Fourth and Goal
For disclaimers: See Part 1
Mike stood in front of the door he had knocked on. He ran his hands through his hair and checked his breath. I gotta do a good job of convincing her to come home. I need her to help me get through this mess Im in. He knocked on the door again, this time a little louder than he had previously. He smiled when he heard the chain slip into place and the lock turn.
The door opened slightly and a womans sleep filled voice asked, "Whos there?"
"Miri, Its me, baby. Open up," Mike said as calmly as he could. He smiled when he saw the door close and heard noises behind the door. He leaned against the doorframe and smiled his sexiest smile.
The door was flung open. "Do you know what fucking time it is, asshole?" the older man demanded.
Mike glared angrily at the man who was his height and in great shape. "Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my wifes room?" he demanded as he tried to push his way inside.
"Back that shit up, Sporty," the man warned as he stopped Mikes progress. "You got the wrong room. No one is here but my wife and me."
"Miriam!" Mike yelled as he tried to look inside the room. "Stop playing games and come back home."
An older Hispanic woman came into Mikes view and addressed her husband. "I just called hotel security, honey." She moved to stand behind her husband.
Mikes mouth went agape when he saw the woman who was not his wife. "I Im sorry, I must have the wrong room," he said as he heard the elevator doors open. He looked back and saw the manager and two security guards as they walked quickly toward him.
"Whats going on here?" the manager demanded.
Mike calmed himself and tried to appease the manager. "Its just a case of mistaken identity. I was told a friend of mine was here and I guess I came to the wrong room."
The manager looked at the upset couple. "Our apologies for this inconvenience, folks." He turned his attention to Mike after the man slammed the door in his face. "Sir, you should have come to the front desk and asked for your friend. We would have been happy to ring the room for you. Now if you would kindly come with us so as not to disturb anyone else, I will be happy to look for your friend in our registry."
Mike quietly walked with the manager and the guards to the elevator. How in the fuck could this have happened? Did that asshole get the room numbers mixed up?
The two guards stood on either side of him as they rode down to the lobby, and then followed him and the manager to the desk. "Now, maybe I can be of service. Could you tell me the name of the party you are looking for?" the manager asked.
"Im looking for Miriam Sloan."
"Wow! I thought I recognized you," one of the guards said. "Youre Mike Sloan of the Jaguars."
"Yeah, thats me," Mike said as he waited for the manager to tell him which room Miriam was in.
"I think the league is trying to make a scapegoat out of you, man. "Women aint got no business playing in the NFL."
Mike smirked. "I couldnt agree with you more."
"If that had happened to a man, there wouldnt be all this fuss. If they cant take the heat, they need to get back into the kitchen," the guard sneered.
"Damn right," Mike said as he laughed with the guard. "I think they "
"Im sorry Mr. Sloan, but Miriam Sloan checked out this afternoon," the manager interrupted.
"What?" Mike yelled. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, sir. Says she checked out at 2:45," the manager said as he looked at the computer screen.
"Son of a bitch!" Mike growled and then walked out of the hotel and straight for Charlie and Pete. "What the fuck is your problem?" he yelled.
"Whats going on?" Charlie asked.
"Miriam isnt here, thats whats going on!" Mike yelled. "Your friend dropped the fucking ball. She checked out this afternoon."
Charlie looked at Pete. "What happened?"
"Damned if I know," Pete said, scratching his head. "I had to get back to work."
"You had to get back to work?" Mike demanded as he charged for Pete. "Why I ought to "
"Stop it, Mike," Charlie ordered as he stepped in front of him.
"I dont work for you, asshole," Pete yelled as he walked back to his van. "I hope she stays as far away from you as she can." He paused, opening the door and looking at his friend. "One more thing, Charlie."
"Whats that?" Charlie asked.
"Lose my number. I dont want anything else to do with this, or you."
Charlie watched as his former friend drove away. He turned his attention to Mike. "Thanks a lot, buddy. You just cost me a good contact."
"You call that a good contact?" Mike angrily asked. "He fucking dropped the ball, Charlie. We came all this way for nothing."
"You better hope that he doesnt blackball me with my other contacts, because if he does, you wont have bupkiss," Charlie informed him. "No contacts mean no Miriam, buddy."
Mike ran his hands through his hair and paced back and forth. "Damn it! What are we gonna do?"
