The Touchdown, page 1
K. M. Bishop
Copyright © 2019 by K. M. Bishop
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Published: K. M. Bishop 2019
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The Touchdown is a full-length standalone steamy romance novel.
At the end, I’ve included an excerpt from my other best seller HOTSHOT.
The Touchdown concludes at around 90% on your device.
XO, K. M. Bishop
He’s supposed to be my sworn enemy.
Bobby Taylor is the wide receiver for the Indiana Panthers.
And I’m Purdue’s cheerleader.
The Indiana-Purdue rivalry should have been enough for me to hate him.
But one look in his eyes got me hooked.
He’s hot, popular, and oh-so-irresistible.
I can’t get him out of my head.
So, I have to keep this a secret.
Secrets have a way of getting out, though.
Bobby has his eyes set on the NFL and I’m a distraction.
But it’s not just his career that’s on the line.
I would have to suffer serious consequences for dating the enemy.
My life has been threatened.
Can love win over rivalry?
Or will this be the end of us?
I walked into the locker room feeling on top of the world that day. It was the third game of the season and I felt fantastic about everything. I’d even slept well the night before, which normally I didn’t because I would be so nervous. But last night I slept like a baby.
Practice all week long had been brutal, far beyond what coach Smith probably should have put us through, especially the past few days before the game when typically the practices would be easier so we would be rested for the game. But no, Coach Smith (the bastard) kept us moving like we were soldiers preparing for the war in which there would be no rest for several years.
Today we were facing our toughest opponents of the season, and our big in-state rivals of “Purdue University”. We desperately wanted to beat them this year, not only because we had such a long in-state rivalry, but because they were tough as nails this year. We had dominated our first few opponents easily enough, but so had they. This was going to come down to a very close game, a grueling defensive battle, and we could not afford to make any mistakes. Any fumbles, or turnovers, stupid penalties—Purdue would capitalize on it and make us eat our mistakes. That could very well be the outcome of the game right there. Who would keep their cool and not get overzealous. We had to stay precise and move together as one seamless, perfect machine.
I was ready for it. I’d been born ready in fact. Ever since I was a small child, football was the only thing that had ever mattered to me. I had eaten and breathed it. My father was a top player for Indiana when he was my age and I had a big legacy to live up to. Besides that, I had a real shot to turn pro. My father would have if not for a devastating knee injury his senior year.
I was a senior. I was healthy and fit. And I was very determined to stay that way. Bobby Taylor was not going to let anything get in his way of achieving the goals he’d laid out in front of him. No way.
But deep in the back of my mind there was always that tiny little nagging voice of doubt. I would have been utterly delusional if that hadn’t been there. I was human after all. I just had to stay focused and not let the doubt get over me. Respect was healthy, but fear was not. This was going to be a grueling game, and no matter what happened, I knew I would fight hard to make sure that me and my team prevailed.
“Are you puking your guts out, yet?”
The voice came from Chance Atkins, our quarterback and captain. Though he was a junior, a year younger than me, Chance was the kind of guy that everyone had always looked up to. I’d always been considered the same way, so he and I had a bit of a friendly rivalry going on. But he was a very decent guy. So, there was no reason to dislike him just because we were both alpha type men. We had always got along and worked well together. I considered him a good friend.
“Cool as a cucumber,” I replied. “How about you?”
Chance smiled as if he were thinking about what I’d said. Then he turned his head slightly and said, “Yep. Maybe cooler.”
He chuckled at his own lame joke. The guy would never be the biggest stand-up comic in the world, but he was the best quarterback around. I was considered the top wide receiver in college football. So together Chance and I were a dynamite team. We just fed off each other so well. I could sense what he was going to do before he did it and he could do the same with me. It was kind of an odd, but beautiful marriage. And it was necessary to our team. I hoped he would be feeding me pass after pass right into my hands so I could run with the football and make those great plays we were so known for.
“How’s the arm today?” I asked.
Chance didn’t respond right away. He was putting on his pads in front of his locker as I sat down beside him on the bench and began to grab some of my own gear out of mine. I waited a moment for him to respond and then I asked again.
“Oh, sorry. Um…it’s good,” Chance said. “No issues.”
