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The Boyfriend League
Families Needed to Provide Homes for Rattlers
For anyone not familiar with Ragland, Texas, the front-page headline in that morning's Ragland Tribune may have seemed odd. But I'd lived in Ragland since the day I was born. I couldn't think of anything more exciting than living with a Rattler.
It was Thursday morning, and I'd grabbed the newspaper to check out my weekly column, "Runyon's Sideline Review," because it was always a rush to see my byline. But as I sat at the breakfast table, before I'd turned to the sports section where my column usually appeared, the headline had snagged my attention and the possibilities bombarded me.
I absolutely couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before. Having a Rattler in the house would be awesome!
Okay, I don't mean the slithering-along-the-ground-tail-rattling-in-ominous-warning rattler. I mean the sexy, hot, to-die-for players on our town's collegiate baseball team. As part of the Lonestar League, the Ragland Rattlers was one of nine city teams in the north Texas area made up of college players who wanted to play baseball during the summer. Local families hosted the team players.
Apparently this year, they were a few families short. And what better family than mine?
I heard a car honk and knew it was my ride to the softball field. My best friend and I both played on the high school softball team, but during the summer we just played whenever we had time to arrange a game with friends, which wasn't very often. Between attending the major- and minor-league games played in the area, plus being almost-groupies to thecollegiate league, we didn't have a lot of time to commit to organized sports of our own.
I mean, if the choice was playing on a field with girls or watching a field of guys, Bird and I were going to choose the guys every time.
Her real name is Barbara Sawyer, but when she was a baby, her dad had thought she looked like a tiny bird, always chirping for food, and so he started calling her Birdie, which, over time, became Bird. Sometimes you gotta wonder what parents are thinking when they name or nickname their kids.
My own dad, I knew exactly what he'd been thinking when I was born. He wanted a boy. Instead he got me. Definitely a girl.
A year before I came along, my mom had given him another daughter, Tiffany, and Mom figured two kids were more than enough, especially since she wasn't a stay-at-home mom. We were a two-income family with a two-income lifestyle. Mom worked as a legal secretary in a prestigious Dallas law firm about thirty miles south of Ragland.
Anyway, Dad decided if he wasn't going to have a son, he could at least have a son-sounding name in the family. Hence, my parents named me Danielle, which of course got shortened to Dani.
But it all worked out. I love my dad, and we're really close. He always took me fishing, taught me to play baseball, and gave me loads of his time. He's a sports fanatic. Whenever he says, "Let's go out to eat," we know we'll be going to a sports bar to watch NASCAR, baseball, football, basketball, and golf simultaneously on the plasma TVs hanging throughout the place.
Connecting with my dad has always meant connecting with sports. Over time, I've gained an appreciation for all sports. In fact, I plan to major in journalism when I go off to college in another year. I want to be a sports announcer.
Bird, however, insists that my desire for a career in sports reporting has nothing to do with my love of sports. "It's your other love: guys. You want to know what really goes on in the locker room, and you want to get up close and personal with those towel-wrapped hotties."
Her theory is a lot closer to the truth than I like to admit, because it makes me seem less than noble in my pursuit of a higher education.
My sister has no love of sports, but she tolerates the sports bars because most have a nice salad selection, and she watches what she eats the way I watch Lost, searching for all the hidden clues, only she's searching for hidden calories.
Mom dotes on Tiffany, beautiful Tiffany, who's been named Miss Teen Ragland three years in a row and spends way too much time polishing her tiara.
Not that I'm jealous of Tiffany or anything, but sometimes, when so many guys are hanging around her and ignoring me, it's hard not to feel like the ugly duckling.
Bird honked again. She has her own car. I share one with Tiffany, but she'd already called it for the day. Actually, she'd called it pretty much for the entire summer, and since she had "obligations," I was used to her getting what she wanted. Especially guys. I basically carry a mop to clean up their drool whenever she's around.
Did I mention my sister is gorgeous? Gaggingly so.
I picked up my softball cap from the table, settled it on my head, and pulled my reddish-brown shoulder-length hair, which I was presently wearing in a ponytail, through the opening in the back. Tiffany has thick, lustrous, amazing hair that's more red than brown, but not red enough that anyone would call her Red. It's glorious.
While mine tends to just . . . hang. Which is the reason I usually wear it pulled back.
I grabbed my glove off the counter and headed out the door. It was the first official week of summer, the first week of no homework, no classes, no schedules, no bells. I was in heaven.
There are only two things I like as much as I like summer: baseball and boys.
Not necessarily in that order. But baseball has always been an important part of my life. Boys not nearly as much. I've . . .The Boyfriend League. Copyright © by Rachel Hawthorne. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.