Taegan Paige was an eighteen year old from Seattle. She had enrolled in the University of Alabama. She had wanted to be a sports journalist for as long as she could remember. She had gotten a scholarship to Alabama; full ride. That's probably the only reason she left her home state. Her Mother couldn't afford tuition at the state school even. She had to make something of herself to give back. Her 'Father' had ran out on her Mom when she was fifteen. Leaving her alone to raise herself and her eleven year old sister. She swore that day that she would never fall in love... never let herself become so vulnerable. She refused to ever have to depend on a man like that.
She lived on campus in a single dorm room; thank god. Only it was kind of crappy, but it was the cheapest on Campus. She was planning on finding a job somewhere on campus once she got settled in and everything. It was a big step, moving to Alabama, no family; no car. Just herself. She had worked all summer just to save up enough money for the plane ticket to Alabama. She didn't know how her freshman year was going to go, but she was ready for it all. She just hoped it was semi-good year. She was ready for this new start.
Matthew or Matt as he liked to be called was in his junior year at the University of Alabama.
“Claybourne!” One of his friends called out. They hadn’t seen him since last year. He had spent his summer in Nashville. He had been born and raised there. His father was Deacon Claybourne, legendary guitarist for country superstar Miss Rayna James, which also happens to be his mother.
“Do anything worthy of talking about this summer?” Reid asked him sitting down with a football. Matt shrugged, “Practiced, did the summer reading unfortunately, you?” He asked and noticed a beautiful blonde out of the corner of his eye and hit Reid in the chest, “Shut up man…who is that?”
Matthew Claybourne wasn’t often rendered speechless but this girl, this girl was different. “I have to find out who she is.” Matt left Reid sitting on the edge of the quad and caught up to the girl. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around here.”
[b "I've got to figure out how I'm going to afford football tickets so I can write articles and such."] she spoke to herself on the walk through campus. She had just spent the last little bit of her savings on a new laptop and food that she was sure she could make last for the month. [b "I'm sorry?"] she spoke as she realized that someone was now walking beside her. [b "I'm a freshman. I'm sure you haven't seen me around."] She wasn't sure what this man was up to. [b "Oh. You're Matthew Claybourne."] she whispered as she realized that Alabama's star football player was standing in front of her.
[b "I'm Taegan."] She sighed softly before stopping in her tracks and turning to face the man. [b "It was... nice speaking with you. But I've got to get these things back to my dorm room."] she told him before stepping forward to walk back to the dorm halls.
“Let me help?” He asked and looked to her, “You know who I am…interesting, well Teagan, let me help you, I don’t have anything to do on this crisp fall day and you are a damsel in distress needing my help.” He picked up the bags with ease. “Which dorm darlin’?” He asked softly. He was nothing if but a gentleman.
Soon he was carrying her things to her dorm. “So your a freshman, what are you majoring in?” He asked. He was a football star but a music major. His parents had made sure that he had always had the best teachers when it came to music and the best tutors with academics.
“Ah your lucky you have a single dorm, my freshman year I was with two other guys in a room this size. It was a nightmare.” He said smiling. “If you need anything else text me.” He said scribbling his number down for her.
This was his way of letting her know he was interested.
Taegan looked at Matthew as he reached forward and took some of the bags from her. [b "I... Careful please. Thats my only laptop."] she said. She sighed softly as he asked what dorm she was in. [b "Lakeside South."] she told him. [b I'm majoring in Sports Journalism."]
The walk was mostly small talk about how she liked Campus so far, which to be honest, she hadn't explored much. Classes started on monday so she had been making sure she knew exactly where they were so she wouldn't be late or lost on the first day. She was here on scholarship so she had to make sure she was doing her best in all her classes.
[b" I was actually really surprised when I found out I had a single.. but It works out. No distractions when I need to study."] she said as she placed the bags she was carrying on her bed. [b "I uh... Thanks."] she said. She wasn't used to guys being so willful to help, but then again, maybe it was all part of his plan to get in her pants.
“Majoring in music minoring in business myself.” He said smiling to her. “Your dorm is nice. Im in an apartment across the street actually.” He said seriously. “Like I said you need anything let me know, I can pull some strings around here, not everything but I can do some.”
Being the star football player and who his parents were he had more pull than lost people and a black card that didn’t have a limit.
He leaned against her doorway, “Sports journalism, means I’ll see you at the games then right?” He asked hopeful. “I mean I’d like to see you there.” Matthew was awkward if anything. He just wanted to make sure he would see her again.
