New Edition Now Available! THE HOT STREAK, my baseball romance novel

A new edition of THE HOT STREAK, my sexy sexy baseball-themed romance, is newly out from Riverdale Avenue Books! Just in time for the lull of the All-Star Break, eh? If you’re looking for something to read this week while your favorite team is off, look no further. Sample chapter under the cut!
Or buy it:
Ebooks: Riverdale Avenue Books | AllRomance Ebooks | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Amazon

Casey felt like a little girl on her way to the circus. That was the only thing she could think of to compare it to, as she rode the packed train toward the ballpark. There was a kind of excitement in the crowd, and as she elbowed her way out of the car with the rest of the passengers, she couldn’t help but be caught up in it.
She wasn’t completely sure which way to go, but surrounded by people in Robins hats and jerseys and T-shirts, she figured all she had to do was go with the flow. The river of brightly clad people buoyed her along toward the stadium. The summer breeze blew warm off Boston Harbor while the sun set somewhere behind the skyline. The glow of stadium lights ahead and the tinny sound of music from the PA system seemed to beckon the crowd. People chattered excitedly all around her, and she caught the sound of a familiar name in it.
Hammond, Tyler Hammond.
The two women directly in front of her were talking about the very guy who had invited Casey to this game.
“What? It’s Hammond starting? I thought it was Gutierrez on the mound tonight.” The woman was in her forties, Casey guessed, blond, with overlong nails and too many rings. She reminded Casey of her Aunt Mary.
“That was last night,” her friend replied. “Why do you think I’m wearing my Tyler Hammond jersey? Hello?” The other woman slid her long, dark hair aside, and pointed at her back to emphasize the point. Casey blinked. Right there, it said Hammond, with a large number thirteen sewn in black satin on the orange-red cloth.
She had the urge to ask them, What’s he like? Is he a decent guy? I met him today at work and I have no clue what I’m doing here…
But as the crowd grew thicker closer to the park, she lost sight of them. Time to figure out where to pick up the tickets. The stadium was only a few years old, a gleaming jewel on the waterfront, built to entice a National League team to Boston and, so said the cynical business columnists, to eat into the huge market of baseball fans the Red Sox had formerly monopolized. It had been big news at the time, but Casey hadn’t paid much attention in recent years and she’d never been to the ballpark before. She eventually found the window labeled “Team/Family/VIP”—a handwritten sign taped on the inside of the glass. Behind it stood a gray-haired woman wearing a red polo shirt with the Robins logo embroidered on it.
“Last name?” she barked at Casey through the grill.
“Branigan,” Casey answered. “Tyler Hammond said he left me…”
“Branigan,” the woman repeated. “Cassie?”
“Casey,” she corrected, more annoyed at having been cut off than at the woman getting her name wrong.
“Whatever. ID, please?”
Casey slipped her driver’s license into the little metal well under the window, and the woman slid it back along with a ticket. “Enjoy the game. Next!
Casey put her license back into her wallet, feeling a bit like she was at the airport as she prepared to go through security. Were they going to want to see it again? They were searching people’s bags up ahead. But all she had was her little handbag, too small even to hold a single bottle of smuggled beer in it, much less a weapon of mass destruction. The guard just gave it a cursory glance and waved her through.
She made her way through the brick and concrete building, making her way along wide walkways edged with vending stalls selling popcorn and hot dogs; it smelled like the circus, too. A man selling bags of cotton candy lined up on a long pole edged past her and up a ramp toward the seats. She examined the numbers posted above the ramp and walked on further, looking for hers.
She came to what looked to be the right ramp and headed up a narrow concrete tunnel toward the bright lights.
Suddenly she was standing in the bowl of the stadium, the field huge and green in front of her. Players were spread out over the grass and for a moment she panicked, thinking she was late, but she quickly realized they weren’t playing yet. They were stretching and practicing their moves. She stared, the way one would if the actors in a Broadway play were wandering around on the stage before a show. But then an usher noticed her lost look and steered her to a seat about ten rows back from the field.
The whole section was empty; no one else near her had shown up yet. She bought a program from a passing vendor so she would have something to read while waiting, but she ended up looking around. I’m really not supposed to be here, she thought, and it seemed surreal to be sitting under bright lights in the open air.
She was supposed to be at a party right then. A “work” party being thrown by one of her regular clients, a launch party for the new “look” for their magazine, and she supposed she should have gone to be supportive and to network. But open-bar-and-crudite just didn’t have the appeal it once did. I never promised I’d go, she rationalized. It wasn’t as if she got paid to spend non-work hours attending that sort of thing, either.
