I shivered as another bout of cold wind and snow blew past me. It was almost below freezing and nearly set my teeth chattering as I made my way back to my seat. I was still a Louisiana girl at heart and still needed to build up my resistance to the cold.
“It’s colder than gold-digger’s heart out here.” Tucker complained as he continued to wrap his thick scarf farther up his face.
I chuckled at his wry sense of humor as my jaw continued to clatter together.
“I second that.” Annalee mumbled barely audible underneath her enormous puffer coat.
“Alright guys. Let’s not complain too much; halftime’s almost over.”
“Yeah and you get to see lover boy again.” Annalee waggled her brows to me.
“Like you’re one to talk, Annalee. We all know you’re just here to see Danny.” I retorted.
“Nuh-uh!” She rejected as quickly as possible. Despite the cold already coloring her cheeks a bright pink, the mention of Danny caused them to flush a deep scarlet.
Her newfound crush on Theo’s best friend had apparently developed while we were away at Christmas when ole Danny stopped by looking for a hoodie Theo had borrowed. They had been hanging out ever since. Who knows where they’d end up, but with Anna’s rocky past in the relationship world, I just hoped it worked out for the best.
Tucker, on the other hand had a rather gloomy Christmas season. Annalee informed me Sam had broke it off with him after only a few weeks and left Tuck completely heartbroken.
He had been down in the dumps ever since, but I had made it a priority of mine to cheer him up. Hence the reason he’s at a football game, something he still didn’t understand no matter how many times Theo and I time attempted to explain. It was better to have him out and cheering for the wrong team than to be sitting all alone in his apartment.
Just as I brought the hot chocolate back up to my lips, the opposing team came bustling out of their tunnel with loud shouts of praise from the other side of the stadium. I knew our team would be making it’s entrance close behind them.
As soon as our team’s jersey reappeared, my eyes sorted through all the numbers looking for Theo’s bright and big 7. When I finally found him jogging out of the tunnel, my mouth lost all interest in the warming drink and focused on my favorite football player.
A smile made its way to my face as I watched him playfully dance around the field. I let out a laugh as I watched him and a couple of the other players carelessly rile up the crowd.
Theo was in his element. This was his biggest game of the year and he was confident. Not only was he confident and overly prepared for the National Championships, but he was also excited. The most excited I’d seen him since I told him I wanted him back.
Football really was his passion and I loved seeing him in an environment where he could just enjoy himself and have no outside worries. It was just him, his team, and the game.
The fourth quarter kicked off and our team was still leading by only a few points. It was obvious that it was going to be a close game.
As time ran down I watched people bite their nails to the nub, scared their team wouldn’t come out on top. Win or loss, I’d still be cheering Theo on in the end.
Plus it wasn’t like this was his last season. There was always next year.
“I’m nervous. I hope they win.” Annalee said as she bit her lip nervously.
“Yeah me too.” I admitted as our team lined up for another play. The game was now tied and this was their last chance in avoiding over time.
“I think I’m finally getting a hang of this football jargon.” Tucker smirked, proud of himself. “If they score a goal they get some points and when they get tackled that’s a bad thing.?”
Annalee snorted. “Nice and descriptive. By the way it’s called a touchdown, not a goal. This isn’t soccer, buddy.”
“Keep talking shit on me and you’ll be getting an apartment all by yourself.” Tucker snapped back and Annalee immediately snapped her mouth shut.
With Anna’s fear to live alone and Tucker having to leave Sam’s, all the piece kind of feel together. Two friends needing a place to go and a fresh start.
I had offered to let them stay with me for the rest of the year but they politely declined saying they wanted to give Theo and I our space, even though they’d sincerely miss Gracie.
So we made a deal. Since I wasn’t ready for them to go they were both staying with us until they found a decent apartment, which according to Anna they were getting really close. They’d even narrowed it down to three apartment up town.
I looked at both of them as they intensely watched the game and smiled sadly. I would be sad to see them leave and not be able to see them every day. But I knew they needed this. I mean it’s not like I’d never see them again. They needed to branch out and be on their own and I wished them nothing but the best.
I turned back to the game and there was exactly forty seconds left in the last quarter. Our team’s last chance in breaking the tie and winning this year’s National Championship.
The team lined up and I watched Theo bend down, make sure everyone was in order before yelling a demand. The team immediately sprung to life and worked through the play they had practiced time and time again.
Theo snapped the ball into a perfect spiral to another player. I watched as the running back caught it and he took off for the end zone. With twenty seconds left and a whole ten yards ahead of him, he was sprinting as fast as his cleated feet would take him.
And sure enough, as the clock struck five his toes crossed the white line in the artificial grass, making an official touchdown.
The crowd cheered and jumped up and down as they rallied in a high from the win. The team lined up for the opportunity to score an extra few points with a two-point conversion, which they easily won.
The final score was close, but it all ended with our college being the victors. The team huddled together and were loudly cheering, excited about the grand achievement they had just made.
