I was going to be absolutely useless at practice. We'd stayed up playing Apples to Apples until who-knew-when, the power still out when someone had last checked the time at 2 in the morning. I'm not going to lie, I can't last with a bunch of boys until o'dark thirty. Just not possible. So I'd fallen asleep.
The lounge couch was most definitely not as comfortable as my bed upstairs. The heartbeat under my ear was helping a bit.
What. The. Hell.
My eyes snapped open and realized that I was no by myself. There were two bodies sprawled on the floor, one with an Apples to Apples card stuck to his forehead. From what I could see without moving (I was comfortable) and saw that both chairs were taken, along with the other couch. And I was sharing my couch with someone big, and who put out heat like a furnace. Process of elimination informed me that it was Murphy I was sharing with.
Huh. He was like a furnace.
And made a good pillow. A damn good pillow.
One of the bodies in the chairs moved; I identified Devan and snapped my eyes shut again. I didn't want him to know I was awake. I didn't want to move.
Because I had my eyes shut I felt more than saw Murphy wake up. His breathing, while still even, changed slightly. With my ear to his chest, I felt more than anything his response to Devan's soft, "You awake?"
"Yeah, now," Murphy rumbled.
He stroked my hair near my forehead.
"She's still out."
Murphy shifted slightly under me, his arm heavy across my arm and shoulder. "Still raining?"
The damn storm hadn't quit? Mother Nature needed to invest in Yaz or something.
Still, I had no desire to move. None what so ever. Rabid wolves wouldn't move me. Except that I had no idea what my hair looked like, and if I had my usual bed head then, coupled with wet and uncombed as of last night, I must look rat-ass awful. My black eye would be the only normal thing about me. But Murphy wouldn't care.
It was clear he didn't care about the black eye, but would he care about it being gone?
And I can't believe I just honest-to-God though that. That had to be the most self-absorbed and self-conscious and self-pitying thing I've ever had the misfortune to think about myself. I have the best black eye ever. Granted, it's from walking into a Ford side mirror, but still. Best. Ever.
"Do you think we still have practice?"
Murphy gave an abbreviated shrug, mindful of me still "asleep."
"Don't see why we wouldn't be don't see how they'd let us know," Murphy rumbled. "Power's still out." He went still, possibly taking stock of who else was there with us. "Mike should be up son, he gets up with the damn sun."
I shifted, snuggling more into Murphy's warmth and he stroked my hair again. For a big man with huge hands he was infinitely gentle. And, just because I wanted to be awake (to everyone else) I stirred and tried to roll more onto my back. So, when I opened my eyes I was more or less looking up as he was more or less looking down. His soft smile and not-quite-all-awake yet eyes were absolutely adorable. My eyes probably screamed "Find me coffee!!"
"Good morning," he said softly, meant only for my ears. Devan had vacated. I was then acutely aware that his forearm lay across my belly, his hand resting lightly on my inner elbow.
I was definitely more content than I had been in a while.
"Morning," I murmured. Yep, eyes definitely screaming for mass amounts of caffeine.
Now, most girls in my position would probably freak for the simple reason they wouldn't be wearing make up and their hair would look just God-awful. And that would happen in the presence of a boy. A cute boy. Wait. Scratch that. Six cute boys. But only one that really mattered.
"Not much of an alarm, huh?" he asked.
Much, much better than any alarm. "You look better than my alarm clock."
He grinned. "I'll take that as a compliment."
I smiled, then yawned. And knew I had to ask the dreaded question. "What time is it?"
He looked elsewhere, literally over my head and I got a great view of the inside of his nose. Very clean.
"About six," he said.
And we both grimaced. Breakfast was at seven. Always. And don't be late. Good thing I only needed half an hour to get ready. There was most likely nothing I was going to be able to do with my hair except put it up.
"You need to get ready?" he asked.
"Yeah, just half an hour."
He smiled. Then moved his arm. I felt really cold and....bereft. He really was warm and snuggly. I sat up and shivered. My side was now cold with no porta-furnace.
"Can I walk you upstairs?"
It took every ounce in me not to freeze. The rest of the bodies in the lounge were moving. I had to think. Did I want him in my space, my personal, messy, weird space with my posters?
