“I appreciate the ride,” I say, trying again to fix my attitude.
“That’s a start,” he says.
I can’t take it out on him. I shouldn’t be mad. I heave a sigh. “Look, I didn’t mean to infect your car with my mood.”
He flashes me a we’re good now smile as he slows at the light. When the car stops, he taps the dashboard. “Now, do you need to talk, or want me to do you the honors of letting you hear my favorite comedian’s podcast?”
I smile weakly. “Comedian, please.”
“I got you, bud,” he says, stabbing the button on his playlist. His car fills with jokes at top volume, and it drowns out my thoughts as he drives us to the San Francisco Dragons ballpark, the home of the game.
Once we park in the players’ lot and head inside, I try harder with a genuine, “Thanks again.”
Zane offers a fist for knocking. “Anytime. Always happy to smack you upside the head.”
He lifts a brow in question. “Was it dude trouble?”
Embarrassed, but a little relieved he figured it out, I just nod. “Yeah. There’s this guy…”
I can’t say anything more. Zane knows Luke. We’re all friends. Hell, Zane’s boyfriend is my agent, Maddox, which makes him Luke’s agent too. They’ll both be at the wedding this weekend. Luke and I agreed to keep this thing just between us.
“But it’s no big deal,” I add.
Zane casts me a doubtful look. “Hmm. Doesn’t sound like it’s not a big deal. Sounds like you’re into him.”
“More than I should be,” I say, with a helpless shrug since that doesn’t give Luke away. “But it’s going nowhere.”
Zane pats my shoulder sympathetically as we head to the clubhouse. We’re in the same league, so we’ll share the home team one. “But I’ve got a surefire way to get him out of your mind,” he says brightly.
“Yeah? What’s that?”
“Nothing a game of catch won’t cure.”
I laugh, feeling it deep in my soul for the first time today. “Yeah. Baseball is good like that.”
A couple hours later, I’m on the diamond with Zane and Gunnar, lobbing easy throws around. Feeling a little like myself again.
After our impromptu warmup session, Gunnar ambles to me and taps my shoulder with his glove. “A little baseball, a little wedding. Life is good, man,” he says, then stares at the ballpark with an expansive gaze and a grin that says we’re fucking lucky.
We sure are. It’s almost time to give the fans their money’s worth.
We head inside to get ready to play a game.
It’s the bottom of the third. Bases are loaded. I’m at the plate. This is my chance to fix the mess I’ve made of this game so far. I struck out in my first plate appearance. Butchered an easy throw to first base in the second inning.
But I can make up for that all with one fat swing.
I adjust my batting glove then get in the box, resting the bat on my shoulder, ready to do some serious damage with it.
I stare down the pitcher. It’s Sedgwick from the Aces. He goes into the windup. I watch the ball, not his leg kick as he throws a fireball down the middle.
I’m going to crush that motherfucker.
I put an annihilating swing on it, and the sound of the crack is deafening. The ball soars. That bad boy is going to land with a splash in San Francisco Bay, I just know it.
I run to first as the center fielder backs up against the wall. Going, going…
Sorry, sucker. That ball is marked out of here.
But he’s determined as he sticks up a glove, and…
The center fielder pulls my grand slam out of the air and right into his leather, then thrusts up a victorious arm.
I kick some dirt on the base path. “Fuck that,” I mutter.
When I trudge off the field, having thoroughly disappointed the fans, I barely glance at the stands. But once I’m in the dugout, something catches my attention from the stands.
Or rather, someone waving at me.
I knew she was going to be here. I gave her two tickets. But I wasn’t expecting her to bring a handsome blond guy with her.
When the game ends, I reluctantly make my way to Amelia. Normally, I’m happy to see her. But normally, she doesn’t ambush me with surprise setups. When I reach her by the stands, I give my best friendly hello so the guy she’s with doesn’t know my sister surprised me.
Though, now that I think about it, didn’t she text me the other night? Something about traveling and Soren was too? And I guess she did tell me they were both flying here to meet with a client.
But in my defense, I’ve had other things on my mind.
Best to put on my polite face. Don’t want them to know I’m all moony for someone else.