After suffering a minor concussion in the postseason games, Derek decides that it is time to end his career as a running back for the National Football League before his career ends his life. Derek and his best buddy, Sandy, a golden retriever, take a much deserved vacation to visit Derek’s parents at the old homestead in eastern Colorado. While there Derek meets a very intriguing young man named Craig. There seems to be a secret about Craig, though, that Derek’s parents do not want their son to know, but for some reason they do not want Derek to become involved with this young man who Derek cannot seem to resist.
Sandy ran as fast as he could, faster and faster, but he just could not catch it. He couldn’t catch the rabbit that seemed to always be just out of his reach. “Rrruff, rrruf,” Sandy barked, in his sleep. He awoke suddenly, and rolled over. “Good boy,” Derek said, rubbing Sandy’s belly. “Today’s the big day. Are you ready to go see Grandma and Grandpa?” He patted Sandy on the head. Derek O’Neil was taking Sandy with him to visit his parents in eastern Colorado. “They will love you, boy,” he said to the sleepy dog. Derek hadn’t been back home for three years.
Derek had been drafted into the National Football League (NFL) right after college and had been on the road much of the time. Being hurt in the playoff games last year had turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Derek loved football, but after spending years on the road and after taking a lot of hits, he was ready to settle down somewhere. Now he had Sandy, and the sweet golden brown puppy was his best buddy. Derek’s parents had joked that Derek thought of Sandy as his child and not as a dog. “Who’s my good boy, huh? Are you my good boy?” Sandy rolled over onto his side, and then he rolled back the other way a few times. “Well, let’s go. I’ve got us all packed.”
Derek locked his house and picked up his sweet Sandy. “Pretty soon, you will be a big boy and be able to carry me,” Derek said to the eager dog. Sandy loved riding in Derek’s big truck. It sat up high, and Sandy could stick his head out of the window and let his ears flap in the breeze. “Look at you. You’re Bat Dog.” Derek said the same thing to Sandy every time they went somewhere together, which was often. Sandy would turn to Derek and give him a quick bark, as if he understood what Derek had said.
Derek and Sandy had at least a full day’s drive ahead of them. Derek had been a running back for the Tennessee Titans until he had suffered a mild concussion last year, courtesy of a defensive end from an opposing team. Derek had made a speedy recovery, but wasn’t willing to tempt fate. Derek had made a promise to himself years ago that if he got hurt, he got out. After ten years of professional football, Derek’s body had taken all the hits that Derek was going to demand of it. Still, the preseason games were right around the corner and Derek knew that when the season started, he would miss being part of the big game. Football was America’s game, and the roar of the crowd could be intoxicating to guys like Derek. “Oh, Sandy, what will we do, just the two of us?” The dog turned to look at Derek for a second, but then quickly returned to the feel of the wind flapping his ears.
Sandy had toured the entire place by himself already, and was running back down the stairs, followed by a Denver Bronco. “Oh, I didn’t know anyone was here. Sorry to barge in on you like this.” Tom felt a little embarrassed now. “Oh, no problem. Nice dog.” Derek thanked the man. “So, are you a preseason hopeful, or in the game for certain?” Tom asked, feeling and looking very uneasy. “Preseason hopeful, I’m afraid. First game is tomorrow night.” Tom assured the young man that he would be at the game, and that he was looking forward to a winning season. “I’m Craig,” the man said. Tom introduced himself and his son, and when Derek had turned to shake Craig’s hand, Tom winked at Craig knowingly, a wink which Derek did not see. Derek shook Craig’s hand. “Nice kid,” Derek said, after Craig had gone back upstairs. “Looks determined, too, promising,” Tom added. “Well, come on, son, let’s let Craig get himself ready for his big debut at Mile High Stadium.
When Craig came back downstairs without his shirt, Derek couldn’t help but stare. Football practice definitely agreed with Craig. His chest was gorgeous. Derek decided then and there that he was not going to let himself get out of shape just because he was no longer playing football. Craig walked over to Derek and leaned down to look at his son. Craig was wearing no cologne, but Derek found his natural scent somewhat arousing. Derek had never really believed the whole “chemistry” thing, but thought that he just might be wrong about that. “Well, Sandy and I should probably go now,” Derek said. Craig turned to him, and said, “You could stay awhile, if you like. I’m just heating up some of your mom’s good home cooking. She keeps me well stocked.” Derek nodded. He was definitely hungry. Derek carried Trey into the kitchen. “Trey must look like…,” and then he stopped. “It’s okay, Derek,” Craig said, not turning around, and not adding anything more to the conversation.
After they ate, Derek said that he really did have to go. Craig met him at the door and stopped him from leaving. He was so close that Derek could smell that arousing natural scent of his again. “Thank you,” Craig whispered. Then, Craig put his arms around Derek and pulled him to him. Derek’s hands were on Craig’s naked flesh and he couldn’t stop them from moving up and down his back at least twice. When Craig backed up, their lips were so close that Derek fought the urge to kiss him. “No problem,” Derek said, and the two of them reluctantly released the other. “I may be back again tomorrow,” Derek said, as he and Sandy walked out the door.