The crowd was going crazy. Screaming and yelling happy cheers. Some were even crying. It was a win for the team. A win for our school and a win to remember.
It wasn’t long before the ceiling released what had to be millions of pieces of confetti. The colors of our university fluttered through the air and cascaded onto the field in celebration of success. We were the National Champs. Theo was a National Champ.
As the officials carried out a giant, gold trophy I watched as the coaches hands wrapped around it before handing it off to his team. They held it up and for the world to see.
They posed with it as reporters snapped pictures and as camera men recorded. I watched as multiple people walked up to Theo and began interviewing him.
The field was still extremely crowded nut some of the fans had begun to filter out of the stadium, in hopes of getting out of here before traffic got bad.
“Hey, is it okay if we go?” Annalee asked me, knocking me out of my happy trance.
“Yeah we just got invited to this after party. It’s gonna be amazing.” Tucker said excitedly.
Anna kept a smile on her face but I saw her elbow Tuck in the ribs behind her. “Shut up.”
“I’m sorry. I just didn’t want you to feel left out.”
“No. That’s totally fine, Anna. You guys go have fun. I want to stick around here. Be careful, okay? Stick with each other.” I let them know.
“Yeah yeah, mom. We got it. We’ll even send you the address.” Tucker muttered but there was still a happy smile on his face.
A win’s a win. Even when you know absolutely nothing about football. No matter what, a win can always bring up your mood.
“We’ll probably get back when you guys are asleep so we’ll see you in the morning, okay?” Anna asked.
“Okay! We’ll have a big breakfast!”
“I’ll probably have a big ass hangover so you can count me outta that one.” Tuck said before making a dramatic exit.
Anna and I both laughed as we gave each other our farewells. I watched as they both made their way out of the stadium before I sat back in my seat.
When there was actually room on the field to move I quickly jumped up at the opportunity to see Theo. Not on the field but face to face.
As soon as my feet hit that artificial grass I smiled. Dad would be absolutely envious of where I am right now. Just the thought of him made me smile.
The doctors had already moved him to a better facility, began more advanced treatments and were already seeing improvements. Nothing was definite but there was definitely more hope. Whether there was a 5% chance or a 100% chance of him waking up, I’d always be there. Holding onto that hope.
I lightly pushed my way through everyone. The reporters, the coaching staff, and even the players. I was looking for one person in particular and it seemed like he was no where to be seen.
Just when I finally caught Theo’s number 7 jersey I knocked into someone, ending with me falling flat on my butt. The man’s hand reached out to haul me up and before long I was back on my own two feet.
I brushed myself off and spoke to the person who had assisted me back up.
“Thank you. I’m sorry I didn’t even see you there. I was looking for Th-” My words halted in my mouth when I realized who I was talking to.
It was Theo’s coach. The one and only, James Fletcher. I remember all the times my dad would go on and on about him. He would probably be just as speechless as I am in this very moment.
“You’re looking for who?” He asked as he looked me directly in the eye. Talk about intimidating.
I cleared my throat and looked around for my boyfriend. No sight of him. “My boyfriend, actually. Theodore Thompson?”
“Theo? Your his girlfriend?” He asked, kind of amazed.
“Yes, sir.” I nodded still looking for him.
“Well here. Let me take you to him.” He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and the crowd practically parted like the Red Sea for him.
“It’s actually a pleasure to meet you. Amaya, right?” He asked and I was so stunned he actually knew my name that all I could do was nod.
He laughed at my response but continued to walk with me. We were now directly across from Theo but he hadn’t noticed us yet. “You’ve really changed him. For the better of course!”
I was a little shocked at his statement. Me being with Theo couldn’t have changed him that much. Especially in something like football where I had no place. I mean...right?
Theo turned to me and grinned ear to ear, but when he noticed who I was talking to he looked surprised. “Whatever you’re doing, keep it up. We’ve got another season coming!”
“You’ve got it, coach!” I said and immediately regretted it. What a face palm moment.
The famous James Fletcher just laughed and turned away, but before he left completely he spoke two more lines. “It was nice to meet you, Amaya. Theo’s one lucky man.”
And with that he stepped back into the pit of constant questions. Theo made his way over to me and I immediately returned to reality.
“Congratulations!” I shouted happily before I hugged him as tightly as I could.
He chuckled and hugged me back.
“I knew you guys could do it.” I looked up to him and smiled.
“Well maybe you’re just my good luck charm.” He winked to me.
“Well maybe I should come to more games.”
“You won’t catch me fighting that. Hey, what was the coach talking to you about?” He asked curiously.
I wondered if I should bring up what Fletcher said about me changing him for the better. I wanted to tell the truth, but wouldn’t that be weird? Kind of gloating?
“Just introducing himself. Ya know? The usual.” I shrugged as I wrapped my arms around his neck bringing him closer to me.
“Are you sure? He looked like he was saying something more serious than that. Did he say something about me?” He questioned.
“Well technically, yeah.”
“Can’t you just tell me? I’m dying here.” He whined, making me laugh.
