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Authors: Sloan Johnson

Sweet Spot: Homeruns #4

BOOK: Sweet Spot: Homeruns #4
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Sweet Spot
Homeruns #4
Sloan Johnson

his is a work of fiction
. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of author imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

weet Spot

© 2016 Sloan Johnson

over Art
: Cover Me, Darling

Cover Photography: Drew Ater by Eric Battershell Photography

ll rights reserved
. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Sloan Johnson,
[email protected]


his book is dedicated
to everyone who’s made mistakes in life. May you be given a second chance with those who truly matter.



here’s a saying
in baseball that women are the easiest way to implode your career. Foolishly, I thought I’d be exempted from that particular curse since I’d never met a woman who did anything for me. And since it’d been taboo to be a gay professional athlete until a few years ago, I didn’t think anyone would have the opportunity to derail my career. That was, until I met Cody Marshall.

I dropped my head between my shoulders and tangled my fingers through my hair as Tim Price patted me on the back on his way out of the office. At the beginning of spring training, I’d been a hot prospect for the Triple-A club, but over the past two weeks, I’d somehow gone from one step away from the Bigs to hoping like hell I hadn’t fucked up so bad I’d wind up playing A ball this year. He hollered for the rest of the guys to meet him on field three, but he’d wanted to chat with me before making the first massive round of moves for the year.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Stone. Most guys your age don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of Triple-A in their first full season.”
Price’s words were hollow consolation as the chatter behind me faded. I wasn’t like most guys my age. Like it or not, I was the GM’s son, and that meant I was held to a higher standard. Everyone told me I was full of shit for thinking I was under more scrutiny because of my dad, but I didn’t believe them. None of them had been pulled into Price’s office and given a pep talk before finding out they’d been knocked down a level. They wouldn’t need time to get over the news, because they understood it was part of the game. Sure, they’d be disappointed, but none of them were trying to figure out a way to sneak out of the club and run away because it was better than facing their teammates.

“Time’s up, kid,” Price said as he walked past his office.

Pushing myself out of that chair was one of the hardest things I’d had to do in my short life. Far more difficult than taking the mound in game three of the College World Series, knowing my teammates were depending on me to bring in the win. I pulled my cap lower on my head as I followed Price out to the field. No one could know Price had already told me what was on the clipboard he was carrying. If they did, it’d be the start of some asshole down the road talking about how I got where I am because I’m Marcus Stone’s kid. I’ve been trying to outrun his shadow my entire life.

I fell into place next to Clint Davies, the roommate who’d been covering for me the past two weeks so I could sneak out and spend time with Cody.
God, Cody
. As if my shittastic day wasn’t wonderful enough already, I had no choice but to tell him we couldn’t keep going the way we were. I couldn’t tell you a single name Price rattled off to assemble our new squads because all I could think about was Cody. I told myself I was worried about breaking the poor kid’s heart, but the truth was I was just as worried about myself. It terrified me to think that the damage was already done; that my career was over before it began and all I’d have to show for it was the pulverized remains of my own heart.

Yes, it was melodramatic as hell, but such is life when you’re twenty years old and facing the demise of everything you’ve worked toward since you were five. Mom told everyone I was her all-or-nothing kid and she was right. Once I tasted the combination of chocolate milk and Cody, there was nothing I could do to keep from falling for him. He was younger than me by two years. Cast aside by those who should have loved him unconditionally. Rescued by those with no obligation. And despite everything he’d been through, he had this infectious optimism I needed in my life. I wasn’t sure if it was love at first sight, but it was sure as hell something I’d never felt before. And it had to end.

“Stone, you with us or are you going to stand there hoping Price says he made a mistake?” Clint teased me. He tugged on my arm and led me toward field six, which was apparently where the High-A squad was starting the day’s workout rotation. “Man, I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but you’d better sort it out. Quick.”

