Authors: Raven Monet
Copyright 2016 by The Canberra Writing Group - All rights reserved.
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By Raven Monet
Copyright © 2016
Table of Contents
(Next Page Contains Bonus Content TOC)
Table of Contents
Ashton moved out of the line. He had been waiting for almost twenty minutes and not even the best roast beef sandwich in town was worth it. He wasn’t even in the door, so it was easy to walk back out into the California sunshine. It almost helped his mood, almost.
“Hey Ash, where are you going?”
“Down to get a burger. I know you like this place but nothing is worth this.”
Nathan sighed and followed him out to the car. It was something that he usually had one of the freshman newbies do for him, but he couldn’t find one when he woke up with a hankering for it.
“So what is it that you have to do that is more important?”
“I have a meeting with the scout from Dallas. I can’t be late because you want a damn sandwich.”
His friend smiled. “You bring a roast beef from Charlies and it won’t matter how late you are. They will hire you on the spot. I guarantee it.”
Ashton wasn’t so sure, but it was a little funny to see his friend fall in love with a restaurant. Nathan had never loved a woman, but give the man meat, cheese, and a bun and suddenly he was head over heels.
“I have had them before. They are not that good.”
Nathan looked at him as if he were speaking blasphemy. It was the last thing that he wanted to hear and he scowled at him. “Take it back.”
Ashton just laughed and set off towards a drive-thru that could manage to feed them in a few minutes. It wasn’t as good, he will be the first to admit it, but it was better than nothing. He didn’t want to go in there with an empty stomach. He was already feeling nervous enough as it was. There was no rich family to go home to after college or a guaranteed job like Nathan, so Ashton had to make sure that he was drafted and got a good contract. It all rode on the next few hours to determine the rest of his life.
“So where are we going for spring break?”
He shrugged, his mind not even able to really process more than what he was thinking about then. How could he think of fun when there was so much riding on one little meeting?
“I don’t know Nathan. I think I am going to just see what happens today. I don’t know if I am going anywhere. If I blow the meeting, there isn’t going to be anything for me to do, but pick up some extra shifts at work. I can’t go home, so I will have to figure something out.”
Nathan wished he wouldn’t have asked. His friend’s problems could be a buzz kill. He would always give him money if he needed it, but Ashton didn’t ever want to take it. While he told Nathan that it was a pride thing, Nathan just didn’t get it. He had always had everything he needed at his beck in call, so to him, there was no problem that was really worth getting upset over. If he couldn’t fix it, his father would.
“It is all going to work out great. You have been playing like mad and the moves are good. There is no need to worry.”
He hoped that he was right. There was something making him feel like it was all going to be okay, but he didn’t know what it was. Ashton didn’t want to think about it and instead talked to Nathan about a party that they were supposed to go to that night.
By the time he dropped his friend off at the dorm, Ashton had worked himself up again. His throat was closing up and though he was always cool and calm, the man was sweating in the air-conditioned car. Everything was riding on it and as he parked in front of the café they were supposed to meet at, he wasn’t sure if he should even go in.
Looking in the mirror, the young man almost didn’t recognize himself. He was sweaty and his eyes were a darker blue than usual. If he was just seeing himself for the first time, he was sure that he would have thought that he was sick.
When he looked over at the big glass front of the restaurant, he saw the man that he was supposed to be meeting and there was no turning back. Getting out of the car, he tried to calm himself and smiled back at the man. He was already seen, so the least he could do is act like he wasn’t desperate. Everyone had advice how to get the deal high and the contract more lucrative, but at the end of the day, Ashton just wanted a contract and knew that he would take whatever they were offering. There was no shame in that, he told himself. To be able to do what he really wanted to do, there was nothing that he wouldn’t do to accomplish that. Football was the only thing he could think of that he wanted, so it had to be football. He had worked his ass off and trained for the last five years for that very moment.
“Ashton Kelly. Good to see you son.”
Ashton shook the man’s outstretched hand and started to relax a little. What did he have to worry about? Dave Johnson was a notorious recruiter and just the fact that he was there, told Ashton that he had a good shot. All he had to do was not piss the man off somehow and completely blow it.
“Sit down Ashton. There is nothing to fear here. This is just the first formal meeting, but there will be more to come. Dallas has their eye on you. I have my eye on you and I think that you would make a good addition to the team.”
“Thank you, Sir. You don’t know how happy I am to hear that.”
“Now don’t go calling me Sir. My name is Dave. I am not prepared to offer you a contract quite yet. Dallas is very interested, but we need to make sure that it will be a good fit for you. We will ask that you come to Dallas and meet some of your teammates, managers. Meet and greet kind of thing.”
Ashton shook his head. He would go anywhere that he needed to. “Sure, that sounds great. When would you like to do that?”
The older recruiter chuckled a little. “I knew I was going to like you. I was thinking about in a couple of hours. I already have you a ticket for the five o clock.”
“I will be there Sir.”
“Good, I will see you then. You will be gone about a week, so pack accordingly and I will see you at the airport.”
Ashton watched him leave, sure that he had made it all up in his mind. If he couldn’t have still actually seen him through the large clear pane of glass, he may have actually questioned it. But he was on his way. The idea of meeting his teammates and the rest of the support staff was exciting.
