The stadium came into view and behind it one of the most beautiful cities. The sun was high in the sky and only added to the beauty. One last traffic light lay ahead of her and of course as she came up upon it, it was just turning from yellow to red. The passenger seat of her car held a pile of papers, files that she was supposed to have read over the last week. Somewhere in that pile was her parking pass and she finally found it just before the light turned green again. Tossing it onto her dashboard she soon pulled into the parking lot next to the large stadium. Pulling the key from the ignition she took a deep breath, unbuckled her seat-belt, took one more breath and opened the door before stepping out of the car.
She had ten minutes until she needed to be inside and now her nerves started to kick in. It was almost the end of her junior year at Robert Morris University and this was her first assignment with FSN Pittsburgh, she was an intern and had worked hard all year to get to this point. She was a huge Penguins’ fan and would have done anything to get assigned to them but that was Dan Potash’s territory and she didn’t want to impose, so when she was offered a chance to cover a Pirates game she gladly accepted.
Flashing her pass she entered the stadium through the media entrance and soon met up with the camera crew that she would be working with that night. “We’re going to head down to the locker room in about half an hour where you’ll be talking to some of the guys, okay?”
“Yep,” she nodded. Half an hour passed and she was on her way to the Bucs' locker room for her first interview, to say that she was nervous was an understatement. She had been interviewed before, she had also spoken to professional athletes quite frequently, but the two had never been combined. This was her first shot at the big time, granted she was only an intern but if things went well she may be able to land a job when she graduated next year.
Paul Maholm was the starting pitcher that night and that’s who she was supposed to interview. She made her way to his stall where he was lacing up his cleats and approached him. “Hello Mr. Maholm I’m Allyson Smith with FSN.”
“Paul,” he smiled and extended his hand to shake hers. “Nice to meet you.”
The interview was short, only a few questions and Allyson had remained calm the entire time, much to her surprise. When the camera switched off she thanked Paul and looked up, scanning the room. One man was also looking up, he sat at his stall and his eyes met hers. There was a connection, at least on Allyson’s end but she forced herself to look down and adjust her suit jacket.
Allyson looked up again and he was gone. She thought nothing of it until she turned around and was face to face with Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit, the man who had been sitting across the room. He had been talking to Paul, about the game she had guessed and his face held a smile. “Hello,” he held out his hand. “I’m Ryan, Ryan Doumit.”
“Allyson Smith with FSN,” she smiled and shook his hand. “My friends call me Ally.”
“I’ve never seen you around here, you new?” His smile was absolutely adorable and Ally couldn’t help but remember it, a hint of pink creeping onto her cheeks.
“Yeah today was my first interview.”
Over the next few weeks Allyson was seeing a lot of the inside of the Pirates clubhouse and was certainly not complaining. She had only ‘missed’ one Penguins’ game and not only because she was a bigger hockey than baseball fan but also because she had a fear of missing games she had tapped it and watched it in its entirety when she returned home after a long day at PNC Park.
Finishing up an interview, this time with Jason Bay she made her way over to her new best friend’s locker. “Hey Ally,” Ryan said sporting a smile, a smile that always seemed to be on his handsome face, unless of course he failed to get a guy out at home or he got out himself.
“Hey Ry,” she returned the smile.
“So I was wondering if you weren’t busy after the game maybe we could get something to eat.”
“Hmm would this be a date?” Her smile had started to slip away.
This caused Ryan to panic and it was evident in his now shaky voice and on his almost horror-struck face. “Only if you want it to be a date, we could go as just friends, we are friends right?”
“Of course we’re friends and it’s a date.”Allyson’s smile returned and Ryan breathed a sigh of relief. “Good luck out there tonight, stud.”
Ryan tried to speak before Ally turned away but only managed to be able to speak again when she was half way across the room. “I’ll see you after the game then.” Ally smiled but didn’t let Ryan see; she didn’t turn towards him but kept walking.
The Bucs had gone out and beaten the Reds by one run and when Ryan returned to the locker room Ally was waiting for him, having done the pre-game interview she was off the hook now. A quick shower calmed his nerves, he was about to take out a girl that he really liked. Some of his teammates questioned him about it but it was their first ‘date’ and he told them so.
