This story is a sequel to my stories , Fast Break and Footsteps (Ghost Towning) . You may want to read the preceding stories before reading this one. Fast Break and Footsteps (Ghost Towning) can be found on my on my website – mickeyminner.com
Sherry glanced over at the dour woman in the driver seat. “Honey, would you please relax?”
“I am relaxed,” Pat told her firmly.
“Your jaw is set so tight I keep expecting it to break. Not to mention, you're holding onto the steering with enough force to snap it in half. Pat, maybe you should pull over and let me drive.”
“I'm fine, Sherry,” Pat growled through gritted teeth.
“Okay, you're fine,” Sherry tried another approach, “but the car is one day old and I really don't want to have to take it back to the dealership and explain to them why the steering wheel snapped in half.”
Pat sucked in a lungful of air then blew it back out. “All right,” she said flipping on the turn signal. She turned into a parking lot, stopped the car and set the parking brake. “Maybe it would be better if you drove right now,” she consented pushing the door open.
Sherry opened the passenger door. “Thank you,” she told her lover when they met in front of the idling car. She wrapped her arms around her upset partner hugging her tightly. “I love you.”
Pat couldn't stop the grin appearing on her face. “I love you, too.”
“Do you want to just go home?”
Pat thought for a moment then shook her head. “No. I want to take you to dinner… I'll be damned if I'll let that idiot prevent me from doing that.”
Feeling Pat's body relax, Sherry eased her grip on her. “You sure?”
Sherry released her. “Good,” she said continuing to the driver's side of the car. “I'm starving.”
“Surprisingly, so am I. In fact, I think I'm hungry enough to eat a rookie,” Pat said maliciously before settling on the passenger seat and pulling the door shut.
“Pat, that's nasty,” Sherry said pretending to be shocked. “I'm sure glad you're not upset over this.”
“Never said I wasn't upset,” Pat muttered, “I said I was relaxed.”
Sherry laughed as she released the parking brake. “You sure had me fooled.”
“By the way, this is a nice car,” Pat changed the subject.
“I think I'll enjoy driving it,” Pat added.
Sherry giggled. “In your dreams, girl friend.” She pulled out of the parking lot and back onto the highway.
Pat slid the screen door shut then walked across the deck carrying two beers. Stopping at the side of the hot tub where Sherry was immersed up to her ears in hot, bubbling water, she held one of the bottles out.
“I thought these were off limits,” Sherry said lifting out of the water just enough to reach the bottle.
“Special circumstances,” Pat said stepping into the hot tub. “I supposed we can't avoid talking about Jackson all night.” They had purposely circumvented the topic during dinner and on the drive home. “It probably wouldn't hurt if we waited until tomorrow… if you wanted,” she offered.
Sherry took a drink of beer, the cold liquid slipping easily down her throat. “Let's get it over with. It really burns me that we have another Dawn on our hands,” she added sourly sinking back into the hot water.
“The way she's going, Dawn's problems are going to pale in comparison.”
Sherry grunted. “So, what are we going to do?”
“I'm going to talk to Mac and get her to cancel Jackson's contract,” Pat responded after taking a drink from her bottle.
“No. You can't do that.”
“Pat, who knows what she'll say to the press if she gets cut loose the day after she signs her contract.”
“At this point, I really don't give a damn. Dammit, Sherry, we're supposed to be playing basketball but instead I feel like we're trapped in some idiotic reality show with one character always causing trouble for everyone else.”
Sherry put her hand over her eyes. “Ugh, that's a terrible thought.”
Pat sighed. “So, if we don't cancel her contract, what do we do?”
“I definitely think you need to let Mac know what's going on… just in case the press gets their noses into this… I just hope that isn't Jackson's plan.”
“I think her plan is to get into your pants,” Pat snarled.
Sherry scooted along the bench that circled the inside of the hot tub to sit beside her irritated lover. “Ain't gonna happen,” she told her slipping an arm around Pat's waist.
“I already left a message on Mac's phone; I told her we needed a meeting first thing Monday morning.”
“And we need to let Kelley know.”
“It's too late tonight; we can give her a call tomorrow.”
“And I think maybe it would be a good idea to let her take the lead on this.”
“I'm the Head Coach.”
“And my lover. Kelley is a better choice. After all, she is the one who recruited Jackson.”
“She may not want to deal with this.”
“We should at least give her a chance to decline. Honey, you know how touchy she is this season. I think you might want to think about giving her more authority; especially since you need to be focused on what's happening on the court and not what's going on off of it.”
Pat remained silent as she sipped what was left of her beer. “I know what you're saying but I think I need to be the one to talk to Jackson,” she started then held up a finger to quiet Sherry's protest. “Hear me out… we'll talk to Kelley and get her thoughts. And I'll talk to Mac. Then I'll decide who talks to Jackson… deal?”
Seeing the thoughtful look on Sherry's face, Pat asked, “What are you thinking?”
“I'm just visualizing Mac calling Jackson up to her office, putting on her nice, friendly, smiley face… then ripping her apart.”
Pat shook her head. “Wishful thinking… she's more likely to rip me apart over my recommendation to give a contract to Jackson when we had already had problems with her.”
“Ugh,” Sherry grunted. “Who knew basketball could have so much drama?”
“It was definitely a lot more fun when all I had to do was show up for game time,” Pat agreed. She leaned against her lover and was rewarded with the arm around her waist being tightened. “Have I told you how much…”
“You love me?” Sherry finished.
