Fair & Foul Part II
When I arrived to Coach Thames’ office he was at his desk with the offensive coordinator, George Kent, and the general manager, Patrick Evans. A lump formed in my throat. Coach Thames told me to have a seat.
He began to speak, “Okay, De’Andre we heard about the altercation between you and Jay’Von.” I dropped my head. Before Thames could continue Kent interrupted him. “Normally, your ass would’ve been cut but we have an issue. Right after practice Jay’Von was arrested for assault and battery on his girlfriend. And with the league’s new hard stance on domestic violence we have to suspend him until the charges are cleared up.” Thames picked up where he left off, “De’Andre if you have an attitude problem you can turn in your playbook and leave now.” “Coach Thames, what happened between Jay’Von and I was bad but that’s not the kind of player or person I am, period. I’m just here to do a job.” Thames gave me a stern look, “Well do your job then. We will be depending on you. If you keep up the performance that you’ve been putting on you will be able to fill Jay’Von’s shoes.” “Yessir.” And with that they allowed me to leave.
As I walked out of his office my heart rate returned to normal and I breathed a sigh of relief. I went back out to the car where Alana was waiting for me. When I got in she had a concerned look on her face that quickly vanished when she saw the relieved look on my face. “Everything okay, baby?” “Jay’Von is benched. He beat up his girl. I’m in!”
A beaming smile spread across Alana’s face. “Bae, it’s your time! I told you that!” I kissed her the cheek as I drove in the direction of her hotel. “Nah, bae let’s go out and celebrate.” “Where you want to go?” “Ihop, duhhh.” Ihop was literally Alana’s favorite place on earth and how we always celebrated our victories, large or small.
We took a booth in the corner and order our usual. I could see the excitement all over Alana’s face. She caressed my cheek with her hand and looked into my eyes, “I’m so proud of you, Dre. Everything is coming together.” My phone buzzing loudly distracted me. I looked down and saw that it was a push alert from ESPN. Cougar RB Jay’Von Riddck arrested for battery and sexual assault.
I clicked the notification to read the article. Jay’Von had allegedly beaten his girl up and then raped her. I didn’t know if it was true or not but either way it messed his image up and the league wasn’t paying about domestic violence anymore.
The following day was my off day and we had a day full of apartment shopping. We settled on a two-bedroom apartment out in the suburbs, it was affordable and it gave the babies and us enough space. Most of my teammates were buying million dollar condos downtown but my contract wasn’t even guaranteed. I had to live within my means until things were stable.
After we signed the lease we made our way to the mall. Alana was riding shotgun looking as gorgeous but that was always; she was the baddest woman I'd ever seen. She had her long black hair up in a bun, her cocoa brown skin was flawless, and she was glowing. I took her hand into mine and kissed it.
As we walked around the wall somehow we ended up in the Louis Vuitton store. Alana was eying a bag that cost damn near $2,000 and she bought it like it was nothing. Alana came from money, her father ran a multi-million dollar law firm and her mother’s family owned a bunch of laundry mats and car washes. She was an only child and she was spoiled. Sometimes I thought she’d never her the word “no” in her life. She gave the Louis Vuitton bag to me. “For you.” It was a Louis Vuitton duffel bag. “Bae, I can’t take this.” “Yes you can. You need to look fly when you’re traveling with the team. It’s a congratulation gift.” Before I could give it back Shawn Sims, the starting QB, walked in with his girl.
He approached and dapped me up. “So you starting next week, huh?” “Yeah, man.” “You ready?” “Yeah, man.” “Aight bet.” “Alana, this is Shawn. Shawn, this is Alana, my girl.” Shawn extended his head, “Nice to meet you. This is my lady, McKenna.” Alana and McKenna smiled at each.
We all went our separate ways. “Damn Sims is huge in person.” Alana said in amazement. “Yeah.”
One week later…Carolina v. Washington (Pre-Season)
“Alright, it’s time to eat or be eaten. Everyone in this room knows what is on the line, for some of you it’s your job and for others it is your name. Either way, go out there and leave it all on the field.” Thames finished his pre-game speech and we prepared to exit the tunnel and go head-to-head against the Washington Warriors in our first pre-season game.
My mind was on one thing and that was doing my part to ensure that we got the W. We were receiving the ball and I’d be returning it. The roar of the crowd was surreal; this was the moment I’d dreamt about my whole life.
When I took my position I watch as the punted ball rose through the air and came directly to me. I caught it and like that I took off. I wasn’t letting anything get between the endzone and I. I juked linemen and I ran on all cylinders and I didn’t stop until I was in the Warriors’ end zone. I had just scored my first touchdown in the Professional Football League. I just stood there for a few seconds and took in the roar of the crowd.