“Ready to get going?” He asked when he was dressed and ready to go himself.
Ally nodded and soon they were in the car and on their way to get something to eat, just like they had planned. Eat ‘n Park was the restaurant of choice and once they were seated they began to hold a real conversation, they hadn’t talked much on the way there or while they were in the noisy lobby.
“You played really well tonight,” Ally said with a smile.
“Thanks,” Ryan looked up from his menu just as Allyson looked down at hers. “Hopefully we can beat them again tomorrow and split the series.”
Allyson smiled and the waiter approached their table, stopping their conversation. Their orders had been taken before conversation resumed, however smiles were exchanged while the waiter scribbled things down on his notepad.
“That looks really good,” Ryan said when the waiter put their food down on the table.
“It is,” Ally had just taken a bit of her Oreo Bliss Sundae and her face held a smile. “Would you like a bite?”
“No thank you.”
“You know you want some,” she laughed realizing what she had said. “Of the sundae I mean.”
“Okay I’ll try a bite.” Ryan went to scoop some of the ice cream with the fork he was using to eat his pumpkin pie but Ally beat him to it. She reached across the table to put the bite of ice cream in his mouth but missed, getting whipped cream on his nose. “That is good,” he laughed wiping the whipped cream from his nose.
Once they had both finished their dessert Ryan gladly paid the bill and they started off towards the stadium so that Ally could get her car. “I had a good time,” Ryan said, somewhat weakly.
“Me too, we should do it again some time.”
Ryan smiled; the night had definitely gone better than he thought that it would. “You’ll be here tomorrow, right?” Ally nodded; of course she would be there she had an interview to conduct.
“How ‘bout I hit you a home-run?”
“Hit me a home-run stud and I might give you a kiss,” she said smiling, Ryan was blushing.
“I could get used to this stud thing,” this was going so much better than he thought that it would. “I’ll see you tomorrow Ally.”
“Thank you Ryan,” she kissed his cheek gently before getting into her car and within thirty seconds pulling out of the parking lot.
Ryan on the other hand still stood there, he hadn’t moved since she had kissed him and his face was still a deep shade of red.
Things were not looking good for the Bucs they were down two-nothing in the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded, and two outs. “Number forty-one, catcher Ryan Doumit,” the PA announcer said as Ryan walked up to the plate. For the first time all night he was batting righty in hopes of changing things up, after all every time he had come up to bat left handed that night he popped out in right field. He took one last practice swing before stepping into the batter’s box and was set in his stance; his knees and elbows bent and his bat just above his right shoulder.
The first pitch was thrown; Ryan stood looking as the ball was in the catcher’s glove. “Strike one,” the home plate umpire said. Ryan stepped out of the box, took a practice swing and took a deep breath; the entire game was resting on his shoulders.
The first pitch was thrown; Ryan stood looking as the ball was in the catcher’s glove. “Strike one,” the home plate umpire said. Ryan stepped out of the box, took a practice swing and took a deep breath; the entire game was resting on his shoulders.
“Strike two!” This pitch he swung at but again the ball was in the catcher’s glove.
The pitcher stood on the mound looking to end the game here with three men left on base. Allyson and the rest of the Pirates’ fans in attendance hoped for the exact opposite. And Ryan hoped that he could at least get a double to tie the game. Stepping out of the batter’s box again Ryan adjusted his batting gloves and helmet, took a practice swing and a deep breath, and stepped back.
It was like it was all in slow motion; the pitcher wound up, the ball flew towards him, a fastball at the perfect height. Ryan chose the perfect time to begin his swing and hit the ball and the crack of the bat was all that he heard. Everything came back to life speed; the ball was flying towards the outfield and the runners on base advancing as quickly as possible and he could hear the crowd again, they were cheering and loudly at that. “Raise the jolly roger!” The TV announcer said excitedly as the ball was smashed out of the park, a grand slam.
Ryan jogged around the bases as the fans cheered and the entire team waited to congratulate him at home plate. Following high fives he and the rest of the team went to the locker room as fans left the stadium happily.
