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One Timer(An Nashville Assassins Novel)

By:Toni Aleo

One Timer



An Nashville Assassins Novel





Toni Aleo


Janet Leigh Moore

2/1/83 – 9/15/2019





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She’s Gonna Be the Death of Me, Jakob!





Jakob


I feel all children should just accept their parents are always right.

We’ve been there. We made the bad decisions. We slept with people we shouldn’t have. We drank until we were drunker than a skunk. We jumped out of cars and fought with exes outside Taco Bell. We worked hard and then hardly worked, which resulted in ramen for a week. We were broke, we struggled, and then we realized that our parents were always right. I know this, I learned it the hard way, and I ignored all my parents’ wishes. They didn’t want me to chase my dreams of the National Hockey League. They wanted me to work for the family, and while I ignored them and it worked out great for me, I know that will not be the case for my baby.

So, if she could just realize it before she ruins her life, that would be great.

Instead, I sit in the middle of the living room as my daughter screams at my wife. Journey, my son, who is mighty smart, sits beside me with his headphones on as he kills zombies on the Xbox. I wish I could join, but my wife would probably cut me in half. But neither of the women in my family is listening to me.

“Mom! You don’t understand! I love him. Like, with my whole soul! And he loves me the same!”

Of course he does. Our daughter, Allison, is the perfect combination of her mother and me. She’s built like Harper, tall and slim. She’s got muscles from years of volleyball and my dark green eyes that, in the right light, sparkle from the flecks of gold. Her hair is a light brown that falls down her back like a mane. Harper always keeps her own hair shorter and her eyes are blue, but when they stand beside each other, they look like twins. Problem is, my daughter has her mother’s mouth, which is why it’s never quiet around here. They’ve been going at it since Allison was twelve, and sometimes, I wish she were more like me. Let the water roll off her back. But for some reason, she is always geared up to fight. Or maybe that’s Harper; she brings it out in our girl. For me, Harper brings all the good feelings out of me.

Even after all these years, my wife still knocks me on my ass with her beauty. She keeps me on my toes, keeps me laughing, and she’s one hell of a mother. Journey is easy; he plays video games when he’s not on the ice. But when he’s on it, she’s in the stands screaming his name. She is the best at homework, which is fantastic since I struggle with the English written word. Even after living in the States most of my adult life, I still struggle. Harper doesn’t care. She does it all. There isn’t a game of Allison’s she’s missed. She has been team mom for the last five years. How she is team mom for the college team is beyond me, but I’m so proud. Allison needs her mom.

They may fight, but they love each other more than anything. Which is why this fight is killing me. I want to blame the guy—Taco. Yes, this dumbass goes by the name of Taco, sometimes Doritos Locos Taco if he’s feeling spicy. Insert the eye roll. And truth be told, I hate him. I let my hatred for him slide most of the time because of how much Allison loves him. First-time adult love is rough. I remember mine; I married her. So, yeah. I get it. The guy has no choice but to notice my princess. She’s her mom made over, but he doesn’t get to take her away from everything and ruin her life.

I know I sound dramatic, but Allison is on a full ride to Bellevue. Not just for volleyball but for academics too. She’s not only talented on the court, but she’s a damn genius! Again, taking from both of us. My athletics and her momma’s smarts. She took a year off after high school to play volleyball in Brazil. She already had the scholarship lined up, but she wanted to improve her skills even more before she started on their team.

While I understand she’s gotta make decisions on her own, fall on her face and all that jazz, can’t she do that when she’s done with school? She’s worked so damn hard. Which is what Harper is trying to tell her.

“Ally, I get it. Baby, I do. I promise I do. But you have a full ride, sweetheart. A full ride. You can’t give that up to run off to Texas. What the hell is in Texas? Will you go to school? Will you play? I mean, you’re the team’s setter. They need you!”

“Princess, Mom is right. It’s not only yourself you’ll be hurting—it’ll be your team.”

“But I love him!” she screams, and then the tears start. “He’s leaving for work, and he won’t do long-distance. I can’t lose him.”

