( For his brother’s friend …. 😇 )
Written by:- Williams Kendall____✍🏽
🏈 CHAPTER FOUR🏈
A blaring alarm beeped in my ear as I tried to shove my head further under the silk pillow. Silk? What the fuck, these were not my sheets. I looked at the other side of the bed and saw a lean body tucked under the light pink sheets. From what I could see she was a blonde. Makes sense… that was usually my type—especially after I’ve drunk whisky.
This time of year was always the hardest—well, on my liver. We’re just about done pre-season training so every damn night the boys find some reason for us to bond as a team. Give me a break. That inevitably ends with some idiot coming up with a way for us to haze the rookies or find girls.
Last night was clearly a night we decided to find girls. A hazy memory flashed of us stampeding up to a sorority house and demanding they let us in. Of course, they did because…well not be douchy but it’s us. Girls saw football players and basically dropped their panties right then and there. I learned that in my freshman year and have been testing the theory for over two years now. Still works like a charm…
The girl next to me stirred so I grabbed my clothes and high-tailed it out of there before I had to deal with morning-after conversations. Did I have fun? Sure… Do I want to do it again sometime? Maybe… Do I want your number? Not at all.
My dad was pissed of course. But I can’t remember the last time that man wasn’t pissed. Besides he only cared that they could kick me off the team. My mom though… fuuuuck. She cried. I consider myself a pretty strong man but seeing my mom cry because I had disappointed her? That fucking stung. So I promised to try. Try being the operative word. I couldn’t pull a miracle out of my ass but I’m naturally pretty smart—it shouldn’t be that bad to get my grades up.
Once I got outside on Greek Row I quickly jogged back to the football house. I had to shower and eat before my classes started at 10. Professors tended to not like it when I showed up late, especially on the first day. For a long time, I put the bare minimum of effort into my classes. I mean why bother? I’m already getting attention from NFL scouts so why do I need a business degree? But at the end of last year, my grades were at an all-time low, and my parents got a letter warning them that I was about to be put on academic probation.
My morning passed uneventfully. I went to my two classes then headed to the cafeteria for lunch before my afternoon practise. I was walking down the path to the Caf building when I noticed a small figure sitting under an oak tree a few yards away.
They tucked themselves almost completely out of sight of the path but the wispy black curls caught my eye. Charlotte? I walked over to take a peek and sure enough, it was Charlotte. She was sitting at the base of the tree with her knees up by her chest and her head tucked down. Now I’m no expert on female body language, but she definitely seemed upset. Or tired?
“Uuuhh Charlotte?” Her head snapped up to look at me and her eyes told me everything I needed to know. Yep… upset. Her large brown eyes were glassy and rimmed red. I instantly regretted walking over here. What the fuck was I supposed to do if she was upset? I’m not good at this shit and I’m probably the last person she wanted to talk to. She seemed to be wondering the same thing because instead of speaking she just stared up at me with a confused frown. Sighing, I decided to bite the bullet and try to be decent. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine thanks,” She replied curtly, obviously expecting me to accept that and walk away. Which is what you should do dipshit… But then a flashback of Mrs. Avery sprung into my head.
She had pulled me aside at our family’s picnic and asked me to watch out for Charlotte. Her sharp nails had clung to my arm while she stared up at me with tears in her eyes. Fuck… what was with these women and making me do shit with their tears? I didn’t know what to say and I really just wanted the whole interaction to be over, so I had agreed.
“Look,” I said as I sat down in front of her, “It doesn’t seem like you’re okay… So if you need to talk or some shit just… say it. I might be able to help.” I said all of this while staring at the grass because me and meaningful conversation really didn’t mix.
When she didn’t respond right away I looked up and saw her staring back at me. Her nose scrunched up a little and her eyes were narrowed like she thought I had ulterior motives. Fuck, remind me why I’m trying so hard to help this girl? I could be eating a burger by now. But instead, I just stared back with both eyebrows raised clearly signalling that I was waiting.
