tagRomanceRunning into Coverage Ch. 04

Running into Coverage Ch. 04

byILmonamour©

Who doesn't know (or love) a walk of shame...I do, I DO! Estragon, you know where we stand. You are a godsend, and know football way more than I do. The shame! As always, your thoughts, comments and feedback is always appreciated.

Cheers

M

****

Sleep crusted at the corners of his eyes; they burned as he rubbed them. Yawning, Marcus looked around and for a moment forgot where he was. Glancing to the side where his alarm clock sat on the dresser, he was surprised to see a shoe instead. Instead of a glass trophy placed behind it, there was a picture frame. Reality came crashing at him as he realized that he was not in his own home, and this definitely was not his bedroom. The last thing he could remember was....

From the other side of the bed, the sheets shifted. Up until that point, Marcus had not realized he had been chilled since all of the fabric was covering the small sleeping form next to him. Reaching for a corner of the blanket, he tugged. Hadley twisted in her sleep to face Marcus; a smile crept over his face as he watched her sleep with the sheets tangled around her. His hand itched to rest against her hip, but fully knew she would give him ten kinds of hell for even trying.

He still couldn't believe the turn of events with her earlier that evening. When they had been in the bar, something passed between them apart from the drinks and they each gave up denying their sexual attraction. Marcus had wanted Hadley from the beginning, he didn't know why, but when she played with his fingers without anyone noticing, he knew she was finally willing to go through with it. And was he ever glad she was. She had given everything she had and it was one of the better nights he had with a woman in a long time. He couldn't remember feeling such raw energy that was as open and unabashed. With a wriggle of her nose, Hadley stretched out a leg and bumped it into Marcus' thigh. He gave an 'oof' of surprise causing her to wake from sleep lazily.

"Wimp." Her voice was heavy and deep from the rest.

Raising a brow that was hidden by the darkness, he answered quietly. "Bed-hog."

Clutching the sheet that she had stolen at some point during the late hours, she sat upright and looked around the bed. Taking in Marcus, who had pulled the ratty comforter up to cover his legs, she laughed. The sound brought warmth into his chilled body. Untangling the sheet, she covered up Marcus so that he could warm up and stay comfortable.

"Sorry about that, I don't share well with others."

Marcus sat up a little and leaned on his elbows facing Hadley. "You don't have to share, I can be a mattress. You need a clock in this room."

He was greeted with a lethargic snort. "I have one, it's on my side. It's..." She stretched her body over the side of the bed, Marcus would have loved raising the sheet to watch as she moved. He felt like a pervert. A pervert that needed to stay on his side of the bed and lift up his knees as heat started to travel down his body. Regardless of what they had shared not long ago, a voice in the back of his head told him she was not the cuddling type. She may have been every inch of a woman, but she was also a champion at that. "Four-thirty. I didn't set my alarm, what time do you need?"

"We don't have practice so I can sleep in. Don't you have a shift?"

Hitting the buttons, she made sure the alarm wouldn't go off at the typical five and set it for herself. "It's not until nine." Hadley turned to face him, a questioning smirk on her face. "Did you just check me out?"

"No."

"You're lying. You just did!"

Moving quickly, he covered her mouth with a free hand. "Shhh! You're going to wake your roommate." Hadley batted off his hands.

"She's already awake, because she's crazy. Don't dodge the question, Marcus Jennings."

"If the goods are offered, I'll look. Unfortunately for me, the sheet blocked my view."

The evil eye she had been known for with previous boyfriends and her family, faltered. Somehow this smooth-talking, over-confident man had weaseled his way into her very guarded heart and that made her incredibly nervous. "Thank god. I seriously doubt my ass meets your expectations after your lady friends of the sports world."

"Forget it."

"What do you mean forget it?" Hadley turned to lie back in the sheets and faced Marcus.

"There's no way in hell I'm answering that, or even saying a word. I'm a guy, but I'm not stupid. If you want a compliment, I'll be the first to say one. But comparing is not happening."

"You don't have to compare anything; I'm only speaking the truth." Hadley lifted a brow that dared him to comment.

