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Before she finishes, I’m shaking my head. “No way. It’s late, I’m not putting you in a cab. I can take you home, but first I need to stop by my house to let out my dog.”

Stopped at a red light, I turn and look at her. She’s looking at me like I’m trying to pull a fast one on her. “I promise, in and out, you don’t even have to come in the house.”

Satisfied, she nods her head and I turn back to the road. We chat on the way to my house. She tells me about her parents and her job as a bank teller. And she asks me about baseball. “So what made you want to be a professional baseball player?”

I pull off the highway and slow down the car. “I grew up playing it. It was everything to me and I always dreamed I would someday make it big.” I smile thinking about my childhood and all the memories. “My mom and dad took me to practices and games every summer growing up. I think they were probably happier than I was when I got drafted.”

Before I get caught up in my past, I decide to give it another go and ask her the same question from before that she avoided answering me. I pull down my street, slowing down to the 25mph speed limit. “So are you seeing anyone?”

She answers me this time, but it’s not what I want to hear. “No, but I’m not looking to date or anything else right now.”

I want to know more about her, I want to know everything, but before I can ask, we pull into my driveway.

6

Trinity

My mouth drops when we pull into the driveway. His place is a gorgeous mansion in the hills. I was determined to not be impressed but how could I not?

“You live here by yourself—I mean, uh who all lives here?” I ask him, wondering if maybe I should have asked him if he was single before I got in the car with him. That’s an awful big house for one man.

He shrugs his shoulders. “Just me. But I plan on having a family one day.”

He gets out of the car and I let his words sink in. It doesn’t sound like he’s a man just looking for a good time. As I sit there, dumbfounded, he walks up the path to the house and disappears inside. I take this time to try and get my mind right. Don’t do anything stupid, Trinity. He’s giving you a ride home, that’s it.

Almost immediately he comes outside with his dog. It’s a black Labrador retriever and he runs to a tree to do his business. As soon as he’s done, Jasper throws a ball for him. I can’t help laughing as the dog runs and fetches over and over.

I get out of the car and as soon as I do, the dog starts barreling to me. I brace for impact, because he’s running at me full speed. But before he reaches me, Jasper hollers out, “Max, stop.”

His authoritative voice even has me stopping and looking up at him. The dog stops right in front of me, sitting on his hind legs with his tail wagging back and forth behind him.

Jasper jogs over to us and leans over to rub the dog behind his ears. “Sorry about that.”

I just laugh and reach my hand out for the dog to smell before brushing my fingers through his soft hair and scratching him behind the ears. His tail wagging gets more intense and I laugh when he gets up and starts rubbing his body against my legs.

Jasper looks between us. “It looks like you’ve made a friend.”

I squat down and keep petting him. “He’s beautiful.”

Jasper squats down too and Max is eating up all the attention. Jasper’s petting the dog, but he’s looking at me. “No. Max is cute; you’re beautiful.”

I just stare back at him, his words affecting me way more than I should let them. I don’t blink, I can’t; it’s like I’m hypnotized by him. He leans in, I lean in and I wait. I can feel it to the soles of my feet: Jasper Reilly is about to kiss me.

As he moves closer, I close my eyes. And then I feel Max’s huge tongue swipe at me from chin to hairline. I start laughing and fall backwards on my butt, laughing so hard.

Jasper, in his attempt to catch me, falls forward and is leaning on his arms over top of me. “I’m sorry about that.”

I smile up at him. “It’s okay.” Max is trying to get between us and his nose nuzzles my neck. I can’t help but laugh at his antics.

Jasper gets up and holds his hand out. I put mine in it and he pulls me off the ground until I’m standing up and wedged right against his hard body. Heat is radiating off him and he doesn’t let go of my hand. He stares at me for so long, I fight not to fidget.

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