Authors: Jaci Burton
“Oh, that’s a good sign.”
“I’ll keep you posted, but I intend to keep her busy.”
“Good. She needs that. And thank you again.”
“I’ll do what I can, Miss Ginger.”
“I know you will, honey. I’ll talk to you soon.”
He hung up, then went into the kitchen to find Haven in deep conversation with Hammond about how to season the perfect steak.
“Now, Miss Haven, if I gave up all my secrets to Mr. Trevor’s guests, what would he need me for?”
Haven laughed. “In other words, you aren’t going to tell me what that amazing smell is? If I had to guess, I’d say garlic.”
Hammond smiled. “Not saying a word. Taking that recipe to my grave.” When Hammond spotted him, he asked, “Where would you like to eat tonight, Mr. Trevor?”
“In the eating area is just fine, Hammond.”
“You two go ahead and take a seat. I’ll be serving up the meal in just a few minutes.”
They went into the next room. Trevor held her chair out for
her. She slid into it and lifted her gaze to his, and she didn’t look happy. “This isn’t a date, you know.”
“No, but you are a guest.” He sensed her being defensive, though he didn’t know why. “Is there any reason I shouldn’t be respectful?”
“I guess not. Thank you.”
He was about to ask her if she was upset about something, but Hammond came out bearing a tray with their salads.
“Miss Haven already told me her preferred dressing,” he said, laying dressing to the side. “When you finish these, I’ll bring your steaks.”
“Thanks, Hammond. I assume you made some extras to take home to you, Lyla, and the grandkids?”
Hammond grinned. “You know I did.”
“Why don’t you go ahead and take off before those steaks get cold? I can serve them up.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind? I’m happy to serve you dinner and clean up after.”
“Go ahead and have dinner with your family. I’m pretty sure Haven and I can take it from here.”
Haven nodded. “We can. And thank you for fixing dinner. I already know it’s going to be fantastic.”
“I expect a full report tomorrow on how you liked your steak,” he said as he made his way toward the kitchen. “You two have a great night.”
“Good night, Hammond,” Trevor said, then dug into his salad. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”
“What you did was very nice,” Haven said.
Trevor looked up at her and frowned. “What? Oh . . . Hammond? He likes to spend time with Lyla and the kids.”
“How old are the children?”
“Four and six.”
“Off the record? What happened to their mom?”
“Seriously, Trevor. This is off the record.”
He nodded. “Hammond’s daughter Jasmine has a drug problem. A big one she’s been struggling with off and on for years. She was in and out of jail a few times for possession. But it went from bad to worse, and two years ago she started dealing, got caught, and now she has a long-term prison problem.”
Haven laid her fork down. “Oh, no.”
“Yeah. So Hammond and Lyla got full custody of Amelia and Jacob.”
“What about the kids’ father?”
“Two different fathers, neither responsible enough to be in the picture. They were even worse than Jasmine. One’s in jail for armed robbery.”
Haven sighed. “Those poor children. Thank God they have grandparents like Hammond and his wife to care for them.”
“Yeah. Hammond made a lot of sacrifices to try to get his daughter clean, but then finally washed his hands of her and bent over backward for the grandkids.”
“Some people you can’t help.”
“Not if they don’t want the help, no.”
She laid her hand on his. “Thank you for helping Hammond and his family.”
“Hammond’s doing all the work. I’m just paying his salary.”
“You’re right. He is. But he has you in his corner, and that’s great.”
“I like him. And I get a benefit out of this, too, you know. You haven’t tasted those steaks yet.”
She laughed. “Well, let’s get to it.”
Trevor was glad the topic was off him and onto the food, which of course tasted damn good.
“Oh, my God,” Haven said after she’d eaten a couple of pieces of her steak. “No wonder you hired Hammond. This steak is fantastic.”
Trevor swallowed and took a drink of iced tea. “I told you I got the better end of this deal.”
“So what you’re saying is, you can’t cook.”
“Sure I can. But I’m on the road a lot, and while I’m here in St. Louis, I have a fantastic cook.”
“And when you move to Tampa to play football? What happens to Hammond then?”