“Are you free for lunch? On me?” He asked being a bit bold. “I was going to go to Chipotle, care to join me?” He wasn’t about to give up just yet. She was gorgeous and smart it seemed. He had never done anything like this.
She was slightly surprised when she heard him say he was majoring in music with a minor in business. She figured it was something to do with sports, as he was Alabama's star football player. [b "I'm sure I'll be fine.. I'm quite used to taking care of myself."] she told him. It was true. She had practically raised her little sister and taken care of the family after her father had ran out of them.
[b "Sports Journalism."] she nodded as he repeated himself. She nodded slightly when he asked about the football games. [b "Maybe, perhaps.."] she said. [b "I'd like to attend as many as I can. But I'm trying to find a job somewhere on campus."] she said as she found that he was quite easy to talk to.
She turned to look at him as he asked her to lunch. [b "I... I have to get everything organized here."] she said. [b "Make sure everything is ready for classes on Monday."] She had no interest in dating and she wasn't sure that Matthew was realizing that at all.
He nodded, “I understand and if your looking for a job check the college newspaper, they are looking for a sports reporter and it sounds like you would be perfect for the job.” With that he left. She had his number if she needed him. He really was just across the street.
That afternoon Matt was throwing the football back and forth with one of the other players when the cheerleading squad ran onto the field. Matthew groaned, “Yeah time to leave,” he hated when the cheerleaders were around, they assumed he wanted to date them. He didn’t.
In his haste to leave the field he bumped into someone. “Sorry…oh Teagan, hi.” He said pulling her away from the field. “Trust me you don’t want any part of what’s going on out there.”
He smiled to her, “Get everything organized?” He understood that if he hadn’t been here a week prior he would be doing the same thing.
Taegan nodded slowly when he mentioned the jon with the College Newspaper. That would actually be perfect. She could use her columns for her portofilo and with the newspaper. [b "Thank you. I'll have to check that out. I really appreciate it."] she said.
After Matthew left, she had all of her books and notebooks organized in her backpack and had put her room together a little more, she headed out with her laptop and went to the football field to research Alabama Sports.
She got in about two hours worth of writing when the cheerleaders came onto the field. She rolled her eyes before packing everything up. [b "OW!"] she called as something very tall all but knocked her down. [b "W--h--What? Matthew what the hell?"] she asked as he wrapped his arm around her waist and walked her back to the parking lot.
She sighed as she stepped back after the were in the quad. [b "I did. I think I have everything ready."] she told him as she seen a group of girls walking toward them. [b "It appears you forgot your cheerleaders."]
“Not my cheerleaders.” He said rolling his eyes. “I was running from them.” He all but whispered to her. They had to think and fast. “Say your my girlfriend, unless you want the whole cheerleading squad on you for your entire freshman year just go with it. “ he was trying to not only save his ass but hers as well.
The squad inevitably caught up with them. “Matty, why don’t you watch us practice?” One of the girls said and Matthew gagged at the nickname. He looked to Teagan with pleading eyes hoping she would go along with it.
“We have other plans.” He said snaking his arm around teagan’s waist. He was hoping that would be the end of it. The cheerleaders lived to bug him it seemed.
Matthew silently prayed that this gorgeous blond sun his arms would go along with this scheme of his. Hell he had never suggested anything like this to anyone before.
Taegan looked at Matthew slightly confused as he told her those girls were not his cheerleaders. Her eyes went wide as he told her to tell them she was Matthew's girlfriend. She sighed softly as the girls finally caught up to them.
She shivered as she felt Matthew's arm snake around her waist as the girls flirted with Matthew. Gosh. Is this how most girls were in College? Lowering themselves to nothing just so they could get a guy.
She didn't want these cheerleaders to make her life a living hell her freshman year, and she knew they could do it.
She laughed slightly as she heard Matthew say that they had other plans. [b "Sorry ladies... He's promised his girlfriend a date night before classes and football start back... I'm sure you understand."] she told them as she leaned back into Matthew. [b "We better be going... We don't want to miss the movie."]
Matt nodded, “I did promise babe.” He said smiling. The cheerleaders looked more than a little shocked that he had a girlfriend and nodded leaving, one even had the audacity to say to another, “We will see how long. This lasts.”
Matthew let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding, “phew, that was close. I didn’t think they’d buy it honestly, you see why I was running from them now right?” He didn’t want to get mixed up with the cheerleaders, it was a death sentence.
“If you report on sports I know you have to include them but do it like once a game or they will give you shit about it, they live to make my life hell and if they don’t get what they want, yours too.” He muttered.