I was screaming at the top of my lungs when De’Andre scored a touchdown on the punt return. I couldn’t believe it! My baby had done it! He had let the world know who he was.
My mother and his mother, Jenny, were just as excited. The excitement must have been too much for the twins and I because I became lightheaded and had to sit down. My mom touched my face. “La, are you okay?” “I’m fine, mom. I just need some water” My mom went over to the bar in the executive suite to get another glass of wine for herself and a bottle of water for me. When she walked away Jenny leaned in and said, “I was the same way when I was pregnant with Dre. Getting all lightheaded.” My heart dropped, “Dre, told you I’m pregnant?!?” I said in a hushed tone.
“La, I’ve been looking in that pretty face of yours’ for three years. That pregnancy is written all over your face plus a while ago I dreamed of fishes. Plus I ain’t never known you to wear a dress that looks like a tent.” She said with a grin. “I’m happy for y’all. I’m just ready for my grandbaby.” I smiled nervously, “Your grandbabies.” Jenny’s eyes grew wide with excitement, “Oh my goodness. When are you telling your parents?” “Tonight at dinner.” Jenny gripped my hand tightly, “I’m so happy for ya’ll.”
I knew Jenny would be happy but I really didn’t know how my family would take it. I came from a very conservative family, marriage then babies. I knew my family liked Dre and all but I didn’t know how they’d feel about this.
My mother returned with my water and sat down beside Jenny. “What are you two over here so excited about?” Jenny answered for the both of us. “That touchdown!”
I looked on the field and the Cougars had possession of the ball again and it was third and 1 at the Warriors’ ten-yard line. Sims threw the ball and it connected with De’Andre in the endzone. Dre had caught two back-to-back touchdowns in the first quarter. This was unbelievable!
Before the game was over Dre scored another touchdown and rushed for a total of 100 yards. The Cougars completely shut out the Warriors by a score of 38 to 0. But the only thing everyone was talking about was Dre’s performance; he was about to change the game and I was here for it.
After the game he, his mom, my parents, and myself went to dinner at Ruth Chris. My father had his chest out like Drew was his son. “Man, that third touchdown was amazing! Dre, we’re proud of you!” He picked up his glass and continued, “And La, we’re proud of you as well.” He toasted us. As we sat at the table people came up and congratulated Dre on his performance and I could see his confidence rebuilding.
As our dinner drew to a close I cleared my throat and spoke, “Okay family, Dre and I have an announcement to make.” Jenny was already beaming from ear to ear but my parents looked concerned. “And what’s that?” My father said in his stern “court room” voice. I sighed before continuing, “I’m expecting!”
My mother eyes damn near popped out of her head. “Oh my god, La.” I couldn’t tell if it was from excitement or shock. My dad looked stunned. My mother leaned over and hugged me tightly. But my father still looked stunned. “Dre, are you going to marry my daughter?” “Mr. Mitchell, there is nothing I would rather do than to marry your daughter.” My father nodded slowly and reached across the table and extended his hand, “Well then son, congratulations.”
Jenny couldn’t contain herself any longer and blurted out, “It’s twins!” My mother squealed with excitement. After dinner my father asked to speak with Dre in private. I watched as they walked over to the bar.
“Dre, that’s my baby girl and I want you to make an honest woman out of her. How are these babies going to fit into her going to law school?” Before I could answer he continued, “I just want the best for Alana and I don’t want to see her out here being some athlete's baby momma. I don’t want her to give up all of her dreams so you can chase yours.” “I understand, sir. You know I only want what’s best for Alana too. I’m going to marry her and she is going to get her law degree, I promise that.” Mr. Mitchell extended his hand and I shook it. “Take care of my baby, Dre. She and her mother mean more to me than anything I own.”
After dinner, Alana and I went back to our apartment where boxes were spread out everywhere because we hadn’t even moved in. The only thing set up was the bed, none of the other furniture had arrived yet.
Alana kicked off her shoes and sat down on a comforter spread out across the floor. I laid my head in her lap and looked up into her eyes. I turned my head and kissed her belly. I began to talk to my babies, “What’s up you two? I love you and I’m doing this for you and your mommy.” Alana rubbed my head as I spoke.
“La, I know things aren’t perfect right now. But we’re going to work it out.” My phone interrupted our quiet moment before I could continue; it was Joe. “What’s up, Joe.” “Good news, man! Nothing but good news!” Joe sounded like he was about to come through the phone. “They want to renegotiate your contract. Three years at eight million, two of which are guaranteed. Oh yeah and a $1M signing bonus. I told you this would happen! I told you! You showed them what you could do! They knew that originally contract was a fucking joke!” “I’m with it, Joe.” “Okay, I’ll have the papers to you by the morning. Congrats, man! Oh the contract and the baby.” “Thanks man.” “Alright goodnight.”
