Romance Fiction posted August 1, 2021 Chapters:  ...44 45 -46- 47... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
The cross country girls and the linemen race.

A chapter in the book Football - A Novel

Football Chapter 23 part 2

by barbara.wilkey

Katherine struggles raising her four sons by herself. Is Gabriel the father figure the boys never had and the husband she deserves?
Katherine and Gabriel have known each other for 25 days.


"You pretty much answered it. George's parents suddenly started acting strange and I wondered if something was wrong with the will. From what you've said they received a reasonable amount and really don't have a reason to be upset."

"I'd say you're right. It's rare for a son who's married and has a family to leave anything to his parents. They always leave the inheritance to their family."

"We were generously taken care of. I have no problem with him leaving them money. I still don't understand their recent behavior. Thank you for your time."

"The only way they're getting more money from this will is to get the children's inheritance. If I can help any further, please call. Good bye."

Katherine faced Gabriel. "Did that clear anything up?"

"We pretty much suspected they spent all the money. Now, I'm sure of it. How about you?" After she nodded, Gabriel continued, "So we wait and see what they'll do next."

"I guess so." She tapped a pencil on the desk.

Gabriel took her hand. "I'm by your side. We'll handle it together." He checked his radio and stood. "I'm needed. Is five o'clock okay for our race?"

"It is. See you then."


Chapter 23 part 2

A few minutes before five o'clock, Katherine and the girls jogged to the First Street hill. Right behind them Gabriel and fifteen linemen jogged.

Katherine glanced at the boys. "Starting D-line stand off to my left side, please."

Gabriel grinned. "Come on, don't you trust me?"

"Not when it comes to losing. I witnessed that two point conversion during your first game." She smiled. "Starting O-line to my right side, please." She studied the last three players. "Who might these gentlemen be?"

"They're second string players."

"They only play the line?"

Mr. Edwards walked up and laughed. "I see she's checking out the opponent. Coach Hudson, your reputation for winning precedes you. Great call, Coach Riley."

Katherine glanced at her girls. "Team, should we allow these three boys to run?"

After the girls approved of the remaining three, she nodded. "Okay. Let's make sure we understand the rules. Up the hill twice and back down twice, right?" Katherine tilted her head. "Mr. Edwards, would you go up the hill and make sure everybody reaches it?"

Paul laughed. "Of course, Coach Riley. I wouldn't want any cheaters. You'll have to give me a few minutes to get up that thing."

As the girls watched Coach Hudson shake his head, they laughed.

Once Paul waved at the top, Gabriel asked, "Are we ready to start?" He hesitated. "I can't believe you."

"Just making sure my girls are taken care of."

Gabriel stood in front of the students and held up his whistle. "If Coach Riley agrees, when I blow the whistle the race begins. You'll run it twice. Everybody understand?" His eyes met one of his D-lineman. "Derek, two times, got it?"

He held up two fingers. "Yes, Coach, two times."

Gabriel started the count down. "On your mark, get set." He blew the whistle. The race began. He walked up to Derek. "You can start running now."

Derek nodded and took off.

Walking over to Katherine, Gabriel grinned. "Derek's a great kid and a good lineman. Before each play we need to remind him who he's tackling. I've assigned a player to help him with that." His eyes met hers. "You really think I'd cheat to win?"

"Not really cheat, but push the envelope to make sure everything's in your favor. Can you disagree?" She watched the race. "I watched Dad for seventeen years."

"I understand." He glanced up. "Here they come."

Katherine ran to the bottom of the hill, pointed. "Make sure you touch this line!"

All but two girls touched and continued up the hill. The linemen and the two girls touched and turned around.

"Where's the rest of the team?" asked Katherine.

"Conditioning. I didn't want them to witness the slaughter of their teammates."

Katherine watched the race. "It isn't a pretty sight, is it?"

Gabriel lifted his cap, scratched his head, and replaced it. "It sure isn't. Linemen aren't noted for their running ability."

"I know."

"I know you do. I'm also fully aware you set me up." His eyes twinkled. "I admire how easily you did it."

"Here they come." Katherine counted, "One girl, two girls..." and on. The final order was twelve girls, two boys, and then three girls, followed by the ending of thirteen boys.

The runners shook hands, visited with each other, and walked it out as everybody waited for Mr. Edwards, who stood and watched the students walking as they visited and laughed cooling down. "The boys were killed out there. How can they be joking now?"

Gabriel studied them for a few moments. "I think everybody understood it was a friendly match up and nobody took it seriously." He gently poked Katherine's arm. "You better not have messed up my teams' need to win."

"I'm sure the tyrant of a coach I keep hearing about will get them whipped back into shape..." she glanced at her watch, "within fifteen minutes." She raised her hand. "Girls, let's head back. We have training to do." She began jogging and the girls fell into line behind her.

Gabriel and Paul watched as the boys stretched. Paul slapped Gabriel's shoulder. "You two are good together. How's it going?"

"If you're asking whether she forgave me for the Saturday's incident, the answer is yes. If you're asking if we're dating, the answer's no. We've agreed we both care for each other, but because of some issues we need to take it very slow. So that's what we're doing."

"Just don't take it so slow you lose her."

"Gotcha. Good advice." Gabriel started toward the boys. "I'll get these guys back. We've got a big game Friday."

Katherine set the final plate on the dining room table as Jordan, Gabriel, and Reggie walked through the front door. Jordan grinned, "Mom, did the cross country team really slaughter the linemen?"

Her eyes twinkled as they met Gabriel's. "Is that what Coach Hudson told you?"

"He actually said it was so bad he had to turn his back. He couldn't watch."

She set two bowls of dog food down, one for each dog. "I wouldn't say it was quite that bad. Let's just say the running backs have job security." She watched the dogs scarf their food. Somebody knocked on the door, and she said, "While I get it, everyone sit. Dinner's ready."

As she answered the door, a tall slender man wearing a gray three-piece suit asked, "Are you Katherine Sarah Riley?"

"Yes, how can I help you?"

He handed her an envelope. "You've been served."

"What? I don't understand." Katherine watched the man walk away without further explanation. She shut the door. Standing by the door, she opened the envelope, slipped a folded paper out, and read. "No!"

Gabriel rushed to her side. "What?" He put his arms around her. "Let's go into the den." As he turned toward the boys, he said, "Jordan and Joshua take care of things." He shut the door and led her to the love-seat. "Sit." He sat beside her. "What's wrong?" Tears streamed down her cheeks as she held up the letter. "Can I read it?" She handed it to him.

After reading, Gabriel exhaled a deep breath. "Now we know what they're doing next." After a few moments of silence, he asked, "How can I help?"

"I need to be held."

"Just a second." After Gabriel closed the window blinds and curtains, he sat, and then drew her close. Kissing her forehead, he said, "I'll hold you as long as you need me."


Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons. She teaches high school math and also coaches girls cross country.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Frank Collins math teacher

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Harold Hudson Gabriel's dad and football announcer.

Sandy Teenage girl on cross country team.

Judy Teenage girl on cross country team.

Rhonda Morgan Teenage girl on cross country team, and victim of dating violence.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan Rhonda's parents.

Kenny Clark Teenager - Rhonda's boyfriend

Grace Former friend of Gabriel and featured in porn magazine

Janette & Jackson Riley Katherine's in-laws



Thank you google images for the photo of a hill. Like the one they'll be running for the hill challenge. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. I made many changes as I posted. I hope it's okay. Again, I hope I didn't make it worse. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little over 1,100 words. Sorry about the length. Thank you for having patience with me.

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