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Authors: Ahren Sanders

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BOOK: Reed's Reckoning
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“Understand what? Tell me.”

“You may have been heartbroken, but you got the ultimate prize. You had him! Some stupid bitch and her cunt-ass friends took you from me and in turn, took him too. I know I’m not innocent, but it doesn’t seem fair that while I’m unloading boxes on a Saturday night, another man is building things with my son! That should be me!” His face is full of hurt and rage.

Something inside me crumbles. I wanted to remain indifferent, but seeing the only man I ever loved in pain, breaks my resolve. I reach up and when my fingers touch his skin he grabs my hand and holds it to his face. Our eyes lock and heat passes between us. A familiar fire in my body aches and I gasp. He steps closer to me and puts his free hand on my hip. We stare at each other, not saying anything but feeling the buzz in the air.

I don’t know how long we stand there, but a squeal causes me to turn my head. A girl is running towards the water with a little boy chasing her. A woman loaded down with beach items is a few yards away. The scene makes me smile and when I look back at Reed, his expression is grim.

“Reed, I may not understand exactly how you feel but if you’re serious about getting to know Davis, I won’t stand in the way. You need to know something, I may have had him all this time, but every time I looked at him, I was reminded of you and what I thought was your decision to leave me. It hasn’t been easy.”

“Ari, you’re apprehensive. A lot has happened in the last week, but Davis isn’t the only one I want to get to know.”

Air leaves my lungs and I try to catch my breath. He tightens his grip on my waist and holds me until I step back.

“Please don’t. Please don’t say things like that to me.”

“I’ll give you some time, but I know what I want.”

“I need to get back home.”

“Okay then, let’s go.” He steps back and we turn around.

The silence is killing me so I try to make casual conversation. “Where’s your new place?”

“Right there,” he points to a grey and white shingled beach house.

“Reed! You’re less than a mile from us.”

“That’s the point.” He teases.

I can’t help but grin. He probably paid a fortune for the place just to be close.

“So, what are you and Davis doing today?”

“I’m taking him to the fields in town.”

“What’s going on there?”

“Summer soccer sign-ups.”

He stops walking and his face turns red. He’s trying to control his attitude but he’s failing. “
Soccer
! Really, Arianna? Isn’t there some sort of football camp he can go to?”

“He likes soccer. It’s just a small league, but when he turns four, he can play on a team. It’s good to get him into organized sports.”

“Football is an organized sport!”

His hissy fit is hilarious and I laugh in his face.

“This is not funny, I’m serious.”

“So am I.”

“I’m coming with you two.”

I want to tell him no, but his face a few minutes ago comes to my mind. “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Um hmm… Meet me at the house in an hour.” We’re at the edge of his property and I plan on dropping him off so I can run the rest of the way home.

“I promised to get you home, we better get moving.” He says playfully and takes off in a sprint. I chase after him smiling and wondering if I just made a huge mistake.

Reed

My knee is fucking killing me. I overdid it this morning with the run, but it was worth it. My Jacuzzi should be delivered tomorrow and I can soak it then. Being with Arianna is worth any amount of pain.

I can’t believe I lost my shit, but damn if it didn’t feel good to have her touch me. Even with just the feel of her fingertips, my body came alive. Seeing her after all these years, old feeling resurfaced. The raw pain I felt has been replaced with anger. Ari may not believe it, but my love never went away, I just buried it deep. I saw the hesitation in her face and her guard went up when I told her I wanted to get to know her again, but she doesn’t realize I was being soft. What I really wanted to say was, ‘you’re going to be in my bed again, and I’m never letting you go’. Baby steps.

I walk to her house so she has no other option but for me to ride with her. If there is one thing I remember from pee-wee sports is all the dad’s around. Showing up with her is my way of making a statement.

I ring the bell and hear shuffling inside. Davis opens the door and smiles up at me.

“Hey, Mr. Reed.”

His reference is like a kick to the gut. I smile down at him and ruffle his hair. “What’s up, little man?”

“Nuttin’. Mama told me you was coming so I waited.”

“You excited about going to the fields?”

“Yep, Miles is going to be there.”

“Miles your friend?”

“Oh yes, they go to daycare together and are practically inseparable. He’s a sweet kid.” Ari walks in and my eyes bulge out of my head. Her black shorts are tight against her tone legs and her red tank top hugs her waist and chest. Her long brown hair hangs to the middle of her back in waves and her sandals wrap around her ankles. She’s a walking wet dream. I sit in the closest chair to try and hide the swell in my shorts.

“Wow,” is all I can manage to say.

“What?”

“You look really hot.”

Her face blushes and she looks away. “It’s just shorts and a tank.”

“Maybe to some people, but on you, it’s sexy as hell.”

Her eyes cut to me and then back to Davis who is trying to put his shoes on.

‘Sorry’ I mouth. Another thing I need to learn is not to cuss so much. She’ll kill me if our kid starts talking like a sailor.

“You ready?” I ask him and he runs out the door. We follow him to Ari’s car. I notice immediately her car is old. The paint is faded and the inside is torn apart.

She looks around for my car and I explain that I walked over. She nods and puts Davis in his seat.

“So why exactly did you want to come today? It’s just a bunch of little boys running around while the parents fill out the paperwork and watch them.”

“Well, I’d like to watch a bunch of boys running around. I also want to see what options are available besides soccer.”