“Ryan!” Ally said literally running into the locker room. The excitement that could be heard in her voice could also be seen on her face, the same as with the rest of the people in the locker room. “I can’t believe it!” She threw her arms around him and he did the same. She didn’t care that the rest of the team was in the room and pressed her lips gently to his, just as she had promised. “Good job out there stud,” his arms were still around her, both of their faces held smiles, and all of the guys around the room looked on in wonder of what was going on.
“I um, I’m gonna have to do an interview but I’ll talk to you after.” He let go of her and she made her way to the other side of the room. The smile remained on both of their faces. Once Ryan had finished his interview and showered he walked Ally to her car. “Would it be too much if I asked out to get something to eat?”
“I have to be at the studio early tomorrow, maybe after the next game?”
“Yeah sure, I’ll uh see you then,” he smiled. “Wait,” he grabbed her arm before she could into the car. “Would you be my girlfriend?” he asked shyly.
“I would love to Ryan,” she kissed his cheek and without any other word from either of them they went their separate ways.
“You ready for the season to start tomorrow?” Ally asked Ryan the day before the first game of the regular season.
“You know I’m always ready to play,” he smiled. “I’m going to miss spending time with you though.”
Ally loved spending time with Ryan even though she had gotten to do much of that lately. Ryan had been playing pre-season games and spending all of his time in Florida with the team for spring training. Ally completely understood that he was just doing his job and she supported him whole-heartedly. She had gotten to take a few trips down to Bradenton to see him, well she had been sent for her internship but since she was with the team she took the opportunity to see her beloved boyfriend. She was more than glad that she had been offered the internship with the Pirates instead of the Penguins. She loved the Pens with all of her heart and had for all of her life, but now she had someone to share her love with and someone who loved her as much if not more in return.
It was their eight month anniversary and they were spending it simply, just together at Ryan’s house. Sitting and talking was a perfect date for them, they loved to just be in each other’s company. Ryan would be leaving with the rest of the team later that day to go to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in their home opener. Ally had to stay in Pittsburgh during this road trip because she had class, and since she would be graduating in just over a month she needed to attend class now more than ever.
“I’ll miss you too, but soon I’ll be done with school and then I might get a full time job with FSN and we’ll get to spend time together, hopefully. She smiled as Ryan kissed the top of her head.
He brushed her bangs from her face and ran his hand along her cheek. His dark brown eyes gazed into her blue ones causing them both to smile. “I love you Ally.”
“I love you too Ryan.” Soft kisses were shared between the two of them quite frequently but they never got old. Ryan’s lips brushed gently against Ally’s and as always she relaxed under his touch. His lips brushed her cheek before she rested her head on his shoulder, she stared off into space but all that she could think of was the man whose arm was around her. Things had gone perfectly since they got together and they both hoped that they would stay that way. Everything was so easy in the beginning, yes they were both extremely nervous, but everything seemed to come naturally to them.
“I have a secret to tell you,” Ryan said before whispering, “I love you,” in her ear.
“That’s not much of a secret,” Ally smiled. “But I love you too Ryan Matthew Doumit.” Just like most people Ryan normally hated when he was called by his full name but when Ally said it he couldn’t help but smile, he really did love her.
A few hours later he grabbed his bag and kissed Ally good-bye, he would be gone a week, but it was something that they weren’t used to. The next day the Bucs rallied in the ninth inning to beat the Cardinals, starting the year off right. They split the four game series with the Cards and took on the Reds next, splitting that series as well. In the first game of that series though Ryan hit another grand slam to help toppled the Reds ten-two.
The twelfth came; the second game of the Reds series and the day before the Bucs home opener which meant that they were coming home that night. Ally watched the game on TV at Ryan’s house; she had a key and his TV was definitely better than the one at her dorm. Since it was an afternoon game it ended around three and since it was a loss Ally expected Ryan to be upset when he returned home.
He opened the front door at around six o’clock not frowning, but not smiling either. That is until he saw who was sitting on his couch. Ally had been watching TV but when she heard him pull up she had turned off and was now sitting in silence. Ryan stood in the doorway for a moment and Ally sat still on the couch, but they had been away long enough and it only took Ally a few seconds to run from the couch, to the doorway and into Ryan’s arms. “I missed you so much,” he said, his arms tightly around her.
