Author: Kendra C. Highley
Series: Suttonville Sentinels #3
Publication Date: July 10, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush
Pitcher Dylan Dennings has his future all mapped out: make the minors straight out of high school, work his way up the farm system, and get called up to the majors by the time he’s twenty-three. The Plan has been his sole focus for years, and if making his dreams come true means instituting a strict “no girls” policy, so be it.
Lucy Foster, needlepoint ninja, big sister to an aspiring pitcher, and chicken advocate, likes a little mayhem. So what if she gets lost taking her brother to baseball camp…at her own high school? The pitching coach, some hotshot high school player, obviously thinks she’s a hot mess. Too bad he’s cute, because he’s so not her type.
Problem is, they keep running into each other, and every interaction sparks hotter than the last. But with Dylan’s future on the line, he has to decide whether some rules are made to be broken…
Disclaimer: This book contains a crazy night of moonlit skinny-dipping, a combustible crush, and kisses swoony enough to unwind even the most Type A athlete.
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When she pulled into the small lot, only one other car was there: a charcoal Porsche crossover. The tailgate was up, and Dylan was leaning into the back, his face hidden from hers.
“Okay,” she breathed. “You can do this.”
Being nervous was so stupid. She was never nervous before meeting up with a guy. Excited maybe, but not palms-slick, knees-trembling, stomach-fluttering nervous.
But she was.
She made her way through the gate and onto the field. A catcher’s mitt, a chest guard, and a helmet with a mask were lying on the ground by the metal thing that kept pitches from hitting the spectators.
Just how seriously was he taking this? “Is all this stuff for me?”
The tailgate slammed closed. “Yeah, just a sec.”
Dylan, carrying a basket of baseballs with a glove resting on top, came striding in from the parking lot. He was dressed in his usual: Tight, dry-fit T-shirt and athletic shorts. When had she started thinking that was sexy? Maybe it was the way he moved in those clothes—confident and sure. Like nothing could touch him.
Like he owned the ground he walked on, but was willing to share it with her.
Heat crept up her neck that nothing to do with the brutal sunshine.
He carried the basket to the pitcher’s mound, then turned to face her. “Overkill?”
She looked down at the catcher’s equipment, hoping he hadn’t caught her gawking. “Maybe a little. I was thinking more about tossing a ball back and forth.”
Dylan cocked his head. “Not for Otis. There are nets and things that will let him pitch on his own, but if you really want to catch for him, you’ll want to do it the right way.”
Lucy held in a sigh. He was in full instructor mode. She’d have to work around that if she wanted to crack his resolve. And she really wanted to try. “Maybe show me how to hold a baseball the right way, and we can work up from there?”
His eyes narrowed. “Otis could teach you that.”
“I want you to teach me.”
That hung in the air between them. Dylan looked away, but his shoulders were tense. Good, someone knew how she felt, too. “Lucy…”
She wasn’t going to hear any excuses. Serena was right—She needed to cut the crap. She marched over to the bucket of baseballs and pulled one out. She walked over to Dylan, stopping a foot away, and held up the ball. “Show me.”
His head snapped up. The heat in his gaze burned straight through her, and she had to bite back a smile of triumph. She had his attention now. And someone liked girls
who took control.
A line knit between his eyebrows, and his shoulders were up around his ears, but he didn’t tear his eyes away from hers. “Okay, I’ll teach you, if that’s what you want.”
His voice was soft, not annoyed, as he moved around to stand behind her. His breath was warm on her neck and goose bumps raced down both her arms. His hands covered hers, helping her turn the ball, so it was in the right spot against her palm, before moving her fingers into the correct position.
Lucy hardly breathed.
“This is how you hold the ball—always hold it across the seams.” He gripped her hand in his larger one, and mimed throwing the ball, not like a pitch, but like one of the other players would. “This is how outfielders throw, but it’s all you need to send the ball back to Otis.”
He mimed the throw again, moving her arm overhead. “You’ll release it from the top. Think you’ve got it?”
Lucy wanted to say no, just so he’d keep holding her arm, but she nodded. “Let me try.”
He stepped back, and she took a deep breath. Her hands were shaking. You can do this. Maybe. She regripped the ball like he’d shown her, wound up, and threw.
The ball went about ten feet, bounced off the ground, and rolled.
Dylan couldn’t stifle his chuckle. “That was…uh, that was good for a first try.”
Lucy put her hands on her hips. “It was terrible. Let me try again.”
He dug three balls out of the basket and handed her one. She threw the first one farther, but way to the left.
Grumbling, she held out her hand for another ball. This time, she managed to throw it mostly straight.
“You know?” Dylan still sounded amused. “This might be good for Otis. He’ll have to practice fielding balls that come off the bat on a hop anyway.”
“Is that a nice way of making lemonade out of my lemon of an arm?” Lucy asked.
Dylan winked at her and trotted into the field after the balls. Lucy watched as he bent to pick them up. She had to admit, the view was pretty spectacular.
She didn’t quit ogling him in time, and Dylan straightened up to find her staring at him, twirling a piece of hair around her finger. He strolled over, grinning. “What?”
She smiled back. “How do I catch a pitch?”
“You’ll have to put on the mask and guards, first.”
Lucy went for the gear and put it on. “Now what?”
His voice was daring her to do it. Fine. She dropped into a crouch and punched the mitt a few times. “Like this?”
His voice had cracked—now she was getting somewhere. She waggled a bit, crouching deeper, and grinned when he watched her, slack jawed. “Show me what you’ve got.”
A fresh smirk. “I throw pretty hard.”
What, did he think she was made of glass? “Prove it.”
Mumbling something she couldn’t hear, Dylan paced around the mound a minute, then settled down to wind up.
The pitch that came at her moved much faster than she expected. She caught it, barely, then pulled her hand out of the mitt and shook it. “Ow. You win.”
“Hey, you caught it. That’s something.” He was nodding in approval. “That’s good for the first time.”
“You’re a good coach. I see why Otis likes you so much.” She stood, stretching the kinks out of her back.
“Speaking of which, I need to be honest. I wasn’t here just to learn to throw a ball. Truth is, I wanted to see you. I couldn’t think of a way to convince you unless Otis was involved somehow.”
Dylan took a few steps off the pitcher’s mound, inching closer. “I guess that’s fair.”
She took a more obvious step toward him and pulled off the helmet and chest plate. “I appreciate you worrying about Otis. I do. But…he’s old enough to understand, and I want to get to know you.”
“We’re totally different.” Dylan’s voice grew rough. “Opposites—”
“Opposites sometime attract.” Lucy took another big step, closing the distance to about ten feet. “That’s part of the fun. I’m not saying I want a proposal or anything. Just coffee.”
“We already had coffee.” To her surprise, he came three steps closer. His fists clenched, unclenched.
She waited, watching an obvious war play out via the expression on his face. He wanted to try this thing out as much as she did, but his so-called “better nature” was holding him back. Feeling bold, she closed the distance, standing right in front of him. “Maybe, what?”
He took in a sharp breath, eyes fixed on hers. Dylan’s eyes weren’t as blue as she’d originally thought, but a stormy blue-gray. Intense and distant, kind of like how he could be sometimes. She hoped she could fix the “distant” part.
Finally, he reached for her hand. “How about lunch?”
Smiling, she gave his fingers a little squeeze. “Thought you’d never ask.”
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES
Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories, and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.
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