I smelled turkey and mashed potatoes from the curb of the Adamson residence, home of Frank Adamson, best friend and former teammate of Tom Clay. But then again, it very well could have been my empty stomach and my craving for the Thanksgiving classics.
Stepping out of Tom's finely tuned '87 Mercedes, the late fall breeze seemed to bite a little less than back at school. I unzipped my jacket a little as I followed Tom beside an enormous Victorian that sat on an equally as large lot. Glancing through the houses across the street, I could faintly see the grasses consistent with the marsh. I wasn't surprised; the Gold Coast was St. Peter's territory.
Tom pushed open a rickety wooden gate and offered me an encouraging smile. I returned the grin, and the two of us stepped onto the plush lawn. A cascade of deep laughter subsided as we walked onto the stone patio. I stood awkwardly beside Tom as the group of football jersey-wearing dudes took in Tom's appearance. A particularly muscular guy sporting a Vick jersey and backwards facing cap was the first to formally acknowledge him, passing one of his buddies the football he was holding before clapping his hands on Tom's back.
"Mista T!" he exclaimed. "Pumped you could make it!"
The guy took a step back and began nodding like a bobble-head. Tom laughed. "No problem, man."
The guy continued to nod, and his eyes bounced their way to meet mine. Confusion donned his face for a slight second, erased almost instantaneously by a pleasant, hearty laugh.
"No Josie today?" he asked.
Tom looked over his shoulder at me, smiling. "Uh… no. She had to make a trip up to visit her sister at Tufts."
I raised my eyebrows. It hadn't occurred to me that he hadn't mentioned Josie in his plans for Thanksgiving, but I found it interesting nonetheless that she was going to Boston. I smiled.
"Maybe she'll bump into Boston when she's up there," I mused.
Tom laughed and rolled his eyes playfully. "Yeah, sounds like a swell time." Turning his attention back towards his friends, he noticed their confusion and cleared his throat. "Uh, this is Mont. Mont, this is Frank-" He indicated to the Vick fan in front of us. "Then over there there's Benny-" A scruffy dude in a Phillies t-shirt nodded. "-and, uh, Steve-" A blond surfer kind of guy squinted across the patio at me. "-and Justin." The guy now holding the football spiraled it into the air and nodded.
I nodded slowly to myself and surveyed the small group. "Nice to meet you guys."
There was a collective grunt in response. I sighed inwardly. Men.
"So, Mont." I turned my head towards the gentleman still toying with the football. That was Justin. I tilted my head upwards to show him I was listening. "Is that short for something?"
I nodded faintly. "Yeah, Montgomery."
He raised his eyebrows and chuckled. "What? You born in Alabama or somethin'?"
I smiled sweetly. "No, more like it was my mother's maiden name." I could feel an awkward lull approaching, and I glanced around the group. The Philadelphia sports gear was overwhelming. I set aside my uneasy frown for a fun little smile.
"But I bet you're glad I'm not from around there though, huh?"
Justin paused his football tossing and cast me a confused look. "What d'you mean?"
I laughed slightly to myself. "Well, I would guess people around there would root for the Saints, and they gave your buddies a little run for their money a few days ago, wouldn't you say?"
I smirked as Justin's look of plain confusion snapped into pure shock. A few surprised chuckles echoed across the patio, one of which came from Tom. I smiled proudly at him and looked back at Justin, seeing that a smile had replaced his shock. He was gearing himself for playing along with me.
"The Eagles ended up winning anyway," he said. "So why does it matter?"
I grimaced playfully. "Oh, but that score was way too close. Even you have to admit that. The Eagles are running some pretty good stats for this season and to just let the Saints walk all over them like that. It's a disappointment."
Justin moved his lips inaudibly for a few seconds, blinking at me in bewilderment. After awhile, he switched his attention to Tom. Justin shook his head and held in hands up in a shrug.
"I thought that when you said she was from Ackler she'd be an Eagles fan," he said.
