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Our Secret Moments: Chapter 2

CONNOR - FOOTBALL BUTT

“SOUNDED like you had a good time last night, Bailey.”

I turn to my teammate, roommate and best friend as he grins at me, his face a red, sweaty mess. Nothing new coming from him.

If he means what happened last night at the party that was followed by a long cold shower and hours contemplating my existence while I watched Family Guy… Yeah, I guess I had a good time.

“Yeah, I heard what was going on in that closet,” Sam chimes in, wiping the sweat from his forehead as he slows down our jog to a brisk walk as we trek down from our hike around Estes Park, one of our many morning rituals.

We get up at the literal ass-crack of dawn most mornings to train in the gym, or go for a run, or a hike. Regardless of what happened the night before, hungover or not, we always get up.

I’m never hungover because I don’t drink during the season – a choice Coach Mackenzie encouraged, but most of the boys don’t follow. Including Wes and Sam as they huff and puff, dragging their lazy asses behind me as I power on in front of them.

“And Catherine Fables?” Sam says, not sure if the breathiness in his voice is because he doesn’t work out as much as he should, or if it’s because he’s talking about the most perfect woman I have ever laid my eyes on. I’m assuming the latter. I get out of breath just by thinking about her. “She’s fucking gorgeous,” he adds, finally catching up with me and walking beside me.

Of course, I know that. I’m not an idiot.

What I don’t get is how Jason managed to pull that together. His stupid Manifestation Chamber has been something people look forward to at every one of his parties. I’ve never been one of those people. Usually, some girl would try to hook up with me, I’d say no and I’d spend time with my friends. That closet of his is the last thing on my mind when I’m at his parties, but I knew that it was about time I’d get thrown in there. I just didn’t know it would be with her.

The memories of last night burn through my vision, causing me to stop still in my tracks. Just thinking about her makes my stomach do a weird flip thing. I’ve spent years trying my best to stay out of her way, knowing that if I was ever that close to her, I wasn’t sure what I would do.

I had her right where I wanted, those big brown eyes staring up at me, her smartass comments that she reserves just for me, the way she felt beneath my hand when I stopped her from falling…. And I still didn’t make a move. I can pretend to be confident and flirt, but when it gets down to it, I always back out unless I know they feel the exact same way. The same way I’d never lead a girl on if I wasn’t feeling it.

I shake my head at the thoughts of her and when I look down, Wes is on the floor, in a squatting position, grunting and groaning like he’s been doing it for hours.

How long have I been spaced out for?

“What are you doing?” I ask, frustrated. He looks up at me, shaking his head as he stands before slowly sinking back down.

“While you got too in your head, stopping in the middle of our walk, I’ve got to maintain my football butt somehow. Sam has one. You would too if you could quit daydreaming about her for like two minutes,” Wes explains between pants. Somebody needs to tell him that having a good ass does not improve his performance because it’s not going to be me. I’ve tried talking some sense into this idiot five times.

Five.

Fucking.

Times.

“I’m not daydreaming about her. I was–”

“Could’ve done a better job at those moans if you wanted it to be believable, though,” Wes says, cutting me off as he continues squatting. I squint my eyes at him, the harsh brightness from the golden sunrise obstructing my view.

“That’s exactly what she said to me,” I mutter.

“She’s smart too,” Sam adds, grinning like a loon. He’s got one of those perfect, olive-skinned baby faces that make girls at Drayton Hills absolutely crazy. I don’t get the allure. Especially because every word that comes out of his mouth is stupider than the last. He nudges Wes with his foot as he falls over, laughing before standing back up into a normal walking position. “What do you say, Connie Boy? If you two don’t fall in love by the end of the year, can I shoot my shot?”

I bark out a disbelieving laugh. “We are not going to fall in love.”

“So, I can shoot my shot…?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because she’s—” I sigh. Really? What reason do I have to defend it? Cat can date who she wants. I don’t care. I shouldn’t care. Still, I hear myself say, “She’s unavailable.”

“Oh, because she’s only available for you, right?” Wes says, bumping his shoulder into mine. I grumble in response, tearing open a breakfast bar from my pocket.

“I get it,” he says easily, trying to sound serious, but it’s rare anything remotely serious exits this guy’s mouth. “You spend ten minutes in a closet together and now you’re exclusive. Girls love it when a guy’s clingy.”

“We’re not– She’s not–” How did I manage to get myself in this situation again? The teasing had stopped for a few months and of course we ended up at the same party last night, making my fantasies press replay in my mind all over again. “Just drop it, okay?”

“Okay, dad,” Wes mumbles.

As one of the only responsible people on the football team, I’ve happily acquired the role as the dad. I’m not usually such a grump. I love to hang out and do any stupid ritual that the boys come up with for a fun night, but I also know where to draw the line.

I just didn’t expect that title to be extended to my dorm life back on campus too. I share one of the best dorms in Drayton, located on the South, right next to the football pitch and the training facilities.

It’s a perfect walking distance to where I need to be as well as to the one class I actually take which is in modern literature studies. Our building’s vending machine is stocked at the end of the hall, the cafeteria is a five minute walk away and I get the best view from my window. I keep most of the guys out of trouble, being the designated driver, but sometimes they get themselves into shit even I can’t help them with.

