Read Fourth Down Baby: A May-December Romance Online
Authors: Lauren Landish
Copyright © 2016 by Lauren Landish
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No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The following story contains mature themes, strong language and sexual situations. It is intended for mature readers.
All characters are 18+ years of age and non-blood related, and all sexual acts are consensual.
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He tempted me and I couldn’t resist. Now I’m having his baby.
It all started out innocent. Cory helped me around the house, and I mentored him, but then things changed. I started to see desire in his eyes, and I have to admit, I liked it. I know it isn't right, but I can't help myself. He makes me feel alive again.
But being with him isn’t healthy. We come from different worlds. I should let him go—let him live his life. I’ll only hold him back and keep him from achieving his dreams.
It was supposed to be a fling with the forbidden. I only wanted to indulge, nothing more. I planned to say goodbye before anything got out of hand.
But now I can’t… because I’m pregnant with his baby.
**Fourth Down Baby is a standalone, however it’s recommended you read Blitzed first to get the full story. Blitzed is included free at the end.
he December wind
bites at my ankles and around my wrists while I stand on the sidewalk outside the little ranch house, the snow flurries swirling between my feet. I really should have worn something heavier than just jeans and my letterman's jacket, but I was in a rush this morning, having slept like crap last night. Besides, Dad wouldn't complain. He was a Marine.
I should have slept like a baby, though. Friday night was the winter formal, the next to last big event of my senior year in high school, and I’m one of the big men on campus. I mean, as a starting defensive player for the regional champions, the Silver Lake Foxes, and a general badass, if I say so myself, I'm doing well in life. I even had a date lined up with Missy Ferguson, one of the basketball cheerleaders who’s a fun chick to hang out with. I'd had my tux, my hair was tight, and I had two condoms in my coat pocket just in case I got lucky.
I should have ended the night balls deep in Missy, who I know is a freak. She's like the perfect level between freaky and classy, and she's up front about it in an honest way that makes her even sexier. We've flirted off and on, circling each other but never hooking up. Considering both our reputations, everyone was expecting our night at the winter formal to be something worthy of Internet fame.
Instead, I went home alone last night, and Missy did too, after we both watched as Troy Wood, my best friend on the football team and the best athlete in school, danced one dance with Dani Vaughn. They aren't even dating. Dani's been dating Pete Barkovich since just before homecoming. But Dani is best friends with Whitney Nelson, who broke Troy's heart when she suddenly left school to go do some sort of international study course in Europe. Watching the whole thing put a damper on my mood.
All of which is why I'm standing outside this house, slowly freezing my ass off. I'm trying to work up the guts to knock on the door, and for some reason, I'm more scared of going up to this door than I ever was playing football. At least nobody on the football field has the reputation for literally taking balls with them. And Whitney's mom has always been seen as different from everyone else.
Still, the image of Troy and Dani dancing while Mario sang about letting him love someone is something I can't get out of my head, and I force my feet to walk up the walkway to the door, my shoes crunching on the light coating of snow that fell overnight.
I knock on the door, jamming my hand back into the pocket of my jacket as soon as I can. I really need to go to the store and buy some new gloves for this winter. This is fucking stupid.
I can't worry too much about my hands, though, as the door to the house opens and Patricia Nelson looks out at me. “Yes? How can I help you?”
“Miss Nelson,” I say, reminding myself that Whitney's mom isn't married. In fact, she's never been married. “I'm Cory Dunham.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Dunham,” Miss Nelson says, not too warmly, but at least she hasn't slammed the door in my face like I thought she would. She has a reputation for being intense and actually intimidating sometimes, and I can understand it as I shiver in my jacket. “What can I do for you?”
“Ah . . . this is really stupid, but do you mind if I come in for a bit? I’d like to talk to you about Whitney.”
I expect her to tell me to get lost, not that I can really blame her. She's the youngest mom in the senior class at thirty-six, and she raised Whitney by herself. She's gotta be tough to deal with that, though I've never really talked to her face to face before.
Instead, she studies me for a minute, and I can see her look at the football letterman jacket I'm wearing. She steps back and lets me in, then leads me to the little dining room, which is kind of sad with only two chairs at the small table. “Have a seat. It's pretty cold out there. Would you like some cocoa? Or coffee?”
