Double Play XIX

By Cruise

Chapter 25

            Dakota was quiet for the short walk back to the group and Cass noticed the tightness in her jaw.  No matter how much Dakota tried to be calm about the situation, Cass believed she was hurting deep inside.  ‘How could she not be?’ Cass looked toward the group as they approached.

            Dakota inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled, trying to calm the rage she felt within.  ‘I hate that man.’  Releasing her clenched fist, she shook the angry thoughts of the event away and looked at Cass, which put a smile on her face.  ‘I don’t want the boys to know what happened.’  She put her hand on Jody’s shoulder when she stood next to her.  “Well, we are heading back.”

            Jody looked over her shoulder and frowned when she saw the cut under her eye.  “What in the hell happened to you?” Turning for a better look, her facial expression changed to concern.

            Dakota looked around the group, feeling uncomfortable with the way they were staring at her and wondered what she was going to say.

            “Oh, it was my fault I opened the door to the bathroom too wide, right when Dakota exited and it hit her.”  Cass looked at everyone sheepishly, wondering if they would buy it.

            Rex stared at his sister and read her eyes.  He knew exactly what happened.  “Where is he?” Rex moved towards her and looked over Dakota’s shoulder at the crowd.

            “What are you talking about? Cass hit me with the door.”  Dakota looked at him and patted him on the chest.

            “Bullshit Kody! Dad’s here and he did this to you didn’t he?” Owens tone grew angrier and he stepped next to his brother.

            “I’m going to beat that son of a bitch to a pulp!” Chad spewed, attempting to walk past Dakota with Wyatt close behind him.

            Dakota put her hand on his chest and stared into his blue eyes.  “You’re not going to do anything to him.  It’s exactly what Cass said.  Now leave it alone.”  Her tone was firm and authoritative.  She looked all of her brother’s in the eyes to express her point. 

            There was an awkward silence for a moment as the boys looked over their sister’s expression.  “Okay, then…I suppose, we have to retaliate against Cass for hurting our sister.”  Rex turned towards Cass with a serious look on his face.

            “Huh?” Cass looked at them confused as four sets of blue eyes focused on her.  She swallowed the lump in her throat when all four moved towards her.  “It was an accident.”

            “Cass they are only teasing you.”  Dakota said with a grin and looked at her brother’s.

            “Are you sure? They look mad.” Cass glanced up at Dakota then focused on the guys.

            “Ah-ha we got you!” Rex taunted, pointing at Cass.  He laughed as did his brothers.

            Cass sighed relieved and chuckled.  “You nearly gave me a heart attack.” 

            “Eh, we wouldn’t do anything to you.”  Rex chuckled and hugged Cass. 

            “That’s nice to know, NOW!” Cass laughed as did the rest of the group.

            “Well, we better get going.”  Dakota hugged Jody.  “I’ll see you this weekend right?”

            “Yep, I’ll be doing the homecoming game next Saturday.” She smiled breaking the hug.


            Jody hugged each person in the group and they all walked out to the parking lot.

            “Have a safe trip!” Jody called out before climbing into the car that was waiting to take her to the airport.

            “You too!” Dakota called out and waved.

            “We are going to have one serious caravan heading back to Gainesville.”  Chad chuckled looking around at his family.

            “I don’t know what you are talking about little bro.  Wyatt and I are going in style.”  Rex smirked with a laugh and threw his arm around Wyatt.

            “Yeah, man you all have fun on the road.  We’ll wave to you from the sky.”  Wyatt taunted with a laugh.

            “Oh, man you suck!” Owen playfully shoved him. 

            “Nope, it sucks to be you! We’ll try to save some ladies for you until you get back.”  Wyatt laughed and nudged Rex away from the group.

            “Adios!” Rex laughed and walked to the limo parked near them.  The two got in and looked back at their family with a wink to taunt them.

            “Oh, man that was just all wrong.”  Chad shook his head with a laugh and turned to walk towards their car.

            The group laughed and all walked towards the two cars parked next to one another.

            Michelle, Chad and Owen climbed into Chad’s Infiniti SUV as Dakota and Cass climbed into the Mustang.  Dakota closed the door behind Cass when she was settled inside and walked around to her side.         

Dakota climbed in and smiled at Cass who was looking at her.  She turned the key to the ignition, firing the engine. 

            “Are you okay?” Cass stared deep into the pain filled blue eyes she saw before her.

            Dakota smiled slightly.  “Oh yeah, I’m good.”  She glanced behind her and backed the car out.

            Cass watched as Dakota steered the car out of the parking lot.  “I can see now why you didn’t want to tell your brother’s.” 

            “That’s nothing compared with what they are capable of.”  Dakota glanced at her then back to the road as she pulled onto the interstate behind her brother’s car.

            “Wow, I can’t imagine.”

            “Oh, it was pretty brutal the last time.” 

            “What happened…if you don’t mind me asking?”

