Chapter 4 | I Don't Date Football Players Anymore
𝐀 𝐕 𝐀 𝐋 𝐎 𝐍
“None of them tried anything with you, did they? Or else I’ll come up there with my shotgun,” My dad speaks through the phone that rests between my ear and my shoulder as I put sugar in my coffee. I quickly rearrange my phone as it slides, almost falling on the floor. Which is the second time it’s happened since starting this call. It’s actually the least number of times I’ve almost dropped my phone in a day. “Where did I put that thing?”
I roll my eyes at his protectiveness and forgetfulness. “There is no need for that dad, I can take care of myself. Remember, you taught me how to throw a punch when I was eight.”
Placing the empty sugar packets on the dish that rests beneath the mug, I take my phone from resting between my ear and my shoulder, holding it up with my hand. My eyes travel around the coffee shop as I rest my elbows on the table. The usual bustling café is a lot quieter since the lunch rush has been and gone. Now the only people that remain are talking in hushed tones, while others sit typing on their computers trying to get some work done.
Dad’s deep laugh comes through the phone taking me out of my daze. “Proudest moment of my fatherhood to date, and when you punched Tommy Nelson in third grade.”
“Yeah, the school wasn’t too happy that my dad was ecstatic that his eight-year-old daughter punched another eight-year-old,” I add as my gaze moves back to my laptop sitting on the table.
“That Tommy Nelson kid tried to kiss my daughter, hell no,” He grumbles, and I chuckle remembering how back then I still thought boys had cooties.
“I could take care of myself then and I can now.”
“I know you can take care of yourself, I just worry about you. You’re a five-hour flight away from me and I’ve worried about you ever since you moved across the country from New York to California.”
Pulling my lip between my teeth, I sigh, my eyes focusing on the window next to me as I watch students come and go. Deciding to attend college here had been the hardest decision I ever made. My dad supported me a hundred percent, and although sad he knew it was something I had to do since my mom grew up here and I wanted to experience that, as if to be closer to her.
“I know you do dad, but you don’t have to. You should be more worried about me boring myself to death at practices.”
“I was a football player in high school and my own daughter doesn’t even like football,” Dad scoffs, as if he cannot believe what he’s hearing.
“Well, it’s between the fact football is too boring for me, and out of the players I’ve met, most of them have been assholes.”
“Oh, I know. I tried to teach you the sport and get you to watch it with me when you were growing up, but you didn’t take to it. Your mom was always better at raising a daughter than I was.”
“You’ve done an amazing job, dad. I bet raising Blue is easier than raising me. How is he anyway?” I ask, referring to our husky dog that we’ve had since I was eleven.
“He’s doing well. Keeping me company. He misses you, though. He keeps going into your room a lot and sleeping on your bed,” Dad lets me know and I smile. One thing that got me through my mom’s passing was definitely Blue. He could always tell when I was upset, and he’d come to comfort me.
“Are you mad he likes me more than you?”
“I’m just saying. I feed him, I walk him, I pet him, and he still loves you more.” Dad whines and I chuckle, checking the time on my watch. “And right now he’s bringing his lead towards me, I think he wants a walk. Yeah, that’s right traitor who will walk you now?”
I laugh and the bell ringing above the coffee shop door has me looking up as I see Noah walk through. His eyes searching for mine and he sends me a smile when he sees me. “Yeah, you go do that, we have a very impatient dog. I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” I say, watching as Noah walks over to where I’m sitting. My dad and I exchange goodbyes before we cut off the call and I place my phone on the table as Noah reaches me, sliding into the chair opposite me.
“Hey, sorry I’m late. My building was on the other side of campus,” Noah shrugs off his bag, throwing it under the table and leaning back in the chair.
“It’s okay. You know we could have met closer to your building, right?”
“I would have had to walk this way to get to the practice field anyway, it’s no problem. Should I be flattered that my interview is first?” A smirk plays on his lips and I chuckle.
“It actually has to do with your status as the quarterback. I figured as the player with the most responsibilities on the team, it makes sense to interview you first.”
“Are you planning to interview the whole team?”
I shake my head, “No, that would take me forever. Probably around five to ten of the players,”
Taking my phone, I press the record button on the recordings app and Noah raises an eyebrow. His nervous expression making me chuckle a little.
“How does this work? I’ve never been interviewed before,” Noah questions.
“Well, think of it as practice for the NFL. I’m going to ask you some questions and you answer honestly,” I explain, and he nods his head. “So, it’s common knowledge sports teams at colleges are close, but as someone like me who isn’t around it, what is the team like? The atmosphere? The band of brothers, as they call it.”