Clint was a good guy. He was a few years older than me and took his mentor role seriously. With every passing day, the disapproving looks he shot my way grew more severe and hung on his face longer. He didn’t ask questions about where I disappeared to every night, but I was pretty sure he had an idea. There was no telling how he’d react if he found out it wasn’t some nubile coed girl sucking my dick after a long day at the park.

It worked to my advantage that the Mavericks had a hard stance against bringing women back to the team hotel during spring training. I figured the verbiage didn’t matter as much as the sentiment, and I was unwilling to risk a three-hundred-dollar fine if caught, so Cody met me around the side of the hotel. Spending our evenings at his place was no less risky since he lived in some sort of gay commune of Mavericks players and their partners, but he assured me my secret was safe with them.

I was going to miss the security I felt when Cody drove his rusted-out Corolla into the gated community where they lived. The chaos and noise associated with being surrounded by a triad, two couples, a toddler, Cody, and me, had quickly become as soothing as white noise at bedtime. When I was with them, I didn’t have to worry about someone catching me checking out Cody’s ass as he walked by. Oh, they definitely caught me, but they didn’t care. In fact, they seemed amused by how hard it was for me to hide my appreciation of his tight ass and rock-hard thighs. It also didn’t matter to them that I shared a last name with their boss. It was a rarity in my life that anyone who followed baseball didn’t treat me differently in some way because I was a Stone, which only made me respect them even more.

But I’d grown complacent and now I was paying the price. Once I talked to Cody, there was no way in hell the rest of the guys at the house would talk to me, unless it was to kick my ass for being such an idiot.

“Hey, you okay?” Clint’s voice took on a sincerely worried tone. He pulled me to the side of the track and allowed the rest of our squad to pass. “Seriously, what’s going on with you? I’ve seen the tapes of you playing. This shit isn’t like you at all. You should have gotten a bump up to Triple, not knocked down with the rest of us.”

“Yeah, well you’re a damn good player, too,” I quipped. “So what’s it say about you if you’re slumming it? Face it, competition’s tough this year.”

“Nah man, that’s not it,” he argued. “You’re better than most of the guys in the Double-A pen. If it’s the pressure, you’ve gotta put that shit out of your head because it never gets any easier.”

“You think I don’t know that?” I took a few deep breaths and cracked my knuckles, desperately trying to rein in my anger. Clint didn’t deserve to be my punching bag after everything he’d done for me. “Fuck, my dad was a way better player than I’ll ever be, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t years my mom sat home during spring training worrying about how she’d feed us if someone else played better than him. If he didn’t have security, why should I think I can take it easy and get by?

“You want to know why I’m here? I’m here because I fucked up.” I had to get this out before we got to the field, because my days of letting anything distract me were over. They had to be, unless I wanted to have this conversation with Dad, listening to him tell me all the ways I’d screwed up and made him look bad. “I took my eye off the prize. I believed all the fucking hype when the media called me a hot prospect. I made a rookie mistake, but it sure as hell won’t happen again.”

’d meant
to text Cody and tell him something came up and I wasn’t going to be able to meet him after practice. It wasn’t a complete lie, but I wasn’t yet ready to tell him the truth. I would have blown him off if I hadn’t spent so much time trying to think of a way to let him down without him making promises I couldn’t expect him to keep. I imagined he’d point out he wasn’t demanding my time, I was freely giving it to him. Then, he’d bargain with me for whatever scraps of time I could offer him. But Cody was worth far more than scraps. He was a good man and deserved someone who would treat him like a prince.

I nearly dropped the phone I’d been flipping over in my hands when it rang. As I stared at a picture of Cody making ridiculous duck lips at me and his name flashing on the screen, I debated letting him go to voice mail. If I ignored him, he’d eventually quit trying, right? No such luck. The phone immediately rang again and his face lit up the screen.

“Hello?” I answered, slurring my words purposely to make it seem as if I’d fallen asleep. That was a far better excuse for me not being outside the service entrance waiting for him than admitting I couldn’t bear to look at him knowing what I had to do.

“Hey, I’m out here waiting for you,” he said in that chipper voice I used to love. Now, it was like daggers in my heart. “You need to hurry because there’s a cop hanging around and he’s already told me once that I need to move on.”