Well, thank you, Tyler Hammond, for getting me away from that for a night. She looked for him on the field, but didn’t see him among the players there. Men raked the dirt and just a few Robins were off to one side playing catch and doing little sprints. She felt a thrill of excitement when she thought she caught sight of him—but no, that was someone else.
They’d met earlier in the day, when she was helping to set up a photo shoot for another magazine her company worked for. There had been two athletes involved, Tyler and another whose name Casey had forgotten now. The photographer had been aiming for some high-concept image with Tyler in a suit of armor, but Casey hadn’t paid much attention to the photographer. Not once Tyler had started to pay attention to her.
Casey generally did not flirt at work. Working in a production bureau normally did not bring her into contact with many flirt-worthy subjects, anyway. And today, she had not flirted either. It was all Tyler. If he hadn’t been so persistent, she probably would have just laughed him off and not taken him up on the offer of the free ticket.
She sat up straighter suddenly; there he was.
He hopped up the dugout steps and started walking across the grass. With him went a player carrying a large bag, and an older man Casey guessed must be a coach. They were fifty yards away at least, and Tyler was wearing a hat, but she was sure it was him.
Well, that and the fact that his jersey said Hammond on the back with a number thirteen, just like that woman’s.
The other player walking with him had Madison on his back. Casey wondered how players felt about women wearing clothes with their names on them. Was it sort of weird? Would Tyler expect his girlfriend or wife to wear a Hammond jersey?
Casey shook her head. I can’t believe I’m thinking about stuff like that. He was a sweet guy, but it wasn’t as if she expected anything to come of it. He had been nice to leave the ticket and it was a great excuse to get away from a boring work function and do something different for once. Casey watched the little trio open a gate in the far wall in the outfield and disappear through it. She was just wondering where they had gone when a woman took the seat next to her.
She was alone, not wearing any team colors, her hair a perfect auburn; her jewelry looked expensive. The woman glanced at Casey, then took a magazine out of her shoulder bag and began to read as if she were waiting for a bus rather than a baseball game.
The words were out of Casey’s mouth almost before she realized it. “Oh my goodness, I worked on that magazine.” It was the fashionable home publication whose party she was skipping out on, as if Fate were trying to remind her about it.
The woman looked up. “Oh?”
“Yes. I did some independent art direction for them. I work at a production bureau here in town…sorry, that might sound like Greek. I helped with their photography and layout.” Casey held out her hand. “Casey Branigan.”
“Pleased to meet you,” the woman said, shaking her hand hard. “I’m Missy Madison.”
Something about the way she said it made it sound like she expected Casey to recognize it. Casey hesitated, eyebrow raised, as if trying to place it, and the woman went on. “Mad Dog’s wife.”
Madison, she had said. “Oh, the fellow I saw walking with Tyler?”
Her smile warmed suddenly, seemed more genuine. “You’re here with Tyler?”
“Well, not with…” Casey started, then stopped. “I mean, he was nice enough to give me a ticket. I’m not, I mean…”
Missy smiled and patted Casey on the arm. “He’s fun, Tyler is,” she said and her smile turned knowing.
Casey didn’t know what to say to that, so she just smiled in return while wondering what she was getting herself into.
* * * *
The stands filled up around them and while listening to the people talking in the rows nearby, Casey eventually figured out that everyone in the section was a friend or the family of someone on the team. The only ones who weren’t relatives or significant others were the two guys sitting right behind her, who seemed to be some kind of executives in the company that ran the ice cream concessions at the stadium, at least as far as she could tell from eavesdropping on them. Missy introduced her to a few of the other women, and Casey was making small talk with them when the crowd started to cheer and holler.
Out on the field, Tyler and Mad Dog and the guy who was presumably a coach were walking back toward the dugout from the outfield. None of the other players was on the field now, just some workmen raking the dirt and watering it down. The three of them were taking their time crossing the grass, and more and more of the crowd began to cheer as they noticed them, turning their walk into a kind of parade.
A woman came running down the aisle, her camera in hand. “Tyler, I love you!” she shouted, waving, then taking a flurry of pictures as he waved in their general direction and disappeared down the dugout steps.
It was the woman Casey had seen earlier, in the Hammond jersey. She ran excitedly back up the aisle. Casey turned around to see her friend giving her a thumbs-up.
