Romance Fiction posted January 23, 2022 Chapters:  ...70 71 -72- 73... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Katherine receives her biopsy results.

A chapter in the book Football - A Novel

Football Chapter 43

by barbara.wilkey

After Katherine's husband dies, she struggles raising her four sons by herself. Is Gabriel the father figure the boys never had and the husband she deserves?
Katherine and Gabriel have known each other for 53 days.


"I know." Her eyes twinkled. "Since we couldn't neck in the car, can we on the couch?"

A lingering kiss followed.

Katherine backed away. "Maybe we should stop."

He kissed her again. "Probably." He caressed her hand. "What plans do you have for tomorrow?"

"Groceries, rest, and work on my puzzle." She laughed. "Maybe we should get the boys."

"If you need a longer break, I could ask if Mom and Dad will take them another night. I'm sure they wouldn't mind."

Katherine pecked his cheek. "You're too good to me. No, we need to get them." She leaned her head against his shoulder and sighed. "I could really get used to this."


Chapter 42

After school Monday, Angie paused at Katherine's classroom door and noticed her on the phone with tears streaming down her cheeks. She took a deep breath. "Something tells me this isn't good. I'd better get Gabe."

Inside the office, Angie asked Nancy, "Can you call Coach Hudson? It's important."

Gabriel opened Paul's door. "Angie, what's wrong?"

"Katherine. She needs you."

As Gabriel ran down the hallway, Paul asked, "What happened?"

"Sorry. It's not my place to say," answered Angie. "I'm sure you'll know soon. Give them about fifteen minutes then go down."

Gabriel entered Katherine's room, noticed her crying, shut, and locked the door. "It's not good, is it?"

She shook her head.

He pulled a chair beside her and drew her into a hug.

"I have breast cancer." She sobbed.

As the news sank in, Gabriel closed his eyes and held her.

Later Paul unlocked the door and entered.

Gabriel dried his eyes. "Katherine, can I tell Paul?" After she nodded, he swallowed. "Katherine has breast cancer."

Paul dropped to a chair. "No! I'm sorry." Silence. "What can I do? What do you need?"

Gabriel inhaled and kissed her cheek, but said to Paul, "I'm taking her home. Can you tell Bill and Angie to cover our practices? Ask Bill to bring Jordan home." He hesitated. "As soon as I get more information, I'll let you know." He handed Paul his pick-up keys. "Can you and Bill figure out how to get it to Katherine's?"


At Katherine's, Gabriel asked, "What can I do?"

"Tell Mom what's going on and ask her to stay for the boys. I can't do it right now." As Gabriel nodded, Katherine touched his arm and whispered, "I need you."

"I'll talk with Ms. Sarah, and be right back."

When Gabriel returned, Katherine hadn't moved. "Where would you be most comfortable?"

She glanced toward her bedroom, but said nothing.

"If that's where you want to be, that's where we'll go." He put his hand in the small of her back and started that direction.

"No. The den."

Gabriel nodded and turned. They sat on the loveseat, and he held her.

The silence continued until the sun started to set. Gabriel pecked her cheek. "What's the next step? Do you know?"

She dried her tears and then patted his chest. "I got your shirt wet."

"It's okay. What's next?"

"Tomorrow at eight-thirty, I meet with the surgeon. Thursday, I need to be at the hospital at six o'clock for surgery."

"They're moving fast."

"The biopsy showed I have HR+ hormone receptor-positive which means the cancer cells in my body contain both estrogen and progesterone receptors." She held her breath. "The things that make me different from my boys are killing me." After a silence, she continued, "It's an invasive type of cancer so they want to treat it aggressively. Right now I'm in stage 2. Depending what they find during surgery that could change."

"Can I come with you tomorrow?"

She nodded. "Yes." Another silence filled the air. "After surgery, they'll decide on my treatment." She hesitated, "I need to tell the boys."

"Right now you need to come to terms with it. There's plenty of time to talk with the boys. Let's find out exactly what we're dealing with." Gabriel removed his phone. "Is it okay if I call Paul and tell him we'll need subs for the following three days?"

