I’d love to understand the reasoning behind why hospitals feel the need to freeze their patients to death. I literally am going to catch pneumonia way before they ever roll me into surgery.
“Can she get a blanket, please?” Rush asks the nurse in his usual abrasive manner. “She’s shivering.”
“We’ll get her a warm blanket right now, Mr. Bacchetti. No problem.”
I brave the frigid temperatures of the room to slide my arm from beneath the thin sheet I’m under to grasp Rush’s forearm.
“You’re more nervous than I am, and that’s not helping. You’re going to jinx me with these negative vibes.”
“I’m not jinxing you. Don’t say that shit.”
“I am relaxed.” His brow furrows.
“I’ve never seen a grown man more afraid of hospital rooms than you. You’re lucky that you’ve never been seriously hurt in a game.”
“Uh, knock on wood.”
“Sorry, yes, knock on wood that you never get hurt.”
I squeeze his arm, and he bends over to give me a brief kiss on the lips. His lips are warm and gentle and serve as a sharp contrast to his mood.
The nurse returns to the room with a warmed blanket and lays it on top of me. I instantly thaw to room temperature and start to relax. This is finally happening. I’m going to have the surgery I’ve wanted for so long so that I may one day again live pain free.
“Your surgical team will be here soon to go over the procedure with you. I’m going to start a line in your arm now.”
As the nurse searches my arm for an injectable vein, Rush tucks my new toasty blanket around the other side of my body so that it fits snuggly, almost like a burrito.
“Feel better?” Rush asks me.
I nod. “Thanks, Bacchetti.”
“You’re going to need to find a better nickname for me, Bird.”
I chuckle awkwardly.
“What do you want me to call you… honey?”
Just because Rush and I have been best friends for years doesn’t make it any easier to suddenly shift from pals who goofed around with each other to lovers. I’ve been calling him dude or by his last name since I was eighteen-years-old. This new dynamic of ours is going to take some getting used to.
“I’ll give you a little more time to figure it out.” He smiles.
The nurse taps the inside of my wrist in search of a suitable vein.
“Make a fist, please. Your veins apparently like to wiggle around.”
“I’ve been told that before.”
“How are you certain that you’re giving her the right amount of anesthesia?” Rush asks the nurse.
“The anesthesiologist will base her dosage on her weight.”
“And you know which knee it is, right? I’ve heard about those horror stories of doctors operating on the wrong leg.”
“Seriously, Rush, you’re not helping!”
“Okay, okay, I’ll shut up.”
“Good, because I’m about to kick you out of the room if you don’t. You should at least take some comfort in knowing that the surgeon is supposed to be the best.”
My surgeon is an ortho that Rush’s connections through the NFL found in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He’s supposed to be one of the best surgeons in the country and has performed dozens if not hundreds of ACL reconstruction surgeries. Although he won’t admit it, there’s no doubt that Rush paid him handsomely so that we could cut to the front of the line of patients on his surgery schedule.
The way Rush practically bulldozed our way into this surgery is totally not my style. My plan was to pick a surgeon myself and pay for it myself, but some battles are best left to fight another day or not at all, and this was one of them.
I realized I needed to allow Rush to do this for me because it would relieve some anxiety that he too was feeling about the surgery. It’s not just me anymore, I’ve had to tell myself. Now we’re making decisions as a couple. Even with personal health decisions, Rush gets a five minute say, and the truth of it is that I know it’s his way of expressing his love for me. The compromise he made, though, is that we waited until the off season to schedule the surgery.
Doctor White is somewhat of an arrogant man as many surgeons can be and enters the room practically floating on a wave of pure confidence with two other residents right behind him.
“You ready to do this, Miss Taylor?”
“Yes, sir. Ready as I’ll ever be.”
“This will be a relatively simple procedure and you should be back in your own bed in time for dinner.”
“And how are you today, Mr. Bacchetti?” He asks Rush.
“I’m great, knowing that you’re going to be taking good care of my girl today.”
Rush’s response sounds more like a veiled threat than anything, and one of the resident’s eyes enlarge to the size of saucers, but Dr. White isn’t fazed. I can tell he’s been around the block before and has probably dealt with many celebrities and worried family members in his career.
“She’s in excellent hands. I’m the best in the country. I’ll come get you when we’re finished. You can head over to the waiting room suite now.”
Rush slides his hand over mine, bends down, and plants his lips on my mouth. He holds the kiss a few seconds longer than Dr. White can probably stomach, and he diverts his eyes as Rush opens his and whispers into my mouth.