Charlie shrugged his shoulders. "I dont know about you, but Im going to check into this hotel and get me some shut eye. We can start fresh in the morning." He walked toward the hotel entrance.
Mike looked up at the starry sky. "I dont know where you are Miriam, but once this is over you will definitely be sorry you ever met Valeria Rockwell."
Johnnie stood by and watched as the hospitals physical therapist massaged Rocks leg muscles. He grimaced, applying pressure to the solid tissue. She smirked while the burly man struggled with dense muscle tissue.
"Having a little trouble there, son?" she asked.
"No maam," he said as beads of perspiration formed on his forehead. "Alright, Ms. Rockwell. Were going to start with a few simple exercises, and then Ill get you up and see if you can stand on your own."
"Ok," Rock quietly acknowledged. She looked to her grandmother who winked and gave her an encouraging smile. She and Johnnie were quite pleased when Dr. Taylor had examined her and stated that Rock had gained about 75% sensation in her legs. He had also ordered that the Stryker frame be removed and a regular bed be brought in.
The PT had begun putting Rock through her paces. The way he flexed her legs and the supposedly "simple" exercises were causing her great pain. Though she didnt cry out, Johnnie could see that it was taking its toll on her beloved granddaughter.
"Sorry Im late," Nadina said as she entered the room. She looked at her daughter and could tell immediately that she was in pain. "What are you doing to my daughter?" she demanded.
"Little One," Johnnie said, "this nice young man only allowed us to be in here as long as we wouldnt interfere. Youre gonna have to come over here and be quiet."
"But just look at my baby, Mama," Nadina continued. "Shes in pain."
"Your "baby" is a grown ass woman who is also a professional athlete," Johnnie countered. "Squirt can take anything this man dishes out. Right Squirt?"
"Damn right, Gram," Rock said through clenched teeth. "Do your worst, oh Master of Torture."
"Language, Squirt," Johnnie warned.
Rock sighed. "Sorry, Gram."
The African-American man laughed at his charge. "Well alrighty then, Ms. Rockwell. With that attitude youll be out of here in no time."
Yep, out of here and working with Caitlin. Rock smiled. "Do you really think so?" she asked hopefully.
"Definitely," he said. "Youre doing exercises that I dont normally have patients do until a week after surgery."
Johnnie looked on with pride. Thats my Squirt. She placed her arm around Nadina.
Nadina was not thrilled with seeing her daughter in so much pain, but was pleased with the PTs prognosis. "How soon do you think shell be moved to the rehab facility?"
"Well, the final decision will be up to Dr. Taylor, but if she keeps this pace my recommendation will be for sometime next week," he informed her.
"Good," Johnnie said. "Im getting too old for this crap."
"So, tell me how dinner went with your new friends?" Dora asked.
"I had a nice time. They seem to be really nice people," Caitlin informed her friend.
"Where did you have dinner?" she asked as she sipped her coffee.
"The Meadows." Caitlin smiled broadly.
"Damn, thats one of the most expensive restaurants in the city," Dora said in awe. "A cup of coffee is seven bucks in that place."
"You got that right. I was just gonna have a Chefs salad, but Gram insisted that I try the grilled salmon."
"Are you telling me you didnt order both?" Dora teased, knowing of her friends ravenous appetite."
Caitlin stuck out her tongue. "No, I didnt. I had a steak sub before I got dressed for dinner."
Dora laughed. "I should have known. Now tell me about Rock."
"Oh goddess, she is the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen." Caitlin smiled as she talked about her. "She has the most beautiful blue eyes and the brightest smile."
"How does she smell?"
"How does she smell?" Dora asked again. "I mean, Ive seen her when shes all sweaty and grungy after a game and she still looks like she smells wonderful."
Caitlin giggled. "To be honest, she smells great. Her scent is a spicy, woodsy sort of thing."
"I thought she would be the spicy type," Dora nodded. "So whats she like?"
"To me she seemed kind of shy," Caitlin told her. "She also has the cutest little stutter when shes embarrassed."
"And her voice?"
"Deep, smooth as velvet. She could melt butter with that tongue."
"Probably a few other things as well," Dora added, earning her a swat on the arm from Caitlin. "Well, you know what they say about her."
"No, I dont. What do they say?"
Dora leaned closer to her friend and whispered conspiratorially, "They say she has a ravenous sexual appetite."
"Really?" Caitlins eyes widened.
