A/N I hope you girls were serious when you said you wanted some real football in this fic because this chapter has a fairly long account of the first game. I hope you like it! Special thanks to my beta, Rameau & Tripp3525 this week, who know nothing about football and had to muddle their way through the action as best they could. I appreciate their help despite my confusing them!

Let's meet Emmett, shall we?

First & Ten Chapter 5

EPOV

The morning had picked up considerably for me once I went down to Jas's floor. I'd had the shittiest night of sleep since we went out in the playoffs last year, when I kept replaying each bad throw in my mind until the wee hours of the morning. This time, however, it was a brunette with big brown eyes that was robbing me of some much needed rest. I couldn't remember the last time a girl had that effect on me…maybe freshman year of high school, before I shot up eight inches or so? Why in the hell couldn't I get her out of my mind?

I finally gave up trying to sleep at 5 AM and hauled my ass out of bed. Jas and I usually went in to work out together but we never went before seven in the morning but I'd decided that if I was up, he sure as shit was going to be up and I tried calling him for half an hour before marching out of his apartment to drag him out of bed. Technically it was his fault that I'd had the sleepless night, since Bella was Alice's friend and he'd made me tag along for moral support. Here I'd sworn off girls and he'd gone and introduced me to one that had gotten under my skin. I didn't appreciate it and I planned to make him pay with a punishing work out.

I'd been completely prepared to make a sarcastic comment and punch him in the shoulder when he answered the door but all thoughts of doing so had been stilled when the girl that had haunted my mind all night was standing before me. For one brief second, seeing in her Jasper's clothes, made me see red but common sense kicked in before my imagination could run wild. I'd seen Jas with Alice and I knew that he was completely gone over her. So instead I'd focused on the girl, her hair a riotous mess and her face flushed from having been woken from a sound sleep. She probably shouldn't have been beautiful to me in that moment but she was. I'd nearly reached out to make sure she wasn't a mirage my overtired imagination had cooked up to taunt me further. Then she'd made that comment about being good in bed and I knew she was real, my imagination wasn't that good. I had to stop myself from throwing her over my shoulder and taking her back to my place to prove just how right she was. Real and strange and funny and gorgeous; she was a lethal combination and I wanted to get to know her better.

Our conversation had gone surprisingly well and I couldn't believe that I was such a dumbass that I didn't know what I'd done to piss her off. I was just so used to girls giving me their number that I honestly didn't think a thing of it anymore. And my last girlfriend had found it amusing when groupies approached me, even though I thought it was incredibly rude and presumptuous. Tanya liked all kinds of attention though so it wasn't really surprising. She never gave a damn about me anyway and probably wouldn't have minded if I'd messed around but I meant it when I told Bella that wasn't my style.

I pulled up at the training facility and grinned when I saw I was the first one there. That meant some peace and quiet while I worked up a sweat, and I could think more about Bella. I swiped my ID badge and entered the weight room, grabbing a towel and making my way to the chin-up station. I began doing my fifty pull-ups, feeling the burn in my shoulders after I reached the halfway point, which was normal.

From there I went to the leg machines and did leg lifts and squats. A glance at the clock showed it was almost eight and I knew some of my teammates would show up soon. That was a good thing because I didn't like to bench alone. I could do my standard 250 lbs without need of a spotter but I liked to work my way up to 350 and Coach would kill me if I didn't have someone there to make sure I didn't hurt myself.

I had just sat down with the dumbbells to do some curls when a voice boomed behind me, making me nearly drop the damn weight on my foot. "Good morning Heisman! You ready?" A giant paw cuffed me on the back and I had to brace myself to keep from pitching forward with the weight. I shook my head and started the curls, not turning to face the voice I knew all too well.

"Em, when are you going to call me by my name?" I'd known him for three years now and for three years I'd been anything but Edward. Still, Heisman was better than…

"What's the matter, Most Beautiful? People magazine call to say you were only 30th on the list this year?" Yeah…that. For every photo shoot and fawning article, Emmett managed to find yet another nickname for me. Besides those two, I was GQ, Cosmo, Playboy (though of course it was Playgirl that wanted me to pose, I'd shot that down right away), Harper's Bazaar…you name it, Emmett was on top of it. I think he subscribed to every magazine that might print my picture just for fodder. It would not remotely surprise me.