“We’re like a family, as cliché as it sounds. We have each other’s backs both on and off the field, and from when we all joined there is that instant connection. But of course, like anything else trust is earned, and it’s formed over time. Especially in a sport like this you need trust with the people who are protecting you when you make your way down the field to the end zone.” Noah’s answer rolls off his tongue, not even missing a beat. “But like a normal family, we bicker. There are definitely people on the team who are closer to some more than others, like Dylan, Aiden, Nick and me for example. We may not all get along all the time, but we’re there when it counts.”
“Sounds nice,” I smile, and he nods his head. “What’s it like on the field? People watch you in the stands, but they can’t truly understand that feeling you get when you play.”
“It’s like your body and your mind is running at a million miles a second,” Noah chuckles shaking his head. “Your adrenaline kicks in and your body prepares for the game so for the hits you’re going to take and the running you’re going to have to do. The cheering and the noise pumps you up, but you also drown it out because you need to focus on what’s happening on that field. You leave all personal stuff, grudges aside once you step onto that field. Because once on that field you’re a team and all that matters is winning that game.”
“You really love football, huh? Rumor has it you’re aiming for the NFL, is that the same for all the guys on the team?”
“I am, it’s been my dream since I can remember. Not all of them. That’s not everyone’s dream for their life, some want to go into sports related fields and some of them not at all. Of course, injury plays a part which will stop people from making the NFL.”
“Have you ever been injured?” I ask and he shakes his head, “How bad is it to be injured?”
“Devastating for those wanting to make a career in the NFL. Some injuries aren’t too bad, concussions are common for football players and they can be dealt with. But some are serious, a tear or a broken bone, and they can end your career before its begun.”
“Hannah says the same thing, she’s a dance major and injuries can be career breaking,” I mention, and he nods his head, understanding in his eyes. “Ok well I think that’s good.”
“That’s it?” Noah asks confused, his eyebrow raising, and I nod my head.
“Like I said earlier, I have more football players to interview, and it’s no use if I ask them the same questions. I’ll ask each of you different ones.”
Checking my watch, I pack away my laptop and everything else that’s out into my bag. Before I finish my coffee, Noah and I get up and make our way out of the coffee shop to head over to the practice field. Making small talk as he tells me about what practice today will be like, since they change it around and don’t do the same thing every practice.
“Ava, Noah,” We hear, and I turn my head seeing Aiden jogging over to us with his gym bag over his shoulder. “Heading to the field? I’ll walk with you guys.”
“Look at that, two popular football players walking with me. I’m so honored,” I tease and they both laugh. “Does this never get weird for you guys?” I ask. Nodding to where guys are shouting over and waving at them or nodding their heads while the girls’ eye fuck them from across the way.
“The attention? Yeah, and as bad as it sounds after three years of playing football here, you get used to it. Most of us don’t let it go to our heads, and then you have Colton,” Aiden explains, and I laugh. “But you’ve probably worked that out already.”
“I never would have guessed.”
“Hey, so can I ask you something?” Aiden asks and I nod, before Noah chuckles and I look over at him confused. “Shut it.”
“He’s been wondering if your friend Sierra is single ever since the bar a few nights ago. We know Hannah said she’s taken, and you said you had single friends, so I told him she is, but he wants confirmation,” Noah explains.
“What? We’ve been friends for years, I always know your business. Hell, everyone on the team does, there are no secrets between guys who see you naked,” Noah chuckles and I scrunch my face up, which makes Noah laugh.
“Football is a fucking odd sport,” I cringe. “But yes, Sierra is single. She’s coming to the game with me tomorrow, you should talk to her.”
Aiden rubs the back of his neck, “Do you think she’d want to get to know me?”
“Honestly yeah, she’s really open to dating but with her personal information and her feelings she’s really closed off. She’s a big softie deep down and she needs the right person for her to open up to, so if you’re serious about getting to know her you need some patience.”
“It’s a good job you’re talking to Aiden and not Dylan,” Noah points out making me chuckle. “Speak of the idiot,” He mutters as we walk onto the field and Dylan comes barreling towards us.
“Ava cakes!” Dylan wraps me up in a bear hug lifting me off the ground making me squeal. One thing I have learned about Dylan from being around him for five days is that he’s a friendly guy.
“Dude, put her down, she’s not used to your weird ways yet. Hell, I barely am, and I’ve known you for almost four years,” Noah scolds Dylan who lets me down smiling sheepishly.
