Authors: Rae Lynn Blaise
f I do
this for you, it’s the last time. Here is how you will prove to me that it’s the last time. No more flings. No more parties. No more absolutely anything. You live for two things–practice and games. Give me your word.”
ith those words
, Coach Halstead bailed me out one final time. I guess I can’t help it if I’m baseball’s favorite bad boy. Until I meet young, innocent, sexy-as-hell and pure-as-sunshine Ally.
ou gonna score
a run for me?” she asks. And because I just. Cannot. Resist. A pretty face. I say yes.
I about to lose coach’s trust, my career, and this girl?
Or can I hit the
© 2016 by Rae Lynn Blaise
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
In the hierarchy of shitty situations to stumble into, I appear to have hit a home run.
If, you know, I get points for fucking up. Again.
I never liked being benched. It’s hard, uncomfortable, and all the action is somewhere else. I like being in the center of the action. Excitement is brewing all around you, but you’re just left to dwell on your mistakes and shitty batting average and that time you back-talked Coach when you were wearing your hangover sunglasses and reeking of Jack Daniels.
This bench, though, with the cold metal and accompanying bars, is far worse than being benched at a game.
“Hey! I’m talking to you.”
I look over at the guy I’m sharing a cell with. He’s as bulky as a tank with tattoo sleeves and a shaved head. I don’t want to talk, but this guy looks like he can break my kneecaps and there is still a lot of season left.
His face splits into a grin. “I know you.”
I shake my head. “I don’t think so.”
“No, I definitely know you.”
“Just have one of those faces.”
The guy sits down next to me. “I’m Shank.”
“I was at Kauffman stadium just last week. You’re a maniac with the bat.”
I grin back. Can’t help it. Call me a prideful bastard. “Thanks. But I think you’re thinking of someone else.”
He laughs and whacks me on the shoulder with the back of his hand. I’m a sturdy guy, but it hurts like a sumbitch. “That double you hit in the sixth was out-fucking-standing. I mean, scared the shit out of the Angels, know what I mean? Hit that sweet spot out there and BOOM!”
“It was a triple.” I can’t help myself. God, I’m such an asshole.
He grins wider. “I knew it was you.”
“Nah, man. I just saw the game, too.”
Shank squints at me for a minute. “You sure?”
“Well shit. I thought my luck took off, sharing a holding cell with Kemper Fife! Probably still going to tell my crew I did anyway. Drunk tank lockup isn’t the most exciting story unless you’re sharing a holding cell with a fucking baseball all-star.”
“Be my guest. You won’t be the first.”
“So what did they pop you for? Figured looking like him woulda got you out of anything.”
“Yeah, you woulda thought.”
What did I
do to get in here? It was a long list of terrible-slash-awesome decisions full of girls and booze and more girls and more booze. The brunette with Angelina Jolie lips who bet I couldn’t guess her bra size. Spoiler: she was a D, but tried to pull off a DD. Can’t fool me, though. Then there was the blonde with the butterfly tramp stamp who moved her hips like Shakira and could shoot whiskey like a badass. The blonde and brunette made out with each other for a pair of drinks and a shot at my bed. They almost had me, too.
Jamie told me to stop there, but of the many four letter words in my vocabulary, “stop” is not one of them.
Then there was the redhead I ditched the first two with. I’m a sucker for redheads. And she has a motorcycle. Or she said she has a motorcycle. It was sexy enough for me not to give a damn if she lied or not. Lie to me and forget me the next morning.
What happened next was sort of a blur. One too many Fireball shots. The blonde and brunette found us, pissed to hell that I’d found someone else. We had to take off running through the bar. The redhead has a killer ass when she runs. I suppose it wasn’t technically her car that we fled in. I suppose technically she hotwired it. Technically, it was sexy as hell, watching her work those wires. My dick was running the show, I couldn’t help it.
Then there was the impromptu bonfire that maybe shouldn’t have been started with our clothes as kindling. We drank more whiskey and howled at the moon and were about to get it on under a blanket of stars before the flashing lights showed up. Apparently, the lake closes at sundown.
“How are you going to close the lake?” I argued. At least, in my mind I argued. It probably came out as a slurred mess.
Now I have a massive headache and get to wear this stupid jumpsuit, which won’t really play well in any pictures of me leaving. Of which there are bound to be many.