I grunted and kept lifting, knowing that he didn't need any encouragement to keep going. Em plopped down on the next weight bench over and began pumping double the weight I was. He was easily the strongest guy on our team and he was huge, his shoulders nearly the length of the weight bench himself. He grinned at me in the mirrors in front of us as his arm muscles bulged under the large weights. It didn't remotely phase him to be curling a hundred pounds. "So I read that you were dating Jessica Simpson…are you sure that's a good idea man? She didn't bring Romo over the top."

"Em, are you reading the Enquirer again? You know I've never even met Jessica Simpson." Nor would I date her. Airheads were really not my type. Bella was whip-smart, I could tell. Quick witted and sarcastic and sexy as all hell…

"Golden Boy, where are you?" Emmett waved a hand in front of my place as I realized I'd zoned out and shook my head. He narrowed his light blue eyes at me and cocked his head to the right. "What's going on with you? You just did four reps too many."

I put the weights down and shrugged. "Nothing's the matter. Can you spot me on the bench?" Emmett was a huge busybody and I wasn't about to mention Bella until I knew if it was going anywhere; maybe not even then. Em was merciless.

"Sure, Heisman." I set my starting weight at 225 lbs and lay on the bench as Emmett grabbed the bar from above while I lifted it out of the holder and lowered it down to me, grunting under the weight as I started my first set. "Too much for you, Nancy?" Emmett asked with his dimples flashing as he chuckled. A girl's name, that was original. I rolled my eyes and kept up with my first set, doing fifteen reps and then putting the bar back and nodding at him to add more weight, but I wasn't going to take it to my max. I could lift 450 but I wasn't looking to kill my arms two days before our opening game.

Emmett slid the weights on and I began lifting again as he continued to watch me with interest. How the hell he knew something was up with me was beyond me. I was normal, right? I looked the same; I was doing my same work out. I was here a little early but that wasn't a big deal.

"Where's Shaggy?" Emmett asked. At least I wasn't the only one that got a nickname.

"Jasper has a new girlfriend; she stayed over last night. I'm sure he'll be in soon."

Emmett laughed. "A girlfriend? Whitlock? Since when?"

I snickered because I'd had pretty much the exact same reaction. "Since that charity fashion show at the hospital a few weeks ago I guess. Alice organized it."

"Hmmm," Emmett murmured. "Well good for him. You met her yet?"

"Yeah, last night at Axis. She's really something. I like her."

Emmett folded his big arms as he looked down at me. "You went to Axis? How many chicks did you pick up?" Fuck. I shouldn't have mentioned it. Time to distract him.

"None." That was actually true. One had tried to pick me up and I'd pissed off the one I wanted, so I was technically 0 for the night. He didn't ask me about this morning. "Alice calls Jas Jazzy and she made him model in her fashion show," I accidentally on purpose told Emmett.

He threw back his head and belted out his earth shaking laugh. "Fashion show? She got him to model and shit? Did he go shirtless and wear one of those weird vests you always see male models in? Is there video? There has to be damn video. Tell me there is, man!" He sounded almost desperate at the last request and I laughed because I knew Emmett lived for moments like this.

"Alice said there is and she'll hook me up." Emmett clapped his hands together with glee and muttered something about replacing the game film with Jasper's modeling debut. He'd do it too; Em was the king of pranks. "I'll let you know when I have it."

Emmett focused in on me again and I silently congratulated myself to diverting his attention for the moment. "Yes, good. You're all set. My turn." I wiped the bench clean of my sweat and took Emmett's place as he immediately started lifting with the 375 I'd been using. Of course he did. "So why didn't they ask you to model, Most Eligible Bachelor? You're way prettier than Jasper." His voice didn't remotely strain as he brought the weight down to his chest and pushed it back up again.

"I wasn't there," I told him, extremely grateful for that fact. I knew Alice could have badgered me into walking down that runway as well…she struck me as one of those people who never took no for an answer. I'd have to send my cousin another wedding present in thanks for getting me out of town that weekend. Jane was a godsend.