Answer: Yes. But not now and not in the light of the after-storm, no electric morning.
"Walk me to breakfast?" I think he'd be happy just walking me somewhere.
He glanced at the others milling around. Most of them were staring without meaning or trying to.
"Sure." He grinned.
Barefoot, sleep-rumpled, and more gnarly then I usually looked, I headed back up the stairs. There were safety lights in the lounge, but none in the stairwell and none on my floor. I found my room only because I knew where it was. I opened the door and the light from the morning, what little there was, was filtering in.
Oh look. My phone.
I opened it. Five new texts and three missed calls. All from Sasha. This should be good.
First message: U ok? He takin care of u? U ok!?
Second message: U there!? U ok!? Olivia!?
Third message: He with u? What r u doin that u cant answer me!?
Fourth message: OMG!!!! Remember to be safe!!!
Fifth message: I WANT DETAILS 2MORROW!!
Well, that was not what I was expecting. And I don't know what she was thinking I was doing but there really weren't any details. Murphy could attest to that.
I ignored the voicemails and flipped the phone shut. My eyes bugged at the time and then I was scrambling to find and put on clothes. A quick trip to the bathroom to brush my teeth and sling back the hair; my stuff was in the locker room, and I grabbed my phone since I didn't need my ID for food (yet) and locked the door behind me. Back down the stairs I went, pulling my sweatshirt over my head and went into the lounge.
Six big men in work out clothes waiting. It was the first time I had ever felt dainty in my own sportswear in my life.
"Food," Devan said and the seven of us moved toward the stairs, effectively moving for the door.
I was not going to stand in the way of men heading for food.
Except maybe Murphy. Only because he wouldn't mow me over.
"Morning." Murphy nudged me.
Like he hadn't seen me earlier. Like he hadn't seen me all night.
Which now made me wonder how I'd gotten from the floor to the couch. I really don't remember falling asleep. Well...I remember leaning against Murphy, watching them play cards and occasionally "helping" Murphy with some of his more creative choices. Remembered it getting more and more difficult to keep my eyes open. Remember feeling warm and really content.
So who the hell had put me on the couch, let along snuggled on Murphy?
"Morning." It was still raining - there were small and not-so-small rivers in the parking lot. I put my hood up. Not that it really mattered, anyway; my hair was just plain gnarly. Maybe the hair would help.
"You, uh, have fun last night?"
I got the distinct impression that was not what he wanted to say. Maybe something more along the lines of "How did you sleep last night?" I blushed anyway, though it was hidden by the hood.
"It was nice," I said. "Fun." Though he did scare me half to death in the beginning. "You guys are pretty fun."
Murphy snorted. "Not what I would call it, but okay."
I shoved him playfully and he responded a little too enthusiastically because I ended up in the grass, bumping off Devan in the process. He steadied me, bumping me back to Murphy. he caught me and waited for me to get my feet under me. Was definitely not used to being the most dainty thing in the group.
Apparently I failed to realize how we would look walking into the dining hall. I failed to realize how it might look to others when one semi-fragile-looking girl walks in with six burly football men.
It was a regular man-tourage on my part.
Or I looked like something decidedly different, though technically I had only spent the night with one of them.
Well...I take that back. There were six of them and one of me.
Everyone was staring when we walked in. And I mean everyone.
The soccer and field hockey girls were staring at me in mild fascination/Holy Crap and the football and soccer boys - yes, well, to say my face was flaming was an understatement of monumental proportions.
"I'll see you later," Murphy said and I headed off to find Sasha, who was standing up and giving me an expression that said whether or not I had good details I was sharing my night with her anyway.
"In a minute," I said, and went off to get food. Which bought me some time. Wheat toast, eggs, and wondering how they had power to do things, I sat down and said, "Let me take my meds," and started digging through my bag for my pillbox. Yes, a stalling tactic, but it usually worked. Then I realized that my night hadn't been normal. Therefore my routine hadn't been normal. Therefore my pills were in my room.
"I slept in the lounge," I said. There was no guilt in my voice. No guilt.
Freakin' power outage.
"You goin' to be okay?" Sasha was concerned.
Honestly, I didn't know. I had never missed a day, missed a morning, since I had started taking my pills. Not sure whether to freak out or if it was okay. I might have to ask Mac.
