Chapter 46 Surprises

Practice was brutal. It always was, but this was more brutal because the season was finally starting this week. Tomorrow was our first game. The summer of camps and little leagues were done. We were moving into the big leagues. Coach wanted us to be ready. We were. I was feeling like a part of the team. I was one of them. I fit in. Here, where no one knew me, where I knew no one. Funny how that worked.

Second chances were amazing, and I was not going to take anything here for granted. I knew I was lucky to be here. Who knows where I’d have ended up if my high school coach hadn’t taken the initiative to get me here. He had seen in me something I had stopped seeing long ago. But, since coming to Duke, I was discovering myself again.

Looking back, the me from six months ago is so vastly different from the me now. In a good way. I think. I was happy. Truly happy for the first time in years. Everything was fitting together, and as I headed to the board in the locker room to see where I stood on the team, I was confident I’d be on the varsity team maybe even a starter.

“Excited?” Jax, a sophomore asked as she came up to me, put her hand on my shoulders and gave them a squeeze. She pushed me forward through the crowd. She had taken to me from day one.

“Nervous!” I admitted as I steered my way through the crowd of girls all trying to see where they were on the team. From the leagues and camps we had done all summer, we all kind of had an idea of where we were, but this was official.

“You have nothing to be nervous about!” Jamaica came up to me, a huge grin on her face.

“Did you look at the board already?” I asked her, she nodded furiously, her mess of black hair falling into her face.

Finally, I got to look. At first, I couldn’t find my name. Jax had to put her finger by my name that said I was on the Varsity team. I wasn’t a starter, but this was the next best thing. I was a point guard. Jax was starting forward, and Jamaica was a bench player with me, a guard. “We made varsity!” I exclaimed with Jamaica, who had been just as nervous as me.

“Of course you did with all that overtime and practicing you put in all summer long. Coach was impressed,” one of the senior players, Maggie, replied from behind us. She was a starter. Shooting guard.

I turned a crimson red and turned to stare at my name again. I could hardly believe it. This was real. I’d be playing in the game tomorrow.

“Alright, go take your shower. You smell something awful, and you forgot I have a surprise for you,” Jamaica pushed me towards the showers, and Jax came from her locker with some shampoo and soap for me.

“You won’t even give me a hint?” I asked her with exasperation as I did as I was told.

“Nope!” she sang as she hopped into her own shower stall.


Freshly clean and some jeans and a nice tank top on, I closed my locker and leaned against it while Jamaica tied the laces to her shoes. “Okay, can I get it now?” I asked her impatiently.

She smiled at me and grabbed her bag off the bench and headed out of the locker room. Throwing my bag over my shoulders, I followed her out. We headed back into the gym, and she made me sit by the bench and told me to wait. I frowned in confusion as she ran out of the gym. It couldn’t be any weird initiation stuff. I had done that the second week into the program.

Sighing, I dropped my bag on the bench and walked to the center of the court where I stood and imagined the whole place filled with people cheering. Cheering for the team. Cheering for me. I closed my eyes and envisioned the noise. I smiled at the thought. Tomorrow was going to be wonderful.

I reached into my pocket and took out my phone, taking a picture of the gym. I sent it to Jason: Wish you were here. Tomorrow’s the big day. Putting my phone back in my pocket, I heard a little chime of a cellphone getting a message.

Turning, I saw Jason standing on the baseline. Jamaica stood at the entrance of the gym, watching. Jason wore a big grin on his face, and I’m sure mine was dumbstruck and trying desperately to figure out which emotion it wanted to show.

“Jason!” I finally screamed as I ran at him, throwing myself into his arms. “You’re really here?” I asked him stupidly as I grabbed his face and pulled him down for a kiss.

He laughed as he pulled back, “If not, this is one hell of a dream.” He rest his head on my forehead, and I just let my hands settle on his shoulder and face. I couldn’t believe he was here. I had been hoping and dreaming, but after talking to my parents last night, they had made it pretty clear Jason wasn’t coming. So, they were in on it the whole time.

“How did you know where I’d be?” I asked him curiously.

“Well, if your roommate hadn’t of helped me, all I ever need to do is go looking for a basketball court. You’d be pretty easy to find,” he chuckled as he hugged me tightly.

“Jamaica!” I had completely forgotten my roommate had existed.

“You’re welcome, girl. Now, why don’t you go show him around Durham. And, I made arrangements to stay at my boyfriend’s place this weekend, so you two have the dorm to yourself. Just don’t let Mells, see you!” she told me before disappearing out the doors.

“Mells is our floor director. We’re not supposed to have overnight visitors. But, this just means that after 10 tonight, you can’t leave the room until after 9 tomorrow morning. So, you best get comfortable in the room,” I told him when he looked at me quizzically.

He nodded in understanding and I hugged him tightly again before going on tiptoe to kiss him once more. I was going to relish this. So very very much.

“Can we skip touring the city and just do that tomorrow after the game? I just want to lay in bed with you. Hold you. I still can’t believe you’re here!” I smiled at him.

“Of course. I’m here to be with you. I don’t care what we do,” he told me, and I led us out of the gym down to my dorm room. Our fingers interlaced together.