She shook her head. "No, we can't be off that long, especially you; only tomorrow morning and Thursday morning. Once surgery's over Thursday and I'm home, you can go to school. Mom can stay with me. I can go to work tomorrow afternoon and Wednesday."

Gabriel's eyes met hers. "I'm not allowing you to go through this by yourself. I'm definitely butting my way in. Not only are you going to need my support, the boys will too." He kissed her. "Get used to it."

He checked his ringing phone. "Sorry, it's Dad." After she nodded, he answered, "Dad, is everything okay?" He listened. "That's right. I forgot. I'll tell Jeremy that you haven't forgotten." Again he listened. "Yes, there's something going on. I'll call you later. Give Mom my love."

After he hung up, he said, "Tomorrow is 'eat lunch with Grandpa Day'. I'd forgotten about it."

"I had too. I'm sure Jeremy hasn't."

"Later, I'll talk with him."

Thursday morning, Gabriel held Katherine's hand as they waited for her to be moved to the OR. They turned when they heard somebody walk into the room.

Sarah smiled. "I'm glad I'm not late." She hugged and kissed her daughter's cheek.

"Mom, I'm glad you're here but what about the boys?"

"Harold and Rebecca showed up for boy duty."

Katherine's eyes met Gabriel's. "Did you have something to do with that?"

"The boys needed somebody, you needed your mom, and she needed to know you're all right. Mom and Dad were eager to help. After the boys are at school, Mom and Dad will be here for additional support."

Katherine squeezed his hand holding hers. "Thank you."

He leaned over and kissed her.

Before long, Bill, Angie, and Paul walked in.

"Who's teaching today?" Katherine asked as she smiled.

"Don't worry." Paul grinned. "There's no way we're going to let you go through this alone."

Bill kissed her cheek and then pointed to Gabriel. "We need your help to keep that one under control."

Katherine's eyes widened. "I don't understand why you think I have any influence. I don't." Her eyes met each person in the room. "You being here means a lot."

Within minutes the surgeon entered. "I see you need a larger room." After a few comments, she said, "We're ready." She faced Katherine's friends. "Questions?"

Gabriel nodded. "After the lump's removed, you're implanting a venous access port, right?"

"Yes. She'll need it for chemotherapy." The doctor glanced at Katherine. "Ready?" When she nodded, the surgeon continued, "We're taking additional skin samples than may be necessary, but with her type of cancer we need to check how far it's spread. This will take about an hour and half, maybe two. We'll keep you posted."

Before the orderly took Katherine to OR, Gabriel kissed her. "I love you and will be waiting."

She answered, "And I love you."

Bill patted Gabriel's back. "She's in good hands."

Silence followed. Before long Harold and Rebecca arrived with breakfast burritos and coffee for all.

Gabriel kissed his mom's cheek. "Thanks."

Rebecca asked, "How long has Katherine been in OR?"

Checking his watch, Bill answered, "About an hour."

Gabriel stood, went to a window, and stared out.

Harold walked to him. "You find someone you love and this happens, right?"

"It's not fair. Not necessarily for me, but Katherine has four young boys. They need her."

"She'll need you." Harold paused. "So will the boys. Your mom and I are also available." He hugged his son.

"I haven't had a chance to ask. How'd lunch with Jeremy go?"

Laughing, Harold said, "He reminds me of you at the same age."

"Mom's alluded to that." Gabriel studied the door they took Katherine through. "It shouldn't be much longer." After a silence, he asked, "Why her? Am I being punished for my pro-years?"

"You know it doesn't work like that."

"Dad, ever since I met her it's been one problem after another. Now this."

"You've known each other for, what two months?" After Gabriel nodded, Harold continued, "Everything you've gone through has made you two a strong couple. Maybe it prepared you for this. She'll need your strength and patience. Actually your stubbornness will come in handy."

"First time I've ever heard that was a positive."