“I missed you too,” he tried to put her down but she did not want to leave his embrace. They had been away from each other for a week, they had missed each other, and he still held her and made his way to the couch. “Good hit yesterday,” she smiled.
“Thanks, that was for you.”
Monday morning Ally had one class before going to the stadium. Since there were only two weeks until finals most of class time was spent either finishing up at topic or preparing for the nearing exams. When class ended Ally quickly made it to her dorm and changed into a gray pants suit before leaving for PNC Park. She arrived forty-five minutes later and entered through the media entrance as she did every other time. Since it was the home opener she was tasked to interview most of the players to see how they felt about playing at home.
Following the interviews she made her way to her seat to enjoy the game, and that she did; they Bucs won seven-nothing. So far the season had started out quite well and Ally was glad.
Following the game Ally went back to Ryan’s house for a while before returning to school, she only had one class the next day but she absolutely had to attend.
Tuesday morning she woke up feeling a bit sick but pushed it off, she had to get to class. If she thought that class would take her mind of the queasiness she was wrong. Class seemed a lot longer, most probably because she was feeling sick and the moment that it ended she quickly walked back to her dorm. She didn’t bother to enter the building but pulled her keys from her pocket and got into her car. She had planned to see Ryan that day but didn’t have a time set to leave, now seemed as good as any other time. Even if he wasn’t at home she could let herself in and wait for him.
When she arrived she found his car in the driveway and smiled, she knew that he could make her feel better.
“Baby, my tummy hurts,” she said finding him on couch watching something on TV.
“Tummy, are we five?” Ryan said with a smile. “We’ll make you feel better. Go lie down on my bed and I’ll be in in a minute.” Ally walked to the room at the end of the hall, Ryan’s room. It was a decent sized room; a dresser and a king sized bed were all that filled it. The walls were painted a tan color, matching the carpet, the sheets and pillows on the large bed were white and the comforter black. It was a very basic room but it suited Ryan and Ally loved spending time there. She occasionally spent the night there on weekends when Ryan wasn’t on the road. She climbed up into the big bed and propped one of the soft, fluffy pillows against the headboard so that she could sit up. The bed always seemed big to her, after all she was definitely not the tallest of people, but without Ryan next to her it seemed especially large.
As she thought this Ryan appeared in the hallway and was soon standing at the foot of the bed. “Ginger ale helps, right?” Ally nodded and Ryan walked around to her side of the bed to hand her the tall glass of ginger ale intended to settle her stomach. “Now get some rest.”
“Thanks Ry,” she smiled.
“I’ll leave you alone so you can get some sleep,” he started towards the door only to her Ally say, “Wait.”
He turned to see her pouting, “Keep me company?” Ryan couldn’t say no to that face and walked back to the bed and crawled in next to her. She cuddled up next to him and drank some of the ginger ale and soon she was asleep.
On Sunday the nineteenth the Bucs took on the Braves and fell eleven to one. Ally slept over that night and the next morning awoke to find the bed empty, as always on game day. She heard the shower running and went to the kitchen to make something for Ryan to eat before he left for the stadium. She made cinnamon and sugar toast, as she did every time she was there on game day, and set it on the table with a glass of orange juice.
She sat down at the table and when Ryan entered the room he was flexing his right wrist and wincing in pain. “Baby are you okay?”
“I think I tweaked it during the game yesterday. Thanks for breakfast but I’ve gotta get going,” he said downing the first piece of toast and grabbing the second.
“You’re welcome; please get your wrist looked at.”
“I will, I love you Allyson, have fun at class.” He took a sip of his orange juice and kissed her.
“I love you too Ryan.”
Ally finished her breakfast and headed off to class, during the drive back to school she was thinking about Ryan and hoping that he was okay. She knew how much he loved to go out and play every day and how much it would crush him if he couldn’t play.
Ryan drove to the stadium thinking about his wrist, it had only started to hurt that morning but he knew that he had to have done something to it during the game the day before. His plan was to walk into the clubhouse and tell the trainers that he had a problem with his wrist; he knew that they would tell him sit out that night and as much as it hurt him he knew that it was the best thing for him. “What can I do for you Ryan?”
