tagRomanceKellie and Brad

Kellie and Brad

bydrteetho©

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was inspired to write this story after watching a match at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women`s curling championships. Curling is a great sport but I understand not everyone gets it, so I tried not to use too much jargon or make it too much of the focus. This is my first attempt at a genuine, romantic, redemptive love story. As always, please read and enjoy.

*

Her form was perfect.

The concentration etched on her face. The strength uncoiling from her body as she powered out of the hack. The graceful follow-through as she extended her arm and let go of the rock.

The way her tight pants framed her ass as she delivered each practice shot.

Perfect. Every time.

He sighed as she delivered another rock and watched it settle into the rings, stopping right on the button. He wondered how things had come to this point in his life.

Curling was a major part of his life. He didn`t have a natural talent for the game; he was only ever good enough to play in the Sunday night beer leagues. But he was a friendly presence around the curling club, and the president appreciated his dedication enough to give him a job as a maintenance man on the grounds. He took to his position with relish, and over time he was given more responsibilities, eventually becoming the key assistant to the head icemaker.

Despite being around the game for so long, he loved it more than ever. He enjoyed the mental aspect of the sport, trying to match wits and strategy with the teams as he watched games unfold, whether it be at a local bonspiel or the championship matches on TV.

But most of all, it was the people. Curling athletes were the most down-to-earth of any sport, of that he was fully convinced. He attended several championship events and met the best players in the world, and all of them were genuinely nice, regular people. In no other sport would you see the athletes mingling so much with the fans, even having a beer with them, yet this happened in curling all the time because the whole community was so tight-knit.

He preferred to watch the women compete. Women generally relied less on sheer power and more on nuanced strategy and intricate shot-making, and he enjoyed that aspect of their game. And yes, if he was being completely honest, he found most female curlers to be very attractive. In his mind it was the perfect combination of athleticism and girl-next-door looks they possessed that he found irresistible.

But no one captured his attention more than Kellie, who was without a doubt the best curler this small town had ever produced.

Kellie usually wore her straight black hair in a ponytail when he saw her, which was nearly always at the curling club. Her brown eyes were focused and intense, and they were framed by functional yet stylish wire-rimmed glasses. This gave him a secret thrill, as he had a thing for women in glasses. Her breasts were no more than a handful, but they fit her body shape very well. Her hips flared out ever so sweetly, giving her a curvy, womanly frame that was very pleasing to his eye. He never saw her in dresses or skirts, only pants, so he didn`t have a good idea what her legs looked like when bare, but he was sure they were very strong and powerful after years in the sport.

But he thought her best feature was her ass, by far. It was tight and firm, two fleshy globes that he saw countless times when she was bent over, preparing herself to deliver yet another rock to its target. It looked great clothed, so he could only guess at how tremendous it would be in the nude. Many times when he was at home during the night, surrounded by nothing more than his own thoughts and fantasies, he asked himself if he had seen a better butt in his life. The answer was always the same. It was Kellie`s. Her ass was the best, the most rounded, the most succulent, the most desirable.

The most remarkable thing about Kellie, in his opinion, was it appeared she had no idea how sexy she was. No idea at all. If anything, that just made her more attractive to him, as if he were in on a titillating secret no one else knew about.

He thought about Kellie a lot more recently, if that was possible, and it was kind of making him crazy. He envisioned her slowly stripping her clothes and seductively walking towards him. He imagined how her legs would feel wrapped around his torso while they embraced as lovers. He wondered how soft her skin would be when he caressed her ass cheeks. He saw himself driving his...

"Brad!"

He sat up in a jerk and looked up. It was Russ, the head icemaker, his boss and, for all intents and purposes, his best friend. "Jeez, Russ, you scared me half to death! I`m sorry, did you need me..."

Russ softly chuckled and waved his hand in a dismissive though not unfriendly gesture. "It`s OK, we have some time yet." He sat down and cocked his head towards the ice. "Watching Kellie again, I see."

Brad softly nodded. "Yeah."

"You like her, don`t you?"

"God help me, I do."

