was very disappointed to say the least, but he pretended to understand. I then called administration as I was told to do, informing them that I was terminating the scholarship agreement I had entered into with them. I asked for them to forward my complete transcripts to my home, as well as the full requirements I still needed to graduate. Two days later, my contracts arrived in the mail. Since I did not really have an attorney of my own, I knew Mr. Timmons had business dealings and needed legal advice constantly. I called and asked him for his help, he quickly offered to take me to his attorney in town. He set up an appointment for the next morning at ten o’clock. That evening I received another call from Mr. Peters informing me he had secured a spot for me in next weekend’s combine where the best college players would showcase their talents for Pro Scouts and Coaches.
The next morning I met with Mr. Timmons and his attorney downtown. The attorney read over the contract and basically reiterated to me everything that I had been promised by Pro Sports Agents Inc. at our previous meeting. I was to pay a standard flat rate to be represented by the agency, which I was told was common practice. The agency would also use their connections in an attempt to secure me possible endorsement opportunities with private companies, in addition to autograph signings and public appearances. My agent, who I found out was going to be Dave Phillips, would handle all of my contractual dealings with any team that drafted me, as well as negotiate all terms of my contract. Any financial investments I decided to make with Ms. Taylor’s company was not part of this agreement and should be handled directly with her office.
The attorney assured me the contract was legitimate and above board, containing no unusual language. The contract stipulated that either party could terminate the contract giving the other sixty days notice. I felt confident with the contract, signed it and arranged to have it sent back via priority mail.
I had roughly seven days to get prepared for the combine, where I would either help or hurt my chances of playing pro football. The only thing that could really backfire, is if no one actually drafted me. I would then become a free agent, then have to negotiate with a team to try and get a try-out at their training camp. But there was no way, I could return to school if I was not drafted.
I killed myself over the next week in the gym, lifting weights, running and doing cardio to be in the best shape I could possibly be in at the combine. The night before I left for the combine, I weighed in at two hundred sixty eight pounds. I felt ready, although I was extremely nervous.
The flight was long and tedious, I arrived in Indiana, met my agent’s representative and made our way to the hotel. That night I was briefed on the various physical , mental and physiological evaluations I would be given over the next week. There would be approximately three hundred twenty five particpants here from all over the country. Each would run basically the same evaluations, the only difference being the position drills each would endure at your perspective speciality.
The next morning we entered the large domed facility to begin a week of events that in essence could be life changing for some people. A bad showing here could derail any chance of being a high selection in the upcoming draft. One thing that was immediately evident was just how detailed, but coordinated this event was. As soon as I signed in I was ushered to a large room where I was given the first of several written tests that I would take over the next several days. The test was a type of word association test that really made you stop and think about the answer. It was extremely clever and worded so that it was very easy to make a mistake. I took my time and finished just a few minutes ahead of the allotted time given.
After a short break for lunch, I was interviewed by a panel which consisted of trainers, doctors and sports medicine authorties. They went into detail about any previous injuries I had sustained while playing football. Fortunately, other than the one severe high ankle sprain I had incurred in high school, I had been injury free.
That afternoon, I was given another written test and I had a drug screen performed, both urine and hair samples taken. By the time I returned to my hotel room that night, I was mentally drained. I ate an early supper and went straight to bed.
The next morning I was scheduled for the strength segment of my testing. It was a standard flat bench press exercise in which you pressed 225 pounds as many times as you could. I looked at the chart and saw I was scheduled to go at number fifteen, at least I would have a good idea of what was normal by the time my turn came up. As player after player went through the drill it was immediately apparent some of these players did not put in the same amount of time in the gym as the others. Several players achieved repetitions into the thirties, while others barely made twenty. You were allowed a warm-up just before your turn, then you went straight to the bench. There were maybe fifty to sixty spectators in the room watching and taking notes. I was able to get 33 repetitions before maxing out, the highest number thus far in my position group. By the end of the session , I finished in third place, which I was very pleased with considering being an underclassman.