Clucking his tongue, Marcus blew out a breath of air and knew she was fishing for a response from him. "Why put yourself down so hard?" Absentmindedly he reached around to grab her behind as she was facing him. "Your ass could probably beat a few people I know."

Hadley smacked his chest and laughed at the wounded look in his eyes. "You are such a creep!"

The bed shook as he laughed. "An enthusiast, maybe. But not a creep."

"I don't know if I should laugh or kick you out."

"Laugh, sleep and then kick me out."

A yawn escaped her lips as exhaustion caught up with her. Marcus pulled the sheets up to cover both of them, making sure to rake his fingers lightly up her thigh. "Oh, fine. But stay over there on your side."

"Somehow I don't think that's going to happen."

For a short while, they continued to bicker back and forth playfully until Marcus had enough and leaned in for another taste. Hadley hummed softly against his lips and gave in to the powerful craving for him. Rather than moving as they did before, their thrusts were slowed as they indulged on deep strokes and intoxicating kisses. Completely worn out afterward, Marcus drifted off to sleep first. Hadley rolled to her back and tried to regain her emotions before getting ahead of herself. She chose to sleep with him, as he did with her. Right now he was in her bed, tomorrow he may be in someone else's but for now—she was okay with the way things were. Or at least she told herself that.

As she curled her legs up for warmth, her knee lightly rested next to his hand. He seemed to be a deep sleeper from his heavier breathing, but fidgeted his thumb against her skin, making her wonder what he was dreaming about. The light tapping felt timed, as if he was nervously waiting for something. The movements stilled for a minute while his finger lifted away from her skin. Holding her breath, she prayed to god that she didn't wake him again. Her luck kept on as he blew out a gust of air and brushed his thumb against her knee. A slow smile spread across her face as she closed her eyes. He was probably dreaming about football.

****

By six thirty his internal clock went off, jostling Marcus in the bed. He nearly fell out of it trying to stay still or stay on, since Hadley had nearly taken up all the mattress. Gathering up his scattered clothes from the ground, he dressed quickly while keeping his eyes on her. The sheets were a tangled mess around her legs, her bright purple painted toenails peeking through one end. Before he slipped out of the room, Marcus lifted the comforter and covered her. The door squeaked as he shut it, and just as he was at the front room a small voice startled him.

"Busted." Caitlin, was curled up on the couch wrapped up in several flannel blankets. Her coarse hair sticking up in every which direction.

"Morning to you too." Marcus ruffled his own hair, knowing he was about to leave without so much as a glance at his appearance.

"I'm glad that someone had a good night."

Even the air felt awkward, and he wanted nothing more than to get the hell out, instead of having a heart to heart. "It was okay. You really can come out every once in a while, instead of being cooped up in here all of the time." Marcus reached for the handle of the front door and opened it.

In a wistful tone, she spoke as if he talked of a fantasy. "Someday. You might want to dampen your hair a bit; it looks like you barely survived a tornado. Or Hadley."

Leaning down by the mirror in the entranceway he frowned at his appearance but figured he'd rather get out of the apartment than fix his bed tousled hair. Caitlin laughed as he shrugged his shoulders. "It'll do. See you later."

Walking out of the apartment complex and over to his SUV, all memories came rushing back from the time at O State when he had spent the night at a girlfriend's house by accident. He remembered sneaking out of her room and almost got all of the way out when one of the housemates handed him a sock he'd tossed on a stair landing in getting to the girl's room. Walking out of Hadley's apartment just then, that same walk-of-shame feeling crept up the minute he heard Caitlin's eerie voice.

It shouldn't have surprised him to see her on the couch, and he tried thinking the best of her. Often times he would drop Hadley off and Caitlin would be by the window. She seemed like a nice girl, but was highly reserved or just plain shy. From talking with Hadley, he knew the girls got along but definitely kept to their own ways. That was probably Hadley's doing, with having her own art studio and being as independent as she was. She didn't know how to really let people in. Last night he saw a whole new side of her and wanted to explore it. Little by little, he was breaking through this tough little artist and sooner or later she would see why.