“What was that about, Dre?” “The team wants to up my contract.” I said as a wide smile crept across my face and the good news finally started to sink in. Alana kissed me and looked into my eyes, “I told you, baby. That you were going to fly.” “I know, I know.” As I looked into Alana’s eyes I thought about how far we’d come as a team and how she’d had my back since day one.
Three and a half years earlier… (Florida Tech University)
“Okay, Dre so I’m looking at this report from your history professor. He says you have a D-. What’s going on son?” “It’s a lot going on at home, coach. You know the situation with my brother.” “I understand that’s it’s rough with your brother being locked up but you have to do what the right thing and keep pushing for him and your mom. Look son, go to the student-athelete academic success program office they have a tutor set up for you.” “I can do it myself.” “Dre, if you don’t go to the ASP office. I guarantee your ass will be on the bench against Miami. You understand?” “Yessir.”
I sighed heavily as I grabbed my bookbag and left Coach Orman’s office. I knew his ass wasn’t playing about benching me so I made my way to the academic success office. “Coach Orman, sent me here. I’m supposed to be meeting with a history tutor.” Ms. Val ordered a file on her desk. “Ah yeah, you’re supposed to be meeting with Alana Mitchell on the second floor of the library today after your practice.” “Yes ma’am.”
Immediately after practice I walked over to the library and went upstairs. I saw a girl sitting off in the corner and she looked like she was deep into whatever it was she was doing. I walked over to her and when she looked at I was dumbfounded she was bad as hell. “Can I help you?” “Ummm yeah, are you Alana?” “Yeah. Are you De’Andre?” “Yeah.” “Okay, have a seat.” She was serious.
She sniffed the air for a moment. “Sooo I’m guessing you didn’t have time to take a shower before coming over here?” “My bad I didn’t want to keep you waiting.” “I wouldn’t have minded if that meant I wouldn’t have to smell you for this whole hour.” “My bad.” “No worries, just keep that in mind for next time let’s get down to business.”
She was so fine to me. That I could barely focus on what she was saying. “Did you hear what I said?” “Huh?” She let out an annoyed sigh, “I said did you hear what I said?” “Nah my bad.” “Oh my god, I am wasting my time.” “My bad, I’m sorry.” “You know what nevermind. I said one of the best ways to remember this information is to make a basic time.” She showed me a copy of hers. “So something like this. They always help me.” “Okay cool, that makes sense.” She rolled her eyes, “Look, I’m not going to do your work. All y’all athletes think someone is going to do your damn work just so your ass can stay eligible. I’m not that tutor. Okay?” “I never said I wanted you to do my work. I’m smart I just lost focus I made dean’s list both semesters last year. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on in my personal life right now.” “Girlfriend drama, I’m sure.” “No, family shit, Miss Know-It-All.” She gave me a skeptical look.
I liked her because most of the female tutors were all over your dick as soon as they found out you were on the football or basketball team but she wasn’t giving me attention. She was curving me hard as fuck. But I wanted to get to know her better. I was going to make her mine.
I rubbed my belly as I felt my babies doing whatever they were doing. Dre held my free hand as I waited for the nurse to call us back. Dre had already taken pictures with everyone in the office. Everyone wanted their picture taken with the man who was going to help lead the Cougars to their third national championship.
“Alana Mitchell.” Dre and I followed the nurse into the ultrasound room and waited for the technician. When she came in she looked just as excited as we did. “So whose ready to find out what they’re having?” I lifted up my shirt so she could apply to ultrasound gel. Dre held my hand tightly and looked expectantly at the screen. And like that they’re they were our beautiful babies. “Okay let’s listen to the heartbeat.” As the room filled with the sound of their heartbeat I saw a single tear roll down Dre’s cheek.
“Okay, so the babies are in perfect position. And from the looks of it…Congrats, it’s two boys!” Dre looked like he’d just won the lottery. “Alana, your babies look perfect.” I looked at the 3D imaging on the screen and I fell completely in love. One of the babies was sucking his thumb and the other one was kicking his little legs, my babies.
The ultrasound technician printed off the images for us. As soon as we got to the car Dre posted one of the pictures to his Instagram page with the caption: The league needs to go ahead and get ready. My two future superstars. #MyJuniors Within a few minutes the picture had over 5,000 likes
“Dre, where are we going?” “It’s a surprise.” We drove out of the city and into the posh Ballantine-area. We drove into a gated community and pulled up in front of a house with a sold sign in the front yard and a brand new burgundy G55 Mercedes Benz with a bow on top in the driveway. My mouth hung agape in sheer astonishment. “I know you didn’t, Dre!” “Baby, I had to!” “This is too much!” “Baby, you were down with me when everybody else abandoned me. It’s only right.”
