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Locker room, Kings’ Stadium, 1 p.m.
Tuffer Demson fingered the diamond ring in his pocket. His nerves were on edge. The Connecticut Kings were playing the Columbus Bobcats today. They had to win. Every game counted double now that the playoffs were around the corner. Or at least that’s the way he felt. The pressure was excruciating.
The young defenseman planned to propose to his live-in girlfriend, Alexia Sebastian, that night, after the big meal. Lexie was his coach’s daughter. Pete Sebastian, the coach, had taken a dim view of her dating Tuffer, and an even more negative eye to her living with her boyfriend. Ever since she’d moved in with him, Coach Bass had kept an eye on him, pushing him to work harder and do more.
He had bounced back and forth between his belief that the coach would be relieved to have Lexie become an “honest” woman versus shacking up, and the nagging suspicion that coach would rather have her marry Attila the Hun than Tuffer Demson. He made good money and was crazy about Lexie. Why shouldn’t they get married?
Never a player on the dating field, Tuffer had hoped to find the right one and make her his. He longed to have a marriage like his parents’—warm, close, and caring. They were best friends. Lexie was the sweetest girl he’d ever met, and she treated him with respect. Besides, she was smokin’, and their love life ignited his fire every time.
“Got your head in the game, Demson? We need to win,” Coach said, scowling.
“Yes, sir. I do, Coach. I do.” But it was a lie. Tuffer worried that Lexie might turn him down. Sure, he made good money, but for how long? He saved every penny he could for the day when football turned its back on him. He knew he wasn’t the brightest bulb. He’d never been a star at school, stealing a spot at a lesser college using his football talents. He’d never have a better chance than on the field to make a pile of money, that was obvious.
After his career was over, he had no idea what he’d do to earn a living. The time to snag a great wife was now. He figured he’d better get a commitment from Lexie while he was in his prime, before she realized she could do a whole lot better than him.
“What are you standing around for, Demson? Put on your uniform and get out there.” Coach’s brow furrowed.