Gabriel turned his head at a sound and then rushed to Katherine's side as he glanced at the doctor. "Well?"

"Everything went well. I sent off the tissue samples. She has an appointment in one week. I'll have the results then. Depending on that and how she's healing, the oncologist will schedule her treatment. My nurse will be in shortly with discharge instructions and the follow-up appointment." The surgeon paused. "Who's going to be with her the most?"

Sarah said, "I'm moving in."

The surgeon nodded. "My nurse will instruct you on how to care for seroma drainage." She tapped Katherine. "Open your eyes and breathe deeply." She turned as the nurse entered. "I'll see you in one week." She left.

The nurse reminded Katherine to keep her eyes open and take deep breaths. "Gentlemen, please leave for a few minutes. We'll get Mrs. Riley dressed and give instructions on how to care for the seroma drainage." She smiled at Gabriel. "I promise we'll hurry."

Before he left, Gabriel pecked Katherine's cheek.

Parked in front of Katherine's house, Gabriel helped Katherine into the house. Inside he asked Sarah, "Where should she go?"

"I think her bed would be best. That's where she'll be the most comfortable." She studied Gabriel. "Under the circumstances it'll be all right. I'm her mom and don't see a problem."

Gabriel grabbed a chair from the living room and moved it beside the bed. He held Katherine's hand while she slept.

Early afternoon, Katherine woke up and her eyes met Gabriel's. He asked, "How are you feeling?"

"Like a Mac-truck ran over me." She paused. "You looked deep in thought. What were you thinking?"

"How much I love you. How I wish I could take your place." He grinned. "How upset you're going to be when I push my way into your life."

"Those are deep thoughts."

He caressed the hand he held. "I had plenty of time."

"What answers did you come up with?"

Leaning over he kissed her cheek. "Not a single one." He glanced out the door. "Are you hungry?"


"Water?" After she answered, he continued, "I'll be right back."

Katherine watched him walk out. He doesn't deserve to go through this.

When Gabriel returned, he set the glass on the table, helped her sit up, and propped the pillows behind her.

She took a sip. "Thank you." After a long pause, she continued, "District playoffs start in what six weeks?" Gabriel nodded, and she said, "About the middle of my chemotherapy."

"Probably. Why?" When she paused, he added, "You're more important than winning district or state."

"If you win district, it'd be five years in a row."

"I know. My priorities have changed." Gabriel exhaled before he grinned. "Winning's still important, but not my priority. You and the boys have taken that spot." When Katherine started to say something, he kissed her. "It won't do any good to argue."

"I see that." She sipped more water. "Are you sure?"

"I'm positive."

Sarah walked in and asked, "Is it okay if I run home for a few things?"

Katherine wobbled as she stood. "Of course, I think I'm ready to walk around."

Gabriel offered his hand. "I'm here if you need help."

They held hands as they walked into the living room. After they sat on the couch, Katherine said, "I haven't said anything to the boys. I think it's time. Jordan and Joshua are asking questions."

"Want to talk to them after dinner?"

Blowing out air, Katherine nodded. "Probably. I'm not sure how to explain it without scaring them." She paused. "I'm scared."

"So am I."

"You didn't sign up for this."

"Neither did you, so what's your point?"

She leaned into his chest. "I guess I don't have one."

After dinner, Katherine and Gabriel asked the boys to join them in the living room. Jeremy sat between them on the couch, and the other boys sat in various chairs.

Joshua's eyes met his mom's. "We know something's going on, what is it?"

Gabriel reached over and touched Katherine's arm. When she looked at him, he nodded. She began, "Please don't ask questions until I finish." She paused. "Today I had a cancerous lump and some extra tissue removed from my right breast. I'll start chemotherapy in a few weeks. Chemotherapy's a medicine that kills cancer. This is really strong medicine and will have many side-effects. It has to be to fight cancer."

Sarah gave Joel a hug, as Katherine continued, "Grandma will stay here. I'll need her help and I'm going to need you to be strong and help as much as possible."