Dre opened the front door and we walked inside the house was gorgeous. A double spiral staircase, dark hardwood floors, an ornate chandelier hung over the foyer, a state of the art kitchen, a home theatre, a home gym.
I knew this was a dream come true for him. He’d always talked about buying his dream home and it was coming true.
I put my arms around Alana as she looked around our new home. That’s when I remembered everything I had worked for was to see her and my mother happy. I also was doing this in memory of my brother. Rico was supposed to be here living the life with me; it wasn’t supposed to be like this. But now the only thing I could do was do everything in his memory and make our mother proud.
Season Opener- Carolina v. Jacksonville (@ Home)
It was my time to shine and I was ready to do work. This was the moment I had been waiting for my whole life and it was finally happening. We would be receiving the ball at the start of the game and I would be returning it. I looked as the ball sailed through the air and rent into my hands and I took off running. My mind was on one thing and that was making it into the opposing team’s end zone and after breaking two tackles it became a reality. The home stadium crowd went crazy. It was what I had wanted my whole life. I knew La was in the stands watching with my mom. This was for them and my sons.
When the game ended the reporters rushed to interview me, “De’Andre, you had an amazing game ten receptions with two leading to touchdowns and 200 yards rushing. How do you feel about the calls for Rookie of the Year?” “I’m humbled but I’m just here to do a job and focus on the next game. I want to do my part to help my team.” “You were picked in the sixth round after an injury that many people felt should’ve ended your career. How does it feel to have bounced back from that?” “It feels great! I worked hard and had a lot of people around me that continued to believe in me and I couldn’t let them down.”
My performance in the game had me on walking on clouds. But me happiness soon faded away when I walked towards my mother and La wasn’t there. I could see the look of concern all over my mom’s face. “Where is La?” “On her way to the hospital. We need go right now.”
As we sped towards the hospital I questioned my mom. “Ma, what happened?” “I don’t know if she got too excited or what but she started having pains. She didn’t want me to tell you until after the game.”
At the hospital we went up to the room that La was in. A monitor was on her belly and she was waiting for the doctor. “Baby, are you okay?” She gave me a weak smile before answering, “I’m fine they think it just may have been some intense muscle stretching.” I kissed her on the forehead and look into her eyes, “Okay.”
The doctor came in and shook my head, “Congrats on the game! It was amazing.” “Thanks. But what’s going on with the babies?” “Well, Alana and the twins are fine. She was just experiencing some pretty rough Braxton Hicks contractions or some muscle stretching. But she’s fine the babies are fine. She just needs to take it easy for the next couple of days. Twins are a lot on the body. Any questions? If not I’ll get the discharge papers ready.”
On the way home I looked over at La, she looked like she was a million miles away. “You good?” “Yeah Dre, I’m fine. I’m just thinking.” “About?” “I’m scared, Dre.” “Of?” “I’m scared that this will change us.” “What will change us?” “This lifestyle.” I held her hand tightly, “Never that. You were there for me during some of the lowest points in my life I won’t forget that. You held me down when you didn’t have to.”
Three years earlier…
“Hey De’Andre, this is Alana I won’t be able to meet you this evening. I already let the academic success people know. I have the flu. Good luck on Saturday.”
I felt like shit. My head hurt, every muscle in my body ached, even my fucking eyeballs hurt. My mom and dad had told me to get a flu shot but I kept putting it off because I hated shots. But here I was laid up in my apartment with a 101-degree fever.
I was too weak to even make my way into the kitchen to fix a bowl of soup. I felt like I was going to die. I finally mustered up enough energy to make my way to the couch but not a step further and then I heard a knock at my door.
I dragged myself to the door. “Who is it?” I said as I looked through the peep hole and saw De’Andre. “Ummmm it’s De’Andre.” I slowly opened the door. “Come in.” In one hand he had a gallon hug of orange juice and in the other he hand a paper grocery bag.
“Ummm I saw your message and I just wanted to bring you something. I know you probably didn’t feel like cooking anything. So I got you some chicken noodle soup, some strawberries, oranges, and some orange juice.” “Oh wow, thank you! This means a lot to me.” “But hold on, how did you find out where I live?” “My boy D Jack dates your sorority sister, Tesha. I got the address through her.” “Okay cool. Thanks, this means a lot to me. Normally my mom brings me stuff when I’m sick but her and my dad are in the Maldives for their anniversary.”
