With two diverging careers on the line, Teri and Aaron are torn between the right thing to do…and what feels so right to them.
With a son who’s played since he could walk, Teri lives, eats and breathes baseball. She was almost more excited than Emery when his invitation to a minor league team’s training camp came. But excited doesn’t begin to describe her reaction to Em’s new mentor, Aaron Reynolds. A spring fling? Just the ticket.
Fighting a chronic injury, Aaron is biding his time until he can return to the majors. Being assigned a mixed-up rookie to babysit is fine with him, especially one that comes with a sassy, sexy camp follower like Teri. But he soon finds he has his hands full…trying to keep Emery on the straight and narrow…and trying to keep his liaison with Teri strictly physical.
Reader Advisory: This book was previously released as a short story with Totally Bound. It has been considerably expanded and revised for re-release.
General Release Date: 30th May 2014
Aaron rolled his shoulder gingerly then scowled down at the oily rag in his hand. Bad enough that he wasn’t able to be at his real home, working out with his team for spring training, but now Coach had talked him into babysitting duty for the new young phenom he’d brought into the organisation. A phenom that was currently AWOL. Not exactly an auspicious start.
His cell phone rang just as he was getting into a good rhythm. “Damn it. Great timing, Deke.” After looking around fruitlessly for a sec, he finally just wiped his oily hands down his jeans. They were old anyway.
When he finally picked the phone up, he had to smile at the contact photo of his friend getting knocked ass over teakettle during a play at home. “Hey, man,” he answered.
“Hank! Wut up?” Deke’s low drawl was as thick and strong as Deke himself.
“Not much.” He stood and walked over to the sliding door to the balcony, staring out at the forested greenbelt behind the condo complex. He’d closed the door earlier because some random neighbour somewhere had been smoking. “Just doing some chores. Day off.” He slid the door open and sniffed to make sure the air was unpolluted before stepping out. One thing he couldn’t stand was the smell of smoke. Probably came from growing up with a dad who’d constantly smoked in the house. He’d had enough second-hand carcinogens in his lifetime.
“So how long ya gonna be down on the farm makin’ hay?”
Aaron had to chuckle at the creative reference to his current position with one of their minor league teams—or ‘farm teams’. Deke might fool those who didn’t know him into thinking he was some dumb hick, but he was sharp and had a wicked quick sense of humour. “Probably until my country accent’s as thick as yours, boy.” He sat on the chaise longue and swung his legs up onto the seat.
“Hain’t never gonna happen. This here took decades to perfect.” After a brief laugh, Deke added in a more serious tone, “You ain’t worried ‘bout the long run, are ya? The docs haven’t said anything else?”
“Nothing new.” Aaron shrugged reflexively then winced. He kept forgetting. “It’ll just take time and determination.” And luck.
“And you got those in spades, or your name ain’t Hank Aaron Reynolds, son.”
“How’s the wet nursin’ going?”
“Typical.” Aaron wasn’t a gossip, but this was Deke, and he knew that whatever he said wouldn’t go anywhere. Well, maybe with the exception of his wife, Julia, but she was similar to Deke in that she was trustworthy. They had both proven it many times before, especially during this time in Aaron’s career. Everyone knew that Aaron and Deke were best friends, so Deke and Julia got asked questions about him a lot but never volunteered anything.
“So he’s basically young and cocky and full of himself?”
“Sort of. Yeah, on the face of it. Seems to have decent manners, though, so it might not be too bad. That said, he didn’t come home last night.”
Deke gave a snort. “What, already? He’s only been there a day, right?”
“Yep.” He sighed. Aaron had seen Emery Sandusky’s footage with the rest of the coaching staff, and he was a heck of a ballplayer. He played third base like he’d been born for it, plus he was a natural hitter. But it hadn’t taken much digging to find out he was a partier, so Coach had asked Aaron to open up his condo to the young man, to try to insulate him as best he could and be a steadying influence.
Even so, Emery’d disappeared his first night in town with some of the other younger players.
Deke grunted disgustedly and Aaron continued, “I didn’t expect to have to lay down the law about curfew and house rules before the kid even unpacked. I suppose I’ll have to have a chat with him today. If he ever comes home,” he added, looking at the clock. They had a day off today but would be expected to hit it hard starting tomorrow. “I was going to take him over to the field and show him around so he knows what to expect when he walks in tomorrow.”
“That’s nice of ya, Dad.”
“Shove it,” Aaron shot back without any heat. “Speaking of dads, how’s Julia coming along? She got that baby baked yet?”
“Still cookin’, Uncle Hank,” Deke answered proudly. After a couple of years of effort, complicated by the team’s travelling schedule, Deke and Julia had finally managed to get the deed done. His best friend couldn’t wait to be a daddy. “You’d best heal up and come on back, ‘cause if you ain’t here when this baby comes, Julia will never forgive ya.”
Aaron smirked. “Yeah, I’m sure it’s Julia that won’t be happy.”
Deke laughed his cheerful, deep chuckle. “That’s all I’m coppin’ to. We get to take a gander at it tomorrow, maybe find out if it’s a boy or girl if he don’t have his legs crossed.”
“Or her legs,” Aaron pointed out.
“I’ll be glad when we find out, man. I hate callin’ the baby ‘it’ and every fuckin’ time I say one or t’other someone corrects me.”
Aaron laughed. “Yeah, that’ll come in handy.”
“I’d best be goin’. Don’t be a stranger, ’kay?”
“Yeah, man. I’ll touch base in a couple days.”
“You do that. See ya.”
Aaron said goodbye and hung up then stretched. He really didn’t have much to do today. He’d already gone to the store to stock up on food for the week, done some light cleaning and caught up on emails. Maybe he’d go for a jog after he put a bit more time into the glove he was breaking in.
He went back inside and settled into the soothing rhythm of working oil into leather. He’d been at it for about ten minutes when he heard the sound of a key in the lock. He looked up from the glove as the front door of the condo opened. His new charge came through the door, looking a bit worse for the wear, slamming the door behind him in his haste.
Here we go.
After living all over the US while growing up, I've settled into the beautiful Pacific Northwest and can't see myself living anywhere else. I'm a mom to two girls, who—to my pride and gratification—love to read and want to make a living with words themselves someday.
Even when I'm not writing, I find myself storing up experiences and people for future reference. I had decades of potential material at my mental fingertips by the time I started putting my stories into words.
I believe that passion is to be treasured, stepping out of the box should be encouraged, and forever can come from the most unlikely of beginnings. So find a story, step inside and immerse yourself in the magic of love. I'll meet you there…