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Rhythm and the Blue Line Ch 27

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It was almost two weeks later before Ryan could find a night clear of hockey and basketball games, not to mention a time where she had no rehearsal scheduled. As they rode out to Chantilly in his car, and the weather was gray and damp, typical of early February. Brody glanced over at Ryan as she stared out the window and fidgeted, tapping her foot on the floor. “You’re not one of those people that steps on imaginary brakes, are you?” he asked. “What?” She looked over at him, confused. He smiled and shook his head. “I was just trying to see if you were nervous about my driving.” “Oh, no. Sorry.” She fiddled with the fringe on her purple scarf. “Just nervous.” “I’ll be on my best behavior, I promise.” “No, that’s not it. I’ve told you that before.” “It’ll be fine.” Brody couldn’t understand why she was so nervous about this. He could accept some general anxiety, but Ryan had been antsy about this for days. “Yeah, fine. It’ll be fine. Just don’t say anything about the band, and it’ll be fine.” “Ryan, come on. I get that you’re not doing what they expected, but they’ll come around.” She gave a short laugh. “Yeah, right. I just haven’t been patient enough for the past four or five years.” “Well, you know, in my family, when Eileen said she wanted to go in the Peace Corps, that didn’t exactly go down easy for some of us.” “Brody, you don’t get it.” Ryan huffed in frustration and threw her head back against the seat. “My parents are not like yours. They aren’t waiting for me to finish going through a phase. They think I’m being stupid, and that I’m wasting my time and my education, not that they thought much of that, either.” “Okay, I’m sorry.” He reached over and patted her leg. “Let’s forget about it. I didn’t mean to upset you.” “I’m sorry.” She took a deep breath. “Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying I was neglected or abused or anything like that. Not at all. My parents are decent bursa escort people. But at the risk of sounding like a melodramatic teenager, they don’t understand me. They never did. If it isn’t sports, Dad’s not interested. Mom’s happy to be the fifties-era housewife and just goes along with him.” Brody nodded and dropped the subject. They pulled up in the driveway and Ryan stared at the house for a minute before undoing her seatbelt. Brody came around to open her door and she smiled at him. “Ready?” he asked. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” she murmured. At his puzzled look, she explained. “Shakespeare, Henry V, Act Three. I was an English major. See, it comes in handy.” He chuckled and took her hand as he led her up to the house. x-x-x-x Brody sensed Ryan’s tension all through dinner. She seemed to be waiting for something bad to happen, but he couldn’t figure out what. Her mom was sweet, and insisted he call her Judy. Her father, Jim, was a big man, and it was easy to see the football player he’d been. Judy made spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread, and after dinner, they moved into the living room before having dessert. Judy brought out coffee for everyone and Brody thanked her as he took his and added some cream. “So, I hear you’ve met Evan,” Judy said as she sipped at her coffee. “Yes, I did. He’s a tall guy,” Brody said, drawing smiles from Ryan’s parents. “If he’s half as good at basketball as Ryan is at her music, he must be something to watch.” He felt compelled to say something complimentary about Ryan. The conversation over dinner had centered around her brothers, and he noticed that her parents hadn’t said much to their daughter since they’d arrived. Nor had she said much to them; it was weird. When he’d brought Ryan to meet his family, chaotic as it had been over the holidays, everyone had talked, sometimes at each other, bursa escort bayan sometimes over. No one had been ignored. “Evan’s the best guard to come out of his high school in twenty years.” Jim thumped his hand on the table for emphasis. “The only problem is the NBA making him stay in school. He could be playing in the pros right now.” “Oh, sweetie, you know he’ll be fine.” Judy patted her husband’s hand. “College can help,” said Brody. “I mean, I wouldn’t trade my years at college for anything, really. It was a great time to make friends and learn from the coaches in a much less stressful environment.” He didn’t know what else he might say to bring Ryan into the conversation. “But you got drafted, right? Before you graduated?” Jim prompted. “Um, yes, I did. But I would have finished it out if I hadn’t been drafted that year, and tried again the next.” Brody felt a little uncomfortable with the questions, but saw no reason not to be honest. “There, see.” Jim gestured towards his wife. “Getting degrees is overrated.” “Now, Jim, you know some kids wait until after college to go pro,” Judy admonished. “It doesn’t hurt.” “I’d have to agree,” Brody said. “College can be a big help. I know a lot of guys who got their degrees. One of my teammates was a history major.” Jim grunted into his coffee and silence fell over the group. It didn’t last long before Judy spoke up. “So, Brody, how did you come to play hockey?” “Good question,” said Jim. “I would have thought you’d have gone for football at Michigan State. They’re a big draw up there.” “They are, indeed. My younger brother went to Michigan State.” Brody was at a loss; he’d never wanted to play football, even when he was little. Once he’d had a hockey stick in his hand, other sports held no appeal. Jim obviously thought football was the only sport that mattered. “I guess football just wasn’t my thing. I escort bursa played some baseball growing up, but hockey was what called to me.” Jim nodded but said nothing. Brody sensed Ryan tense more, and he wasn’t even touching her. He tried to change the conversation and looked at Jim. “Ryan tells me you went to University of Maryland.” “I did.” Jim nodded. “Had me a football scholarship. I played left tackle, and I was damn good. They put me in as a starter while I was still a freshman, and I was going to the NFL, everyone said so. I came this close.” Jim held up a hand with his thumb and index fingers almost touching. “I had three teams interested in me. Then a play went bad, a guy fell on top of me and busted my knee.” “Sorry to hear that.” Jim shrugged. “It happens. I got over it. Had to leave school since I lost my scholarship, but I got a job in construction, worked my way up to site foreman. Good, honest work. You don’t need a piece of paper if you’re willing to work hard. “Now, JT—our oldest boy—he’s even better than I was. He set the school record for tackles last season and he’s entering the draft this year. If he doesn’t go in the first round, I’ll eat my hat.” “You don’t wear hats, dear,” Judy said. Her smile and glance at Brody told him they’d had the exchange many times before. “Figure of speech, hon.” They chatted for a bit more, with Jim recounting the various successes JT and Evan had had with their athletics. Nothing about Ryan, Brody couldn’t help but notice. When it was going on eight o’clock, Judy said, “I know, Jim, why don’t you show Brody the kids’ trophies? Ryan, could you give me a hand with dishes, dear?” Brody gave Ryan a quick smile before getting up to follow her father out of the room. x-x-x-x “Well, Ryan, he seems very nice.” Judy nodded in satisfaction as she rinsed the plates and handed them to Ryan to load in the dishwasher. “Thanks, Mom. I think so, too.” “Now how long have you two been dating?” Ryan counted to ten to calm herself down; she’d been on edge all night but her mom wasn’t asking anything unreasonable. Yet. “I met him in October, I think, but we didn’t start dating until just before Thanksgiving.

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