“He comes here every day to see to the house for me.”
She leaned back in her chair. “In other words, you continue to pay him annually.”
“Because you can afford to do that and because you’re a nice guy.”
“Aw, come on, don’t go telling people that, Haven. I have a badass reputation to maintain. And besides, we’re still off the record.”
She laughed. “Your secret is safe with me.”
After they finished eating, they cleared the table and took the dishes into the kitchen. Haven turned on the water and started rinsing them.
Trevor laid his hand over hers. “Hammond will have your ass if you start washing those dishes.”
“I can’t just leave these dirty dishes in the sink.”
“And if you take away his job, you’ll take away his pride.”
Now that, she understood. She turned off the water. “Fine.”
She grabbed a towel to dry her hands.
He led her back to the sunroom. But first, he grabbed a beer from the refrigerator. He held one up for her, but she shook her head.
When they settled in, she realized it had gotten dark while they were eating. And cooler outside.
“Cold?” he asked.
He reached for the blanket that was lying over one of the chairs and handed it to her.
“So, about your new job at the network?” he asked after she’d settled in.
“My job? Nothing much to tell.”
“Are you excited about being a sportscaster?”
“It’s . . . new. So I’m still getting my feet wet.”
“Who have you interviewed?”
Trevor would ask her that. In essence, he was giving her a job interview. And she was about to fail miserably. “Oh, uh. No one big yet. Like I said, this is all new to me.”
He leaned back in his chair and took a sip of his beer, then grinned at her. “Yeah, but now you’ve got me.”
“So I do. And why is that?”
“Why is what?”
“Why me? You could have gotten one of the more seasoned sportscasters to do this feature story on your career. You had to know I was just getting started with the network.”
“Because you know me. And because I trust you not to fuck this up.”
She laughed. “Are you sure about that? You heard the part about me saying this was new, right?”
“Yeah. But aren’t you good at your job? Isn’t this what you’ve been training for, putting in time at that Dallas news station, hoping for your big break?” He flashed a grin at her. “Baby, I’m your big break.”
And there was a glimpse of that giant ego he’d carried, even in college. “You’re just full of self-confidence, aren’t you, Trevor?”
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without a healthy ego.”
She couldn’t fault him for that. Self-confidence was key in
professional sports. You couldn’t be a shrinking wallflower, thinking you were second rate, and succeed, especially at dual sports. “Good point. And I suppose, what brings me here.”
“True. So what’s on tap for you and me, besides us eating great meals together?”
“I’ll talk about your family history, you coming up as a kid, and then through high school and college. We’ll talk about your life as you lead it today—” She looked around. “People love to know about a player’s lifestyle. Then we’ll get into your professional career and how you manage to juggle playing both baseball and football. We’ll interview your family—”
Haven paused. “No? To which part?”
“I don’t want my parents interviewed.”
“Again. Why not?”
“Because I don’t. They’re not part of my career.”
“I disagree. They were a big part of getting you here, of forming the person you are now.”
There was something he wasn’t telling her. She’d never met his parents. She was certain they’d visited him in college, but she’d never been around for that. Maybe he didn’t get along with them. Or maybe they were media shy. She’d have to respect that. Or at least put it aside for later, when she’d push again. “Okay. Parents off-limits. But I’m still going to ask you about your background.”
“You can ask any question you want. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna answer it.”
“Duly noted.” As was typical for Trevor, he presented a challenge. When hadn’t he? Even in college, he hadn’t made it easy for her to do her job.
But that hadn’t stopped her then. And it wouldn’t stop her now.
“How’s your mom?” he asked.
“She’s doing . . . well. I talked to her yesterday, as a matter of fact. I was originally going to—well, never mind.”
“Originally going to what?”
It wouldn’t do for him to know that she’d been about to abandon her dream job and hightail it out of New York to run back to Oklahoma. “I was going to visit her, but this job came up so I had to let her know I’d have to put that on hold.”
“Maybe we’ll both get a chance to visit her while we’re doing the interview. I assume you’ll want do part of the coverage at the college.”