I laughed as Tom shrugged. "I am… just as surprised as you." Saying that, he pivoted his body towards me, still grinning. "I didn't know you spent your lonely dorm room nights watching football."
I shook my head. "Of course I don't. My roommate hates football."
"Then how do you know so much about it, Miss Madden?"
I grinned. "I spend my not-so-lonely nights in Boston's dorm room watching football with him."
There was an echo of jeers from all around the backyard in Tom's direction, making me smirk. Tom laughed and shook his head, taking a small step towards me. I playfully tapped his shoulder with my knuckles, and when he looked back at me I noticed his cheeks were dusted in a blush that could be mistaken for sun burn. I grinned and flashed him a wink, making him blush even more. He looked back towards his buddies, prepping his hands just in time to catch the football Justin had hurled across to him.
"Hey, speaking of football," Tom said, his voice mounting over his friends' persistent laughter, "shouldn't the game be on?"
They all shrugged. "I dunno… What time is it?"
Tom shrugged his right shoulder, and then glanced over it at me. I looked down at my watch. "Almost three."
And just like that, a stamped stormed through the single door leading from the patio to the Adamson's monstrous living room. Boys leapt over couches, sliding into spot, and only relaxing once they were able to confirm they had not missed kick off. I snickered and followed Tom inside, seating myself on the arm of one of the sofas. As I settled down, the boys exchanged careful glances.
"Uh… The girls are upstairs in the kitchen helping my mom with cooking if you're interested," Frank announced after a few moments.
I raised my eyebrows. "Oh?"
"Yeah. Like… Some girls from Ackler and stuff…" Frank nodded at me for awhile and stopped once I slowly got to my feet. I glanced back at Tom.
"Am I not allowed to watch the game or something?"
It was like the question was a tsunami wave, slapping each and every guy in the room to a new state of consciousness. Again, they consulted one another in a wordless discussion, their eyes eventually settling back to me. Frank shrugged a shoulder and leaned back into the couch.
"You can watch," he said. "It's just never come up before with the kind of ladies Tommy Boy brings over."
I chuckled. "Like Josie?"
As soon as I said it, I felt myself tense up. I couldn't help myself from jabbing her every chance I got, especially ever since she got me within fractions of an inch from a 10,000 meter punishment row. But Frank had set up from the perfect volley to spike it straight down center court.
But after a beat of complete silence, the group busted out laughing, including a couple chuckles from Tom. I settled myself back down on the arm of the sofa, nudging my elbow against Tom a couple times to prove to him I was just joking around. He smiled a cute little smile and instantly nudged me back. I shared in the laughter that was drowning out the spectacle of kick-off.
The receiving team was swift in scoring the first touchdown in the game during their first possession. And shortly after the ruckus of the quick scoring had settled down, I felt my phone buzzing in my jean pocket. I popped to my feet and checked the caller ID, expecting my parents to be the typical hover parents they thoroughly enjoyed being. Instead, Boston's name was displayed on the screen. I looked over my shoulder at Tom, pointing at my phone, and he nodded.
I skidded out onto the patio and flipped my phone open. "Hey, you."
The thumping of house music was almost overwhelming to the point I couldn't hear Boston's reply.
"What did you say?" I took another step away from the rowdiness of the football game and plugged the ear that wasn't straining to find Boston's voice through the thick club music.
"Oh, yeah," I could hear him mumble. "Sorry. Um…" The music steadily decreased to a more tolerable level, and I leaned against the table out on the patio. "I… I just wanted to check in on my favorite girl."
I grinned. "Oh really? And who might that be?"
He chuckled. "Ah, this out-of-sight chick on the crew team. She's a babe, really."
I laughed and shook my head to no one. "You're insane, Boston."
"Really? I thought I was being quite charming actually."
We shared a heartily laugh, and when silence draped back on the conversation, I could feel my heart thumping louder and louder. The club music was still present, bumping along in the background. I began fidgeting. There had to be a deeper reason he was calling.
