A few of the kids I recognized bashfully greeted me as they rushed to the parking lot where their parents waited to take them home. More daring kids with stars in their eyes ignored their waiting parents and stopped to ask me questions about basketball. I answered them as politely and patiently as expected while I kept one eye on the school’s front doors, waiting for her to pass through them. When she finally did, I sent the kids on their way with a promise to talk more Friday after school. Because of my unofficial “assistant” coach position with the boys’ basketball team, I was only able to meet with my little league team once a week. Dash and Keenan stepped in when they could, but they were busy with their businesses and families.
“Hey,” she greeted softly. After all these years, she was still shy and soft. As she drew closer, I forced myself to stay seated on the hood of my car. I admired her body in the gray dress that hugged her figure and the high black pumps that made her long legs seem endless. Her long blonde hair was piled high in a bun with her signature bangs teasing the lids of her beautiful blue eyes. Effortlessly, she was the hottest fucking school teacher I've ever seen. I suddenly had the cock-hardening desire to sneak her back to her classroom and fuck her hard against the blackboard.
When there was no more space between us, she stepped between my legs and offered a brief kiss. I growled. She blushed and giggled, knowing that I hated being denied. “What are you doing here?” she questioned as she stepped back in an attempt to remain professional. I stood then to bring our bodies closer again. I didn't give a fuck who watched. The twinkle in her eyes and twist of her lips, however, warned me to behave.
“I wanted to see you.” She was more than just my wife and lover and friend. She was my peace. Forgetting her desire to maintain professional and giving in to her desire for me, she melted into me even as a small frown appeared. She knew exactly why I needed to see her. “You can always quit," she offered without preamble. "You have the little league team, and they love you despite their stupid parents.”
I shook my head and watched her shoulders slump at my silent refusal. “I can’t do that.” The team needed me even if most of them would never admit it. They couldn’t help it. Their parents had told them about my past and warned how dangerous I am… was. It was only because of Coach Lyons that they didn’t pull their sons from the team altogether.
Six Forks was divided between those who had been willing to give me a second chance and those who thought I should have left for good five years ago.
“You have your degree now in sports medicine. We can start over somewhere new and find a new school where you can coach, and I can teach.” She bit her trembling lip, waiting for my response.
“So just turn my back while he fucks with their heads all so he can win a few trophies?” My nostrils flared. Rather than retreat she stood on the tip of her toes and kissed me, longer than before until I felt my anger dissipate into a simmer.
“It’s okay,” she whispered soothingly. “We’ll figure this out.” Her voice wavered, and I knew she was just as lost as I about how exactly we could help those kids. “Maybe try talking to him again?”
I blew out a breath, remembering the last time I brought up the subject. He had deliberated the usefulness of having a second coach. Since I was only an unpaid volunteer, it was solely at his discretion to keep me on. I surrendered when instinct demanded I conquer and for years stood back and ignored his reign of terror, only offering help and guidance to the team when I could. My hands balled tightly into fists, so I forced them open and slid them around her waist to keep from hitting something.
Coach was nearing retirement soon, and with my degree, I was hoping to take his place and do some good once he was gone.
You're not strong enough. You're not good. Just kill him.
“Hey.” She lifted my face when I hid in her shoulder. “That team is lucky to have you, and when he’s finally gone, they’ll figure it out for themselves.”
But what if I was no better?
What if after five years I was still the monster half this town believed me to be?
She kissed me one last time before pulling away. “I’m going home to our children, and when you’re done with practice, we’ll be waiting for you.” Discreetly, she trailed her finger down my chest and over the hard ridges of my stomach. “Especially me.” I felt my cock stir at the promise in her voice.
Playfully, I lifted her finger from where it lingered over the waistline of my shorts and dropped her hand. “Phee would scream bloody murder if she saw you right now.” At only two, her possessive nature rivaled my own.
Lake scoffed and rolled her eyes. “I had you first, and I’m keeping you. Your daughter can find her own playmate.”
“Tough talk,” I closed the space between us and took her lips, “we’ll see if you mean it tonight.”
