“Im not sleeping with you” I tell Sam, firmly. Even at 18 Sam was known to be a bit of a player, with a new girl taking his fancy each month, a glorified fuck boy, as Bridget would later call him.
“Whoa, who said anything about shagging, I said a kiss Veronica, just a simple kiss, geez woman, Lucas would murder me if I slept with his girl”
He takes his golf ball and places it on the felt, green fake turf for hole number one, takes a moment to analyse the course before swinging his putter back slightly and tapping the ball, it slides down the green and lands effortlessly in the hole. He turns to look at me, giving me a smug smile.
“In case you forgot, I broke up with Lucas, I am in no way ‘his girl’ as you phrased it, I’m completely single” I protest as I follow his lead, taking my first shot but I hit my ball too hard and it rebounded off the end and rolled back down to me.
“You and I both know that you’ll be back with Lucas by 4th period on Tuesday or did you forget who you’re talking to? I’ve watched you two have these break ups so many times and then one of you folds, usually you, no offence and then you’re back to shagging again” He mocks me as I attempt to take my second shot, this time it’s more successful and my ball goes in the hole.
“This time it’s different because I’m different, I have hindsight on my side and I see Lucas for who he truely is now” I say as we move on to the next course, Sam following his same routine from the first hole and gets another hole in one.
“Tell me about this hindsight that you have oh wise Veronica”
“I know that Kristen isn’t the first, there were two others and there would be more if I didn’t end things yesterday. I also know that you knew and you didn’t tell me” My tone is accusing and he looks at me sheepishly, like a deer caught in the headlights.
“I don’t know anything about anyone other than Kristen, I swear Veronica and I wanted to tell you, so many times” His voice is wavering but his eyes never leave mine.
“Then why didn’t you?” A question that had plagued me for over 20 years, how can you just sit back and watch someone be made a fool of?
“I’m not proud of my actions here Veronica, this isn’t something I’m going to look back on and be satisfied with the part I played. Lucas is my best friend and I’m not saying I put him above you but had I come to you with this I knew how things would play out, you’d get angry and break things off with Lucas who, in turn would cut me out of his life for telling you and then he would sweet talk you into giving him another chance, which you would and he would tell you that you were to have nothing to do with me so then I’d be left as the bad guy but I know Lucas all too well, I knew if you give him enough rope then the lad would hang himself eventually and I wouldn’t have to lose you” I’m left floored by his honesty, all this time I had assumed he covered for Lucas out of loyalty but in reality he was afraid of losing my friendship, which he had lost due to not speaking up.
I place my ball down on the felt of course two and attempt to take a shot but my thoughts are racing and I can’t concentrate, I feel Sam step up behind me, his arms overlapping mine as I hold the putter with shaky hands.
“Relax Roni” He whispers in my ear, sending a thrill of excitement down my spine, with him so close to me I’m anything but relaxed but I don’t want him to know he’s having this effect over me, I take in a deep breath and hold it, exhaling slowly and focus back on the task in front of me, “Bring the putter back slightly and just tap the ball” He instructs, guiding my arms and I tap the ball lightly, sending it gliding down the green, under the a tunnel and through to the other side where it comes to a halt just in front of the hole, I give my ball another small tap and in the hole it goes.
“Helping out your competition, that’s excellent sportsmanship Mister Lions” I laugh as I pick my ball up out of the hole.
“That’s just me Veronica, always helping my competition but I’m hoping in the long run I will win” A giant smile crosses his face as he walks beside me to the next course, this one looking even trickier with multiple tunnels and a bend, there was no way I was going to get this one in two shots
“If I can get my ball into the hole in 4 shots or less then I get to ask you a question and you have to be completely honest with me” Sam says, throwing a challenge out there before taking his first shot, I watch as his golf ball glides through the middle tunnel, he takes his second shot and the ball follows the curve of the bend, stopping not far from the hole where he gives it a small tap and it goes in, he looks at me smiling widely.
