Silver Sterling (PG-13)

Steve Sterling drove home from another long night shift at the food warehouse feeling exhausted and defeated. This wasn't how he imagined his life turning out but so far it seemed that he was destined for disappointment.

He was "Silver Sterling" for most of his youth, a talented and successful athlete who succeeded in every sport he played. His coaches in junior high were telling him he had the tools and abilities to go far with his talents. He was proud of his accomplishments and he dedicated himself to working hard to excel while being a good team leader.

His dreams ended his sophomore year in high school when he suffered a severe neck injury in a freak skiing accident during a school trip. Several operations and a bone fusion prevented permanent damage but his sports career was over and "Not So Sterling" as some jerk at school phrased it spent the rest of his high school career watching his friends and teammates from the bleachers.

Gone were the possibilities of athletic scholarships and sports glory. Steve barely graduated from high school, suffering from a lack of motivation and battling depression, especially when his kid brother Mike became the new "Gold Sterling" by breaking half the school records and landing a basketball scholarship to Boston College.

With Mike stealing the headlines and the popularity, Steve faded into the background. He took a few classes at Blue County Community College but he couldn't find a reason to care and he hid out working the graveyard shift at the food warehouse supervising a revolving door of temporary workers loading trucks on the loading dock (he couldn't physically do the work himself).

Marie Jackson had been the love of his life but once his ticket to sports stardom was torn apart their relationship began to suffer and by the time they graduated from high school Marie had "moved on" and Steve was too depressed to care about dating anybody else.

Meanwhile, it was all Mike all the time. Gold Sterling was the Superstar of Blue County who could do no wrong. Everything went right for the guy and he used his celebrity status to his full advantage to gain favoritism, special treatment and double standards that made Steve all the more resentful and bitter.

Steve had been humble with his success, always quick to praise teammates and share in the winning whereas Mike was an egotistical and self-centered guy who loved to toot his own horn and bask in the spotlight even at the expense of others. He was a spoiled, pampered and coddled guy who got what he wanted and took advantage of every situation. He used people and he was basically a prick because he could get a way with it.

Steve had no idea why a girl like Yvonne Easton stayed with such a self-absorbed bastard as his kid brother who, in Steve's opinion, took her for granted and treated her like shit. Steve knew that Mike cheated on Yvonne. He had seen him with other girls around town but he didn't say anything even though Mike's behavior rubbed Steve the wrong way. Yvonne was a nice girl who deserved better than a jerk like Mike but it really wasn't Steve's place to tell her so.

Because Gold Sterling was good looking, popular and athletic with a shot at making a big time college basketball program, Steve couldn't blame Yvonne for wanting a piece of that excitement although it was a given that Mike would undoubtedly dump the poor girl once he met some BC co-ed.

Steve pulled his car into the driveway of his parent's small ranch. He felt even more pathetic still living at home at twenty but he was trying to save up money for a place of his own. His parents made a modest living and despite the success of their athletic sons they lived within their means. Steve and Mike still shared a bedroom in the small house although Steve was counting the days until Mike headed for BC as a freshman.

The driveway was empty as Steve parked his ten year old car on the side of the garage. The folks had taken the fourteen year old twins to Summer Beach for a few days but Steve had outgrown family vacations and Mike stayed home to play for the Hilltop Browns of the amateur Serguci Baseball League where he was one of the youngest stars in the league. Steve, of course, had dreamed of playing ball for the Browns too and his brother's success was just one more resentment Steve was stuck with.

He sighed as he climbed out of the car and headed into the house. Mike was gone, thankfully, off to his plush job as an assistant golf pro at the Greenville Country Club so Steve didn't have to put up with his kid brothers snarly better-than-thou attitude. He grabbed a banana and headed for his bedroom, stopping short when he reached the door and realized that Mike's bed wasn't empty.

There was a girl lying on her stomach, her blonde hair partially covering her face but Steve was pretty sure it was Yvonne. She looked naked although the cover sheet was covering her rump but he could see part of the side of her breast as she slept. Her clothes were scattered about the floor and Steve rolled his eyes when he realized that Mike had wasted little time sneaking a girl into the house as soon as their parents left town.