“World domination greetings, Mia.”
“World domination greetings, Rush,” I whisper back with a grin.
“See you after you wake up good as new?”
There’s a lot of waiting in hospitals. I’ve been waiting by myself to get rolled into the surgery room for at least fifteen minutes now. After Rush left the room, I thought they’d be ready to start.
Finally, Dr. White and the anesthesiologist, Dr. Hesha, enter back into the room where I’m patiently waiting. I grow uneasy as she shows him a chart and tentatively whispers something in his ear. Are they talking about me? Is something wrong?
Dr. White’s lips press firmly together as he exhales.
“Miss Taylor, we have a problem.”
“What is it?”
“We’re going to have to cancel your surgery today.”
My heart drops.
Did Rush threaten him with bodily harm or something?
“Your urine sample came back positive,” the anesthesiologist says.
Because of my NFL status, I’ve been given an area to wait for Mia called a waiting suite. It’s basically a waiting room for hospital VIPs so that they don’t have to wait in those common areas with all the other people. I wouldn’t mind waiting there, but Mia persuaded me to use the suite because if a fan recognized me in the mood that I’m in, and tried to talk to me, I’m liable to be an asshole.
There’s hot tea and coffee, a vending machine, a table and chairs and a flat screen television mounted in the corner which I have no control over because there’s no remote for it in the room. If I can locate it though, I will turn the motherfucker off because of all the things they’re airing today… it’s a hospital drama.
It’s like a terrible car crash.
I can’t turn away.
I’m watching the episode at least forty minutes in, but I still get the gist of it. There’s a man who brought his wife in the emergency room for something simple and now a series of events have transpired that have led her to damn near knocking at death’s door.
Just the type of story I didn’t need to see…
“There was a slight complication during the surgery, Mr. Ellsworth. We’re afraid to tell you that your wife had a blood vessel hemorrhage.”
“Oh my God!”
“We were able to stop the bleeding and repair the blood vessel, but we had to give her a transfusion.”
“Hemorrhaging in surgery is uncommon for someone young and healthy like your wife, but rest assured we addressed it quickly and she’s out of the woods now.”
“Can I see her?”
“She’s in recovery, but she will need to stay overnight so that we can monitor her. The good news is that we could repair the bleed.”
“You guaranteed me that there was nothing to worry about.”
“We’re not Gods, Mr. Ellsworth. We’re just surgeons. There are never any guarantees.”
I’m on edge as the show breaks to a car insurance commercial. I check the time and realize that I have a long way to go, and I’m going to have to figure something out to keep busy if I’m going to get through this day without strangling someone.
I open my cell phone and look for Carter’s number. I thought maybe we could talk through some of his off-season training drills while I’m waiting on Mia. Then the door to the suite opens and panic envelops my body when I see Dr. White standing in front of me.
“What’s wrong with Mia?” I immediately ask.
“Then why are you here?”
“I came here personally to tell you that we can’t move forward with the surgery. It’s been postponed.”
“I called in a lot of favors to get you, Doc. Why are you bailing on the surgery?”
“I’m not bailing, Mr. Bacchetti, but because of privacy laws, I think that Miss Taylor should be the one to tell you why. She’s still in the same room.”
Did Mia get cold feet and bail on the surgery?
Was she more nervous than I thought she was?
I take off running down the hallway and back to the room. Mia is laying in bed, slightly propped up, with tears running down her face.
“I just heard, Bird. Is it my fault? Did I make you too nervous?” I ask her, basically kicking myself for my ridiculous behavior earlier today.
She reaches her hands out for me and I get as close to her as I can, even though the bed is clearly too small for the both of us.
“I can go get him back, baby. I’ll make him do the surgery if you’ve changed your mind. You’ve waited so long for this. Don’t let my nervous nellie shit hold you back.”
Then Mia does the strangest thing.
Like, really laughs.
“What is so funny, Mia? Are you losing your shit?”
“I can’t get the surgery for like a year.”
“Cause I’m havin’ your baby.” She sings a song I don’t recognize. “I’m the woman you love and you love what it’s doing to me.”
“What the hell are you singing, Bird?”
“Is this really the time for Paul Anka songs?”
“But are you listening to the context? ‘Cause I’m having your baby.” She repeats the words again and suddenly I hear them.
“Bird… are you having my baby?”
“Ding, ding, ding! That’s right, Bacchetti.”
“You can’t be.”
I want it to be true, but the timing makes little sense to me.
“Don’t you remember?” she asks in an almost accusatory fashion.