“Ask away, I’m an open book” I laugh, he knew he was going to get it in under 4 shots, I get the feeling he wanted to impress me, to show off and win a reward for his efforts. His face turns serious.
“How did you know that I wanted to play for Manchester? That that was my goal that I was working towards? I haven’t mentioned it to anyone, well except for my Dad and my coach because I know it’s such a long shot and most people would laugh at how foolish I am to have such a goal that feels so far out of reach but you knew and it really threw me that you knew because I know I’ve never said anything about this to Lucas....or even Bridget” He’s right, no one knew of Sam’s plans to move back to England after high school, no one knew he had applied and was eventually accepted on a scholarship to attend Cambridge University, no one knew that after 3 years of university he would get an offer to play in the premier league, he had kept all of this to himself and now I knew why, he feared that someone would diminish his dream, would tell him that it was foolish and he would let it get under his skin, filling his mind with doubt. I had never lied to Sam and I couldn’t, not after he had been honest with me. I looked around and saw a bench near by, I knew that this was going to be a long conversation and I felt it best if we were sitting for it, I took the lead and walked to the bench and he followed me, sitting beside me as I tried to find the words of where to start.
“I want you to keep in mind that I have never lied to you and what I’m about to tell you will make you believe that I am certified crazy but I’m not and I need you to know that I’m not”
“Roni, what ever you tell me I will believe you, it’s you, you’ve never given me any reason not to trust you” He reaches out and places a hand over trembling hands as panic builds in me.
“I think I may have died, I was driving and I had Bridget on speaker phone and we were having an argument and I wasn’t concentrating and I think I may have gone through a stop sign and my car was hit by another and then I remember slamming into a telegraph pole and that’s the last thing I remember before waking up at my Dad’s house, in my old bedroom....” I try to explain but Sam interrupts me, looking confused
“Roni, your car is fine, it’s at my house remember?”
“Not that car, my Rav 4”
“You don’t have a Rav, you have a tiny corolla and what has this got to do with me playing for Manchester? You’re not making any sense sweetheart” He wraps his arm around my now shaking shoulders as I try to get my breathing under control
“Like I said, I think I may have died but in the year 2020 and I somehow ended back here in 1999, with all my knowledge of the future in tact” Just saying it out loud sounds so bizarre, I can’t imagine what Sam is thinking of me right now, he’s probably looking for the nearest exit to escape.
“Why would it bring you back here though? What’s so important about 1999?” He surprises me by entertaining the idea that I am telling him the complete truth.
“This was one of the worst years for me, Lucas cheated on me, not just with Kristen but with others too and like you said, I always took him back, that was until he thought he got Carrie pregnant and told me right before the formal, turns out she had lied about the pregnancy but I was done by the time that news reached me, I cut him out of my life and I moved on except I never really got over that pain and I never let anyone get that close to me again”
“OK, I’m trying to wrap my head around this as best I can, so, you’re telling me that you were in a car accident in which you think you may have died and you’ve been sent back here to dump your cheating boyfriend? Which you’ve done, in front of most of our class at the party yesterday but you’re still here” Sam is trying to make sense of it, asking a question I had wondered myself, why was I still here, “Do you think maybe because it was the worst year of your life that you’ve been given a do over, a chance to make it better? Maybe that’s why you’re still here?”
“So you believe me?” I’m stunned, I hadn’t this, I thought he’s laugh in my face.
“Like you said, you’ve never lied to me before and I know that no one knows about my long term goal but My Dad and my coach so yeah, I kinda believe you but what about us, you and me?” He asks me and I can’t bear to look him in the eye.
