Quarterback's Secret Baby

By: Imani King

"Nice, huh?" Kaden asked. "There's less light pollution out here. Sometimes I come here when I need to be alone and just stare at the stars for an hour or so until I calm down."

"Really?" I asked, genuinely curious. If anyone seemed to have a stress-free life, it was him. "Does that happen a lot? I mean, do you do that a lot?"

"Nah, just when I feel overwhelmed. Or when my parents are hassling me. You know how it is."

We sat down on the dry grass and I felt myself softening towards him a little, even as I fought it. It was probably dumb of me to assume he had a perfect life, even if it looked that way from the outside. I asked Kaden if his parents were really strict.

"Oh no, not really. They're not strict. They're just, uh, what's the word? Ambitious. They're really ambitious for me and sometimes they can get a little over-involved in my life, you know? They start stressing about my football career and then they start trying to micromanage and, I mean yeah, I know it's because they care, it's just not always easy to deal with. Are your parents like that? You always seem so serious about school."

I thought about the question as Kaden put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me against him, sending little shivers of excitement I didn't know how to respond to racing through my body. His arm felt so nice, so strong and protective.

"I wouldn't say my mom is strict. Well, actually yes, she is. But she hasn't been very well the past little while and I'd say that most of the strictness comes from me. I'm pretty hard on myself."

"Yeah," Kaden said quietly. "I can tell."

I wasn't sure what he meant by that but I didn't have time to think about it because the next thing I knew he was leaning in, kissing my neck. It felt so good. He felt so good. But there was that little voice, that little warning in the back of my head. Men leave.

"Wait," I said, pulling my body away from him. "Wait, Kaden. Wait. I don't - I'm not, uh, who was that girl at the game?"

The question seemed to come out of my mouth of its own accord. I didn't realize I'd even been thinking about it.

"What?" He asked. "I'm sorry, Tasha. I'm not trying to be an asshole. If you're not into it that's OK."

I was flummoxed. The last thing I wanted was for him think I was grossed out that he'd kissed me, but I also wasn't in any way comfortable with something that happened so quickly. Not then, when I was still an inexperienced virgin who was on some level aware of her own naïveté.

"No, no," I stammered. "It's not that - it's not that I - Kaden, I was just wondering about that girl, Kelsey. At the game. Is she your girlfriend? Because I don't mean to be rude but it's not really my thing to be making out with guys who have girlfriends."

I left out the part about it not being my thing to make out with any guys, regardless of whether or not they had girlfriends.

Kaden turned away and looked out over the lights of our small town, arrayed across the valley below the hills where we were sitting. "Nah," he replied. "Kelsey isn't my girlfriend."

"Is she your ex or something? She seemed kind of...territorial."

"She's not my girlfriend, Tasha, OK?!" He said, obviously annoyed with the line of questioning. "I mean, ugh, damn. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap. She's just been following me around for months, acting like maybe she is my girlfriend when she's not. And she never has been. I wish she'd just leave me the fuck alone."

I joined Kaden in looking out of the lights in the valley. "Why does she act like that, then? I mean, does she think she's your girlfriend?"

Kaden sighed heavily and ran a hand through his hair. "I don't know, Tasha..."

He was uncomfortable, I could sense it. He was also dodging the question, and I had a pretty good idea why. The football jocks had a collective reputation and it was not for chaste behavior. And no matter how hot Kaden was or how weak his smile made my knees, no part of me was interested in becoming a notch on anyone else's bedpost. So I kept questioning him.

"You don't know?" I asked, pushing him. "Are you sure?"

He turned towards me. "Why are you so interested in my relationship with some random girl, Tasha? What are all these questions about?"

"Maybe because I don't want to become one of those random girls," I replied, quietly but firmly.

"Well, you're not one, OK?" He told me, clearly exasperated. "You're not some random girl, Tasha. That's not how I-"

I cut in. "Well how do I know that? You must be aware of the reputation the football players have, right? How many other girls have you brought up here? How about that Kelsey girl - did you bring her? Did you sleep with her?"

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