"Yeah," I swallowed. "I'll be okay."
Halfway through the first drill I thought I was going to die. My stomach cramped and gurgled; my scar hurting and my heart pounding. It was like everything was trying to freeze up and stop while Nature says go. Nature says go, go, go!!
I honest-to-God thought I was going to die.
"Ollie! You okay?" Sasha was five feet from me. "You're a little pale."
A little? I was probably paper white.
"Need to see Mac?"
Could Mac do anything for me? Really? Maybe a hot pad and painkillers? Ice for my back? It was tempting.
A particularly vicious cramp had me doubled over. My hearing was either fading or whatever because the next thing I knew Sasha and Mac where in my line of sight and I was still doubled over.
"Olivia? Be honest, what's going on?"
Rain continued to fall. I was oblivious. It freakin' hurt.
"Missed my morning pills," I ground out.
To which Mac looked at me like I was insane and then didn't even try to straighten me as we walked to the golf cart to take me somewhere - most likely the trainer's room. He got me in the seat and I curled in on myself as much as possible. The ride was a bit of a blur - then I was on my stomach on a heating pad, a bag of ice on my lower back, and someone making a Weggie's run to get what I needed instead of breaking into my dorm room because I'm pretty sure I wasn't coherent when they asked for my keys...Mac force-fed me painkillers and things got a bit hazy. Just a bit.
Then I'm pretty sure Mac stuffed my pills down my throat and then I'm pretty sure I went to sleep.
I opened my eyes. Mac was head-level. It was a little unnerving but I had no inclination to move. I was finally feeling level, if worn out.
Actually, I felt as though I'd eaten a pound of plain white pasta.
"How you feelin'?"
"Less likely to hurl." And really sluggish.
"It's about two now," he said, "they're cooling down in the pool. Sit up for a bit, take some juice and wheat crackers. You should be okay."
I automatically eased off the hot pad. Sat up. Rubbed my eyes. He handed me what he suggested I eat. I was a bit damp from the rain and feeling clammy, and somehow still felt better than before. With food in hand, I left the trainer's on semi-weak legs and took the elevator, not trusting the stairs. Well, not trusting myself on the stairs.
The pool was always warm, which I was thankful for because I was oddly cold. The coaches were sitting on the aluminum bleachers, the team in the pool. Cool down was actually a synchronized swimming contest. Go figure. The coaches did that to us sometimes. I sat by Corbin, the GK coach, absently munching on the crackers and feeling as though I were five and had just woken up from an afternoon nap.
"You've got more color, Olivia," Casey, the head coach remarked and I smiled. And had the urge to lay on the deck and go back to sleep.
Sasha waved to me from the water and I nodded. Lifting a hand seemed too much effort.
After what seemed like an eternity later we were filing back to the locker room, Sasha dripping wet and looking as though she had ever inclination of not leaving my side. Not like I was going to fall over anytime soon - wait, that's a lie. There was that possibility I would faceplant.
"Do you want me to come down?" she asked.
Hm - an afternoon of Sasha, smelling like chlorine and rainwater hovering or an afternoon curled around Edgar, Supernatural on the TV and sleeping? A hovering Sasha was a worried Sasha. A worried Sasha was a concerned Cara. A concerned Cara combined with a worried Sasha was an instant headache.
"Nope," I said. "I'm just going to crash." Crash hard and fast. By myself. In my single. Alone.
I can already hear my mother's shriek when she finds out.
Sasha looked ready to mutiny but I glared. She back down, cursing my stubbornness and independence, and I trekked on back to my building. Tired as I was, I wasn't sure if I thanked the schmuck who held open the door for me and after four floors of stairs all I wanted to do was crawl in bed and not move for about a millenia or so.
I tried to push down the handle and go through the door at the same time, resulting in a loud bang as the door stopped against the lock and my curse as my shoulder rebounded off. The magnetic dry-erase board wobbled dangerously. I jiggled the handle with increasing frantic-ness, the dry-erase board barely hanging on. No way this had happened. No way. Not today. Please, not now.
The door didn't budge.
I'd locked my keys in the room, and myself out of it.
To add insult to injury, the dry-erase board jiggled free from the door and landed edge-wise on my foot with a thump.