Monday, December 1, 2008

Line of Scrimmage: The Next Chapter

This is running tomorrow on the Casablanca Authors Blog. Come on by to join the discussion. Wonder what became of Ryan and Susannah after we left them at the end of Line of Scrimmage? Well, read on!

Line of Scrimmage ends with an epilogue in which Ryan's number is retired at an elaborate ceremony before the final home game of the Denver Maverick's season—their first season without Ryan as their starting quarterback. Attending the ceremony with Ryan are his wife Susannah and their daughter Hope, who is four weeks old. Ryan hints that he's anxious to be "back in the saddle" with Susie, but as we moms know, there's no saddle action for six weeks after a woman gives birth. So if you wondered how Ryan and Susannah's story continues, here's the next chapter. It picks up six weeks to the day after Hope's birth when the family is getting ready for a cozy Christmas at their cabin in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Ryan hated Christmas tree lights. He hated unraveling the huge, knotted ball of hell, he hated trying to get them evenly distributed on the nine-foot tree, he hated the way Susie always made him re-do it at least once and often twice, he hated the way his fingers became sticky with sap. Most of all, he hated teetering on a ladder while she barked orders from the safety of the floor. However, when he thought about last year and the Christmas he'd spent alone in his barren apartment while he and Susie were separated, he attacked the knotted ball of hell with gusto. This year, everything was different. They were back together where they belonged, they finally had the child they had yearned for, and he was grateful for the many blessings this year had brought.

Unfortunately, he was also insanely horny after having to go without the last couple of months. Susie's pregnancy had been deemed "high risk," which translated to "hands off" for him. But earlier today, she'd come home from her six-week check up in the city all smiles and talking about green lights. He'd wanted to drag her off to bed that very minute, but of course Hope had picked today to be unusually fussy. So while Susie tried to get the baby down for what he hoped would be a two- or three-hour stretch, Ryan wrestled with the knotted ball of hell and tried to keep his mind out of the gutter. Was it so wrong to have a one-track mind? Was it so wrong to be turned on by the sight of his wife breast-feeding their baby? Since that went on for most of every day, he'd been taking long treks through the icy woods to deal with his raging libido. Maybe there was something wrong with him if all he could think about was getting his wife horizontal. He was supposed to be preparing for his job as the coach of the Arlington High School Colts, but even that new and exciting challenge couldn't seem to get his mind off the other issue.

"Hey," Susannah said when she came into the room looking exhausted and drained. Damn it! "What're you doing?" She took a closer look, her eyes widening with surprise. "Did you actually get the lights out without me holding a gun to your head?"

"Yeah, so?"

"Are you sick? Do you have a fever?"

"Very funny." Ryan's grumpy mood turned sullen when he realized that while she might have the green light, she probably didn't have the energy for what he had in mind. He eyed the fire he'd built up earlier, hoping for a do over of the night they'd spent in front of the fireplace last winter when they most likely conceived Hope.

"What's wrong, Ry?"

"Nothing," he snapped as he fought with the lights. "Everything's just fine. Perfect in fact."

She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around him. "No, it isn't."

Ryan was afraid to move. Hell, he could barely breathe.

"Tell me," she said, pressing a kiss to his neck. "You're so tight and tense." She massaged his neck and shoulders.

Ryan tried counting, he tried counting backwards, he tried breathing. But the more she touched him, the worse it got. When he couldn't take one more second of it, he spun around, scooped her up with one arm and set off for the bedroom.

"Ryan!" she said, breathless. "What're you doing?"

"Taking my wife to bed."

"But wait—"

"I've waited months. I can't wait one more minute."

She shocked the hell out of him when she grabbed handfuls of his hair and dragged his mouth to hers.

Ryan saw stars.

Her legs hooked around his hips, she went wild in his arms.

"Susie," he gasped. "Wait."

"I've waited months. I can't wait one more minute."

"Hey! That's my line."

"It seems," she said with a saucy smile as she dragged the sweater over his head, "that it's our line. Now shut up and get naked."

Never one to have to be told twice, Ryan moved fast. And then skin was against skin, hard against soft. "God, Susie, I've missed this. I've missed you." He devoured her, as if he had in fact been starving.

Hope picked that moment to let out a lusty wail.

"No," Ryan moaned. "Doesn't she care at all about her Daddy?"

Susie laughed and disentangled herself from his embrace. "Hold that thought." She got up, put on a robe, and ducked into the large walk-in closet that was doubling as Hope's nursery at the cabin.

Ryan wanted to weep, he wanted to wail. Instead, he buried his face in the pillow and prayed for a quick return to sleep for his daughter. By the time Susie slid into bed half an hour later, he was almost more interested in sleep than sex.


She caressed his back and coaxed him out of hiding. "Now, where were we?"

Turning on his side to face her, he said, "We don't have to." He couldn't believe the words had come out of his face. "You've got to be tired."

"Ryan Sanderson, I swear to God. If you don't make love to me right now—this minute—I'll go get the Christmas lights and use them to tie you to the bed so I can have my way with you."

Astounded, Ryan stared at her. "Well, that's one way for me to to get out of untangling them."

She laughed, and Ryan, never one to have to be told twice, did as directed.

Forty weeks to the day later, Susannah gave birth to a nine-pound baby boy they named Luke. He had his daddy's brown eyes and deep dimples. Turns out the doctor meant it when she said breast-feeding wasn't foolproof birth control. Who knew? Who cared?


Cheryl Brooks said...

Ooo!!! Tied up with Christmas lights! Kinky!!!

Judi Fennell said...

I love you.

Yes, that sounds sappy, but I sooo loved this story that I'm THRILLED to get a second epilogue (sec-o-logue?) TM by me. :)

Seriously, Marie, wonderful!!!

Marie Force said...

Haha, Cheryl... I take that as high praise coming from you! This is a family show, so I had to keep it clean. But oh how I didn't want to...

Aww shucks, Judi, I love you, too!! LOL! Glad you like this second glimpse into what happens next. Sec-o-logue. Love that! Thanks for coming by!

Ashlyn Chase said...

Terrific story, Marie!!!

And the epi-epilogue is great too.
Many of us have been there! LOL.


flchen1 said...

LOL! How lovely! Thanks for the bonus follow-up! Can't imagine what'll happen when they get the green light after Luke... ;)

Marie Force said...

Yes, the six week wait is harder on the guys than on the new moms who are hardly interested in THAT (well, except for Susie of course!) Fiction, you gotta love it!

Marie Force said...

Hi Fedora!
Yes, Ryan will be all wound up again. I can see a cycle of six kids in six years before they figure out the pattern. Since you read the book, you remember how hard it was for them to get pregnant the first time so they certainly don't expect two in two years! Fun to imagine Ryan getting that news!! Nice to see you here!!