Feeling better about the morning, as he got to his SUV and frowned immediately. Perfectly nestled beneath the wiper blades was an orange envelope with the insignia for the city of Chicago. With great annoyance he grabbed the paper to check the damage. Caught up in desire, he hadn't paid for the parking spot and sure enough was being fined nearly seventy dollars.

Tossing his jacket on the passenger seat, he sat down and turned over the ignition. Not even a parking ticket could take away from his good mood. Not for a second. Instead, he took out his phone and started to text Hadley, completely disregarding the horn honking Accord waiting for the spot he was currently resting in.

Your roommate is weird. The next walk of shame is from my house.

Waving his hands, knowing the idiot in the car behind couldn't see through the heavy tinted glass, he maneuvered the vehicle out and made his way back to his condo. The team may have an off day, but there were slips in his follow through and he needed to get to work on tightening up his tactics.

The next game was against Dallas and he didn't intend on being a repeat offender, missing a pass that couldn't afford to be missed. Last night he had lost nine yards which could have cost the game; luckily he pulled through and got back on track in the third. Despite the team being second in the division, he was playing like a minor athlete. His timing was off and the coaches knew it. When Gabe shouted at him in the fourth to snap out of it and get back in the game, he couldn't figure what was causing him to fumble balls and give away completions.

Earlier in the week, he had gone over to Gabe and Samantha's for dinner. Mainly he had been there so he could get more tips from Gabe outside of the practice fields. The two had spent hours sitting on the couch arguing about his reading the zone coverage and how he had not been on the same page as Joey Seton lately. He remembered it all too well as Samantha piped up from her paperwork at the kitchen table.

"Marcus, you do seem different out there. What's up? Or maybe I shouldn't ask."

"Nothing's going on. There's a problem, I'm working on it, end of story."

Gabe wouldn't let him get away with such casual candor. "That's a bullshit answer. I'll tell you exactly what's going on. You've got your head in your ass and have been avoiding Seton. We're four games in. It's a new season, who cares what happened last year. When you guys start communicating and listening to each other, everything will work and you'll stop playing like you need to be benched. That's the end of the story."

"What the fuck gives, man? We run through the plays beforehand."

"Then get your feet in fucking order, and stop expecting the ball to come to you at the same spot on the field. Each move is a lifeline, listen to the game."

"There is too much testosterone in this room. Marcus, I love you but Gabe has a point."

"I give up. Everyone has an opinion on this."

"I'm not everyone. Besides, mine doesn't count. Listen to what Gabe is saying it makes sense. How can you play effectively if you're going into a game blindly? Right?"

Gabe looked up at Samantha as she gathered all of her papers to move into their bedroom for a little peace and quiet. Or to get away from all of their obscenities as they argued. "Sweetheart, you don't have to leave."

She waved a hand at him. "Its fine. You guys have a lot to figure out, and my students need their reports graded correctly. I doodled a football, so it must be a sign to get out of here for a bit." Walking over to the men on the couch, she kissed Gabe, then left to finish her work.

Her words had struck a chord and stayed in his thoughts since that night. For the practices he intended to have some of the guys change up the routines and throw high and low balls so he could work on his motions. Before everything, he planned on sitting down with Joey to figure out the best way they could keep working together. They had been a good team before, there was no reason they couldn't make a seamless one again.

Confidence raced through him and he found himself getting excited to get to the practice fields. Hopeful to turn his game around, Marcus knew the actions that needed to be taken and it started with the quarterback. There were three days until the game against Dallas; that was more than enough time to pull it together.

****

The coffee shop had been chaotic for each of her shifts. Luckily Hadley had managed to sneak away a few hours each night to the studio and keep up with some of her canvases. One of her clients in New York had sent her an email with the descriptions of what they wanted, so she had been sketching with a charcoal pencil as a slow start. Hours had gone by but one of the canvases had remained bare. It wasn't working until the banging of hammers from the construction site down the street broke through her concentration. Her fingers moved effortlessly and guided the pencil as she etched in several abstract lines. To the beat of the banging and clanking of metal, lines turned into the shapes, which formed the outline of what she would paint.

