I walked into the gym, sitting on the bleachers next to Julie Taylor and Tyra Collette. Tyra was lounging across two bleachers and Julie leaned forward to stare at the girls who wanted to be a part of the powderpuff team. The cheerleaders and rally girls were gathered in the middle of the gym talking about several things at once. I wasn't near them and I was getting a headache.

"I can't believe we have to do this," Tyra groaned. "It's a useless game anyway."

"I hate to say it, but skipping school does have its consequences." I leaned back against the bleacher bench behind me, matching Tyra's pose. "It sucks y'all have to join powderpuff though."

Julie sighed. "My mom is so annoying."

My eyes drifted over to the gym doors when they clicked open. Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins walked in with their eyes scanning over everyone there. Julie muttered something about Matt and gave him the fiercest glare I'd seen on her sweet face. Tim met my gaze and smirked as he walked by. Tyra raised an eyebrow at me and I shook my head.

"What are you doin' here anyway, Cat?" Tyra asked.

"There's nothin' else going on, so I figured I'd come by and watch. I thought I would cheer you two on because I like y'all."

Our conversation was cut short when the powderpuff coach stood in front of the ladies eager to play and announced the team coaches. It was no surprise that Matt and Tim were the coaches. They stood up from their seats and stood next to the coach. The girls had shy smiles and eyed both men hungrily. I rolled my eyes.

"Pick your teams, boys. Matt, you first," the coach said.

Matt looked back at the three of us. "Tyra."

Julie was on the verge of killing Matt, shooting daggers from her eyes as Tyra joined him. Matt had a death wish. I felt bad for Julie, but I did hide a smile behind my hand.

"Barton."

My eyes shot over to Tim. He stared at me expectantly while the girls behind him started whispering to each other. His lips turned up.

I shook my head. "I'm not here to play, Riggins."

"Too bad you're on my team. I'm sure you don't have anything better to do."

Julie looked at me curiously. Her and Tyra knew nothing about me helping Tim out a few weeks before. It wasn't because I didn't want them to know. I just didn't have the time to tell them nor thought it was important enough to bring up.

I frowned at Julie but stood up. The whispering was bad, but the silence was worse. Tim wasn't bothered by it.

"I shouldn't even be here," I whispered when I stood next to him.

Matt called out his next player – which still wasn't Julie – and Tim chuckled. "No, you shouldn't be." He called out the next name. "Too bad I don't care."


Training sucked. I didn't mind running or being active because I did that normally. Being yelled at by a Riggins made training unbearable. The first few times he ordered us around, I was a little intimidated. Once he started having fun with it, I wanted to ditch.

During one of our many endurance runs, I was easily passing my teammates. Some were really struggling comparatively. I smiled at Lyla Garrity when I passed her and she smiled back. I expected her to keep her to do well since we sometimes saw each other on our runs.

"This isn't a competition," Tim said as I went by him.

"You made me join this team, so let me run at my pace, Riggins." I could see him grinning from across our side of the football field.

"Get your ass over here, Barton."

Some of the girls hooted and hollered. I wanted to die.

I tilted my head back and let my shoulders fall, jogging over to Tim. "What?"

"Give me 20 push-ups."

"This isn't military training, Tim." I crossed my arms, leaning on one leg.

Tim loomed over me, his face getting close. "You're gonna do what I ask because I'm your coach. You wouldn't want me to talk about your house, right?"

"You're a jackass." I went to the ground and easily did the 20 he wanted, my glare on his face the entire time. As soon as I finished, I went back to running and purposely bumped into his shoulder as I did. "I'm going to put you through Hell."

"Not if I beat you to it, sweetheart."

I flipped him off as I ran away, ignoring his threat for another set of push-ups.

Lyla caught up to me while I fumed over the youngest Riggins. "Are you and Tim together."

"No. Definitely not." I shot another glare at him. "I don't fall so easily for that Riggins charm. No offense."

She looked at her feet for a second. "Why'd he pick you for the team if you didn't sign up?"

