Thrown by a curve, p.18

Thrown by a Curve, page 18

 part  #5 of  Play by Play Series


Thrown by a Curve
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Page 18

  Author: Jaci Burton

  She frowned and came over to sit next to him. “Are you in pain?”

  She had no idea. “No. I just want to digest breakfast. How about a walk first?”

  “Great idea. It’ll get the blood flowing. Let me go get my shoes on. ”

  His blood was flowing just fine. To his dick. And if he didn’t get his mind off sex and soon, he wasn’t going to leave the sofa the rest of the day.

  But by the time Alicia came back in, he’d managed to wrestle his cock—and his overactive imagination—under control.

  “Ready to walk?”

  There were about ten other things on his list right now, and all of them involved Alicia naked. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what was going to happen, and he needed to get those visuals out of his head, because he didn’t think he wanted to fight down another erection.

  “Yeah, let’s get outside. ”




  AFTER THE THERAPY SESSION, ALICIA HAD RETREATED to the table to work on some notes and plans while Garrett had plunked down on the sofa and watched a movie. He’d seemed restless, though, and had gotten up several times to get a drink or something to snack on. They made sandwiches for lunch, but she stayed at the table to work.

  “Let’s go out for dinner,” he said.

  She looked up from the book she’d been reading on her e-reader and realized it was starting to get dark.

  “Okay, sure. ”

  “I need to get out of the house. ”

  She laid her e-reader down. “Where would you like to go?”

  “Do you like Italian food?”

  She laughed. “I’m half Italian, so yes. ”

  “Good. Put on a dress. I might want to go to a club after. ”

  She arched a brow. “Uh . . . ”


  “Should we be socializing together?”

  He let out a snort. “Why shouldn’t we be socializing together?”

  “Because I’m an employee of the team. ” Surely he was as aware of the rules as she was.

  “So? So am I. ”

  “Exactly. And the team is in town, you know. ”

  He frowned. “I’m not getting your point. Do you see us spending time together outside of therapy as some conflict of interest?”

  “Yes, it could absolutely be seen that way. ”

  He came over to her. “Are you . . . uncomfortable being around me? If you want to be alone, I can just go get my own dinner, and you can either eat here or go somewhere on your own. ” He leaned against the table. “You know, I’ve never even asked if you had a boyfriend or someone in your life who might not appreciate me hanging all over you. Is that why you pushed me away that day in Oklahoma City?”

  “No. ” Her eyes widened. “No. That’s not it at all. No boyfriend, no one. I just didn’t want to cause any problems for my job, or for yours. ”

  He seemed to relax. “Okay. Look, we’ll be spending all our time together while we’re here. It’s just natural that we’ll go out to eat together, and if I want to kick back and have some fun, I just assumed you’d want to get out of the house and come with me. You’re under no obligation to do so. If you don’t want to, I’ll get you back here and go about my business. Fair enough?”

  “Definitely. ”

  She went into her bedroom to change clothes. That exchange had been awkward, but it had been her doing. Garrett didn’t see anything strange about hanging out with her. As far as he was concerned, she could be just another one of the guys.

  In a dress.

  She changed into a short-sleeved cotton dress and slipped on a pair of wedge sandals, then glammed it up a little with makeup and pulled the sides of her hair up in a clip, some of the tendrils spilling over and curling toward her face. She added earrings and a bracelet, for some reason needing to feel feminine, though she had no idea why. Maybe so he wouldn’t think of her as just one of the guys tonight.

  Really bad idea, Alicia.

  Ignoring that warning voice in her head, she left the bedroom and found Garrett on the back deck. He’d put on a pair of worn jeans and a long-sleeved button-down shirt. Even dressed casually, he took her breath away. So she inhaled another breath and let it out, determined to think of him as just one of the guys.

  A really sexy guy she couldn’t touch except in a therapeutic way.

  “Ready when you are. ”

  When he turned around, she caught the telltale appreciative look he gave her, and she couldn’t help but tingle all over.

  “You look . . . really nice,” he said, giving her a head-to-toe once-over. More than once, actually.