“Now the cheerleaders think we’re dating the team will too, half their girlfriends are on the squad, the other half are like me and run far away.” He admitted.
Taegan smiled slightly as the cheerleaders looked her over a few times before retreating back to the football field for the practicing. [b "It was nice talking to you all!"] she called as she turned to look back at Matthew. [b "Did you hear them say "We will see how long this lasts?"] she asked. If they were actually dating, she would be a little insulted.
She watched as Matthew relaxed. [b "Why did they have you so worked up?"] she questioned. [b "I want to report on football and basketball, not cheerleading."] she said with a hint of digust in her tone. [b "I hate preppy cheerleaders with a burning passion."] she explained.
She froze when he said the team would think they were together. She was a freshman, who swore she would never fall in love or date in general and now apparently she was dating Alabama's star quarterback. [b "What are we going to do?']
"Just go with it I guess? I know no one wants to report on cheerleading but they make your life a living hell if you don't." Matt said sighing, "The brunette in the middle that said we will see how long this lasts, shes been after me since I was a freshman, I don't like her, she doesn't take rejection and she keeps going so maybe this will stop her."
He looked to her, "We're not actually dating, just fake dating for all intensive purposes... gets everyone off my back and gets you an in for your writing." He said trying to make this at least sound appealing.
"No one will even question your writing being a sports journalist dating me, you get to go to all the games and your up close and personal." He said sighing, "Just gotta deal with me and I hope thats not a problem." He didn't care if they were fake dating or not, he would take good care of her.
Taegan looked at Matthew as he explained everything. She knew for a fact the cheerleaders did not like her at all know, even if they didn't know her. But as long as she appeared to be in with Matthew and the entire dating aspect of it all. [b "She doesn't take rejection?'] she asked.
She looked away for a few moments. Dating, even fake dating at that would get her a definite in to all the games, home and away.. She would be able to get up close to the team and even a few interview possibly. Of course dating the star quarterback would also open up doors in the Sports Journalism world as well. Fake dating... She sighed softly before turning to look at him. [b "I'm sure I could put up with you... But I should warn you, I'm quite stubborn."]
Though she was honestly about the entire thing... [b "Well. I guess we better get a hurry on if we aren't going to miss that movie."]
Matt chuckled, “Yeah Darlin, let’s go see that movie, but I have to warn you I’m a bit stubborn myself.” He led her to his white pickup truck. He opened the passenger’s side door for her and helped her inside. “You get to pick where we eat.” He said with a smile. Hell he didn’t care that it was fake dating. He had the most beautiful girl he had ever seen in his truck. He counted himself lucky.
Food first, he pulled through a drive thru of her choosing. Only The best fast food for a first fake date. He had gotten his favorites and an orange soda. He would always pick orange soda. “Rule number 1, never tell the coach I eat this, he will have me running laps an entire practice and I am Not a fan of laps.” He admitted with a smile.
He shoved a chicken tender into his mouth with bbq sauce. “But I don’t have many more rules.” He admitted, “Just don’t get me in trouble with coach, kinda just fell into football freshman year.”
Taegan just grinned as Matthew’s southern accent popped when he called her darlin. [b “Darlin huh? I can definitely say thats a first.”] she told him.
Her mouth slightly watered when he said they could go eat anywhere she wanted. She hadn’t realized how hungry she actually was. She picked some drive thru burger place that looked decent. She ordered a cheeseburger, fries and vanilla milkshake. [b “Thank you for this.. We.. uh we don’t have to go to the movies. I’m sure you’re missing some party.”] she told him as she glanced up after taking a bite.
She was slightly confused when he just asked that she not get him in trouble with his coach. [b “How would I get you in trouble with the football coach? I don’t quite understand.”] she told him. She honestly didn’t know if this was a good idea or not. But it would get her an in with the football team and the school newspaper if she was lucky,
“Coach finds out I eat like this I’m dead, he’s got the team on a strict diet that I don’t exactly follow and I don’t go to parties darlin, at least I haven’t since I was a freshman because they usually end badly. Last time I was dancing on a pool table because I had had to much to drink.”
He smiled to her, “If you want to go to the movies we can, besides if we’re going to do this, we do have to get to know each other.”
After they ate he started the truck, “Your decision, movie or we can hang out at my place, I do live across the street from your dorm and have more room.” It was just him at his apartment too but he really did have more room.
“Any questions about me to make this easier? You can ask me and I’ll ask you?” He wanted to get to know this girl even if she didn’t want to know him all that well. He was interested in her and everything she had to say.
