Bring the Heat(10)

By: L. Wilder

Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she was wearing a tank top that hugged her curves in all the right places. Looking at her was like staring at the sun: I knew I shouldn’t, but it gave me the most intense feeling of light and warmth that I couldn’t turn away. She glanced up, and when her eyes locked with mine, a peculiar look crossed her face. The chick sitting next to her leaned in and whispered something in her ear, and her expression quickly changed into a scowl. With a dramatic shake of her head, she returned her attention back to her book, spending the entire practice doing her dead level best to ignore me.

As soon as practice was over, the parents came flooding out of the bleachers. Colton quickly called them over for a meeting, letting them know that the rest of the practices would be closed. I could see that some of them were disappointed, but I was relieved he’d done it. You would’ve thought that after two years I would’ve gotten used to the attention of overenthusiastic fans, but the fact was, I hadn’t. Kids were one thing. They were cute and non-threatening, but adults were a different matter altogether. It was like they forgot that I was just a regular guy who put their pants on just like they did. Nothing was really special about me: I was just a guy who liked to play ball—and while far from the best, I was pretty damn good at it. Maybe I was lucky, blessed even, but I was still just me.

When one of the mothers started in my direction with her platinum blonde hair and low-cut t-shirt, I cringed. I could tell she was on the prowl by the amount of cleavage she was sporting—and from the look on her face, she was hungry too. Batting her long eyelashes she said, “I just wanted to tell you that I think it’s really sweet of you to come out here and work with our kids like this.”

“Thank you. It’s been my pleasure.”

I took a step back, trying to keep the distance between us, but she simply inched forward as she purred, “My name is Claire. If you need anything while you’re in town, just give me a call.”

With a provocative wink, she handed me a slip of paper with her number on it. I let out a deep breath as I took the paper and shoved it in my back pocket, having ever intention of throwing it away later. “Thanks, Claire. I appreciate that, but I better get going. It was nice meeting you.”

“It was certainly nice meeting you. Now, you be sure and call if you need anything. Day or night.”

With a nod, I quickly turned around. I was about to head towards the dugout, when I slammed face first into some guy’s chest. Slightly dazed, I looked up at him and said, “Wow, man. Sorry about that.”

He was a big dude—almost a foot taller than me and weighing at least three hundred pounds. As he towered over me, he extended his large hand and said, “No problem, Tucker. I’m Dan Green.”

“Hi, Dan. It’s nice to meet ya.”

“I … was hoping that I could talk to you about my boy for a second.” He pointed to a short, chubby kid who was sitting in the bleachers eating a bag of peanuts. Just like he’d been the entire practice, the kid was in a world of his own. “I think Tyler’s got the potential to be a really great ball player, Tucker. I really do. I’ve been working with him since he could walk, and the kid can knock the hell out of the ball—clear out of the park if he sets his mind to it. And he can catch, too. I don’t know if you know this, but I was the catcher in high school. Actually, I was pretty damn good, but Tyler’s even better. With a little work, I think he could really go far.”

“Umm-hmm.” Tyler was a sweet kid, and while he came to practice and gave it his best, it was clear that he had absolutely no interest whatsoever in the game of baseball. The kid was smart, but all he would talk about was his electronics and the games he liked to play. I understood why Dan wanted his son to play ball. For a kid like Tyler, it would be a great way for him to get exercise and make friends, but even with the best coaching in the world, I was doubtful that Tyler would ever make it very far. I didn’t want to be the guy who broke that news to a hopeful father, so I said, “Tell you what … I’ll keep an eye on him while I’m here and see if I can give him a few pointers.”

“That would be awesome, Tucker. Thank you so much.” The corners of his mouth turned up into a big, cheesy grin, and he shook my hand again. “This is going to mean so much to Tyler.”

By the time we were done talking, most of the kids had gathered up their gear and were leaving. Like the previous day, Kaden was standing alone by the fence while everyone cleared out of the dugout. I walked over to him and said, “Another good practice, kid. You made a really good catch out there.”

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