"Well that explains it. Don't feel bad, Body Beautiful, I'm sure you'll get asked soon enough." He smiled up at me playfully as he put the bar in place and I loaded more weight on. He started his reps just as Jasper walked in the other end of the room. I wanted to pump him for information on what happened with Bella after I left but I couldn't do that with Emmett sitting right there.

"Hey, man," I said. Emmett cut his eyes to the left and a huge grin spread over his face when he saw Jasper walked towards us in his old white Texas tee and gray shorts.

"Fabio! I was just asking GQ what the hottest fashion trend was right now. We need your expert guidance." Jasper glared at me but that faded quickly and he flashed me a devious smile, his blue eyes sparkling. I was fucked. No way was he going to keep Bella a secret now. So much for my master distraction techniques. "He said that all the hot Texas models were wearing chaps these days. Is this true? Do they make them in my size?" Emmett set the bar down and sat up, giving us both an impish smile.

"I don't think they make chaps in size Fat Ass, but I can look into it. Maybe I could market a line of big men's clothes. I'll call it Go Wide," Jasper responded, in an exaggerated Texas twang.

Emmett's smile melted away as he leapt off the bench and turned around to study his ass in the mirror. "My ass is not fat. It's perfect. You wish you had an ass like this, with a little shape to it. How you could model anything with that pancake butt is beyond me. Tell your girl I'll model her in next show. I'll get way more applause than you ever did!" Jasper and I laughed at the true outrage we heard in Emmett's tone. He wasn't remotely fat and he was actually underweight for your typical lineman. Emmett was 275 lbs of solid muscle whereas most lineman were over 300 lbs and had a gut to go with their huge size.

"Why are you checking out my ass, Em? Rose doesn't do it for you anymore?" Jasper asked.

"Please, you know damn well if I was going to go gay, I'd go for Pretty Boy over here. He'd be the catch of the decade." Emmett moved to another machine and started doing some leg lifts.

"You can't have him, he's got a girl…well, maybe he does. If he doesn't fuck it up again." Damn, the reprieve hadn't lasted long.

The weights clanged as Emmett stopped his leg lifts abruptly. "What? Most Eligible isn't so eligible anymore? Since when?" He started lifting again and then he looked at me with horror flashing across his face. "Please tell me you are not back with Tanya. I don't think I could stand dealing with her again and Rosie sure as shit can't. I thought she was going to puncture those fake breasts with a fork at the team awards ceremony." He paused and smiled. "That actually would have been really hot." He wasn't kidding. Rose and Tanya had hated each other on sight, Tanya because she's a competitive bitch and couldn't stand being around a woman that was as, if not more, beautiful as she was and Rose because she couldn't stand high maintenance women like Tanya. Rose was the best mechanic in the city and she could talk circles around all of us when it came to cars and held her own with sports as well. To say she and Tanya had nothing in common would be the understatement of the century.

"Not Tanya," Jasper grunted as he started doing his own lifts on the bench. I spotted him since my own workout was pretty much done, though I'd do a few more leg lifts once Emmett was finished. "Our boy here met Alice's best friend Bella last night and all seemed to be going well until he was stupid enough to take some bimbo's number right in front of her." I winced but could say nothing to defend myself. It had been a moronic move.

"What's wrong with you, man? Do you need me to teach you how to pick up a woman? I'm clearly going to have to send a letter to Teen Beat to rescind your title of Athlete We'd Most Like to Marry. They got it all wrong." Teen Beat? For real? Firstly, I didn't think there was such a magazine and secondly, if there was, they had better not be writing about me.

"Yeah, Em, I really need to take advice to you. Getting a wrench thrown at my head is not exactly the way I want to start a relationship."