Later that afternoon, we had the broad jump, vertical jump and 3 cone drill segments of our testing. I finished in the top five in all three drills which I was extremely pleased with. That night I met with the agent representative who agreed thus far everything was going well.
The next day the first event up was the forty yard dash, one thing I knew from experience, speed is a key measurable in football. I ran a 4.68 yard dash, which truthfully I was upset with, I had been faster. One my second attempt, I ran a 4.66, on my last attempt I was able to pull out a 4.61. I was not happy with my times but there wasn’t much I could do about it.
That afternoon we did our twenty and sixty yard shuttle drills then headed back to the hotel. The only thing left was our position drills, then the interviews that the teams were allowed to conduct one on one.
When I arrived at the facility the following morning, I was quickly ushered into position drills by the coaches. One thing was evident, both the terminology and the concentration at this level was above and beyond anything that I had been through before. You were basically told once, you either got it or they by-passed you. I felt I did fairly well considering everything that was thrown at me, I received some praise from the coaches running the drills. We broke for lunch, then I returned for the interview segment with the prospective teams. I scanned the list and saw I had close to two hours before my interviews were to be held. I entered the field area to watch the wide receivers and quarterbacks workout, just to kill some time. While I was standing there a few of the players were tossing the ball around on the sidelines, basically killing time, as I was. I joined in and before long, we were running short routes and trying to make acrobatic catches.
Because my father had been an All American High School quarterback, I had learned the proper way to catch a football early on in life. You caught the ball with your hands extended, never letting the ball get to your body if possible. You looked the ball into your hands, never taking your eyes off of it. I guess maybe an hour and a half had passed before I headed back into the meeting room area for my interview.
I took a seat in a small room which a large table and several chairs. One by one, several teams sent a representative in and asked a variety of questions, pretty much covering all aspects of what I wanted to achieve at the next level. Two of the four teams that interviewed me were the teams my agent thought would be interested in drafting me. The other two I really figured to be a long shot at best. With the team interviews out of the way, I was done and figured to head home the following morning.
I arrived back home the following Friday evening, I was completely exhausted both mentally and physically. I was looking forward to relaxing for a few days with absolutely nothing to do. I went to bed early Friday night, I can’t remember being that tired in a very long time.
I woke up the following morning about ten o’clock, took a shower, got dressed and headed into town. I stopped and had breakfast at the diner, passed by the gym and was headed home when my phone rang. I answered it quickly, it was Courtney.
“Hey Brian, how are you ?”, the familiar voice asked.
“I’m doing fine Court, how are you ?”, I answered.
“I’m fine, thanks. How was the combine , do you think you did ok ?”, she asked.
“I did ok. I could have done better in a few things, but I did well in others, I guess it all averages out.”, I replied.
“Good, my Dad asked me to call, he was wondering.”, she said.
“Tell him thanks, I appreciate the concern.”, I responded.
“I will tell him, see you later.”, she said.
I tossed the phone on the front seat just as I was pulling into the driveway. I changed clothes and headed to the gym for a workout, I wanted to make sure I stayed in top condition with the draft upcoming. I had a two hour plus workout, took a shower at the gym and headed home. There was roughly six weeks before the draft, it was going to be a time of nervousness and anxiety. My entire future hung in the balance and for the first time, I had absolutely no control over it.
Ashley had just pulled into the drive seconds before me, she was beginning to unload the groceries from her SUV. I finished bringing in the groceries for her, then helped her put everything away. It was almost two o’clock in the afternoon before I settled down for some lunch. As I was eating the phone rang again, it was my agent.
“Brian, I just received a very strange phone call from a team out here on the west coast. In a nut shell, they are asking me if you would consider possibly playing another position other than defensive end. With that said, I informed them we had been contacted about you being moved to an outside linebacker slot already. They told me that’s not what they have in mind.”, he said.