“You alright?” I asked. “You seem like you are a bit distracted today.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just…having some women troubles.”
I laughed. “Ah, ok. It’s refreshing to hear that the Casanova amongst us is having some issues every once in a while.”
Chance shook his head. “Nah, I dated this girl briefly over the summer, but now she won’t leave me alone, even after I told her it was over.”
“What? You mean, you have a stalker?” I asked.
“Kind of,” Chance laughed. “I guess you could call it that. But… yeah… that sounds pretty weird to hear
“Is it seriously weird? Or just kind of weird?” I asked.
Chance shrugged. “I don’t know, yet. Hopefully, it stays contained. She actually moved here to our school. Do you believe that?”
I gave him a look of shock, as I was unable to control my reaction. It was instinctive. “Well, that is bizarre. Hope that works out for you, man. I see now why you broke up with her.”
Chance tied up his shoulder pads and then reached for his jersey. “That’s the thing. She didn’t act this way until after.”
“Why did you break up with her?”
“It was a summer fling. She lived in Pennsylvania. Plus, I decided that I was going to cut women out of my life for a bit.”
Chance shook his head. “Nope. I just want to concentrate on playing ball and getting that pro contract.”
“Well, good luck on all of that, but I’m not sure I could do this alone. You know, me and Sherry have been together for a while now and having her by my side makes all of this better.”
“Good on you. I’m glad you got a good thing going.”
“Thanks,” I said.
“You guys are pathetic. You sound like some whiney dorks.”
The trolling came from a voice behind us which I recognized immediately as belonging to Mr. Loudmouth Ricky Johnson. I groaned and glanced back at him. “Didn’t ask for your input.”
Ricky laughed and flipped us both the bird. “You babies had better not slow me down out there today. This is my year. And Chance, you’d better enjoy that quarterback spot while you got it. Soon, the coach will wise up and give it to me.”
Chance ignored him completely as if Ricky wasn’t even there. He was good at that. I’d never seen Chance get rattled by anyone or anything. I wished I could stay that cool, but I’d always been a bit of a hothead. I didn’t care what a loser like Ricky thought about me, but letting someone openly disrespect me was something I could never abide.
“Whatever numbnuts” I groaned as I put on my own shoulder pads.
Ricky walked away laughing while I stifled the impulse to run over and deck him. The guy was going to get what was coming to him eventually. I just wanted to be there when it happened so that I could laugh at him.
“What a joke,” Chance said when Ricky had left.
“Yeah. He really believes his own hype, doesn’t he?”
“I guess someone has to,” Chance laughed.
I slapped him a high five. “I’ll see you out there.”
Chance nodded and started walking outside to get warmed up.
I continued getting dressed and focused on getting my mind right for the game in front of me. I felt good. My legs were tired, but strong. I had a slight twinge in my back from an awkward tackle during practice, but otherwise I was ready to go. Chance and I had been perfect all week with hardly any missed or dropped passes.
This was going to be a big test for us.
I was almost done getting dressed when I noticed my phone lit up with an incoming text message. It was from Sherry. I picked it up and read it quickly. This would be the last time I would look at my phone until after the game. I always left it in my locker. The coach would have had a total coronary if he saw one of us sitting on the bench playing with our damn phone during the game. Still, some of the guys snuck theirs out there. Not me. I had to shut off outside communication and keep my mind focused solely on the game.
My heart sank as I began to read the message in front of me. I couldn’t believe it. What was going on?
It was from Sherry.
“Hey, I realize this is bad timing, but I don’t want to put this off anymore. I think we should see other people. We’ve hit a rut lately, and I just don’t think we have that spark anymore. You are always so into your football that I feel I always come second and that I’m not a priority anymore. This isn’t what I want in a relationship. I’m sorry. But we should do each other a favor and walk away cleanly now. Good luck in the game. I’ll be watching. This just isn’t working anymore. No hard feelings. It was fun, but it’s over. Bye, Bobby.”
I read the message over again, this time analyzing every single little piece of information. This was crazy. Where had this come from? Out of thin air Sherry decided that we were through. I started racking my brain, trying to come up with anything that I might have done or said that could have led to her coming to this life changing decision. But there was nothing I could think of. And now we were done. What the hell?
