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11

DO BE CHILL

Tanner

Facts are facts, like this one. The Comets’ ballpark is the unequivocal best. The Bronx diamond is the home of baseball legends. When I was younger and my dad took me to games here, I’d dream of hitting a homer just once at this park.

I’ve hit a few hundred now for this team.

I take one more swing in batting practice late in the afternoon, and I lob another ball, savoring the sight of it sailing over the fence, as well as the crack of the bat, the smell of the grass, and the sun on my shoulders.

Fine, a BP homer doesn’t matter, but they’re still fun to watch soar. Especially since my family is here today.

Which is good. Maybe extra good since my sister’s been on a matchmaking tear lately. Her efforts might help keep my mind off Naked Luke and on Buddy Luke when I see him tonight for that obligatory beer.

Since we agreed yesterday was an over-and-out, tonight at the brew pub will be a chance for us to return to the friend zone. Don’t want to put the moves on him again. I do want to show him I respect the rules of one-time friend hookups.

I head to the first base stands, drop the bat by the dugout, then trot over to say hi to my sister, Amelia, who’s alone for now. She’s always early. She leans over the stands, offering me a fist for bumping. “Do that in the game too, will ya?”

“I’ll try my best,” I say, bumping back, then I look around at the empty seats next to her, curious. “Where’s the hubs?”

“Left him home with the kiddos. Lucky me,” she says, brightly, clearly enjoying her kid-free time. “Mom and Dad should be here any second. Zach too. With his fiancée.”

“Can’t even tell you how happy I am that his bride-to-be likes the right sport,” I say, proud of my little bro for finding happiness with a baseball–loving gal.

“I know! And speaking of weddings,” she begins, her blue eyes twinkling with a familiar spark. “So, I have this lawyer friend who’s friends with Zach too. His name is Soren, and he’s coming to the wedding. He’s smart and handsome and went to a good law school.”

“Because that’s so important to me. Where someone went to law school,” I say dryly.

Leaning over the stands, she smacks my shoulder. “Seriously, Tanner. He’s sarcastic like you.”

“But how did he score on the LSAT?”

She stares sternly at me. “You’ll like him. Trust me. He wants to find a boyfriend,” she says softly, aiming for my squishy heart. Maybe hitting it. “I can introduce you to him at Zach’s wedding.”

I want to meet this guy. Honestly, I do. “Sure,” I say, but it comes out with less enthusiasm than it should.

Amelia doesn’t seem to notice though, or maybe she doesn’t care. “Great! Hey. Idea,” she says, like the diabolical creature she is. “What if I set you up on a date with him before the wedding? We’re both flying to California to meet with a client there. I can use those All-Star tickets you offered me.”

“Pretty sure the All-Star game is not a great place for me to go on a date. Since, you know, I’m playing in the game,” I point out.

Translation: I’m fucking working, Amelia.

She waves a hand airily. “I know that, of course.” Then she softens, giving me those big puppy-dog eyes. How she can go from bear to dog in one moment is her special skill. “I just meant, you know, maybe after. Back in New York. A drink. A coffee. Something easy, breezy.”

“Whatever you want,” I say. Hmm. Did that come out less than enthused too? Well, I’m not a fucking dating cheerleader.

“I want to find Mister Right for you,” she says, the picture of sisterly determination.

A week ago, I’d have liked the sound of it. Hell, I mostly like the sound of it now. But my brain is still lodged on images of strong muscles, golden skin, and tousled hair. When I should focus on guys who aren’t close to me. Luke is part of the inner circle. I want him to stay there.

I should focus on guys who want the same things I do. Like this Soren dude.

I force some cheer into my attitude. “Sounds good. Coffee after the All-Star break will be fine,” I say.

“Yay!”

“I should go join my team.” I nod toward the dugout, lean in and give her a kiss on the cheek, then spot my parents heading down the stairs to join her.

“Hey, kiddo,” my dad calls out.

“Hi, Twenty-One!” Mom chimes in.

I hold my arms out wide, like I’m relieved to catch a break from my sister. “Finally. Saved from the setup.”

“Is she going on again about the cute lawyer?” my mom asks with a laugh.

“I am. And Tanner will like him when they have coffee,” Amelia says with a defiant raise of her chin.

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