Now all he had to do was go home and pack. “Well I guess I am not going to that party tonight,” he said to himself as he drove back towards his dorms.
“You’re in there man. I told you.”
“Yeah, but I have to go to Dallas for the week.”
“No hot sun and chicks for the break then, huh?”
Ashton shook his head. “Sorry man.”
“Don’t worry about it. It is just more for me.”
Ashton was actually okay with not going. His friend tended to get him into trouble, so the last thing that he wanted to do was get arrested again because Nathan had had too much to drink.
“Well, I will see you when I get back. I got to leave in a couple of hours, so I need to make sure I pack everything.”
“You are leaving tonight?”
“What about Gretchen?”
Ashton paused and groaned inwardly. His girlfriend was not going to be happy about him not going with her to the party. They hadn’t been going out but for a couple of months, but she was the type that liked to keep him in line. He let her because she was amazing in the sack.
“Man, you should see your face right now. It’s like you done seen a ghost.”
He didn’t like the comments, but he was right. “No, she will be happy about it.”
“I bet. They all want to be football wives, get on that reality show.”
Ashton just shook his head and went back to packing. Nathan ran his mouth for a while and his friend was actually a little happy when he had to go. They had been friends for years, but it was hard for him to be serious. His life wasn’t serious and he had a tendency to kill Ashton’s focus. With him gone, it didn’t take long for him to figure it all out and call a cab to take him to the airport.
He was early, but so was Dave and Ashton was glad that he had taken the bit of time to get there a little early. He knew that everything he did, every decision he made was going to be watched and weighed, so he had to keep it up. When the man asked him if he wanted a drink before the flight, he turned it down but wished he hadn’t when the plane took off. Ashton had never liked flying and a bit of a buzz would have helped make the trip that much better.
They were seated together and talked about sports. What else were they supposed to talk about? Dave Johnson was pretty famous in the football world and it was almost an honor just to be sitting there talking to him. Ashton liked the idea that one day he would maybe be a story that Dave would tell another recruit. It was fascinating to think that he had a chance of being one of the greats that he had learned about as a boy.
Ashton had to stop himself, sure that he was getting ahead of himself. Instead of going on with his way of thinking, he watched the clouds below him. The feeling made him a little queasy and he closed his eyes, trying to get his stomach to stop flipping.
“Ashton. We are here. Come on, get up.”
His dark eyes opened and the first thing he saw was the tarmac out of the window. He must have slept through it all. Wiping his eyes from the sleep in them, he sat up and stretched his tall frame as he stood.
“My daughter is supposed to be picking us up, so we should have someone waiting for us.”
Ashton would have agreed to anything. He was just excited to be there, happy to even be considered. It felt to him like it may actually go right for him. There was nothing that was going to stand in his way, nothing at all.
They made it into the airport, but he didn’t know who he was supposed to be looking for, so he just followed the recruiter. The man seemed to know exactly where he was going. Ashton stopped when he saw the redheaded woman a little younger than him, waiting out by a car.
“Hey, daddy. I was starting to wonder where you were.”
“Flight was late. You know how it is. They can get you there on time, but then there is always something that takes forever to get you off the plane.”
Ashton was still a few paces behind them, standing there trying to pull his eyes from the girl. She was his type, the very embodiment of his type. Swallowing hard, he managed to get his gaze away from her.
“Ania, this is Ashton. He is going to be staying with us for the week.”
“Great, another jock in the house. Like I don’t hear enough about football as it is.”
She was teasing her father, but Ashton made sure not to talk about sports on the way back to the man’s house. He actually didn’t say much of anything. The only thing he could think about was Dave’s daughter naked and the last thing he wanted to do was accidentally say something like that out loud. Ashton was usually cool about women, but her father right there and who he was, threw Ashton for a loop.
Ania asked him several questions that he had to answer, but he used the shortest answers that he could imagine. There wasn’t much more spoken past yes or no answers. After a time, she just figured he was dull and turned the radio up. Her father turned it down a bit and it was only a few more moments before there was a gate opening in front of him and he knew that they were there.
The house was bigger than he had expected. It was like a neighborhood in California where all of the rich people lived. Recruiting must have been doing well for him and Ashton wondered if when his football career was over if he couldn’t do the same thing. He wouldn’t mind a house in such a nice place.
“Look Ashton. I got to take a couple calls and make sure that everything is set up for tomorrow. We have several meetings to go to, so Ania will show you to one of the guest rooms and my wife will have dinner ready in a little while.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
The man gave him a look and he corrected himself by saying his name. Dave walked off and left Ashton in a large hallway with his daughter. The ceilings towered over them and he took in all of the white marble. Ania wasn’t fazed by the scenery and moved briskly through the hallway. He followed her and tried not to notice the way her bottom moved back and forth with her hips. If any woman was off limits, it was her.
“Here you go, Ashton. I will put you right down the hall from me, so if you need anything at all, just let me know.”
Before he could thank her or anything else, she had turned and walked away. Ashton was just left with an impression and a reminder in his mind that she was not for him.