The summer games settlin.., p.3
The Summer Games: Settling the Score, p.3R.S. Grey
I WOKE UP to Kinsley and Becca standing over my bed, doing their best impersonation of FBI agents. Their arms were crossed and their glares would have sliced me in half had I not been burrowed safely beneath my covers.
“What do you two want?” I asked, clutching a spare pillow beneath my chin.
“Sleep well, Andie?” Kinsley asked with an arched brow.
Apparently they had practiced the good cop, bad cop routine.
“Or was it pretty…drafty down there?” Becca asked, yanking the covers back to expose my blue tank top and matching pair of boxers—the pair Freddie had given me. They were loose around my hips, but I liked the feel of them and, SUE ME, I didn’t see the point of taking them off before going to bed.
“Planning on wearing those things to practice as well?” Kinsley asked, eyeing the boxers like they were contagious.
A quick glance at the bedside clock revealed I’d slept right through breakfast. I felt like total shit, but I wouldn’t let them know that. They wanted me to suffer after what I’d put them through the night before, but I wouldn’t.
I shooed them out of my room and changed into my soccer gear, taking care to shove Freddie’s boxers safely into my suitcase. I dragged my shin guards and cleats out into the living room and tossed them near the door before rifling through the cupboards for something of substance. The food court would have been my first choice, but I didn’t have time to go down before practice.
“Finding anything, Andie?” Becca asked.
The committee had filled the cupboard with snacks and food prior to our arrival. I reached in and grabbed the first thing my hand touched…a bag of kale chips, salt and vinegar flavored. “Yup. Mmmmmmm. I love the taste of vinegar in the morning.”
Kinsley held a granola bar between her thumb and pointer finger. I snatched it without a second thought. It was a peace offering of sorts, and as I trailed them to the bus waiting on the first floor of the condo complex, I decided to push the subject.
“You guys can’t be mad at me forever. I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“You went off by yourself!” Kinsley said.
“Fraternizing with the enemy!” Becca added. “When you were supposed to be pooping!”
All right, they were being ridiculous, so I had to take extreme measures. I took my seat at the back of the bus beside Kinsley and dialed her husband’s number. Most people knew Liam Wilder as the rowdy ex-professional soccer player who’d been forced to retire due to a knee injury, but I knew him as Kinsley’s husband, the man who donned a chef’s apron on Sunday mornings to whip up enough eggs and bacon to feed a small village.
He answered on the third ring and sounded genuinely happy to get my call. “Andie!? What’s up? Are you guys headed to the practice field? I’m already here.”
“Oh, yeah, yeah we’re on our way LIAM.”
“What?” Kinsley tried to reach for the phone, but I pulled it out of her reach. “LIAM—don’t talk to her, she’s a traitor!”
Fortunately, he didn’t hear her. “I just spoke with Kins earlier—”
“Yeah, that’s great,” I said, cutting him off. “Listen, Liam, when you were in London for the last Olympics, did Kinsley ever go to any parties?”
He laughed, this long, drawn-out laugh that definitely proved my point without him having to say a word. “Ask her about the Russian gymnasts. That’s all I’ll say.”
“HA!” I shouted at Kinsley and hung up. “I rest my case.”
She was already firing off a text to Liam, no doubt threatening divorce.
“Was it fun partying with those gymnasts, Kinsley? Did you have so much fun?”
By this point, nearly half our team had turned around to listen to our argument. It was in Kinsley’s best interest to nip it in the bud to preserve her reputation as team captain.
“What I did in London is beside the point. Becca and I had Liam and Penn to protect us, but since you are basically an old spinster that nobody loves—”
“Right. Even still, we love you, and you’ve left us no choice but to be your chaperones for the remainder of the games. Every step you take, Becca and I will be there.”
“Every breath you take and every move you make,” Becca continued.
“Every bond you break, every step you take, we’ll be watching you.”
“Every single day and every word you say.”