But now Mike was long gone and Steve was left with the temptation of seeing a vulnerable and partially exposed Yvonne either sleeping or passed out on the bed. Steve sighed and scratched his cheek wondering if he should give Yvonne some privacy and go crash on the living room couch but something about seeing her lying there so vulnerable both amused and intrigued him. Would Mike care if Steve saw his girlfriend naked? Would it be a worthwhile revenge to tease Yvonne while Mike wasn't around? Would it be the ultimate satisfaction to seduce his dick-head brother's girlfriend?

Steve smiled as he stepped into the bedroom and took a seat on the side of his bed eating his banana while watching Yvonne sleep. It had been a while since he had been around a girl in such a compromising position and he liked the excitement he was feeling even if it was his brother's girlfriend he was ogling.

Steve wasn't sure how much time had passed before Yvonne began to stir, moving enough so that the sheet slipped down to reveal just the beginning of her ass crack. Her eyes opened and it took her a moment to comprehend the situation.

"Oh," she said with surprise when she saw Steve sitting across from her with his eyes fully on her.

"Good morning, Yvonne," Steve said with a smirk.

"Mike was supposed to wake me before he left, the bastard," Yvonne moaned. "I'm sorry about this."

"It's okay," Steve smiled. "I don't mind."

She looked at him with a questioning stare.

"Do you want me to leave?" Steve asked.

She chewed on her lip for a moment. "No, it's your room," she decided.

She lifted herself up a bit and Steve could see the top of her breasts become more exposed. He swallowed but he didn't look away.

"How's Cam doing?" Steve asked, trying to make the situation as comfortable as possible given the circumstance.

Yvonne's brother Cameron was a year behind Steve and a year ahead of Mike.

"He's doing okay," Yvonne replied. "He'll be starting his second year at Green."

"Cam's good people," Steve told Yvonne.

"He says you were a better athlete than Mike."

That meant something to Steve considering Easton played with both Sterling brothers.

"It doesn't matter now," Steve replied.

"I've always thought you were a better person than Mike," Yvonne remarked, looking at him with sincerity and he was pretty sure he could see part of her nipples.

"Thanks," Steve replied, appreciative of the compliment since he didn't get a whole lot of those anymore.

She shifted on the mattress again and the sheet slipped further down her buns so he could see half her ass now. He wondered if she was aware of her exposure or if she was possibly doing it on purpose.

Yvonne had been around for the past few years, overlapping the end of Steve's relationship with Marie and they had plenty of conversations together, usually when Yvonne was sitting around waiting for Mike to show up late with no excuse for his delay. She was an interesting person but it was obvious that Mike really didn't care all that much about what she had to offer in personality. He just liked having her around to solidify his image as the guy who could get any girl he wanted and a pretty girl like Yvonne certainly fit the bill. But what was going to happen to her once Gold Sterling headed off to BC and basketball glory?

"Are you disappointed I spent the night?" Yvonne asked.

"It's none of my business," he replied.

"Do you like me, Steve?" Yvonne asked with genuine interest.

"You're a nice person," Steve let her know.

"Mike never talks to me anymore," Yvonne sighed.

"Unless it's about himself," Steve said sarcastically.

"He's going to dump me, isn't he?" Yvonne asked with worry.

"Chances are," Steve admitted honestly.

He saw her eyes tear up.

"But you never know for sure," he added quickly.

"Yeah, I do," Yvonne said with a sigh, sitting up on the bed and covering herself with the sheet but he caught a pretty good glimpse of her breasts in the process. "I suppose I should have broken up with him a long time ago."

"Why didn't you?" Steve asked.

"I guess I liked being along for the ride," Yvonne confessed.

"Every joy ride comes to an end eventually," Steve told her.

"Where is your ride taking you?" Yvonne asked.

"My ride derailed a long time ago," he sighed.

"And mine's heading for the cliff," Yvonne admitted.

"This is high school stuff," Steve reminded her. "It won't matter in a few years."

"Just like your injury doesn't matter?" She challenged.