“I’d love to if you have the time.”
“I’ll make the time.”
He sure was being accommodating. “Then yes, we probably will.”
She really had to organize her thoughts—and her notes.
“So, we’ll get started in the morning?” she asked.
“Why not now?”
“I’m not . . . ready yet.”
“Okay. What do you want to do tonight? Do you want to see St. Louis?”
Just the thought of going out made her nauseated. “No, I think I’ll head up to my room and review my notes so we can get started tomorrow.”
“Are you sure? You might want to kick back and have some fun tonight. Let me show you the city. We’ll go out.”
“First, I’ve been here before.”
“You have? When?”
“With my . . . with my dad. But it’s been a long time. I was a kid.”
He gave her a look that told her he understood. “St. Louis has
changed a lot since you were a kid. There’s a lot I can show you about the city.”
“I’m not here to have fun, Trevor. I’m here to work.”
He leaned in, giving her a view of his incredible eyes. “You can’t work all the time, Haven. Life is meant to be lived. One of my teammates has a birthday today. He’s invited a bunch of people to a club to celebrate.”
She wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. “You go. I’ll stay here and work.”
“Seriously. I need to get prepped for us to start tomorrow.”
“If you’re sure.”
“Okay. But if you change your mind . . .”
“I won’t. I’ll see you in the morning.”
She went to her room, stripped into underwear and a tank top, and climbed into bed, surrounding herself with her notes and her laptop. She spent a few hours making notes and organizing her plan of attack, then grabbed the remote to watch some television.
She startled awake sometime later, disoriented, her notes lying on top of her.
She took her laptop and plugged it in to recharge it, then grabbed her phone to look at the time, realizing it was after two in the morning.
Wow. She’d worked longer than she’d thought. Though she had no idea how long she’d been asleep. She scanned over her notes and felt good about her approach. She put on a pair of shorts and went downstairs and over to the main wing to grab a glass of ice water.
It was dark down there. She wondered if Trevor had come home already. She wouldn’t know if he had, since her wing was far away from his.
Not her business, anyway. She went to the cupboard and found
a glass, filled it with ice and water, and headed outside onto the pool deck to enjoy the light breeze and to look at the sky. It was nice out now. She could sit out here the rest of the night and enjoy the soft breeze and stare at the stars.
She heard a car and saw the headlights in the driveway. She stood, figuring it was Trevor. She went back inside and took her glass to the sink, intending to greet him, then head back to bed. But Trevor came into the kitchen and flipped on the lights.
He wasn’t alone, either. There was a guy with him. And two very attractive women, both blondes. One of them was draped all over Trevor.
“Oh,” Trevor said, his lips curving into a smile. “I thought you’d gone to bed a few hours ago.”
“I did. I was working, and I got thirsty. Then I went to sit outside for a while. I wasn’t really tired, so I watched the stars. It’s really nice outside tonight.”
And he doesn’t need a blow-by-blow of your every move, idiot.
“Yeah, it is. Haven, this is my teammate, Tennessee. We call him Ten-Spot. And this is Audrey and Petra.”
She nodded. “Nice to meet all of you.”
?” Petra, the one clinging to Trevor, asked.
“Haven’s a friend of mine. She’ll be staying here for a while, traveling with me. We go way back. I knew her dad a long time ago—back in college.”
Petra gave her the once-over. “So . . . like a charity thing, huh?” Haven sucked in a breath, but didn’t take the bait.
“No, not like that. Why don’t you all go out on the deck? We’ll get in the pool.”
“Come on,” Ten-Spot said to the women. “Nice to meet you, Haven.”
“You too, Ten-Spot,” she said. “Is today your birthday?”
“Well, technically yesterday. But yeah.”
Ten-Spot grinned. “Thanks.”
“I want to stay here with you, Trevor,” Petra said, mimicking a very obvious pout so her glossy full lips looked even fuller.
Trevor squeezed her hand. “Just go on outside, Petra. I’ll be right there.”
“Okay.” Petra pouted some more, then grabbed his face and kissed him. Rather sloppily. Trevor was the one who broke the kiss.