Sherry Lathe and I had dated for six months. She was sweet, beautiful, fun, and we seemed to enjoy a lot of the same things. I didn’t think it was love, but it might have become so one day. Who could tell? But apparently, Sherry already decided we were wasting each other’s time. But when? She hadn’t acted any differently lately.
Unless she had and I’d missed it. Had I been so wrapped up in football and my own life that I had taken her for granted or ignored her? I took a few moments and searched my mind, reflecting on our relationship. But no. I did not see where I had neglected her due to my other commitments. But perhaps she needed more.
Or there was someone else and this was all a lame excuse. Argh. That hurt. Why did I let my mind go there? This was not the sort of thing I needed to be filling my heart and mind with right before the biggest game of my career. No, I couldn’t think about this now.
And why would Sherry send me this message right before the game? She couldn’t have waited four hours until the game was over? Really?
That was crazy. Was this part of some crazy plan she had to get me upset so that I would have a bad game? Was she betting against us? Did she have money riding on this game? It was all ludicrous. I felt like I had done something wrong, but by all accounts I was the victim here.
I’d been dumped. It felt weird. I had never actually been dumped before. So far, all of my relationships had ended fairly amicably. But this was not the case this time. I had been tossed to the side pretty harshly. By a text. Sherry didn’t even have the guts to tell me in person. It should have hurt worse, I suppose, but actually it was far easier to swallow this way because it painted her in such a bad light. What she’d done was so distasteful, now I really felt I was better off without her and she’d just done us both a huge favor. I had been wasting my time with her.
And now I could think about nothing else but the game. I finished putting on my gear, tossed my phone into my locker, and slammed my locker door shut. Then I trotted out onto the field and began doing some stretches to limber myself up. As I did so, I found my mood improving drastically. And after only a few moments I felt great. Exercise (especially being on the football field) always had that effect on me. I was ready to take on the world and laugh in the face of my enemies, which now included Sherry.
After stretching I threw the ball around with Chance as he practiced taking the snap, dropping back, and throwing to me. It was all easy going, but I could tell that Chance’s arm was in fine form. We were going to have a great game.
The crowd was already there piling up in the stadium. I loved that roar. That sweet release of energy between the crowd and players on the field was miraculously blissful. I just wanted to continue feeling that for all time. It was what I lived for. I waited patiently all week for it and in the off season I missed it so much.
But for now, we had quite a lot of the season left to play, plus the bowl games. And then we would see if I would get that pro contract, that big ticket to play for the NFL that I had always dreamt of. I hoped to play for the Cincinnati Bengals. Being from Ohio, they had always been my favorite team, but when you were drafted to play for the big leagues, you didn’t have a say where you went a lot of the times. So whoever I ended up with would make me very happy.
I just didn’t know if I would have anyone to share it with. Maybe Chance was onto something though. Perhaps it would be better for me to just let the romance in my life slide while I worked on my goals. This was my last college season. After this getting a tryout for t
I finished warming up and trotted back inside the locker room with the rest of my team. Once inside we all gathered around while the coach gave us his pep talk speech. This guy was so full of it and loved to hear himself speak so much. He was long winded and went on rambling about the silliest things sometimes, so long that we often did not realize what he was saying or that he was actually done until a bit afterwards.
“Men, today we take on the nightmare that is Purdue. Why do I call them a nightmare? Because of what they have done to their first two opponents. We beat ours down, but they beat theirs much worse. They are like the little brother that feels they have something big to prove. They are mean and they are nasty.”
I tried not to tune him out completely, but the man spoke in such an obnoxious monotone that sometimes it was just a chore to remain engaged with his speech. I could sense the intelligence of every player in the room getting such a little bit smaller from having to listen to this man’s words of “wisdom”.
This man was a total joke. And he was our fearless leader. I had to laugh at the irony.
The coach took a breath to let his words sink in. He glanced around at everyone trying to hold their eye contact as he spoke. If you didn’t hold his eye contact or he sensed you weren’t listening, he would lean down until his face was right in your face and you would be forced to look at him. The guy did not take to being ignored.
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