I covered my ears. “Oh my god. STOP SINGING THAT SONG.”
But they wouldn’t stop. I had to listen to them going on and on until the bus pulled up outside the practice complex. I ran for it as quick as I could and decided then that I probably needed new friends. Maybe the Russian gymnasts would be down to hang out. I’d tower over them, but that’d be okay. Everyone needs one tall friend for reaching things on the top shelf.
Liam and Coach Decker were standing just inside the entrance of the stadium looking like the start of a bad joke. Coach Decker was fifty-three with short white-blonde hair and a face that promised she hadn’t laughed since the Nixon era. She’d worn the same pair of thin black-framed glasses for as long as I could remember and she was a damn good coach, even if she did scare me a little. Liam stood by her side, tattoos exposed down his arms, dirty blonde hair short and fussed up. He and Kinsley made quite an adorable pair, though I refrained from telling them so as their perfectly proportioned heads were already close to exploding.
“Good morning, Liam,” I said, tipping an imaginary hat in his direction.
He eyed me curiously and then glanced back to Kinsley and Becca walking into the stadium a few feet behind me.
“Are you three fighting?” Liam asked with what he probably thought was a chastising glare. It never worked the way Coach Decker’s did.
“No fighting,” I said, holding up my fingers. “Scout’s honor. Although your wife is a little crazy. You should have her head examined.”
“Liam! Do not talk to her about the gymnasts!” Kinsley shouted.
Coach Decker shook her head and clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention.
“All right everyone. I know we’re all excited to be here for our first practice in Rio, but it’s time to focus. Kinsley and Becca, show the girls where to stash their bags and then Kinsley, I want you to lead warm-up.” She paused and turned toward me. “Andie, there’s a trainer over there ready to tape your wrist.”
I followed her gaze and found a group of trainers stationed near benches off field. They’d propped up a small black table and as I walked closer, a small girl with black hair knotted on top of her head stepped forward to greet me. Her khaki pants didn’t fit well, but her team shirt was fitted and embroidered with her name under a soccer ball and an American flag.
“Lisa,” I said, reading her name off her shirt and holding out my hand. “I’m Andie.”
She nodded and ushered me toward the trainer’s table. “Good to meet you, Andie. I’ll be your trainer here in Rio and I’ll be with you at every practice and every game. We’ll set up times for you to come to the training center for some physical therapy exercises as well, but for now, hop up onto the table and I’ll take a look at your wrist.”
I did as she said and then started to walk her through the injury. It wasn’t career threatening; I’d just sprained it back in high school and it flared up every now and then. I’d gone through physical therapy for it multiple times, but unless I laid off it for a sustained period of time, it would never truly heal. Unfortunately, time was not a luxury I could afford.
“How does it feel?” Kinsley asked.
I glanced over my shoulder to find her watching the trainer as she worked. She flexed my hand, working the tape over and around my wrist so that it’d be supported during practice. I tried not to wince at the stab of pain, but Kinsley caught my mask slip. She shook her head and crossed her arms, but I shot her a death stare as the trainer bent to grab another roll of tape from her bag.
I flexed and curled my hand, twisting it in a circle one direction and then the other. I could still feel a dull ache, but with the tape in place, it was more tolerable.
“How does it feel?” Kinsley asked again.
I nodded and shot her a thumbs up. As far as our coach and team trainer knew, my injury was minor and I was having it wrapped as a precaution. Kinsley knew the truth—that I was stepping into dangerous territory—but she also knew why I was downplaying it. Bones and tendons and ligaments all heal with time, but with the Olympics only occurring every four years, most athletes consider themselves lucky to earn a spot once or twice. So unless my wrist fell off, I’d stay on the field.
“Listen, I’d like to talk to you about Freddie for a second after practice. Seriously, wait for me.”