Tears welled in Jeremy's eyes as he looked up at Gabriel. "Can't you make Mommy better?"

Gabriel hugged the child's shoulders. "I wish I could. I promise I'll be by her side, and I'll be here for you guys too. Together we'll fight this, but it'll take all of us." He inhaled a deep breath.

Silence continued.

Jordan stood and kissed his mom's cheek. "I love you." He went upstairs.

Moments later Joshua did the same.

Joel sat beside his mom, and cuddled her. This continued for a few minutes, before he went upstairs.

Jeremy leaned into Katherine. "I'm never leaving your side."

Katherine kissed his forehead. "Honey, you have to go to bed and to school. I promise I'll wake you in the morning."

"You'll be at school."

"I'm going to be at home for a while. I'll get you up and eat breakfast with you."

"Who's going to take Jordan to practice?"

She tilted her head. "I hadn't thought about that."

Gabriel tapped her arm. "I'll still run so I'll stop by on my way back to the school and pick him up. Is that okay?" He grinned. "That gives me a chance to check on you."

"Thank you." She faced her youngest son. "Jeremy, you need to get upstairs."

"Will you read me a story?"

Standing Gabriel said, "Tonight I will."

Many of you know I'm a breast cancer survivor. Much of what will happen to Katherine is what I went through. I did shorten a little for the sake of a novel. Example, I had two surgeries because the cancer had spread farther than they had anticipated. While I was going through this, I posted short updates. They are in my portfolio, if you're interested. I placed them in a book last week. They are not in timeline order. I realized that too late. I'll try to get that fixed. Computers and I don't see eye-to-eye.


Katherine Riley: age 33 - widowed: husband died 6 months ago. She moved to Texas from NYC with her four sons. She teaches high school math and also coaches girls cross country.

Daisy: Katherine's yellow Labrador

Gabriel Hudson: High School football coach and former NFL defensive lineman

Reggie: a very large English Mastiff

Jeremy: Katherine's six year old son. He's in first grade.

Jordan: Katherine's fifteen year old son. He's a sophomore.

Joshua Katherine's thirteen year old son. He's in 8th grade

Joel Katherine's eleven year old son. He's in 6th grade.

Paul Edwards: High School principal and Gabriel's friend.

Rodney Frost: Math department head, at least for now.

Angie Brooks Math teacher and Katherine's friend.

Frank Collins Math teacher.

Rebecca and Harold Hudson Gabriel's parents

Sarah and Bob Beck Katherine's parents, Bob is deceased

Alan Green an Assistant Principal

Sandy Frost Rodney Frost's wife

Sam Auto repair shop owner

Bill Brooks Assistant football coach, Gabriel's friend, and Angie's husband.

Harold Hudson Gabriel's dad and football announcer.

Sandy Teenage girl on cross country team.

Judy Teenage girl on cross country team.

Rhonda Morgan Teenage girl on cross country team, and victim of dating violence.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan Rhonda's parents.

Kenny Clark Teenager - Rhonda's boyfriend

Grace Former friend of Gabriel and featured in porn magazine

Janette & Jackson Riley Katherine's in-laws

Dr. Martin Jordan's doctor

Troy Elder Lawyer and friend of Gabriel from his pro-football days

UIL The University Interscholastic League exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests. The UIL was created by The University of Texas at Austin in 1910 and has grown into the largest inter-school org

Benjamin Weinberg Lawyer for George's mistress and baby

Gail Mitchel and her daughter, Jewel George's mistress and baby

Mr. Novak Riley's lawyer

Judge Ryan Washington Judge Troy asked to sit in the meeting.

Book of the Month contest entry



Thank you Google images for sharing information on breast cancer. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. Again, thank you for catching those errors. There are 8 posts left after this one. I did put two together, because one was really short. Katherine and Gabriel still have some life issues to navigate. This novel is not actually about football, but is part of the background. High football is a national pastime in Texas. This post is a little under 2300 words. I had this divided into three posts, but it's one chapter.

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