"Hey! My Rosie has spirit! You'll be lucky if this Bella chick has half the fire that Rose does. Really lucky." He waggled his eyebrows at me and I shook my head. Emmett had bought himself a black Lamborghini last year, a gorgeous machine that he'd promptly slammed into a tree when he took a curve too fast on its maiden voyage. The tow truck took his car to Rose's Auto Body and she'd come out in her overalls and taken one look at the car and chucked her wrench at Emmett's head, screaming at him about automobile abuse and not knowing how to treat a lady properly. Good reflexes had kept him from being beaned in the head and he'd taken the hit in his shoulder. Emmett had fallen in love instantly and set out to prove that he did know how to treat a lady, at least one like Rose. Instead of sending her flowers, he bought her subscriptions to Car & Driver and other magazines and in a stroke of genius had found her a classic '69 Vette in need of some TLC. She'd been helpless against that kind of onslaught and they'd been together ever since.

"Bella has plenty of fire," I told him, remembering how she'd glared at me and started firing questions at me like she was going to do some sordid expose. At the time, I'd been angry but I'd still noticed that she looked beautiful when she was mad.

"I'll say," Jasper snickered as he lifted the bar again. "She ran him right out of Axis." I could have defended myself but I knew it was pointless when Emmett joined in the laughter. Besides, I had other things to find out.

"So what the hell happened after I left anyway?" I asked.

"Bella asked for four shots of tequila and being the accommodating gentleman I am, I got them for her and let her and Alice talk. After she was a few shots in, she found the napkin with that chick's number. She told Alice she fucked up and explained about the whole thing. She was too drunk to drive by the time we left so Alice drove her car to my place and we let her crash there." He chuckled. "She fell in love with that couch your mother picked out and wouldn't sleep in the spare bedroom." I smiled, I had the same couch in a dark grey color in my condo, Jasper had liked mine and begged my mom to find him one. "She's cool, man. She had us laughing all night, talking about trashy blondes and egotistical athletes. She kept telling me no offense every time she said something negative about our kind. Cracked me up."

Emmett let out a loud laugh. "She's got you pegged."

"I'm not egotistical," I responded, irritated by the accusation. I mean, I guess I was used to some certain attention but that wasn't because I expected it; it just happened. How was that egotistical?

"Dude, all us jocks are egotistical, especially out on that field. I'm not saying you're full of yourself off it. Quite the contrary, actually. You don't seem to get why girls flock to you. You always blame it on the football but as a card carrying straight man, I feel confident enough in my sexuality to tell you that they would be hitting on you if you were a fucking janitor." I chuckled at the serious expression on Emmett's face. Maybe I would still get girls but I doubted it would be in quite the same quantity.

Emmett just shook his head and looked between me and Jasper. "So how are you going to fix it with this girl? She's under your skin, man. I can tell just by the way you kept zoning out all morning and the expression on your face when Jasper said her name. What's she look like, anyway? Is she hot?" He snorted. "Who am I kidding, of course she's hot."

I scowled, not really liking him referring to Bella that way even if it was true. "She's gorgeous," I corrected and he coughed "whipped" behind his hand. I gave him the finger and continued. "She has long brown hair and these big brown eyes that just see right through you. Her skin is a really beautiful pale peach and she's incredibly soft. And when I touch her…there's like this electric jolt between the two of us, but it feels good. I don't really know how to explain it."

"So not like the taser then?" Jasper and I both threw our sweat soaked towels at him as he hooted and caught them before they could hit him in the face. "Hey, The Hangover was epic. I just had to see if it was that awesome in person and it totally was."

"Don't think we won't get you back for that," Jasper warned darkly, no doubt remembering the horrific pain of those volts of electricity shooting through his crotch. "You're lucky I'm not fucking impotent from it or you would be as well." Jasper had taken the hit to the groin while I'd gotten shot in the face, like Alan in the movie. Which wasn't cool. Both of us were down for a good ten minutes and numb for an hour afterwards.

"If anybody was Fat Jesus, it was you. You should have taken the volts to the face," I told him. The bastard had gotten us out on the field and shot us simultaneously. He knew if he got one of us first the other would outrun him so he'd bought two. We owed him big.

"Aww, don't worry Pretty Boy, there wasn't any permanent damage." He clapped me on the shoulder. "Now, Shaggy, on the other hand, might have some super charged swimmers from that little experiment. You better be careful with your new girl." Jasper punched him in the gut but it didn't have any effect.

