01 | growing tensions

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"Okay, be honest - which one of the dad's would you let smash?" Violet asks louder than she should have, casually passing the ball to Peyton.

Peyton traps the ball, a furrow between her brows forming. "Violet, what the fuck did you just ask?"

"Because I've been thinking about it and, honestly, I'd let Mr. Dillard do anything he wants to do to me," Violet replies without missing a beat, completely ignoring Peyton's question.

I feign gagging and throwing up. "Ew, Sam's dad? You sick fuck. The one who brings raisins for the kids? He's, like, forty-five."

Violet smirks as she starts juggling the ball. "Yeah but his wife left him last year so I think he'd be pretty open to the idea. Also, he kinda looks like Chris Cuomo and that man is sexy."

"Violet, shut up," Peyton and I say at the same time. I playfully shove Violet's shoulder as she turns her attention back to the ball.

"Oh shit, the kids are coming. They look like tiny buttmunchers." Peyton laughs at her own joke and stares off behind me. I turn around to see kids and their parents slowly trickle in from the parking lot. Their shin guards and cleats look brand new, glinting in the glaring sunlight. I can feel the nerves radiating off them from here.

Violet notices us staring and turns to get a look at the incoming crowd. "Aw guys, look at the little ones' shin guards over their socks. And look how long their fuckin' shorts are! I wish I had signed up to coach a rec team. The little kids are so much cuter than the old-ass, competitive kids."

I flip my ponytail dramatically over my shoulder. "Sucks to suck . Guess I'm the only one out of the three of us smart enough to sign up for rec soccer. While you guys work your asses off with the older kids, I'll be sittin' pretty with the seven-year-olds."

Peyton playfully boots the ball into my shin, hard. I make a face at her. "Don't you losers have somewhere to be? Violet, Mr. Dillard is bent over next to the snacks, now might be the time to shoot your shot."

"Maybe I will, River," Violet replies, "but for now, Peyton, we gotta dip. Practice starts in five minutes and we gotta make a good first impression on the kids."

"See ya. Also, Pey, your ass looks really flat in those shorts," I say. They run off toward their field where a large group of pre-teen boys are waiting for them. Peyton flips me off while running. I laugh and start jogging in the opposite direction toward my growing group of kids.

I introduce myself to the group as Coach River and start them off with an icebreaker. In a circle, they pass the ball to one another and say their names. It seemed like a good idea for an activity and it would've been a quick icebreaker...if the kids weren't so god-awful at passing. I swear, one out of every ten passes make it to the intended target. I have to turn around a few times to keep them from seeing me laugh.

Because the icebreaker took so long, I only have time for a scrimmage. I split them into two teams and watch them go at it. After standing back and observing for a few minutes, I immediately notice a cute curly-haired girl confidently taking charge of the game. She impresses me by juking a little boy out and I can't hide my laugh while watching it happen.

I make a mental note of that little girl; I remember her name being Grace.

When practice is over, I collect all the safety waivers from the parents as they pick their children up and remind them to sign up for after-game snacks. After a few polite conversations with parents and a few in-depth descriptions of their children's performances, all the kids and parents are gone. I start to walk toward where Violet and Peyton are cleaning up after their practice, when I notice a kid still sitting on the curb, waiting.

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