            Dakota looked at her briefly and looked away inhaling deeply at the memory.  “Well, aah just before my mom kicked my dad out, he got into it with my mom and made the mistake of doing it when Rex was there.  Rex pummeled him and then there was a huge fight between them.  It was awful seeing your brother and your father fighting.  Wyatt was younger and he started to cry.  I was trying to calm him down and keep my mother from stepping into the fight.  Of course, I wanted to get into it and did.  Unfortunately, I ended up getting a raw deal.”  Her heart raced at the memory as she stared out the window, seeing it all over again as if it were just yesterday.

            Cass rubbed her arm comfortingly.  “I’m so sorry.  What happened to you?”

            Dakota looked at Cass with tear filled blue eyes.  “I aah, couldn’t stand by and watch my dad hurt my brother.  So, I ran over and tackled him.  He swung around with his elbow and caught me in the forehead, which knocked me out briefly.  When I woke up Chad and Owen had come home and were escorting my father out of the house.”

            “Oh, my god!” Cass gasped, worried.  “That’s so horrible that you had to go through that.”  Cass slipped her hand in Dakota’s and squeezed it.

            Dakota stared ahead and chuckled sardonically.   She looked at Cass and smiled slightly.  “That wasn’t the end of it.”  Looking back out the window, she replayed the incident over in her head.  “I had to go to the hospital to be checked for a concussion and have five stitches to close the cut near the top of my forehead.  Well, when we returned to the house my father came back with the police and had me arrested for assault.”

            “You’re kidding me? He was the cause of everything and he had you arrested?” Cass’ anger brewed in the pit of her stomach.

            “Yep, that’s just how lovely my father is to me.  I was fingerprinted and booked, but my mom got the charges dropped.  She made a deal that she wouldn’t file an abuse report against my father if he dropped the charges.  He knew my mother would file charges against him and decided to cut her off at the pass, by filing them against me first.  He was sure she would do whatever it took to get the charges against me dropped.”  Dakota stared at the road ahead, back in the moment as if it were happening again.  She glanced over at Cass when she heard her speak.

            “Why didn’t he press charges against Rex?”

“Oh, no he wasn’t going to risk bad press for him at that time so the most expendable person for him to use to his advantage was me.”

“Thank goodness your mom was able to get the charges dropped, but it’s not fair that he got away with what he did.”  Cass put her hand on Dakota’s cheek and rubbed her thumb against her.

            Dakota felt an overwhelming peace consume her as Cass lightly stroked her face.  “He always gets away with it.  I keep wondering if karma is ever going to catch up to him.”

            “Karma always has a way with catching up with people.  Maybe it was that time with your brother’s this evening.”

            “I couldn’t take the chance of my brothers doing something to him and getting in trouble.  Rex is set in the NFL and doesn’t need the bad publicity, but my other brothers are still in school and I don’t want their careers to be ruined because of him.”

            “He wouldn’t take that chance of ruining your brother’s careers considering he’s so enamored with them getting into the NFL would he?”

            “If it meant getting his way he would threaten it to get what he wants.”  Dakota glanced at Cass, and then looked back to the road.

            “Is that what he threatened you with?”

            Dakota clenched her teeth, remembering his threat and looked out the driver’s window contemplating whether she should tell her the truth.

            “Dakota, tell me.”  Cass said softly, rubbing her arm.

            Dakota pulled the car off the road and put it in park.  Looking at Cass, she inhaled at the feeling Cass’ look gave her deep inside.  Her heart raced faster as she stared into the warm green eyes before her.  “He…aah…threatened to make you his business if I didn’t do what he said.”  Dakota’s tone was soft and regretful as she looked at Cass.

            Cass gasped, first feeling fear consume her, then anger.  “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I don’t want that at the expense of you.”  Cass held Dakota’s face in her hands, staring into her eyes.

            “I won’t let that man or anyone else for that matter hurt you.”  Dakota guaranteed and leaned in to kiss her.  The contact made both women gasp and Dakota deepened the passionate kiss.  She leaned back with a smile staring into Cass’ mesmerizing green eyes, feeling her heart skip a beat from the intense emotion she felt for Cass.  “Thank you for being here for me.”  

            Cass’ heart was aflutter from Dakota’s look.  She lightly rubbed Dakota’s cheek with her thumb and pulled her close for another kiss.  Her need to deepen the kiss overwhelmed her and she pulled Dakota closer.  The cell phone ringing caused them both to jump.  Dakota grinned sheepishly and picked it up, “What bro?”

            “Where are you? We were worried.”  Chad told her.

            “We stopped for a minute, don’t worry we’ll be right behind you in a few.”  She clicked off the phone and laid it on the console.  “They were worried about us.”  Grinning, she put the car in drive and headed back out onto the road.

            “Aah, that’s sweet.”  Cass smiled and slid her hand into Dakota’s.  “Listen, if your father threatens you again and uses me as leverage I don’t want you to let him get away with it.  Like you, I have someone that can take care of him.”  Cass stared at her, expressing her point.

            Dakota looked at her with a smile.  “Thanks, I think it might be time for abuelo to have a conversation with him.”


