“Jake…I just don’t know if the surgery was successful. I don’t know if you will be able to run and play like you did before.
“I don’t know if the knee can tolerate the stress that you would be putting on it. I am reading the physical therapist’s report and I am concerned.”
Jake couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Don’t play football?
He had been playing since he was six years old. He didn’t know how to live a life without football and that scared the shit out of him!
“So, Dr. Mayfed, when will we know for sure? It has been six weeks since the injury and five weeks from the surgery. I do PT three times a week here and all the exercises that he requires every day, plus pool work…”
“Well, if I don’t see some improvement in your range of motion in two weeks, I will schedule an MRI and see what it shows,” the doctor replied.
Jake still just looked at him in disbelief and nodded his head.
He got up and walked to the door, limping a little as he still had the brace on for stabilization. He went to the receptionist’s desk and made the next appointments and went back down to the parking garage.
Thankful that the injury was to his left leg so he could still drive himself around, he got in and closed the door to his black high-end SUV and just sat there, thinking about the past weeks.
He had been in the league for six years and enjoyed immense success. He was drafted in the first round and was named Rookie of the Year and broke several team records.
He signed a really good two-year deal and then got a massive new six-year contract after that first year, with over $70 million in guaranteed money.
That was due to expire in the next year, but if he was injured, that was going to be bad for negotiations.
He was very popular in the city he played for, and he liked the area: it was not too cold like home and had great weather in the summer. He had good friends, great teammates, and some very hot women popping in and out of his bed and condo.
And all that could change.
All because of that one play.
A defensive tackle hit Jake. The player was penalized for a hit on a defenseless player with a huge fine and a three-game suspension in the new season.
It was a dirty play and everyone knew it. Jake had caught the game-winning touchdown with thirty-five seconds left in the game. And not just any game—the fucking Super Bowl, the Big Game!
They had just won their second championship in three years and he was standing up on crutches while the ticker tape and confetti poured down on them.
The roar of the crowd was deafening as the reporters tried to ask him questions. He had scored the last two touchdowns, one to tie and the other to win, and was named MVP.
Between the pain meds, adrenaline, and champagne being sprayed everywhere, he was a mess the next day when the team flew home and still had to attend the parade and victory rally.
He already had an X-ray and it showed damage. He would have the MRI after the victory parade. The meds were doing nothing for him and he just wanted to sleep. But he couldn’t get comfortable and he was on edge.
The parade and rally were incredible, but he couldn’t wait to be done and was relieved when his best friend, Kevin Brucks, another player on the team, loaded him up in his car and took him to Dr. Mayfed’s office.
Since then, it had been MRIs, surgery, and physical therapy.
A horn awoke him from his fog, and he thought he should go home. He was exhausted and just wanted some lunch and a nap.
He pulled out of the spot, out of the garage, and in the very busy downtown area traffic.
He got home and reheated spicy Thai noodles he had from yesterday, ate them at his kitchen island, and then went to the couch to take a nap. As he lay there, he decided that he needed to make a plan.
If he couldn’t play football anymore, what was he going to do?
He took out his phone and flipped through some photos, gently touching the screen, imagining that he was actually feeling what the picture held and remembering the smells that went along with the pictures.
He felt his heart clench in his chest and his eyes water a little. He sighed, then let his eyes close as he drifted off.
“Sammy, thanks for coming in for this meeting today. We wanted to talk with you about Gracie and some things we are noticing,” Ms. Webson said.
Sammy was really nervous about this meeting.
Gracie was enrolled in the local preschool at the elementary school Sammy had attended. It’s not every day that the principal and the director of the preschool want to have a parent meeting about your child.
To make matters worse, Sammy woke up fighting something and was not feeling good at all. She desperately wished that she would have asked Derek or Lynn to come with her, but she knew they were both booked all afternoon.
This was one of the things that stunk about being a single parent: there was no back up.
She sat a little straighter, took a deep breath, and asked them to continue.
“Just to put your mind at ease, this is nothing bad. Gracie is an amazing child and that is why we asked you here. Sammy, we think she is gifted and needs to be tested,” Mrs. Patricia, the preschool director, stated.
“Gifted? Are you sure?” Sammy asked in shock.
“Yes, she is reading at a very high level for a just-turned-five-year-old. Plus, she can do math way past what the average child her age is capable of,” Mrs. Webson said.
“Okay… I can get her tested and see what they say. I had no idea when she asked me to teach her to read that this would be the result.
“So, what happens after she gets tested? If they say she is gifted, what will happen when she starts kindergarten?”
“Well, that’s the thing, Sammy. If she scores like we are betting she will, regular elementary school is not going to be a good fit for her.
“Gracie will be extremely bored, even in our Gifted and Talented Program; she would struggle to be challenged on a regular basis.
“We are recommending that you take her to private school, where she can get the academic guidance she needs. The Stevens School is excellent and I think Gracie would fit in very well there.
“I recommend that you take a tour there and talk with the administration and see what you think,” Mrs. Webson finished.
Sammy was in shock listening to the women talk about her child.
She was polite, played well with others, had an exceptional vocabulary, and was an overall very well-adjusted five-year-old; she was just smart as hell.
They handed her a bunch of paperwork with names and numbers of people to call and get things set up with. Sammy thanked them both and went back to her beloved jeep and started it. She just sat there, letting it warm up.
It was a cold March in Colorado and the wind was blowing again, which made it feel ten degrees colder than it was. She hated the cold and being cold. Why she was still in Colorado was anyone’s guess.
She had a dream to live in Florida by the beach and be warm all the time. She took Gracie on vacation there last year and they had a great time playing in the sand and water, not to mention visiting the happiest place on earth.
Sammy was so sick of seeing princesses and singing their songs that she could vomit after that weeklong trip. She really wanted to go back and have some adult fun: drinking, boating, snorkeling, and jet skiing.
Soon, she promised herself. And she was taking Kate, her best friend, with her. They would go and tear up the coast, leaving men falling in their wake.
She laughed out loud at that point. What a joke!
Not many men would have anything other than a fling with an almost twenty-seven-year-old with a child. Sammy was pretty; she had heard it plenty of times growing up.
With her long auburn hair, vivid green eyes, and well-proportioned body and curves, she had no problem attracting men.
Her problem was that she kept comparing all her dates to him.
She had no idea why he would pop into her head when she was getting serious with someone, but he did, and it messed with her heart and mind. She knew she would always be in love with him and that would never go away.
And she still couldn’t forget him. It didn’t help that her daughter looked exactly like him, except for the hair, which was hers.
Plus, her brother always said she had no closure since he just left and hadn’t been back since.
Then she had to endure watching him on TV when games were on. They all loved football and watched a lot of it, so seeing Jake was inevitable.
He still made her heart stop every time he smiled, and as much as he scored, there was a lot of smiling. She sighed and turned the radio up to drown out the dialog in her head.
She turned the heat on high and tried to warm up a little, but she was shivering. If she didn’t have a fever, she was close. After that meeting, she had to make one stop and talk about what had happened.
She pulled out of the spot and down the road.
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