“Well…” she started with a soft, light voice, “it’s stupid really. I had my first two classes this morning and they both just went horribly. I thought I was ready for college but I don’t know. I think I’m too dumb or too immature. Everyone else seemed to have so much to contribute and then when the professors called on me I just panicked and barely got a few words out. I sounded like such an idiot… I don’t know how I’m going to survive this semester let alone finish my whole degree.”
Well, fuck me… This is the most I had heard Charlotte speak in years. Had her voice always been this nice to listen to? I mean shit—I knew she was upset but if I laid down I’m pretty sure she could put me to sleep. I realized a little late that I was supposed to be helping her so I scrunched my face, looking up at the sky, and tried to think of advice for her.
“Look you’re in freshman classes right? I don’t care what those idiots pretend, no one has a fucking clue what they’re doing when they first get here. Some people just fake it better than others.” I looked down at her to see if I was helping at all. The tears in her eyes had dried up so I guess, at the very least, I wasn’t making it any worse.
“Plus, you were smart enough to get in here, so you’re smart enough to stay. I’m not particularly fond of talking to people either,”-that made her smile a little-“so, I always try to make a few notes when I’m doing the readings and find stuff I feel comfortable talking about. Then when the prof starts a discussion just put your hand up early and say your piece from your notes. The classes are so big that most profs call on new people every time.” I finished with a half shrug, “So if you get it out of the way on a topic you know then you’ll be set for the rest of class.” Fuck… give me a damn pedestal, that’s what I call a speech.
Her face brightened a little and she smiled timidly. It was a little disconcerting how much pride swelled inside of me when I realized I maybe actually helped. What the hell was going on?
“Thanks, Archer… I think I am actually going to try that.” She picked up her backpack to leave when she suddenly stopped and looked back at me. “By the way… I’m uh… sorry about yesterday. I was frustrated but I shouldn’t have yelled at you. It wasn’t nice. I’m just a little sensitive I guess about people thinking I’m too much of a kid to take care of myself.”
I smiled a bit that she thought her tiny little outburst had been not nice. She should listen to Coach yell at us after we messed up an easy play. That’s not nice.
“It’s all good. And for what it’s worth,” I said as I rubbed my jaw awkwardly, “I uh… don’t think you’re a kid.” She gave me a genuine smile and thanked me as she stood up and began to walk back towards the dorms.
By instinct, my eyes dropped down to check out her ass as she walked away. Fuck. She’s got some nice curves on that tiny frame of hers. Nope… definitely don’t think she’s a kid.
After my little detour with Charlotte, I didn’t have enough time for lunch so I ran straight to the football field for practice. I was one of the first guys there when I went to my locker to get ready.
“Oh hey, Archer! How’s it going, man? You excited for drills today?” Looking up I saw that kid who had been with Charlotte twice now. What was his name? Matt? He’s a chatty mother fucker who doesn’t ever take a hint. Every other rookie learned right away in training camp to leave me alone—but this kid just keeps coming back like we’re best fucking friends.
“Who the fuck gets excited about drills?” I snapped.
“Ignore him, Emmett. Johnson here gets a little grumpy when he drinks too much whisky. Honestly, he’s grumpy when he doesn’t drink enough whisky too. Wait fuck. Johnson, you’re just always grumpy?” The fake ass shock on James’ face made me roll my eyes.
He knew damn well I wasn’t a people person. We had roomed together freshman year in the dorms. Since I had managed to tolerate him for the most part we got rooms next to each other in the football house, sophomore year. He still annoyed the fuck out of me but he’s not as much of an idiot as some of the others.
“Do you have to be so damn close to me?” I complained as James sat his ass on the bench practically on top of me.
“Kiss my black ass Johnson you know you like it.” I was about to wipe the floor with his smug face when Coach came in and yelled at us to hurry up. He also reminded us all about the mandatory Pep Rally we’d have to show up to on Thursday before our first home game. Great… as you can imagine I’m just filled with god forsaken pep.
