Jumped by Colette Auclair

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Authors: Colette Auclair
Bethany said to Finn as she and her margarita passed him en route to the yard. It was the first she’d spoken to him since he’d arrived. He decided to let her come to him when she was ready. After lobbing that grenade in the reservoir, he wasn’t sure where they stood.
    â€œI’ll say.” He followed her down the stone steps.
    Kristen caught up with him, much to his dismay. “Finn!”
    â€œHi, Kristen.”
    â€œAre you gonna play football?” Again, she made it sound so pornographic, and not in a good way. Which was saying something.
    â€œSeems to be the thing to do.”
    â€œI’ll be cheering for you.” She grabbed his head and kissed his cheek.
    Just then, the football flew inches above their heads, instantly squelching the smooch. Exquisite timing.
    Within minutes the group became two teams. Everyone clambered through the white fence into the pasture to begin the game, with Harris as referee. Screams and laughter filled the warm air, and long shadows rippled across the green of the irrigated pasture. It was, Finn thought, like one of those beer commercials, with a slew of beautiful people playing a pick-up game in a beautiful setting.
    Turned out the wedding guests loved their football, or they were suitably inebriated to believe they loved it. Harris as ref was reason enough to keep playing, because he penalized players for infractions such as Margarita Spilling and Unattractive Grimacing. Forty-five minutes later, Finn’s team was behind, but he had a plan. He would go long. He was still sober, so he could outmaneuver the happy, wobbly defense. Besides, he wanted to end the game so he could talk to Bethany. And he was hungry. Isn’t anyone else hungry?
    The play began. Finn was in the clear. He ran hard—otherwise, what was the point?—and turned back, looking for the ball. There it was. A decent spiral from Nick, arrowing right for him. Perfect.
    â€œGo, Finn!” It was Bethany. His Bethany, cheering for him. He glanced toward her a split second before the ball buried itself in his waiting embrace.
    Then he was in the air. Spinning. Slamming to the ground. Hitting hard. He heard a crack and knew it was one of his bones.
    So much for his great play.


    F inn!” Beth yelled upon seeing her ex-husband, who still loved her, on the ground. Grady crouched next to him. Beth couldn’t see Finn’s face, but she heard him moan. It was one of the more terrible sounds she’d ever heard.
    Everyone gathered around him, a panting, sweaty group of still-beautiful people.
    â€œFinn! Finn, baby, what’s going on?” Kristen yelled as she ran over. Like she was some grizzled army surgeon, ready to field-dress Finn’s injury. She stood behind Grady and put her hand on his shoulder. Because she was so traumatized, she was about to swoon . Or she was steadying Grady. Give me a break.
    Grady said to Kristen, “Excuse me, I need a little room here.” The geologist backed off.
    Ha! Kristen was harmless, and for all Beth knew was a fantastic person, but Beth was happy the geologist was leaving the next day.
    Beth knelt by Finn’s hip.
    â€œHi, honey,” Finn said to Beth. “Did you hear my bone break?” He sounded almost proud. “I can get up.”
    â€œNo, buddy,” Grady said. “Not yet.”
    She sublimated the nausea fomenting in her stomach. She smiled and felt it tremble on her lips. “Do you think your thigh bone is broken? Your femur?” Please say no please say no please say no.
    He blinked at her. “No. Lower. My knee hurts. So does my ankle. My lower leg. But not my thigh.”
    Beth realized she had been holding her breath. She released it.
    â€œYou’re sure?” asked Grady.
    â€œNot my femur,” Finn said. “Christ, what happened?”
    Grady said to Harris, “Get a blanket, would you? And scissors, please?”
    â€œOn it,” Harris said. It was the

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