[b “Well we could definitely get to know each other better at your place than a movie.. We can talk about what we expect from this and the rules and everything if we hangout there… Then you can walk me back to my dorm.”] she told him.
She grinned as he told her the coach held them to a strict diet. [b “That diet is going out the window if you hangout with me. I love food… if you couldnn’t tell yet or anything.”] she told him.
[b “All the cheerleaders were talking about parties and everything. They said the team expected you to start coming to them… They mentioned how you think you’re better than everyone? Or is it just because you’re held to a higher standard?”] she questioned him. What Quarter back didn’t like to party at least a little bit?
[b “I guess we can go back to your apartment and talk about everything… We need to set some ground rules thats for sure.”]
“I don’t think I’m better than anyone, just got more to lose with the team and with who my parents are. One slip up and they make an example out of me so I try to stay away from parties.” He admitted as he pulled out of the parking space and headed towards his apartment.
“To tell you the truth I don’t stick to coach’s diet at all just eat what I want and don’t tell him.” He said flashing her a smile.
At his apartment he helped her out and slung his bag over his shoulder. “Oh I uh hope a dog is okay…I have a dog, he’s basically a big lump but he’s up there.”
At the apartment door he unlocked it and held it open for her as a bulldog started running for their feet and jumping. “Meet Rambo, he’s a handful but I’ve had him a few years and wouldn’t know what to do without the fur ball.” He admitted sitting his bag down on a free chair. “Make yourself at home,”
Taegan looked at Matthew and grinned slightly when he said he didn’t really follow his coaches diet plans. [b “Is that why you’re always working out or running?”] she questioned as she folllowed him upstairs to his apartment. [b “You have a dog?!”] she asked excitedly.
She giggled as a big fur ball ran toward her as the front door was open. [b “Hi buddy!”] she said as she bent down to rub the dogs belly. [b “I love dogs… Always wanted one growing up.. but uh.. Well. My mom could hardly afford feeding my sister and I, much less a dog..”] she told him softly.
[b “We’re going to talk rules right?”] she asked as she walked deeper into the apartment and seen she was standing in the living room.. It was definitely a mans place but it was decorated nice. She sat down on the couch and glanced around at pictures on the wall. [b “Wait… Are— Are those your parents?”]
He nodded, “Yes Rules and Yes I have a dog.” He said smiling, “I’m sure he would love it anytime you want to come over and play with him.” He nodded again, “Yeah that’s my mom and dad.” It was a picture of them onstage, he was small and in his fathers arms. Rayna James and Deacon Claybourne’s only child.
“I guess we do have to talk about rules, my parents come in for the homecoming game, they will believe we’re together too. I’m sure my mom will want to know all about you as soon as someone reports I have a girlfriend.” He admitted.
Rambo ran around her feet. “His treats are on the counter if you want to give him one.” He opened the fridge and offered her a drink. “Yes I work out and run a lot because I eat anything I want. I run every morning at 6 am, your welcome to join me.” He said with a smile. “I used to take Rambo but he can’t keep up.”
Taegan listened closely at everything that Matthew was telling her. His parents came to the HomeComing football game.. .. His Mother, Rayna James would of course want to meet his girlfriend as soon as word got in the magazines… [b “Magazine?”] she questioned. She just shook her head. [b “No… My Mother would find out and she would want to meet you and that’s just not possible.. She could never afford to come down here and… I can’t afford to go home until Summer…”] she looked up at Matthew. True fear in her eyes.
[b “I… What are…. Is it possible that we keep this as hush hush as we can? Just for a few weeks..”] she asked. [b “I’ll do everything that you need to a limit… But My mother knows how I feel about love and relationships and I just cannot have that conversation with her right now. I told her I focusing on school… I cannot loose my schloarship.”]
He nodded, “We can try and you being on the paper will help because you can filter anything about us and money isn’t a problem Darlin, your going this for me so you need something, consider it done.”
He looked to her, “My parents will want to meet you at homecoming though and I’m sure they will Love you, my dad is just like me and my mom, well she’s a softie and a hugger, just a warning.” His parents still occasionally played but for the most Part they were retired now and his dad played and wrote for other people.
“They’re really proud of me for being on the team and my grades, I can’t let them down.” He admitted. That was the first time he had ever told anyone about what his parents expected of him. Most people thought he was just the spoiled rich kid who got anything he wanted. He wasn’t, he worked for that he had and his parents were proud,
[b “Thats only if they give me a job… I’m a freshman. No one here knows anything about me. I’m just the northerner from Seattle.”] she told him. She quickly shook her head when he mentioned money. [b “No. No. No. I’m not fake dating you for the money. Matthew, you said it yourself. Those girls would’ve made my life a living hell. I didn’t really have another option.. But I can play the girlfriend part and charm your mother. I just don’t want anyone to end up hurt…”] she said honestly.