He smiled sadly. "You'll live to play another day."

"So won't you."

"It's already over," Steve told her.

"I don't believe that."

He peered at her. "Oh yeah?"

"Why don't you go to Green College and study sports education and become a coach?" She boldly suggested.

"Because I'm a washed up loser with nothing to offer young athletes since I can't do the stuff I would be coaching them to do," he answered.

"I don't believe that either," Yvonne replied knowingly. "You have a love and an appreciation for sports that would be infectious to anybody who would be lucky enough to have you as a coach."

She leaned over and gathered her clothes from the floor.

"Why don't you prove to me that I picked the wrong brother," she said as she stood from the bed holding the sheet in front of her body. "You have more character in your fused neck than your brother does in his whole body," Yvonne said. "You can still make a difference if you want to."

She headed for the door, exposing her naked rear to him as she disappeared into the hall and then into the bathroom.

Steve sighed at the beautiful sight and wondered if his dumb brother knew what he was going to give up when he dumped her as expected.

###

Coach Sterling stood on the basketball court watching his young players practice. It was hard to believe that he was in his eleventh year of coaching Hillsboro's Middle School Boys Team and sometimes he wondered where the time went.

He thought he had a pretty good squad this year. The Timmy Browlin kid was fast, Brad Thomason was unusually tall for a twelve year old, and the new quiet kid Tony Mitchell had a killer outside shot. It was Steve's job to harness these kid's raw talent and energy and teach them the basic skills of the game.

Middle school basketball was usually the first opportunity for kids to play on an organized basketball team and Coach focused on teaching layups, free throws, passing and shooting in his practices.

Coach Sterling's coaching philosophy was pretty simple at this level – teach the players the fundamentals of the game. The win-loss record hardly mattered. It was getting the kids to understand how to play so they would be ready for the challenges and competition of high school.

Coach's style was that of being himself in both his temperament and philosophy. There was no need for screaming and yelling and intimidating and scaring. Coach knew that if he was agreeable and patient with his young players without compromising his principles he would be easy to work with. As long as his players follows the rules and were respectful of their coach, the other team and themselves there would be no problems.

Coach saw his job not only to be teaching the fundamentals of how to play the game and team skills, but also (and probably more importantly at this age level) life skills. He didn't want kids to be overwhelmed and defeated by disappointment and failure the way he had been when he injured his neck. It took him years to get over his bitterness and motivation and finally find the motivation to do something with his life and he didn't want other kids to suffer through that sort of depression and misery. He wanted his players to be humble and to appreciate the game and to know that were other things to life besides the sport they loved.

Coach expected his players to be well-prepared for practices and games and he encouraged them with positive reinforcement while trying to pass on his passion for the game. He was enthusiastic and upbeat and this often rubbed off on his players. He valued his players and he treated them all the same. The best player was no more important than the worse player on the squad, a method he used to develop team spirit and chemistry and to keep his players humble. And, of course, Steve was humble himself, rarely talking about his own sports triumphs at that age when he was known as "Silver Sterling".

Coach was also willing to take about his famous kid brother, "Gold Sterling" who had an all star collegiate career at Boston College and was still playing in the NBA, now a middle aged utility player with the Phoenix Suns as his career entered its final stretch.

Coach Sterling wanted to impact his young players. He knew he was not their parent but he was in a position to be a positive person in their lives, an important early mentor who could make a meaningful impact on their outlook and attitude. He tried to teach by example and how he treated others so he could be seen as a person of integrity.

Coach wanted his players to believe in and trust him. He wanted to have fun with them and he was sensitive to their needs while trying to develop character.
Coach Sterling never yelled at players or embarrassed them during a game. The game was for players and practice was his place behind closed doors to teach and while he did raise his voice there to make a point he never belittled them. He constantly tried to instill the concept of team rather than the individual, developing a cooperative team spirit both on an off the court so the kids would understand that there was something more important and bigger than themselves, hoping that they would become unselfish in their thinking and enjoy satisfaction from the overall singleness of purpose.