Dora nodded. "Rumor has it shes an expert cocksman, too."
"Cocksman? Whats that?" Caitlin asked.
"You know what I mean," Dora grinned. When she saw Caitlin had no clue, she stood up and thrust her hips rapidly. "Cocksman, woman. Where have you been?"
Caitlin blushed furiously. "Oh my."
"Word on the street is that shes left many women very sore when she got through with them," Dora revealed. A wistful expression came over her face. "If only I were a lesbian "
Caitlin gently punched Doras arm and laughed. "Shed tear you apart."
"Oh but what a way to go," Dora laughed. "Now tell me how are you gonna manage being in such close proximity to the sex goddess?"
Caitlin stood and walked over to the coffeemaker to refill her cup. "Unlike you, I can keep my libido in check. Im a professional and I know how to keep anything personal from slipping over. Do you remember Tonya?"
"Tonya? Oh yeah, Tonya," Dora grinned lecherously.
"She did everything she could to get me to show her my breasts. That woman was obsessed with, as she called them, "breastesses"."
"Did she ever try to take advantage of you?" Dora asked, her protective streak widening.
"No, she was very polite," Caitlin said. "Never touched me inappropriately, just begged me to flash her."
"Well then, why didnt you show her your wares?" Dora teased. "It wasnt because she was African-American, was it?"
"You know better than that, Dora."
"Then why not? Youre single."
"I didnt want to wind up in one of her stories," Caitlin informed her. "Shes a writer."
"Oh, I had no idea," Dora said.
Caitlin laughed. "Can you see a story about a PT and one her of patients? That would be so wrong."
Miriam and her sons ate breakfast in their room. She was still uncomfortable about being in public with her face still bruised.
Mike Jr. picked up the room service receipt. "Oh, cool!" he exclaimed.
"What is it, Mikey?" Miriam asked.
"We have the same room number as the last hotel, Mom," he told her. "Its an onem."
Miriams eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Onem? Oh, you mean omen."
"Thats what I said, Mom." He rolled his eyes. His little brother laughed, causing milk to squirt from his nose and onto his mothers face. Mike Jr. fell out of his chair and rolled on the floor laughing."
"You guys are just too much," Miriam said as she stood and walked over to the sink to wash the milk off her face. She looked again at the fading bruises and sighed. Lets just hope that this is a good omen. She pulled her dark hair over one shoulder and smiled. Next stop Charlotte.
Johnnie sat back in her chair and watched with pride and amazement as her granddaughter worked diligently at her recovery. She could see the determination on Rocks face while she and the PT did the exercises that were set in the recovery plan.
Dr. Taylor had warned Rock about the long road ahead of her. Now that she was regaining sensation in her lower extremities, the pain she was unable to feel at the time of the injury was now making itself known. Rock struggled through the pain as best she could. She was beginning to grow impatient, though, because she had exceeded the hospital PTs initial prognosis of a week before she could be transferred to the rehab facility. At times she pushed herself beyond her limits, hoping that the now two-week stay in the hospital would be coming to an end.
"Squirt, you really need to slow down," Johnnie warned as she noticed Rocks sweat soaked hair plastered to her head and the strain on her face. "You dont want to overdo."
Rock grimaced as the PT pressed her knee into her chest. "Im ok, Gram," she groaned. "Just a little more."
"Weve already done the exercises in this rotation, Ms. Rockwell," the PT informed her. "Now unless you want to push yourself so far that you do some damage and risk being here another week we should stop."
"Ok already, jeez," Rock growled. "You two are just Nervous Nellies. Do you know that?"
"Now is that how you speak to people who are concerned about your well being?" a soft voice asked from the doorway. Three sets of eyes turned toward the door. One set with faint recognition, another set twinkled with merriment, and the last filled with an inexplicable longing.
Johnnie smiled broadly and opened her arms. Caitlin returned her smile and moved to embrace Johnnie, reveling in the feeling of being held by loving, protective arms. The two of them had become fast friends during the two weeks following the night they went out to dinner with Rocks parents.
"How are you, Smurfling?" Johnnie asked, still squeezing the younger woman.
"Gram, I cant breathe," Caitlin said jokingly.
I wish I were the one holding you. I bet you feel so good, Rock thought.
Youd rather it was you holding her instead of me, huh Squirt? Johnnie noticed the way Rock stared at them. "Manners, Squirt."
