Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 79
“Chelsea doesn’t really mean ‘ party party,’” Taylor jumps in, saving me. “Just a small get together to celebrate the kick-off of the new season.”
My dad squints an eye at us, not overly impressed.
“It’s also a getting to know you party for the new recruits,” Taylor quickly adds, and I wish I could give her a kiss on the cheek. She always knows just what to say to get him to give in. “We thought some bonding time would be nice.”
My dad sighs. He shoots me that look that says he’s about to give in to me even though he doesn’t really want to.
I love my dad, and being Daddy’s little girl can definitely have its advantages, even though I wish he weren’t so overly protective of me all the time. I’m glad he’s been here for me after Mom passed away. It was the hardest thing that either of us have ever gone through, so at least we have each other.
“I suppose it’ll be all right,” he says. “On the condition that none of my players are present, of course.”
“Of course,” Taylor instantly confirms, and I flash back to memories of middle school, when we’d cross our fingers behind our backs during times such as these.
“That’s good,” Dad continues. “And don’t try to pull one over on me, because I’ll be on the other side of the lake at my usual fishing spot, so I plan on dropping by.”
“Sure, Daddy,” I say, leaning over his desk to give him a peck on the cheek. “Thank you! I can’t believe you said yes. Last year you said no.”
“But I told you to ask me again this year, didn’t I?”
“Look, Sweetheart,” my dad says, leaning back in his chair and looking at me as if he’s not sure he wants to say anything further. “I know you’ve grown up a lot and that I can trust you. I’m proud of you.”
“Really?” I ask, suddenly feeling guilty for knowing that I want to invite the new player to this party, against my dad’s rules.
“Really. You’ve been through alot and you just keep keeping on. That takes real determination. I know how hard you’ve worked to get your team to this point.”
“I’m glad that at least you realize that, Dad. Lots of people think cheerleaders are ditzy and shallow. But it’s a tough sport.”
“I know it is, honey. I’ve seen the long hours you put into planning and choreographing the routines. I know you and Taylor are good leaders of the squad. So I think you deserve a celebratory party. And I wish you all the best in this upcoming year. You too Taylor, of course.”
“Awww, thanks Dad,” I tell him.
Taylor chimes in with her thanks as well. I try to choke back tears. My dad isn’t usually the sentimental type, and what he said means a lot to me.
Taylor saves me once again by saying, “Well Mr. Thompson, we’d better get to lunch so we’ll be on time for class.”
“Have a good afternoon, Taylor,” he says, returning to his studies of the playbook. “You too, Sweetie.”
I’m torn between a confusing mix of feelings. I’m grateful for my dad’s kind words, but I’m also really excited to invite the new football player to the party my dad has forbidden him to attend.
I don’t know whether it’s the secrecy that’s causing my rush of adrenaline, or the thought of seeing the new guy again. I just know that I need to get that accomplished as soon as I possibly can, for the sake of my mental health. Because he’s all I can think about and it’s driving me crazy.
Chapter 5 – Chelsea
As we head to the cafeteria, I tell Taylor, “Oh my god, I feel bad for totally playing my dad… especially when he got all sweet and nice about me.”
Taylor says, “Well, he’s hiding stuff of his own, you know, so I guess it’s even.”
“Really?” I ask.
“Oh come on. He was totally bullshitting about dropping by the lake house to check up on us. I already know that he and my mom have plans for this weekend.”
I don’t say anything at first, so she looks at me and asks, “Didn’t you know that too?”
“Oh yeah, I know,” I lie, laughing. “He must think we’re so oblivious.”
It’s been painfully obvious that my dad and Taylor’s mom have been spending an awful lot of time together recently. It’s kind of weird, since Taylor and I have been friends since grade school and more or less grew up together.
But then again, it makes sense, with both of them having been lonely single parents for so long, and in a way I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. I guess they were waiting until Taylor and I were both off to college to start flirting and dating and hooking up.
They probably weren’t expecting that we’d both still live at home, but they did want us to go to Calton University. Of course my dad thinks it’s the best school in the world. And college tuition has jumped up so much that it’s much cheaper to stay put and save money on room and board.
I only got a partial scholarship at Calton and Dad said he’d pay for the rest of my tuition and that I could just keep living at home. Although I’d always imagined Taylor and I going off to a larger and further away city for college, this arrangement seemed to make the most sense.
I hate having to abide by my dad’s super strict rules. But it definitely works financially. And I didn’t want to leave my dad grieving for my mom alone. When I’m honest, I know I didn’t want to be grieving for her alone without him, either.
Now that Taylor and I are at least out of high school, I guess my dad and her mom figure it’s safe to hook up now and then without being a bad influence on us. It couldn’t be that they were so busy raising us that they never had the chance to worry about their dating lives until now, because that’s not true for either one of them.
My dad, being the football coach and in good shape for his age, has been pretty sought after and has never had a problem finding a date or a string of casual girlfriends. But he’s told me that no one has ever come close to my mom. He isn’t interested in looking for a replacement because that’s just not possible.
