Authors: Raine Thomas
Tags: #FICTION / Romance / Contemporary
Copyright 2013 Raine Thomas.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical without the express written permission of the author. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Visit the author's website:
Cover design by:
Cover photo credit to:
K Keeton Designs
Table of Contents
In memory of Kevin Stephen Knorst
February 10, 1978 - September 6, 2010
“There's no other love like the love for a brother. There's no other love like the love from a brother.”
- Terri Guillemets
When I developed For Everly’s concept, I knew I’d have to consult a couple of specialists. I couldn’t write a book about a physical therapist and a professional baseball player without consulting people skilled in these areas. Online research can only take a writer so far, after all!
Thank you so much to Dr. Jennifer Smith for taking the time to provide the details about physical therapy specific to the type of injury suffered by Cole. Because of you, I was able to infuse the story with more depth and realism. You’re brilliant, and the world is lucky to have someone as dedicated as you!
Another hearty thank you goes out to Bryan Hebson, retired Major League Baseball player. I can never express how grateful I am not only for your insights on the activities, conduct, and contractual obligations of professional ballplayers, but for your kind words about your time at Auburn with my brother. You’re a true gem. I’m so grateful that my “sister,” Heather Moorer, connected us.
Although these specialists did their best to school me, a story is only as good as its writer. Any errors regarding the facts or details about the physical therapy and baseball elements in this story are solely my responsibility.
Thank you to my team of cheerleaders, sounding boards, blurb editors, and beta readers: Diane Kaye, Bethany Lopez, Marilyn Almodóvar, Jessica Wentz, and Roy Bronson. Your insights, questions, and ongoing encouragement made writing this book a wonderful experience!
Last, but not least, thank you to my husband, Kevin, and our daughter, Faith. You’ll never know how much I appreciate your patience and understanding when I’m writing. Although it pulls me away from family time, you support me and find ways to give me peace. You’re the biggest blessings in my life!
Cole knew when he hit the first curb that he’d had too much to drink. He cursed as he jerked the wheel to bring the car back into the correct lane, nearly swiping a garbage can on the dark residential street. Pain shot through his shoulder as he righted the wheel, generating a more vicious curse.
The thought penetrated the haze coating his mind.
Don’t ding the Maserati
Focusing intently and clutching the wheel until his knuckles went numb, he registered he was less than a mile from home. He wanted to get there before he ended up with a DUI. Management would likely bench him for half the coming season if he screwed up like that.
His marinating brain decided this meant he should go faster. Get home quick before getting caught. He picked up speed, weaving along the back streets leading to his house. Thank God the downtown Atlanta nightclub was less than five miles from home.
Just as his driveway came into sight, the glaring lights of an oncoming car pierced his windshield. He slammed on the brakes and swerved to avoid the collision. The Maserati hit a patch of ice. The world spun as the other car passed without impact.
The last thing Cole registered was the large bulk of a magnolia tree speeding toward him and the fleeting thought that his beloved car was about to get much more than a ding.
* * *
A persistent beeping sound brought him back around. He slowly opened his eyes. A speckled ceiling came into focus. One of the beeping sounds increased as he registered his surroundings. Sunlight filled the spacious hospital room.
“Cole? Cole, honey?”
He glanced over at the sound of his mother’s voice. She sat on his left side holding his hand. The moment he looked at her, she gave it a tight squeeze.
“Can you hear me, honey?” she asked. The tears in her brown eyes tugged at Cole’s conscience.
Before he could answer, his dad’s rumbling southern drawl filled the room. “‘Course he can hear you, Brenda. He only has a concussion, for heaven’s sake.” He moved closer to the bed, towering over his wife. He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and caught Cole’s gaze. “Crash sure didn’t help his god-awful looks, though.”
“Rick!” his mom gasped.
Cole found himself comforted by the normal banter. He hadn’t yet looked down at his body, afraid of what he might see.
Lifting a corner of his mouth, he said, “Yeah, Ol’ Man. You’re scarring my sensitive psyche here.”
His dad guffawed at that. “Well, at least she didn’t call me Richard Dale Parker. Then I’d know I was in real trouble.”
“You two,” his mom censured, shaking her head. Her bob of sable-colored hair waved around her pretty face. She focused on Cole. “How are you feeling, honey? Do you remember what happened?”
“I remember,” he replied, adding a private
. “And I feel fine, actually.”
The answer surprised him. It had been a while since he last remembered being pain-free. For a terrifying moment, he feared he was paralyzed. But he moved his fingers and toes and felt the blanket and sheets against his skin. Lifting his arms, he tested for injury.
A movement just outside his room’s door caught his eye. He spotted his brother Wyatt talking with someone wearing a lab coat. Though he tried, he couldn’t read Wyatt’s expression since he was mostly turned away from him.
“We told Avery not to worry about making the trip out here,” his mother said. “The doctor assured us it wasn’t serious, and I didn’t want her to have to worry about Sam.”
“Of course,” Cole agreed, grateful his older sister wasn’t hauling his five-year-old nephew across town at the crack of dawn. “I’ll call her later. No need for all of the fuss.”
“You’re one lucky son of a buck,” his father said, the words drowning out the machines in the room. “If you’d been going even a little faster…”
The guilt resurged. Cole prayed that wasn’t moisture he saw in his father’s gaze. His dad never cried.
Wyatt saved him from responding when he entered the room. After looking between each of them and quickly assessing the situation, he said, “Mom, Dad, why don’t you have a word with Dr. Rosen about Cole’s aftercare? Then grab a cup of coffee and a muffin or something. Put it on my account.”