I’ve always tried to be so careful with Mia. I’ve been tested for venereal diseases just to give us both peace of mind, and I’ve always used condoms with her… except for one night.
The memory hits me like a thunderbolt.
Every news outlet in the city had us pegged to win our first round Wild Card playoff game against Dallas. We were on our home field and felt practically anointed when we took the field that wintery January day. But when Proctor fumbled the ball in the fourth down of the third quarter, it was as if someone took a straight pin and popped our bubble. We were emotionally deflated and played like it in the fourth quarter. It was a swift kick in the gut that none of us were expecting. We lost, and we lost badly.
While I’m usually the compass of the team, I felt the sting of being clobbered too and didn’t have any words of wisdom to impart. I was just as lost as they were. In fact, I was plain and simply mad and embarrassed about the outcome of the game and chose to commiserate with my teammates afterwards. After I made sure Mia safely left the stadium for home, a group of the offensive linemen, and myself, went out for drinks to drown our sorrows.
When I arrived home, I felt better about life but could barely see shit. I pressed the digital code to unlock the front door to my house four times before Mia opened it for me.
“Welcome home, Bacchetti.”
Fuck, she was beautiful.
“Are you drunk?” She cocked her head to the side.
“Are you listening to The Red Hot Chili Peppers?” I replied in response.
She pulled me inside the house by the lapel of my jacket.
“I asked you if you were freakin’ drunk?”
“Hell, yeah, I’m drunk.”
“This might be a first for me. Let me sit down and relish the moment.”
She sat on the den couch and watched with pure delight as I fumbled my way around the room. Stripping off my jacket, my boots, and getting stuck at my belt bucket.
I popped my head back up at her. “You want to help me out here?”
“Uh-uh.” She grinned with utter delight. “I just want to watch.”
“You want to watch, huh?”
“Yes, sir. Can I videotape you as you strip?”
“No video, Bird.”
“Got it. You’d want no evidence of this monumental event.”
“We lost, Bird,” I tell her, still fumbling with my belt.
“I’m aware. I was there. It’s not like you’ve never lost a game before.”
“I wanted to go to the bowl this year.”
“And so does every team in the NFL. It just wasn’t your year.”
I finally get the damn belt unbuckled and strip the rest of my clothes off.
“I’m going to take a shower and get this loser dirt off of me. Did you eat?”
I stumble up the stairs.
“I’ll make you something,” she says loud enough for me to hear. “You want some pasta? The season is over and you can splurge on bad carbs.”
“Don’t remind me,” I tell her. “Whatever you make is fine.”
I could smell the aroma of garlic, olive oil, cheese and chicken wafting all the way upstairs and into the bathroom. Mia has never fancied herself a superb cook, but she’s been working on it. She has about four meals perfected in her repertoire and most other days we either eat at the practice center or we order in.
She pops her head inside the bathroom.
“Food is ready.”
“Damn, so fast?”
“I wasn’t fast at all. You’ve been in here for like thirty minutes, Rush. Your skin is going to shrivel up like a raisin. Come on.”
“Raisinettes have chocolate all over them. They’re not shriveled.”
“I said raisin, not Raisinettes,” she chuckles. “Come on, amateur, you’ve got to be sober by now.”
“I don’t want to be.”
“Stop sulking. It’s beneath you.”
She’s right. I was sobering up, and my dick was very much on high alert. The pussy that it loves was standing five feet away and wanted in, in the worst way.
“Come here, Bird.”
“You sound like you want to kill me when you use that tone of voice.”
“Kill that pussy.”
“What? Come here. I will not say it again.”
She shut the door and something inside of my sloshy brain snapped. I am a predator by nature. Most football players are. And what’s fucked up is that I knew my prey couldn’t run for shit. So in my head, this was going to be easy… and extremely gratifying.
I left the water running and stepped out of the shower soaking wet. Once I arrived at the top of the stairwell, she had only made it midway down. Her head swerved around as she gawked at me, standing wet, stark naked, and looking absolutely ravenous.
“Rush, you’re still drunk.”
“I told you to come here.”
“You need some food in your stomach first.”
“I need some of you first.”
She backed away slowly while holding on tightly to the banister. There wasn’t a lick of fear in her eyes because why would there be? Mia is an athlete at heart as well. She loves games. And we both are going to end up winners as we play this one out.
“If you eat a bowl of the pasta, I just slaved over the stove to make, then you can have me all night if you want.”
“This isn’t a negotiation, Mia.”
She stared squarely at my cock as it jutted firmly out, then bobbed up and down with each step I took toward her. I chuckled as she inadvertently licked the corner of her lips. Mia loves to suck cock and I am a very willing recipient.