            “Oh, he’s my grandfather.  That’s what that means in Spanish.”

            “I see, so I take it he doesn’t like your father either?” She grinned.

            “Hates him and he’s been looking for any reason to punish him.”

            “Then why haven’t you unleashed him on your father?”

            “Because he would kill him.”  Dakota said in all seriousness.

            “Really?” Cass chuckled nervously.

            “Yeah, you know…no, I don’t want mi abuelo to do anything to him because then he would be put away because of that idiot.”

            “I take it you’re close to your grandfather?”

            “Very close, I’m his princesa.”  Dakota blushed shyly as she glanced at Cass.

            “Ooh, a spoiled little princess huh?” Cass teased with a laugh.

            “I can do no wrong in abuelo’s eyes.”  Dakota chuckled and looked back to the road.

            Cass sighed and looked out the window, thinking about her parents.

            “Hey, what about you? Are you spoiled?”

            Cass looked at Dakota.  “Me?”

            “Yes, you are the only other one in this car.”  Dakota chuckled as the looked at her.

            “My aunt spoils me a little.”  Cass smiled slightly.

            “What about your parents?”

            “I would rather not talk about them if that’s okay with you?” Cass’ demeanor turned dour.

            Dakota was surprised.  “Aah, okay.  I take it you don’t like talking about your family much huh?”

            “No, not at all.” Cass stared at Dakota with a stern look.

            Dakota studied her features and noted the hurt in her green eyes.  “Sure, no problem.”  She turned away from Cass and raised her eyebrows, surprised by the smaller woman’s reaction. ‘I take it she has some serious baggage when it comes to her parents.  I know they were very strict, but I wonder what else they did to harbor so much pain in her.’ Dakota looked at Cass once again and smiled, thinking it was best to change the subject.  “Hey, aah you know Bear right?”

            Cass looked at Dakota.  “The big guy with the bushy hair and beard that hangs around our softball practices right?”

            “Yep, our groupie, well his frat house is having a party Tuesday and I was wondering if you would like to go with me?” Dakota felt a sudden wave of nervousness sweep over her, an unfamiliar feeling.

            “Sure, it sounds like fun.”  Cass smiled.

            Dakota blew out the breath she held and smiled back.  “Great.  I’ll stop by your dorm at ten to pick you up.”



Michelle looked out the window wondering how she was going to handle the situation with Chad.  After they shared the kiss her reaction to him was different and it confused her.  ‘I love women, why did I have such an intense reaction to him?’  She glanced over at him and studied his handsome features as he focused on the road.  Looking back out the side window, she nibbled on her lip.  ‘Maybe it was the alcohol and nothing more, but if that’s the case why am I attracted to him now? This is crazy! I don’t need this drama along with the shit I’m getting from Brooke.  It’s time I step up to the plate and handle both situations.’ 

Chad glanced over at Michelle and smiled as the sun lit up her beautiful features.  He felt his heart skip a beat and he looked away when Michelle moved.  ‘Why didn’t I ever see it before that I was attracted to her? She is the perfect woman for me, someone who I would settle down with.  We are so alike and we get along so well.’  He looked at her again, feeling a nervousness sweep over him.  ‘I love her.’  His thoughts trailed off as he stared at her and came to his senses when he saw Owen who was sleeping in the back move.  He swallowed the lump in his throat and looked ahead.  ‘I need to let her know my feelings and see what happens from there.’  He inhaled deeply to calm his racing heart and focused on the road.


Dakota steered the car into a parking place in the front of Cass’ dorm and stopped the engine, popping the trunk before she got out of the car.  She walked around to Cass’ side of the car and opened the door for her.

            “Thank you.”  Cass smiled and stepped out of the car.

            Dakota smiled and walked to the back of the car.  She threw the strap of Cass’ bag over her shoulder and grabbed the two baskets.

            “Here, let me take those.”  Cass rushed over to her.

            “I’ve got them, but I would appreciate it if you could get the trunk.”  Dakota smiled and stepped away from the car.

            “Absolutely.”  Cass closed the trunk. “Come on Dakota let me take something.  I feel bad.”

            “Don’t, I’ve got it.”  Dakota grinned and walked towards the dorm entrance.

            Cass opened the door and the pair walked inside to Cass’ room.  She reached into her purse and dug out her keys.

            Dakota shifted the heavy bag on her shoulder as she watched Cass open the door.

            Cass pushed it open and stood at the threshold, shocked.

            Dakota looked over Cass’ shoulder and grimaced when she saw Mary talking with Brooke.  ‘Great, what is she doing here? I thought Cass said they weren’t together anymore?’

            Cass’ was confused and embarrassed as she looked at Mary, feeling a wave of warmth consume her when she realized what an awkward situation it was for everyone.

            “Hey!” Brooke greeted with a smile, breaking the silence.

            “Hey.”  Cass said softly and turned to Dakota.  Her facial expression pained as she looked at her.

