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.He likes coloring a lot more than soccer practice.”“Why doesn’t he play football?” Collin wondered.“Because I don’t want him to.” That was a really odd answer considering Mikey used to be a pro player, but Adam caught up to them then.Adam was dark haired like Mikey but had hazel eyes instead of Mikey’s brown.He smiled up at his father, dimples emphasizing his high cheekbones and angular features.“What, Daddy?” he asked.Everything in Mikey softened, his demeanor, even his muscles uncoiled.“Hey, bubby, I want you to meet someone.This is my very special friend Mr.Collin Green.”Collin knelt on the grass to get more on the child’s level.“Hi, Adam.Your daddy has told me a lot about you.”Adam turned shy all of a sudden, shifting from foot to foot like he wanted to bolt.“Hi,” he mumbled, taking a step in Mikey’s direction.40Jana DownsMikey closed the distance between them so the kid could lean against his hip.“Collin is going to help me run practice today.How’s that sound to you, bud?”Slowly, Adam nodded.“Yeah.I guess that’s okay.”“You guess?”“Uh-huh.”“He’s really nice, Adam.I promise.Afterward, he’s going to take me and you out to Chuck E.Cheese’s.How’s that sound?”That finally produced a reaction.Adam’s whole face lit up, and he stared at Collin like he had transformed into something interesting.“Promise?”“I promise,” Collin said easily.He had no idea where Chuck E.Cheese’s was, but he imagined that Mikey might.“And you’ll play a game with me?”“Definitely.”Adam grinned, revealing a few missing teeth.“Okay.” He turned and sprinted back toward the field.Mikey chuckled.“He’s a mess.I hope you are okay with going to Chuck E.Cheese’s.I just couldn’t think of another way to get him to loosen up.He’s not too big on strangers.”Collin pushed himself to his feet.“I think that’s okay.I mean, it’s much better than being overly friendly, don’t you think?”“I guess.So, let’s do this then.I’ll run a few drills with them, and then we’ll do a scrimmage at the end of practice.”“You’re really into this, aren’t you?” Collin asked.It was weird, but the enthusiasm that Mikey was displaying was getting him pumped up for it as well, despite the fact that he really wasn’t a big sports fan.Mikey shrugged.“It’s what I do.” They reached the field by then, moving toward the kids as they kicked their balls one after another toward the goal.Mikey took the whistle he was wearing around his neck and gave it a blow.The shrill sound had all his players turning toward them.Thrice Bitten41“All right, gents,” Mikey boomed in his deep voice.“This is my assistant for the day, Mr.Green.Say hello to him, please.”A chorus of “hellos” rose from the overenthusiastic crowd and Collin raised his hand in equal greeting.Mikey nodded.“Jake, go grab my cones from my bag.We’re going to run drills.Double time, my man.”Collin smiled at the picture before him.It was definitely the most unexpected date he’d ever been on, but this was probably the best date he’d ever been on.This was a lot of fun.* * * *Mikey was a sweaty mess by the time their scrimmage game was over.Collin didn’t know the rules, so Mikey was constantly going back and forth from field end to field end, but it had been a good experience.Seeing Collin cracking up with the boys and really getting into the game had been worth every bit of the sweat soaking his shirt.“I think you definitely need a shower before we go out to eat,”Collin teased as the last of the parents drove off, leaving Adam, Collin, and Mikey alone at the field.“Are the showers by the bathrooms open?”“I think so.We could all use you a shower.” Mikey watched as a bead of sweat traveled from Collin’s temple down his flushed cheek.The idea of Collin in close proximity to a shower made Mikey want to get naked in the worst way.Thankfully, Adam was there to temper his impulses for the moment.“Will you watch Adam while I grab one and then we’ll trade?”Mikey asked.“There isn’t really a point to making him shower because he’ll just get sweaty again at Chuck E.Cheese’s.”Collin looked a little disappointed, but he nodded.“Absolutely.You go ahead, and I’ll grab one after.”42Jana DownsMikey smiled in gratitude before heading over to the shower area.He always carried a travel-size shower gel and shampoo in his gym bag for just such a reason.He stripped down and entered the shower without preamble, economical in his movements as he tried to gauge whether or not their date would lead to another.It seemed like he had a pretty good chance.Mikey had always been unconventional in his date choices.The last thing he wanted was to be conventional.Besides that, he wanted Collin to get to know him.No way was he going to do that going to some fancy food joint.That was part of the problem with his ex-husband.They’d never gotten to know one another outside all the trappings that came with being Michael Thorton, starting QB for the Saints.He finished his shower and dressed in a new track suit, black T-shirt underneath.He didn’t see a reason to change into blue jeans.He wore confining clothing enough at work.He missed being comfortable day in and day out.He didn’t bother glancing in the mirror after he combed his hair.Since he wasn’t especially vain, it didn’t matter to him one way or another if his hair was standing on end.Besides, Adam always thought it was funny.After exchanging places with Collin, they headed to Chuck E.Cheese’s where Adam and Collin beat him at air hockey at least half a dozen times.Mikey could already see Adam and Collin conspiring with one another, and it warmed Mikey all the way through.It was good to see them getting along [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]