Although it’s a little weird that his current fling is my best friend’s mom, it makes sense that in such a small city they might eventually get around to going out on some dates together. And it also has its perks. Taylor and I know when they’re distracted spending time with each other, and therefore when my dad is less likely to be breathing down my neck.
But I didn’t know they were getting together this weekend. I’m kind of bummed that Taylor knew and I didn’t. I don’t know why my dad wouldn’t just tell me.
“It’s so gross to think of our parents getting it on,” I tell her, to lighten the moment.
“I know! Ewww!” she says. “But it’s clear they also really like each other, and I’m glad my mom is so happy.”
I want to stop in my tracks, but I don’t.
I just say, “Taylor, you know how my dad is. This week it’s this woman, next week it’s another…”
“Thanks for trying to warn me,” she laughs. “But my mom’s a big girl. And she’s not much different from your dad.”
I nod, knowing it’s true. Taylor’s mom is still hot. I’m kind of surprised my dad hadn’t hooked up with her earlier, even with the limiting factor of their daughters being best friends.
“Yeah,” I say. “They’ll get tired of each other’s ways after a while but at least it’ll be fun while it lasts.”
“I think they’ve been seeing each other for longer than their normal track records,” Taylor says, shaking her head as if what I’m saying isn’t making sense. “And it seems to me they’re actually kind of into each other.”
Poor Taylor. Always wanting a father figure. She’s already had my dad to fill that role to some extent, but now she’s clearly trying to project it even further.
I don’t want to crush her hopes and usually it’s her giving me life advice so I wouldn’t know what to say in terms of lowering her expectations even if I wanted to. I decide to just chan
“Well, I’m glad my dad is in a good mood because I’m so glad he said yes to us having the party,” I say, as Taylor and I walk into the cafeteria.
My attention turns away from the conversation. I’m thinking about inviting the new football player to the party, and wondering whether he’ll come, when I see that he’s here eating with Christian.
“Oh my god,” I say, catching my breath.
Taylor follows my line of vision and says, “Uh oh. This can only mean trouble.”
“I’m going over to him,” I tell her, surprised at my newfound boldness.
“Chelsea! Do you really think that’s a good idea…?”
But I’m already walking over to him, and she’s following me. And he’s looking at me, in a way that lets me know he’s happy to see me.
In fact, his look lets me know he wants to do more than see me.
And I’m beginning to think I might just let him.
Chapter 6 – Chelsea
“Hi Christian,” I say, as if I came over to talk to him , even though he and I don’t have the best history.
I’ve always thought he was kind of spineless and weasel-like for some reason, even before he hit on me and I had to turn him down. Although we still talk to each other when we see each other in classes or at games, I obviously wouldn’t be coming to talk to him if I didn’t have to invest some pretext to talk to the new guy who is sitting with him.
“I was just coming over to…”
“Hey there,” says the new guy, reaching out a hand for me to shake.
I like the way he makes the first move, even if he was too chicken shit to come over to me on the field.
“Wesley Reynolds,” he says, as I shake his strong hand. “Transfer student.”
I just stare into his dark brown eyes, forgetting why I even came over, other than to look at them.
“We came to meet the new guy,” Taylor says, to Christian, lightly poking my side with her elbow. “The cheerleader welcoming committee.”
Oh yeah .
Good ole Taylor.
“Chelsea Thompson,” I say, unable to hold back some light laughter. “Sophomore.”
“And I’m Taylor Hudson,” Taylor adds.
Wesley shakes her hand next, but I notice it’s with a less enthusiastic grip.
“We’ve actually come to invite you to a party,” I say.
Taylor elbows me again, but not as nicely, this time.
“A party already?” Christian jokes. “Aren’t you even going to pick the new cheerleaders first?”
“Oh, they’ll be chosen by then,” I say. “The party is this weekend, and it’s in part to welcome the latest cheerleaders. It’s at my dad’s lake house.”
“Nice,” Christian says. He raises his eyebrows at Wesley. “I’ve heard about the cheerleaders’ parties, and that they’re a lot of fun.”
I ignore the bitter tone in his voice, which reeks of offense at never having been invited to one himself.
“But they’re usually not at the coach’s lake house. And football players are usually banned,” Christian continues. “Due to, as I’ve already warned you, Coach Thompson’s strict rules against anyone on the team fraternizing too much with his daughter…”
So that’s why Wesley hadn’t come over to me on the field. Christian had already let him in on my dad’s rule. Although my dad may have already told Wesley himself. He tends to make quite the production out of announcing it.
“You’re not banned this year,” I quickly blurt out, wanting him to shut up already. He didn’t have to keep rubbing salt in the wound. “You’re both invited.”
I stare straight at Wesley, as if issuing him a dare. And he stares right back, as if accepting it.
“Just don’t let the whole team know about it,” Taylor says, looking at me as if she can’t believe I’d invited even two players. “It’s by invitation only. And obviously, don’t let Coach Thompson know about it…”
“Obviously,” agrees Christian, while rolling his eyes.