            “I think it’s best if I don’t come inside.”  Dakota smiled and handed Cass the baskets.  She lowered the bag from her shoulder to the ground and walked away.

            Shit!’ Cass turned on her heels and rushed to her side of the room to put the baskets down, glaring at Mary as she walked past.

            Dakota walked down the hall feeling broken hearted and left out.  She inhaled deeply and reached for the door.

            “Dakota!” Cass called out and ran towards her.  Dakota turned around and was met by Cass’ stunning green eyes.  “Hey, I’m really sorry I didn’t know she was going to be here.”

            “I thought you said it was over between you two?” Jealousy consumed her.

            “It is, I don’t know why she is here and what makes me even madder is the fact that Brooke allowed her in.  She knew I broke up with her.”  Cass felt her annoyance with the situation mounted.

            “It doesn’t surprise me, Brooke doesn’t care for me much and I’m sure she would rather you be with Mary.”  Dakota shrugged her shoulders and turned away.

            Cass grabbed her arm and turned Dakota to face her.  “It doesn’t matter what Brooke thinks.  I’ll get this situation straightened out and I’ll call you later okay?”

            Dakota looked down at Cass, staring briefly.  “Okay.”

            “Thank you for a wonderful weekend I had a great time.  You made it very special for me and I appreciate that.”  Cass stared longingly in her blue eyes and leaned up to kiss her.

            Dakota met her half way and stared into her eyes momentarily.  She gasped when Cass pressed her lips against hers.

            They broke the kiss breathless and stared at one another.  Dakota smiled slightly.  “Bye.”  She turned and walked out the door.

            Cass’ heart beat faster as she watched Dakota leave.  She inhaled deeply to calm down and turned, heading back to her room.

            Brooke stepped out into the hallway and walked towards Cass.  “Hey, is Michelle back yet?”

            Cass stood staring at her in disbelief.  “What do you think you’re doing?” Her irritation for Brooke spilled over in her tone of voice.

            “I’m going to see Michelle.  What’s wrong with you?”

            “I’m pissed off that Mary is here.  You knew I broke up with her, why did you let her in our room?”  She tried to hush her tone to keep from Mary overhearing her.

            “She came here and was really upset.  I felt bad and thought maybe things didn’t work out between you and Dakota.  I thought I was doing the right thing.”

            “You were wrong.  Next time, let me handle my love life okay?” Cass stepped by Brooke.  It was the first time she had ever been so angry with her friend.

            “Cass, I’m sorry.”  Brooke grabbed her arm to stop her.

            Cass glanced up at Brooke.  “We’ll talk more about this later.  You need to talk to Michelle and I need to get this one out of our room.”  She pulled her arm away from Brooke and walked into her room, grabbing her bag on the way.

            Brooke stood staring at her in disbelief and flinched from the sound of the door slamming.  ‘I’ve never seen her so mad at me.  Shit!’ She turned and walked to the door at the end of the hallway.

            Cass stood staring at Mary.  “What are you doing here?”

            Mary stood up and walked up to Cass.  “I don’t want to give up on us and decided I was going to fight for you.”


            Dakota entered the house and was greeted by Rex, Wyatt, and Owen who were sitting in the living room drinking beers.  “It’s about time you got here.  Where’s Cass?” Rex called out looking at his sister.

            Dakota clenched her teeth and inhaled, as jealousy overwhelmed her thinking of who Cass was with.  “She had some stuff to take care of at the dorm.” 

            “Put that bag down sis, we are going out!” Wyatt laughed and the trio walked over to her.

            “Nah, you guys go.”  Dakota waved them off and headed to her room.  She tossed her bag across her bed, hoping it would alleviate some of her pain.

            “Come on, we don’t get to hang out that often.”  Rex coaxed from the doorway.

            Dakota turned around and faced her brother.

            The sad look on his sister’s face concerned him.  “What happened?”  He approached and stood before her.

            “Her ex was there when we got back.”  Dakota looked up at him with a sheepish look.

            “You…worried? Come on you know Cass is completely in to you.”  He hugged her comfortingly.  “Now, let’s go.”  He put his arm around her shoulder and turned her toward the door.

            “You’re just saying that so I’ll go out with you.  I can’t believe how insensitive you’re being Rex.”  She pulled away from him perturbed.

            He placed his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes.  “I’m not being insensitive.  I’m telling you the truth.  Cass is in to you big time, I saw it in her eyes this weekend.  You have nothing to worry about, trust me.”  He smiled and moved her shoulders side to side until he saw a smile.

            “Maybe you’re right.” 

            “I’m your big brother, how could I be wrong?” He chuckled and threw his arm around her shoulder leading her out of the room.

            “Well, there was that time that you figured it would be smarter to go in through the garage to avoid mom’s wrath because you kept us out playing too long.”

            “Okay, I’ll admit for the millionth time that I was wrong, but who knew mom would cross us up like that and be waiting in the garage?” He laughed as they walked through the house.

            “Us? There was no us, it was all you.  You’re the reason we got in trouble that day.”  Dakota goaded him and poked his ribs.