“Pretty sure I tweaked my wrist during the game yesterday, it popped when I hit the grounded but it didn’t hurt then so I didn’t think anything of it.”
“Alright, let’s take a look.” The trainers took a look thinking that it might be either a break or a facture but decided that an MRI would be the way to know and scheduled one for the next day.
Ryan left the training room upset, he would sit out at least that day’s practice and that night’s game. He hoped that it wasn’t what the trainers thought and that it was just a pull of some sort and that he could be back in the game within the week. But from the pain in the wrist that he used to throw he didn’t think that he would get what he was hoping for. As soon as he knew that Ally was out of class he called her and while it was ringing he tried to force a smile, Ally could always tell when he was upset.
“Hey baby, do you work tonight?”
“I just have to do a post game interview, why baby what’s wrong?”
“They think it’s a fracture so I’m out for a while, I was wondering if maybe you would want to watch the game with me.”
“I’m sorry baby; of course I’ll watch the game with you. It’s gonna be weird though, I’m used to seeing you out on the field. You’ll get through this though baby. I’m about to leave school but I’ll see you at your house, okay?”
“Yeah, thanks Ally, I love you.”
“You too Ry.” She hung up and sat down in her car. She could hear that he was upset, even though he tried to mask it. She was prepared to deal with his angry and to do anything that she could to make feel better.
When she arrived at his house she found him on the couch, a frown on his face and his wrist wrapped in an ace bandage. She sat down next to him and placed a kiss on his cheek. “What can I do for you baby?”
“I just want you to sit here. I guess I’ll be spending a lot more time with you than I thought,” he forced a smile and put his arm around her.
“Allyson Marie Smith,” the voice boomed from the speakers. She was finally doing it, graduating from Robert Morris University after four long years. She was glad that she had done things the way she did. The Air Force gave her a chance not only to serve her country that she loved so much but also to get real world experience. If she had not gone to the AF she also would not have ended up with the man she loved.
This however was not what she was thinking about when she walked across the stage to receive her diploma and shake hands with the dean. She was thinking about what lie ahead… Her boyfriend had had surgery less than a month ago for his fractured wrist and was healing nicely; they had been spending all of their free time together since his injury. Ally worked a few nights a week for her internship but when she didn’t work she and Ryan went to the big screen outside Mellon Arena to take in a Pens’ playoff game. They could have easily gotten tickets to watch inside but the atmosphere outside was so intense that after watching one game outside they couldn’t stop.
Walking down the stairs she looked out into the crowd and found Ryan’s smiling face; he was definitely one of those most proud of Ally and her accomplishments. After tossing their hats the graduates made their way to their families. Ally hugged her parents and siblings before making her way to waiting boyfriend. “Congratulations Ally, I’m so proud of you,” he picked her up, spinning her around. He placed her back on the ground and kissed her, “I love you so much.”
“I love you too Ryan, and thank you.” She was smiling widely; she was more than glad that she was finished with school.
Her parents took her and Ryan out to dinner that night before Ally returned to Ryan’s house to sleep that night. She was sitting on the couch with him and watching TV when she spoke up. “So I’m looking for an apartment but I was wondering if it was okay to stay here until I do? I really don’t want to stay with my parents.
“Of course you can stay here, I’ll be right back.” He got up from the couch and disappeared down the hallway to his bedroom. When he returned he had a small box wrapped in yellow paper. “Congratulations Ally.”
She smiled as she took the box from his hand and pulled the paper off. Inside the box inside cotton was a small key. “Is this?”
He smiled. “It’s up to you, but if you wanted to…” He kissed her cheek. “Would you move in with me?”
“Ryan I would love to move in with you, I love you. You have made these last nine months of my life amazing, thank you.”
“Anything for you my love, and who would have thought that I would end up with an FSN reporter.” He smiled and pulled her closer.
Just as she was resting her head on his shoulder her cell phone rang in her pocket. “Hello?” She listened closely and as she did her smile grew. “Thank you,” she said before hanging up. Ryan looked on curiously and finally Ally answered his questioning look. “It’s official; I am a full time FSN reporter. Could today get any better?” Ryan didn’t answer he just kissed her cheek and continued to smile.