His goal as Coach was to teach the basics and to have fun. Rather than focusing on "win", he talked about giving a "winning effort" so a loss didn't sting as much. He stressed that a winning effort was also a work ethic in every day life.

Coach Sterling had been working with the young team for two weeks in practice before their first scheduled game. Five of the players (Chester MaGill, Bruce Allsup, Eric Molloy, Tom Teraco and Phil Bascale) had played for him last year and Coach Sterling was familiar with their personalities and talents. He was getting to know the five new kids – Browlin, Thomason, Mitchell, Dude Rabich and Bobby Lind – and he felt comfortable with them as players and kids. They had adapted to his philosophy and they worked hard in practice.

The first game was against the Miller City Mudhens at home at Coach tried to make sure that all ten players got as much playing time as possible, rotating shifts and player combinations to try to find the right matches on the floor. The Hurricanes lost by three but it was a noble effort and Coach was impressed by the quality of his young team's play. They played together as a team and did a good job emulating his philosophy so he had no complaints.

He thanked the team for their efforts as several parents patiently waited for him to finish his post-game remarks. Coach Sterling dismissed the team and watched some of them trot off to their parents when his eye caught sight of a woman standing by the door with her arms folded across her chest. She looked familiar but Steve couldn't quite place her.

Coach assumed she was Tony Mitchell's mom as the kid trotted up to her and smiled happily when she rubbed the top of his head. Mitch was new to the school having moved to Hillsboro before the school year had begun. He was energetic, polite, and a hard worker in practice. While he possessed a killer outside shot, Mitch lacked the general skills of dribbling and moving the ball and that was one of the goals Coach Sterling hoped to work with Mitch on during the year.

Mitch's mother waved sheepishly at Coach Sterling. She had brownish blond hair that was cropped at her neck. She was tall and slender, an attractive woman in her mid thirties. Coach stared at her blankly before she slipping through the door and for the life of him Steve couldn't place her. He hadn't gone to school with any Mitchell.

Steve returned to his office and dug out the folder on Tony Mitchell from his desk drawer. Reading through the documents, transcripts, and notes, Steve saw that the twelve year old had moved to Hillsboro from Rochester New York. His grades were adequate and there was no report of disciplinary problems or other issues. He glanced at the personal information – his dad was David Mitchell with an address listed in Rochester New York. And the Mom was listed as Yvonne Mitchell, now of 32 Hillside Drive, Apartment 4B, Hillsboro.

Yvonne?

Holy shit, was that Yvonne Easton, Mike's old high school girlfriend?

Steve sat back in his chair and a smirk came across his face. He hadn't seen Yvonne in years! The lasting imagine of her in his mind's eye, of course, was that morning in his bedroom when she slipped off of Mike's bed and headed for the bathroom while giving him a total shot of her beautiful naked butt.

He saw her a few times after that but, as predicted, her relationship with his super star (and super jerk) brother didn't survive Gold Sterling Mike's stardom at Boston College and she soon dropped out of the picture. Steve seemed to recall that she went off to Syracuse University after a year at Green College but he didn't hear much about her after that and Mike, of course, never mentioned her again as he went through a litany of girlfriends and was now on his third marriage out in Arizona.

Yvonne Easton!

Steve smiled to himself as he closed the folder on Tony Mitchell and put it back in the file drawer.

###

Coach Sterling tried not to treat Tony Mitchell any differently after learning who his mom was but he found himself being a little more interested in the kid and he chatted with Tony a few times at the end of practice, making small talk with him several times over the next few days while listening to what he was saying to the other kids

Steve learned that Tony's "single mom" worked as a teller at the Blue County Community Credit Union and that they moved to Hillsboro to be closer to his maternal grandparents. His father, apparently, was remarried with a couple of step-children and Steve sensed that there was an estrangement there but he didn't ask any questions.

Tony – the kids called him "Mitch" – was a good kid as far as Steve could tell.

He followed the Coach's philosophy and expectations, he stood up for his teammates, he helped pick up equipment after practice, and he talked in a respectful tone and didn't swear or curse like some of the other kids. It looked like Yvonne did a pretty good job raising the kid.

