Authors: Katie Ashley
Tags: #General Fiction
NETS AND LIES
Copyright 2013 Katie Ashley Productions
A crisp swoosh echoed over the gymnasium just as the final buzzer rang. The crowd erupted in a roar as they clamored to their feet. I barely had time to wipe the salty sting of sweat from my blue eyes before my teammates pounced on me in a dizzying flurry of back slapping and hugging.
“Way to go, Mel!” they screamed. Their voices were almost engulfed by the cheering crowd.
My face stretched into a wide grin as my mind and body got swept away by the wave of their excitement. A hand on my shoulder caused me to whirl around. It was Coach Thompson, or Coach T as we affectionately referred to him.
“That’s my girl!” he cried, crushing me to him in an appreciative hug.
I couldn’t fight the warmth spreading over my cheeks when his arms lingered on me, keeping me flush against his body. I never liked being the center of attention. I was the epitome of “There’s No I in Team”, so I didn’t like being singled out. “Thanks,” I finally mumbled.
He winked at me and then turned to the others. “All right, let’s do our run through to the other team and then meet me back in the locker room!”
We obediently lined up to high-five the losing team and mutter the obligatory “Good game” line. Many of them glared at me since my foul shots had sent us over the edge to win. As I jogged over to the locker room, my own personal cheering section, my parents and grandparents, swished blue and white pompoms and hollered my name. I grinned up at them and waved.
The Varsity boys’ team lined up to take to the court. Before I could make it into the locker-room, my boyfriend, Will, swept me into a bear hug and then planted a lingering kiss on my lips. “Whoa, get a room, Thompson!” one of his teammates shouted while some others whistled.
“Will,” I protested, as my hands pushed against his chest.
I blushed. “I’m all sweaty and gross.”
He grinned. “I like you all sweaty and gross. It’s
My heartbeat accelerated as I ducked my head. “Whatever.”
“All right, all right, Will. Get your hands off my star and get your head on the game!” Coach T bellowed.
Will’s hands jerked from my waist like he had been scalded by Coach T’s words. “Jeez, Dad, I was only congratulating her.”
Cocking his head, Coach T eyed Will sternly. “Maybe if you had a bit more discipline, you’d bust your ass like Melanie.”
My cheeks burned in embarrassment for Will. Coach T was always so hard on him—too hard for my liking. Will was a gifted athlete, but he would never be perfect enough in his father’s eyes. Then again, it always seemed like whenever I was around, Coach T reigned down even harder on Will.
Will scowled as Coach T stalked by us and threw open his office door. I tentatively put my hand on Will’s shoulder. “Hey, good luck out there.” Then I leaned over and kissed him.
When I pulled away, he smiled. “Thanks, beautiful,” he said, as he playfully tugged on my sweat-slickened ponytail. “Go get a shower and then come cheer me on.”
I nodded and headed into the athletic offices. I’d just gotten through the door when I heard Coach T consoling Amanda Weathers. Backed up against the wall of his office with her head bowed, she was sobbing over the two shots she had missed. Coach T didn’t take mistakes lightly, even when we were victorious, but he always tried to comfort us when felt we had failed the team and ourselves.
Amanda raised her head long enough to shoot me an embarrassed look as I breezed past her. I hurried down the corridor to the locker-room. When I headed inside, I found it teeming with JV and Varsity players, emptying their lockers and getting changed.
After quickly shedding my sweat-soaked uniform, I stepped into the shower. Steaming hot water scalded my body, causing me to moan in a mixture of pleasure and pain. Muscles constricted and screamed in agony at their overuse. I guess you could say I was a firm believer in the “Play Hard or Go Home” mantra.
As I lathered the long strands of my blonde hair, I heard laughter next to me. “Was that a moan for Mr. Hot Stuff?” my best friend, Lauren, asked.
I rolled my eyes. “No, it wasn’t.”
Lauren shot me a wicked look. “You’re wasting a prime opportunity there, Mel. He has to be one of the hottest guys in school, not to mention he’s actually decent and not a douchebag.”
I smiled in agreement. Besides basketball, Will was one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. I’d barely even talked to a boy before him. Usually guys were intimidated by me towering over them or at how much basketball dominated my life.
But not Will.
We’d been dating officially for nine months, but we’d spent at least a couple more months as friends, hanging out with our group of friends. He patiently took his time and got to know me. It wasn’t just about me being shy and inexperienced—it was more about the two of us fearing Coach T’s wrath.
And when he finally found out, he was furious. It wasn’t just because it was
son I was dating. He didn’t like any of his girls in serious relationships. Our head should be on the game, not on our boyfriends. Plus, there was also the fear of losing a player to pregnancy as he had a couple of years back. But finally Coach T had gotten used to the idea that Will and I were a definite couple, and that no one, not even him, could come between us.
Knowing that Will was expecting me to watch his game, I turned off the shower and then wrapped a towel around me. After blow drying my hair, I started combing through it in long strokes. “So what are you and JT doing after the game?”
Lauren waggled her auburn eyebrows. “The lake.”
I rolled my eyes. “Isn’t it a little cold for the lake?”
“Oh, no, we keep each other hot.”
“You’re terrible,” I replied, packing up my bag.
“And you and Big Willy?” she asked as she brushed her strawberry blonde hair.
“Dinner and then maybe a movie back at my house.”
Lauren fluttered her eyelashes. “Ah, so sweet. Do you think you’ll have a milkshake at the diner, or maybe hold hands over the popcorn?”
I smacked her arm playfully. “Just because I’m having a G-rated evening compared to your R-rated one doesn’t mean it’s bad!”
As I started out of the locker room, Lauren nudged me. Jordan Solano stood before us in a cleavage baring top and low rise jeans.
Her glossy pink lips curled into a wide smile as she talked to Coach T. “Dude, could she be more obvious?” Lauren muttered.
We started past them, and I met Coach T’s eye. Over the top of Jordan’s head, he winked at me. Once again, I couldn’t keep from blushing. Somewhere in the last few months between basketball and Will, Coach T had become a lot more attentive towards me—enough to cause some of the other girls to be jealous. It was more than mortifying to me, and even though I wanted to say something to him about how uncomfortable it made me, I couldn’t.