I gave both James and Matt one last annoyed glare, then turned around and quickly got into my gear. As I ran out of the tunnel and onto the field I let a small smile appear on my face. I’m not going to admit it to some idiot rookie, but football—even just running drills—was one of the few things that did make me happy.
After my breakdown on Monday, the rest of the week went by uneventfully. I still couldn’t believe Archer of all people was able to help me calm down. Honestly, I think half the reason why it worked was that I could see how uncomfortable he was. He obviously did not comfort a lot of hysterical women but the fact that he tried was almost… endearing? I guess I had a human moment and for once I forgot about all of the pain Archer caused me—although unknowingly—and just talked.
When I walked away from Archer I was shocked with myself that I had opened up so much. After the emotionally exhausting morning I had though, I think I was about to burst and needed to get it all out. I held it together for most of the morning and kept my anxiety attack at bay, but once I got to that tree, I lost it.
I hated it when this happened to me. My chest squeezed and my breath shortened. I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks as I sucked in air and tried to ground myself. Thankfully, this didn’t end up being a bigger attack so I was able to calm my breathing eventually. I always felt exhausted and sore after, so I had tucked my head into my knees and stayed like that for God knows how long—until Archer found me.
His advice was honestly not bad either. I used it for the rest of the week and it did help in a few classes. I also was able to see what he was talking about. I spent a bit more time watching my classmates and there were a lot of nervous faces in the crowd. More than a few were only able to stutter out a few words when the professors called on them and the profs seemed to be used to it because they just moved on.
I still felt nervous every day when I walked to my classes but it was at least tolerable. In the spirit of pushing myself, I knew I had to at least try. Running back home the first sign of any problems would definitely not help me become more independent.
Now it was Thursday. I finished my last class for the week and when I got home Madeline immediately jumped on me to get ready for the Pep Rally with her. I hadn’t seen her too much over the last few days since we were both settling into new routines. But whenever I did, she made a concerted effort to bond with me. She had even come and sat on my bed a couple of times complaining about her profs, or guys she talked to on Tinder. She never stayed too long but it was nice to have someone to talk to.
I could already tell being friends with Madeline was going to be very different than what I was used to. Back home, it was always Brit, Kayla, and I—the three musketeers. They were so loud and outgoing that I often just sat back and listened more than really contributing anything myself. They had never minded—or noticed—and it worked just fine for me.
But with Madeline, it was just the two of us alone in this dorm. Don’t get me wrong, the girl was pretty long-winded when we were together. But there would always be a point where she stopped and turned to me to ask my opinion or for advice. I felt ridiculous giving her my pathetic responses. I mean, I didn’t have nearly as much life experience as Madeline so I didn’t know how anything I said would be of value.
Thankfully, Madeline never made me feel bad about it. She listened intently as I spoke, ignored any time I stuttered or lost a word, and then when I was done she would smile like I was a genius and carry on.
I sat on Madeline’s bed while she was at her desk doing her makeup. We had an hour before we needed to leave for the Rally and I wasn’t sure what I could do to myself to be any more ready than I was from this morning. I had showered the night before so my curls ran softly down my back. I pulled the top half back into a bun and secured it loosely with a scrunchy like usual. Over the course of the day a lot of pieces fell out, but I liked the wispy way the curls framed my face.
My makeup routine was the same every day—mostly from the fact that I wasn’t very skilled with it but also because my mom had always preached to me that less was more. Living in California meant that sunscreen every day was a must. So I slathered that all over myself every morning. Then I would put a thin layer of concealer over my trouble spots, some powder on my t-zone, and a couple of coats of mascara. I usually topped it off with some chapstick and called it a day.
Madeline on the other hand could start a YouTube channel she was so talented with all her brushes and pallets. She had been sitting at her desk for 20 minutes now as I sat back and watched the transformation. Obviously, she was a beautiful girl regardless, but then suddenly with small flicks of her hand, she was contoured and highlighted like someone out of a magazine.
