Players: Chapter 1

I rolled over slowly, my back pained by the stiff mattress. My eyes winced open and peered over at the brown closet door with the Pearl Jam poster taped haphazardly upon it. My eyes flew open as I realized where I was – shit, what time is it? I fumbled around on the bedside table until my hands found my phone.

7:30. Damnit. I’ll have to hurry.

Without even a glance to see if he was awake or not, I rushed around gathering my things. I found my jeans stuffed in a corner by the dresser, my bra buried under some sheets on the floor, and my t-shirt hanging off the edge of a framed picture. Within seconds I was dressed and ready to make a very discreet exit. I grabbed my purse and rushed down the hallway.

As I prepared to turn around the corner, the door in my sights, I collided unexpectedly with Breccan as he came running from the kitchen. We crashed into each other, sending our belongings flying. I pulled myself to sit, touching a bump on my head, and glanced at the items on the floor – my purse, my phone, his phone, his wallet, his keys…his keys?

“Sorry…” he said, “I, uh…I thought you were still sleeping.”

“Yeah, likewise,” I responded, regarding him with utter confusion. “Were you going somewhere?”

“Uh, yeah, you know, I thought I’d run out and, uh…” He was fumbling. I could tell he was looking for an excuse. He turned my enquiry on me. “Wait a second, where are you going?”

“Home. This isn’t my apartment last time I checked.”

He regarded me incredulously for a moment. Then it hit me. “You were running out on me,” I accused. “You weren’t going to come back, were you?” It’s not like I was in a position to talk, but I couldn’t help it – I was a little insulted.

“Yeah, so?”

“In case you didn’t notice, this is your apartment. You can’t sneak out on someone in your own apartment. What the fuck is that? Have you no one-night stand etiquette?”

His eyebrows pulled together as he pulled himself up and shoved his wallet in his back pocket. “Hey, sorry to disappoint you, sweet cheeks, but this is what I do. It’s not my fault you had no apartment to take me to. I had to make do with what I had.”

I scoffed and stood, pulling my things together. “No, no, no. Nobody sneaks off on me.”

His face turned innocent and he reached for my hand. “Look, Gretel, it’s been fun, it really has. But this is all there is for me; there’s nothing long-term in my future with anyone.”

I wrenched my hand away from his. “That’s not what I meant, jackass. What do you think I was doing, preparing to write you a love note?”

He shrugged with a smile. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”

I rolled my eyes. “I was trying to get out of here before you woke up. If I’d known you were already out here I would’ve gone out the bedroom window.”

His face fell. “You were gonna ditch me?” He scratched his chin. “I guess there’s a first for everything…” He contemplated for a moment while I straightened my shirt and then his eyes regarded me wickedly. “Well, then I guess this is your lucky day. Most girls have to find their way home on their own.” He stepped close, hovering his face by mine and pointing at the front door. “See that door over there?” Like an idiot, I looked. “That’s the way home.”

He turned back to the kitchen, chuckling. I fumed. “You’re an ass, Breccan.”

He turned to me with a broad smile. “Finally: a girl that gets me.”

I shrugged and casually turned around to head for the door. “You’re right, I do get you; all two inches of you.”

A smile spread across my face as I heard his footsteps rushing up behind me. “Whoa, whoa, now hang on one second, sweet cheeks, you can’t go around spewing lies like that. There is nothing wrong with the size of my, uh…equipment.”

I looked at him innocently. “Oh, I know. Nothing was really wrong with it. It was just, ya know…eh.”

I turned to the door again. “Okay, okay,” he said, giving in and blocking the door. “I know what you’re doing. I’m not falling for it. You’re trying to get under my skin because I showed you the door. Okay, fine, I deserve that.”

Without turning, I stated casually, “Whatever you need to believe is fine by me, honey.” I pulled open the door with enough force to knock him backwards and started down the steps.

He followed behind. “Need to believe? No, no, I don’t need to believe anything.” I couldn’t help but smile. He was making a fantastic idiot of himself. “I know how women think. You’ll play all sorts of little games to try to get me to call you. It’s not gonna work. I never order seconds.”

I raised my eyebrows as I reached my car. “Seconds? Well you certainly have a way of making that sound wonderfully appealing. Now quit following me, I’m not opposed to using my car to incapacitate you.”

He paused as I pulled myself into the driver’s seat. “You’re really not gonna try to give me your number?”

I was starting to get irritated – this wasn’t how this was supposed to go. I was supposed to make a clean getaway, and here I had this little puppy dog following me around, begging me to show interest. I rolled my eyes. “If I did that, you might call me.”

He shrugged casually. “Nah, probably not.”

