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"Kiss me. Just this once . . . please Walker."
Those whispered words were my undoing . . .
As the most hated player in baseball, I had two options: either clean up my image or pack my bags. Being traded wasn't an option which only meant one thing, I had to become compliant.
That's how I found myself sharing a small bistro table with Kate Chapman, the Chicago Bobbies newest PR Manager. Devastatingly beautiful, vastly intelligent, and incredibly cunning, she knows exactly how to handle my grumpy demeanor.
It was supposed to be simple. Book some PR events, show up, smile for the camera, and be done. But one massive mistake on my end sends me into the trenches with Kate, forcing me to open up to her.
Innocent glances turn into cordial encounters. Secret touches turn into tempting invitations. And dangerous nights alone turn into consuming desperation.
I’ve never wanted a woman as much as I want her. And I know she wants me, but there’s a no fraternizing with the players rule. Neither of us can afford to lose our jobs, but we also can't seem to keep our hands off each other either.
I slip on my clothes, going for a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved Henley. I push the sleeves up, still heated from the shower. I leave my hat in my locker, opting for a quick swab of styling pomade through my hair. I couldn’t care less what I look like, but Coach always likes us to be somewhat presentable after a game in case we run into any press.
Hungry and ready for my bed, I head out of the locker room and am making my way toward the players’ exit when a throat clears behind me. I glance over my shoulder to find Kate Chapman standing against the wall, her purse draped over her shoulder and a beautiful smile gracing her delicately freckled face.
She quickly gives me a once-over and says, “It was the socks.”
I can’t help it, I let out a low chuckle while slowly shaking my head and turning toward her. Hands in my pockets, I say, “It wasn’t the socks.”
Her mouth drops open in disbelief as she approaches me. “It was so the socks.” She points her finger at me.
“Don’t even deny it.”
“It was all my practice.”
“Yeah, practice with me. Just admit it, Rockwell, you had fun last night, the socks were a good luck charm, and you played your ass off tonight.”
I don’t believe in superstitions, which is unheard of when it comes to a baseball player, but I’ve never geared my play around being a habitual player, either. Instead, I do what feels right. So, believing in socks having a special power and helping me gather some hits tonight—nah, not real. But I will say this—having my socks up reminded me why I was behind that plate. It reminded me of being small again and taking joy in the little things.
Was it the socks? Maybe.
Was it the thought of the girl standing in front of me?
Maybe a little more.
“It wasn’t the socks.”
Her head falls back as she groans. “You’re so stubborn.” She makes eye contact with me again. “Do you realize that?”
“Yeah.” I rock on my heels, trying not to stare at her too much. Just picture me pitching to you.
When I said that would be too distracting, I meant it. With her softly curled hair and her gorgeous smile that doesn’t seem to ever falter—unless I’m a total dick and walk out on her—she’s caught my eye.
She’s starting to imprint herself on my brain.
She’s starting to make me feel shit I shouldn’t be feeling.
“What are you doing right now?” I ask out of the blue, surprising myself, and her.
“Uh, I was going to give you a hard time and then go home?” she says with a hint of question at the end.
I nod at her. “Hungry?”
She eyes me suspiciously. “Starving.”
“Want to get some food?”
She chews on her bottom lip, thinking about her answer, and I know it’s not in a joking around way, but more so she’s afraid. Afraid of me, possibly. Afraid for her job, most likely.
So, I add, “You know, to discuss business.”
It’s against team policy to fraternize with the players. I know that, she knows that, but, for the life of me, after seeing that infectious joy on her face, I had to ask her. I had to try to spend more time with her.
“Well, if it’s business . . .” She smiles brightly and then nods behind her. “Follow me.”