Authors: Darrien Lee
Keaton looked at his watch. “When hell freezes over! Meridan's cool people. I'm going to kick it with her until I go back to Texas.”
“Keaton, my man, I wish you luck. I will say that Meridan has talents you might be surprised about.”
It was at that moment that MaLeah walked into the family room, completely naked, and yelled, “Daddy's home!”
She walked over to him and climbed up into his lap. Startled at her appearance, he kissed her and calmly asked, “MaLeah, sweetheart, where are your clothes?”
“I don't know, Daddy. I like being naked,” she answered as she swung her ponytails over her shoulders.
He picked up MaLeah, shook his head, and said, “Come with me, lil' girl, so we can find your clothes. You're so much like your mother. Oh! Keaton, we're practicing for the tournament in a few weeks and there's a possibility that Byron might have to drop out. His baby's due around that same time but I'm working on his replacement. Are you sure you're in shape?”
Keaton laughed. “I'm as ready as I'm going to be. Now, I guess I'd better start getting ready. Oh yeah, we ate over at Mrs. Camille's house, so the kids might not be hungry.”
“Thanks, Keaton, and make sure you practice your song when you get in the shower.”
Keaton followed them up the stairs and on the way up, he said, “Varoom! Varoom!”
“My bike's not going anywhere, Keaton.”
“Winston, it's already gone,” he teased.
MaLeah broke up their conversation, saying, “Daddy, I have to boo boo.”
Winston laughed and hurried his naked daughter up the stairs.
couple of weeks passed and Meridan and Keaton were spending more and more time together. The kisses they shared were becoming more intimate as each date ended. Keaton found himself thinking about her much more since he'd been spending quality time with her. They'd been meeting for lunch and dinner, working out at the gym together, and snuggling in front of the TV. She fit him so wellâtoo wellâand it was getting a little scary for Keaton. Something was happening, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
On this movie date, Keaton found himself loving the way Meridan giggled. They'd chosen a comedy to watch instead of a drama. He was mesmerized as he continued to stare at her.
Blushing, she asked, “Keaton, why are you staring at me?”
He replied, “You're very beautiful when you laugh.”
She turned and continued to watch the movie. When it was over, they walked hand in hand down the sidewalk to a coffee shop.
Once seated, Keaton said, “I couldn't have asked for better company tonight.”
“I agree. Tonight has been the most fun I've had in a long time. Thank you for hanging out with me over the past few weeks.”
“It's my pleasure,” he answered as he leaned back in his chair.
They sat together enjoying coffee and pastries. Meridan revealed more about her family; including her father's upcoming birthday celebration. She felt herself being pulled under the spell of Keaton Lapahie. Each time he
kissed her, it left her breathless. It would only be a matter of time before she wanted to explore more of him.
As Meridan talked about her father, Keaton could see she missed him very much.
“I'm sure your father will be happy to see you. How long will you be there?”
She answered, “I'm taking a four-day weekend. Would you like to go?”
Before she realized it, she'd invited him. She hadn't known Keaton for very long, but in the short time they'd spent together, she felt like she'd known him for years. Keaton was surprised at her invitation and didn't really know how to respond; except to smile. Usually when a woman invited a man home to meet the family, things were serious between them. Looking into her amazing eyes, he realized that it wasn't such a bad thought.
“Meridan, I appreciate your invitation, but I don't know what your father would have to say about it.”
“Relax, Keaton,” she said, laughing. “My father would love to meet you. Look, I know we haven't known each other for very long, but I thought it would do you some good to get back to the South for some R & R. So do you want to go? I promise I'll be a perfect lady.”
Keaton took a sip of his coffee. “Does your father have any horses?”
“He sure does,” she said as she bit into her pastry.
He sat his cup down, smiled, and said, “In that case, count me in.”
Meridan clapped and said, “This is going to be fun!”
“When do we leave?”
She sipped her coffee and said, “We leave next weekend and Keatonâ¦thank you for going with me. I'll take care of all the arrangements.”
He waved her off. “Thanks for the offer, but I'll pay for my own ticket. Okay?”
“You're my guest, so I'm paying,” she strongly objected. “I insist.”
“Forget it, Doc. I'm looking forward to breathing some fresh, country air. You're not buying my ticket, Meridan, and that's final.”
She stared at him in amazement. He was so adorable.
“Fine, Keaton, but we're staying at Daddy's so there's no need for a hotel. Besides, the closest hotel is forty miles away.”
He smiled. “I can live with that, as long as you don't try to sneak into my room.”
“You're so bad. I'll behave. Now, are you ready to go?”
