Welcome! We're doing something different this week -- a Christmas story. I have written a brand new, complete short story, which will be posted in four parts, one on each day. The first part is here today. I hope you will return for the next three days to read the rest of the story. Tuffer Demson is a supporting character in my football romance series. This isn't a romance, it's fiction.
TUFFER'S CHRISTMAS WISH
It all started when Tuffer Demson, defensive linebacker for the Connecticut Kings, met his biological mother on Christmas Eve. They broke bread once a year, during the holidays. Tuffer met her at the diner at ten for breakfast. He called her by her given name, since he didn’t remember her ever being his mom. He had someone else he had called that for the past twenty-three years, and he liked it that way.
“Hi, Shayna,” he said, easing his six-foot-three-inch, linebacker body into the booth.
“Hi, yourself,” the blonde said. She eyed him up and down. “You’re looking good. Kings must be agreeing with you.”
“Yep.” These meetings were at her insistence. He could’ve cared less if he never saw her again. But his folks had taught him respect. Besides, it was only once a year.
“What’ll ya have?” the server asked.
Shayna always ordered a huge amount of food—the most expensive dishes too. A side of bacon and sausage with eggs Benedict. A large, fresh-squeezed orange juice. Maybe a sweet bun. She knew Tuffer’d pick up the check, and he always did. She didn’t make much as a waitress, and no one gets residuals on porno flicks, so he understood her need for a splurge—even if it was at her son’s expense.
In the beginning, he’d met with her hoping to find out who his father was. But Shayna had vowed never to reveal the man’s name.
“Think you’re going to the Super Bowl?” She added cream to her coffee.
“We’ve got a good shot.”
“You get a nice, fat bonus for winning, don’t you?”
He nodded and sipped his juice.
“A hundred grand?”
“Not quite that much.”
“Buy yourself a fancy car with that kind of money.”
“Sometimes, it’s hard to believe you’re my kid,” she said with a chuckle, shaking her head.
“My real mother and father don’t give a shit about stuff.”
Her eyes widened as if she’d been hit. “Got that right. They’re better ’an me. I know. That’s why I left you with them. I knew it’d be better for you.”
“Dumped me with them, you mean.”
“We’ve been over this a hundred times. Do we have to go over it again?”
The server brought their food. There was hardly enough room on the table for all that Shayna had ordered.
“Just be honest. You dumped me because it was good for you, not for me, ” said Tuffer.
“I coulda left you at the police station. I picked a nice couple. Ran a preschool. Good with kids. You liked them. They liked you. Seemed like a good bet.”
“Good bet for who?”
“I was twenty. I wasn’t ready to be a mom.”
“And Bev Demson was?”
“Yeah. She told me about the car accident. That she couldn’t have kids. She was jealous I had you.”
“Mom has never been jealous of anyone a day in her life.”
“Yeah? Well, she was jealous of me. She wanted you.” Shayna cut a piece of the Benedict with her fork and put it in her mouth.
Tuffer pushed around the scrambled eggs on his plate. He hated going over this again, but he refused to let her weasel out of the truth.
“They used the lawsuit money to start the school. But she wanted one of her own. And you were it. It was perfect.”
“Perfect for everyone except me.”
“Haven’t you been happy? Bev and Ralph are great parents. A shitload better than I could’ve been.” She picked up a piece of bacon.
He couldn’t deny her words. If he couldn’t have his biological parents, Bev and Ralph Demson were the next best thing. They’d given him everything, made sacrifices, never complained, and treated him like a prince.
“What about my father? Why didn’t he take me?”
“I told you. We’re not talking about him.”
Tuffer banged his fist on the table. The dishes jumped, and the coffee sloshed over the sides of the mugs. Fear flashed across Shayna’s face.
“Don’t worry. I’m not gonna hit you. I don’t hit women.”
“Scared the fuckin’ crap outta me.”
“You do it.”
“I’m a guy.”
That made him laugh. Sometimes, his mother said or did something that struck him as funny. He figured it must be their biological connection. He had her blond hair, but hazel eyes. She had blue. It made the young man crazy that Shayna never spoke about Tuffer’s real father.
Every year at Christmas, Tuffer had wished to meet him. But it had never happened, so by college, he had given up.
“How are Bev and Ralph?” Shayna asked.
“Spending Christmas with them?”
“They’re coming tonight.”
“Nice. You got a tree?”
“My girlfriend helped decorate it.”
“Girlfriend? You’re getting laid. That’s good. Big guy like you.”
“Shut up, Shayna.”
“Sorry, sorry. Yeah, moms don’t talk like that.”
“How would you know?”
“When are you going to stop torturing me for a mistake I made twenty years ago?”
He cast his glance down to his plate, where he scooped up a forkful of eggs.
“I’m sorry, Tuffer. I don’t know how many times I have to say it for you to believe me. I’m sorry I left you. But it would have been terrible for you to come with me. I’m glad I didn’t have an abortion, like your father wanted. Look at what a great guy you are. Successful. Nice. With a girlfriend. I’m proud of you.” Tears clouded her eyes.
His heart softened. She had given him life, and she had left him with two people who were the best parents in the world. He had to give her credit for that.
He took her hand. “Don’t cry. You did the best you could. Let’s not talk about it anymore.”
“Fine with me.” She slipped her fingers from his to wipe her eyes.
The waitress refilled their coffee mugs. Shayna finished her food in silence.
Tuffer pulled an envelope out of his jacket pocket. “Here. Merry Christmas,” he said. Inside was a check for a thousand dollars. Once he’d signed with the Kings, he’d had money to burn.
Her eyes lit up. She ripped it open and smiled. “Thanks, hon. Very generous of you. I can use it. Rent’s overdue.”
He polished off the last bite and called for the check.
“I’ve got something for you this year.”
She glanced out the window then faced him. While waiting for her answer, he paid for their meal.
“It’s outside,” Shayna announced.
“Where?” He looked out and didn’t see anything except a couple of cars in the parking lot and a man standing next to a silver Mercedes.
She pointed to him. “That guy.”
“What about him?”
“He’s your father. Rusty Fowler. He played for the Nebraska Huskers.”
To be continued tomorrow (Wednesday, 12/23)...
Click HERE to go to Part 2
Click HERE to go to Part 2