Missy put a hand on her wrist. “Don’t let it bother you. If it does, don’t get involved,” she said in a low voice. She turned back to her magazine then, as if she hadn’t just given Casey a fairly personal piece of advice.
She didn’t have long to mull it over before the action began on the field again. The Robins emerged, along with their mascot who looked like a giant stuffed animal, all plush. The big stuffie proceeded to gambol atop the dugout while the players began to warm up.
Tyler’s face looked far more serious than earlier. He had pushed his cap down low over his eyes, and, well, it barely looked like him. He stood on the little hill in the middle of the field like a statue on a pedestal, then all of a sudden he kicked his leg up like an Alvin Ailey dancer, and made a sort of pinwheel of arms and legs, out of which came the ball. Even with the pumped-up music playing, Casey could hear the ball hit the catcher’s glove.
“Does it always sound like that?” she asked Missy.
“Does what always sound like what?”
“Never mind.” Obviously was normal for it to smack so loudly. “It sounds like he throws hard.”
She smiled. “Honey, nobody throws harder than ‘The Hammer.'”
“Is that what they call him?”
Missy nodded. “That and the ‘Big Ham,’ ‘Ham and Cheese…'”
“Wait, ‘Ham and Cheese?‘”
“They call a fastball ‘hard cheese,’ and any guy with a name that starts with H-A-M…” She shrugged. “Ballplayers aren’t exactly always geniuses when it comes to nicknames.”
So spoke the wife of a man they called “Mad Dog.” Casey nodded.
People around them were starting to get to their feet and Casey wondered why. It reminded her of being in church as a child and trying to figure out how the adults all knew when to stand up. The announcement that came over the PA system soon cleared up the confusion, though, as a voice asked everyone to rise for the National Anthem.
The players on the field grouped together a bit. The three outfielders stood shoulder to shoulder, the infielders on each side, too. Tyler stood on the mound alone, though, with his cap over his heart and his head bowed so his chin touched his chest. He looked solemn. Lonely. Determined. Not at all like the happy-go-lucky guy who had flirted with her all afternoon.
Casey realized she was probably reading too much into things, but she couldn’t help the feeling that she was there to see a play. A very odd play, acted out in pantomime and interpretive dance, where each movement represented something.
And it was certainly dramatic. Tyler struck out the first three batters for the other team, the crowd’s cheers getting louder on each one. The Robins managed to get a runner home in the next inning, but that was it, and for a couple of innings the whole place was tense, like they were waiting for a storm to break. Casey didn’t need to know anything about baseball to realize that being ahead by only one was precarious.
Then in the sixth, the pantomime played out in a way that even Casey could see. The other team got a few men on, but they hadn’t scored yet and there were two outs. The batter who came to the plate was huge. He could have been cast as a villain in a James Bond movie; that was how big and menacing he was as he walked from the sidelines, waving his bat.
Strike him out, Tyler, come on, she thought.
But his first pitch hit the big palooka on the shoulder. The guy went down to one knee for a second, then sprang up, more enraged than injured, just like if Bond had punched him in the face and he just kept coming. The batter was shouting, Tyler was shouting back. The umpire and Mad Dog got between them, everyone walking gradually toward first base as all four of them were shouting now. Mad Dog was chest to chest with Tyler, holding him back from charging the guy. A Robins coach came running over, then another one came out of the dugout, there was much gesticulation…
The next thing Casey knew, there was something of a scrum happening, and coaches and other players were pulling Tyler and the other guy apart, and a lot of players had run onto the field who didn’t seem to be doing anything helpful but staring.
Then everyone went back to their places except for one coach and one umpire, who argued for a while. Then the coach waved to the outfield and went back down into the dugout.
Tyler was nowhere to be seen. “What just happened?” Casey asked Missy.
“Looks like Tyler got ejected from the game. Campbell, too, from the looks of it.” She pointed to a skinny guy now at first base, stretching his legs. And a pitcher came through the doorway in the fence and jogged to the mound.
The poor kid was getting booed. “Okay, and isn’t that guy on our team? Why are people booing?”
“Well…” Missy looked around. “They are booing the umpire for tossing Tyler, but the new pitcher, his name’s Javier, and he’s not been doing well lately. And the bases are loaded and he has only a one-run lead. So there’s no margin for error.”
Casey crossed her arms. That didn’t seem quite right. “Yeah, but…shouldn’t they be cheering to try to give him some encouragement? I mean, if you destroy the guy’s confidence, how’s he supposed to do well for you?”