“Well, see you around,” I say, reluctantly tearing my eyes off of Wesley to join the food line.
“Looking forward to it,” he says.
And there’s that tingle running down my spine again.
As soon as we’re out of their earshot, Taylor protests.
“Chelsea! What were you thinking?”
I bat my eyelashes and do my best to play innocent.
“I know you’re dead set on inviting your latest heartthrob but was that really the best way to do it? Inviting Christian too? What if they go and blab their mouths…”
“It’ll be fine,” I tell her, as I peer at the less than appealing lunch choices.
Apparently Taylor is more afraid of my dad’s wrath than I am. Or maybe, since this is the first time I’ve openly challenged his rule, I’m more curious about Wesley than afraid of my dad.
“Okay,” she says, with an exasperated sigh. “I hope you’re right.”
“I want to get to know him.”
I can’t help but notice the whininess in my voice.
“I know it’s a stupid thing to do, but I want to do it anyway.”
“It’s just that I think you should be careful,” she says, her eyes pleading with me. “I know you’re really into this new guy, but if your dad finds out…”
“You’re right,” I tell her. “I am into him.”
Don’t ask me to explain it , I silently will her, because I can’t .
And she doesn’t. She probably just knows.
I’ve never risked falling for a guy on the football team. I know my dad would be so mad, and it just hasn’t been worth it.
I’ve never even been attracted to many of the guys on the team, so it’s never really been hard to not disobey my dad. Most of the players have always seemed like empty headed jocks.
But there’s something about Wesley Reynolds I can’t ignore.
Sure, he has a cocky swagger and an overconfident manner that lets me know he’s probably used to playing the field in more ways than one. He isn’t even my normal type.
But I just want him. I don’t know why.
“I only want to look at him a bit more up close,” I tell Taylor, trying to be convincing. “I know he’s on my dad’s team, so he’s off limits, but I need a better look at him.”
She shakes her head.
“I’m just going to look,” I insist again. “I don’t have to touch…”
“Sure, Chelsea,” she says, as she reaches over me to grab a salad, because I’ve been too busy thinking about Wesley to decide what I want to eat. “Whatever you say.”
She knows me better than that. And I know myself better than that, too.
For better or worse, I just want to get up close and personal with Wesley Reynolds.
I don’t want to actually go all the way with him of course. I’m not ready for that level of closeness. I’m still embarrassingly inexperienced.
I just want to hang out with him for a little bit. Maybe make out just a little bit.
Just one party. Just one crazy, rebellious night of hooking up with him, and I’m sure I’ll get this obsession out of my system, and my dad will never have to know.
Chapter 7 – Wesley
This is fucking bullshit .
It’s the first game of the season, and I’m sitting on the bench.
I’ve been working my ass off for Coach Thompson during training all week, and I know I’ve outperformed most of the other guys on the team. I don’t mean to sound rude, but it’s just become more and more obvious that this team’s a joke compared to the one I just came from.
I have so much to offer the Calton Wildcats, yet Coach Thompson doesn’t want to use me.
Just before half time, the other team scores a touchdown. Although both of our teams are in the bottom league and we’ve been pretty evenly matched throughout the game, it’s clear that this other team is slightly better, especially without me on the field.
“Hey Coach,” I call out. “Put me in. I’ll catch us up and then some!”
“Sit down and know your place,” Coach Thompson hisses at me, stepping off the field to do so. “And your place isn’t with my daughter.”
What the hell does his daughter have to do with anything? We’re going to get killed out here, and he’s using this opportunity to teach me a lesson about his daughter?
“Don’t act like you haven’t been staring at her all night, and ever since you started out on this team,” he spits out before jogging back to the sideline.
I roll my eyes, and Christian looks over at me as if to say “I told you so.”
This guy is really serious about his daughter, I think.
And I don’t even know what he’s so mad about. All I’ve done is look at her, and talk to her in the cafeteria, but he doesn’t even know about that. And Chelsea started that conversation, anyway.
I’m annoyed, but I decide not to let it get to me. Coach Thompson obviously wanted me on the team for a reason and when he needs me enough, I’m sure he’ll let me play. And then he’ll be begging me to keep playing once he sees how much I can help the team.
Sure enough, just before the end of the first half, the first string quarterback gets an injury, and it’s my turn to shine.
“Alright, Reynolds, you’re up,” the coach says, begrudgingly. “Don’t make me sorry I’m doing this.”
As if he has any choice , I think, but I can barely contain my enthusiasm as I run onto the field.
Within just a few minutes, it’s half time and I’m hoping that the first string quarterback's injuries aren’t so serious that he’s really hurt, but that they’re serious enough to keep him out for the rest of the game so that I can really have a chance to play.
During halftime, the cheerleaders do their thing on the field and of course I can’t resist looking, even though Coach Thompson is staring me down. All of them are at least decent looking— better-looking than most of the ones at my old school, I have to admit— and in the past I would be finding ways to hook up with most of them.