            He laughed and moved away.  “You’re right okay, so I was wrong once.”

            “Well, there was the time…” Dakota laughed when Rex squeezed her and waved her other brother’s towards them before everyone exited the house.  “By the way, where are we going?”

            “It’s more like, where are we not going?” Rex laughed as they all walked towards the limo.

            The group climbed in and got settled.  “Let’s hit Joe’s deli first.”  Owen suggested.

            “Where’s Chad?” Dakota looked at Owen.

            “He was going to walk back from Michelle’s.  I think something is going on between those two.”

            “Like what?” Rex asked surprised.

            “I think he’s into her big time.”

            “No way! Michelle is as into chicks as me!” Dakota chuckled and waved off her brother as the group laughed.


            Chad helped carry Michelle’s things into her room and put the bag down on her bed.

            “Thanks.” Michelle smiled as she looked up at him.

            “You’re welcome.  I aah, had a great weekend.”  His nervousness escalated along with his rapidly beating heart.

            “Me too.”  Her heart raced wondering what she should say or do.

            “I guess I should go.”  He chuckled nervously and walked towards the door.

            Michelle felt awkward and sighed as she followed him.  She was caught off guard when he turned suddenly and faced her.  Looking up, she gasped when he took her in his arms.

            “Michelle, I never realized I had such strong feelings for you until this weekend.  I’m very attracted to you and I want to be with you.  I think I’m in love with you.”  He said softly, staring into her brown eyes.

            Michelle was stunned and felt her heart sigh at his admission. 

            He leaned in and kissed her passionately.  His heart fluttered when she reciprocated the kiss and held her tighter in his arms.

            They broke the kiss when they heard a knock on the door.

            Michelle stared at him stunned and pulled back from the hug. 

            “What are you thinking?” He furrowed his brows, worried.

            “I’m scared Chad.”  She looked at the door when the knock grew louder.  “I have to get the door.” 

            He frowned and watched as she walked to the door.

            Michelle opened the door to find Brooke on the other side.

            Chad inhaled deeply when he saw Brooke, suddenly feeling a wave of jealousy sweep over him.

            “Hey!” Brooke greeted and stepped inside.  “Hi Chad.”

            He smiled slightly, “Hey,” and looked away trying to conceal his guilt over kissing this woman’s girlfriend.

            “Did you all have fun?” Brooke asked looking between the two.

            “Yeah, we had a blast.” Michelle mustered and looked at Chad nervously, then to Brooke.

            Chad walked towards the door.  “I’ll talk with you later Michelle.  Bye.”  He frowned and walked out the door closing it behind him.  He stood outside momentarily and breathed deeply.  ‘How stupid can you be Chad? You’re in love with a lesbian? How far do you think that will go? And to top it all off she’s your best friend.’  Shaking his head in disbelief, he walked down the stairs.

            Brooke moved closer to Michelle and kissed her deeply.

            Michelle’ confusion grew as she deepened the kiss.

            “I missed you so much.”  Brooke whispered through her kiss and deepened it.

            The sound of Brooke’s words pulled Michelle back to reality.  She broke the kiss and stared at her.

            “What’s going on?”

            “I aah…”  Michelle turned away, unsure of what to say.  “I don’t think we should continue seeing one another.”

            “What? Why? Is this because of Chad?” Brooke became defensive.

            “Yes, partly, but mainly because it just isn’t working between us.”  Michelle looked at Brooke and felt guilty when she saw tears form in Brooke’s eyes.

            “What do you mean by it’s not working between us?” Brooke moved closer to her.

            Michelle stepped away from her and looked down at the ground, then up at her.  “You have to see it or feel it Brooke.  We just aren’t getting along very well.  You have issues with me spending time with Chad and you can’t get past that.  It’s better if we part ways before we hate one another.”

            Brooke was unable to contain her tears that streaked her face.  “I promise I will be better when it comes to you and Chad.”  Her tone edged on pleading.

            Michelle inhaled deeply and sighed.  “You said that before and you didn’t change.  Besides, I need to sort out my feelings.  I’m sorry, this did not work out, but this is the way I want it, need it.”  Turning away, she rubbed her forehead feeling like a trapped animal.

            Brooke’s heart raced and her tears flowed harder.  “What do you mean sort out your feelings? I don’t understand!”

            Michelle grimaced and faced her.  “Chad and I shared a romantic kiss.  I need to figure out what my feelings are for him.”  Her tone grew more agitated.

            Brooke felt a lump in her throat that made it difficult for her to breath.  “I knew there was something more between the two of you than just friendship.”

            “Well, you were the only one because I had no clue until this weekend.  I’m really sorry to hurt you.”

            “This is his fault! He broke us up!” Brooke shouted, crying harder.

            “No, I had planned on breaking up with you before anything happened between him and me.”  Michelle sighed when she saw the look of complete devastation on Brooke’s face.  “I’m sorry, really I am.”