“So what do they want me to play ?”, I replied.
“That’s just it, they never went into it. They are just throwing it out there to see if you’re willing to consider it.”, he answered.
“Look, I will consider anything to play. Although all I ask is if I am drafted at a position other than end, they at least give me a shot at making the team at my normal position before cutting me.”, I said.
“Enough said, I will let them know.”, he told me, hanging up the phone.
I was really taken back, I mean because of my height, I was extremely limited to where I could play. I was not big enough and had no experience as an offensive lineman. Really either defensive end or linebacker was really all I was suited for. A few hours later my agent called me back, he seemed rather excited.
“Brian, look I have arranged for you to fly out and work out for them privately. They want you there first thing Monday morning. I have arranged your flights and transportation. You leave tomorrow morning, you come back Monday night. I will meet you there.”, he told me.
“So what is this about ?”, I asked.
“I know as much as you do, but it’s worth the shot. See you there.”, he answered.
I hung up the phone and relayed to Ashley what I had been told. It seemed rather strange to her as well, but as my agent said, it seemed worth the effort. I packed that night, got up early, took a cab to the airport and flew out to the west coast. I spent Sunday afternoon in the hotel that my agent had arranged. I was picked up at seven o’clock Monday morning by a transportation service and was taken to the local team’s stadium. I was met by team officials and a couple of coaches, given a locker room to change, then led out onto the field.
I immediately recognized the tall red shirted player throwing the ball to the other two players casually. He was a highly decorated Quarterback to had led this team to several championships in the past decade. I was introduced to everyone on the field, one of the coaches finally started to unravel the mystery.
“Brian, I’m Coach Reed, the Offensive Coordinator here, all of this mess is my doing. I was at the combine and watched you workout in several drills. I must admit that for your size, you’re incredibly strong, but more importantly you’re very quick. But what impressed me more than anything was what you did with the other players while you waited on the sidelines. You have incredible hands, I watched you catch the ball like a wide receiver.”, he said.
“Now granted you don’t have the speed needed to play a wide out or even slot receiver in this league. But we do feel with your height, speed and physical stature, you could possibly make a very good tight end.”, he finished.
“A tight end ? That’s something I have never thought about sir.”, I answered.
“Well, let’s find out.”, he responded.
For the next three hours, I was introduced to the offensive side of the football for the first time. Several receivers instructed me on the proper art of running routes, how to come out of a break, how to react to the ball. I was taught post patterns, out patterns, fade patterns, and back shoulder throws. I must have been thrown somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred and fifty balls before the workout was over. I noticed the entire time I was working, several people where making notes, one was actually shooting the entire workout on video. Finally the group all came together at mid field.
“Thank you Brian, I appreciate the effort you just gave. Coach Ray told us you never ever give half of an effort. He was right. Go ahead and shower, the car will take you back to the airport. We will be in touch with your agent.” Coach Reed said, shaking my hand.
“Thank you for the opportunity sir.”, I replied.
I showered quickly, found the car in the parking lot and was whisked to the airport quickly. I caught my flight home and was back home just before midnight. Ashley was already asleep, so I quietly showered and went to bed. I fell asleep quickly, I was exhausted.
By the time I woke the following morning Ashley had already left for school, her spring break well over. I decided against messing up the kitchen, instead heading to the diner for breakfast. After breakfast, I got in a quick workout, then headed back home. I decided to wash and dry a few loads of laundry, I knew Ashley could always use the help. I was just finishing folding the last load when she came through the back door. She made her way to the family room where I was piling up all of the folded laundry.
“Oh Brian, that is so sweet, thank you so much for the help.”, she said.
“No problem Ash, I was bored.”, I laughed.
“How was the workout yesterday ?”, she asked.
“Good, I guess. But honestly, I have no idea how well I did. It was very strange and different.”, I answered.
