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SMACK ME UPSIDE THE HEAD

Tanner

Theoretically, the All-Star break is a vacation. For most players, it’s a couple days off from the grueling daily grind of baseball season.

Even if you play in the All-Star game, it shouldn’t feel like work since the conventional baseball wisdom says don’t try too hard in this one.

But that’s not how I’ll approach the diamond tonight. The fans who pay top dollar for seats don’t want to watch a bunch of rich, privileged guys swing half-heartedly and run half-assed.

The All-Star game is not a vacation, and that’s fine by me. I’m here to give it my all.

But when I wake up in San Francisco on Thursday morning, I feel like my bones don’t fit in my body. I didn’t sleep well, tossing and turning all night, checking my phone foolishly at three in the morning.

That was dumb, not to mention pointless, since I didn’t hear from anyone I wanted to hear from.

Now I’m paying the price, with an achy shoulder and a barking neck.

I peel myself out of bed and trudge to the bathroom to take care of business, then brush my teeth. When I return to the suite, I put on compression shorts and roll through some stretches, loosening up.

When I’m feeling limber again, I grab my phone and pick a pump-me-up playlist. No Outrageous Record allowed. Not a single tune of stupid longing.

I pick a list with classic rock tunes, blue-collar anthems, and the like. I tug on running shorts and a shirt, and once I lace up my sneakers, I take off, heading out into the July morning where cool, wet air slaps me like a wet burrito in the face.

This fog is bullshit.

My first instinct is to tell Luke it’s misty and miserable here and that’s summertime for you in this city. I tap open my texts, but when I look at the thread, the date from the last exchange makes my chest tighten. I haven’t heard from him since the night of the Outrageous Record concert.

Tanner: I’ll swing by your place before the show.

Luke: See ya then.

I’m a sorry sack for having wanted a text when I landed yesterday in San Francisco. Or after the Home Run Derby last night. Or this morning.

He’s not texting you. You’re not his boyfriend.

I stuff the phone in the holder on my arm and run through the fog.

A few hours later, my buddy Zane texts: Get your lazy ass out of the hotel since I’m here to pick up the worst player in the league.

As I text back with I plan to leave the scent of my awesomeness all over your leather seats, I should feel just the momentary pleasure of hanging with a friend on the way to the ballpark.

Trouble is, I don’t feel footloose and carefree.

I still feel like a fucking idiot for having wanted to hear from Luke. Logically, there’s no reason to even expect a text.

He doesn’t normally text me every day when I’m on the road. Hell, he hardly texts me at all when we’re traveling and vice versa. We only text if we feel the need to troll each other.

Just enjoy your last day with him next week and then move on.

But as I bound down the stairwell, I face a hard fact. I’m not looking forward to the Christmas Day of Fucking as much as I want.

I can only trick myself for so long. Luke Remington is not out of my system. He’s in it, but he can’t be.

One more time with him won’t fix that. One more time with him will only hurt.

I reach the lobby, where I tug my ball cap lower, and grab my shades from the neck of my shirt. I put them on as I walk through the maze of guests on the ground floor, feeling like a douche for trying this hard not to be recognized.

But I’m annoyed.

With me.

When I hit the street, I’m fueled by self-loathing as I march straight to Zane’s sweet red ride. I yank on the door too hard and slide in, throwing myself on the seat. “Hey,” I grumble.

My friend on the Dragons jerks his gaze to me like what gives. “Who pissed in your Cheerios this morning?”

Me. I did. For wanting someone I can’t have.

“No one,” I mutter.

“Then what the fuck is wrong with you?”

I breathe out hard, a racehorse huffing. “That’s a good question.”

“Well, dickhead, maybe next time consider walking to the ballpark when you’re in a shitty-ass mood,” he says, then flicks on the blinker and turns into traffic.

I drag my hands down my face, like I can wipe away my mood. “Sorry. It’s not you.”

“No shit it’s not me,” he says, as he maneuvers into San Francisco traffic. “I literally just picked you up like the awesome friend I am. Course it’s not me.”

Source: www.allfreenovel.com