            “Your apology doesn’t help my pain at all.”  Brooke spat tearfully and turned, quickly walking out. 

            Michelle jumped when she heard the door slam shut and shook her head.  “Fuck!” Sighing frustrated, she ran her hands through her hair and walked to her bed, flopping down on it.  ‘Could my life be any more complicated?’


Chad entered the bar in a glum mood after phoning Rex and smiled slightly when he saw his family sitting at a table in the front of the small bar/deli. 

            “It’s about time you got here.”  Rex smiled and patted him on the back when he sat between him and Dakota.

            “You know it’s fashionable to be late.” He grinned and grabbed the pitcher of beer, quickly pouring one for himself.  He glanced over at Dakota, holding the pitcher up for her.

            “Nah, man I’m good right now.”  She studied his face and realized he just wasn’t there.  Leaning over to him she asked, “What’s going on?”

            He leaned closer and looked at her.  “Nothing.”  He shook it off and took a sip of his beer.

            Dakota watched him look between his brothers and read the look, knowing he wouldn’t tell her what was going on in front of them.  “Hey, we’re going to put some money in the jukebox.”  Dakota stood up.

            Chad looked up at her.  “We are?”

            “Yes, we are.”  Dakota grabbed him by the arm and pulled him away from the table.

            Rex, Owen and Wyatt watched them and shrugged their shoulders clueless, returning to their chatter without thinking twice about their siblings’ abrupt exit.

            Dakota pulled him across the deli to the jukebox.  “What gives?”

            “I don’t feel like talking about it.”  He looked from his sister down to the selections before him.

            “I can see it in your eyes that you’re unhappy so what happened with Michelle?” Dakota crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him.

            “Oh, man you are not going to let this go are you?”


            He inhaled and sighed.  “Well, aah I kissed Michelle when we were in Jacksonville.”

            “You kiss her all the time.  What’s the big deal?”

            “It was a romantic kiss.”  He looked at his sister.

            Dakota was stunned.  “When did this happen?”

            “After we left the strip club.  We had too much to drink…”  His voice trailed off, remembering the moment.  He looked at his sister.  “I’ve never felt like this before about another woman.”

            “Whoa. Are you sure it just wasn’t the alcohol?”

            “I thought it was that, but we kissed again this evening and the feelings I have for her were definitely not because I had too much to drink.”

            “Wow, this is unbelievable.  I’m stunned man.”  Dakota turned in a circle trying to grasp the enormity of the situation.  “How did Michelle respond?”

            “Quite nicely.”  He grinned.  “Well, the first one was kind of awkward because aah, I aah, well got…you know.”  He chuckled and looked down at his groin area, then looked at his sister.

            Dakota curled up her lip confused by what he was implying, and then it dawned on her.  “Okay, TMI to that.  So, she reciprocated the kiss right?”

            “Oh, yeah passionately.”

            “Holy shit! How come you’re not there now?” 

            “Brooke came over when we were kissing and she told me she was scared.  Then she let Brooke in and I left.  It was awkward being there.  I was so jealous of Brooke.  This is so crazy, but I can’t help what I feel.”

            “Man, I’m so sorry.  Just give her some time to sort out her feelings; she’s probably pretty confused too.  You know I like Michelle and it would be great if the two of you took this further, but you do need to prepare yourself in case she only wants a friendship with you.”  Dakota rubbed his arm comfortingly.

            “Yeah, I know it will be really strange if we stick with the friendship.  I have never felt this way before.”

            “It’s tough bro, but hang in there.  If it were meant to be it will happen.  My advice is to give her the space she needs and not pressure her.”

            He smiled and rubbed her cheek with his thumb.  “Thanks.  Come on, let’s drink some beer.”

            “Sounds good to me.”  Dakota laughed and walked back towards the table behind her brother.  She pulled her cell phone out of her jeans pocket and checked the display to see if Cass had called her.  Frowning, that she didn’t Dakota dropped it back in her pocket and joined her brothers.


            Rex, Chad and Dakota had been abandoned by Wyatt and Owen, who had left with a couple of women.  The trio was forced to move from one bar to another once people recognized Rex and bombarded him for autographs.  After a late night of club hopping and having breakfast at Skeeters, the Colby siblings entered the house laughing and holding one another up after having one, two, ten too many pitchers of beer. 

            Rex headed towards the spare bedroom and stopped when he saw the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. “What the…?” Rex pounded on the door.  “That little shit.”

            Chad had staggered into his room and fell face first on the bed, quickly falling asleep.

            “What are you doing standing there in front of the door pounding on it dude? You know the rules with the sign on the door.” Dakota stood staring at her brother.

            “He took my room.”  Rex motioned towards it with his hand and clumsily looked at Dakota.

            “Bro, when you left you lost your dibs on that room, it’s his now man.”  Dakota chuckled.  “Go sleep with Chad.”

            “Are you crazy? You know how loud he snores.”

            “Well, it’s either that, the couch or with me.”

            “You’ll let you’re dear older brother sleep with you?”