As we put away the rest of the clothes, I relayed all the details about the trip and the workout. Ashley changed into more comfortable clothes, while I watched TV for a while. We decided to just eat sandwiches for supper, neither of us wanting to clean up a huge mess after cooking. Afterwards as we sat in the family room watching TV, my mind was wandering. I couldn’t help but think about just reaching out and wrapping my arms around Ashley pulling her close to me. It took every ounce of will power I had to resist the urge. That night as I lay in bed, I came to the realization that one way or another I had to force the issue with Ashley. Either we were going to be together, or this nonsense had to stop. I decided to wait until the weekend to play my hand. During the day Thursday I received a call from my agent, Dave Phillips, about my weekend visit to the west coast.
“Brian, I got a call from Joe Reed thanking us for the workout last weekend. While as he said, you looked extremely awkward and rough running pass routes, he was extremely impressed with your work ethic and attitude. He complimented you on being an extremely polite and genuine young man, which I can tell you he found very refreshing. With that said, I have no idea if they will pursue this any further.”, he told me.
“Well at least we tried, Mr. Phillips.”, I answered.
“Yes, we tried.”, he laughed.
The week flew by and soon it was Friday evening, Ashley was running a bit late from school. I had decided that either way, tonight was the night I was going to confront her. I had already taken a shower, put on some shorts and a tee shirt and trying to mentally put together my speech when she walked in. She had stopped and gotten a pizza on her way home. As we sat at the kitchen table eating, I decided to jump in, head first.
“Ashley, I have to talk to you. I have been waiting for weeks, trying to get up the nerve to talk to you.”, I told her.
“What about ?”, she asked, not looking up.
“I don’t think I have to tell you what about. You know as well as I do.”, I replied quickly.
“No, not really.”, she responded.
“Alright then, here it is. I want to be with you, I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of playing games, I’m not a child. I am almost positive I am in love with you. You’re all I think of all day, every day.”, I told her.
“Oh ………. That’s not what I expected.”, she said softly, her eyes barely meeting mine.
“What did you expect ?”, I asked her.
“You’re in love with me ?”, she asked, wide eyed.
“You know very well that I am. You’re around me enough to be able to know.”, I answered.
“Is this because of what happened that night on the sofa ?”, she inquired, an embarrassed look on her face.
“No not completely. I have felt this way for a very long time now. That night just seemed to make it seem possible.”, I replied.
“Brian, I have given this quite a bit of thought. There is absolutely no way we could live together as man and woman. This town would go crazy, I am sure I would lose my job at school. People would think that something had been going on between us for years. I just can’t take that chance.”, she said softly.
“So we move Ashley, no big deal. If I get drafted next month, I am leaving anyway. Come with me, no one knows us or our past. You can teach anywhere, you’re certified.”, I answered.
“It’s not that simple Brian. I like it here, I have tenure at the school. I’m not sure I want to leave here.”, she told me.
I was getting frustrated and I was getting there fast. I didn’t want to get upset, I didn’t want to come across as a child to Ashley, in fact that’s the exact thing I was trying to avoid. I wanted her to see me as a man, one who loved her as a woman.
“Ash, I have to be honest, I’m not sure I can continue to live this way.”, I said, sincerely.
“I don’t quite know how to answer that Brian. I really don’t.”, she said, her voice sober and calm.
“It’s not that difficult Ashley, I don’t think it is anyway. We are either together completely or if not, nothing ever happens again between us.”, I replied
For the first time since I had brought up the topic, I saw a serious change in Ashley’s demeanor. She tilted her head sideways, raising her brow at me, a frown forming on her face.
“Brian, that sounds like you’re threatening me. Is that what you’re doing?”, she asked.
“Ashley, I am not threatening you. All I am saying is I have these incredible feelings for you. I either have to act on them or bury them. There is no in between for me.”, I told her.
“I’m sorry Brian, I just don’t see how what you want is possible at this time.”, she softly shot back.
“Fair enough.”, I answered, pushing myself away from the table.