“Coffee would be nice,” I say, sitting down carefully. My ass is numb, and I don't want to fall on my butt or thump into the chair. “Thank you.”
“So what did you want to talk about?” she asks, going into the kitchen area. “Milk and sugar?”
“Some sugar, please,” I reply, then clear my throat. “Well, to be honest, a lot of us have been wondering how Whit’s doing. I mean, she left so suddenly, and she left quite a few friends behind.”
“Whitney's doing well,” Miss Nelson says as she brings me a big mug of coffee. “She knew when she accepted the scholarship that she'd have to leave a lot of people behind, but she's doing well.”
She takes a seat on the other side of the table, and I can’t help but notice how pretty she is. It's easy to see where Whitney got her looks. She has the same auburn hair, but her eyes are brown while Whitney's are a startling green.
I'm so caught up that I miss what she says, and she smirks, repeating herself. “Mr. Dunham? Did the coffee go to your head already?”
“Huh?” I ask, stammering. Seriously, she isn't just pretty. She's
Despite the plain jeans and simple t-shirt, she'd put a lot of the girls at SLHS to shame. “Sorry, what was that?”
She smiles again, her eyes twinkling a little bit, and I realize I must have missed something. “I said, how do you know Whitney? You know, her friend, Dani, has been by a few times, but none of the other kids in her class. Well, not since her boyfriend that one time.”
I swallow and set my mug down, my fingers now warmed by the coffee. “Actually, I'm here more for Troy than for myself. I mean, I talked to Whitney a little bit this past year, but I'll admit that I ignored her for the better part of the last three years. I got to know her more in the last few months than I did in all the other years we were in school together. But anyway, her leaving was a shock, but it didn't really hit me how much until last night.”
“And what happened last night?” she asks, her voice going a bit cold again. Obviously, she doesn't like Troy, and I guess I can understand. Like me, he’s not exactly a poster child.
“Last night was the Winter Formal,” I tell her, sighing. “I can hear it in your voice that you don't like Troy. I don't quite know why. But Miss Nelson . . . you should have seen him last night. Going stag to the formal because Whitney's not here. He had that letter that Whitney wrote him—everyone knows about it—and he danced only one time, with Dani Vaughn, who you could see was standing in for your daughter. Now I know Whitney's got her reasons, but for fuck’s—sorry . . . but really, Troy's brokenhearted over this. Can't you do something? An email, an address, something? I hate seeing one of my best friends being torn apart like this, especially because we can all tell that he loves her. Heck, those two were even an inspiration to me.”
She considers my request for a minute, drinking her coffee and studying me with those beautiful brown eyes. Finally, she sets her mug down. “I'm sorry, but no. Whitney and I discussed it before she left, and she said it'd be easier for her and for Troy if she made a clean break. I promised her I'd support her on that.”
“Still . . . I know what she said, but Troy's taking it pretty hard. Harley's trying to help hold him together, and so is Coach, and I'm doing what I can . . . but if it's this hard for Troy, I’ve gotta think it's hard for Whit too.”
“Who's Harley?” She asks, and I squint in confusion, then laugh a bit when I realize what she's asking.
“Sorry, that's a nickname we've all got for Dani Vaughn. Whitney gave it to her, after the character from the Batman comics, Harley Quinn. Dani loves to wear her hair in the same two high ponytails and all, and she just has that crazy coolness about her.” I pick up the coffee mug and sigh. “But really, a lot of us miss Whit. I didn't even realize until she was gone just how she had her own little role at Silver Lake.”
“I understand,” Miss Nelson says quietly, tracing aimless patterns on the tabletop with her finger, a slightly lost expression on her pretty face. “I miss her too. It's not the same without her around the house.”
I look around and see that the place is looking a little dingy. It's not dirty, just . . . it kinda looks like a bachelor pad, but a lonely one. There's a broken handle on one of the cupboard doors in the kitchen, and the stack of dishes in the sink looks like it's been grown for a while, even if it's tiny because only one person is making it grow. “You know . . . do you have a tool kit anywhere?”
She looks up, confused, but nods. “Umm, I’ve got something in the garage. Why?”