            “I suppose so as long as you stay on your side of the bed.”  Dakota laughed and walked towards her room.

            “Aah, you mean we can’t spoon?” He teased, following her.

            “No, and you better sleep with your clothes on too!” She entered her room and pulled off her shirt.

            “Oh, you are no fun!” Rex chuckled and pulled the covers back on the bed.  He laid back on the bed, sighing. 

            Dakota pulled out her phone and stared at it.  “Damn.”  She sighed, disappointed and sat on the opposite side of the bed.  After pulling off her shoe she tossed it across the room to her closet.

            “I thought I told you to stop checking your phone for Cass to call after like the hundredth time?”

            “Go to sleep you drunk!” Dakota pushed his hand aside that rested on her leg and walked into the bathroom.

            Rex chuckled and fell asleep.

            Why didn’t she call me? Is she back with Mary now? I thought she was into me especially after the weekend.’  Dakota finished brushing her teeth and sighed.  No matter how much beer she drank it did nothing to dull the nervousness she felt that maybe Cass would take Mary back.  She walked back into her room and dressed for bed.  After setting the alarm clock and settling into bed, she sighed frustrated.  ‘I should have just gone over there.  You idiot.’ 


            Dakota forced herself onto her side to turn off the alarm clock that blared annoyingly.  She groaned, feeling a searing pain in her head and queasiness in her stomach.  ‘Am I ever going to learn to stop drinking so much?’  Sitting up on the side of the bed, she inhaled deeply to calm the malaise she felt.  ‘Damn.’  She rubbed her face and stood up.  “Rex, wake up!” She slapped his leg before exiting her room.  ‘Oh, my aching head!’ She opened the door to Wyatt’s room and chuckled when she saw him tangled up with two women.  “Let’s go little bro!”

            “Go away!” He groaned and pulled the covers onto the naked women positioned on each side of him.

            “Get up!” She walked to Chad’s room and woke him, then entered Owens room.

            “Hello.”  A naked, blonde greeted as she quickly finished dressing.

            “Hey.” Dakota laughed when the woman rushed passed her and looked at her brother.  “Not bad, you are making better choices.  Although, you’re slipping compared to your little brother.”

            “No way, Wyatt can’t hold a candle to me.”  Owen smiled arrogantly and sat up with the sheet draped over him.

            “I think it’s the other way around bro.  He has two chicks in his bed.”  Dakota laughed and walked away.

            “Are you fucking kidding me?” Stunned he stood up and shuffled out into the hall trying to wrap the sheet around his naked body.

            Dakota shook her head no and laughed as she padded back to her room to dress.

            Owen looked inside his brother’s room.  “No freaking way!”

            “Go away!” Wyatt shouted and rolled over.

            “Damn.”  Owen shook his head in disbelief and walked back to his room, slamming it behind him.


            Dakota quickly took a shower and dressed.  After pulling Rex out of the bed and guiding him to the shower, she checked her phone once again with the same result.  No call from Cass.  Sighing, she stuffed it into her shorts pocket and walked out into the kitchen for a bowl of cereal. 

            Once her brother’s were finally up and ready, they all headed over to the football stadium for the photo shoot.

            After hearing Owen whine the entire way over about the women Wyatt had in his room, her headache grew worse. 

            “How much did you pay them?” Owen goaded his younger brother.

            “Nothing man.  Get over it.”  Wyatt laughed and nudged his brother.

            “Owen come on man.  You are making my headache worse.  Stop being a pussy and accept the fact that your little brother scored with two chicks last night and you only had one.  Deal man, and shut the hell up about it.”  Dakota shook her head in disbelief.

            Wyatt laughed tauntingly as he looked at Owen.

            “I still can’t believe it.”  Owen shook his head.

            “Kody man you have a major bruise where the door hit you.”  Rex pointed out, finally able to open his eyes fully.

            “Yeah, I saw that in the mirror earlier.”  She quickly walked over to the cameraman.  “Hey, where do you want us?”

            “Hello everyone!” The man cheerfully, too cheerfully greeted the group.

            The Colby’s winced from his high pitched jovial voice.  Dakota held her temple hoping it would alleviate her headache.  “Dude, kick it down a few notches, we are hung over.”

            “Sorry, Ms. Colby.”  He smiled and lowered his tone.  “Ooh, that doesn’t look good under your eye.  Maribel, she’s going to need some touching up.”  He waved over the make-up artist.

            “Hi, follow me.”  The shorter, brown haired woman greeted with a smile and walked away followed by Dakota.

            “Okay, guys.  You all can get into your football uniforms and then you’ll see Maribel for some make up as well.”

            “Make up? That’s for chick’s man.”  Wyatt protested as he entered the locker room to change followed by his brother’s.

            “Everyone has to have it Wyatt or the pictures won’t come out that good.”  Rex chuckled and slipped into his skin tight white football pants.

            “Did you have to wear make up for that commercial you did for the razor?” Wyatt asked while donning his black pants with orange stripes.

            “Oh, yeah.”