"Watch your hand," I warned him. The last thing I needed was my starting WR with his hand in a cast to start the season.

"Yeah," Jasper muttered, irritated that he hadn't inflicted any damage on the big guy.

"Anyway," Emmett said, completely unphased by Jasper's hit, "we need to figure out how to get you back in this Bella's good graces. Tell me more; besides the fact that you're completely into her, I got that when you were describing her like some hero from a romance novel. Her skin is peachy and soft? I'd be worried about your sexuality if I didn't know any better." We walked to the locker room to shower and change to head to our individual film sessions with our position coaches. We'd get back together with the entire offense later to work on some plays.

"I talked to her this morning when I went to wake Jasper up. I'm seeing her on Sunday night after the game, so your help isn't needed." I pulled out a fresh pair of shorts and t-shirt from my locker.

"You better take her some place remote if you don't want more girls hitting on you in front of her," Emmett warned. "I'm sure you're not stupid enough to take another number in front of her but it would still suck if you were constantly interrupted." It would and that's why I was avoiding it.

"I invited her to dinner at my place. I can't get to know her in a crowded restaurant." Emmett nodded approvingly.

"You're a smooth one, Cosmo. You have the girl coming over to your place for the first date? Maybe I should be the one taking lessons." I bristled a little at the implication that I'd get Bella into bed on Sunday. Not that I didn't like the idea, mind you, because I did. More than I cared to admit. But I liked her, or I thought I could anyway, and I didn't want to rush her into anything physical. That fucked things up for me each and every time, Tanya being the most recent example.

"It's just easier and I'm not going to sleep with her," I told him testily. "She's better than that."

"Yeah, and she totally doesn't want to have two football players see her naked in the same week," Jasper piped up. I whirled around and faced him and saw a shit eating grin stretched across his face.

"What the fuck did you just say?" She was just joking about the threesome, wasn't she? She had to be, no way would Jasper…no, just, no.

"Priceless!" Emmett chortled, looking between us eagerly.

The expression on my face must have been rather menacing because Jasper took a step back and shook his head. "No man, not what you think. I just helped Alice change her." Well that was better…wait, no it wasn't.

"You saw her naked?" I asked, my voice cracking on the last word. We had quite a few curious eyes on us in the locker room as many of our teammates had filtered in over the last hour.

"Well I wouldn't say naked exactly," he drawled, tapping his pointer finger on his chin like he was deep in thought. "I saw some of that pretty pale skin you seem so fond of." My fists clenched at my side and I reminded myself that Jasper was my best friend and I didn't need to be throwing punches two days before a game. "I saw some black lace, which I must say looked good against said pale skin." A low growl came out of my mouth and Jasper's eyes twinkled with delight. Emmett grinned in anticipation. "And she's definitely a really good kisser." I reached out and grabbed his shirt collar. He threw up his hands. "I'm kidding man!" I released him and he laughed. "Mostly." My hand shot toward him again but he ducked to the right. He was a quick fucker.

"I may have walked into the room as she was pulling my shirt over her head. That's all. And she gave me a kiss on the check when Alice and I tucked her in. Nothing untoward," he told me, amusement clear in his tone. I fought back the rage that had welled in me at the thought of Jasper seeing Bella naked. I was still irritated that he'd seen more of her than I had but he'd just been taking care of her and it wouldn't have happened had I not fucked up in the first place.

Emmett was laughing his ass off next to us. "Man, you're gone! This is great! I've never seen you act like this before, especially not over the Ice Queen. This is going to be fun. I need to meet this girl, pronto." I was not in any rush to unleash Emmett on Bella; he could scare her away before I even got started.

"Shut up, Em," I told him, slamming my locker and heading toward the showers. It was going to have to be a cold one. The thought of naked Bella had me all worked up. Sunday night couldn't come soon enough.