The next game was against the Royals in Riverside. Steve noticed Yvonne entering the gym half way through the game and he gave her a quick smile before returning his attention to the game. The Hurricanes lost again – this time by five points, but Coach Sterling was upbeat and complimentary after the game, congratulating his players for playing well and practicing the basics.

With budget cuts and other issues, the middle school team had to car pool to its games with several parents volunteering to shuffle some of the players. Steve had bought a six passenger mini-van several years ago for this reason, not exactly the kind of car to have as a single guy but sacrifices had to be made for the good of the team.

It was Coach's responsibility to make sure all ten players were accounted for when they left the visiting gym and that he was aware of kids riding home with somebody different from whom they arrived with.

"Coach Sterling?"

Steve turned to see Yvonne Marshall (nee Easton) standing in front of him.

"Yes?" He asked with an amused smile on his face.

"Is it okay if my son rides home with me?" Yvonne asked.

"Yes, of course, no problem," Steve replied with a nod of his head. "Thanks for coming out and supporting the team."

"I try to see all of Tony's games," Yvonne replied.

"That's the best thing you can do for him," The Coach said.

Tony had wandered off to chat with some of his teammates who hadn't left the gym yet.

"You do know who I am, don't you?" Yvonne asked the Coach.

"Yes, Yvonne, I knew exactly who you were the moment I saw you," Steve replied, just a bit of a lie.

"So, coaching, huh?" she smiled.

"It was your idea," Steve grinned.

"It was?" She asked with surprise.

"You don't remember?" Steve's eyes grew wide. "That morning in my room? You said I should coach."

"Yes, I remember," Yvonne said with a smile. "I'm glad you took my advice."

"It took a while," Steve replied. "Working nights at the food warehouse, taking day classes at Green. I didn't have a life…still don't come to think of it," he smiled.

"I'm glad you're doing this," Yvonne let him know. "Tony is really enjoying it. He says you're a good coach but of course I'm not surprised."

"So, you're back in Hillsboro?"

She nodded but she didn't offer any further details.

"Hey, would you believe I'm still at the food warehouse?" Steve laughed. "I'm the third shift supervisor which is why I don't have a life."

"You're coaching," she pointed out.

"Middle school basketball and assistant coach for the varsity baseball," Steve affirmed. "And I help out with a summer basketball camp. Keeps me busy."

"Good for you," Yvonne said with a warm smile. "It's really good to see you again, Steve."

"You too, Yvonne."

The Coach watched as Yvonne motioned for Tony and then she wrapped her arm around his shoulder and led him from the gym, glancing over her shoulder and smiling at Steve as she left.

He smiled in return and he could imagine what her lovely backside looked like now, nearly sixteen years after he last saw it.

Steve the Silver Sterling Coach hadn't dated much in recent years. There were one or two serious relationships since that morning with Yvonne but neither lasted given Steve's third shift work schedule and his coaching commitments. Eventually, the girlfriends got tired of the revolving schedule – he was usually sleeping when they were working or wanted to socialize and he was always fielding a call from some kid or involved in some coaching-related activity.

"You're still sixteen, Steve," Gretchen his last great romance had complained when she broke it off.

It felt strange to be thinking about Yvonne again after so much time had passed. Steve found himself getting nervous whenever she showed up for a game or to pick Tony up from practice. Yvonne seemed shy to him, not talking all that much although she made it a point to give him a wave and a smile whenever she saw him. Steve realized that he would be the one to have to initiate a conversation with her if he had any hope of establishing a renewed interest between them.

"So, where you living?" He asked after a practice one day as Yvonne was walking Tony out of the gym.

Steve already knew the answer, of course, having read Tony's file.

"An apartment on Hillside," Yvonne answered. 'You?"

'Would you believe I'm living in my parent's old house?" He laughed. "Mike built them this $400,000 mansion down by the Blue River and I got the shoebox."

"Wow, Mike finally did something for someone else besides himself?" Yvonne sarcastically asked with surprise.

"I sort of think he kind of did that for himself," Steve remarked with a smirk. "But I can't complain. He comes back every summer and runs the basketball camp for a week. Everybody thinks he's a God around here."

