Fighting to Dream Excerpt © Nicole Flockton 2016
Drake Roberts bounced down into a squat, grimacing at the sharp needle of pain in his knee. He grit his teeth and rose up again, hoping against hope his coach hadn’t seen his face. He’d told Len his knee was fine. That he was fit to compete in the Olympics.
Now he was here at Rio.
These games were going to be his last. He hoped to win a medal. He didn’t care what color. Anyone would do. If he won, his dad would stop lamenting how he’d missed out on Olympic glory and his son had achieved what he hadn’t been able to do.
Some would say Drake was living his father’s dream. He couldn’t deny it, he was. When he’d won silver at the world championships last year for the 1,500m race, he thought that might be enough for his dad, after missing out on a medal in the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately, his win had only fueled his father to push him to work toward trying for another Olympics. After all, his father said, he got silver and if he worked harder he could get gold.
So now, here he was, in the training room at Rio, nursing an injury he’d hidden from his father. He’d told his coach it was okay but he’d aggravated it when he’d taken a run around the Olympic track the day after he’d arrived. He should’ve given his knee a chance to recover from being cooped up in a plane for over eight hours.
While the buzz of being at the Olympics was something you couldn’t adequately describe to anyone, unless they lived it themselves, and he wanted it all over. Once it was done he could announce his retirement from competitive running and his life wouldn’t compose of getting up at the crack ass of dawn to practice and travelling all over the States from meet to meet. He might be able to have a normal life. Although what was normal? If he didn’t win gold his father would no doubt push him to try again for the 2020 Olympics. He would be thirty then. He really didn’t want to do another four years of training.
Drake closed his eyes as he squatted down again. This time the pain was sharper. He blew a breath out as he rose up again. How many more squats was he going to have to do?
“You’re knee bothering you, Drake?”
He swiveled around at the sound of the voice over his left shoulder, the movement doing nothing to help his knee.
Behind him stood Tamara York, the team’s assistant physical trainer, easy on the eye with her honey blond hair caught in a high pony-tail and crystal blue eyes, curves in all the right places. Not so easy on the rehab exercises she had him doing when he first injured his knee. She was also the last person he wanted to know how sore his knee actually was. He knew the other guys on the track squad talked about seeing if she’d go on a date with one of them, none had tried though, they’d all been warned by TJ the head physical trainer that she was off limits. And seeing as most of the guys on the squad like their balls, they obeyed TJ.
Like Joey with is sure fire, How you doing line to get the girls, Drake flashed Tamara his signature melt-your-panties smile and winked. “Nope all good here. But if you feel the need to give me a rub down, I won’t say no.”
The crossing of her arms over her chest and raised eyebrow told him if he’d been standing in a bar, he’d be wearing her cocktail or whatever she was drinking all over his face.
While he knew it was a sleazy line action, and he could have TJ’s wrath come down on him for flirting, he didn’t care. He didn’t want Tamara anywhere near his injury. He didn’t want her telling him his Olympic run was over before it even started.
“Does that really work for you, Roberts? Or am just the lucky one you want to practice your cheesy lines on?”
“It can be whatever you want it to be.” Yep, he was certifiable to keep on being super sleazy with Tamara. He hoped she would walk away and be none the wiser to what his body was going through.
“Right, well I’ve been watching you and I’ve seen you cringe through every one of those squats. If you want to compete in these Games, I suggest you come see me in the treatment room after you’ve finished your practice.” She walked away, back straight, her pony-tail swishing from side to side, giving him no chance to object to her edict about their meeting in the treatment room.
Great, how could his coach and TJ miss the pain he was in but Tamara hadn’t? Unless she was watching him because she was interested in him.
Drake chuckled to himself and pushed the thought away. There was no way Tamara was even remotely interested in him. He was just the unlucky one she’d decided to observe that day.
Forcing his attention back to warming up his body, he slightly modified his actions when completing the rest of the exercises in the hope no one else noticed his discomfort.