Winning the Game: Ch. 10

The next day, Karissa woke up a little later than usual. Her classes didn’t start until after lunch, so she had some time to kill. Without any homework to do, though, she didn’t really know what to do with herself. Joyce had arrived sometime late last night. She’d woken Karissa up with all of her banging around, but she wasn’t here now so Karissa had the place to herself.

After stretching the sleep from her limbs, she decided it would be nice to go for a run on the beach. It had been a while since she’d been able to do so, and she figured she might as well take advantage of the opportunity. She dressed in some shorts and sports bra, wrapped her hair in a bun, grabbed her headphones and iPod and headed out.

There was a trail from her dorm building to the beach, and she relished in her luck at being able to live so close to the beautiful ocean as she began her run. She loved the cool breeze on her skin, the smell of the ocean, and the sound of the waves crashing into the shore in the distance, her heart beating a steady rhythm with her feet.

When she reached the beach, she took off her shoes, and stood on the shore for moment, allowing the cold water to kiss her feet. She could tell this was going to be an amazing day.

After her run, she took a long, luxurious shower in the empty dorm bathroom. By the time she finished getting dressed, it was lunch time, and she felt completely rejuvenated. 

There wasn’t a soccer practice that day, so she and Able had plans to meet in the dining hall instead. She was looking forward to the chance to actually talk to Able, and hopefully not be interrupted by Tori again.

“Hey there, Able!” Karissa greeted as she arrived at their usual table. Able was already there, reading over what appeared to be his notes. “How has your day been so far?”

“Busy,” he answered. “How about yours?”

“Oh, it’s been so wonderful! All my classes today don’t start until after lunch, so I got to sleep in, and go for a run, and today has just been a dream.”

“That sounds lovely. I’m glad at least one of us has gotten to relax today.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a tall and familiar figure standing quite close to their table. She turned her head, and realized it was the soccer player Tori had pointed out during practice the previous day, although she couldn’t remember his name. He had a disheveled look on his face, and he was just standing there with his lunch tray, probably searching for a place to sit. Without thinking, Karissa decided to invite him to sit.

“Hey there, handsome!” she called out to him, waving her hand over her head, and he quickly switched his attention to her with a shocked look on his face. “Yes, you! There’s an empty seat over here if you’d like to come sit!”

“Isn’t that—” Able started to say as the guy began walking toward their table. 

“Tori’s soccer sexy? Yup,” Karissa said.

The guy sat down in the empty chair next to Able, though he looked like he wasn’t quite comfortable.

“Hi, there! I’m Karissa, and this is my good friend, Able!” Karissa introduced. “You looked a little lost, so I thought I’d offer you a seat. You’re on the soccer team, right?”

“Yeah, thanks. I’m Parker. Normally we have practice at this hour, but Coach James has the day off this semester for some reason, so we don’t. All the other guys on the team have classes or girlfriends they hang out with, and I hate feeling like a third wheel, you know?”

Karissa was surprised Parker didn’t have a girlfriend already. He was certainly cute enough. He was incredibly tall with suntanned skin, and lean, defined muscles. His eyes were nearly the color of gold, slightly hidden by the dark, shaggy curls that brushed across the top of his face. To top it off, he had ample lips that Karissa couldn’t help imagining kissing. She was quite ashamed of herself for it too. She’d never felt that way before. It shocked her. She could definitely see why Tori was so in love with him.

“Yeah, that’s the worst,” Able agreed, nodding his head. “We’re much more fun to hang out with. Trust me.”

Parked chuckled a little. “Yeah, I can tell already.”

“So, Parker, I heard you guys had a girl on your team last year. That must have been interestin’ huh?” Karissa asked.

“I don’t know if interesting in the right word for it. She wasn’t much of a girl to us. She was a hardcore lesbian for one, and we pretty much considered her one of the guys. So in a way, it wasn’t like having a girl on the team at all.”

“You should ask Karissa to be on the team then. I promise she’d be interested, and far more interesting to have on the team,” Able said, and Karissa wasn’t sure whether she should kick him or kiss him for being so blunt.

“Oh yeah? Do you play?” Parker asked Karissa.

“Only my whole life!” Karissa laughed, trying to hide the reddening of her cheeks. “I was the best forward on my team for years, but I haven’t played in  a while. I might need some trainin’ first before I try out for anything real,” Karissa answered.

“That’s awesome! You’re interesting already. I love your drawl. Where are you from?” Parker asked.


“Really? What brings you all the way over here?”

“My parents own a horse ranch. It gets pretty noisy and crazy over there, especially during the summer when they host their summer camp. I thought goin’ to school here would be a nice vacation, and it certainly has been.”

“A horse ranch? Really? Do you know how to ride a horse then?”

“Pardon me? Of course I do! What kind of question is that?”

Parker chuckled again. “Sorry. I know it sounds weird, but I’ve always wanted to learn how to ride. My grandpa owned a horse ranch in Wisconsin, and some of my favorite childhood memories take place there. He always promised he would teach me how to ride, but he passed away before he got the chance.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Karissa said.

“Yeah, that sucks,” Able agreed.

“Yeah,” Parker shrugged. “But anyway, that’s why I was asking.”

“Well, how about you help me train for try-outs, and sometime I can teach you how to ride? Sound like a deal?” Karissa offered.

“Yeah, that would be awesome.”

And just like that, Karissa had another new friend.

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