“Okay fine fine.” I chuckled but glanced down at my shoes, a little embarrassed. “He said how much I’d changed you and for the better.”
I felt Theo’s chest rumble with a small laugh before he tilted my head back up to look at him. “Well he’s right. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
He bent down and captured my lips. His arms went around my waist and held me as close as he possibly could. Our lips moved in sync and I grinned into the kiss. It was a magical moment between, well it was for at least ten seconds...until five not-so-little party crashers interfered.
Theo pulled away with an annoyed sigh. I just chuckled as I turned to look at the culprits themselves.
Josh, Blake, Mark, Joey, and Danny stood there trying their best to look innocent, but we all knew they were the exact opposite.
“Hey, guys!” I laughed as I broke away from Theo, immediately regretting it and missing the added warmth.
“Hi, Amaya.” Mark smiled to me.
“Amaya, who just won the Collegiate National Football Championships?” Joshua asked with a quizzical brow stretched upwards. He was testing my sports knowledge instead of me testing him this time.
“Only the best of the best, of course.” I shrugged as I turned to see Theo grinning.
“Ayee. Girl knows her stuff.” Blake chuckled as he clapped for me and I gave a dramatic little bow.
“She sure does! Hey, you wanna go to a party with us?” Joey asked me and I kind of wanted to go, but I turned to Theo. He had previously planned to just stay in and I definitely just wanted to be with him. Party or not.
“Sure, why not?” Theo shrugged as he wrapped his arms around my waist again.
“Great! We’ll go get showers and we can all meet there.” Joey announced and four of the five took off, Danny lagging behind.
He had been oddly quiet this whole time. He was looking behind me but cane up disappointed when he didn’t find the thing or more likely person he was searching for.
“What’s up Danny?” I asked a little concerned about the usual jokester.
“Um, it’s nothing. Have you seen Annalee?” He asked with his eyes still darting around the field behind me.
An all-knowing smirk graced my lips and I chuckled. “Actually she left a little early. Wanted to go to a party with Tucker.”
“Oh.” He looked a little saddened by the news. “Do you know if it’s the party we’re going to?”
“I actually do. Let me check my phone.” I had to shrug Theo off to get to my back pocket in which earned me a glare, which only made me laugh.
“Uh...let’s see here.” I scrolled through my messages until I found a new one from Annalee. “Where’s the party we’re going to?”
“Um...Easton street I think.” He made his best guess.
“Hey that’s where she is! I don’t know if she’s going to the exact one but she’ll be on the same street at least.” I hoped that would cheer him up. “I’ll text and ask her the exact address and let you know later!”
“Thanks Amaya!” He immediately smiled.
“Yeah. Anytime, lover boy.” Theo teased Danny.
“Psh. What are you talking about? I just wanted to know so I could uh...”
“Yeah great excuse.” Theo nodded with a smirk knowing he had caught Danny in a moment of unpreparedness.
“Give back her pencil. She let me borrow it a few days ago!” He muttered out an excuse before taking off in the way of the showers, probably to avoid any more ridicule from Theo.
I turned back around to him and placed my hands on his face. “Why you gotta be so mean? You know he likes Anna.” I chuckled.
“I’m not mean. I’m just teasing. He deserved it.” He rolled his eyes as he pulled me closer.
“Why did he deserve it?” I questioned seriously intrigued to see what he could come up with on the spot.
“Because he wasted all the time I could’ve had alone with you.” He winked and leaned in for a kiss.
I let him kiss me and I quickly got swept up in it before remembering how many people were still around us. I pushed back, slightly out of breath. “Okay okay. You’re sly, I’ll give you that. But man you need a shower.”
“You never said anything about it before.” He said in a smart ass tone.
“My love for you overpowered it.” I said so dramatically I considered majoring in theater.
“Ooh that was good.” Theo nodded as he scratched his chin in thought. “Maybe we should make a detour from the party so I can shower at home.”
“Why would we do that?” I asked oblivious.
“So you can shower with me.” He winked.
“Theo!” I hit his arm as my face immediately blushed.
“What? The offer is still there.” He smirked as he watched me from his talk height.
“Just go get a shower.” I pushed with all my might to send him the direction of the locker rooms but he wouldn’t budge. “I’ll wait on you.”
“Fine I’ll go.” He rolled his eyes playfully and picked up his helmet as he made his way in the direction of the others, but stopped and turned back around, jogging back over to me.
“What now?” I sighed.
“I forgot something.” He admitted with a shrug.
“What could you possibly have forgotten. You’re literally wearing all your equipment and your helmet is in your hand.” I pointed all this out.
“Yeah but I forgot something much more important.”
Now I was confused. “Huh?”
He laughed. “I forgot to tell you how much I love you.”
“Oh my god, Theo you are such a dork.” I covered my face as I let out a laugh.
“Yeah I am, but this dork is all yours, baby.” He leaned down and placed a softly sweet kiss on my forehead.
I looked up into those big, chocolatey eyes that I adored and smiled. “I love you too, Theo. Forever and always.”