I huffed, reaching to close my door. He grabbed the handle to stop me. “So you really don’t want a relationship…you don’t date?”

I smirked. “As much as I’d like to say my behavior today is specific to you, no, I don’t do ‘seconds’ or ‘thirds’ or even ‘fourths’. Seems too much like sentimental bullshit to me.”

He pondered for a moment, than grabbed my keys right out of my fingers, tossing them to himself. “Let’s go get breakfast.”

Oh God, no, not one of these – the last guy who took me on as his personal challenge took weeks to shake.

I pulled myself from the driver’s seat and nabbed my keys back. “No. I’m going home. I told you, I don’t date.”

He leaned in and looked me in the eye. “Believe me, I can’t remember the last time I went on a date, and I’m not about to start. But I hate eating breakfast alone and my roommate is out of town. Since you claim to have no interest in me whatsoever…” He gripped my chin gently with his hand. “…I see no harm in listening you bitch and whine over a pile of eggs.”

I pulled my face from his touch. I wanted to turn him down flat, but a growling in my stomach told me some protein was in order. I released a resigned sigh. “You promise me this isn’t some lame attempt to get more time with me so you can convince me that you’re the only guy I could ever love?”

He smirked. “Wow, what kind of lame-ass men have you been sleeping with?”

“You have no idea.”

“I don’t know, sounds like we might be sleeping with the same people.” He smiled and walked around to the passenger side. “You’re driving.”

“I don’t know this side of town very well – what’s good? I’m kinda picky – I like thick-cut bacon and eggs.”

“Oh, I know baby,” he cajoled. I smacked his arm and pulled out.

We ended up at the iHop – I should’ve known that was our destination. He was way too immature to appreciate good food. We were seated immediately and he ordered four smiley-face pancakes before I even picked up the menu.

“Seriously?” I said as the waiter walked away. “What are you, eight?”

“I always order smiley-face pancakes after a good lay. Gets me full and prepped for the next one.” He rubbed his hands together enthusiastically. I ignored him and turned my attention back to the menu. “What’s your post-coital tradition?”

I didn’t even look up. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Oh come on, every player has one. A little ritual or something that helps draw out the endorphins.”

“’Player’?” I regarded him over the tip of the cheap laminated paper. “Been watching too much ‘Sixteen Candles’ lately? I’m not that lame. I just go to work.”

“Oh.” The waiter dropped off two glasses of orange juice and two coffees and took my order. Breccan wadded up his straw wrapper and tossed it aside. “So what do you do for work?”

I threw my menu on the seat. “I thought you weren’t interested in me.”

He raised his hands in surrender. “Jesus. Fine, I won’t talk.”

I nursed a few sips of my orange juice and enjoyed the silence. But within a few minutes, I had to admit that it was nice to have someone interested in doing more than calculating the size of my boobs.

“Ratley High School.”

“Huh?” The goofy look on his face almost made me giggle.

“Ratley High School. That’s where I work. I teach English.”

He peered at me curiously. “Oh my God…Ms. Bigley…I should’ve known. You’re the new teacher – the ‘bombshell’ all the senior boys keep talking about. Ha! I’m officially the envy of the entire high school.” He laughed to himself.

“Excuse me?” I seethed, “What the hell are you talking about? And how do you know my last name?” Suddenly horror stories of female teachers sleeping with their teenage students started running through my head. There’s no way, I thought. I’m not that stupid; there’s no way he’s that young.

He extended his hand to me. “Mr. Hide. Biology and chemistry.”

Initially I heaved a sigh of relief…but then I sunk back into my seat as the recognition set in. “Oh my god, the man-whore…”

He laughed heartily. “Are they still calling me that? God, that better not get around to the students.”

“Oh, don’t worry, there’s not a single teacher in the entire district who wants anyone to know she gave it up to you.”

He scowled. “They should be proud. I’m a picky fucker.”

“Clearly.”

Our food arrived and the waiter made an awkward attempt at remembering who got what. “The lame-ass baby pancakes are his,” I pointed to Breccan.

He smiled. “That’s right, put those suckers right here. Evidence of good memories…”

I blanched as he shoved the first two in his mouth, half a pancake at a time. I picked at my omelette.

“So you’re a teacher…and a chess enthusiast on the side?”

“You could say that,” he mumbled over his chomping, “Teaching doesn’t always come easy to me – but chess is a different story.”

“Really?” I didn’t think chess came easily to anyone…

“I won, didn’t I?”

My mind traced back to the night before. I had arrived late for the tournament, notebook and recorder in hand, prepared to help document the event with my students for Journalism 101. I had made the mistake of wearing heels and found myself clamoring and tripping through the back of the crowd as I tried to find a reasonable viewing perch. The first hour of the tournament was boring as hell with silent players and spectators and nothing but a few finger-to-palm claps when one of the players won.