Missy laughed. “You should have been a psychologist. A crowd isn’t like a rational person. A crowd sees something they like, they cheer. Something they don’t like, they boo. It’s pretty simple. The guys learn not to take it personally.”
Casey tried to imagine thousands of people booing her and not taking it personally. She didn’t manage it.
On the other hand, the next batter hit the ball straight up, Mad Dog caught it when it came down, and then there were huge cheers for Javier. “I see what you mean.”
Things went on from there, and in the next inning, Mad Dog hit a home run to make it two to nothing, which made the lead and the crowd more comfortable, and Casey started thinking about heading home. The ice cream guys had already left, so it seemed like it was an acceptable thing to do. She had work in the morning, after all, and it was nine thirty already, and the player she had come to see was out of the game. She was just going to turn to Missy to say goodbye and thanks, when a warm hand on her shoulder made her jump.
“Hey! You made it!” said a voice in her ear.
“Oh hi, Tyler,” Missy said casually, as Casey whipped around to look at him.
He grinned. His hair was damp from a shower and a cowlick made it curl loosely on his forehead. “Hi,” she said, suppressing the urge to reach out and push that hair aside with her fingers.
“Now we’ll see if the bullpen can make Doggy’s dinger stand up,” he said to Missy.
Casey blinked. “Is everything baseball players say obscene?”
He and Missy laughed. “I’ll translate,” she said, putting her hand on Casey’s forearm. “Doggy, that’s my husband. A ‘dinger’ is a home run, I guess because in the old days they rang a bell when you hit one. And to make a score ‘stand up’ means making sure it’s enough. So if they win the game two to nothing, then two runs will not have been knocked down by the other team scoring more.”
Tyler smirked. “You’re as smart as your husband.”
“I still think it sounds dirty,” Casey said.
He shrugged. “You really don’t know anything about baseball, do you?”
“Well, I know there are three outs in an inning and that Babe Ruth was the greatest player, but that’s about it.” She crossed her arms.
But he looked delighted. “Let’s get out of here. You deserve a nice dinner out for sitting through all this.”
Casey was about to say no. She should have said no. But she hesitated a little too long.
“I’ll get us a private table at Blu. Come on, it’s on me,” he emphasized, as if she might have declined because the place was too expensive for her. Which it was.
“I’m not dressed for…”
“Did you miss the part about the private table? Besides, it’s summer. You look fine.”
The approving look Missy was giving her clinched it, though. “Oh, all right.”
“Excellent!” He jumped like a little boy, took Casey’s hand and pulled her up the aisle while she waved goodbye to Missy.
* * * *
Simply put, dinner with Tyler at a ridiculously fancy restaurant wasn’t anything like Casey expected it would be.
He’d driven them from the ballpark to the Ritz-Carlton downtown in his sports car—it was the first time she’d considered there was a connection between “sports” and sports cars—and she kept thinking if he was really going to put a move on her, they’d have champagne on ice and caviar brought to their private dining room while a white-gloved staff, silent and discreet, served the courses and swapped out the correct forks and knives.
But when they got there, the first thing that happened at the doorway to the restaurant was the maitre d’ began to chew Tyler out. “Mr. Hammond, nice to see you as always, but what were you thinking plunking Campbell like that?”
Tyler just shrugged. “What’s the score?”
The man pulled his phone out of the breast pocket of his jacket. “Three-zip.”
“How’d we get the third run?”
“Go in the bar and watch it on ESPN if you want the details,” was the reply. Then he looked at Casey. “Or would you like a table for two?”
Tyler glanced at Casey as well. “Up to you.”
“Me?” That came out far too much like a squeak for Casey’s comfort, and she told herself to calm down. “Um…”
The maitre d’ was a broad man, but couldn’t have been more than twenty-five. He addressed Tyler again. “They’re about to quit serving in the main dining room, actually. But the bar’s dead. Tuesday night in the summer, you know.”
“Sure. I’ll keep Hojo company. The bar all right with you?” he asked, one hand hovering behind Casey’s shoulder blade.
Maybe this really was just a casual thing. She wasn’t sure if that was a relief or a disappointment. “Sure. The bar sounds great.”
Tyler and the beefy maitre d’ exchanged hand slaps like they were teammates and Tyler steered her toward the artfully lit modern-art style bar. Down at the far end, a bartender was watching the game on a widescreen TV. There was a single businessman sitting near the door; otherwise, the place was empty.
