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Authors: C.C. Galloway

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Hail Mary

BOOK: Hail Mary
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Table of Contents

HAIL MARY

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Epilogue

About the Author

Trademarks Acknowledgment

HAIL MARY

C.C. Galloway

 

 

 

PASSION IN PRINT PRESS

www.passioninprint.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright 2011 by C.C. Galloway

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Published by

Passion in Print Press

3052 Gaines Waterport Rd.

Albion, NY 14411

Visit Passion In Print Press on the Internet:

www.passioninprint.com

Cover Design by Winterheart Designs

Editing by Lawan Williams

Print format

ISBN# 978-1-60820-346-8

Also available in ebook format

ISBN# 978-1-60820-347-5

Issued 2011

This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of International Copyright Law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines and/or imprisonment. This eBook cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this eBook can be shared or reproduced without the express permission of the publisher.

Dedication

There are many people I would like to thank and acknowledge for their unwavering support and enthusiasm. My mother, Marie, who thinks every single thing I do is fantastic. My sister, Kelly, for the late-night chats and unwavering, unconditional love. Kat and Angela for reading every single draft. And finally many thanks to Kelly O., Gulgun M., Jennifer R., Courtney C., Jody H., James B., and Brett M. For everything.

Chapter 1

Michael felt every single one of Atlanta’s hits from the game against the Falcons throughout each part of his body as he made his way from the locker room to the showers. From his eyebrows to his toenails. Every bone groaned with the smallest step, each rib shuddered with every breath. Even his toenails were bruised and battered. The game-day bruises were already showing on his abs and thighs, darkening with each passing minute. He was only twenty-seven, but five years into his professional career, he felt forty-seven.

And that was on his good days. Which today was
not, despite the fact it was only mid-September and the season was in its infancy stage
.

He’d always assumed players who retired at thirty were pussies. Only three years away, sometimes he wondered how he’d make it. Then he’d remember that this was his only life. Only way it had ever been and the only way it could ever be.

Once he confirmed the Tide’s locker room and showers were clear of his teammates, coaches, staff, and the ever-present press eager for additional post-game comments, he removed his workout clothes, damp with sweat and fatigue. Michael threw them into his gym bag, grabbed a towel from the rack, and jetted off for the showers. He cranked the lever to the hottest setting he could stand and washed away what he could. The two missed interceptions that had sailed through his hands. The sack he should have had on third-and-long. A couple of missed calls by the otherwise decent referee staff. The hands that had caught a couple of high interceptions afternoon lathered up and soaped his pecs, his stomach, his balls, and his legs as the showerhead’s scorching blast numbed him to his aches and pains. A temporary respite designed only to last as long as the water.

Michael lingered in the shower as long as he could, hoping the hot water would alleviate the pain, pain which worsened every year in direct proportion to his advancing age. Long, hot showers were one of the few, maybe even the only, indulgences he allowed himself. His version of self-medication. He could have paid a visit to the Tide’s trainers after the game, sat for a short and sweet exam before getting a decent script promising not only relief, but absolute oblivion. But he’d ultimately decided against it. Too many players made their post-game visits a ritual to the point where they forgot they were
supposed
to hurt afterwards. They sought pain relievers with the frequency of dope addicts. With players like Favre still in the pros into their forties when their goodbyes should have been said years ago, players were looking to extend their professional careers as long as possible. Sometimes even longer.

Quarterbacks had knee surgeries at thirty-five hoping to squeeze out a few more years on the field when they should be considering golf courses and retirement condos in Ft. Lauderdale. The problems they couldn’t remedy with surgery, the players sought to douse with pain meds, such as prescription-strength Tylenol, Advil, complimented with some ever-ready Vicodin, Percocet, and Darvocet for the heavy hitters, easily washed down with the athlete’s choice of beer, scotch, vodka, rum, or tequila.

Players today forgot the game wasn’t for pussies. Any player who left the field without several bruises and a fair amount of abrasions shouldn’t have called himself a football player. Might as well be playing golf.

With the water pressure on high, his stomach grumbled and Michael mentally catalogued the contents of his fridge at home: milk, juice, and bread. The bread was likely to turn any day and the milk was soon to follow. He might have had some peanut butter in the cupboard, but that wasn’t guaranteed. Bottom line? He had nothing for dinner and he was hungry. Practically famished. It had been almost ten hours since his last meal.

As a rule, he wasn’t into food. Food was functional. Not enjoyable. It was like a utility; something which was necessary to make his body run. Unlike some of his teammates, Michael’s relationship with food was tepid at best, tolerable at worst.

Tonight, Michael knew he needed to eat and fast food wouldn’t get the job done. He respected his body and knew the time had come to fill it with something actually good for him. He’d rejected offers from the other players to join them for dinner as he always did.

His teammates were undoubtedly scattered throughout the city celebrating their fourth-quarter victory over the Falcons. The win had been sweet and made all the sweeter because of all the trash Atlanta had been talking for the last month.

How their defense was overrated.

How their offensive line was a bunch of fat boys who couldn’t protect their grandmothers let alone Johansen.

Fuck yeah, the 17-14 win felt good. Great, actually. Showed them what’s what and who was boss.

