Third Base (The Boys of Summer, #1) by Heidi McLaughlin
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Ethan Davenport is already Boston’s most eligible bachelor. In his second season with the Boston Renegades he has set his eyes on the girl behind the visitors’ dugout.
That girl is Daisy Robinson, a journalism student at the University of Boston and a die-hard Renegades fan.
But with new found love comes challenges and Ethan and Daisy have to deal with his crazy schedule, school finals and his presence on her campus for some much needed media training.
For Ethan nothing can come between him and Daisy, until a secret that she’s been keeping threatens to destroy them both.
I look at the scoreboard from the on-deck circle. It’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Unless we go on some miraculous run, the game is over and we’ve lost, giving us our second loss in a row.
The Orioles coach calls for a time-out and approaches the mound. This gives Meyers, our right fielder, the opportunity for us to talk. Actually, it gives me the ability to stare at the girl that has held my attention all night. After my home run, I thought I could focus on the game, but each time I came up to bat or went out to the field, I was looking to see if she was staring… and she was, which really stroked my ego.
I meet Meyers halfway between the on-deck circle and home plate. Usually, we’d stand back or talk to the third base coach, but there’s no coming back from this defeat. When I reach him, I can tell he’s frustrated; we all are. We’re a far better team than what our record shows. Even though it’s still very early, our expectations are much higher, and with the road trip coming up, we have got to get out of this funk, fast… before it’s too late.
“This ump is calling shit.” Meyers kicks the dirt around his feet.
“Has been all night.” On any given night it’s either in your favor or not. Some umpires come into a game with a chip on their shoulder. They remember everything, and they don’t let you forget it. They say once the game is over, it’s over. Umpires don’t feel that way.
“Play ball!” the umpire yells.
Meyers goes back to home plate and settles in for what could be his last pitch. If he gets on base, I’m up. If he strikes out, my night is over. I rest my bat on my shoulder and watch – not Meyers, but the girl in the hat. She’s leaning forward, resting her elbows on the dugout. I had every intention of finding an usher during the seventh inning but lost my nerve. I don’t know how that’d be received if our manager was to find out, and short of going into the stands the second the game is over, I’m running out of options.
It’s a swing and foul ball for Meyers, still giving me hope. The girl hasn’t moved, and something tells me that she’s focused on me. I should be focused on the game, but I’m not.
I lean over to the usher who stands by the field and whisper, “There’s a girl in section sixty-five, row c, seat one. I’d like to talk to her after the game.”
He nods and says something into his really cool CIA walkie-talkie-type thing. When I first arrived, I asked if I could play with it. I was told no. It was a total buzz kill. I asked my agent to get me one, and he told me to grow up… not one of my finer moments.
Meyers goes down swinging and just like that, the game’s over. We lost three to eight. I wait for him to walk by before returning to the dugout, but not without one last look at the girl in row c. Another usher is walking down the aisle toward her. I climb down the stairs and pause where she can’t see me. The usher approaches her and talks wildly with his hands. She looks around, reaches for her bag, and follows him up the steps. I can only hope she’ll be in the lounge when I get there.
Right now I’m thankful I’m not allowed to give interviews yet because it means I can shower and get upstairs quicker. The reporters call my name, asking about my home-run. They know I’m not allowed to speak with them, but they try anyway. I keep my head down, my classic move after we’ve lost, and rush into the clubhouse. There will be no after-game meeting; our manager will save that for tomorrow.
I shower quickly and slip into jeans and a t-shirt. My hair is still wet and dripping down onto my shirt, but I don’t want my third base girl waiting too long. I take the back stairs two at a time and enter the lounge. This is where the wives and girlfriends hang out, and now that I think about it, it’s probably not the best place to have sent her. It’s like vulture prey in here for new girlfriends… not that she’s my girlfriend. I just want to know her name.
As soon as I enter the hallway, I find her sitting outside the door. She stands up when she hears me coming and keeps her hands behind her back, watching me closely. I come to a halt in front of her, and all I can see is the top of her hat. She’s about a foot shorter than me, and I like that.
“I wanted to apologize for giving you the ball.” I keep my hands clasped to avoid the nervous twitch I have. The last thing I want to do is scare her away.
“Oh… do you want it back?” Her voice is soft, sweet, and completely Boston. Hearing her speak makes me feel like I have something to look forward to, like I’m home.
“What? No, I thought I embarrassed you… It’s just…”
My knees go weak when she looks at me. Her light green eyes are the color of sea glass, and she has a dimple that compliments her smile. I find myself wanting to rub my thumb over it so I can feel it.
“You didn’t embarrass me. It was nice.”
“What’s your name?” I ask, needing to know because calling her ‘third base girl’ or ‘girl in row c’ isn’t going to cut it.
Daisy, I repeat in my head so I don’t forget. Daisy… like the flowers that my mother loves.
“I’m Ethan,” I stupidly tell her but feel like I should introduce myself. “Wanna get out of here and grab some dinner?”
She eyes me and then the ground, making me wait what feels like an eternity for her answer.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup and a Highland West/Mini Schnauzer, Jill.
When she isn’t writing one of the many stories planned for release, you’ll find her sitting courtside during either daughter’s basketball games.