"I don't know. He wants to make my life harder, I guess."

"Be careful, okay?"

I smiled at her. "I know his reputation, but I appreciate the warning. I really do."

We were called over to start practicing some plays and I hung toward the back of the group. The attention from Tim was more than I wanted and the curious eyes of the team weren't making it better. Thankfully, he settled down once we got into the meat of training. I was thankful for it. But it didn't stop Tyra and Julie from asking questions as we walked to Tyra's truck.

"What's the deal with you and Tim?" Tyra asked. "I haven't seen him give a girl that much attention since Lyla Garrity."

I collapsed on the ground and started kicking my feet all while cursing Tim Riggins. My friends took a few steps back. They peered down at me when I stopped.

"Some of the football players trashed his truck a little while ago. I came along and scared them off. Tim walked me home because he insisted. He got a tour of my house because I was bored. I told him not to tell anyone because I don't want to get bullied for being the rich kid takin' on a charity case – which I don't see Riggins as one –, so now he's using it to pester the crap outta me. I want to kick his ass, but that'll cause more problems." My chest heaved.

"Tim saw the inside of your house?" Julie pouted. "I haven't even seen it."

"He just walked right in when I called Billy to pick him up. I didn't invite him inside."

"You left your door open." Tim's head appeared next to Tyra's.

I pointed at him. "I told you to stay outside."

Tyra rolled her eyes. "And you expected him to listen?"

"Why are you lyin' in the middle of the parking lot?" Tim didn't acknowledge Tyra's comment.

"Because you put way too much attention on me durin' practice and everyone suddenly things we're somethin'. We hardly know each other!"

"Doesn't stop most girls," Tyra muttered. Julie giggled.

I kicked my feet again. "It would me! You're puttin' a big fat spotlight on me, Riggins, and I'm this close to ending your football career by killin' you."

He held his hand out, offering to help me up with a growing smile. "You gonna take me out with a baseball bat?"

I was on my feet, bypassing his hand. I pushed him against the nearest vehicle and nearly poked his eye out when I pointed at him again. "A bat would only be the start. If you're not careful, you're gonna find that precious football of yours so far up your ass you'll be tasting pigskin." I pushed him once and walked away.

"See ya at practice tomorrow, Barton."

"Go suck on a jock strap, Riggins."


The following practices were no easier for me when it came to attention. Tim was adamant to have the whole team question our relationship. I was so sick of it I quit speaking to him, only nodded at his orders. His cheeky smile was gone once he realized I was done reacting to him. He eased up a little by the time of our game.

I was chosen to run the ball, so I got it a lot during the game. Sadly, Lyla was the only good player, so we were struggling to keep ahead of Matt's team. As soon as I saw Julie say something to him and a grin showed up on his face, I knew the game was over. Julie had the advantage of Coach Taylor as her dad. It was no surprise when she scored the winning touchdown.

Getting out of there was a priority as soon as we were okayed to leave. I gave Lyla a short wave and booked it to the locker rooms where I left the jersey I borrowed for the game. I walked out just as everyone walked in.

I didn't catch a ride with Tyra or Julie's family. I wanted to walk to get my irritation out and I'd get farther on my own two feet than waiting for a ride. I needed to get away.

When I walked in front of the Riggins' home, Billy greeted me from the front yard and asked about the game.

"We lost, so your brother will be a brat when he gets home."

"Seems like he's been one all week. What'd he do?"

I started counting on my fingers. "He made me join the team, he singled me out during practices, he has all the girls asking about us, and he doesn't give a rat's ass about it."

Billy chuckled. "I hate to break it to ya, Cat, but I think my little brother has a crush."

"No. No. He can't. Absolutely not. I won't let him."

"Can't stop it if it's already there."

"Why did I even say hello to you?" I wave my arms in the air in defeat before continuing home.

"Later, Cat!"

I didn't reply.

I crested the hill just behind their house when I heard Tim's truck pull into the drive. My legs pushed me into a sprint that I kept up until I was safely locked inside my house.