Full Coverage:Boys of Fall

By: Erin Nicholas


Four months ago

Everyone was so freaking happy she thought she might be sick.

Miranda Doyle tipped her beer back and took a long swig. The party was going strong and Randi loved nothing more than a good party. Her favorite people were all here and everyone was dancing, drinking and laughing.

And she wanted to be anywhere else.

The party was celebrating the town naming the high school football field after their beloved, longtime coach, Nicholas Carr. Randi loved Coach Carr. He’d been an advisor and confidant for her in the past, just like he had for every other kid even remotely associated with his boys, the football teams of the thirty-some years he’d been coaching. Randi had been the head cheerleader both her junior and senior years, so she’d had time to hang out with Coach. She was thrilled that they’d honored him that way, thrilled that the team had won the big game tonight, and thrilled to see her friends and classmates having such a great time.

She sighed and lifted her heavy hair off the back of her neck. It was a beautiful October night in Texas, but inside the barn filled with people celebrating Coach Nicholas Carr’s long and influential career, it was hot.

Especially when she looked at her best friend Annabelle dancing with her fiancé Jackson, or Lela, who was in the corner with Tucker. Everyone was falling in love. Except for her.

Par for the course.

But it was getting old.

She drained her beer and tried to decide if she wanted another one.

As she was scanning the bottles behind the bar where Sadie and Oakley and Joel were scrambling to keep up with the thirsty partygoers, her eyes went right on past the top-shelf tequila—that she really wanted—and to the dance floor, where the new girl was being swung around the hardwood by Nolan Winters.

Quiet, sophisticated, bookworm Nolan Winters. Who was now wearing denim jeans that were clearly several washings past new as they molded to a very nice backside. And front side, for that matter. The blue T-shirt he wore showed off shoulders and a chest that Randi had, in fact, been impressed with before, and his cowboy boots moved through the dance steps like the born-and-bred Quinn boy that he was.

To anyone looking on—and clearly to the new girl, Lacey—Nolan fit right in with the other country boys in the barn, swigging beer and singing along to every country song the band cranked out. But the people who had gone to high school with him knew better.

Nolan had spent most of his time in the library and the tiny office of the school newspaper, rather than at the river drinking beer or skinny dipping. He’d always been quiet, reserved—at least compared to the live-large Quinn boys like Jackson Brady and Tucker Riley and the rest. But it hadn’t been in a shy way or like he didn’t fit in. It had been as though he’d been observing, taking it all in, making notes.

And now he was an award-winning journalist. Go figure.

But as Randi eyed his two-step—and the fit of his jeans—she couldn’t believe it was the same guy.

He’d come into his own, as her mother would say.

She supposed twelve years could do that to a guy. As could accomplishing all his career goals, writing a best-selling book and then getting a huge New York publishing deal for another one. This time he was writing it about Coach Carr and his influence on football, small-town Texas and the boys that had played under him.

She knew he was being flown to New York on a regular basis and had gotten a “scandalous” amount of money as an advance on his book.

She even knew that he’d worn a dark gray pinstriped suit to meet with his new publisher for the first time.

God bless—and curse—the grapevine in Quinn, Texas.

Randi’s mother got her hair done downtown once a month, had coffee at Sally’s diner every Tuesday and Thursday morning, played poker with her friends every Friday night and went to Bible study every Wednesday afternoon.

There was nothing that anyone who had ever lived in Quinn, Texas, could do that Randi wouldn’t hear about.

Though, she could admit, she’d heard just as much about Nolan from her own customers. She was the owner of the town’s only auto repair shop, and one of four mechanics in town. It was rare for the men to know something the ladies didn’t—most of them got the gossip from their wives—but every once in a while they’d repeat a detail the women had left out.

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