"Oh yeah. Hi, Caitlin," Rock said, still stumbling over her words. Shes gonna think Im such a goofus.
"Hi, Rock." Caitlin smiled. "Hows the therapy going?"
The PT continued to rub down Rocks thighs, driving Caitlin to distraction. "As long as she doesnt try to do too much, she should be ok. Shes very enthusiastic, and she gives it her all," the PT said. "You shouldnt have any problems as far as her determination goes."
"Thats good to hear," Caitlin responded, "because according to my schedule, youll be moving to the rehab center tomorrow."
"What?" Rock asked in disbelief. "Dr. Taylor didnt say anything to me about getting sprung tomorrow." She arched a suspicious eyebrow at her grandmother. "Did he say anything to you, Gram?"
"Who, me?" Johnnie asked, feigning shock. "We both saw Spence at the same time, did we not?"
Rock laughed at her grandmothers exaggerated expressions. "Yeah, and after you walked him out you came back in with a grin on your face. Why didnt you tell me?"
"Oh, I dunno. I guess I thought maybe youd like hearing it from someone besides me," Johnnie admitted, casting her glance from Rock to Caitlin.
"So what do you think?" Caitlin asked the PT. "Is she ready to be transferred, or do you think she needs more time?"
Rock propped herself up on her elbows and gave the PT a warning look, her trademark arched eyebrow included. The PT nodded his agreement and Rock lay back down, placing her hands behind her head.
"I wonder where she gets that from?" Johnnie asked, knowing exactly where Rock got the ability to threaten people with a mere look.
Caitlin chuckled. "According to Nadina, every little obnoxious gesture in Rocks repertoire comes directly from you." When she felt Johnnie pull away from her she continued, "Before you even try the "look" on me, I think you should know that Im not easily intimidated."
Johnnies brow immediately fell and she shoved her hands in her pockets. So much like my Alma. She was stirred from her reverie by Rocks laughter. Her eyebrow rose again, immediately silencing her granddaughter.
Looking at the two intimidating women, she could see the love they had for each other. Definitely an unbreakable bond they have.
"Well, ladies, it seems my work here is done," the PT said. "Its been a pleasure working with you, Ms. Rockwell," he added as he shook her hand. "Thanks for the autographed football, my daughter will cherish it."
Rock smiled. "Thanks for all youve done."
He turned his attention to Caitlin. "If you want, you can stop by the PT department and pick up a copy of her records. That way you can go over them tonight and pick up where I left off."
"Sounds good to me," Caitlin said. "Ill stop by on my way out."
"Ill walk you out," Johnnie told the PT. These two had better get used to being alone with each other. When she reached the door, she turned around and looked at the two shy women and shook her head. This is gonna be tougher than I thought.
There was always a buffer when Rock and Caitlin were together. Johnnie or Rocks parents would always be there to keep the conversation going, but now they were finally alone and it was definitely awkward.
Caitlin shifted nervously from one foot to the other, wishing the phone would ring or another visitor would enter the room.
Rock pressed the bed control and lifted the head of the bed, her eyes zeroing in on Caitlins breasts. Oh goddess, just take me now.
"Would you care for a towel, Rock?" Caitlin asked, hoping to make herself useful.
"Uhm, yeah, thanks." Youre such a sweet talker, Rock chastised herself. Youre never gonna convince her youre a college graduate now. Open your mouth and stop acting like a wimp. "Id really appreciate it."
Caitlin walked over to the counter and picked up one of the towels the PT left. She also got Rock a cup of water.
Rock was about to ask for some water when she saw Caitlin turn around with a cup in her hand. "Youre a lifesaver," she said softly. "My throat is parched. I didnt think wed done enough exercises to make me this thirsty."
She handed Rock the towel first, then the water. When she saw how thirsty Rock was she went back for the pitcher of water. "Your body chemistry may be a bit off. That could be the cause of your thirst," Caitlin revealed.
"So whats the next step in my recovery plan?" Rock asked.
Caitlin smiled. Thank you goddess, an easy question. "Well, well continue with the exercises that youre now doing, but well be incorporating floor exercises as well. Then maybe after a week or so well attempt some weight bearing exercises. If your recovery continues to be as rapid as it has been so far, then youll be walking in no time."
Your smile can light up a room. "That sounds good to me." Rock smiled too. "Would you like to have a seat? That is, if youre not too busy."