“I haven’t spoken to you in over 20 years” I tell him honestly, there’s no point hiding it from him
“Why would we not be friends? I couldn’t imagine not having you in my life Roni, you mean the world to me and you’re now telling me that we no longer talk?” He’s hurt by my confession and I blink back tears as I try to explain
“It’s all me, I cut you out of my life when I cut out Lucas, I was angry at you because you hid the cheating from me, that’s what I was arguing with Bridget about because she had invited you and Lucas over to my flat and I panicked and fled”
“I can honestly tell you that it would be tearing me apart to not have you in my life Veronica and if this a second chance for you then it must be a second chance for me too, to prove to you that I am worthy of being in your life” He says as he cups my face in his hands, my cheeks flush, this is a side to Sam that I had never known. His thumb strokes my cheek tenderly
“We should get back to our game, I still have a chance of winning this and I really wanna drive your truck” I tease him, breaking out of his hold and walking back over to the course.
“You really think I’m going to let you anywhere near the divers seat of my truck after you just told me you slammed your Rav into telegraph pole?” He laughs as I take my shot, the ball travels through the tunnel and around the curve, stopping close to the hole, so close that I just have to just tap it in and I beat his score for course 3 but it’s the only victory I have, by the time we reach the 18th hold he has a huge lead over me, mainly due to the course becoming much harder as we progressed.
“I’m going to be a gentleman and let you go first Princess, that way you can prepare those sweet lips of yours ready for my winning kiss” He teases me. The 18th hole looks easy enough but it is deceiving, it’s a sharp incline with a curved backboard, meaning that if you give the ball too much push it hits the back board, slides around and rolls back down, not enough push and it wont get up the incline at all, it took me four shots to get it up onto the flat, near the hole and another to finally get it in.
“If you can get a hole in one I’ll throw in a date too” I up the ante, “No pressure of course”
Sam doesn’t reply to my offer, he simply places his ball on the green, takes a few practise swings and carefully takes his shot. I watch at the ball goes flying up the incline, hitting the backboard slightly and rolls neatly into the hole.
“So, Friday night around 7pm good for you?” He asks me smugly as he collects his ball and we make our way back to the main desk.
“Only if you let me drive your car” I say as we hand over our putters and golf balls and we make our way back out to the truck
“You know what, maybe I’m just on a high from winning and I’m going to end up regretting this later but sure, you can drive my car on Friday night if you let me pick the activity” There’s always a catch but as long as he’s caving in then I’m willing to do anything
“Deal” I say, holding out my hand to shake his, he grabs it and pulls me in close to him, wrapping one arm around my waist as his other hand cups my cheek. I can feel this almost electric current running between us, making my whole body tingle at his touch as he leans in closer, my heart beat racing, I never in my life thought about kissing Sam and now it was the only thing I wanted. His lips are so close to mine when I feel his pocket vibrate, he pulls back from me slightly, still keeping the arm that’s wrapped around me tight to hold me close as he pulls his phone from his pocket and answers it.
“Hey, what’s up?” He asks his caller, he lets go of my waist and puts a bit of distance between us so I can’t hear the other end of the conversation.
“I’m out at the moment but I could swing by there in about 20 minutes” He says as his eyes lock on to mine, I’m assuming it’s some girl and my suspicions only deepen as the conversation goes on.
“No, no, no, I’ll come to yours, it’s easier that way”
He ends the call without even saying a goodbye and proceeds to walk towards his car, opening up the passenger side door for me, the mood now dead between us as I climb into the truck, he offers no explanation as he drives us back to his house, travelling in silence except for the sound of the heavy metal music coming from his car stereo. He pulls up out the front of his house, just behind my car and I fish my keys out of my bag and go to get out.
“I’ll see you Tuesday Veronica” He says emotionlessly as I climb out of the truck, making me seethe with anger. I had almost fallen for the charms of Sam Lions, I honestly believed that we had a great day and I had started to feel something before we almost kissed but here he was, dumping me off so he could go get laid.
“Fuckboy” I scream at him before slamming the door and storming off towards my car and for the second time in two days, decades apart, I was running away from Sam again.