“Okay, I don’t want to be that friend that offers to ‘make you over’ because you’re some kind of lost cause… cause trust me, girl, you are beautiful regardless. Buuuut if you wanted to do something a little more…fun? I could help you?” Madeline’s words made me smile.
I appreciated the sentiment. Kayla always begged for me to let her help me with my hair, makeup, and clothes. She never outright said that I was hopeless but I did notice she never offered Brit any help. Thinking about my two best friends made me realize I hadn’t spoken to them since I arrived at school. I made a mental note to set up a Skype date, then I returned my attention to Madeline.
“I mean… if you want to? I really am not very good at makeup but if you think you can help all of this,”-I gestured to my face-“then be my guest.”
Madeline looked at me with a thoughtful smile before walking over with a few products. “There is seriously nothing to help.. makeup isn’t supposed to fix you, it’s just a fun way to express yourself. Now, look up at me and I’ll just add a bit of colour. I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” she added with a cheeky grin, “but we aren’t quite the same shade. I think I can make it work though—with a light hand.”
Madeline spent no more than five minutes brushing random stuff on my face before she declared me a masterpiece and walked away to get dressed. I went into the bathroom to take a look and smiled at what I saw. Madeline had stuck to her word and used a light hand. A small wash of contour lifted my cheekbones up, and a dusting of pink sat above that. She had used a light champagne highlighter at the high points of my face which made me look dewy but not like a unicorn. She topped it all off with a little light brown eyeshadow on my lids that made my eyes look deeper. I still looked like me, just a me that had visited Sephora more than once in her lifetime.
When I went back into the room Madeline was already dressed. Any confidence I had from checking myself out dropped away. She was wearing crisp white booty shorts, deep red ankle boots, and a tight red USC football shirt that all matched her bright red lipstick. She had perfectly balanced school spirit with fashion.
I bought myself a similar USC shirt earlier in the week but mine didn’t perfectly define my curves like her’s. If anything it defined my tummy more than I really cared for. I paired it with jean cutoff shorts and my white converse that really weren’t that white anymore. I think Madeline must have seen me staring at myself critically because she gave me a chastising look.
“Uh uh! None of that! You look great!”
“Thanks but… I don’t know do I look too casual? Or like a kid? Maybe I should wear heels I think I packed one pair somewhere.”
“Look if you want to wear heels then hell, wear heels. But don’t do it because you think you’re supposed to look a certain way. Trust me you look freaking cute. And guys love that girl-next-door thing.”
I hummed as I weighed my options. I really didn’t want to wear heels… I hated them and after an hour I knew my feet would be hurting. That is if I didn’t twist an ankle first.
I appreciated Madeline at that moment much more than I think I could ever tell her. She had helped me get ready without making me feel inadequate, or like I needed to change everything about myself. After I let her know that I wasn’t going to change we grabbed our purses and head out to the football stadium.
A sea of students dressed in red and gold rushed in the same direction as us. True to her word Madeline snaked her arm through mine and stayed right next to me for the whole walk. We found seats only a few rows back from the field, with me sitting by the isle and Madeline next to me on the inside.
The music pumped through the speakers loudly as people found their seats. The energy in the stadium was electric and I felt it surge through my veins as people around me shouted and cheered. A man approached the podium in the middle, calling for everyone to quiet down and I tried to relax. This was all very over-stimulating, but all I had to do was sit in this seat for the next couple hours and then I could go home. Right?
Okay I was going to include the Pep Rally in this chapter but I got a little too carried away with Charlotte and Madeline’s budding friendship. Every time I read a book where the main character gets some drastic makeover I always feel bad for some reason! Like we are supposed to believe that a bunch of makeup suddenly changes a person’s value. We are all beautiful people! you were beautiful before you picked up that pallet and you are beautiful after as well.
Anyways next chapter is a fun one! I’m about to start writing it now.