Game For Love(2)

By: Mara Jacobs

Cole played for the San Francisco Outlaws, and their season had ended a week earlier. He’d wanted to come to a game of a former teammate of his who was retiring. As it happened, with the loss today, it turned out to be his final game.

Marlee didn’t care about any of that, but she was thrilled to see her old roommate Anna and meet her husband. When they’d married so quickly after meeting last year, Marlee had been concerned. But even just spending this short amount of time with them, she could see the couple was deeply in love.

But now, Marlee just wanted to collect Cole and go to dinner. The thought of spending any more time in this place made her extremely uneasy. She felt like she did in high school when the football team strolled down the hall, slamming the nerdy boys into lockers, and the cheerleaders trailed after them, all twittering and giggling. It made her feel insignificant and out of place, even a little nervous. Those nerdy boys had been her friends, her fellow chess club members. And she had never had anything in common with the cheerleaders.

As she looked around the room, she pushed her glasses up her nose (a testament that she hadn’t left her nerd roots totally behind). She wasn’t sure if it was the huge men or the scantily clothed women that bothered her, but this was not her cup of tea. Nevertheless, she held herself with her usual poise and dignity, as if large men tossing a tiny woman above their heads and passing her across the room was an everyday occurrence.

She turned her attention away from the people and to the décor of the room. It was lovely. Marlee had assumed that they’d be going to an ostentatious mansion furnished in lots of black leather and chrome with big-screen TVs, quadraphonic stereo systems, and trophies lining every available inch of wall space. Possibly some zebra-skin rugs. But this place was no mansion, though it was definitely an expensive home.

The room they were in was what Marlee assumed was the great room. Through the throng of people she could see one wall was dominated by a gorgeous stone fireplace. Another wall was painted a Tuscan gold that set it apart from the rest of the room.

She’d done something similar in her home, painting one wall a dramatic salmon color. This player’s wife and Marlee had similar tastes, and she debated trying to stay at the party long enough to meet the woman and to see the kitchen. She was a kitchen connoisseur.

The house was in the quiet, family-oriented, affluent Boston suburb of Brookline, one that Marlee had driven through many times, mentally adding it to her list of places she would look into when she settled down and had a family.

She wondered now, as she looked around the warm, homey decor, if she wouldn’t be better off spending more time trying to find someone to share a home like this with than looking at neighborhoods.

“Look at all those glorious bare chests, all those muscles. Man, these guys are sculpted. Of course, none can hold a candle to my Cole. We better find him and get the heck out of here; looks like this place is about to get out of hand. I’m thinking this party is for the single players. I don’t see too many wife-looking women here. Besides, I don’t want him comparing me with all those nubile young groupies.”

Anna joked about her husband of just over a year, but Marlee knew that they were deliriously happy together. Cole’s grandmother was staying with their baby in San Fransisco while the couple took the quick trip to Boston so Cole could wish his friend well.

Cole had felt he should at least make an appearance at his friend’s party, so he went right after the game, and Anna and Marlee were to pick him up and the three would go out for dinner. Marlee had something she wanted to discuss with Cole, and she didn’t want to do it with Metallica blasting in the background and young girls in spandex giggling in her ears.

As if Marlee had conjured him up, Cole stepped forward from the crowd and started walking toward them. He walked quickly, making several moves worthy of his football god status—just to avoid making contact with the huge men who were in various stages of dancing, drinking, flirting with the groupies, and lamenting the loss that had ended their season.

Cole wasn’t alone. Beside him walked the most handsome man Marlee had ever seen. He was smaller than Cole, and was dwarfed by the behemoth football players who seemed to part like the Red Sea to allow the men past. He was dressed more like Cole too, in khakis, a crisp white dress shirt with its sleeves rolled up his tanned forearms, and very expensive loafers. Marlee, a shoe freak from way back, noticed the loafers first, made a note of the designer and the probable cost, and wondered if this man with Cole might be a team member’s agent.

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