Chapter 41 | I Need Time
𝐍 𝐎 𝐀 𝐇
Guzzling back water as I sit on the side of the field, my fingers tap against my phone to see if I have any messages from Ava.
After hanging up last night quickly, because of having to save one of the drunk guys from getting pummeled by the bouncer, I haven’t heard from her since. I tried ringing when I got back to the hotel, but I know she was asleep as it was late here and back in Los Angeles. Aside from a reply to my ‘good morning’ message, I can feel the tenseness through the phone after my hasty exit last night. We’ve been getting used to a different type of relationship that long-distance is. Such as not being able to see each other, and we haven’t been able to talk much aside from texting because of our schedules. I will admit, I have been caught up with the guys every night though.
“Nothing from your girl?” James, a player on the Patriots, says as he sits down next to me.
I shake my head. “No. I ended up cutting the call off last night quickly to make sure the bouncer didn’t fight anyone.”
“Yeah, they were really drunk last night,” James snickers. “Piece of advice from someone who is married in this industry, you have to put your relationship first. Majority of these guys do stuff every single night, if I did that, I’d have no wife and kids.”
I chuckle. “Yeah, it hasn’t been easy with our schedules. Probably doesn’t help by the time I get back in every night after being with the team she’s asleep. I’ll be spending time with Ava when she flies out.”
“Make sure you do. I love these guys, but the ones who don’t have a girl or a family get home to spend their entire lives partying,” He pats my shoulder.
“Hey, you ever done long distance before?” I question and he nods his head.
“Yeah, it didn’t work out. But what I learned from it is that it takes two people to make it work, if you communicate with one another, be honest and put work in you’ll get through it,” He explains and I nod my head. “Come on, let’s get back to it,” He pats my back before we stand up and head back to the field. Training with these guys for four days has been intense, more intense than college football, that’s for sure. As we finish training and head back inside to shower and change, still no messages from Ava. Placing the phone to my ear as I try to ring her, it goes straight to voicemail. My phone rings and instead of Ava’s name, I see Dylan’s.
“Hey Dyl, what’s up?”
“What’s up is I miss my best friend...you left me with Aiden...AIDEN!” Dylan’s voice screeches from the other end of the phone, and I roll my eyes.
“I heard that jackass,” I hear Aiden shout through the other end, yet it’s muffled.
Dylan scoffs. “Are we being replaced by your new NFL friends?”
“You act like a clingy girlfriend. Has anyone ever told you that?” I mutter as I throw on my new top.
“Hannah,” Dylan bluntly replies, and I snicker. “How is it up there?”
“Good...hey either of you talked to Ava? I can’t get a hold of her today,” I question, curiously.
“What did you do?” Dylan questions.
“Nothing...I was out with the guys’ last night and I ended up hanging up on her because I had to sort something out,” I explain, and Dylan scoffs.
“I’d be pissed at you, too. But no we haven’t,” Dylan offers and I nod my head, even though he can’t see me. “Don’t worry, she’ll get back in contact when she wants to.”
“Yeah, yeah. I should go. I’ll see when I get back...if Aiden doesn’t kill you first.”
“Wait...what?” Dylan mutters before I hang up, snickering to myself.
“Coming out again tonight, Jackson?”
My eyes flicker to the teammate before I look back at my phone. “Sure.”
The bar is loud as most of the Patriots team are crammed into the bar along with other customers, and women who are trying to attract the attention of guys on the team. As I sit at the bar, sipping on my beer, the guys are a rambunctious lot. Cheering goes throughout the bar as some of them knock back more drinks than others. While they’re occupied, my eyes dart to my phone that remains silent. Still no word from Ava. The guys have no idea what she’s doing and the girls aren’t even responding to me, which doesn’t give me much hope.
“No word from your girlfriend?” I hear and resist the urge to roll my eyes as a girl my age, who the guys have warned hangs around the team in order to sleep with them, saunters up to the bar next to me. She’s been trying to flirt with me. Ever since the guys brought me here in the past four days. I’ve told her multiple times I have a girlfriend.
