On His Turf

By: Jennifer Watts


For the keeper of my heart, Thorsten.

Chapter 1

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” I say while glaring at my colleague out of the corner of my eye.

“Hmm…let’s see a cloudless blue sky, vibrant green grass and men in shorts without an ounce of fat on their bodies. I know, I’m a terrible person,” Leigh responds flatly but I tune her out as I study the field in front of us. It is a bright and sunny June day at Texas Memorial Stadium which is in stark contrast to my mood that’s growing darker by the minute.

“My feet are killing me,” I huff, hiking my purse strap up my shoulder. “Why don’t we have chairs?”

“You’re a reporter; surely you recognize the press area?” she answers sarcastically as she shakes out her dark red curls.

“No, I’m the lowly ‘Assistant to the Features Editor’. The same lowly Assistant who’s been on her damn feet all day and who could really use a chair right now,” I whine.

“Tom needs a couple of good shots for the sports page and I have to interview ‘golden boy’ over there after the game so keep your panties on girl.”

Leigh points to the opposite end of the field where the goalkeeper is squatting with his hands on his hips watching the play. The home team has been killing their opponents so he hasn’t had much to do except stand there and look pretty which he happens to be doing a very good job of. I’ve heard of him before - obviously - every woman in Austin with a pulse has heard of Shane Mitchell. He is the Texas-born and bred hometown boy with a golden touch and the looks to match. I quickly thumb through the program to his player page and scan his stats before my eyes travel back over to him. At six-foot-one and two hundred pounds he seems sturdier than most of the other players on the field with calves so muscular that they look like they could cut through glass.

As I take in his close-cropped sandy-blond hair that’s spiked up at the front and the strong, set line of his jaw I start to feel a little tingle down low in my belly. Even from this distance I can see what all of the fuss is about. I continue to stare and he glances over at the sideline and catches me watching. His eyes hold mine and the look he gives me is so intense that I can’t help but imagine how those gloved hands would feel running all over my body. I wet my lips and refuse to look away and he winks in response. And just like that I’m reminded why I don’t date athletes - or jerks - or athletes with reputations for being complete jerks.

Leigh is muttering sentence fragments that I can only assume are about the game into her hand-held recorder while Tom the photographer snaps away. He looks bored out of his mind so I give him a sympathetic smile. Tom is a short little man with thinning hair and a weathered face who has been shooting for the paper for more than twenty years so it’s no surprise that the game isn’t holding his interest. Leigh on the other hand is watching with rapt attention. She’s been on the sports desk for the last seven years while I have been one floor down in the Features Department for the last three trying to work my way up the ranks. My degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin didn’t come cheap and at twenty-six years old I definitely thought I would be closer to my goal of being a reporter than I currently am.

“If I’m going to be forced to watch soccer then I need a drink,” I say matter-of-factly as I reach forward to grab one of the clear plastic cups from the passing vendor’s tray.

“Hey!” He starts to protest as I lift the beer to my lips but quickly shuts his mouth when I wave a twenty dollar bill in front of his face.

“Sorry,” I mumble a half-assed apology as I hand over the money.

“You’re not supposed to be drinking that down here,” Leigh clicks her tongue.

“Then why is he down here?” I nod to the vendor adding; “besides I’m thirsty.”

“I don’t know how you can drink that stuff anyway…ugh,” she says, turning up her delicate nose.

“I love beer,” I sigh. “It’s my ass that wishes I didn’t,” I mutter before taking a huge sip from the cup. The ice cold liquid is the perfect relief from the late afternoon heat and I release a happy sigh.

“Oh please! You look like that Victoria’s Secret model Adrianna Lima but only with lighter hair, Caramel.” Leigh interrupts my self-effacing thoughts by using the nickname she coined for me. It’s one she blessed me with when I first started at the paper because she said that my hair is almost the exact color of a caramel chew.

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