[b “I always said I would never allow myself to fall in love… never date.”] she told him. [b “My father ran out on us when I was about twelve. My mother was ruined… She had made him her entire life and I swore that day that I would never let a man hold that much power over me… and I still stand to that promise.”]
She nodded when he mentioned he couldn’t disappoint his parents. [b “Well. We won’t let that happen then.”] she said with a yawn. [b “I should get back to my dorms…”]
He nodded and got up, “Let me walk you back.” He agreed with everything she said. At the dorms there were cheerleaders in the hall and he whispered, “Can I kiss you?” He wasn’t going to do it without asking her.
When she gave him a nod he kissed her gently but up against the wall. “See you in the morning?” He had invited her to his morning run and he was going to recommend her for the newspaper so they would reach out to her via her school email.
The next morning he was there in sweats and a underarmour t shirt. “Morning darlin’, you want to come running with me?” He asked with a smile. It was way too early For him to be this perky.
“I promise if you don’t want to go you don’t have to baby.” The word baby had slipped and he couldn’t help himself. “Since classes don’t start until Monday I was hoping we could spend some time together before I have football practice later.”
Taegan looked at him as they stood in the doorframe of her dorm room. A group of cheerleaders in the hallway, already whispering. [b “Wh-..”] she sighed softly but nodded when he asked if he could kiss her and she agreed slightly. [b “Goodnight Matthew.”] she whispered before retreating into her room. She sighed again as she leaned back against the door. What had she gotten herself into? She knew this wouldnt end well more than likely and she was scared.
It was bright and early when Matthew showed up at her dorm. She groaned when he asked if she was going to join him on his morning run. [b “How about a walk instead of a run?”] she asked. She had on a pair of nike shorts and a Seattle tee shirt. [b “I hate mornings.”]
She grabbed her phone before shutting the door. [b “Where do you usually run?”] she asked. She rolled her eyes as a couple of football players ran up them them after the walked out of the dorm halls.
Matt chuckled, “Usually run the quad, the field and back, and it three miles but we can walk it today.” Some of the football players wanted to meet his girlfriend. Matt introduced them before the guys were off again. “Sorry darlin’ as soon as people heard about the girlfriend thing they wanted to meet you,”
“Cheerleaders gossip and it sucks but how about a walk and we get coffee or a smoothie this morning? Still keeps me on track and might wake you up a little.” He suggested.
“How’d you like your first night in your Dorm? Was it quiet? I know some of the dorms are a bit rowdy so that’s why I ask.” He was trying to make small talk and distract her from the fact she was awake so early, he didn’t think it was working.
“Oh we can swing by my place I have a jersey for you and a game season pass.” He said with a smile, “for my girl.” He was hoping that would make her blush.
Taegan smiled as Matthew introduced her to some of the football players on the team. Of course the cheerleaders had opened the can of worms about their star quarterback having a girlfriend. [b “It was nice to meet you all!”] she called as they turned to walk away.
She looked up and shrugged when he apologized. [b “It’s just apart of dating the quarterback. It’s fine, honestly. I’m sure I’ll be introduced to a bunch of other people the next few weeks anyway.”]
She followed him toward the quad. [b “Maybe I’ll be a supportive girlfriend and run with you on Sundays. But I don’t think I can get up this early during the week…. smoothie sounds good.”]
She was kind of startled as she realized he had said he had a jersey and a season pass for her… his girlfriend. Her face heated up.. [b “Season pass?”] she asked, excitedly. This would help so much. [b “You're not joking?”] she asked again as they walked.
“Nope not joking, have it for you at my place.” He said with a smile and agreed, “Okay we run on Sunday’s together but we get smoothies today to make up for it.”
He took her hand in his, “Coach gave it to me this morning, stopped by when he heard I had a girlfriend and knew I’d need the pass…might be the biggest talk on campus in a long time.”
At the smoothie place on the corner he ordered a orange mango for himself and let her order and swiped his black card. He made sure to add a tip for the workers. He waited with her and smiled, “What’s your class schedule like? I have a free period this year which never happens but I did overload myself the last two years…maybe just need a break now.”
He picked up his smoothie and took a sip, “this was a good idea and this fall within what coach allows.” He said with a smile. “I hope no one has been too crazy on you?”
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