"Is everything okay?" I finally asked.
Boston snorted a laugh. "What? Yeah, everything's fine."
I contorted my eyebrows in confusion. "You sure?"
He sighed, blowing air harshly through the phone. "Mont… Relax, k? I… I just miss you I guess, and… I wanted to see how you were doing."
His voice was softer and smoother, seducing a grin back across my face. "I'm fine, Boston, alright?"
He sighed again, this time easing the air through the receiver. "K. I'm just weird about this whole thing, right?"
I ran the tip on my nail up and down my forearm to give myself chills. "It's like I said before. Six days aren't going to ruin us, Boston."
My words settled slowly, and I could feel them churning through the two of us.
"I suppose you're right," Boston said after a little while. I smiled.
"See you Sunday then?" I asked.
There was a small pause, just long enough to raise some anxiety. "Of course."
I nibbled on my bottom lip as we said our goodbyes, ending with wishing one another a happy Thanksgiving. I heard Boston's end of the line click off before I even had the chance to pull my phone away from my ear. I stared at my phone with furrowed eyebrows, a knot beginning to claw at the inside of my stomach. Slipping my phone back into the pocket of my jeans, I shook my head and walked back towards the living room. I was worrying about nothing.
When I reopened the door to the living room, nobody noticed except Tom, who looked at me while questioningly raising a thumb up. I smiled and nodded, crossing around the couch to resume my spot next to him. Justin's eyes followed me as I walked back to my spot. Once I noticed him staring at me, his face twisted into a very odd grin.
"You know, Tom," he started to say before I could question him. "I think I like this Montgomery of yours."
I looked down at Tom, who looked slightly shocked at his friend's statement.
"What d'you mean?" he asked carefully.
Justin shrugged, lounging back into the couch. "I don't know, actually. She just seems so much… cooler than Josie."
The other guys choked back fits of laughter at Justin's statement, which had made me grin ever-so slightly. I looked back at Tom, whose cheeks were dusted red again. He picked at the corner of the pillow he was holding, avoiding eye contact with me.
"No response, Clay?" Frank chimed tauntingly.
Tom rolled his eyes and hurled the pillow across the room at his friends on the other couch. The action broke the seal on their laughter, and they howled with a playful fury, throwing in a few "ooh la la"s here and there. I joined in the laughter, looking away from Tom, who was seated with arms planted firmly across his chest.
"We're just friends," I told the group.
"Oh, so you're available then?" Justin chorused hopefully. I scoffed and shook my head. I tapped the heel of my hand against my forehead and laughed.
"I'm gonna take that as a yes, missy," Justin cooed, causing more laughter from his friends. I cocked my head to one side.
"I'm sorry to wake you from your wet dream, then," I said.
The boys' laughter paused for a moment as they shifted gears and then tumbled into deep bouts of chuckles. Justin's face grew redder than Tom's, and I shrugged one shoulder. He shook his head and looked back at the TV, where they were just coming back from commercial. Tom gently cleared his throat next to me, and I looked at him to see him offering me his fist. A tad pompously, I tapped my knuckles against his, nodding.
A/N: Hey all!!! Hope everyone is doing well, and that this chapter didn't make everyone miss Thanksgiving too, too much :) At least the football theme is good, huh? Super Bowl in two weeks... Steelers vs. Packers. Should be a good game... Assuming people here are as enthusiastic about football as me haha
Soooo it might be awhile until my next update, as I've mentioned on my homepage. Things are getting crazy with school and rowing and such BUT if you are craving an update, just let me know and I can get something your way. I also may pause updating due to the fact that SKoW's voting period is fast approaching and I don't want to compete with people's needs to read up on those awesome noms :)
Special thanks to:
BrandiRose- thanks so, so much for your review! I like that not only did you like it but that it made you giggle. I love it when stories make me giggle :)
Xadon- I'm really glad you liked it! It wasn't until your last review that I realized how much I needed last chapter.
Keep the reviews coming in! xoxo