Pat grinned. “How much I like our new car.”
“ Our ?”
“I share mine with you,” Pat pouted.
Sherry climbed into Pat's lap and wrapped her arms around her neck. “Pat Calvin, I can't imagine my life without you. And you know what's mine is yours, right?”
“I feel the same way.”
“But let me enjoy my new car for at least a couple of days.”
Pat grinned. “All right.”
Sherry leaned in for a kiss. “Now, take me to bed, honey,” she said after several moments. “I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.
“Okay, but you're going to have to stand up cuz there is no way I can heft you out of this tub.”
Sherry jerked back in shock. “Heft?! Heft?! Just what are you trying to say? You think I'm fat?”
Pat laughed. “Sweetie, I'm just saying that I'm as tired as you are tonight.”
Narrowing her eyes, Sherry studied her amused lover. “Maybe you need to spend more time in the weight room,” she said squeezing Pat's bicep. “Seems your muscals could use it.”
“Get up, you crazy woman.”
Sherry stood then climbed out of the hot tub. “Would you like me to help you?” she asked innocently as her lover pushed herself upright.
“Sure,” Pat said. “You can take care of this for me,” she added handing her empty beer bottle to her waiting lover. “That was way too heavy for my weak muscals.”
Monday morning, Kelley walked through the door that separated the coaching staff's offices from the locker room.
“Morning,” Pete cheerfully greeted the assistant coach.
“Good morning, Pete. You're in a good mood.”
“I had a great weekend. How about you?”
“It could have been better,” Kelley replied with a frown. “Coach is out on the court,” she said raising her voice for any players left in the locker room to hear. “I would suggest not to keep her waiting much longer.” She watched as the players finished dressing then rushed out of the room. “Jackson, hold up,” she told the rookie when she emerged from behind a row of lockers.
“You need something?” Jackson asked in a bored tone.
“Let's go in here.” Kelley retraced her steps back through the doorway and led the rookie into Pat's office. “Sit down,” she told the player as she settled onto the head coach's chair.
Jackson took a moment to look around the room. “Didn't think Coach let any butt in that chair but hers.”
“Sit down,” Kelley snapped emphasizing each word.
“Geez,” Jackson muttered but she did as she was instructed. “You get up on the wrong side of the bed?”
Kelley glared at the insolent player. “Did you read your contract before you signed it?”
Jackson leaned back in her chair. “Yeah.”
“Yeah. If you have some point to make—”
“So, you read the clause that stated you are on the Reserve Squad and can be cut from the Cougars at any time during the season should your skills no longer hold any value to the team?”
“What are you trying to say?” Jackson demanded.
“You're a fool,” Kelley snapped. “A dumb ass kid who thinks she's smarter than everyone else. Why the hell did you come to camp, Jackson?”
Kelley cut off the player. “Did you come to play ball?” She shook her head. “I don't think so. So what gives? What the hell is going on in that small brain of yours?”
“I don't have a clue what you're blabbering about.”
“Just what part of Coach Calvin's and Coach Gallagher's relationship do you not understand?”
Jackson smirked. “Oh, is that what this is about? Geez, all I did was ask if she needed help with her groceries. I didn't know that was against the rules.”
Kelley shook her head in disbelief. “You're a real piece of work, Jackson. Let me tell you what is against the rules… since you don't seem to be able to figure it out yourself. One, you are not to have any contact with any of the coaching staff outside of this arena. Two, you are to focus on basketball and improving your skills to a level that makes you valuable to this team— and, for the record, you have a lot of work to do to get there. Three, you are to drop the arrogant attitude and become a team player.” Seeing no apparent change in the player's demeanor, she continued, “And if you don't, your contract will be voided. And just so you know, that comes directly from—”
“Coach, I suppose.”
“You suppose wrong… that comes directly from Mac. Who, by the way, will be keeping a very close eye on your behavior from here on. You made a big mistake, Jackson… Mac doesn't like any distractions that might affect the outcome of the season. And you have become a very big distraction. So, if you want to keep your spot on the roster, I strongly suggest you change your ways.”
Jackson sat for a moment chewing on her lower lip. “Not much of a sense of humor in this group, is there,” she finally stated.
“I said it before… you are a fool.”
“Are we done?” Jackson asked then stood up and turned for the door.
“Not quite,” Kelley said to stop the player from leaving. “Sign this,” she added pushing a single sheet of paper across the desk. She set a pen on top of the paper.
“What is it?”
“An official warning from Mac that you are on thin ice-- it recaps what I just told you and your signature will acknowledge that you understand the full terms of your contract and that you agree to the special terms we discussed today.”
“You're kidding, right?” Jackson blurted out.
“If I don't sign?”
“Your contract will be voided immediately and you will be escorted from the building.” Kelley was surprised to see a look of fear quickly flash across the player's face. “Look, Jackson, you have talent for the game. Stop all this bullshit and just focus on that, will ya? You don't want to be on Mac's wrong side. And you sure as hell don't want to cause trouble for Coach.”
Jackson stepped to the desk. Placing her left hand on the paper, she picked up the pen with her right. “This is crap,” she muttered signing the page.
“Focus on the game, Jackson,” Kelley told the player after she dropped the pen onto the desk. “And do yourself a favor… back off Coach Gallagher. Believe me, you don't have a chance in hell with her.”
Jackson spun around then stormed out of the office.
To Be Continued...
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