“I’ll fix that handle for you to say thanks for the coffee,” I tell her, finishing the mug. I don't know why I'm doing it, but I'm on my feet, going into the kitchen. “This doesn't look like it's that big of a job.”
“Okay,” she says, going into the garage and coming back a minute later with a small plastic toolbox. “I tried once, but it doesn't seem to want to stay. The house is pretty old.”
“Oh, it's not that bad. My house is older,” I tell her, kinda excited, looking at the handle. I don't know how to fix Troy, but I can fix this cupboard door. “You got any Elmer's or wood glue?”
“I think there's some in Whitney's room,” Miss Nelson says, sounding more excited than even I feel. She hurries off and comes back. “Will this work?”
“Yeah, I can make it work,” I say, uncapping it and scooping some of the glue out with my finger. I smear it into and around the wooden knob, working it into the crack and the screw hole in the back before I twist it back onto the screw on the cupboard door. “That should hold pretty well, but with the amount of glue I put on, I should sand or wipe it down later. You might get a few bumps once it dries.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dunham,” she says earnestly, looking at my quick repair job. “You're a pretty decent handyman. I guess I should know about this sort of stuff since I work for Bana Construction, but I'm just an office manager.”
“Well, if you want, I could help out around here?” I ask, not even understanding why I'm asking even as I'm doing it. Did I just say I want to be a handyman? “I'm not trying to be mean, but you look like you could use a hand around the place.”
She considers and looks around the kitchen for a second, then nods. “It's been tougher than I thought with Whitney gone. Okay, on a couple of conditions.”
Miss Nelson holds her hand up and extends a long, graceful finger. “First, you don't press for me to give you anything on Whitney. She’s made her decision, and everyone has to accept that. You can ask how she's doing, but that's it.”
I think about it, then nod. “I can live with that.”
She nods and then steps back, holding up a second finger. “Second . . . you get paid. I can't pay you much, just enough to not feel bad about it, but I can't imagine you’re just asking because you like my coffee.”
I shrug, then nod. “Okay. Deal.”
“Last rule. Around here, at least, I'm not Miss Nelson. You've been trying your best to be polite, and I appreciate it, but I'm not old enough to be Miss Nelson yet. I'm Patricia.”
I smile and nod, liking the sound of that. It's a little old-school, but still classy. “Okay . . . Patricia. And I guess I can ask, can you call me Cory? Mr. Dunham's my dad, not me.”
She gives me a real smile for the first time, and I'm floored by how hot she is. “Okay, Cory. How about you stop by on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and maybe Saturdays if you’re not out doing whatever kids do these days?”
“Sounds good to me,” I agree quickly, then blush. “Actually, my Saturday nights are pretty free these days.”
Patricia gives me a look. “Okay then. Well, let me get a list of things for you to do. We’ll figure out something money-wise. I’ll be fair.”
I wave her off, even though I could always use a little extra money. “I’m sure you will. I guess I’ll get going then. What time should I stop by Tuesday?”
She thinks, then grabs a piece of paper and writes something down on it. “Six or six thirty if you can. If you can't make it, give me a call so I’ll know.”
“Thank you, Patricia. I'll see you Tuesday.”
Outside, I start walking home, looking at the paper with her phone number on it. It's only about a mile to my house, and the cold air helps me think. What the hell did I just do? I mean, I know what I just did. I signed up to be house help, cleaner, and general handyman to a single woman who just happens to be the mother of one of my classmates, even if Whitney isn't around school anymore.
Was it because I feel bad for her for some reason? Yeah, she looked sad when we talked about Whitney, and I can tell she really misses her daughter. Of course she would. I mean, it's been just the two of them.
But beyond that, her eyes pulled at me, and the way she looked, even in simple clothes . . . I'm in deep shit, but fuck it.
* * *
, Troy, you got a minute?”
The school weight room is normally empty at this time of December. Still, there's one guy down here in the basement of the school, clangin' and bangin' away like a demon. It could only be Troy.
With a dedication born from an abusive father and now being taken in by Coach Jackson, Troy Wood took only a week off after we lost in the state semifinals before getting ready for college football. He told me before that he's going to give up playing quarterback to focus on making it as a linebacker, so he wants to add quality muscle to his already bull-strong two hundred and ten pounds.