Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he's loathed his entire lifea team with little to no chance at the post-season.
Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team's schedule on the road, they can't avoid close quartersor their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.
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Hey, Maxwell, rumor has it you like it hard and fast."
Kelly Maxwell tightened her batting glove around her wrist and gave the opposing team's smart-ass catcher a smirk. "Actually, I like it slow and delivered with finesse. Something you know nothing about." She pulled her favorite bat out from under her arm and stepped up to home plate. "Rumor has it," she added with a grin.
"Come on, Kel. Get a hit." The feminine voice belonged to her roommate, Stacia Lindstrom, who, while not on Kelly's coed softball team, occasionally tagged along toin her wordssupply moral support to the team. In reality, though, the only reason Stacia bothered to show up was to meet hot guys.
"Who's your friend?" the catcher, Kevin, an investment banker who worked in the financial district, asked after casting a lingering glance at Stacia, who, despite the cool San Francisco summer evening, wore a skimpy top that left little to the imagination.
"Out of your league," she said, getting into her batting stance as Kevin crouched down behind home plate.
"Ouch. Seriously, can you introduce us?"
"I'm not a matchmaker." Kelly looked at the pitcher and met her hard stare. Not intimidated, she continued, "But if you're interested, we usually head over to Kamu's after the game."
"Thanks for the tip. I owe you."
"Don't mention it," she said as the pitcher went into her windup and delivered. The trajectory of the ball looked high so she took the pitch. She had a good eyethe umpire standing behind them called it a ball.
"By the way, I'm going yard tonight," she said after digging the toe of her spikes into the dirt and then smoothing it out. There was no particular reason for doing this. It was just a part of her at-bat ritual. A ritual she had performed since she was a kid playing in the peewee league. Even back then she took the game seriously.
"Still as cocky as ever, I see." Kevin glanced at her after he threw the ball back to the pitcher. Through his catcher's mask she could see the amused glint in his eyes. "No one's hit a home run off Beth so far this season."
Recognizing a challenge when she heard one, Kelly shot him a confident grin. "There's a first time for everything."
Two hours, three hits and one home run later, Kelly sat amongst her teammates at Kamu's Tavern enjoying the sweet taste of victory. Sipping her beer, she watchedbemusedas Kevin tried his best to get Stacia's phone number.
Stacia was to men what catnip was to cats. In a word: irresistible. The proof of that was Kevin wasn't the only guy from the opposing team who'd shown up at the restaurant after being annihilated on the baseball diamond this evening.
"I see your roomie is fending them off once again." Kelly shifted in her chair as her team's pitcher, and her coworker, Angie DeMarco, sat next to her. "I hate her." Angie wrinkled her pert nose.
"Would it make you feel better if I told you she snores so loud I can hear her from my bedroom?"
"Extremely," Angie said with a devilish grin. "I'd hate to think she's as perfect as she looks." The remark made Kelly smile. With long dark spirals of hair most women would kill for, and bright blue eyes, Angie wasn't any less attractive than Stacia.
A chorus of boos erupted at the bar. Both she and Angie turned to look behind them at the flat-screen television mounted on the wall over two rows of lighted shelves that held a variety of liquor bottles. "Damn it," Kelly muttered, looking at the box score on the screen. "The Dodgers won again.