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 29 days.
ENDING OF PREVIOUS POST:
Dr. Martin grinned. "As for playing Friday, that's between you and Coach. But, and it's a huge but, you have to be headache free for at least twenty-four hours before you play. And I mean headache free, no pretending there's no headache, no taking OTC pain medicine and saying there's no headache. Do you understand?"
He handed Katherine the paper he had been holding. "Here's a list of do's and don'ts. He should make a full recovery. If you have any questions, I highlighted my number. I think Coach has it on speed dial, anyway." He pointed to a section of the paper. "If you see any of these symptoms, call me and bring him in immediately."
Katherine nodded. "Thank you, Sir."
"If there aren't any questions, I'll send the nurse in to get this young man checked out."
Gabriel offered his hand. "Thank you. We appreciate it."
The doctor leaned in and whispered, "I take it Mom isn't a huge fan of football."
Grinning, Gabriel answered, "She was warming to it and then this."
Chapter 26 part 2
Around two o'clock, Katherine, Gabriel, and Jordan arrived home. Katherine made Jordan comfortable on the couch before she said, "If it's all right, I think I'll shower and freshen up?" She handed her car keys to Gabriel. "Since Rebecca has your pick-up, why don't you take mine home and shower?"
He chuckled. "So you think I need a shower?"
Her cheeks tinged pink. "That's not what I meant. I was trying to be nice."
Grabbing her into a hug, he said, "I knew what you meant. I was just..."
"Being incorrigible," interrupted Katherine.
"Yeah, that pretty much sums it up."
She backed out of the hug. "I'm going to shower."
Jordan questioned Gabriel about what his practices would look like and if he thought he'd be able to play Friday.
After answering Jordan's questions, Gabriel stood. "Your mom's probably right. I'd better get home. I'll be back in a little bit." He glanced at his watch. "Troy should be here in about thirty minutes."
"Who's Troy?" asked Jordan.
"The lawyer who's going to stop this custody nonsense." Gabriel opened the front door. "Bye."
As Gabriel sat behind the steering wheel, a black Lincoln Continental pulled behind him. He stepped out and waited until the driver opened the door. When he saw who it was, he offered his hand. "Troy, welcome. Let's go inside. Can I offer you something to drink?"
Gabriel introduced Troy to Jordan. After the introduction, Jordan asked, "Coach, should I go upstairs?"
Glancing toward Katherine's bedroom, Gabriel said, "I'm not sure what your mom would suggest, but probably wouldn't hurt. Let me walk with you in case you get wobbly on the stairs." He excused himself.
When Gabriel returned, he and Troy continued to the kitchen. "Sorry. Did you want coffee or something else?"
Troy glanced around. "I never expected to see you all domestic. First, you were in a SUV, and now in a kitchen. Although, you look like you had a rough night. Just getting home?"
Katherine walked into the room and offered her hand. "Hello, I'm Katherine Riley. Matter-of fact, Gabriel did have a rough night. He was nice enough to spend it at the hospital with me while my son spent the night with a football injury. And who might you be?"
He accepted her hand. "I'm Troy Elder, the attorney Gabe hired to help with your custody case. Let's sit and get started."
Katherine led him to the dining room table. "Is this good or would you rather go into the living room?"
Troy set his brief case on the table. "Probably the best."
Gabriel brought in three glasses of iced tea. "I hope this is okay."
Katherine jumped up. "I'm sorry. I've been a poor host."
Putting his hand on her arm, Gabriel said, "Sit. I've got this." His eyes met Troy's. "Monday night was the last time she's had a decent night sleep."
She sat. "Since I received notice my in-laws had filed for custody, I haven't slept and then Jordan's injury last night."
"It's completely understandable." His eyes met Gabriel's. "Did you win the game?"
Gabriel watched Katherine frown, as he answered, "We did, but more importantly, Jordan wasn't seriously injured."
The lawyer began, "I've been in town a few days. I wanted to get a feel of what I was dealing with. I've spent time at the local diners, barber shops, coffee shops, and bars. I wanted to hear what the locals were saying."
Katherine released a deep breath. "I'm sure you got an earful."
"To be honest, I was already aware of Gabe's history and after meeting you, I can see why he's cleaned up his act. You're a classy lady and the town seems to think so too."
"Sir, Gabriel had, as you put it, cleaned up his act before I ever met him. We only met about a month ago."
Gabriel winked at her. "Twenty-nine days to be exact."
Her eyebrows rose. "I'm surprised you'd know that." She faced Troy. "What else did the gossipers tell you?"
"Some of it you may not want to hear, but it probably explains a few things." He glanced at Gabriel and exhaled. "Okay, here we go. It seems your husband," he checked his notes, "George, chose you as a wife because you were young, beautiful, and innocent. He wanted somebody he could mold into a perfect trophy wife."