“Just admit you want this,” I tease her as I cup my balls.
I saw her teetering before she even realized it. She wasn’t paying attention to how far her foot was on the edge of the step, and I practically flew down the staircase and pulled her by the waistband of her sweats before she fell.
Although she tried to pretend otherwise, her eyes were swirling with desire as I swooped her up in my arms and took her to the den.
“Ick, you’re wet,” she teased.
I wasn’t a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan but was sort of digging the song that was playing, Breaking The Girl. There was something real seductive about it and it only added to the sexually charged atmosphere.
I slid my hand down the front of her sweatpants and in between her legs. “And you’re wet too.”
I tossed her on the couch and licked my fingers as I stared determinedly at her.
“Let’s set a date, Mia.”
“Do you want to fuck me or marry me?” She giggled nervously. “Because I’m confused.”
“Both. One I want to do repeatedly and the other I only want to do once.”
Yeah, I’m that guy. Quiet and introverted when I’m sober and full of all kinds of shit to say when I’m drunk.
“I’ll tell you what. You think about it while I’m inside of you.”
“Oh my God, are you sure you only had a few beers?”
“But Mork and Mindy?” She pointed to the aquarium as she obediently lifted her top off.
“I’m pretty sure we won’t scar the fish for life if we fuck in front of them.”
I stroked myself as I waited patiently for Mia to take off those damn sweatpants that were in my fucking way. I might have lost that ball game, but I knew I’d come home to the only prize that mattered.
“Now touch yourself.”
Mia slid her hand inside of her panties and I could see that her clit was already wet and highly sensitive by the way her eyelids fluttered as she stroked the nub.
“Are you ready for me, baby?” I asked her.
She tossed her bra over the edge of the couch, slid her panties down to her ankles, and kicked them off with a flick of her foot.
“Now I’m ready.”
I growled with fierce desire as I dropped to my knees, placed my hands gently on her knees, and spread them wide open for me. I feasted hungrily on her pussy for a few moments and brought her to quick orgasm.
She was panting when I asked the question I’ve been wanting the answer to for weeks.
“Did you pick a date yet?”
“Holy crap, my brain is a jumbled mess from what you just did. Can you give me a second?”
“No, I’ve given you weeks.”
Without warning, I lift her up by the hips and enter her swiftly. Her eyes practically roll to the back of her head as she clenches one of the couch cushions from the delicious intrusion.
“Damn, it feels good?”
“Yes, Rush, it definitely does.”
“I know it does, baby.”
I worked myself in and out of Bird’s pussy to the rhythm of her moans and the beat of a song I didn’t recognize by the same band.
Drinking makes me horny but does little for my stamina, so my orgasm came fast like a runaway train, but I made sure to take her with me one more time.
“Aaaah!” She screamed in a high-pitched tone as I slumped on top of her on the couch, out of breath.
We were both sweaty and satiated when I asked her again.
“Did that help clear your head?”
“I thought we were going to get married after I got my surgery.”
“How about you pick the date of the surgery and we’ll plan our way from there.”
She pushed me off of her and to the side of the couch because I’m so heavy, and maybe so she could think clearer.
“Well, I’ll need a few months max for recovery and physical therapy.”
“And it needs to be during an off season because I don’t want to miss much work.”
“We’ve already discussed that, Bird. I got it. Off season. But you were at the game today. We lost. So technically the Nighthawk off-season starts tomorrow.”
“You want me to get the surgery this year? I don’t even have a surgeon on deck yet.”
“Who do you think you’re dealing with? I’ve got that all taken care of. I booked you a consultation with the best surgeon in the Tri-State area. A man named Dr. White out of Penn State Hospital.”
“I wanted to find the surgeon myself.”
“You’re taking too long, Bird, and I found someone who meets all of your criteria. Trust me.”
She stares pensively for a moment. “All right, then. We get married six months after the surgery.”
I wrap one of my hands around her breasts and reverently kiss her puckered dark nipple.
“You still drunk?” She smiles down at me.
“Not even a little bit.”
“You ready to go another appreciation round?”
“If you change this music.”
“Done. Michael, play Sexy MF by Prince.”
Playing Sexy MF by Prince.
And we went two more rounds before I settled in front of the television with a bowl of pasta and my fiancee on my lap.
Not a condom in sight.
Yeah, I remember it well. We definitely made a baby that night.
Rush and I have never been predictable. Our friendship was unique, our romance unexpected, and so it makes perfect sense that we’re doing things our own way.
