Chapter One: Before the Game


"Edward, Coach wants us in another fifteen minutes!" Jasper called through the flat that we shared. I sighed, knowing that Coach would kill us if we were late.

"Coming Jasper, meet you downstairs in the car," I called back. Jasper was like the brother I never had. He was the TO to my Romo. He was my favorite receiver to my quarterback. Not that I'm as popular as Romo yet. This is only my first pro game. Jasper has been playing for a year now and started dating my twin sister Alice during the off season.

"Really Edward, we need to go meet Emmett out front before we check in with Coach!" That sent me sprinting out the door and into the car. Emmett was a huge linebacker and captain of the defense like I'm the captain of the offense. He's also my brother and married to Jasper's twin sister Rosalie.

"I'm here. Let's go before Coach gets really mad," I said as I swung into the Volvo's driver's seat. Jasper rolled his eyes and started driving towards the Seattle Seahawk's stadium. I was more nervous than I would ever admit. There has been a lot of talk about me since I'm a twenty-two year old rookie who didn't play for an impressive team. I went to Duke, which has a great basketball team and academics but a pretty sucky football team, they were even on the list of the 100 worst sports teams ever. There's a lot of pressure and hype around me right now.

"Dude, you need to calm down. You're going to crash into a wall or something the way your bouncing," Jasper said calmly, calming me in the process. I took a couple deep breathes as I pulled into a reserved parking spot.

"You ready for your first game, rookie?" Emmett boomed over the parking lot as soon as he saw us. It was my turn to roll my eyes.

"No, I don't think I'll ever be ready to make a fool of myself." I kept walking straight through the side door of the huge stadium and into the home locker rooms.

"Cullen, get over here!" Coach yelled over all the noise. Coach's real name was Billy Black, but to us he was just 'Coach'. As soon as I got within five feet of him, he started yelling at the same volume as when I was on the other side of the locker room. "This is a big day, so don't screw up. My best friend's daughter is here to get experience for a journalism job and I've assigned her to be your personal assistant. She's great at chess and even kicks my butt which I hope makes her a good strategist for you."

"Yes, Coach. Where is she, Coach?" I said, sounding like I was in the military.

"Hey Billy, Charlie said to tell you thanks for the front row tickets and that he owes you a couple of fishing trips," a beautiful, female voice said from behind me. What was a girl doing in the locker room? I turned around and froze. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Her long brown hair flowed down her back freely, curling softly as it fell. Her brown eyes are like whirlpools that drag you in and you never come out. Her features were defined and endearing at the same time and she was the perfect height, in my opinion.

"Tell Charlie that I'll hold him to that," Coach said in a kind voice. He must not like us very much. "Bella, this is Edward and he's a rookie too. Help him with strategy as much as you can, which will force you to do research and help with your profession. Edward, keep Bella with you at all times during games and practices and exchange cell numbers. Get to know each other as you change, Edward. Bella, I made you your own jersey and badge so that you've got as much clearance as I do."

"Thanks Billy, I owe you. Where's Jake?" she asked after hugging Coach and sliding on a jersey and badge. Jake was the second in command on defense and Emmett's right hand man.

"He's coming, but remember your job," Coach warned before waving us off. I walked over to my locker with Bella following behind me.

"So, I've heard about you, the new guy from Duke who is supposed to be the next big quarterback. I went to Yale myself, but I thought about Duke," she said in the angel-like voice, trying to break the ice. She's smart, really smart. I threw off my shirt, tugged on my jersey, and took off the sweats that I'd put on over the spandex pants.

"So, I've heard about you, the new journalism major who wants experience in sports before she starts her first job," I responded in kind, smiling at her so she knew I was joking.

"Actually, I'm taking a year off from everything so I could help out Billy with you. And I need to know everything about the Seahawks because I'm the official Seahawks reporter for the paper here," she explained to me. I guess that makes sense. Something behind my shoulder caught her attention because she suddenly screamed and took off in a sprint that rivaled my own.

"Jake, I haven't seen you for over six months," Bella cried, jumping into his hug energetically.

"Bella, I've missed my honorary little sis. You didn't call nearly as often as you said you would," Jake accused as he pulled her at arms length. "You look way too tan. There's too much sun in Connecticut, that's what I've always said."

"You didn't even know where Connecticut was before you came to visit me at Yale over Christmas," Bella accused right back, laughing at him.

"Bella and Jake, I love you both but will send you out on the field with no pads if you don't get to work!" Coach yelled at them and they jumped apart, Bella back to where I was ready to go and Jake to start getting ready.

"So don't you need to warm up?" Bella asked me as she leaned up against the lockers. I noticed how good she looked, even in the blue-gray of her jersey.

"Yeah I guess, let's go," I said, realizing as I spoke that I really needed to. I was stiff and I slept weird on my arm, so I had to work that out before I could throw anything.

"Are you nervous?" she asked, looking up at me from under her lashes.

"Yes, very. I'll have to get over it though and play the best game of my life tonight." My short career couldn't handle a bad game tonight.

"I've never seen you play before, so I don't know how good you are. If what they say about you on the NFL channel is true, then you should be great." I smiled down at her and she smiled back. I guess everything will just have to turn out alright. I pushed it out of my mind as I stepped into the stadium.


