Jock Road Page 2

The on-campus cafeteria for regular students will have to do.

I turn my nose up at the thought, dreading the flat hamburger patties and stale lettuce I’ll surely find when I get there. Chicken sounds appealing; so do a few fatty hot dogs.

I quicken my pace, not sure where this fucking joint is located; I haven’t eaten there since…well, freshman year, and that one time was a mistake. The eats here are utter shit.

The perks of being a jock at a school this size are considerable. Special facilities. Massage therapist at my beck and call. Hot tubs in the training room. Free clothes through sponsorships.

I walk taller, a head above most everyone I pass. They scurry by, giving me the side-eye, some backward glances I ignore. Whispers. I don’t miss the elbow jabs.

Arrogantly, I know many of them recognize me. Guys especially.

My nose leads me to the food, the room full, lines long.


I don’t have time to stand in line—I have to be in the weight room in forty minutes, and it will take me that long to grab what I want.

I’m a big boy; this won’t be a light meal. It’ll be enough food to feed a family. Not having eaten since late last night, I desperately swipe a bag of potato chips on my walk to the grill, I tear it open with my teeth like a barbarian and stuff a handful in my face. Chew loudly, crumbs falling down the front of my Iowa t-shirt.

Iowa. How the fuck I ended up here is beyond me.

I was all set to attend school in my home state of Texas until, at the last minute, the scholarship money wasn’t there anymore. I had a spot on the team but not enough money to cover tuition, and my family ain’t rollin’ in dough.

Enter Iowa.

More money. More allowance for living expenses. More stability.

No way did I have the spare change to afford A&M on my own; I’m a great player, but not full-ride great.

And goddamn am I hungry.

I wad the chip bag in my fist, leaving it in my hand so I remember to pay for it. There’s a line at the griddle, but I doubt anyone will object if I cut it and skip to the front.

No one complains out loud, but a few resting bitch faces judge me.

I slide in after a girl with long, blonde hair. She’s bouncing on the heels of her—I glance down—brown boots, a baby blue backpack hooked over her right shoulder. Impatient, she continues to check the watch on her wrist every few seconds, as if the action is going to speed up the process of cooking meat.

I eyeball the grill, debating about what I want. One chicken breast, lean. Two hamburger patties, fatty. Three hot dogs.

Chicken it is.

The girl checks her watch again, and I stare at the back of her head, down at the crown, into her shiny hair. It’s long and a bit wavy, and I haven’t touched a girl’s hair in so fucking long, I’m tempted to rub a few strands between my fingers for old times’ sake.

Weird, right?

She doesn’t so much as cock her head to the side, so I have no idea what she looks like. I just know she has a few vulgar pins on her bag and a touchable blonde mop.

The chicken is flipped once more by the bored student running the cooktop, his sweaty and acne-covered face only accentuated by the thin black net covering his hair.

He uses the same spatula to turn the remaining meats, which I’m sure might be some health code violation—cross-contamination or some shit? Yes? No? Well, it should be—I don’t want hot dog jizz on my chicken.

I groan out loud when the kid presses the spatula onto the chicken breast, squeezing out all the juice. Jesus Christ, rule number one of grilling—don’t fucking dry out the meat by choking it to death.

Next, he slaps several buns onto the grill. When one is ready, he palms it, slapping the chicken into the center. Closes it, wraps it in foil. Extends his arm, holds it over the counter and into my waiting grasp.

I snatch it, immediately unwrap it, and shove the first warm bite into my mouth.

Holy shit, it’s pretty damn good.

“Hey! What the hell—that was mine!”

I look down at the girl in front of me, who has spun on her heel to give me the dirtiest look anyone has ever given me. She is as mad as a hornet.

I turn to walk away. “You snooze, you lose.”

“I was literally standing here waiting patiently for that thing!”

“How’s that workin’ for you?”


“Bein’ patient.” I take another bite of my sandwich, moaning with pleasure because it’s so delightful and just what I needed. “How’s that workin’ for ya? Seems to me that maybe if you were more assertive, you’d be standin’ here eatin’ this sammich and not me.”

One more bite goes down my gullet as she stands there sputtering.

“Grab me a burger when he’s done with ’em, would ya?” This sandwich isn’t exactly going to fill me up, and my next meal won’t come for a few hours.

“Get your own sandwich, asshole.”

“Whoa, no need for name-callin’, darlin’—I’m just tryin’ to be polite.”

“Polite? You are so rude! You stole my lunch!”

“Was it yours though?” I narrow my eyes. “You didn’t pay for it.”

“Neither did you—and you didn’t order it, either.”

Gripping the chicken and bun in my giant palm, I hold it toward her. “Want a bite? It’s good.”

“Oh my god, shut up.” She spins on her heel, facing the kid behind the counter grilling the meat. He and I lock eyes, but he quickly averts his gaze, loading a hamburger patty onto the bun.

“You want cheese?” he asks the girl.

“No! And I don’t want a burger. I wanted chicken, but you gave it to this Neanderthal!”

The kid opens his mouth; no sound comes out. Good—I don’t need another opinion thrown into this conversation.

“I’ll take that burger,” I tell him over the girl’s head.

She whips around. “That burger is for the girl behind you.” She glances around me, shooting a pointed look at the mousey little co-ed standing directly behind me. “Do not let him take that hamburger.”

I shoot the girl a smile. “I’m totally taking this burger.”

She returns my smile with a feeble one of her own, her mouth contorting into…I’m not sure what the fuck her look is supposed to mean.

Little Miss Priss will not be deterred from her mission: keeping me from eating my damn lunch.

“Oh no you will not!”

“You’re cute.”

Her arms cross. “Don’t you dare insult me.”

Calling her cute is an insult? This is news to me. “Since when is it an insult to call someone cute?”

“It’s an insult when the person complimenting you is an asshole.”

“Darlin’, you’ve just got your dander up. This ain’t got nothin’ to do with me.”

Her pretty face is smug. “Ain’t got nothin’ to do with me? Oh my god, where were you raised?”

“Texas.” Don’t fucking mess with it.

She rolls her eyes.

They’re bright blue.

“I’ve been to Texas—no one there talks like that.”

I’m close to polishing off this entire chicken breast. “Talks like what?”

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