"Ok," Caitlin said as she pulled one of the chairs closer to the bed. "From my understanding, you attended Duke University, yes?"
"Yeah, I did." Well at least she knows Im not a complete idiot. You gotta have some semblance of a brain to get into Duke.
"What was your major?"
"I was pre-law," Rock replied, still fidgeting with the sheets.
Caitlin smiled softly. "Thats interesting. Are you going to pursue a law degree?"
"I already have my degree. I finished during the off season," Rock revealed. I took the bar and for the two years Ive been working pro bono at legal aid."
Shes socially conscious. Thats a good thing. Caitlin nodded.
"What about you?" Rock asked, genuinely curious. "Have you always wanted to be a physical therapist?"
Caitlins head leaned slightly to the left. "When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor. I knew that my family couldnt afford that, so I just planned on going to work right after high school. My father got hurt working in the mines, and there was this PT who helped him get back on his feet. She also told my mother of different agencies that could give us a helping hand till daddy was able to go back to work. That woman was a godsend to us." She paused, remembering the time that should have been hard, but was made easier by a stranger. "I knew then that becoming a PT was what I wanted to do. I got some scholarships and the Clinton grant, so I was all set."
"I bet your family is really proud of you," Rock said, looking into soft gray eyes.
The more they talked the more comfortable they got with each other. So comfortable, in fact, they never noticed Johnnie as she stood at the door peeking through the window.
This accident may have been a blessing in disguise, eh Alma? Johnnie thought. She was pulled from her musings when she heard Rocks name being mentioned at the nurses station. She made her way over to see a young brunette standing at the desk.
"Maam, unless youre family we cant give you any information," Ms. Sampson told the persistent woman. "Who told you Ms. Rockwell was on this floor anyway?"
"I just asked for orthopedics," the woman responded dryly. "I know shes here. The press has the lobby covered."
"As I stated before, unless youre family I wont be able to give you any information."
"Im an old family friend," she said. "Now if I have to go to each and every room I will."
"Try that, lady, and Ill have security up here so fast youll be cuffed before you can get to the second door," Sampson warned.
"Whats going on here?" Johnnie asked, as she got closer to the woman.
"This young woman doesnt want to take no for an answer," Sampson said, frustration in her voice.
"And who is this, the security you were warning me about?" the woman said sarcastically.
"No, but I can be your worst nightmare if you force me to," Johnnie responded. "Now will someone tell me whats gong on here?"
"Shes trying to get in to see Ms. Rockwell, J," Sampson informed her.
"Do we know you?" Johnnie asked.
"No, but the Rockwell family does," the woman arrogantly told her. "So why dont you just mind your business, old woman. Im not here to see anyone in your family."
Johnnie grinned evilly. "Thats where youre wrong." No groupie is gonna get her hands on my grandbaby. "If youre here to see Valeria Rockwell, you are indeed looking for someone in my family. Shes my granddaughter."
Disbelief, shock and then embarrassment veiled the young womans face when she saw the all too familiar grin the older womans face held. "Im sorry, I didnt know."
"Well now you do, so just do us a favor and beat it," Johnnie said. "When shes ready to see groupies Ill be sure to give you a call."
"I am not a groupie. Im a very dear friend of Valerias," she huffed.
"Shes been in the hospital for over two weeks, dear friend. Where the hell have you been?"
"I came as soon as I could," the brunette said as she tried to hold back her tears. "I guess she wouldnt want to see me. I dont know what I was thinking."
Johnnie was always a soft touch for tears. "Look, shes in with her therapist now and Im sure shell be exhausted. Why dont you come back tomorrow? The nurses will give you her room number."
"Thank you," she whispered. "Ill be back tomorrow."
Johnnie nodded and watched as the woman got on the elevator. Ms. Sampson cleared her throat.
"Now you know that shes going to the rehab center in the morning. Why did you tell that woman to come back here?"
"Did you see that woman? Shes gorgeous, and looks like shell give it up to anyone who would ask," Johnnie said as she leaned on the desk. "I dont need any free booty groupies derailing my plans."
Ms. Sampson studied her new friends demeanor. "You still havent told her, have you, J?"
"No, not yet." Johnnie sighed. "I need Squirt focused on one thing," she said, her eyes turning toward Rocks room.
"And whats that?"
"The woman thats in there with her right now."
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