"But we know better!" Yvonne replied as they reached her car.

"Hey, stop by the house any time," Steve said with sincerity.

She didn't reply as she climbed into the car and Steve nodded at Tony before he got in too.

"See you, Coach," the kid mumbled.

The Hillsboro Hurricanes beat the St. Anne Saints by seven points and Coach Sterling was in a particularly good mood, so much so that he invited Yvonne and Tony to his house for a pizza celebration following the game.

Yvonne was surprised by the gesture and Tony looked horrified but they accepted and the threesome had a nice little dinner at Steve's 'shoe box'.

"It really doesn't look all that different," Yvonne commented.

Steve had moved into his parents old master bedroom, turned his and Mike's old room into his 'I Love Me' Shrine with all his old sports awards and memorabilia, and used the twins' old room as a guest room but most of the furniture was the same (Mike furnished the new house as well) and there was even the same pictures on the wall and appliances in the kitchen.

It felt weird having Yvonne back in the house after so long, especially with no Mike in the picture. Tony was obviously feeling out of place having dinner at his Coach's house and Steve let him play computer games in the shrine room while he and Yvonne talked in the living room.

"This house seemed so small when the six of you were all squashed in here but now it seems sort of big and empty when its just you," Yvonne remarked as they sat on the couch.

"Yeah, it does get sort of lonely sometimes," Steve admitted.

"You're not seeing anyone?" Yvonne wondered.

Steve shook his head no. "I told you, I have no life," he smirked.

"I think you're doing just fine," Yvonne told him.

"What about you?" Steve asked with raised eyebrows.

She sighed. "You know, I told myself after Mike that I would make sure that the guy I ended up with was the right guy."

"Tony's Dad?"

"We met in college and we fell in love and it wasn't long before I was pregnant so we got married and I lived the dream life for a few years. Nice house in the suburbs, Dave with a great job, me a stay at home mom. It was perfect."

"Until?"

"Until I learned that he had been cheating on me for years and then announced that he was leaving me for the woman he said he really loved." Her eyes filled with tears.

"I'm sorry."

"I'll never forgive him," Yvonne said, wiping a tear away. "To do that to Tony, his own son?"

"So you came home."

"I stayed out there for a year or so after he left me thinking it was important for Tony to be around his father but David had no real interest to being a father to his own son," Yvonne lamented. "He was too busy being a step-father to his new wife's children."

"So you came home," Steve repeated.

"This is home," Yvonne determined. "My parents and family are here. I still have friends from school. I figured I might as well be around a supportive group of people I could depend on and trust."

"I agree," Steve replied.

"I've never been this scared in my life," Yvonne revealed. "Starting all over as a single mom is terrifying."

"Tony's a real good kid," Steve replied. "You're doing a good job."

"Thanks," she said with a weak smile. "He's seemed to have adjusted okay. He loves playing basketball so thank you for that."

"Make sure he knows that he can come to me if he needs my help with anything," Steve offered. "It's my job as Coach to be there for the kids."

"I appreciate that, Steve," Yvonne smiled. "He does need positive male influences in his life."

Steve nodded in agreement.

"God, this is so pathetic," Yvonne groaned. "I'm so embarrassed about all of this."

"You shouldn't be embarrassed," Steve told her.

"I made wrong choices," Yvonne sighed. "Got pregnant before I got married. Didn't really know David the way I should have. Lived in la-la land while he was out sleeping around."

"Well, that's all in the past now," Steve said. "And I'm proud of you."

She rolled her eyes. "Proud of me?" She asked with disbelief.

"You're doing good things," Steve encouraged her. "You're taking care of your son. You're being a good Mom. I've always thought you were a person of good character."

"I just can't seem to pick the right guy," she sighed.

"It's going to be okay," Steve remarked.

"You were always so nice to me," Yvonne said with appreciation.

"You just need to get yourself back on track," Steve advised. "I think coming back to Hillsboro was the best thing you could have done for yourself. It's nice seeing you again and I'd like to be a part of this new life of yours in whatever capacity you'll have me."