Fucked, I believe, is the legal term to describe my current situation. Coach is going to murder me in my sleep. He’ll chop me up into a million pieces and feed me to his pigs.
Shank interrupts my thoughts, which rapidly shoot from sexy redhead to the death of my career quicker than I could blink. “Say what?”
“They nailed me for street racing. I blew a tire and they caught me. My boys got away. Not too bad, though. We’ve all taken the hit. Goes with the territory.”
“What do you drive?”
“2013 GT-R. Cherry red and dead sexy. She’s too good to slum it in the impound, but what are you gonna do?”
“Not street race?” I flash a grin. Shank scowls at me for a minute and I’m back to fearing he’ll demonstrate where he got his nickname, but he slaps me on the back and laughs.
“I like you. What’s your name?”
“Jamie.” I always use my buddy’s name, though he may not know that. I mean, I want the girls that come along with being Kemper Fife without the scandal that comes along with girls selling their stories. So I go with the look-alike-named-Jamie bit. That’s what best friends are for, right?
“So what are you in here for, Jamie?”
“You must have fucked up the other guy. You don’t have a scratch on you!”
“Used a bat.” I flash another smile and a wink. Shank eyes me warily, but laughs good naturedly and goes on about racing and some other business I don’t particularly care about. Instead, I’m trying to remember if I got the redhead’s number.
If I live to see another day, I’d like to give her a call. Just maybe not as many Fireball shots next time. I can’t end up back in here or I’ll really be shot dead in the locker room.
Hey, if Lamar Odom can be arrested fifty-seven times and still make it out okay, why can’t the second baseman for the Royals?
“Fife.” A burly police officer comes up to the holding cell, keys in hand. “You made bail.”
Shank stops mid-sentence and stares at me. “Fife? I thought you said you weren’t—“
“No relation.” I stand up quickly and head for the bars, eager to get out of here, praying it’s my aunt and not Coach. I hate calling my aunt to bail me out, but it’s better than Coach. Anyone is better than Coach.
If it’s my aunt, she’ll bring my clothes and I can throw on a hoodie and everyone will be none the wiser that I was ever here. She’ll take me to breakfast, slap me on the wrist a little, and take me home to sleep off this massive hangover building. If it’s my aunt, I’m golden. I can already picture my bed, all comfy and waiting for me back home.
But it’s not my aunt signing paperwork and scowling. Of course, it’s fucking Coach Holstead, looking madder than that time the Yankees came from behind to win with three unearned runs.
The last time my aunt bailed me out, she swore she wouldn’t do it again. But she’s my aunt. Aunts are supposed to always be there for you. That old bat sold me out.
I rally the brightest smile I can. “Hey Coach.”
He doesn’t look at me, just signs the paperwork and takes my things from the discharge officer.
“Come here often?”
He cuts me a look, his face drawn up in a frown. He’s deadly when he’s silent. I swallow down the lump in my throat and keep a bright smile on my face, trying to sneak a glance outside. No paps. Maybe I’ll get lucky.
I follow him to the door, but he stops there and turns around, fury in his eyes. “Listen good, Kemper.” His voice is like venom. I swallow it down and lean forward. “This is the last time. You got me? Absolute last time I ever see you in here. Here is how you prove to me it’s the last time. No more flings. No more parties. No more absolutely anything. You live for two things, and two things only: practice and games. You will eat, breathe, and sleep baseball. There is no more room in your life for anything else. If you aren’t sleeping, eating, or shitting, your ass is on the field. Give me your word.”
Good-bye, redhead. As much as I would have loved to bone you good, I’ve got a contract worth more than your fake tits and a real shot at a championship ring. And a coach who will literally end it all. “I swear on my life, Coach.”
“No more one night stands.”
“No more parties.”
“Had my last.”
“No more running around, butt-ass naked on the goddamn lakefront.”
“It’s struck from my bucket list.”
“I’m not fucking around, Fife. I own you. You got me?”
I give him my most serious look and hold out my hand. “I’m done, Coach. My ass is owned by the Kansas City Royals and no one else.”
Coach takes my hand and grips it firmly. “You’re out of chances.”
As soon as we open the doors, the world explodes in light and color. The press were waiting for this, probably tipped off before I’d even been booked. I can barely walk without being blinded. Coach grabs my shoulder and hauls me through them, grumbling and scowling and telling everyone exactly where they can ram their cameras.