She moaned, forgetting where we were and closed her eyes. “Yes,” she breathed. Excitement filled her gaze when she opened her eyes. “We will.”
“More than once,” I promised before turning away and hopping in my car. I was one more breathless moan from bending her over the hood. It’s been a long time since I lost control with her. Maybe when our kids were in bed, I’d sneak her down into the garage and fool around with her in the backseat.
The team had already begun to warm up when I arrived. I nodded a greeting that mostly went ignored and dropped my gym bag before joining them. Despite their mostly hidden animosity and wariness, they were like sponges when I coached. My methods were mostly hands-on, guiding and instructing, while Coach Lyons screamed and threatened, and sometimes threw his clipboard at the players from the sideline when they fucked up a play.
As if summoned, he came strolling through the gym doors. His watched from the sidelines, assessing the players, and waiting for the moment he could unleash his temper. I shook my head and did my best to ignore him as I moved with the team up and down the court. The man I was years ago would have dealt with him how I saw fit—swift and violent.
But I had a family now, and a monster was not the man they needed me to be.
Practice went the same as usual. I guided while Lyons screamed. Halfway through practice, he hurled vicious insults at the Center when he missed the rebound. I went deathly still, my teeth gritted, as I listened, vowing to remember every word he spat as he tore Jeremy apart. The kid was one of our most talented players, and yet despite his size and skill, he remained submissive. I watched him during the rest of practice. He was stone-faced and quiet as he played harder, never letting on that Lyon’s words hit its mark.
Practice ended, and I was more eager than ever to leave. During the long walk to my car, I started to consider Lake’s offer to leave the team behind. Staying could cost me everything. Already, I could feel the thread of my control snapping. I imagined driving my fist into Lyons until he was a bloody pulp and for a moment, I savored that long-lost feeling of killing.
My only choices were staring back at me, urging me to choose.
It was a few more steps before I registered my name being called. Jeremy slowed his jog and stopped a few steps away. He shoved his hands in his blue hoodie, and I watched the muscle in his jaw tick. “What’s up?”
“How bad is it going to have to get before you do something?” Blue eyes bore into me with anger and contempt swirling in its depths.
The truth was I tried, but not hard enough. I’d gone to Principal Lawrence three years ago, but due to my reputation, she dismissed my claim. For thirty years Coach Lyons coached for Bainbridge High without fail, and she would not take the word of a dangerous criminal over a trusted employee. It was enough that I was allowed on school grounds at all.
“He’ll retire soon.”
“Is that your final answer? To just watch and wait?”
I leaned back against my car door and studied him. “The school isn’t willing to do anything on my word alone, not with my rep," I confessed. It was the only time I'd ever confirmed the rumors.
He swallowed hard, knowing what I was asking. What I was challenging him to do. “What if I had information?” His gaze shifted around the parking lot nervously. “What would you do?”
“Whatever it takes,” I promised before I could stop myself. I forced myself to hold his gaze because if I closed my eyes, I would see my family. Guilt clawed at my skin even now.
“The others warned me not to tell you. They said you wouldn’t give a shit because you never gave a shit. They think you're probably in on it.” He swallowed and watched me carefully, wary of the villain they all expected me to be.
“In on what,” I demanded through clenched teeth. I wanted to ask him what he thought. Why, when the rumors were all true, did he trust me?
“The juice.” I stood up straighter, completely thrown off guard. His frowned deepened with confusion and disbelief as he took in my surprise. “You really didn’t know?”
“No.” I tried to keep my voice level as rage crescendoed. Silence fell between us in the dark parking lot. Jeremy’s expression was hopeful as he waited and watched for what I might do. “How long?”
“After we lost the championship.”
“Are you on that shit?”
He hesitated before nodding slowly. “When a few of us turned him down, he threatened to kick us off the team.”
I swore and pushed away from the car. I'd heard enough. There was no way I could walk away now. “Tell the team to go home," I ordered darkly.
“What are you going to do?”
I didn’t answer him as I prowled my way through the night to Coach Lyons office. This shit ended now.
End of Part One