“Reed, you’re ridiculous. I can’t believe you still don’t like soccer. Please tell me you have a better reason than what I think.”

“Nope, still the reason.”

“You don’t want Davis to play because I dated a soccer player my sophomore year in college? Isn’t that a bit ridiculous?”

“Not to me, he was a dick and I hated that you had classes with him after we started dating. He still looked at you like he wanted to fu—, I mean f-u-c-k you.” I smile at my save.

“Well, get over it. Davis will be devastated if he doesn’t get to play with Miles.”

“Honestly, Ari, is there a football camp?”

“I’m not sure. You can look into it.”

We drive up to the fields and kids are everywhere. I grab the ball cap out of my pocket and pull it down over my face.

“Mama, can I go pway?”

“Sweetie, let’s go get the paperwork and then you can play.”

“You go get it, I’ll watch him.” I tell her hoping she’ll trust me.

She looks between us, and then nods her head and walks towards the tent set up. Davis runs right into the mix of boys on the field. I watch with amusement as they chase and tackle each other. Yeah, I’m definitely going to encourage football.

Ari’s laugh fills the air and I look over to see her talking to a man that is standing entirely too close. He puts his hand on her arm and she continues to smile at him. My heart races and I want to go over a rip his hands off her. She sees me watching and her smile fades. Her eyes go to Davis and back to me.

She says something to the bastard and walks over.

“What’s wrong?”

“Who’s the fucker you were talking to?”

“Miles’s father.”

“He touched you. Does he do that often?”

“What are you talking about?”

“He puts his hands on you. I’m wondering how often that happens.”

“I didn’t notice, so I guess not often. Why are you acting like a jerk?”

I sigh and throw my head back to the sky. “I don’t know. I didn’t like what I saw.”

Her eyes dart around before she glares at me.

“Listen to me closely, Reed, I’ve been more than accommodating with your plea to get to know our son. I’m usually super-protective of him, and I’m trying to figure out a way to do this delicately without confusing him. If I haven’t made it clear yet, I’ll do it now. You want to know Davis and find a place in his life, fine, but don’t you dare question me.”

“Question you? That man was practically drooling. Didn’t you notice?”

“Get a grip, our kids are friends. And if you’re in this for the long haul, you’re going to meet him soon.”

“Not likely.” I sneer.

“Really, Reed? Miles is Davis’s best friend. You don’t want to know his father and where our child may be spending time outside my home? I personally prefer to know the people I let my kid around than act like a jealous asshole!”

Fuck! She’s right. My dad would be disappointed in my behavior. I’m thinking about Ari and not Davis.

“Okay, I am jealous, but I agree with you. I need to meet him. I’m sorry.”

“Really?” she asks hesitantly.

“Yeah, my dad knew every person involved in my sports life. They were either friends or social acquaintances. It was easy for me to have a support system when my dad built those alliances. I want that for Davis.”

She looks at me for a few seconds with soft eyes. I told her how much my dad meant to me before he died. He was my biggest fan and when I made it to the NFL; I tattooed a tribute to him on my upper thigh. He and Ari are the ones I thought of most when I accepted the team jersey onstage in New York.

“That’s a start.”

“What do you mean that’s a start?”

“I mean once he figures out who you are, we’ll be inundated with questions and people asking about you.”

“Shit, Ari, do you think I’m going to bring in a circus?”

“Not sure, but here’s our chance to see. Travis, Miles’s dad, is on his way over here. Even with your hat, he’ll know who you are, and there’s no hiding Davis is yours.”

I look over my left shoulder and see Travis staring at me with uneasy eyes. He makes his way to us slowly but doesn’t stop to stand by me. He moves to Ari’s right side and stands close, not saying a thing. I can tell she is uncomfortable with the silence because she starts to fidget.

My mind races because we haven’t discussed how we are going to tell Davis I’m his dad, and yet I want to scream it right now. This Travis guy is sending off serious vibes and I need to take control of the situation.

I step around Ari and hold out my hand, “Reed Matthews.”

Recognition hits his features and he shakes my hand firmly. “Travis Johns.”

We turn back to watch our boys play. There’s an uncomfortable silence for a few more minutes and Ari decides to break it.

“Travis, are you familiar with any other athletic programs offered this summer?”

“I think there’s a t-ball league.” he answers her. “Why, are you going to do multiple sports?”

“I was more interested in a football program.” I answer for her. She cuts her eyes to me and opens her mouth to say something but shuts it quickly. I’m almost thankful for Travis’s presence knowing she was about to cuss me out.

“Yeah, there’s the Pop Warner league but you have to be five to play.”

I nod my head and turn my attention back to the field where the kids have given up chasing each other and are now wrestling on the ground. Ari yells at Davis it’s time to go and he ignores her.

Travis calls for Miles, which has both little boys running our way. I smile to myself when they stop in front of us. Looking at them reminds me of my best friend Jack. We met when we were three too. Our lives were so similar until I went pro. He got hurt our senior year and never played football again. But all of my football memories include him somehow and I wonder if Miles and Davis will have that kind of friendship.

“Reed?”

“Huh?” I snap my head away from the boys in front of me at the sound of Ari’s voice.

“I asked if you were ready to go?”

“Yeah, sure.” I give Travis a chin lift and follow Ari and Davis back to her car. I specifically walk directly behind her so I’m the only one with the view of her ass.

Chapter 7

BOOK: Reed's Reckoning
10.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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