RELEASE DAY~TACKLED BY LOVE By Rachael Duncan
Landon Stone has it all. He’s the star quarterback for one of the powerhouse teams in a professional football league, has a beautiful supportive wife cheering him on, and plenty of money to support him for the rest of his life. In the blink of an eye, it all comes crashing down as every player’s worst fear unfolds right in front of his eyes. With nothing left, he finds himself going back to where it all started.
Autumn McCray has lived in the same small town her whole life. Being tormented and bullied throughout high school, she has those constant reminders surrounding her every day. Having put most of those demons behind her, she’s forced to confront them once again and find her inner strength in order to move forward.
With Landon and Autumn’s paths crossing, they both are faced with obstacles they never imagined they would have to overcome. Will they help each other with their struggles, or be left to tackle them on their own?
Without looking behind me at the approaching danger, I plant my feet, pull my arm back, and throw the ball with all my might. For a second, everything seems to be moving in slow motion. I’m watching the ball fly slowly through the air, waiting to hit the hands of the guy who’s about to win it for us. But before I can see if the catch is complete, a 350-pound freight train crashes into my left side, knocking the air right out of me. The momentum from the hit jerks my head to the left as my body gets jarred to the right and slammed into the ground. I hear the pop before I feel the excruciating pain. It’s sending sharp jolts of what feels like knives stabbing me straight up my left leg. It’s so intense it instantly makes me nauseous.
I can’t hear anything as I roll back and forth clutching my knee in agony. This is bad, real bad. Gritting my teeth, I try to hold in the groans that want to escape my throat as I wait for the training staff to get to me on the field.
“What’s wrong, Landon?” one of the trainers asks while bending down to get close to me.
“My knee,” I moan out through clenched teeth.
“Okay, can you walk with some help?”
“I could probably hop toward the sideline, but I won’t make it to the locker room.” My mind is going all over the fucking place with the possibilities of what could be wrong.
“Alright, let’s go.” He nods at two of my teammates and each of them grabs an arm and helps me to my feet. A hiss passes through my teeth as I slightly move my left knee on accident. With all of my weight on my right leg and my arms slung over my teammates’ shoulders, I manage to hobble my way to the sideline where transportation is waiting for me. Once I sit down, a relieved breath emerges from me. I’m still in a lot of pain, but I’m glad I made it.
The cart starts moving to take me to the doctor, who I’m sure is waiting on my arrival. Before I’m taken away, I glance up at the stands to find Valerie. Her mouth is hanging slightly open and all the color has drained from her face. I give her a thumbs up and try to put a small smile on my face to let her know I’m okay.
I know I’m anything but.
Rachael Duncan is an Army wife living in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. She grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and went on to graduate from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After working on Capitol Hill for a short time, she realized that a career in politics just wasn’t for her. A couple years later, she rediscovered her love for reading and writing. She’s co-author of the books The One Left Behind and Shattered Lives Mended Hearts by Lena Nicole.