I promised her I would, though I really had no intention of sticking around for another Kinsley and Becca lecture. How quickly they’d forgotten what it was like to be young and single during the Olympic games. For years, my life of training and preparing for the games had left little time for anything outside of soccer. Sure I’d had a few random dates through the years, but nothing compared to what other girls my age were doing.
Giving up boys to play soccer on a professional level was hard, but in the end it was an easy decision. Growing up in Vermont, the only time I ever saw real action was on the soccer field. It thrilled me in a way no boy ever could. Most of the popular girls in my high school had assumed I was a lesbian because I preferred Adidas over Tory Burch and I didn’t know the difference between “beach waves” and “curls”. No, really, someone tell me what the difference is. To put the rumors to rest, I’d forced my first kiss behind the bleachers of my high school’s soccer stadium with pimple-faced Kellan who was a year younger than me and had the breath of a walrus. He was tall and spindly, and when he pulled away, he accidentally bonked his head on the bottom of the stadium seats and had to get three stitches. Once that story had spread, no other guy in school thought I was worth the risk.
Fortunately, college was better after I completed the duckling-to-swan metamorphosis that often graces early adulthood. (Goodbye braces, acne, and pudgy cheeks.) College guys weren’t so intimidated by my talent and I’d managed a boyfriend here and there. Still, nothing serious. Dating didn’t exactly go hand in hand with competing at the Olympic level. For so long, I’d dreamt of going to the Olympics, not only to win gold for Team USA (duh), but also because I wanted the chance to meet other people who got it. Just like me, they’d dedicated their lives to a sport they loved, and they understood the sacrifices that came with the territory.
Kinsley and Becca could lecture me all they wanted, but at the end of the day, how could they blame me for wanting more than gold? I would be in Rio de Janeiro for nearly a month and I wasn’t going to waste it. I’d work my ass off on the field, but in my free time I was going to make memories that would last a lifetime. And, sure, if Freddie Archibald somehow worked his way into those memories, then so be it.
I WOKE UP thinking of Andie, trying to recall the bits and pieces of her I’d found so appealing the night before. She wasn’t like any of the posh British girls I was used to. They’d have willingly thrown themselves over a bridge before tossing their knickers at my head, and yet Andie had done it without a second thought. I was intrigued, but I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly made her so different—the light behind her grayish blue eyes, her confident laugh, or her body. Her body. It’d taken all night to tear the image of her standing in my boxers out of my mind. Now that I was awake, I wanted to selfishly cling on to it, just for memory’s sake.
My mobile buzzed on my nightstand and I rolled over to find I already had two missed calls from my mum, three texts from my sister, Georgie, and one voicemail from Caroline.
I pressed play on Caroline’s voicemail first, hoping it would realign my world and push thoughts of Andie to the side.
“Freddie! My gorgeous sportsman, I’ve missed you so much. I hope you’re doing well. Give me a ring later. Kisses, Caroline.”
Andie was nothing like Caroline Montague, though maybe that wasn’t a bad thing. I knew exactly what I was getting into with Caroline. She’d grown up in British high society, beloved by everyone. There wasn’t a utensil she couldn’t name, nor a duchess she didn’t know personally. I’d grown up alongside her and knew her to be polite, quiet, and predictable—quite possibly the exact opposite of the enigmatic goalkeeper I’d met the night before.
I pressed delete on her voicemail and then read Georgie’s texts.
Georgie: Mum is LOONY. She’s phoned Caroline and told her you’d LOVE her to join you in Rio. I tried to pry the mobile from her hand, but you know how strong those bony digits of hers are. I think I’ve strained my wrist…
Georgie: She’s absolutely mad. I’m putting myself up for adoption. Think anyone will have an adorable, house-trained eighteen-year-old?
I smiled and sat up in bed. Georgie had been dramatic from birth, though she’d never admit it. I rang her and then reached for my laptop to glance over the day’s itinerary: practice, workout, phone interview, more workouts. I’d be running round the village until supper.