“Why?” I ask, and apparently, that is the wrong question.

“Daddy! I love him,” she says, her eyes wide and flooded with tears. I hate when she cries. “He is my best friend, my other half.”

Was I this dumb? I might have been. Harper tried to get rid of me over and over again, but I wasn’t going anywhere.

“But Ally, darling, if it is the same for him, why can’t he do long-distance? No man should ask you to give it all up for him. Daddy never asked that of me.”

I nod, though neither of them is looking at me. I have been prone to injuries my whole career—and each time, Harper was there. I wouldn’t let her miss work or anything with the kids for my sake. Somehow, she made it work. I think when I retired, Harper was sadder than me. She loved watching me play, watching me live my dreams. But what she didn’t realize was she is my dreams. She stood beside me on the ice with our children as we watched my jersey rise to the rafters. It hangs with my buddies’ up there—Shea Adler, Alex Welch, and Lucas Brooks. It’s pretty damn awesome, especially since I’m on the special teams coaching staff for the Nashville Assassins as their lead coach. Elli Adler may have had to let me retire, but she wouldn’t let me coach anywhere but for her. We won the Cup last season, and we want it again this year. Things are going well. The start of the season has been somewhat successful. Our power play is junk, but we’ll get there. If Allison leaves, I’m worried my focus will be shaken.

I can’t lose my baby yet. Not to some dude named Taco. What will they name their kids? Chalupa and Burrito? Fuck no. Don’t get me wrong—the guy is nice, but he isn’t what she needs. It was fine as some fleeting romance. She met him at a party on campus. He doesn’t go to Bellevue—or anywhere, for that matter.

Higher education is a waste of time and money, bro. It’s The Man. He’s making us do it all. We’re wasting our lives for money when we need the experience!

His words, not mine. I’m all for the experiences and I live my life to the fullest, but how am I supposed to do anything if I don’t have money? I grew up dirt poor. I mean, really poor. The only experience I had growing up was watching my neighbor snort coke off one of his whore’s ass cheeks. Now, I am experiencing watching my kids live their dreams, while loving the best woman I know. I need money for that. Maybe it is The Man, but I don’t care. I work for what I want, and that kid—he doesn’t work. The reason he is moving to Texas is because his grandma is giving him a house and a car if he comes to live with her. So, he wants my daughter, who is doing fantastic here, the starting setter for the Bellevue Bullies and with three years of a 4.0, to give all that up to follow him. When she has half a year left?

You know what? I hate the guy even more.

“You’re not thinking clearly. What will you do when you get there?”

Allison looks away, a tell that she has no damn clue. “I don’t know. We haven’t gotten that far. We’ll live with his grandma, and I’ll find work.”

“Find work…” my wife says slowly, her eyes burning with anger. “Your work is getting a damn education so you can make a life for yourself.”

“But Mom, I don’t want to work to make a living. I want to live.”

For the love of God. I let my head fall. “Allison, my love, you can do both. Your life is what you make it. I had nothing. Now I have everything because I worked for it.”

She throws her arms in the air. “But my life will be shit without him.”

Journey snorts beside me. “Yeah, because your life is so great with him. You spend more time making sure he isn’t cheating on you than you do enjoying him.”

Harper gasps. I look at the side of my amazing boy’s face, and I nod. The kid doesn’t say much and I may have forgotten he was in the room, but damn if he didn’t just drop a bomb.

“He cheated? On you? He’s lucky you’re even allowing him to breathe your air!”

Allison rolls her eyes. And yeah, Harper may have been a bit dramatic there. “God, shut up, Jour! You don’t even know him.”

“Because he’s an asshole,” he says.

“Journey! Your mouth!”

He shrugs. “I’m just saying what everyone is thinking.”

He sure is, but Allison doesn’t like that. She throws her hands up and yells, “No one is thinking that! He is wonderful!”

Before Journey can say more, I press my hand to his knee. “Allison, it has nothing to do with him and everything to do with you. We want the best for you. This is not the best. I mean, look at Shea’s niece. She threw away everything—”

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