Fighting for More

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Chapter 4

That virus kicked Sammy’s ass for five days and even then she still didn’t feel 100% for another week. Gracie was better after three days and back at school after the weekend. Sammy had made the appointment to tour the Stevens School with Mike and made the appointment to have Gracie tested by the person the principal recommended.

Sammy and Mike toured the private school and loved what they heard and saw. If Sammy chose to enroll Gracie there, she would be challenged at whatever level she needed. Being a kindergarten through eighth grade school, they had more resources than a traditional public school and they had high school level classes that the students could take when they were ready. They had low class sizes and the kids wore uniforms, which Sammy loved. They shook hands with the admissions officer and went to have lunch to discuss what they saw.

“I really like it and am impressed, Mike. I think Gracie could do really well there. What do you think?”

“Oh I certainly agree! She is smart and if she tests as smart as they think she will, this would be a good thing for her. The fact that it goes through eighth grade is a plus. You have a while to think about high school options. But I want you to know that ANY high school you think would benefit her, I WILL pay for! There are no discussions about it.”

“Thank you Mike. That means a lot. You are sure that $17,000 per year tuition is not too much?”

“I would pay double for her to attend there.”

She knew the answer, but it was nice to hear it out loud. They finished lunch and had a wonderful time catching up. She told him about the changes at the ranch and how Derek was building another large barn to do even more boarding and another smaller facility to do therapy sessions as well as the equestrian lessons that they did.

“So when do you think Gracie might be ready for her own horse?” Mike asked in a sly voice.

“No! You can’t buy her a horse! She is five! She can continue to ride Matilda with me. You do so much! You don’t need to buy her a horse too!”

“I know I don’t need to, but I want to,” he replied with a dimpled smirk.

She looked at him and her heart ached a little. When he smiled that way, he looked just like Jake. She shook her head and said they would discuss it later. She wanted to get a run in before she had to pick up Gracie. So she kissed his cheek, told him she would keep him posted on the testing and left the restaurant.

She got home, changed, put in her headphones, started her playlist and went out. She hadn’t gone since she got sick and that was almost two and a half weeks ago. Being out so long had meant that she had a ton of work to catch up on for the ranch and doing the books for her sister in law’s bakery. Finally she was caught up and it felt good to get out and run.

As she started on her way, she thought back to running in middle school and high school and how good she was at it. She actually got a partial scholarship to attend the same college that Jake played ball at. She got an academic scholarship to pay for the rest with her grades. She majored in accounting and finance, not knowing what she was going to do at that point. Especially when she and Jake had talked about getting married for years and he was going to play professionally, she didn’t need to worry too much about a job. Sammy felt a little bit of stiffness in her left knee as she started out, but it soon went away. She remembered when she blew out her knee at the national championship race her sophomore year in college and was devastated.

The pain was unbelievable and the recovery was long and hard. She had to take online classes from home while she did rehab. It was a long semester. She never ran for the school again and the knee couldn’t handle any more runs past six miles, but she still got out several times a week to keep in shape. She turned the corner to take a shortened route today since it has been a while and on the path that led just to the outside of town and would head back. That way was only about 5 miles, round trip.

The weather was good and her playlist was pulling up good songs and she felt happy. She sang along as she waited at one crosswalk and stop light that she had to and stretched out before the light changed, waiting for the cars to pass.

---

PT had not been going well. The doctor had actually given Jake a steroid shot to help with the pain and rehab. The pain went away, but he still was making no progress and was getting very frustrated. Dr. Mayfed ordered another MRI and saw scar tissue building up in the healing area and went in with a quick scope procedure to get it out. He was warned that if it formed again, that could mean the end of his career. For some reason, if it kept forming when they took it out and that would limit his mobility on the field. It would not allow him to make the moves he was known for on the field.

Jake tried to keep his mind off of the injury and would play around the town with Kevin. He never was a big drinker, but the last few weeks he had made a few bad decisions and somehow ended up at two different women’s apartments, not remembering how he got there. He was a mess and the coach of the team called him in and sat him down.

“Jake, what the hell are you doing? You aren’t like this!!” Coach McGill yelled at him.

“I know, but this knee thing threw me for a loop. I am not healing right and am worried that my career is over.”