“FREDDIE!” she squealed after picking up on the third ring.
I smiled at the sound of her voice. “Morning Georgie.”
“You sound dreadful. What have you been doing all night?”
“Nothing. Honest. I just woke up and listened to a voicemail from Caroline.”
There was a pregnant pause before she spoke up again.
“Well let’s not talk about that. How’s Rio? Has it given your pale English arse a tan yet? Or have you been loitering in the shade of Christ the Redeemer all day?”
I wiped sleep from my eyes and pushed the blankets aside.
“Honestly, I haven’t seen much of the place.”
She groaned. “What a bore. At least give me some details about the village. Is it just as barking as London was?”
“I’m sure it will be. Last night was…”
I mulled over my previous night, trying to compartmentalize the image of Andie that was fighting its way back to the forefront of my mind.
“Last night was what?”
“I’ve met someone.”
I pulled the mobile away from my cheek and glanced down to check she hadn’t hung up on me.
“What do you mean you’ve met someone?”
Her usual charm was gone, replaced by a serious tone I didn’t much care for.
“It’s nothing,” I said, trying to backtrack. Maybe it’d been a mistake bringing it up.
“Well ‘nothing’ sounds quite like a girl to me, Freddie, and you haven’t mentioned any of those things in four years. FOUR YEARS. And you think I’m going to let you drop this?”
My stomach clenched. “Just forget I’ve said anything.”
Georgie wouldn’t let it go. “Spill it, Freddie. Who is she?”
I stared up at the ceiling and acquiesced, actually sort of glad to confide in her about Andie. What would it hurt to tell Georgie about her?
“She’s an American.”
“Is her last name Kardashian?”
“No, she’s called Andie. She’s a footballer. You’d like her, Georgie. She’s got a natural thing about her and she’s really talented.”
“Good lord Freddie, you sound like a smitten schoolgirl.”
I smiled. “You’re the one who asked, Georgie.”
“Are you in love already?” she laughed.
My smile fell and suddenly it wasn’t fun to talk about Andie any more. The silence was back, louder than before. Neither one of us was going to utter the words, because we didn’t need to. The idea of Caroline spoke loudly enough on its own.
I’m glad one of us can laugh about it.
“Yeah, well. Really, it’s nothing.” I checked the clock on my bedside table. “Listen, I’ve got to run and get ready for swim practice.”
“Fine. On the contrary, I require a little lie down. Between our nutter of a mum and your dramatic love life, I’m feeling faint.”
I laughed and promised I’d phone her later.
“Wait, Freddie,” she said, just before I hung up.
“What are you going to do about Andie? Will you see her again?”
I hesitated before answering.
“It is a rather small village.”
“LET US IN, Andie!”
Jesus Christ. I reached out for a pillow and pulled it over my face to keep from yelling at Kinsley and Becca to go away. I’d had four, maybe five minutes of alone time since returning from practice. I’d showered and changed, but I should have savored it more and really reveled in the silence before Kinsley and Becca polluted it. On the bus ride home, they’d tried to corner me, but I’d put on my headphones and tuned them out. My plan had worked temporarily, but now, it seemed they weren’t going to take no for an answer.
I’d arrived in Rio less than twenty-four hours earlier and the dust had yet to settle. I hadn’t finished unpacking, I hadn’t called my mom, and I hadn’t had a full uninterrupted minute to consider what had happened with Freddie the night before. Had that encounter actually happened? Had I really slung my panties at his head like a bachelor party stripper?
“ANDIE! Let us in, we have a present for you.”
I groaned, shoved off my bed, and opened my door to find Kinsley and Becca—my team captains and the two people I should have respected the most—standing in my doorway dressed in matching unicorn onesies.
“Here, we got one for you too,” Kinsley said, shoving a limp, horned onesie into my hand and then stepping past me into my room.
The Summer Games: Settling the Score by R.S. Grey / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes