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I smile, digging the direction of the conversation. “And what did you learn?”

“Beer dates back to 5000 BC, and if you spend too much time talking about hops on a date, you sound like a douche,” he says.

“Bet you didn’t need to google that last one,” I offer.

With his free hand, he taps his temple. “Figured that out all on my own.” He knocks the rest of his brew back, then sets down the glass. “How am I doing?”

Surprisingly good. “Hmm. I might need another before I render a verdict.”

His brown eyes twinkle, and he motions to the bartender. With a chin nod, the bartender indicates he’ll be on his way in a minute.

“My new goal? I want to end tonight with a ten out of ten from you,” Jamie says, then flashes me another delicious smile.

His smiles make me, well, smile. So that’s nice too. “And how do you think you’re doing so far?” I ask. Not gonna lie. I’m hoping this date turns into another one.

He strokes his jaw, then says, “Seven out of ten. But I like to give myself room to wow a date.”

Wow me. Please fucking wow me. I haven’t been wowed in a long time.

When the bartender swings by, Jamie asks for another round. We chat the whole way through our second drinks, talking mostly about hobbies. He likes to take photos. I like to play golf. I’m grateful we haven’t hit the inevitable what do you do question. I’m guessing Jamie might have figured out my job already. I’m not entirely low profile, playing shortstop for a World Series-winning team.

But it’s cool that he’s not harping on about it. Or asking me a gazillion questions about baseball and fame, or asking me to sign his shirt after I sign the check. That’d be a nightmare.

He’s so cool, in fact, that I’m gearing up at the end of this drink to ask him out again. Then I will get to collect my winnings in front of Luke Remington tomorrow night.

Speaking of Luke, how’s his date going?

Is he having as good a time as I am? Is he vibing with his guy? Will he take him home and shut up his mouth with his morecock?

I scratch the back of my neck, suddenly itchy for no reason. Don’t want to be scratching my skin like a dog with fleas.

As the date wraps up, I try to ignore the uncomfortable feeling and focus on the best way to ask out Jamie for round two. When the bill comes, I cover it, then we head outside. “So, Jamie are you fr—”

But he’s faster. “Listen, I’ve been dying to ask you this all night.”

Oh, sweet. I don’t even have to do it. He’s there already. “Sure, go for it.”

Jamie whips out his phone, lines up next to me, shoulder to shoulder, and lifts his device. “My friends will never believe I scored a date with Number Twenty-One on the Comets unless I show them a pic.”

Jamie snaps the selfie so fast, I barely have time to think. It’s like an ambush executed by a double agent paparazzi. And I’d be an Athlete Behaving Badly if I grabbed his phone and deleted the image.

It’s harmless. It’s one photo. Let it go.

Once he’s done, I don’t give a flying fuck that I lost the bet with Remington.

“Can you wear your World Series ring next time?” he asks eagerly.

That’d be a hard no. I have no interest in a second date with a dude who only wants me for the number on my back.

“This was fun, Jamie. I’ll catch you another time,” I say, with the same smile I reserve for reporters shoving mics in my face after we lose a tough game.

I turn around and head home. So much for my attitude adjustment.

I’m thirty-three and at the top of my career, with more money than I know what to do with.

By most measures, I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world.

But I’m still fucking lonely.




On the bright side, at least I have a great story from last night’s disastrous date. My friends will think it’s funny as hell what the dude asked me to do at the end. And I’ve been asked to do some pretty weird shit.

I yank on the door to Gin Joint and saunter into the lively speakeasy in Chelsea. Maybe I won’t collect any winnings from Tanner, but I will entertain my guys. And that is goals.

Especially since the off-season is primo buddy time, and I’ve been enjoying the days of working out and the nights of hanging with my friends.

My buddy Nate has been in town for a few weeks since his TV producer hubs, Hunter, has been working in New York on a show. Tanner and I hung out with them last week at Rapture, where I won an amateur dance contest, thank you very much. They’ll come to the players’ auction on Friday night, probably to heckle me as I host it. Bring it on. After that, the whole crew is flying to California for another friend’s wedding. Thank fuck for the All-Star break, since our baseball buddies can join us at the nuptials. I’m bummed that our friend Bryan can’t make the wedding, but he’s in New Zealand with his movie-star boyfriend, Sebastian Lowe, who’s shooting a new flick there.