Maybe I will.
But for the next few hours, I’ll have to turn off thoughts of romance and sex. Especially the latter.
And especially the things I want to do to my friend after that drink.
Once my dad shares some hitting tips, since he always shares hitting tips, I head into the clubhouse and get ready to play ball.
On the field I don’t think. All I do is react. To a scorching line drive in the third, fielding it flawlessly then throwing to first.
To a fastball down the middle in the fifth, clubbing it to the left-field corner, and pulling up on second for a double.
Then, to an outside pitch in the seventh, laying off it and jogging to first to load the bases.
As the Miami Aces call for a pitching change, my attention strays to the first-base stands so I can give a quick wave to my family.
But when I raise my hand, I blink. I expected to see my agent Maddox here tonight, but he didn’t mention he had a special guest.
A rush of heat spreads down my chest when I set eyes on Luke. Even from a distance, the guy looks good.
Too good, in his Leopards T-shirt and a pair of dark blue shorts. A ball cap shields his face from the early evening sun, and he’s laughing at something Maddox is saying.
My pulse spikes. My neck goes hot. I tear my gaze back to the field. I don’t need to get turned on during a game—turned on by a guy I can’t have again.
When the game ends with a victory, I high-five Tucker Reyes, our veteran first baseman, then Ramon Sandoval, who mans the hot corner. I make my way to the first-base stands again to say hi to my family.
I chat with my brother and his fiancée for a few minutes then say goodbye to them. As they head up the steps, my dad yawns. “Nice work on the double, kid,” he says.
“Thanks again for the tickets,” Mom says, yawning too.
“Guess you’re not up for a late-night burger, Mama Sloan,” Amelia says to her.
Mom shakes her head and when my parents take off, my sister turns to me with expectant eyes. “But I’m up for it. Want to get a bite, Tan?”
Shit. Didn’t see that coming. Feels weird to say I’m seeing Luke for our publicity auction date. If I do volunteer that piece of information, Amelia will needle me, since that’s her thing. As I’m weighing imitating my parents with a case of the yawns, I spot Luke a few rows over, along with Maddox, heading toward me.
Which raises another question—how will Luke and I act in front of others post BJ exchange?
“Can’t. I have plans tonight,” I say vaguely, hoping my sister doesn’t pry any more. Don’t want to lie, after all.
“You do? With who?” Amelia presses right as Luke arrives with Maddox next to him.
Don’t stare salaciously.
Do be chill.
And answer your sister’s question casually like it’s no big deal.
But before I can say a word, Luke jumps in with, “Me. Can you believe I have to take him out and pose for a pic? Auction rules and all.” He sounds aggrieved, but that’s a relief. Luke’s leaning into the way we were, sliding right back to trash talk and friendship.
“Hey, you!” Amelia says to Luke, then hugs him too. “That was so cute that you bid on Tanner.”
Luke scratches his jaw casually. “No big thing. I didn’t want him to go home dateless. Would be bad luck for me if my buds couldn’t pull,” he says, keeping up the routine.
We are snapping right into place. This is what I wanted. Mostly. “Thanks for the pity bid,” I say.
“Yes, that’s quite a pity bid,” Maddox says, taking a deliberate beat. “Of one hundred thousand dollars.”
“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do,” Luke says, then makes a show of winking at me as he stage whispers, “And feel free to pay me back whenever, Sloan.”
“You wish I were paying you back,” I toss back, determined, absolutely fucking determined, to show him how damn good I am at returning to the friend zone.
“I love payback,” Luke says with a naughty grin, and I freeze.
Or maybe I go up in flames as I get lost in yesterday once again. To our dirty words in my bed about payback. Then his final ones after he made me come hard: By the way, like my payback?
He freezes too. With his eyes locked on mine, I spot the exact moment when he realizes what he just said. His expression shifts, and the cocky façade disappears. Heat flickers in his irises. His lips part the slightest bit, and he doesn’t take his eyes off me.
It’s hot under my uniform too.
“Yeah. You really do,” I say, making sure to strip the desire from my tone. Don’t want my sister or my agent to hear it as I swing at Luke’s pitch.