Large print & ebook, 312 Pages
He was attractive, talented…and way off limits.
Heather Gadway may have been a world-class college pitcher and a top university coach, but she's a rank amateur when it comes to managing the Falcons, her father's struggling minor league team. And when it comes to managing her aggravating attraction to Garrett Wolf, their talented new pitcher. It's going to be difficult enough to make it as the first female manager in the league and prove to her overly critical father she's worthy. No distractions. No missteps. And certainly no romances with players. Everything stands between them—including their troubled pasts—even as Heather's world falls apart and Garrett's the one who's there to catch her…
“Are you ready?” She dropped a bag by the backstop, pulled out a blue visor and adjusted it over her head. When she swept off her glasses and peered up at him, his stomach jittered and his breath hitched. He reined in his slipping control and forced an easy smile.
“Sure. Would you like to pitch first?” He wanted her to say yes. Going last meant he could guarantee his score only topped hers slightly, just enough to make Holly Springs dust in his tire treads and Heather a dream that’d never materialize.
She angled her head so that her long ponytail slid over her tanned shoulders. The smile she gave him was as sweet as freshly squeezed lemonade, minus the sugar. “I’d like to observe you first, if you’d don’t mind.”
“Observe me?” The question leaped out of him in surprise.
She finished a gulp of her sports drink and lowered it, looking him dead in the eye. “So I can finish taking notes on you.”
He nearly swallowed the sunflower shell he’d just popped in his mouth. Her ego must be out of control if she thought he’d lose. He flexed his fingers and nodded curtly. “It’s your prerogative.”
Dean’s red hair appeared in the dugout, and he jogged around the fence, pulling on his catcher’s mask. “Sorry I’m late!” He dropped two bags of balls beside home plate and squatted behind it. “Who’s pitching first?”
“Looks like me.” Garrett sauntered toward the red clay mound, ignoring his jeering teammates.
“Whatever you do, don’t pretend you’re in a game or you’ll definitely lose,” heckled Hopson, whose comment earned a round of chuckles from the team.
“Go get ’em, wild thing,” put in Waitman, who did an impromptu dance Garrett caught out of the corner of his eye. The rest of the crowd joined in, laughing.
“Ignore them, Wolf.” Dean punched his mitt, his nearly colorless eyes squinting against the sun.
Garrett shrugged. “Who? I don’t hear anything but some whining gnats.” This was actually going to be fun. Pitching contests meant no batters. Nothing but mitt. And his throws would strike it every single time.
“Ohhhhhhhhhhh! That hurt,” guffawed another player, and some made boo-hoo sounds.
“Knock it off, Falcons,” snapped Heather, and the rowdy bunch subsided. Even Garrett gaped at her, surprised. Her voice might be low, but it demanded attention.
“Sorry, Skipper,” murmured the new shortstop. A few kissy noises erupted, then stopped when she turned her head and stared hard into the dugout.
“Thank you, Valdez. As for the rest of you, stay and act like the professionals you are, or leave before I ask you to. All right?” She leaned her defined arms on the padded top of the dugout fence, her shapely ankles crossed. But her casual pose didn’t fool him. She was deliberately acting like this to make him believe her victory was a foregone conclusion. It was the oldest trick in the book. She’d need to do a lot better than that if she hoped to best him.
“Ready whenever you are,” she said, her voice flippant, her lips turned up in a ready-for-anything smile.
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