Standing, he said, “After you, Miss St. John.”
everal days later the guys met at the gym to practice for the basketball tournament. Everyone was there, except Winston and Byron. Keaton, Craig and Malik and a couple of other guys played around while they were waiting on the other two to arrive.
Keaton threw up a three-pointer and said, “I can't believe Winston lectured me about not being late and he's the one late.”
The guys laughed at his comment. About that time, his cell phone rang.
He ran over to the bleachers and answered, “Hello?”
“Keaton, it's Winston. Byron's wife went into labor so he's out. We're one person short, but I'm bringing someone to take his place.”
Keaton shook his head and relayed the information back to the other teammates. Putting the telephone back up to his ear, he asked, “Who's the replacement?”
“Don't worry. I'm bringing someone with a lot of experience.” He laughed mischievously.
“Whatever, Winston! Just hurry up!”
While Keaton and the guys continued to mess around on the basketball court, Winston walked in moments later with none other than Meridan St. John.
Keaton turned around and openly mumbled, “What the hell?”
Malik threw up a three-point shot and whispered, “Who's the babe?”
Craig laughed. “That's Dr. Meridan St. John, former All-American point guard for the University of Tennessee.”
Keaton's head spun around again in shock.
He stared as Winston and Meridan slowly approached. The guys could see Winston grinning as they got closer and it was obvious Meridan was nervous.
He sat his gym bag down and said, “For those of you who don't already know, this is Dr. Meridan St. John. She's going to play in Byron's place until we get his replacement. I don't have to tell you guys that Meridan's credentials speak for themselves since she's played on a National Championship Team. So, if there's nothing else, let me introduce everyone. Meridan, this is Malik. You already know Craig and Keaton. Over there are Jonathan and Quinton.”
Meridan nodded toward them. “Nice to meet everyone.”
Keaton stood there in shock. Meridan was an All-American. He finally snapped back to reality and walked over to her.
He dribbled the ball and said, “Nice shorts, Doc.”
“Thank you, Keaton,” she responded shyly. “Look, I know this is a shock to you. I hardly ever mention my days on the basketball court to people. I guess I look at that as my past life or something. When Winston called me, I told him this might not be a good idea. If this is going to be a problem for you, just say the word and I'll back off.”
He stopped dribbling the ball and took her hand into his. “No, it's okay. I'm just surprised, that's all. I am a little anxious to see if you got game.”
She playfully punched him in the arm. “You just try to keep up.”
At that time, Winston called all of them together to go over their strategy. Keaton couldn't take his eyes off Meridan as she stretched; neither could Malik. He frowned and couldn't wait to tell Winston to call his boy off or he would, and he wouldn't be nice about it. When they got into their positions, he heard Malik tell Craig, “Man, that is one fine woman.”
Craig looked over at Meridan. She was sporting a beautiful red short set that enhanced her athletic legs. Before starting, she pulled her hair into a neat ponytail and laced up her shoes. Keaton overheard Malik and Craig talking.
Malik whispered, “Is she seeing anyone?”
Keaton walked over to them and angrily said, “Yesâ¦me, so back off!”
Malik threw his hands up in the air.
“Sorry, man, I didn't know.”
“Well, now you do. Let's play ball.”
Winston smiled when he heard Keaton stand up for Meridan. He laced up his shoes and laughed to himself, knowing Keaton was falling slowly in love with Meridan.
After practice, as everyone was gathering their belongings, the guys complimented Meridan on her precise passes and dribbling skills. Keaton was still in complete awe. She zipped up her warm-up suit and grabbed her duffle bag.
Before leaving, she softly said, “Thanks, guys, for letting me practice with you. It was fun. I'll see you all later.”
In unison, they said, “Thanks, Meridan!”
Keaton walked over to her and pulled her bag off her shoulder. He looked down at her and asked, “Need a lift?”
With a smile, she answered, “Only if you're offering.”
Keaton grabbed his bag. “Winston, I'll take Meridan home. See you later, guys!”
With his arm around her waist, he possessively escorted Meridan out of the gym.
Once they were out of sight, Winston said, “Guys, dust off your tuxedos because my brother-in-law, the Playa-of-the-Century, is finished.”
They all laughed loudly together in agreement.
As he drove down the street, he couldn't help but look over at her and laugh.
“Keaton, will you please let me in on the joke?”
He smiled. “I'm sorry, Meridan. I'm still trying to come out of my shock. You are one hell of a ball player. How many of the National Championship teams were you on at UT?”
“I was on two of them. Those were some great times. I was pretty good because I've played all my life. It wasn't until I was recruited and given a scholarship that it really sunk in that I was even better than I imagined. Everyone in my family told me, but I thought they were just supporting me.”