Russ chuckled again. "You know, as good a curler as she is, I don`t think she`s good at mind-reading."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, you should ask her out."

Brad bowed his head. "I don`t know, man."

"Come on, you sound like a scared grade schooler."

"What if she says no?"

"What if she says yes?

Brad sighed in exasperation. "I just... I don`t know."

Russ put a friendly hand on Brad`s shoulder. "Well, I may not know much about love, but here`s what I do know. You can`t slowly waste away pining for her, it will drive you insane. Ask her. If she says no, it will hurt but at least you`ll know where you stand. If she says yes, then... who knows?"

Brad rolled Russ`s words around in his head. He knew his friend was right, of course, but acting on his romantic desires was always something he struggled with. He watched Kellie make another practice shot, thinking about recent well-publicized events in her professional curling life. He thought she could use some moral support and some love. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to be that source of support and love. He also thought if the time was not right now, it never would be.

Finally he said, "You know Russ, you`re right. I will ask her."

"Good for you! You`d better get down there, her practice ends in 5 minutes."

"But what about work?"

"Don`t worry. I can handle things the rest of the afternoon, there isn`t that much left to do. Now go on, Brad, before you get cold feet!"

Brad shook his friend`s hand and patted him on the back. "Thanks Russ," he said. Then he left the lounge/observation area and hurried towards the ice.

****

She knew he watched her.

If it were anyone else, she was pretty sure she would be entirely creeped out. Somehow, though, he was different. He seemed completely without guile or hidden agenda, and his intentions seemed pure; he was just a regular guy who loved the sport as much as she did and wanted to be around it as much as he could. He was friendly and very well-liked and respected by all at the curling club, as well as by the townspeople at large.

And, if she were being completely honest, she found him to be a very good-looking man.

He was big and strong, years of physical labour toning his body. He had a square jaw, a barrel chest and broad shoulders. She thought about what it would be like to run her hands over his muscular frame. His face and demeanour were welcoming and friendly, and he was always nothing but a perfect gentleman towards her. Still, she sensed his face, and particularly his deep blue eyes, held more than a hint of mystery. She often wondered what thoughts lie behind those eyes.

Despite her thoughts of him, and the realization that, at least on some level, he held more than a passing interest in her, she never even considered the possibility he might be interested in a more intimate relationship with her. She never thought he would think of her as sexy. Why would he, she often thought. She never thought of herself as attractive so it didn`t occur to her that others might.

It was but one negative aspect of her life that, on the whole, she could feel crumble around her. Her day job was uninspiring. She had few friends outside of curling. In fact, other than on a sheet of curling ice, there wasn`t one area of her life in which she had any real satisfaction or confidence. Damn her unhappy childhood, she often thought when contemplating her fate.

Kellie`s parents divorced when she was young, and she shuttled between her father, who preferred her hockey-playing older brother, and her mother, who doted on her princess of a younger sister. She made few friends in her big-city grade school and was often teased and bullied by other girls. When offered the chance to move to the small town, with an aunt and uncle, to start high school, she jumped at it immediately, eager for a new start.

But she had a lot of trouble adjusting to the rhythms of small-town life, and her aunt and uncle did not provide a nurturing household, leaving her alone to deal with her own issues and insecurities surrounding boys, body image, and other typical teenage obsessions. She had few dates. She did have one boyfriend to whom she did lose her virginity. But the boy was selfish, more interested in his needs than hers, making it for her a fumbling, humiliating experience.

Being introduced to curling in her first year of high school was her saving grace, the only place she felt she belonged. She had a natural talent for the game which the coaches saw and developed in her. Otherwise feeling like a fish out of water, she found the curling club to be a true sanctuary for her. But as she grew into a woman and continued in the game, even that feeling started to desert her.

Kellie was developing a reputation as a "nearly woman" in the game. She lost in many semi-final and final matches in her junior days, and the pattern continued when she turned professional. She lost the provincial finals to the same team three times running. Last year she did win provincials, but only because her nemesis took the year off from the sport to help raise her family. Her team got hot at nationals and reached the semi-final, but she failed in her last shot and her team lost in heartbreaking fashion. Those in the know said she could never "win the big one". Her team was in turmoil; she managed to hold them together for now but she wondered for how long. She practiced obsessively for the upcoming season, but the pressure she put on herself to win was enormous, and it was starting to suck the joy out of the game for her. She cried many nights wondering if she could cope.