“Nope,” Is the only response I offer as I continue drinking.
“Maybe you should give up. Have some fun,” She nudges my knee with her hip.
“Not interested,” I bluntly respond, but that doesn’t deter her as she rests her hand on my thigh.
“But I would make it worth your while and forget about her,” She offers and before I can even remove her hand, her eyes dart behind my shoulder before she presses her lips to mine. Shock courses through my veins as I push her away from me, but the smirk on her face and the way her eyes dart behind me has me turning my head. Ava stands at the bar entrance, her eyes focused on us and when she catches my gaze, she turns on her heels and bolts it out of the bar. Cursing, I stand up, ignoring the girl, before running through the bar and outside. The rain pelts down as I exit and my eyes catch Ava’s blonde and now wet hair as she hightails it away from the bar.
“Ava,” I run and catch up with her, turning her around. Her eyes are red rimmed as she looks up with me and it breaks my heart. “It isn’t what it looks like.”
She sniffles with her arms wrapped around herself. “I thought I’d come a day earlier and surprise you. We haven’t been able to talk much, and I missed you.”
My heart sinks at the confession, at how I’d been upset I couldn’t get through to her when the reality is she was on a plane to come see me. “That’s why you weren’t answering.” She nods her head before I carry on talking. “She kissed me.”
“I know,” Ava’s soft voice pierces through the raindrops hitting the sidewalk we’re standing on. Her eyes meet mine, sadness in them. “I walked in, and I saw that she saw me and kissed you.”
I sigh a breath of relief, but the sadness on her face gives away something else is wrong. “What is it?”
“Is this what long distance will always be like? We keep missing phone calls because of our schedules, or we can only text, hanging up abruptly and me having to worry about girls like her that clearly enjoy trying to split couples up. The NFL is different, Noah. You’ll be all over TV and magazines, and what if I saw that on there?”
“We’ll figure it out,” I offer, and she shakes her head.
“Will we? I came here to surprise you, because I missed you and yeah these four days could have been worse but hell, we couldn’t even communicate to each other long enough for us to hatch stuff out,” Ava throws her hands up into the air.
I take off my jacket and wrap it around her, so it covers her head and shoulders, before muttering. “Let’s talk about this back at the hotel. You’ll get a cold. Come on.”
She nods her head after a few moments, and I guide her to a cab, helping her in. We sit in silence as the cab drives us back to the hotel I’m staying at. Ava’s attention focuses on the window, watching the city at night as we drive by. Neither one of us utters a word. As soon as we get to the hotel, I pay the driver before leading Ava inside and upstairs to the hotel room. In which she mentions she came to put her stuff in earlier as the receptionist gave her a key.
Getting inside, I instruct Ava to go take a warm shower and change so she doesn’t catch a cold. Meanwhile, I towel dry myself before changing into some dry clothes. As soon as she’s finished and steps out into one of my jumpers, she has at her apartment and her wet hair in a bun on the top of her head. I stand up from the couch I’m sitting on.
I plead, “Talk to me.”
“I’m scared,” Ava admits, her eyes finally meeting mine. “We’re going to have so many challenges and in four days we’ve already not done well.”
“We’ll do better,” I promise, taking her hands in mine.
“Will we though? I just...this is a lot,” She takes her hands from mine.
“I know,” I sigh, sitting down on the couch. “Do you think you could handle it?”
“I don’t know,” She honestly states, and I nod my head. “I’m not mad at you, for that girl. You didn’t do anything wrong. That’s not what this is about, I just need to be sure one hundred percent that this lifestyle you’re going to have is something I can handle, and it only works if we both communicate.”
I lift my head. “You need time?”
She nods her head. “I do. I think I’m going to head to bed.”
I watch as she walks off to the bed and climbs in. Her eyes meet mine and she sends me a small smile before she lies down and faces away from me. That night we don’t hold each other or even face each other in bed. A gap lay between us the entire night and into the morning.