             The guys expressions turned sour and they all turned to see their father who stood in the doorway.

            “What are you doing here and why are you in your old uniform jersey?” Rex asked angrily as he put on his teal jersey.

            “I’m in the picture with you all.”  Their father gloated with a smile.

            “Great.”  Chad said under his breath and looked up at Owen who chuckled.

            “Where’s your sister?” Alex asked, looking at Rex.

            “She had to have extra make up work done because she was hit by a door under her eye yesterday.  By the way, do you know anything about that?” Rex questioned with a menacing look and stood upright staring at his shorter father.  Chad, Owen and Wyatt stood behind their older brother.

            “I don’t know what you’re talking about boy.  You better start showing me some respect.”  His tone was threatening and he walked out of the locker room.

            “Respect my ass.  That man doesn’t deserve shit.”  Rex fumed and tightened his shoulder pads.

            “What an asshole.  How did he get in on this picture, I thought it was just us?”  Chad looked at Rex.

            “I have no idea, but I’ll find out soon enough.”  Rex tucked his jersey in and walked back to put on his shoes.


            “Look Maribel, I don’t wear black under my eyes when I play softball.”  Dakota stared at herself in the mirror examining the dark lines under her eyes.

            “I’m sorry, but it’s the only way I could think to cover up that bruise.”

            Dakota shook her head not pleased with the make up and walked over to the chair where her uniform was sitting.

            “I see that you saw it my way.”

            “Yeah, whatever.  Does it make you feel like a big man bullying your children in to doing things that they don’t want to?” Dakota spat and walked to the locker room.

            He watched her walk away and shook his head.  ‘That little ingrate.’

            Dakota entered the locker room as her brother’s were finished dressing.

            “Can you believe he’s here?” Owen asked, looking at his sister.

            “Nothing surprises me with that man.”  Dakota shrugged her shoulders and slipped her blue softball jersey over her head.

            “Hey, where are the logos on our uniforms and helmets?” Wyatt asked, looking at his siblings uniforms.

            “They took them off so they didn’t have to pay the teams royalties.”  Rex informed him and adjusted his little brother’s shoulder pads.

            “Is everyone ready?” The photographer asked through the opening of the door.

            “Yep!” Rex called out and led his siblings out of the locker room.

            The photographer positioned them in front of a large black screen.  “Okay, Mr. Colby you’ll be in the center.”  He pointed to where he wanted Alex.

            “Great, just what he needs to make his big head larger; he gets to be in the center of the picture.”  Dakota said under her breath to Rex who laughed.

            “Now, Dakota you’ll be to your father’s left.”  He motioned to her position.

            Dakota rolled her eyes and reluctantly stood next to her father.  The prop person handed her an orange softball bat and she moved it up to rest on her shoulder.  ‘Hmmm, maybe I should accidentally hit him on the head with it.’  She smiled thinking about it as she looked at her father.

            Dakota watched as Rex was moved next to her with Owen, Chad and Wyatt on the right side of their father.  ‘I wonder what Cass is doing right now? I hope she’s not doing Mary.’  Dakota inhaled deeply to calm her racing heart from the thought of that and exhaled slowly.

            “Okay, here we go smiles everyone.”  The photographer cued and readied his camera.  “Guys, I need you to hold your helmets up just a little bit higher.”

            “Do you feel as silly as I do with this fake milk on your lip?” Rex asked, leaning closer to his sister.

            “I would take this stuff any day rather than standing next to dad.”

            “This way everyone.”  The photographer called out and rapidly clicked off the pictures.

            After a half hour of moving into various positions and having to have the milk product reapplied numerous times, they were finally finished.

            Dakota and her siblings headed for the locker room.  They quickly undressed and dressed into their street clothes.

            “Give me a kiss sis, I’ve got to run.”  Rex smiled and moved closer to Dakota.

            “Bye handsome.”  Dakota chuckled and hugged him.

            “I’m sure she will see you soon.”  He whispered in her ear and kissed her cheek before breaking the hug.

            Dakota grinned.  “I hope so.”

            “See you soon!” Rex hugged Owen and Chad, and then Wyatt did the same.

            Wyatt moved from his brother’s to Dakota.  “Bye.”  He hugged his sister tightly.

            “Bye chikito.”  Dakota kissed him on the cheek and broke the hug.  “I’ll see you in a few for turkey day.”  She winked and chuckled.

            “I can’t wait! Bye!” Wyatt waved as did Rex before they walked out of the stadium. 

            “I’m so glad dad left early.”  Rex said as he looked at his brother.

            “Me too.”  Wyatt smiled and climbed into the limo followed by his brother for the short ride to the airport.

            “Well, I’ve got to boogie off to class.  I’ll see you too later.”  Dakota slapped hands with her brother’s and grabbed her book bag.

            “Be good.”  Chad called out with a chuckle.

            “I always am.”  Dakota retorted with a laugh.  She stopped abruptly when she turned the corner and was blocked by the person before her.

To Be Continued...


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