"Someone to ignore until he needed to show her off." Katherine brushed a piece of hair from her cheek. "That makes sense. And the purpose of the children was to pretend we were the perfect American family. Excuse me." She stood, walked into the kitchen, and leaned against the counter. "Wow, and I was dumb enough to fall for it."
Gabriel followed. "Katherine, talk to me. Don't block me out. I'm here."
She went into his arms. "I was a fool, wasn't I?"
"No, you were young and made a mistake. We both did. But remember, you have four wonderful boys." He kissed her cheek. "I want to believe it's our mistakes that brought us together."
Katherine nodded. "You're right. But it's also our mistakes that have pulled us apart." She closed her eyes. "The only reason they haven't is because, you've been so patient." She exhaled and stood straight. "Let's see what else he has to say."
"You ready?" When she nodded, Gabriel put his hand in the small of her back and led her back into the dining room.
Troy looked up from his notes. "I know this has been hard to hear, but it helps me understand the situation so I know how to proceed to ensure you keep your children."
Katherine blinked. "I understand and appreciate it."
"Gabe told me your in-laws have never shown any interest in the boys."
"That's correct. The boys never heard from them at Christmas or on their birthdays. That's why I was surprised when they showed up at my door last Saturday and wanted them overnight. Jeremy, my youngest, had never met them."
"He's six," interrupted Gabriel.
Troy's eyes widened. "They hadn't seen the boys in over six years?" After Katherine nodded, he wrote it down. "According to the locals, your in-laws are average middle class. Mr. Riley sold real-estate. He worked for a company. He didn't own it. His wife was a bank clerk."
"That's correct." Katherine took a drink of tea. "Every so often, George would send them money so they could travel."
Nodding, Troy agreed, "That seems to be the consensus of the locals. It seems about six months ago, they came into a lot of money. Sold their house for a very expensive house, quit their jobs, and traveled."
Tapping her fingers on the table, Katherine said, "That's right. George's lawyer said they received a lump sum of $150,000 from his will. From what he told us, they went through the money and now are looking for additional money. The only way they can get it is to get custody of the boys and become executor of their trust funds. Hence, the reason for the custody battle. According to Jordan, when they were there Saturday, he saw brochures for boarding schools."
Troy wrote that down. "Gabe mentioned there's a P.I. stationed outside your house trying to catch you in immoral acts."
"That's right. Also when they brought the boys back Sunday morning, they made comments about Gabriel being here and how I should be more careful about whom I allowed around the boys." Katherine exhaled. "They're using Gabriel's past against us."
Gabriel tapped both hands on the table. "If it'll help Katherine keep the boys, I'll step out of the picture. I don't want to be the cause of her losing the boys."
Troy clicked his pen a few times and then faced Katherine. "I don't believe this, but I've heard a rumor, from a Rodney Frost, that you slept with the High School principal and Gabe to get the job. I have to ask, is it true?"
Angry tears streamed down Katherine's cheeks. "No, it's not true. I graduated at the top of my class from Cornell University. I'd been hired before I ever met Mr. Edwards or Gabriel. I had my job interview by Skype."
She dried her tears. "Would you like to see my transcript or diploma?" When he shook his head, she continued, "I arrived in town, August eighth, met Gabriel August tenth, completely by accident, and then met Mr. Edwards, August twelfth. On that day, I signed my contract. I have never slept with either of them." She stood, "Excuse me," then ran to her bedroom, and slammed the door.
Troy's eyes met Gabriel's. "I think it's time I left. I'll do some more research and then contact you with the results and we can discuss strategy." He stood. "Please give Mrs. Riley my apology and let her know I believe her. I'm giving you my promise there's no way she's going to lose those boys. I won't let it happen."
After Troy and Gabriel shook hands at the door, Gabriel stared at Katherine's bedroom door. Now, what do I do? She's hurting and needs me. Will I make it worse if I go to her? This being a nice guy's hard work. He tapped his knuckles a few times on the door. When he didn't hear a response, he cracked it open. "Katherine, can I come in?"
"Yes." She stood and pointed to the bed. "I guess we'd better get it over with and have sex, since everybody believes we already have."
Gabriel glanced at his watch. "We really don't have time. My parents and the boys will be here in about twenty minutes. Besides I never did get home and shower." Katherine's eyes widened and he drew her into his arms. "As enjoyable as it'd be to make love with you, I'm willing to wait until the time's right. We both know that's not now. So how about we wait?"
"Sounds like a good idea."
He kissed her. "I thought so." A second kiss followed.
"Have you decided what you're fixing for dinner?"
The doorbell rang, and Gabriel grinned. "That should be it, now. I ordered an Italian Buffet."
"You didn't need to do that. I would've fixed dinner."
"I know, but there's no way with everything you have going on I would've allowed it."
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
Frank Collins math teacher
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
Thank you google images for a photo of a meeting with a lawyer. I also want to thank everybody for the helpful reviews. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong as I posted. I hope it's okay. 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 1,700 words. Forgive me for the length. Thank you for having patience with me.