All these thoughts were swirling through her head after she finished practice. She was so distracted she did not see Brad waiting at the hallway entrance; she nearly literally bowled him over.

"Oh god, I`m sorry Brad! Are you OK? Oh I didn`t even see you there!" Kellie said.

Brad smiled and straightened himself out. "It`s alright, Kellie. No harm done. I imagine you have a lot on your mind right now."

"Yeah", she said, but did not elaborate.

"Did practice go well?"

"Pretty good, I feel I`m throwing well. How is work around the club?"

"Oh, busy as usual. You know how it is, always something to fix."

Kellie and Brad both nodded. An uncomfortable silence hung between them. Then Kellie said, "Well, I should really get going. It was nice talking to you Brad."

With that, she headed for the change room, and Brad saw his chance slipping away. Just as Kellie pulled on the door, he yelled, "Kellie, wait!"

Even from a distance Brad could see the look of shock on her face. "Is something wrong?" she asked.

"No, no, not at all," he laughed nervously. "I... I was just wondering, are you busy tonight?"

Kellie paused, wondering where Brad was going with this. "No, I`m free tonight. Why do you ask?"

"I thought maybe you and I could go out for dinner. What do you think?"

Kellie was not expecting Brad to make such a request, but she was flattered by the interest. Saying yes went against her natural instincts. Then again, it isn`t every day a man asks you on a date, Kellie thought to herself. What the heck, it might be fun.

She smiled; it was enough to melt Brad`s heart. "Sure," she said. "I`d like that."

Brad visibly exhaled. "Great! Meet you at the diner at 7:00?"

"Sure. See you then."

Kellie went to the change room. Brad left for home to get ready, with an extra little hop in his step.

****

They were incredibly nervous.

Kellie had competed in big curling matches, watched in arenas by thousands and on TV by millions, yet she was more nervous for this date than anything she had experienced before in her life. She nearly called Brad five different times to cancel. She even considered just not showing up but realized that would heartlessly crush Brad, and she desperately did not want to do that to such a sweet guy. She changed outfits several times, finally settling on a pretty floral dress that fit her well without being too revealing. A white pair of medium heels completed the ensemble. After taking several deep breaths, she finally felt ready to go.

Brad hadn`t fared much better in his preparations. He was so anxious he threw up soon after he got home. He finally felt well enough to shower and get ready. He shaved and prepped himself about as much as a man could before going out on a first date. Deciding on his best collared dress shirt and pair of khaki pants, he left his house hoping he would make a good impression on Kellie. He picked up a small, simple floral arrangement at the general store before getting to the diner, trusting Kellie would appreciate the gesture.

He reached the diner fifteen minutes early. He was restless, pacing back and forth. Meanwhile, she realized she would be late if she didn`t hurry up. She walked as fast as she could in her heels, all the while doubt creeping in whether he`d even be there at all, making her the butt of yet another cruel cosmic joke.

Brad saw Kellie first as she rounded the street corner. With her wearing a dress and a nicely coiffed hairdo, he almost didn`t recognize her at first. But once he knew it was her he was captivated all over again by just how pretty she was. His heartbeat accelerated as she got closer and closer.

Kellie was touched to see Brad holding flowers for her, a perfectly gentlemanly thing to do. She also couldn`t help but notice him shuffling his feet from side to side like a skittish five year-old. I`m glad I`m not the only one who`s nervous as hell, she thought.

They were both smiling at each other as Kellie stopped in front of Brad.

"Hi Kellie," said Brad.

"Hi Brad," replied Kellie.

Still smiling, time standing still, neither of them moved.

Finally Brad shook his head. "Sorry, kind of zoned out there for a second... these are for you."

"Thank you, that`s very sweet. They are pretty." Kellie gave him a small kiss on the cheek.