Over the past few months De’Andre had really surprised me. He wasn’t like the other plays I tutored he didn’t try to get into my pants, he didn’t try to put his work off on me, and more importantly he was extremely intelligent.
He told me to relax while he went into the kitchen and cut the fruit up and put the soup on the stove. I couldn’t front he looked extra cute. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt, grey sweatpants, and Nike slides but it worked for him.
“Here you go.” He said as he placed a plate and a bowl in front of me. “Thank you so much.” “No problem.” To my surprise we ended up talking for another three hours and before he left we kissed. His kiss made me feel so much better. Could I be feeling this dude? Nah, I couldn’t be.
I looked as De’Andre walked around the bedroom as he talked on the phone. I was busy typing away on the computer when an e-mail from Tesha, my sorority big sister, came through. That was strange because I hadn’t spoken to her in like a year and some change. The subject line of the e-mail was “Heads Up”.
“Hey spec, I hope all is well. I just wanted to make you aware of this. And let you know to be careful. Congrats on the babies. Love you!”
Attached to the e-mail was a link to a website called Lipstick Alley. I clicked the link and waited for it to the open. The thread’s title was “Any Info on De’Andre Hicks.” The post said Okay, so I’m looking at SportsCenter and just saw the cutie that plays for Cougars. Anyone have any info on him?” I continued reading the thread and the replies to the original post.
“He has a girlfriend her name is Alana. Her IG name is smokedatlala. She is pregnant with twins. They have been together for a while according to her IG. They went to FTU together and comes from money. She’s cute.” “I used to mess with him his freshmen year. Cool but he dropped me once he got with LaLa.” “La definitely trapped him.” “La DID NOT trap him. They have been together for years. I’m cool with her best friend and it was definitely accidental.” “I slept with him last year. He was in the club with Montae Evans that plays for New York Chiefs. I used to work at this bar in MIA and we ended up going back to Tae’s spot and having sex. He was drunk but the sex was good. His dick is big. His GF trusts him too much. She didn’t even call or text him that whole night.” To substantiate her story she posted texts that showed Dre’s old phone number.
My heart dropped. I thought back to last year. Montae and Dre were good friends they’d gone to FTU together and grew up in the same neighborhood. His off-season home was in Miami and he’d invited Dre out to party for his birthday. I sat there in stone silence as I let what I read sink in.
Dre was downstairs on the phone talking to his agent when I approached him. He turned around when he saw me he could see the anger all over my face. “Joe, let me call you back man.”
“Bae, what’s wrong?” I clasped my hands together and closed my eyes in an attempt to calm myself before speaking. “De’Andre Charles Hicks, I’m going to give you one chance to tell me the truth, either tell the truth or we’re over. Did you fuck some random bar skank when you and Tae went out last year? Do not fuckin’ lie to me.” Dre’s jaw dropped. “Where in the fuck is this coming from?” “Don’t worry about where it’s coming from. Just answer the fucking question!” “I fucked up La. Hanging out with Tae had me feeling myself and I let him gas me up to fuck with her. She didn’t mean shit. She kept hitting my line. That’s why I changed my number. She was thirsty. I fucked up.”
He approached me and try to hug me. “Dre, get the fuck from round me! How could you do that Dre? I trusted you. When my friends said don’t fuck with you because all atheletes are whores. I said nah, nah not my man. He doesn’t do that. You made me look like a damn fool. And I’m about to be an even bigger fool for having your damn babies.”
It felt like the wrong was spinning. I could hear Alana screaming at me but I couldn’t make out a single word she was saying. My mind had gone back to that night at the club. I was still dealing with the after effects of my injury and I’d gone out with Tae for his birthday. We’d ended up shutting the club and taking some girls back to his spot. I had been drinking and I let the henny get the best of me and had sex with one of the groupies from the club.
“Do you fucking hear me, Dre?!?!” I tuned back into Alana she was mad as hell. “Get your shit!” She shook her hands dismissively. “Nah, nah you know what?!? I’ll leave. Fuck this shit!” I firmly grabbed her arms as she went to head back upstairs, “Where are you going?” “Don’t worry about me, I’m good. I need to get from round here. I can’t with you tonight!”
I followed her into the bedroom as she angrily threw clothes into a duffel bag. “La, slow down. Can we talk?” “Dre, I can’t deal with you right now.” She grabbed her keys and stormed out the door I followed behind her but before I could stop her she had got into her car and recklessly backed out of the driveway.
But almost like it was in slow motion a truck hit her car on the driver’s side at full speed causing her car to flip and there she was laying in the road.
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