Various States of Undress

BOOK: Various States of Undress
7.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Dedication

Discovering true love while discovering your true self is not easy
.

All strong young women who believe in themselves—this book is for you
.

 

A special shout-out to my amazing former theater students
,

who are living life on their own terms
.

I did that too, so I'm not a bit jealous of you now . . . not much, anyway!

 

With gratitude to my new reader friends and supporters
,

who have recognized pieces of themselves in the heroines I've created
.

You've given me the ultimate reward—connection to you
.

 

And to all my readers
,

I admire you all and wish you many adventures to come!

Contents

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

About the Author

By Laura Simcox

An Excerpt from
Holding Holly
by Julie Brannagh

An Excerpt from
It's a Wonderful Fireman
by Jennifer Bernard

An Excerpt from
Once Upon a Highland Christmas
by Lecia Cornwall

An Excerpt from
Running Hot
by HelenKay Dimon

An Excerpt from
Sinful Rewards 1
by Cynthia Sax

An Excerpt from
Return to Clan Sinclair
by Karen Ranney

An Excerpt from
Return of the Bad Girl
by Codi Gary

Copyright

About the Publisher

Chapter One

“D
UDE, YOU GOTTA
come see this! Like, right now.”

Brett Knox shook his head and continued to dry himself off. He didn't answer Booker because when Booker yelled shit like that, it was usually pointless. A lot of the chatter in the Memphis Redbirds clubhouse was pointless, and Brett didn't need the distraction, not when he needed to keep his head in the game. He'd been in the zone, playing back today's win in his mind, when Booker had broken his concentration.

Brett wrapped the towel around his waist and wiped a circle of steam away from the mirror in the clubhouse shower room. The flat of his hand came away smeared with toothpaste shrapnel. “Dammit, man! I know you used this sink last. Can't you clean up after yourself?”

“Can't you take a shower without muttering baseball stats like a psycho the whole time?” Booker yelled back from the adjoining room. A second later, the rest of the team cracked up. “Hurry up,” Booker demanded. “Come look at this.”

“Hang on, asshole.” Brett ran his hands under the tap and dropped the towel. He went to his locker, squinting toward the end of the long carpeted room as he got dressed. “What the hell's so important? Are y'all watching reruns of
My Little Pony
again? Save that shit for when I leave.”

There was a collective groan from the guys lounging on folding chairs in front of the TV. Brett grinned and ambled over.

“Why you keep bringing
My Little Pony
up, I don't know.” Booker shoved lank, sandy hair out of his eyes and snorted. “I can't control what's on when I fall asleep in front of the TV, man.” This time it was the guys' turn to laugh at Booker. Juan, an outfielder, snatched the remote from Booker's hands and lobbed it to Drew, a rookie shortstop, who caught it with one hand. “Give it back, Meat!” Booker yelled.

Drew narrowed his eyes in response. Brett knew it was about time to give up calling the kid
Meat
. Every rookie had to endure it, but the season had started three months ago and it was getting old. Still, a couple of years ago, Brett had lived with the Meat title for a lot longer than that. He grabbed the remote from Drew and threw it at Booker's chest. Booker caught it between two fingers.

“Yeah, Meat. Let's get this over with.” Brett flopped onto a metal chair. “What is it?”

“I rewound this just for you, bro,” Booker responded.

Brett squinted at the blurry TV screen and then reached for his glasses on the makeshift coffee table. He needed to quit leaving them there, but when his contacts were in during games, he didn't think about where the hell his glasses were. He spent every scrap of energy on playing baseball. “Hit ‘play' already. I'm not in the mood for stupid shit today.”

The rest of the team gave each other sidelong glances and snickered.

Booker smirked. “You're gonna lose it when you see this. Oh, and by the way? You're welcome.” He held out the remote and clicked.

Brett grabbed a granola bar from the table and ripped the wrapper off with his teeth. A moment later, a familiar logo appeared on the screen. “Channel Nineteen News? Aw, man! I don't want to watch high school baseball recaps on WHAP again.”

“It's not recaps. Just watch.”

Brett spoke around a huge bite. “Sports coverage on Nineteen sucks. It sucked when I was a kid, and it still sucks.”

“WHAP is not that bad,” Drew interjected. He said
whap
as if it were an actual word, not the station's call letters. The locals did that, too, and it had always driven Brett nuts. Lots of little stuff like that drove him nuts, although he knew he shouldn't let it.

“Hey, Meat. Whap your trap shut and watch.” Booker leaned forward in his chair. “This is it.”

Brett crammed the rest of the granola bar in his mouth and trained his eyes on the TV. And then, cheeks packed full, he quit chewing. “Holy shit!” he mumbled, sending his chair clanging into a metal trashcan as he stood.

“I told you,” Booker said.

Brett grabbed Booker's shoulder and stared at the picture of beautiful Georgia Fulton in the upper right corner of the screen. He tried to listen to the news anchor, but all he heard was blah-blah daughter of the president of the United States. Blah-blah internship. Blah-blah excited. About what? He forced himself to chew and swallow. Then he turned to Booker.