The client had requested something urban, so it seemed fitting that Hadley's inspiration was motivated by the construction. By Saturday evening, she was anxious to start painting to give it a bold, almost masculine appeal. From what she could tell from the emails that had been going back and forth between them, the client wanted something to represent strength and success. His words were short but very pointed, giving her bullet points of what he expected. He was precise and openly disagreed with some of her suggestions. Nothing scared her, and rather than feeling stressed or pressured, she reveled in the request. Determination to succeed for the client consumed her and flooded the canvas. Creative forces sped through her veins, urging her hands to move.

As she stood staring at the canvas resting on the easel, her head cocked to the side. Distinctly, Hadley recalled the man instructing her on which colors she should use. They went against everything that she had sketched. He wanted black and silver, whereas now that she had created a portion of the piece, she knew otherwise. With fingers tingling at her sides, she dipped one in a rich green and started to layer it on. Skin roaming the canvas, the cool paint lightly coating over the etched lines. Something deep inside her told her to start with the green. She would cover it up with a coat of black, or maybe even a deep purple, but the piece needed to begin with the green.

Her eyes glazed and she soon became possessed by the power of her passion. Flecks of aluminum were glued in the corners, small slivers of glass scattered throughout. Heavy smears of paint pulling everything together. Minutes turned into hours and night became morning. A faint sound interrupted her hypnotic trance. Grabbing a towel, she wiped her hands clean as best as she could and reached for the phone. There were numerous calls and several missed messages. Scrolling through it all, she stopped at a message from Marcus. Since their night together, they had talked on the phone but had not had a chance to see each other. Between practices and then flying out for a game that weekend, and her irregular schedule, a phone call was all they could work in.

His message brought a smile to her face; it was simple and stupid but made her body itch to be around him again. Realizing that it was Sunday, she was dumbfounded that he had considered her on a game day. A thought replayed in her head but she couldn't bring herself to phone Sam and see if they could watch the game together. A nagging feeling irritated her that she even considered watching, but Hadley couldn't fight her feelings all of the time when it came to Marcus. He had become someone she looked forward to talking to, and since their night together she definitely was anxious for him. But even though she wanted to open herself up to the idea of him, there was so much more to everything than she cared to admit.

Ever since they had met, something caught fire within her and as she began each new painting she was fueled with inspiration. On Wednesday, she was scheduled to present one of the latest pieces at a gallery and couldn't have been more excited. It was her first real showing in Chicago and was unsure how her art would come across. Hadley was confident in the work but had visited many galleries since moving, and nothing she'd seen made a perfect match.

The appointment could go either way, so she was mentally preparing for that by keeping her expectations very low. As the paint dried she figured a distraction was needed, and what could be better than Marcus on a television screen.

Flipping the switch on the smaller fan, Hadley set the speed and made up her mind to sit in a bar with the rest of the Chicagoans and become a fan.

****

The Cougars took down the Cowboys, and remained second in the division as they rode into the sixth week of the season. Hard work paid off, and though he didn't outrun the Cowboys' fine secondary for a touchdown, Marcus did complete several passes and gained important yardage. All of the guys were grateful for the win, but kept calm on the late night flight back to Chicago.

The plane had just landed and was waiting to pull into the gate. Marcus sat shaking his ankle impatiently, waiting to get out so that he could call Hadley without having his conversation overheard. While in the locker room after the game, he saw a text from her. She had taken a picture of a beer and sent it to him with a message to follow that she was indeed watching the game. A good confident feeling came over him as she warmed up to his job.

He sent a message back to her, to which she immediately responded. They had gone back and forth up until the minute the team boarded the plane. The last message he sent was more of a question. Coming in late from the flight, practice would get delayed until mid-afternoon. She had mentioned that she didn't have a shift but was getting her piece ready to present at the gallery. They hadn't seen each other for a week and he was hungry for her. The phone remained blank and he scrolled through the messages trying to backtrack to see where he went wrong.

As the front doors opened and the players started to exit, Marcus took a deep breath and put the phone in the breast pocket of his suit. Shaking his head, he figured he crossed the line and got ahead of himself with her. All of the players' bags lay in a heap near the gate, as he reached for his own loneliness curled through him. Sharing a room with Velesquez for the past two days, was definitely nothing but business.

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