Move on. It was a strange coincidence that he chose that particular phrase when those words had been running through my mind since I’d met with Price first thing in the morning. I opened my mouth to lie to him and tell him I wasn’t feeling well, but I choked before the words passed my lips. “Cody, we need to talk.”

I would’ve done just about anything to avoid the conversation we were about to have, but I needed to get it over with. I’d been distracted again today. I couldn’t afford to lead either one of us on.

“Okay, well then get your ass down here so we can talk,” Cody said, oblivious to what I was about to do to him. “And hurry—I really don’t feel like getting a ticket and the cop’s looking at me again.”

“I’ll be down as quick as I can,” I promised him as I slid into my shoes. I reached for the first shirt I could find. Of course I grabbed a Marquette shirt I’d borrowed from Cody one night after Asher spilled his juice all over my shirt. Like usual, the damn elevator was taking forever. Now that I was out of my room, I couldn’t wait to get this shit over with. Then, maybe I’d ask Clint to head to the convenience store at the end of the block and get me a twelve-pack. I’d never much cared for beer, but that was all they carried and it seemed like a good idea to drink myself stupid.

Cody leaned over to kiss me when I got into the car, but I shied away from him. That and the fact I wouldn’t look his way had to be good indications something was seriously fucked up, even to someone so kind and unassuming as Cody. I waited for him to attack me, demand to know why I was acting so weird, but he didn’t. He simply put the car in drive and pulled away from the curb.

“Don’t get on the freeway,” I told him. My throat felt like sandpaper and I barely managed to get the words out.

“Okay,” he said, still seemingly unaffected. Until tonight, his levelheaded demeanor had been a welcome change to the hotheads in the locker room, but now I wished he was better at reading cues. “I thought we were going to hang at my place, but if you want to do something else, that’s fine.”

Before he got too far from the hotel, I directed Cody to pull into an empty strip mall parking lot. If I was going to do this, it was going to be close enough I wouldn’t have a two-hour walk back when he kicked me out of the car. Cody killed the engine and turned in his seat to face me. I jerked away from him again. I felt as though the air was being sucked out of the passenger compartment, making it impossible to breathe. I scrambled for the door handle. I needed to get out.

My knees shook as I stepped out and slammed the door closed behind me. I paced along the side of the car until Cody stepped in front of me and grabbed my shoulders. “Nick, what’s going on? You’re starting to freak me out.”

“I can’t do this. I’m so fucking sorry, but I can’t. God, I’m such a piece of shit,” I rambled. The more Cody tried to comfort me, the more upset I became. I reached up and massaged my chest when the ache behind my ribs grew unbearable. When my stomach began churning, I hunched over, prepared to lose my dinner. Through it all, Cody kept trying to calm me. He rubbed my back as I heaved and I surrendered my own fight. This was the last time I’d feel his touch on my body and I wanted to take this memory with me. Remembering what a selfish prick I was to a good man would keep me from taking my mind off the game ever again.

“Nick, talk to me,” Cody pleaded. “Whatever’s wrong, we’ll figure it out.”

“Don’t you get it? I know you think any problem can be overcome, but that’s a bunch of idealistic bullshit,” I yelled. I stared up at the sky and let out a guttural cry. “Fuck, Cody, I wish I lived in your world. I wish I had people who’d make it all better, but I don’t. Some of us have to figure out our own way around our problems.”

“Is that really how you think my life is?” Cody’s voice cracked, his pain bringing tears to my eyes. “Man, I feel sorry for you if that’s what you think. I don’t have people to fix my mistakes, I have people who will hold my hand and help me realize what I need to change.”

“I know what I need to change,” I assured him before sucking in a stuttered breath. I lifted my gaze to his before dealing the final blow to our brief time together. “I’m sorry, Cody. I came down here to play ball, and I can’t let some silly spring fling fuck up my path.”

BOOK: Sweet Spot: Homeruns #4
10.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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