At the end it had come down to Breccan and one other guy, Scott. They played vigorously until the last move. Scott was dripping sweat and nervous while Breccan grinned sardonically over him. I found myself strangely drawn in by the sense of competition and willpower between the two. I silently cheered for Breccan – I always root for the cuter one, wink, wink, nudge, nudge – and, just when Scott announced ‘check’, Breccan’s hand flew swiftly across the board, executing a final move with his Queen.

“Check mate.”

For the first time that night, the crowd went wild. A rush of adrenaline ripped through my veins and I found myself jumping up and down and cheering. When Breccan stood up and raised his hands up in the air in victory, momentarily revealing the six pack underneath, I suddenly planned my own checkmate.

I did a quick follow-up with my students and then sent them on their way as I searched for my next nighttime scandal. He was so sweet, signing autographs for the kids before gathering his things to leave. He fist-bumped a few buddies and then I took my opportunity to swoop in.

He was good – too good. He ignored me almost from the get-go; God I loved that. I played the game, eventually turning the tide on him so he was following me out to the parking lot, asking me about my plans for the evening. Within minutes, I was on the back of his motorcycle, the whoosh of the wind on my arms, the smell of leather in my senses, and the feel of his large, uh, belt under my fingers. He drove me all over the city before dropping me at my car to follow him home. He was probably one of the better one-nighters I’d had – I had to admit that. Of course, I didn’t expect him to convince me to stick around for breakfast the next morning.

I glanced over at him gloating over his conquests. He’s a walking contradiction, I thought to myself. A chess-playing science teacher who rides a motorcycle and sleeps around like friggin Fonzi. It was amusing.

“What exactly were you doing at the tournament?”

I didn’t like the insinuation behind his inflection. “I’m teaching a Journalism class. It was a project for the students’ report card.” My hand flew to my mouth. “Oh shit, I hope none of them saw us leave together!”

Breccan shook his head. “Don’t worry, I always make sure the coast is clear before I take a slutty chick home.”

“Hey!” I threw my fork at him. “I’m not a slut; I’m just very…independent.”

“Ouch! Whatever, I don’t care. I think it’s badass.”

“Anyways, it’s 2015. Slut-shaming goes both ways, man-whore.” I giggled – it was fun calling him that.

He laughed and then looked at me curiously. “You mentioned last night that you didn’t have a place. Is that true? Are you homeless right now?”

“Well, not exactly. My car has a very comfortable backseat. I just haven’t found an apartment yet.”

He swallowed. “That piece of shit Chevy Impala has a comfortable backseat? Come on – there’s a reason I didn’t try to poonslap you in the parking lot.” I raised an eyebrow. That was definitely a term he picked up from the students. “My cousin and I are looking for another break on the rent. Why don’t you move in with us?”

I stared incredulously. “Really? After this whole conversation we just had and you’re already trying to get me to move in with you?”

He looked at me like I’d suggested evolution was just a theory. “Dude, get over yourself. You’re hot, but, Jesus…unless you have connections to the Playboy mansion, I don’t see anything long-term between us.” I snorted and relaxed a little. “We have an extra room and you need one. Anyways, you’re cool. I can only imagine how miserable it would be to get stuck with some chick friend of my cousin’s who has seen Zack and Miri Make a Porno too many times.”

I chuckled. “Okay, okay, I guess I’m a little sensitive. I’ve had too many guys shopping for rings after just one very-average fuck, you know?”

He shook his head. “Nah. I don’t, thank God. But I’ve had my fair share of chicks stalking me after a good time.”

Silence ensued for a few moments. “So your roommate is your cousin? Is he an ass too?”

“She’s a ‘she’. And she’s weird as fuck but she’s no douchenozzle.”

I laughed. “Fair enough.”

Suddenly an idea hit me; the best idea I’d ever had in my life. It would make both our lives easier and help me ensure, once-and-for-all, that Breccan was not interested in a further relationship. I looked up at him concentrating on his food like most people concentrate on solving quadratic equations – if he was offended by my idea, it was back to the backseat of my car for a few more weeks. But if he liked it…

“Brec. I just came up with the best idea.”

“Okay…” He regarded me doubtfully.

“We both like to get ‘poonslapped’ sans commitment, right?” I air-quoted the word to rub in his ridiculous teenage vocabularly.

“Uh, well technically I like to ‘poonslap’ others. I’m not a big fan of being ‘poonslapped’, if you know what I mean.” I glared at him impatiently.

“Sorry, sorry – semantics. Keep going.”