Xoxoxoxox

The next two days flew by and before I knew it, I was standing out on the field with Emmett and Jasper, fellow team captains, waiting for the coin flip. We chose tails and we won the toss, electing to go on defense first so we could start the second half with the ball. I made my way to the sideline and sat next to Dave Anderson, my quarterback coach, going over the first series. We scripted the first three play calls and then played it by ear from that point, depending on what the defense was giving us. I was oblivious to the roar of the crowd as the ball was kicked off; it was just background noise as I focused in on the task awaiting me.

Our defense gave up one first down on a screen pass from Manning to Reggie Wayne but stuffed Joseph Addai on 3rd and 2 the following series. Hunter Smith came in and punted the ball down to the 23 yard line. 77 yards to pay dirt. I strapped on my helmet and took the field, calling my men into the huddle. The call was a handoff to Crowley running left behind Emmett. I lined up behind my center, Jeff Garrett, and took one second to allow myself the moment to sink in. This, right here, was where I belonged. I could smell the turf and the sweat and feel the excitement in the air. The crowd was screaming and I resorted to hand signals instead of my cadence, directing Fitz and Whit to the opposite sides of the field from the initial call. The defense, reading pass all the way, dropped eight back into coverage and only rushed three. Emmett blocked Freeney and Crowley ripped off a 9-yard gain before Kelvin Hayden came up from his secondary position and made the stop.

Anderson signaled me a change, he wanted another handoff after the first was so successful so I gave Tyler the ball and he converted with a short 2 yard gain behind Call. My tight end Ben Cheney picked up a killer block of Freeney coming across the left end which gave Crowley just enough time to extend the ball past the first down line. The next play call was a short out to Whitlock on the left side, I threw it three yards and he juked his defender and ripped off another fifteen. We were midfield and needed at least twenty yards so Rackers could kick a field goal. Not that I wanted to settle for a field goal. I wanted to start my season off the right way.

Another hand off to Crowley resulted in a minimal one yard gain, it was second and nine and coach was finally ready to take the reins off me. He called a flea flicker; I handed the ball off to Crowley and then he tossed it back to me. Whit was my intended receiver but he was blanketed by two DBs so I checked down to Fitz on the left side. He scampered eighteen yards and we were officially in field goal range, albeit a long one.

First and ten from the 33 and I sent Jasper on a slant pattern, cutting from the right side of the field into center. It would take a few seconds to develop so I had to hold the ball for a little longer than was comfortable but I trusted Emmett and Cheney and Crowley to protect my blind side. "Blue 92, blue 92, 17, 23, 28, hike," I lapsed into the mostly nonsensical cadence, the only relevant number being 23. Jasper ran right and then cut back in. I glanced to the left, making the safety freeze and start to lean that way before letting the ball go straight down the middle. Just as I released, I had that telltale feeling, that instinct that I was about to take a hit. Sure enough, a body crashed into mine and I hit the ground. My first hit of the season and it was a good one, jarring me all the way down to my toes. I leaned up enough to see the ball was thrown true and Jasper was there to catch it, with only Gary Brackett to beat. The day a linebacker could cover Jasper had yet to be seen and he blew by him, running untouched into the end zone. Touchdown, Cardinals. I grinned and ignored the stiffness in my shoulder as Emmett peeled me off the ground.

"Nice throw, Heisman!" He clapped me on the back and we went slapped backs all the way to the sidelines, where Anderson was waiting to go over the next series and rehash the one I'd just had. No matter the success, he always found something to nitpick.

"Cheney was wide open for the check down on that play. You could have used him for your safety valve and saved yourself a hit," he told me, his grizzled face stern. Did the man ever fucking smile?

"It felt good," I told him and in a way it did. Physical punishment came with the game and it was a reminder of who I was and what I was doing. If anything, it pissed me off and gave me more fire out on the field. It had been my fault, Em contained Freeney for as long as he could but the man was a beast and he'd gotten free because I held the ball too long waiting for Jasper to shake free. That was on me, not Emmett. At least I'd completed my pass. Another second longer and he would have sacked me. I hated being sacked almost as much as I hated throwing an interception.