She looked at him with surprise. "Well, you're Tony's coach."

"I think you know what I mean, Yvonne," Steve replied.

"I'm still feeling pretty raw, Steve," she said defensively.

"I understand," he replied. "You can set the pace. No pressures. No expectations."

"I want to run the other way when I see you," Yvonne confessed.

"Why?" He asked, trying not to sound hurt.

"Because I'm damaged goods, unable to trust and maybe I'm just not good enough for you," she sighed. You deserve so much better than me."

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard you say," Steve replied.

He saw the tears rolling down her cheeks and he took her hand in his.

"I've been waiting for you for years," he whispered. "I just didn't know it until I saw you in the gym that day."

She smiled weakly. "It's hard for me. I cry all the time."

"Listen, you're stronger than you think and you're gonna be okay," Steve told her. "You can enjoy your days and live your life. It's okay."

"Only I don't know how," Yvonne admitted.

"I wouldn't expect you to stop thinking about and grieving the end of your marriage," Steve said. "I'm here if you need me."

"It's getting late, we should go," Yvonne said nervously, standing. "Tony!" She called to the other room. "Time to go!"

Tony emerged from the other room and nodded his thanks to the Coach as Steve walked the boy and his mother to the door.

"Thanks for coming over," Steve told them warmly. "I had a nice time."

"Sure, Coach," Tony said as he disappeared through the door.

Yvonne paused for a moment, looking back at Steve. "We're not eighteen any more, Steve," she said quietly.

"I know," he replied. "But there's no reason why we can't pick up where we left off either."

"You mean me walking bare assed to the bathroom?" She said, lifting her eyes knowingly before she disappeared into the night

###

Steve continued to see Yvonne around the gym after practices and games and they made small talk when they had a chance. Friday night pizza at his house became a tradition and Tony slowly began warming up to the idea of socializing with his coach outside of the basketball gym.

After pizza, Tony would go off into the shrine room to play on the computer, leaving his mother and coach behind to chat in the living room, Yvonne wondering if she would find redemption in the eyes of her ex-boyfriend's older brother. Some days, she felt like she was doing okay but on other days she felt like it was an uphill climb full of doubts and fear. She wondered if it was always going to be hard for her.

Steve was patient. He knew Yvonne had been hurt and that it would take time to heal but that it wouldn't take forever. Each new day was another day when Yvonne might take another step toward her emotional freedom and independence from her horrible past.

It was a Friday night after their pizza when Steve kissed Yvonne for the first time. Tony was in the shrine room on the computer and Yvonne was babbling on about something irrelevant at work when Steve spontaneously leaned over and kissed her. He was relieved when she smiled and kissed him back.

"I wanted to do that the morning I found you in Mike's bed," he whispered.

"I wanted you to do that the morning you found me in Mike's bed," she sighed.

The next Monday, Tony knocked on Coach's door before that day's practice.

"Coach, can I talk to you?" the young player asked.

"Of course," Coach Sterling replied. "Come in."

Tony entered the small cubical and closed the door behind him.

"What's going on between you and my mother?" Tony asked bluntly.

Steve was caught off guard by the question. "Nothing's going on, Tony."

"She's been singing all weekend," Tony revealed. "She sings whenever she sees you. She's all…mushy."

Steve couldn't help but grin. "Oh yeah?"

"So what's going on, Coach? Do we need to have a man to man talk?"

"Listen, your Mom and I go back a while," The Coach replied. "We have some history but we're just friends…..so far, anyway."

"She dated your brother, right?" Tony wanted to know. "The NBA guy?"

"That was a long time ago, Tony," The Coach replied. "Look, I care about your mother but it's really up to her what she decides to do."

"It's the first time I've seen her happy in a real long time, Coach."

"Well, that's a good thing, isn't?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, Coach, it's a good thing."

"I don't' know what's going to happen with your mom and me, Tony, but for now I'm the Coach and you're the player and I hope all this other stuff doesn't interfere."

"Me either," Tony said with obvious relief. "I don't want the guys to think I have an in or something."