What’s not perfect are my two roommates. I’ve known Wes my whole life. His family has lived across the street from my parents’ house before my sister and I were born. While Nora and I were born in October, Wes was born the next summer and we spent every summer after that growing up together running under sprinklers, walking back from school with our hands and faces sticky and spending nights in the treehouse that our dads built. He’s a pain in my ass every day, but he’s also my best friend and the best lineman for the Titans.

Archer Elliot is a lot more bearable. Slightly terrifying, but bearable. I didn’t know about Archer’s existence until the day we moved in. He’s completely covered in tats and he’s huge. Since he moved in, he’s been quiet and slightly distant. I can’t complain, though. He cleans up after himself and he never brings girls over, unlike Wes. If we ever need anything, he’s there, but he doesn’t always like to make his presence known.

Which is why it’s pretty easy to ignore him as I work my way around the kitchen. He’s sitting on the couch in the small lounging area reading a newspaper. What college student sits and reads a newspaper on a Friday morning?

The kitchen in our dorm – if you can even call it that – is fucking tiny. It barely holds the basic appliances as well as a sandwich maker that my parents got me for Christmas and a blender. The noise usually disrupts everybody out of their bed and ends up with me sending an email to our dorm adviser. The main thing is, it’s able to handle my often chaotic baking.

Wes emerges from the bathroom after our run, a towel wrapped around his waist, still humming along to some theatre soundtrack. I pull the cookies out of the oven, resting them on top of the stove.

I frown at them, looking at the brunt mess I made. At least the smoke alarm hasn’t gone off yet. Little progress is still progress, I remind myself, shrugging off my red mittens and throwing them next to the cooling wrack.

My sister got them for me as a gift for winning last year’s football season and they always come in handy. They’ve got little white hearts on them and when she threw them at me she said, “If you can’t bake, you can at least look cute doing it.”

“Jesus, fuck. What is that smell?” Wes asks, scrunching his nose up.

“Connor is cooking,” Archer says, his voice low and gruff from the couch.

“That explains it,” Wes says, nodding.

“Connor is right here, you imbeciles,” I say.

“Connor is also referring to himself in third person,” Archer grumbles.

“And I’m baking, not cooking. There’s a difference,” I say, ignoring him.

“Right, one of them you’re actually slightly better at and the other…” He peers over at the tray of cookies. “…Not so much.”

How in the hell did I fuck up cookies so badly? I needed something to bring with me to my parents house for dinner later and I was sure I could pull them off.

I scrape one off the tray, throwing a chunk into my mouth. It takes like charcoal, but I smile through it, holding the tray out to Wes as he studies them suspiciously. I can’t show him any weakness. I might not be the best baker, but if this was a competition, I’d definitely win a participation award.

I’ve always loved making things from scratch, just to see what I could come up with. It started with mud pies in the backyard of my parents house, to a lemon cake I tried to make my mom for Mother’s Day. Both were as terrible as each other, but it’s the thought that counts.

“I mean, what are they supposed to be?” he asks, his voice full of child-like wonder as he prods at one. You’d expect it to be gooey, that the cookie would almost fold in on itself at the pressure, but it doesn’t move. I pick up a piece and shove it into his mouth as he stumbles a little, gripping onto his towel.

I swallow the edible death eventually as Wes grimaces around a mouthful. “Just eat it, you idiot.”

“I could,” he muffles, “Weally youse some miwlk wif phat.”

His chest is heaving as if chewing it is a workout. I can’t help but smile as I move into the fridge to pull out a carton of milk and pick up a glass from the cabinet. I turn back around, milk in hand as Wes smiles that mischievous grin at me.

He retrieves the cup happily, pulling it to his lips as I watch him. “Good?” I ask, needing some sort of reaction from him. The slight tremor in his body isn’t a good sign.

“The best,” he says, sighing as he sets down the now empty glass.

“He spat it out when you turned around,” Archer murmurs. I watch the betrayal flash across Wes’s face and it’s the exact same expression I have on my face. My best friend of almost twenty years…

“I swear to God, Archer, you want to be a Moody Margaret all day until I do one thing and then you snake me out,” Wes says, turning to him, one hand tightened around his towel, the other in the air, his mom’s German mannerisms shining through as he waves his hand at him.

“Maybe try being less obvious about it next time,” Archer suggests, still not looking up from his newspaper.

“There’s not going to be a next time,” I say, peeling the more agreeable cookies off the tray and into a Tupperware container lined with kitchen roll. My mom will eat them regardless of the state and I’m sure I could convince my dad too. “Because I’m not going to offer any of my goods to either of you ever again.”

Archer scoffs. “Fine by me. I like my bowels exactly how they are.”

“Since we’re being honest,” Wes starts with a shrug. I give him a look, knowing something stupid is about to come out of his mouth but he carries on anyway. “That apple pie you made me for my birthday wasn’t the best thing I ever had. When I went home, even Jarvis didn’t want a bite of it. And that cat eats anything.”

I shut the lid of the Tupperware box with extra force, throwing it into a plastic bag. I don’t even want to look at them anymore. “Do you ever know when to shut up, Wesley?”

“That is not my government name and you know it!” he whines, looking just as childish as he sounds.

He pouts, throwing his arms up as he storms in the other direction. Neither of us realise that was the arm holding up his towel until it drops to the floor, flashing us his football butt.


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