February 8th, 2018

The Closest I Get to Football

I will be the first to acknowledge that I don’t follow football. I know very little about it, I feel even less interest in it, and I experience no desire for that to shift. However! I have, for some mysterious reason, been known to attend a Super Bowl party here and there over the years. Doing so had virtually nothing to do with football for me, of course, but I remember enjoying the food and company.

I also have known numerous people who are football fans and follow teams and the game as closely as I’ve been known to follow, for example, baseball. All of this is to say that I happen to have written a story that opens with a Super Bowl party—a party that ends up seeming fairly important to the interaction that happens subsequent to it. :) This story happens to be the title tale of my short story collection Safe.

As with many stories I’ve written, there is autobiography woven into “Safe”, though in subtle and interspersed ways that would be hard to explain. The one football-related autobiographical aspect of it is that it was inspired by someone I do know, and I have experienced him as a considerable football fan and someone who would be indeed thrilled were his team to play in, much less win, the Super Bowl.

So in the vague tradition I seem to have started for 2018 of posting story excerpts that correlate to holidays, dates, or events currently occurring :D, I’m sharing here an excerpt of this story. “Safe” was the final story I wrote for this collection, and perhaps appropriately, it closes the book out. Like “Hers to Keep” (from my New Year’s post), this story was one of the ones that was previously unpublished.

from “Safe”:

When the game resumed, Ericka was having trouble sitting still between the physical proximity to Sam and the awareness that he would go home to an empty apartment after he left there. The excitement of the game, even though she had no idea what was going on in it, kept her adrenaline on high, which, coupled with her immediate attraction, translated directly into arousal. With two minutes left on the play clock, she could feel the tension in Sam as he zeroed in on the TV. The heat emanating from his body made her want to jump on him. She tried to focus instead on the whistles and commentary and announcements coming from the surround-sound speakers.

After lots of stops and starts of the game clock that she didn’t understand, play resumed, and some of the people in the room rose to their feet as the seconds ticked down. Ericka wasn’t sure what was happening, but she had the impression it was favorable as the suspense in the room heightened. Abruptly the friends around her exploded into pandemonium, screaming and jumping and hugging as similar antics occurred on the screen among the coaches and players dressed in the same colors as most of the occupants of the room.

Ericka deduced their team had just won the Super Bowl.

Sam turned and pulled her to her feet, and she laughed as he swept her into a hug. As he set her down, his lips pressed against hers in a moment of giddy exuberance, and she caught her breath as he pulled away almost as quickly to continue celebrating. Her body tingled as she watched the glee around her, a newfound exhilaration of her own pulsing from her core.

Soon Sam turned back to her. “I’m sorry—I hope that was okay,” he said near her ear. His smile was a bit sheepish as he backed up to look her in the eye. “My excitement got the better of me for a second.”

Ericka met his eyes squarely. “Lucky for me.”

Sam’s expression shifted, and the noise around them seemed to dull as he looked at her for an extended moment. He appeared to hesitate, as though working to find words, and Ericka was just about to relieve him of the effort when he spoke.

“Would you like to come home with me?”

Ericka couldn’t hold back a breathless chuckle. She stepped closer to him, holding his gaze. “Are you happy your team just won?”

Sam’s grin was electrifying, and he took her hand as they turned to find their coats.

***

Ericka had never been in Sam’s apartment before, and her core buzzed with excitement at the prospect as he unlocked the door.

“It’s a little sparse right now,” he said as he led her inside, closing the door behind her. “Cody took his furniture with him, of course.”

Indeed the only things in the open, square room were the understated entertainment center in a corner below a flat screen-TV, the L-shaped burgundy couch opposite it, and a mahogany coffee table in between.

Ericka, however, felt little concern about the furniture or any lack of it.

“Do you want a tour, or do you want—?” Sam began, and Ericka turned to him. He broke off his own sentence as she stepped toward him, and his mouth landed on hers with an urgency this time, stealing her breath as her body plunged immediately into craving mode.

Though it’s not obvious in this excerpt, “Safe” has an underlying serious streak in it. It was an interesting story to write, and I knew from the beginning of doing so both the story’s title and that I wanted it to also be the title of the entire collection. Thank you for reading, and happy February!

Love,
Emerald

For a man to make her come, he could only barely touch her. Careful. Gentle. Delicate even.

Rarely did she allow it.
-from “Safe”

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