“Rewind it.”

Snickering, Booker did as commanded. “Pay attention this time.”

“Yeah, well, it's Georgia Fulton. Holy shit. You should've warned me.” He looked around at the guys, who were grinning up at him. “Don't start. I'll kick your asses,” he said quietly. They turned their heads back toward the television.

This time Brett paid attention to the anchor, Dave Burrows, who sat ramrod straight behind a desk and read more dramatically than usual into the camera.

“Channel Nineteen WHAP News is pleased—no, make that thrilled—to announce that we have a new member of our staff. Georgia Fulton, daughter of President Patrick Fulton, will be joining us this summer as an intern. Miss Fulton is a journalism major, a college senior who will graduate, no doubt with high honors, after completing her time with us. We are excited to have her aboard and look forward to her feature stories, including an upcoming series about local celebrities. Coming up next . . . what to do when your grocery bill is out of control. Stay tuned for shopping tips and your local weather.”

A commercial for laundry detergent popped onto the screen, and Brett stared at it, unblinking. His heart hammered, and he felt as if a 110-mile-per-hour fastball had just hit him in the gut. Georgia Fulton. Here in Memphis? He'd had a worship-from-afar crush on her for over a year. Most of his teammates lusted after celebrities—usually porn stars—or worse, jailbait-aged Hollywood actresses, but Brett was the odd man out. He lusted after the president's daughter—the nerdy one, according to the paparazzi.

It had all started at a political fundraiser when her dad had been running for president. Brett and the rest of the Redbirds had been paraded around in their uniforms as an example of hometown pride at a thousand-dollar-ticket cocktail party. He'd been bored senseless until he saw her across the crowded room. It had been like a slow-mo movie moment, complete with heartfelt music because there really
had
been an orchestra playing. The only problem? Their eyes hadn't met across that crowded room. But he'd stared at her, probably slack-jawed, for the better part of an hour. She was cute beyond belief, with large brown eyes, an amazing smile, and a curvy figure that had haunted his dreams, both sleeping and waking, ever since.

He couldn't care less about politics, but after that night, he'd looked Georgia up online. What he'd learned—reading between the lines of several magazine and newspaper articles—had only fanned the flames. She was as smart as she was cute, and she loved cats. Brett loved cats, though he wouldn't admit that to anyone. He was smart, too, which he had no problem admitting. And cute? He'd never heard a woman say otherwise.

Booker threw his head back and laughed. “Look, guys, he's speechless! You should see your face, Brett. Oh my God, dude. It's so funny. You know what's even funnier, though?”

“What?” Brett croaked out.

“The fact that you haven't put two and two together yet.”

Brett frowned. “I don't know what you're talking about.”

“Obviously.”

“Well, then, fill me in.” Brett stretched his stiff fingers and sat down heavily. “Damn. I need more PT on my catching hand.”

“Schedule it, then. I'm not giving you physical therapy.”

“I never asked you to. Now explain what I haven't put together.”

Booker grabbed a bottle of water and took a swig. “Okay. So your dream girl is coming to town for the summer, right?”

Brett winced. “I don't know if I'd call her—”

“Whatever, dude. You're obsessed. Didn't you tell me just yesterday that there's something about her body and brains put together that winds your ass up?”

“I told you that in private, dickhead.”

Juan laughed out loud and shoved Drew, who also laughed, but nervously. He stood up and moved away from Brett, who was still flexing his fingers. Brett rolled his eyes. Like he would actually punch the rookie? The kid couldn't be more than eighteen.

Booker did punch Brett in the shoulder, though. “Did you, or did you not say that she winds your ass up?”

“I don't think I said—”

“You totally did. Ever since that fundraiser, you've been wrapped up in fantasyland with Georgia Fulton.”

Brett knew he hadn't been able to mask his reaction that night, and the guys had been giving him shit about Georgia since. They'd left pictures of her in his locker. They'd hummed “Hail to the Chief” incessantly. One day, they'd even grabbed one of his jerseys and duct-taped the words “Georgia's bitch boy” onto the front of it. Brett opened his mouth again, but Booker gave him a look that said
I can see all the way through your bullshit
. Brett let his shoulders sag. “Fine. I'm infatuated with a daughter of the president of the United States. I admit it and I'm a moron, so y'all can let it rest now. Happy?”

“Not as happy as you're going to be.”

“Why? Because instead of being my dream girl somewhere out there, she will be a few miles from me instead? What's the difference?”

Booker screwed the cap back on his water and set it on the coffee table. “Damn, you're dense today. Look. What's-his-name—the announcer guy—he just said that she'll be covering a series on local stars. Who do you think those are?”

Brett shrugged. “BB King?”

“Come off it, dude. He's a lot more than a local celebrity. Think
almost
famous. And that would be?” Booker answered his own question. “Our team.” He gestured at the guys and smiled, flashing a row of white teeth. “And who is the star player? The one headed for The Show?”

BOOK: Various States of Undress
7.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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