Wow, the stadium was huge from the field. TV cameras were being set up and the opponent's QB was warming up on the other side of the field. Every line on the field was perfectly straight and crisp, contrasting nicely with the grass. There were a lot of TV journalists off to one side, but they had to stay in a designated area so they don't mess up the athletes.

"Bella, can you toss me that football?" Edward's smooth voice said from the ground at my feet. He was stretching on the grass and looking up at me.

"Sure, where is it?" He pointed with his free hand over to the water cooler and towels. I picked up the football and passed it to him like it was a basketball. I was the tomboy growing up, so I was one of the best at all different sports. Basketball has always been my favorite and I've played it since elementary school. Football, however, is my favorite to watch and study. I loved to just chill and figure out what to do with different situations.

"Nice chest pass. Too bad it was a football and not a basketball," he teased, smirking slightly. "Can you catch a few?" he asked and I nodded, even though I wasn't too sure I could catch the passes he threw. By now, the rest of the team was stretching and the stadium was filling up. The first throw was an easy catch, even though I was almost ten yards away and tossed it back.

"Go long!" Edward called and really used his arm, throwing it way down the field. I started sprinting and those years in football came back. I judged how fast I needed to go to get to where the ball would land. My legs moved effortlessly as I kept sprinting. I turned back and caught it perfectly at just the spot I thought it would hit.

"I may be out of a job," a blonde man said from the sidelines, a Seahawk football player. "I've worked years to develop that kind of skill. Do you play football?"

"I played for a couple years in junior high but I watch it and strategize obsessively," I explained while I blushed at his compliments. To change the subject, I asked "What position do you play?"

"I'm a receiver and Edward's second in command on offense. The name's Jasper, by the way," he said, sticking out his hand.

"Well, I'm Bella and I'm Edward's consultant so I can learn more about the Seahawks for my journalism job next year," I explained, shaking his hand. Edward came up behind us and stared at me, dumbstruck.

"Why didn't you tell me you were a sports genius? Billy never mentioned, he said you were good at chess!" Edward said, sounding exasperated.

"I'm not a sports genius, but I do love it. Watching, playing, and strategizing." Billy never explained why he paired me with Edward specifically, but I was OK with that. Edward sighed and I handed him the football.

"Go long again," Edward told me. I took off running and I knew that he was testing me now. He threw it to the other side of left side of the field while I was running on the right, making me cross the field. Edward threw it so long that it will land right in the middle of the opponents warm up. Must be a sixty yard throw and he didn't even break a sweat. I kept running and jumping over people stretching on the ground. The ball landed directly in my arms and I slowed to a stop.

"Who are you?" the opponents head coach asked from directly in front of me as the whole Seahawk's team was clapping and whistling, having just watched that catch.

"Edward Cullen's assistant but I'm really just learning about the Seahawks for my journalism job that starts next year," I explained again.

"I've never seen the likes of this before. You could play with the boys, you could," the coach said and all the players who'd congregated around us nodded.

"Thank you, but I'd better get back," I said and, turning my back on them, started the long run back to where the whole team was waiting for me.

"Who's that?" "What's she doing here?" "She's almost better than you, Whitlock!" All the players were talking at once.

"Break it up, break it up! Bella, why were you showing off?" Billy yelled as he walked over to the team.

"But Billy, I wasn't showing off, I was helping Edward warm up," I said with an innocent smile. Billy rolled his eyes before yelling some more.

"Bella is here to get to know the Seahawks and help out, not to play football! If you have a strategy question or want to converse about football tactics, talk to her. But don't bother her and get distracted from what you're paid to do!!" Billy started to walk away but I ran after him.

"Billy, wait!" I called as I caught up to him. "You never told me I was going to be a strategist!" Billy stopped and sighed before turning around to face me.

"I didn't want to tell you until later in the season, but I want to hire you as the assistant head coach. The second in command of the whole team so you could take over when I retire. I was going to ease you into it as Edward's assistant. Remember when we watch football with Charlie and you would always explain what you would've done if you were the head coach of a certain team? Well, you were always right.

"I know you want to do journalism, but I really want you to try this for me. You're like a daughter to me and I want you to give it a shot. Just stay by me and Edward and always share your opinions and next moves. If you don't like it, then you can continue on to the paper. Just try it, OK?" Billy looked at me and I could tell he wanted me to. But this is really fast. I never expected this at all, but I realized that I really do want to be involved in sports. I just…never thought about coaching before.

"I'll do it under two conditions: I get to back out anytime I want and I get to address the team at half time." Billy shook my hand and nodded while smiling widely.

"Really, I've got a lot of faith in you. I've been thinking about this since you were a kid and I know that I'll love working with you." I didn't have as much faith in myself, but as long as he's happy, I'll give it a try.

Now I've got to think about what I'm going to tell the team.

AN: I know that this is confusing for some people who don't understand football, but I don't plan on having anything football-related important to the plot.

I know that a lot of stuff isn't realistic, but I figure it doesn't have to. For the record, I get a little help from my brother, even though I know most of the stuff without him.

FUNFACT: My brother's 11 and he's still afraid of the dark and wears Rescue Hero underwear.

Thanks for reading and I like reviews, Emma