“My man!” The bartender said as Tyler and Casey approached. He reached over the taps and they exchanged a fancy handshake. He was a wiry fellow with horn-rimmed glasses. “Here a bit early, aintcha?”
“Not really,” Tyler said. “You know they would’ve yanked me after the seventh anyway.” He slid onto a stool. “Hojo, this is Casey.”
“Nice to meet you,” Casey said and extended her hand for a perfectly normal handshake.
Tyler proceeded to rattle off what he wanted to eat, punctuated by occasional questions to Casey. Did she eat shrimp? Was she okay with fried things? Allergic to anything? Hojo went to put in the order.
“I take it you eat here a lot,” Casey said.
“Yeah, you could say that. This is the hotel where our team stayed when I played for the Blue Jays, and I liked it, so when I moved into town, I kept coming back.” He stood halfway on his barstool, reached behind the bar for two glasses and the beverage gun, and filled one glass with club soda for himself. “What do you like?”
Casey had her hand over her mouth. “You’re allowed to do that?”
“Why not? What’re they going to do, throw us out? Hojo’s a friend, we’re doing him a favor doing his job for him.” He waved the gun impatiently.
“Oh, uh, sure. Club soda.”
“You got it.” He filled her glass.
When the bartender came back, Tyler scoffed. “What kind of a place is this? No ice in the drinks!”
Hojo rolled his eyes and scooped a couple of cubes into each glass. “So, you guys want cocktails, too?”
“He’s the best mixmeister in the…aw, damn!” Tyler broke off as the image on the television showed a home run leaving the ballpark.
“It’s cool, man, it’s cool,” Hojo said. “Just a solo shot. Rigney will nail it down.”
“Who’s Rigney?” Casey asked, sipping her club soda and watching Tyler’s face, as his eyes were now glued to the screen.
“He’s our stopper,” Tyler said, and Casey pictured a cork, bobbing on a pond of water. “Always pitches the ninth inning, and only when we have a lead,” he clarified.
“Rig’s cool,” Hojo said. “When you bringing him around here again? I got balls for him to sign.”
“Ah, you know him.” Tyler took a sip of his club soda, then rolled the glass in his hand, picking up condensation on his fingers. “Doesn’t drink. Tell him there’s a Bible meeting here, though, and he’ll be first in line.”
They chuckled at that.
The food began arriving then, and the game ended with the Robins winning. “Nice,” Tyler said, as the final score flashed up on the screen. “That saves my bacon.”
“How?” Casey asked, eating another piece of delicately fried shrimp wrapped in sliced mango.
“You know, I got myself tossed from the game. If we lost, it’d be my fault for losing my head. But Javy and the guys held it together, didn’t they? They can take all the credit, too. I’ll probably still get fined, though.” He licked his fingers.
“For fighting?”
“And for leaving early. Although I did go up to the press box and give the writers all the quotes they wanted before I came down to get you.”
“You talked to the press?”
“Oh, yeah. Normally I’d wait around down in the clubhouse and after the game, they’d swarm me.” He shrugged. “But I was hoping you were there.”
He said it so casually, Casey could almost dismiss it. “How much are they going to fine you?”
“Dunno.” He took a piece of shrimp in his fingers and popped it into his mouth. “Probably a couple thousand dollars.”
“A couple thousand dollars?” She knew her eyes must be as wide as the TV above them. He’d basically just admitted that he’d paid a few thousand dollars just for the chance to go out with her.
“Yeah,” he said. “So, isn’t the food here amazing? Try this thing here.” He pulled over a plate they hadn’t started on yet, another appetizer that seemed to have cucumber rounds heaped with some kind of sushi. He held one between his fingers, which Casey noticed were very long and thin, his nails perfectly trimmed. “Try it.”
She hadn’t eaten from a man’s hand since she was in college, probably. The guys she normally went out with were always trying so hard to impress her with how grown up they were—and she did the same to them. Almost thirty, not yet married, she was tired of men whose goal in life seemed to be to prove they could act like her Dad.
She took the cucumber into her mouth. It had a cool crunch, which offset how the fish seemed to just melt with tangy spices. “Damn, that’s good,” she said, one hand over her mouth as she was still chewing.
“I know! It’s awesome. They only have it when the tuna is fresh caught.” He put one into his own mouth, tipping his head back and groaning with pleasure as he chewed. It was a nice sound, Casey thought. Well, a naughty sound, really.
The conversation ranged over many topics. Whether golf was a real sport and whether Casey would need to learn to play it if she were to become a manager at her company. Pros and cons of vegetarianism. Hybrid cars.