Michael didn’t allow himself to relax and savor the victory. It wasn’t his style. If he was ever a part of a Super Bowl winning team, maybe times would change. But until then, he did what he did after every game: shucked his uniform, tore off the pads and suited up for his standard post-game workout. No matter how tired, how sore, how bruised he was, he worked out after games. Nothing stopped him. Not sickness. Not even broken bones. He’d once broken two of his fingers during OT against the Bears. Not even the wrapped hand stopped him from his post-game ritual. The workouts allowed him to evade the press as well as his teammates and coaches. They consisted of enough light cardio to avoid any human interaction until he was assured anyone who would want to bother him, ask him any questions, or generally get up into his grill, had taken off.

Michael stepped out of the shower, toweled off, and wrapped the bright blue terry cloth around his hips. He ambled towards his locker, threw on his soft black sweat pants, a Wisconsin hoodie, left the locker room, and located his Jeep in the parking lot. As he fired up the SUV, he decided to stop at Safeway on his way home and grab some basics to see him through the week.

~ * ~ * ~

Mary’s craving for chocolate chip cookies struck hard and strong right as Andy Rooney was discussing the ungodly amount of magazines he received despite never ordering anything they advertised. Rooney seemed the same age as he’d been when her parents had watched
60 Minutes
what felt like a million years ago. Practically ageless. Tuning into the Sunday night stand-by made her feel close to her parents. A connection she acutely craved on Sundays, a day always reserved for family.

She’d completed her lesson plans for the week, drafted her Geometry quiz and Trig mid-term, and decided cookies were the perfect end to the weekend. She threw on blue plaid rain boots that matched her bright blue sweat pants, hooded fleece, and took off for oil and eggs.

Mary zipped down Northwest Overton, hung a right on Northwest 21
st
Avenue to Lovejoy which delivered her to the new Safeway in the Pearl. After throwing the pre-made dough in her cart, she decided she needed a few lunch items and sauntered over to the deli aisle.

A large man studying the turkey selections blocked her from making her final choice and ultimate exit. Not wanting to disturb him, but not wanting to spend the rest of her night in Safeway either, Mary uttered, “excuse me,” and reached for the honey roasted turkey breast.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to block it.”

Mary stiffened.

She’d know the timbre of that deep voice anywhere.

She hadn’t forgotten it in nine years.

The voice was deeper than most men’s were.

Deeper than The Edge’s bass guitar.

“Michael?” As she took in the huge, dark specimen before her, the bottom dropped out of her stomach. “Oh my gosh. It
is
you.”

The butterflies that had recently been rustling around in her stomach were now at full throttle.

Michael Santiago, Pro-Bowl defensive end for the Portland Tide and her former tutee way back when, was in her grocery store, in the flesh, looking fantastic. While his short, brown trim, that couldn’t have been more than quarter-inch thick, was the same as she remembered, everything else had changed. He’d filled out a lot since he’d been a freshmen and she’d been a senior. His shoulders were broader, his chest was thicker, and even his legs seemed more defined in basic black sweat pants. His face was fuller; not fat, but not as gaunt as she remembered. His thick lips were slightly open and lacked the snarl Mary had grown accustomed to during the few months she’d known him. His eyes were as serious as they’d always been – dark, dark brown the color of rich, barely-sweetened coffee, shy of black. His black sweats, black tennis shoes, and black fleece made him look like a ninja.

He made her tingle all over. Some things hadn’t changed.

Of course Michael had to look terrific while she looked…well…less than terrific. The royal blue sweat pants that served as her salvation from the daily heels and skirts now felt frumpy and large. In fact, she felt large. All over. She’d air-dried her hair in the afternoon which left it flat. Her fleece looked like a muumuu. She hadn’t even left her glasses in the car. She generally wore some lip gloss or lipstick to brighten her pale, Irish complexion, but hadn’t thrown any on before rushing out in her quest for cookies.

It figured.

Cookies would do her in every time.

When she moved to Portland, she’d wondered if their paths would ever cross. Portland was a small town in many ways, but they didn’t run in the same circles. They never had. Looking at him now, Mary questioned if they ever existed in the same stratosphere.

He was almost a foot taller than her own five foot four inch frame and she had to angle her head up and sideways in order to make eye contact.

“Umm. So, how are you?” Mary babbled.

“Fine.”

Nothing more from Michael. Not the customary, “And how are you.” Or even, “What are you doing here tonight,” or how about “I didn’t know you were in Portland.”

Of course this was Michael Santiago. As an eighteen year old, he hadn’t engaged in any social conversation. No small talk about their weekends, the campus parties, vacation plans, or even their dating lives. Nothing. Theirs had been purely work sessions.

~ * ~ * ~

Never in his wildest dreams had Michael thought he’d ever run into sweet Mary Richardson again. He’d last seen her when she tutored him at Wisconsin’s main library right before Christmas of his freshman year. While the glasses now covering up her dark green eyes were red, rectangular, and hip, everything else was exactly as he remembered. Same dark, thick, shiny brown hair, rosebud lips, and short, voluptuous frame. She looked cute in her bright blue sweats. Approachable. Looking at her reminded him it had been a long time since he’d been with a woman.

BOOK: Hail Mary
2.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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