"Next time, check down," he growled. He showed me various holes he noticed in their coverage and I nodded, rolling my right shoulder a bit. The hit had stung it a little but I felt fine. Maybe it was a little tight. I vaguely heard the crowd yelling for the defense and glanced up to see Manning had his boys first and goal. That was fast. But that was Manning for you, the man was a machine. He threw a fade to the back end zone that glanced off Wayne's left hand and fell incomplete. Addai gained a yard on his next carry and it was third and goal from the four-yard line. Manning went into his whole routine at the line of scrimmage, gesturing and grimacing and looking almost like he was having convulsions. He was trying to draw our D offsides but nobody bit and he snapped the ball. Dockett tore through the line like a man on a mission and got his hands on Peyton just as he threw the ball. It sailed on him and went out of the end zone. The Colts had to send Vinatieri in to kick a 21 yard field goal, which went through easily. 7-3 us.

We had a three and out on our next possession because I overthrew Fitz on the skinny post. I was pissed at myself for missing an easy conversion but there was no time to dwell on it because Manning hit Gonzalez on a long passing play and it was 10-7 before I could even blink. We returned the ball to the 34 on a nice runback by Steve Breaston, my third WR. Another handoff to Crowley netted a six yard gain and then I threw a pass to Fitzgerald at the Colts 42. Crowley picked up three on the handoff and I threw a slant to Cheney for the first down at the 30. I called the flea flicker again, because they were gearing up for the run. I handed the ball to Cheney and he tossed it back to me. Fitz was wide open at the five and I fired it to him for the easy touchdown. 14-10.

Halftime was a blur of game plans and adjusted pads and a quick shoulder massage. I took the field after the half and we made our way down the field on a nice clock killing drive, eating 11 minutes and ending with Crowley taking it in for the touchdown. 21-10.

The fourth quarter saw Manning trying valiantly to rally his team from a 28-13 hole after Jasper took a skinny post in for another touchdown early in the fourth. In true Manning form he drove the field efficiently and bloodlessly, completing the drive with an Addai touchdown run from the eight yard line. They went for the two point conversion and got it on a fade to Wayne. 28-21.

I took the ball with six minutes left and knew that we needed to kill the clock and get at least a field goal. Manning was deadly even with just two minutes left so we had to use as much game clock as we could. The Colts put eight in the box and stuffed Crowley on our first carry and I saw them lined up in exactly the same formation on the next play. I audibled at the line and changed to a five yard out to Cheney that he caught and took an extra seven for the first down. He stayed in bounds and the Colts had no time outs. I took my time getting back to the line and called another handoff to Cheney, using every one of the twenty five seconds allotted before getting a delay of game call. He ripped off a six yard run as the Colts were now respecting the fact that I might pass. Another minute off the clock. Good. We picked up two on another handoff to Cheney and it was 3rd and two from the 47. I called a wide receiver screen, throwing the ball to Breaston about 3 yards in for the first down.

The clock ticked down to the two minute warning and I breathed a sigh of relief. There was nothing they could do now. After the timeout, I handed off to Crowley and he got another ten yards. The game was officially over and I took a knee on the next snap. 28-21 final. I'd gone 17-23 for 302 yards on the day; not bad. My teammates and I congratulated one another and said our requisite hellos to the other team before heading back to the locker room. I gave a quick sideline interview to Fox and finally I was ready to go home. I let the excitement of the game leave me and felt a new excitement take hold.

In just a couple hours I would be seeing Bella again.

I'd talked to her briefly on the phone once but not for long and I couldn't wait to actually spend some real time with her. Who knew what the night would hold? I headed to the shower and bit back a laugh when I realized I was more excited about seeing her than I was over winning the first game of the season. That should bother me but I found I couldn't be bothered to care. I showered and changed and hurried through postgame interviews. Jas and Em both gave me shit for it but again, I didn't care. Thinking of tonight made my stomach tingle in anticipation. I knew was there was nothing I wanted to do more than spend the evening with that fascinating girl.


A/N A quick note of thanks to all of you who participated in FGB in any way. Last time I checked they'd raised over $101,000 which is just incredible. What a great fandom this is to be a part of. Special thanks to Daisy, who purchased an outtake for either this or SL and Team Smugward which blew me away with it's generosity. I have much writing to do and I couldn't be more thrilled.