The original plan was for me to have my knee surgery first and get married later, but guess what? I don’t want to wait to marry my best friend.
The first reason is because there is nothing that would make me happier than being hitched as soon as possible to the man that I adore; and second, because I don’t want to walk down the aisle with our newborn baby in my arms.
I know it might be old-fashioned thinking in these modern times, but since we have the financial resources and the time, why not plan a good old-fashioned shotgun wedding and bring my baby into the world a legal Bacchetti?
So that’s what we’re doing.
Just me, Rush, a random witness, and an officiant on the beach in Miami.
The surgery can wait.
“How are you feeling?”
I’m twelve weeks pregnant, not too far along at all, so I still look amazing (if I say so myself) in my champagne colored, vintage Halston gown. I was able to find a bridal shop that specialized in vintage wedding dresses and found this simple and sleek halter dress tucked away in a corner of the shop. The woman who owned the place even wrapped my cane in some vintage silk to go with the dress. I feel like a princess.
“Perfect,” I assure him. The baby is cooperating today, and I’m not as nauseous as I’d been a week earlier.
“You look ridiculously perfect, Bird.”
“And so do you.”
Rush looks absolutely drop dead gorgeous in his custom tailored Tom Ford black on black tux. Sometimes I wonder how I hadn’t jumped his bones before now. He truly is a beautiful man.
“Do you like it?” He asks, pointing to the left.
Rush hired a company to build us a small bonfire on the private part of the beach that’s our little oasis for the week. As the fire licks and the sun sets, I know that there couldn’t possibly be a more romantic or perfect backdrop for a wedding between us than here.
“You thought of everything. You’re spoiling me.”
“Cause I deserve it?”
“Absolutely.” He laughs.
Our random witness is a woman we met on our flight to Miami named Rose. She was visiting her daughter at Miami U of all places, and so we knew it had to be kismet.
“If you give me your cell, I’ll snap a couple of pictures,” she offers.
The officiant reads the common passages you hear when presiding over a wedding ceremony as Rush and I hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes.
“Do you, Mia Taylor, take Rush Bacchetti to be your lawful, wedded husband?”
“Do you, Rush Bacchetti, take Mia Taylor to be your lawful wedded wife?”
“Will there be an exchange of rings?”
Rush slides a tasteful and flawless emerald cut diamond and platinum ring on my finger.
“With this ring, I wed you and pledge you my love now and forever,” he says.
Then I slide on the simple platinum band that I picked out for him.
“With this ring, I wed you and pledge you my love now and forever.”
“Then with the power invested in me by the state of Florida, I pronounce you man and wife.”
I raise my arms high and around Rush’s neck as he pulls me closer by the waist. We kiss languidly and long until the officiant clears his throat and we finally break away from each other.
“I love you, Mrs. Bacchetti.”
“I love you more.”
After the officiant leaves, Rose snaps a couple more pictures of us making goofy poses by the fire, holding up our rings, him kissing my belly, and finally one more of us kissing by the water.
“I hope the two of you will be very happy,” Rose tells us.
“Thank you, Rose. It’s so sweet of you to take time out of your trip to do this for us.” I thank her. “Your daughter is going to love Miami U. It’s where I met my best friend.”
I grab Rush’s hand and kiss his knuckles.
“And where I fell in love with mine,” he says.
“Were you always in love with me, Rush?” I ask, half teasing and half serious.
We don’t even notice when Rose slips away.
“Yeah, but I was waiting for you to make a move. It took you a long ass time.”
“I think you’re losing your memory, football god. It was you who made the first move.”
“You’re getting baby brain already.”
A man who seems to work for the beach property, approaches Rush and asks him if we’re ready to continue with the night. Rush agrees and we have a seat on some of the wicker chaises by the fire.
“More surprises?” I ask. “We should get married more often.”
“Quiet before I spank you.”
Two men and one woman dressed in casual white outfits and carrying acoustic guitars set up next to us near the fire.
“Are you wooing me with music?”
“Something like that.”
Rush stands and holds out his hand for me to grab.
“May I have this dance?”
When I take it, he pulls me to my feet and pulls me tight into his body.
Then the guitarists play the intro for Hopelessly Devoted by Olivia Newton John and the woman whose voice sounds like ribbons of silk starts the first verse.
“This is some romantic shit you just pulled off, husband. I’m impressed,” I say, as we both slow dance to the serenade. My head resting in the middle of his chest.
He uses a finger to lift my chin to meet his eyes.
“Finally, a nickname I approve of… husband.”