"Thanks, you`re pretty too."

Kellie smiled and blushed but said nothing.

Brad held out his arm. "Shall we?"

Kellie held him by the elbow and answered, "I`d like that."

They entered the diner and were given a semi-private booth in the back corner. They couldn`t help but notice the other patrons, most of them regulars, watching them as they took their seats. It made Kellie a little self-conscious, but Brad only thought, let them look, I`m with the prettiest girl around and I don`t care who knows it.

It turned out to be a wonderful dinner. It took a few awkward moments to break the ice, but before long they made each other at ease and enjoyed a stimulating conversation. Kellie in particular felt disarmed by Brad; he was funny and interesting, but more importantly was a good listener. She quickly found herself comfortable enough to tell him much of her life story, including things she shared with few other people.

For his part Brad was sympathetic to Kellie`s situation. He was more impressed with her accomplishments than ever, given the challenges she had to overcome. More than anything else though he knew he was falling deeply and madly in love with Kellie.

They talked well into the night. The sun set outside, all the other customers left long ago, and the diner employees were cleaning up around them, yet still they talked and laughed and enjoyed each other`s company. Kellie saw the clock read 11:00 pm, looked around and said, "I think they`re going to kick us out of here soon."

Brad sighed and said, "Yeah, I guess we should let them lock up for the night."

They went outside, hand in hand, into the brisk, early spring night. They walked for a few minutes in a pleasant silence.

"Thank you so much Brad, I had a wonderful time tonight."

"So did I Kellie. I hope we can do it again real soon."

He leaned in towards her face. She tilted her head to accept him. Slowly, gently, they kissed. They agreed to see each other again soon before parting ways for the evening.

Kellie returned home in a state of turmoil. She`d had a marvellous time, but was still conflicted over her emotions. She wasn`t used to being in a close relationship, and the thought that she could find herself in one so quickly kind of scared her. She worried that something that was starting so well could only end badly. She ended up crying herself to sleep.

Brad went home walking on a cloud. He was grinning like an idiot the whole way, not that he cared. He kissed Kellie Ferguson, and it felt wonderful.

****

They went out again the next night.

And again the next night. And the night after that.

Pretty soon they were a regular item. The consensus among the townsfolk was that they made a cute couple.

Brad was thrilled that Kellie seemed to like him so much. The last six months when they were together were the happiest he`d ever had. He hoped the relationship could progress into something more intimate, because he longed to do more with Kellie than just chaste kissing. He wanted to touch and taste her, all of her. But he understood that she was fragile, and he did not want to jeopardize what he felt was a very special relationship. So he was fine with taking things slow for now, hoping to break Kellie out of her shell.

Kellie felt safe with Brad. She loved the sound of his laugh, the smell of his after-shave and the strong and protective grip he exerted when they held hands. She was still worried though, because she figured Brad would eventually want a more physical side to their relationship, and she wasn`t sure if she could handle that yet. She also agonized over the possibility that Brad would ultimately reject her, even though it seemed ridiculous because it was not in his nature to be cruel.

It was a glorious late summer evening. They were having a picnic in the park. Their conversation, as it often did, turned to curling.

"I have a good feeling about your team this year, Kellie," said Brad. "Your two front-end players are improving all the time, your vice-skip is strong, and, well, of course you`re an amazing curler. You`ll win provincials again, for sure. I can feel it."

"I don`t know," replied Kellie. "The Morriss team is back again. I just can`t seem to beat them."

"Sure you can. They are good, but you`re better. You just have to believe."

"You say it like it`s so easy."

"Well, I can only imagine it`s not easy, even for a naturally gifted curler such as yourself." Kellie couldn`t help but blush at Brad`s praise.

"But," Brad continued, "you won last year, and you almost won nationals, and there were some very strong teams there. You can win. You will win."

"I`m not sure. A lot of people say I can`t win when it counts the most."

"Says who?"

"People in the big city, in the media..."

"Them?" Brad scoffed. "Forget them. They have no idea what they are talking about. The people in this town say you can win." He gently held Kellie`s face in his hands. "I say you can win."

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