“Okay, so I was just thinking – what is better than having a wingman when you’re trying to hook up?

He shrugged. “A hooker?”

“No!” I was running out of things to throw; I settled for my coffee spoon. “Idiot, the answer is a wingman of the opposite sex! Just think – if you had me with you at a club, or a bar, or a….”

“Chess tournament?” he suggested.

My face scrunched. “Uh…chess tournament?”

He nodded. “Great place to meet women.”

I stared blankly. “So…you go to chess tournaments to get laid?”

“No, I play in chess tournaments to get laid. Works every time. I believe you can attest to that.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “You’re kidding me.”

“What, you think I do it for fun?”

I honestly didn’t know how to answer that. I couldn’t imagine playing chess for fun or to get laid. “So…you’ve spent years honing your skills to win tournaments so you can take a nerdy spectator home? I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a jerk but…it sounds really, reallylame. I mean, this actually works?” He looked at me knowingly. “I get it, I fell for it – but other girls have too?”

He smiled. “Just the smart ones. And don’t be ridiculous – I haven’t spent years honing my skills. It’s just a sport that happens to come easy to me.”

“A sport…” My head bobbed up and down as I tested the idea that chess could actually be considered a ‘sport’.

“Look, girls don’t go looking for dates in bars anymore. They’re there to hang out with their girlfriends, get drunk, and inflate their ego while a bunch of guys flirt with them. But a chess tournament? It’s perfect: only smart girls go there, I look awesome and smart when I win, I’m hotter than every single guy there,“ – as I recalled my own experience the night before he started to make a lot of sense – “and it’s an unexpected place to meet someone hot, smart, and interesting. So it feels novel and exciting.”

This guy was a genius. Before I knew it, I was grinning ear-to-ear.

“So picture this, Brec,” I waved my hand in the air as if painting an exquisite portrait with my fingers. “We’re at a club – or chess tournament, but for now let’s stick with the more likely scenario – and you’re at the bar flirting with a girl. It’s going well, but you could use a little bit of extra ‘umph’ in your game.”

“I don’t know what makes you think I don’t have enough ‘umph’, but go on.”

“Suddenly, I walk up looking ridiculously hot and sexy. You somehow manage to pretend you don’t notice – “

“Trust me, the girl I’m talking to is hotter.”

“ – and then I start pawing at you, trying to get you to dance.”

“This sounds like a bad idea.”

“Then instead of being drawn in by my irresistible charm – “

“Charm? Is that what you call it?”

“ – don’t change the subject – you completely ignore me, removing my hands from your body – “

“Now we’re getting more realistic.”

“ – and saying something along the lines of ‘sorry, I’m busy right now, sweetheart’. Your eyes never leave hers and suddenly she feels enigmatically special. Wham bam – you’re in!”

“Okay, okay,” he bobbed his head, “I can see this working. The script needs a little help, but I see where you’re going.”

“What’s wrong with the script? Your line was genius! What the hell would you say?”

“Oh, I don’t know…’sorry, I’m busy right now, sweetheart’ just doesn’t have a lot of pizzazz. I’d go for something more along the lines of ‘why don’t both of you come to my apartment and we’ll steam things up.”

I stared in disbelief. For several minutes. The grin playing on his lips didn’t even falter.

“What? We’d both get to experience a threesome and get some strange in the same night. It’s perfect!”

I shook my head. “I’ll give you some more time to work on your lines.”

“Whatever. You’ve just given me a new goal – getting you back in my bed with my next lay.”

I rolled my eyes again but couldn’t help but laugh. “We are going to have some fun this summer. Between my creativity and your brains…”

He shrugged. “I’m going to have some fun.” He gestured towards me, “You’re going to need a little work if you want me to work the wing for you.”

I scowled. “There’s nothing wrong with me or my approach.” I settled back into my chair. “Anyways, you’d be better off worrying about how you’re going to be able to stand someone like me living just one door down from you. It’s not going to end well if you get all sentimental.”

He looked me over for a moment, considering my statement while he sipped his OJ. “Nah, I’m not worried.”

I noisily snatched the bill from the waiter who had just shown up to deliver a refill. I threw a few dollars on the table and scrawled my number on the back of the piece of receipt paper. “Just call me when you’ve got the lease paperwork ready.”

He glanced at the small strip of paper as he finished off his last pancake. “Told you you’d try to give me your number…”

I stood up and leaned over him so my breath tickled his ear. “Try not to smudge the ink with your lube.”

I stalked off with a satisfied smirk on my face.

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2 thoughts on “Players: Chapter 1

  1. Pingback: Players: Chapter 2 | Writers of the Rain

  2. Pingback: Join Me on the Novel-Writing Journey | Writers of the Rain

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