The next game was against arch Rival Greenville at home and there were more than the usual amount of fans watching the game, including Yvonne of course. Steve coached the game with a little bit more authority and with a desire to beat the Green and give his team some confidence. He made less substitutions and stuck with the more talented players a little longer than usual. The Green was up by one with three second to go when Tony ended up with the ball on a desperation pass. He turned at the key and let a shot go which swished through the basket as the buzzer went off and Hilltop won in dramatic fashion!

Coach Sterling tried to play it cool and he stood there looking like it was no big deal as the rest of the players mobbed Tony but he managed to glance at Yvonne and subtly smile knowing how much of a big deal this was for her and for her son.

When the celebration was done, Coach called the players to the bench. Standing in front of them with his hands on hips, he smiled at the boys.

"Today, you played like Hurricanes," he said proudly. "I'm proud of every one of you and I want you to be proud of yourselves. You came to win today and we won together because we played like Hurricanes."

The players gave him high-fives as they dispersed and Coach looked at Tony with a smile on his face.

"Nice shot, Mitch."

"Thanks, Coach," Tony said sheepishly before he moved off to continue celebrating with his happy teammates.

"Great Speech, Coach."

Steve turned to see Yvonne standing by the end of the bench. She was wearing a white blouse with the first two buttons undone revealing a fair amount of cleavage with a navy wool skirt fairly short above her knees.

"Your kid won the game for us," Steve replied with a broad grin. "Congratulations."
Yvonne patted Steve's shoulder and then rested her hand on his arm. "It's because he has you for a Coach."

"I doubt that," Steve replied.

"He's spending the night with Timmy Browlin tonight," Yvonne remarked. "You want to do something?"

Steve smiled knowingly.

A few hours later, Steve and Yvonne were sitting together in a booth at the Bullpen Tavern nursing beers.

"I can't remember the last time I was out," Yvonne said as she ate her potato skins.
Her smile was dazzling and Steve could see flares in her eyes as they spent the evening chatting, reminiscing, talking basketball and other sports, and getting caught up on family news.

It was nearly midnight and they drank at least a half dozen beers each.
"I'm getting tired," Yvonne said with a yawn. "Can we go?"
"Of course," Steve replied. "I'll take you home."

"We can go to your place, Sterling."
She gave him a hopeful smile and he nodded in agreement. They walked from the tavern hand-in-hand to his van. He opened the passenger side door for her but instead of climbing in, she leaned against the vehicle.
"Is this our first date?" She asked.
"Apparently," he grinned.

She took his arm and gave him a 'I'm waiting,' kind of look. He stepped close to her and put a hand on her waist. Her gaze back was lust filled. Moving in closer, Steve gave her a long and passionate kiss in the cold New England night air.

Yvonne f climbed into the van and Steve drove her back to the 'shoe box'. They didn't say anything, anticipating what was waiting for them once they arrived. Steve parked the van in the driveway and escorted Yvonne into the house. She was on him as soon as he closed the kitchen door behind him, knocking him into the wall as she lip locked him and buried her hands in his hair.

"Finally," she moaned, shifting her feet slightly and then spreading them further, cocking her head. "Do you know how long I've been waiting?" Her smile was electrifying.
Steve moved his hand to the bottom of her skirt and tugged it down her legs before dipping his hand down the back of her panties to cup her rear.

"Do you know how long I've been waiting to feel this?" He whispered.

"Since the day you saw it," she guessed as he pulled her panties down. "Please . . . take me . . . to bed. We can pretend it's that morning again."
"I like that idea," Steve smiled as he continued kissing her until she turned and walked out of the kitchen, bottomless.

Her backside looked as beautiful as it did that morning. By the time Steve got to the bedroom, Yvonne was totally naked lying on his bed on her stomach pretty much the same way she had been that morning when he found her in Mike's bed except that there was no sheet covering her this time.

Steve stripped out of his clothes and lay on the bed, half on her, half next to her.

"My Silver Sterling," Yvonne said happily as she turned and kissed him. "Do you think Mike will mind?"

"I think the statue of limitations is up on that, Yvonne," Steve replied.

"Go for the Gold, My Silver Sterling," she whispered.

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