Coach Holstead is kind of a badass. I admire him, truly. Tonight, this morning, whatever, though, I’m terrified of him. If these maggots know what’s good for them, they’ll get the fuck out of the way.
He throws me in his car and slams the door. I cover my face with my hands, knowing the whole while that it’s fruitless because they’ve already got me red-handed, and silently wish I was anywhere but here.
Real talk: no piece of ass or bottle of whiskey is worth this shit. If I was a normal guy, this would be a non-issue. No one would give a fuck about what I was doing or where I was going or who I was doing it with.
The second the buzz wore off and the headache settled in, I knew I was fucked. Ready for a secret? Every sports star knows how easily it is to lose everything. How can we not? It’s all over the news. Some are just harder learns than others. Some let the spotlight blind them. Usually football and basketball stars.
You don’t tend to hear about baseball or hockey or soccer players fucking up as bad. Maybe because our contracts aren’t as pricey, I don’t know. But we listen and we learn. They pound this shit into our heads daily.
“Fuck up and kiss the money and the fame goodbye.”
I happen to really fucking like the money and the fame. I like having random people tell me they watched the game and thought I was a badass. If I weren’t slowly dying and imagining my last days at Kauffman, I would have signed Shank’s big, bald head and kissed it. I don’t live under a bridge. I know how lucky I am. I knew it the first day I paid off my mom’s mortgage.
Coach Holstead is silent during the drive. He flicks the radio over to a local news channel, and the anchors are already talking about my arrest.
“This shit is going to be everywhere by the time you sleep this one off.” He doesn’t sound as pissed as he should, which is worrisome. “We’ve gotta hold a press conference tomorrow. I will draft your statement personally, son, and I expect you to read it to the letter. No answering questions, no adding any remarks.”
My stomach drops and my mouth waters with that I’m-going-to-puke feeling attached. Never in my career have I ever had to give a press conference, but I’ve seen plenty. There is little worse than walking into a room full of cameras, having to swallow your pride, and apologize for having a good time.
“Shut the fuck up, Fife. You’re going to go home, sleep, shower, shave, and get dressed in your nicest suit. Then, you’re going to apologize to the whole goddamn city for being a royal fuck-up. Then, you’re going to run laps until you’re dead.”
“Royal fuck-up. That’s funny. I see what you did there.”
“So help me, I will end you now.”
“Sorry, Coach.” I brace my head against the window and watch KC fly by. I love this city almost as much as I love baseball. I’d do almost anything for it. But I have my pride, like I said, and this…it’s going to hurt.
My sleep is restless and my showers scalds my body. I try to scrub off my failures from the night before, and the many other nights before, but they seem to stick to me like black tar. I’m a sucker for pretty faces and things that have the word “PROOF” in their description. There’s a lot of stress that goes with playing for a high-profile team, things I never expected when I signed on with them, and I de-stress by losing my mind. It’s fun.
I like to have fun.
Except this time I got caught. I don’t like getting caught. I steal bases for a living and have a 98% success rate. I get paid to not get caught.
I stare at myself in the mirror, towel hanging off my hips. I want to not give a shit. In this moment, I wish I was just some normal guy who works a normal job and can do whatever he wants without having people watch him, without having to go in front of cameras that stalk his every move, and apologize for having fun.
It’s bullshit. No one else has to answer for his actions, not like this. Not publically. Just because I play in front of crowds doesn’t mean I should have to live in front of them. For them.
I hurl a bar of soap at the bathroom wall and stalk off to get dressed. I also hate suits. I’m more comfortable in my uniform than in a suit. I get paid to get dirty for a living. Suits aren’t my thing. So, of course, I have a whole goddamn closet of them.
There are parts to this gig I wish I could change.
My phone lights up. Jamie. I shake off the melancholy to answer it, because, let’s face it, I’m acting like a little bitch. And Kemper Fife is not a little bitch. Plus, I do owe Jamie a good story after I ditched him yesterday.
“Jamesy!” I answer the phone, strutting around my room naked. Gotta act like this is water off my back. Fake it til you make it.
“You’re a dumbass.” Jamie says, but he’s laughing, sort of. “All over the news, man. Sweet jumpsuit. What happened to your clothes?”
“Ah, they were used as kindling.”
“Remember that redhead from last night?”
“We made a bonfire. Fireball told me it would be a great fucking idea to use my clothes.”