Hojo brought more food. Tiny medallions of lamb, velvet soft and barely needing a knife to be cut, and some kind of fish filet rolled with crabmeat. Everything was delicious, and Tyler wanted to share it all, each of them eating bits from whatever plate struck their fancy. No, it wasn’t anything at all like what Casey had expected going to one of the fanciest restaurants in the city would be like.
She was wiping up the sauce the lamb had come in with a piece of a whole grain roll when Tyler said, “Wow, I like you. You’re a real girl.”
Casey chuckled and took a bite. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, just…you know…well, maybe you don’t know. I keep going out with these girls who are like, ‘oh, I can’t eat carbs because I’m watching my figure. And I can’t eat fat because it’s bad for my skin. And I can’t drink because I’ll bloat. And I can’t have ice cream because dairy gives me bags under my eyes…’”
“What are they, supermodels?” Casey quipped.
“Well, actually, yeah,” Tyler said with a shrug, reaching over the bar to snag the gun and refill his soda water. “Or sometimes not, but they act like they are. You seem like you know how to enjoy life.”
“Funny,” she said, realizing he was not only complimenting her, he was being plain and honest. “I was going to say the same thing about you.”
“And here’s the thing,” he said, taking a gulp of soda, setting the glass down, and turning his bar stool so his knees faced her. “You look just as fantastic, in fact maybe twice as fantastic, as any of those Botox diet bunnies do, and it’s not because you’re killing yourself for some kind of fucked-up beauty ideal. It’s because you’re just plain beautiful.”
If they had been drinking something other than soda water, Casey would have blamed his candor on alcohol. As it was, she just blushed and smiled. “Are you high?” she joked.
“High on life,” he said, knocking back the rest of the soda, the ice clinking in the glass as he set it down with a sigh. “You’ve got work tomorrow, huh?”
Casey bit her lip. It was almost midnight now as it was, and attractive and thrilling and interesting as Tyler Hammond was—the image of the woman at the ballpark screaming “I love you, Tyler!” ran through her mind. “Um, yeah,” she said, while kicking herself for sounding so inarticulate. Here this guy had just said one of the nicest and most honest things she thought she’d heard a man say to her in years, and all she could muster in response were monosyllables. “Look, it’s not that I don’t like you, but I really do have a meeting at nine thirty.”
“All right,” he said. “You pick the date for the next one. If you’re interested, that is.” He raised his eyebrow a little, as if challenging her to chicken out.
“Fine.” She put down her napkin and smirked. “Make it Saturday, then. I’ll have no excuses.”
“Saturday it is,” he said with a nod, standing up and reaching out a hand to help her from her stool. His hands were gentle and surprisingly soft on hers as he did, not at all what she expected from a jock. Her shoulder tingled where his fingers had brushed her as she stood.
He drove her home, pulling up by the fire hydrant outside her building and putting the car into park with the blinkers on as he spoke. “Okay, so, just so we’re clear on things, I don’t want you to think I’m one of those guys who puts a last-minute move on a girl just to see if she’ll give in and invite me up. But I do want you to know that it’s totally okay if you don’t want a goodnight kiss, but I did consider this sort of a first date, you know, and so I’d really like one. But only if it’s okay with you.”
He delivered the entire speech with both hands on the steering wheel, staring at the rim, but then turned and looked at her. Casey stared at him. “You say some of the oddest things,” she said.
“Yeah, that’s what Mad Dog says, too. So was that a yes or a no?”
“Um…” Casey felt like she could hear her heart beating in her chest.
“My Daddy always said if a lady isn’t sure, that means no.” His shoulders slumped a little.
Casey snorted. “I’m not a lady,” she said. She realized she’d feel disappointed if they didn’t kiss, and that decided her. “Come here.”
He leaned toward her then, and she slid her hands up his smooth cheeks. He must have shaved when he showered after leaving the game, she thought, as she pulled him forward a bit more so that she could press her lips to his. They were firm, and warm, and she breathed in that heady mixture of his cologne and the air he exhaled.
She drew back. “Saturday,” she said.
“Saturday,” he repeated, like it was a secret code word. He waved to her with a huge grin on his face as she backed out of the car, then, and even something about the way he drove off made her think, Wow, he really likes me.


  1. I loved the book and wrote a review on my blog. I’ll facebook and tweet it if you give me the okay to do so. Please check it out on my blog and let me know if it’s got your blessing. I’ve been recommending it by mouth like crazy.

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