“This is why she is my new best friend cause my old three are plain mean,” Dylan pouts, wrapping his arm around my shoulders. “Although, we could be more,” He wiggles his eyebrows so I can’t help but laugh and slap his shoulder.
“In your dreams, but I don’t mind the hugs you’re my favorite player.”
“Hey!” Noah, Nick and Aiden shout at the same time.
“Since I’m your favorite, don’t forget when you write about me to mention I’m devilishly handsome, comedically funny and great in bed.”
“Ok...super obnoxious, tells dad jokes and unsatisfying in bed got it,” I smirk to Dylan and he glares at me, making me laugh.
“Basically, very true,” Aiden says and Dylan removes his arm before knocking Aiden’s water out of his hands. “Childish.”
“It’s good you’re coming to the game tomorrow. Liv usually sits on her own because she doesn’t know anyone who watches the game,” Nick smiles, and I know it means a lot to him that she’ll have us girls to sit with her.
“You’ve never been to a college football game and you’re a sophomore?” Noah asks confused. “Are you even American?”
“Please tell me you don’t like baseball?” Dylan asks, shivering at the thought. “All they do is hit the ball and run.”
“Umm no, I don’t like any sport. I’ve never had a reason to go to the games here, I mean I don’t like sports and wasn’t friends with any of the teams.”
“Aww, did you admit we’re friends now?” Dylan asks, placing his hands to his chest and wiping a fake tear. “I’m honored.”
“That’s an achievement,” Nick chuckles. I stick my tongue out at him. “I’m so telling Liv about this she’ll wonder what’s happened to your cold, stony heart.”
“Just because I don’t date football players anymore, doesn’t mean I have a cold heart,” I state. The guys clearly pick up on the anymore part but thankfully choose not to ask questions. “You guys aren’t that bad aside Colton and his dickhead friends, what’s his deal, anyway?”
“Colton never liked us. During try-out week in freshman year, I had always been better, and coach knew it. Colton wanted to be the quarterback, but the truth is he’s only a decent player. The rest of the guys on the team are better than him. The only reason he’s on the team is because his dad pays a substantial amount of money to USC. But the money can’t make him quarterback and coach made that clear,” Noah explains.
“That doesn’t surprise me, coach seems kind of...” I trail off.
“Extreme, scary, mean, could kill you with his pinky...yes, all the above,” Dylan smirks.
“Ladies! Get your asses over here and leave Avalon alone! I’m sure she has better things to do than reject you all!” Coach shouts from the field.
Dylan’s eyes widen, fear running through them. “It’s like he knows.”
With one last laugh, Dylan and Nick head over to the field while Noah and Aiden head to get changed. I make my way to the side, sitting down on the bench and getting my stuff out.
“So, Aiden was asking if our little Sierra here is single?” Hannah smirks, sipping her wine as we sit in the apartment. I chuckle at her subtlety, taking a sip of my wine before carrying on writing notes for the article.
“Bitch, I’m taller than you,” Sierra throws a chip at Hannah. “He’s cute, I guess.”
“You guess? I’ve seen the guys you’ve been going on dates with and that man is fine,” Hannah says. “For once, can’t you let that guard down and let someone in?”
“That will happen...with the right person, and I know it will be meant to be if he can get through my stone-cold heart,” Sierra smirks and we all laugh. “You guys know how I am with getting close to people. I know you’re supposed to move forward and not let your past define you, but easier said than done.”
Sierra sighs, downing some more of her wine before Hannah speaks up, “If I ever meet your mom, let me slap her. You should give him a chance he seems sweet.”
“We’ll see. I’ll be a little open to get to know him, but baby steps,” Sierra shrugs and we nod.
“I must be drunk if she’s agreeing to this,” Hannah mumbles and Sierra throws a pillow at Hannah. “My drink,” Hannah pouts almost spilling it.
“She’s so gone,” Sierra laughs, and I nod my head agreeing with her. “I guess it’s kind of cute he asked you about me.”
“I need an award for the best wing woman. I’ll mention you both in my acceptance speech,” I sip my wine.
“So gracious of you. Do we have another bottle?” Hannah asks, referring to the wine.
“Would you chill out, we’re going to a party tomorrow as well and you know you’ll get drunk there too,” Sierra says.
“Nope, I have dance practice the next day so no alcohol for me tomorrow at the party, which is why I’m drinking now.” Hannah explains.
“Anyway, I’m heading out. My brother is bringing his girlfriend around to meet us after god knows how long, so I have to be home. Good luck with Hannah,” Sierra says, hugging us both and leaving.
“That girl is the Queen of avoidance. More wine!” Hannah shouts, finding another bottle of wine.
This will be a long night.