Let the games begin – Spanket

This is part of the Spanket series of stories. The series begins with Joining the Competition.

March 20th 3:42pm

Thursday was one of those days where five o’clock could not come fast enough for Jessie. She had been running late this morning, which lead her to get stuck in traffic on the way to work and basically start the day behind. It was nearly eleven before she got a chance to leave her desk and take a bathroom break.

Sitting in the stall, Jessie fished her phone out of her purse and immediately went to the bracket site. Instead of being greeted with a nice mobile version, she was informed she needed to download the mobile app in order to access to fantasy sports, which included the tourney. Downloading the app required WiFi access, which meant she’d have to wait until she got home. She grumbled the whole way back to her desk, thoroughly annoyed at the lack of information.

The next four hours were nerve-wrecking. She had a lunch meeting, which met she didn’t get to leave for lunch, but at least would get to go home early. She kept thinking through all the possibilities of what might happen. In particular, her mind focused on the simplest unknowns; the other women’s brackets and how well hers had performed so far.

The work day was finally nearing its conclusion, and Jessie was more than ready to leave. She had already cleaned her desk twice and just had Outlook open on her computer to appear like she was still working. Twenty minutes and she would be in her car heading home. Eighteen minutes and she could shut down her workstation. “Seventeen minutes and thirty seconds, twenty nine seconds, twenty eight…” she mumbled to herself watching the clock app count down the time.

“Hey Jessie, you got a moment?” she heard coming from her cubicle’s door behind her.

“The bitch!” Jessie thought. She was a really nice lady, and a great boss, but today she just drove Jessie crazy. This was the third time her boss had interrupted her attempt at a break today. First, right as she was going on her normal morning coffee break, then sucking her into the lunch meeting and now, minutes before she was about to leave. It was probably going to be about fixing some project the interns had screwed up and she’d be lucky to leave before 6.

Jessie spun around to face the older woman, asking “Ah, what do you need?”, as politely as her irritation allowed.

“Do you have the Henderson account documents?”

“Ah, yea they are right here,” Jessie fished out the folder from her outbox and handed it over.

“Good good good. Can you go drop these by their office? They need to get them before the end of the day.”

“Ah ok,” Jessie responded with a smile. Their office was around the corner from her house. She’d get home earlier and score some brownie points with her boss. Win-Win!

“Thanks, I’ll see you in the morning.”

——–

“Honey?” Nate asked, walking into the living room. His wife was sitting on the couch, a blanket wrapped around her, staring at the TV. Her laptop was setting on the coffee table, open to ESPN while a basketball game played on the TV, neither of which he had ever known his wife to be interested in. He was not one to look a gift house in the mouth, and instead of questioning her interest, he slide in next to her on the couch. “So who’s winning?” he asked rhetorically.

“Oh, Michigan state is crushing them. Can you believe it! Dayton beat Ohio state! Good thing I didn’t bet on them going far.” Jessie said reaching for the laptop.

“Bet on them” Nate thought to himself. She must have joined some office bracket pool and had $10 or something ridding on her bracket. His wife had this deep competitive streak to her, that once challenged, she could not let things go until she won. She would get tunnel vision, focusing on the goal. He had occasionally used it to his advantage over the years, but it normally caused more headaches than anything else.

Nate cooked a frozen pizza for them then kicked up his heals and relaxed next to his wife. At evening faded into night, early games were replaced by later games and Nate’s eyes slowly got heavier and heavier. He didn’t even notice dozing off until a shrill yell pierced his dreams.

“What!” Nate said, waking with a start.

“NC state just gave away the damn game!” Jessie responded, leaning forward to be a little closer to the TV.

“What? What time is it?” Nate mumbled once he realized that he was the most imminent danger to his wife. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, the clock on the cable box came into view, reading 9:43. “Com’on lets go to bed,” he mumbled, getting up.

“Go ahead, there’s 2 more games,” she waved at him without even looking.

“No, lets go to bed. It’s late and we both got work in the morning,” he said, rounding the back of the couch.

“I’m fine, I’ll be up later.”

Nate paused behind his wife and leaned over the back of the couch, whispering in her hear, “is someone being naughty?”

Jessie knew exactly what he was saying and there was only one acceptable response. Back when their relationship had been young, she regularly used “I’m feeling naughty” as code for wanting sex. Now, the slight variation had turned into their code phrase for getting her bum warmed. Her competitive side put up a fight in her mind, but self-preservation won out.

“No,” she said with a little pout. Turning off the TV, she followed him to the bedroom, carefully keeping him in front of her, less she give him a reason to go through with his veiled threat.

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