Reed's Reckoning(4)

By: Ahren Sanders

“A picnic?” she whispers with a grin.

“Yeah, I didn’t want a repeat of last week. It’s hard for me to be in public right now with the season starting. I figured if I wanted a real date with no interruptions, I needed to get creative.”

Her grin turns into a full-blown smile. The deep dimples and shine in her eyes stirs something in me. I motion for her to sit down and then open the containers of food.

“Oh my God! Is that Mrs. Jones famous pasta salad?” she squeals when I nod. “It’s my favorite!”

“I know, you mentioned it last week.”

I picked up a variety of things but knew the pasta salad would score me points. Ever since meeting Arianna Williams, I’ve paid attention to everything about her. Her voice, her laugh, the way she sways when she walks, I can’t get enough. I’ve never been like this in my life; she has me under a spell.

The first time I saw her studying near the Business building, I knew I had to meet her. Her beauty was radiant, but when she grinned at me, my heart raced. When I introduced myself, she shook my hand politely but didn’t make any effort to talk further. Then I realized she had no idea who I was. It was refreshing to have true sincerity in her greeting.

It took a week for me to convince her to go on a date with me and it was a disaster. We had spoken on the phone several times, and I explained I was a football player but she didn’t care. She was honest about knowing nothing about the sport. I tried teaching her, especially since our opening game was coming up, but she zoned out when I spoke.

That night when we sat down at the restaurant, I was so sidetracked by her; I didn’t take in our surroundings. The hostess sat us at a middle table where everyone could see. As soon as we ordered our drinks, people swarmed the table. Students, Alumni, and fans all wanted to know the game plan for the upcoming season. Even when the waitress took our order and returned later with our meals, people still hung around. Every time I looked up at Ari, she smiled encouragingly, but I didn’t see the dimples. She barely ate and as soon as the bill was paid, I whisked her out of there.

When we got to her place, I was shocked she agreed to another date. So I spent all week thinking about what to do and came up with a plan for tonight. A quiet, simple picnic should provide the perfect environment for us to talk.

It’s a Thursday night and our game opener is on Saturday afternoon. Coach puts us all on lockdown starting tomorrow after classes, so I won’t be able see her until after the game.

“This is really nice,” she says offering me a plate.

“Yeah, I really fucked up last week.”

“No, you didn’t. It was interesting to say the least. I suppose I have to get used to all the attention you receive.”

My heart beats a little faster because I like the fact she wants to ‘get used to’ anything with me. I don’t know what it is about this girl, but she is completely different than anyone I have ever gone out with. That’s not saying a lot because I don’t really date. I had a few girlfriends in high school and I’ve attended my share of events the last four years, but I have NEVER had a girlfriend. Too much riding on my football career to get wrapped up in the drama of commitment, but since meeting her, my feelings have done a one-eighty.

“Yeah, well the attention comes with the territory, but l hoped to take you on a proper date.”

“This is perfect.” She blushes a little and continues eating.

“Ari, I wanted to ask you something. I know we’ve only been out twice, but I’d love if you came to the game Saturday. If you don’t have anyone to sit with, I can arrange for you to be with my friend Jack. He’ll watch out for you and help explain what’s going on.”

I watch her face for any sign of interest. Nerves bundle in the pit of my stomach when she doesn’t say anything.

“Umm, I don’t need to sit with your friend. I’m already going.”

I don’t hide the excitement and move closer to her. “That’s awesome! Were you going to tell me?”

“I don’t know. You hadn’t mentioned it; I didn’t want to be presumptuous.” She says shyly.

“Of course I want you there. Are you sure you want to go alone?”

“Oh, I won’t be alone, Luke’s bringing me. And maybe my friend Sophie.” She laughs.

Wait—WHAT? “Who the hell is Luke?” I growl rougher than I meant. A sense of jealously I didn’t even know existed floods over me.

She raises her eyebrows and stares. “I’ve told you about Luke, haven’t I?”

“Nope, pretty sure I haven’t heard of a Luke.”

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