“I get that, Jake, I do. But sleeping with random women, risking getting God knows what STD or getting one of them pregnant is NOT the way to handle it! I will NOT be happy if you are in the papers again. You need to get away from all this and focus on PT. Have you thought about going home? Like back to Colorado for a while?”

He hadn’t been back home since that day; a day he doesn’t like to think about. He was a coward that day and wasn’t proud of running away. Plus the last time he had seen and spoken to his dad, wasn’t so good either. They hadn’t talked, really talked in four and a half years. He was ashamed of himself and how he let himself get dragged into the professional athlete lifestyle and forgot about what was important, family.

“I don’t know...You know things aren’t great with my dad…” he replied uncomfortably.

“Then maybe it’s time you went and straightened things out. No time like the present and you need to do some thinking about your future. If your career is over, what do you want to do? Coach? TV? You have a law degree, use that. But figure it out! No more of the drunk sleeping around Jake! You are better than that! Go down to the medical facility and get some meds to ward off anything you might have caught.”

He stood up and Jake shook his hand and thanked him. Coach Joe McGill was a good man and expected more from his players than that. He left and went down to see the team doctor and embarrassedly explained his drunken adventure, promising that he had put on a condom. The doctor clapped him on the back and told him what he was going to do. He didn’t think he had been exposed to anything, but a shot in the ass wouldn’t hurt.

He went home and flopped on his couch and looked around. He liked his condo, but missed having land and space to spread out on. That was the good thing about where he was from in Colorado; the city was right there, but you could spread out on the land. He missed riding horses. He never thought he would say that, but he did. He sat there and pulled out his phone and was flipping through the pictures that he had saved on it and sighed.

He looked at the photos of the beautiful redhead that was with him. Just looking at her again made his heart ache. ‘God I miss her!!’ he thought to himself. But he knew that he had broken her heart and didn’t know how to ever fix it.

He was flipping through them again and never heard Kevin come in, so he jumped when Kevin was behind him and asked, “Who is the HOT redhead? I don’t remember seeing her before and I wouldn’t forget that body! Shit Dude!”

“Oh…ahhh...I didn’t hear you come in! What’s up man?”

“Don’t change the subject, who is she?” Kevin asked more forcefully.

“She was-is the love of my life and I broke her heart when I left home,” Jake confessed.

“Ok, I have known you for all these years and this is the first I have heard or seen of this love of your life! Seriously?! Give it up dude! Name?”

“Samantha, or as we all call her, Sammy…”

“How did you break her heart?”

Jake sighed and got up. He went to the kitchen. Got two bottles of water, threw one to Kevin who sat in the armchair and Jake sat back down on the couch, taking a large swig from the bottle before starting his story.

“Well, we grew up in the same city, but went to different schools until high school. I knew her family; they have a very large horse ranch and facility on the edge of town. Her dad died when she was 12 in a bad car accident. I met her our freshman year in high school. I, of course, was on the football team and she was on the cross country team. Damn, she can run and looks incredible doing it. Anyway, we were out practicing and the team ran by and there was this redhead, running by in these tiny little shorts with her hair in a ponytail, leading the team out. I actually wasn’t paying attention and the ball hit me in the helmet as I watched her go by. Got an ass chewing from my coach that day, but it was so worth it! I found out who she was and the next day tracked her down and we were together every day after that; all through high school and college. She was with me when my mom died my sophomore year in high school and I was there when she blew out her knee running and had surgery in college.” Jake took another drink and started again.

“Well, we were going to elope in Vegas and then fly to New York for the draft, then come back for Graduation. I was at the airport waiting for her. I am usually late as you know, and went to the bathroom while I was waiting for her. I came back and saw her sitting there waiting for me by the check in counter so we could get our boarding passes. I stopped at the corner and just stared at her as she sat there on her phone playing, with a smile on her face. I don’t really know what happened, but I just panicked. I thought that I wasn’t good enough for her and I would not make a good husband. And then kids! I knew she wanted kids, several of them, but I didn’t know if I would be a good father. She holds her father on a pedestal and my dad is actually a great man and I didn’t know if I could live up to that. So I went and hid in a bar until our flight would have left. I went back and I saw her just getting up to leave. She stood so straight and tall as she picked up her purse and walked out. She didn’t cry there, but I know her and she would wait until she was alone to cry. She doesn’t like to cry in public. I watched her walk away...The only woman I will ever love and I watched her walk away with a broken heart.”

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