Playing the Field

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I grinned at my cousin from across the centerfield line, making sure he knew how confident I was in my team.

"Are you sure you don't want to back down now? I mean, it's pretty obvious you're going to lose." I said with a fake apologetic face.

"In your dreams, pipsqueak." My cousin called me by the nickname he had used ever since he was the slightest bit taller than me. He was now at least a half foot taller than me so the term fit but I still didn't appreciate it.

We crouched down and got ready for the hike that would start our already too serious match of football.  I twisted my foot to make sure I had enough traction to push off and tackle my cousin.  There was no reason for me to take him out first other than the fact he had called me pipsqueak 27 times since I had gotten to the park him and his buddies were hanging out at.

"Hike!" Payton shouted after throwing the ball and I went straight into him to knock him over.

"Oof!" We both landed on the ground and I quickly got up to go get the ball. I left my cousin behind as he tried to catch his breath. I understood the basics of football when I watched it but I had no idea what any of the fouls or other rules were. Once I spotted the ball I realized I had been too slow as my cousin's team made the touchdown.

"You're not getting away with that again, pipsqueak," my cousin spoke as we walked toward the new line. Our teams quickly huddled up to make a plan for the next play.

"Mads, that was so sick! I can't believe you were able to take Payton down like that!" Zack spoke, patting me on the back.

"Thanks Zack. I was nervous he was gonna trample me," I said honestly. Payton weighed about 80 pounds more than me and it definitely wasn't because he was fat.

"Nah. He didn't even see it coming."

"Yeah but he will now so I can't do it again, huh?" I spoke sadly.

"I think he'd expect it even less now that you've already done it.  I mean, what idiot would do that twice in a row, right?" one of the other guys joked.

"I guess this idiot," I laughed nervously.  The guys continued making a game plan on how to get the ball back while I thought of all the bones I could break if Payton anticipated my move.  We all lined up in the same positions and waited for Payton to hike the ball to Jay. 

"Hike!" Payton yelled again and everything suddenly slowed down.  I watched in slow motion as Payton brought the ball I had assumed he'd thrown back up to his chest and turn to run with it.  My eyes followed his movement as he darted to the side leaving me running at the space he had left empty.  My feet had no time to react to what Payton did as I continued barreling forwards.  Just as time had gotten slower, it rapidly sped up as I realized that my target of Payton had now changed to his best friend since second grade, Jay.  Before I had time to think I was tackling Jay to the ground and laying on top of him while he tried to catch the breath I had just knocked out of him.

"Oh my gosh, Jay!  Are you alright? I'm so so sorry!" I rambled.

"I'd be better if you hadn't plowed me over like a bull dozer.  You've got a lot of punch for being so small."  Jay wheezed slightly as I continued to not move due to embarrassment.

"Is there anything I could do to help?  I feel so bad!"  I spoke nervously.

"You could kiss him better since he's had a crush on you since seventh grade!"  Zack not so subtly whispered as he jogged past us.  My eyes snapped back to Jay's and before I could even feel embarrassed about the blush covering my face, I realized Jay had the same problem.

"Is that true?" I asked quietly.

"Uh, I mean, well," Jay continued to stutter as I waited for his answer.

"It is, Maddy.  You know when I'm teasing and I'm not this time." Payton spoke standing next to us.  "Now can you please get off the field?  You're in the middle of the play." 

"Uh, yeah.  Sorry."  I suddenly realized I was still laying on top of Jay and quickly got up, him soon standing up next to me.  I turned and started walking over to where we had set everything before playing.  My mind raced as I searched my bag for my phone not knowing what to do other than call my friend so I could have her tell me what to do until my brain started working again.

"Hey, Maddy, wait up."  I turned and saw Jay jogging towards me.  Instantly my heartbeat sped up and I could feel my brain starting to shut down.  "What those guys said back there, it-"

"Isn't true?  Its okay if you don't really like me.  I know they're all jokers so I totally get it."  I heard myself say before I could stop myself. 

"No, Maddy.  They were telling the truth.  I've liked you for years but thought you'd never go for a guy like me." 

"You've got to be joking." I laughed as Jay gave me a confused look.  "You're the football team's quarterback, you're the definition of tall, dark, and handsome, and every girl at our school can't help but watch you as you walk by.  Why wouldn't I go for a guy like you?"  I swallowed as Jay stepped closer to me.

"You don't ever care what anybody ever thinks of you.  If you hear music you dance, if you hear a joke you laugh, if you're upset about something you say something.  You have so much confidence and you're so carefree that I figured I was a stick in the mud in comparison."  I felt my heart beat faster as he stepped closer with every word.

"You're definitely not boring," I whispered.

"And what makes you think that?" Jay asked, his face inches from mine.

"If you were boring my heart wouldn't be going this fast," my voice wavered a bit as his eyes darted to my lips.  I almost melted as he smirked and then almost passed out completely when his hand gently rested on the side of my face and he closed the distance between us.  My hands found there way to his shoulders as he kissed me, his other arm circling around my waist. 

"Get a room you weirdos," my cousin joked as he ran past us.  We broke apart, both smiling ear to ear.

"So," Jay spoke making me break my gaze from the play on the field and look back at him.  "You think I'm tall, dark, and handsome?" He laughed as my blush came back full force.

"Shut up," I grumbled bumping my shoulder with his as we turned and walked back to the game.

"Make me." Jay gave me a daring look as I gaped at him.

"Where has this attitude come from, young man?" I joked still a little shocked at this playful side of Jay I had only seen a couple times before when he was with my cousin.

"You bring out the worst of me darling.  I just can't help it!" Jay suddenly picked me up and threw me over his shoulder.

"Jay! Put me down!" I laughed, hitting his back.

"I can't do that.  What if you suddenly decide to become a human bulldozer again?  I can't risk hurting this handsome face!  It's my money-maker!"  Jay continued to joke the rest of the time we spent hanging out with my cousin and all of their friends.  We got some teasing from all of the guys but it still ended up being the best football game I've ever gone to.


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