  “Thank you. So do you. ”

  He laughed. “Just jeans and a shirt. ”

  She looked down at herself. “Just a dress. ”

  “Women are prettier. ”

  “Oh, I don’t know. I have a much finer appreciation for men than I do for other women. ”

  “Good to know. ”

  She grabbed a shawl, and they climbed into the car. Garrett drove them along the beach highway. Alicia squinted to get a look, but it was too dark now.

  “It’s too bad the sun’s already gone down,” Alicia said.

  “Yeah? Why?”

  “I would have liked to see the ocean. ”

  “We’ll be here for a while. I’ll take you out for a drive one day along the beach. ”

  She pulled her gaze away to look at him. “I’d like that. I love the ocean. ”

  “Me, too. I love taking beach vacations. ”

  “It’s my favorite kind of vacation. I guess because I’ve always been landlocked. ”

  “There’s the river in St. Louis. ”

  She snorted. “Not about to stick my toes in that, thanks. My idea of a vacation is warm weather, a beautiful blue ocean, and sand under my feet. ”

  “Ever been to the Caribbean?”

  “I’ve never left the US. ”

  He glanced her way. “Seriously?”

  “Yes. ”

  “You should fix that. There are a lot of beautiful places outside the US. ”

  “I always intended to go. I’ve just been busy with school and then getting a job after that. ”

  “Ever been to Hawaii?”

  “No, not there, either. But hey, I’m here, and this is great. ”

  He frowned. “This isn’t a vacation, as you told me today. ”

  She let out a quiet sigh of contentment. “There’s a beach and an ocean. It’s close enough. ”

  He made a turn, then pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant. The valet parked the car, and they went inside.

  The restaurant was nice. Warm atmosphere, and oh, she could smell the bread already. Her stomach rumbled in delight.

  The menu was extensive, and she had a hard time choosing.

  “Would you like some wine?”

  She looked up from the menu. Garrett was perusing the wine list.

  “I’d love some wine. ”

  He handed the list over to her. “I’ll let you choose since I’m not a big wine drinker. ”

  “Thank you. ” She went over the list, and when the waiter showed up, she selected a Chianti.

  “Is that good?”

  “I’m a traditionalist. I grew up having Chianti with my pasta. ”

  He cocked a brow. “As a kid?”

  She laughed. “Actually, some Italian families do serve wine to their children, in moderation and mixed with white soda. I had some at an early age. My mother is very old-style Italian. ”

  “Interesting. I think I’d like your mother. ”

  She smiled. “She’d definitely like you. ”

  “Why’s that?”

  “You’re an athlete, for one. She loves big, athletic guys. With appetites. Like my brother, Cole. And you like to eat. My mother loves people who love to eat. ”

p; “So, my secret is out, after such a short time together. ”

  “I’ve been around you long enough to know that during your therapy, you’re always complaining about wanting to stop so you can get something to eat. Or was that just an excuse to get out of doing your exercises?”

  He reached for the bread as soon as the waiter put it down on the table. “No, I’m always hungry. ”

  She laughed.

  They ate dinner and she sipped her wine, which was delicious.

  “Now that we’ve established you’ve been locked in the States your entire life, tell me your wish list for travel,” Garrett asked as they ate their salads.

  She lifted her gaze to his. “Italy is definitely on my list. My maternal grandparents were from Sicily. I’d love to go there someday. ”

  “Italy’s nice. ”

  “You’ve been there?”

  “Rome and Milan. Beautiful cities. ”

  “I’m jealous. Where else have you been?”

  He shook his head. “We’re still on your wish list. ”

  “Oh, okay. ” She dabbed her lips with the napkin and thought about it. “England, France, Scotland, Ireland, any and all of the Caribbean islands, Hawaii—though I know that’s in the US, but I’ve never been to any of the islands. I suppose you’ve been to all of them. ”

  “I’ve never been to the big island. I’ve heard it’s great. ”

  “Tell me all the places you’ve been. ”

  “I’ve been to a few places. ”

  Her fork balanced at the tip of her lips. “Go on. ”

  He shrugged. “Some spots in Europe and Hawaii, of course. ”

  As she chewed, she regarded him. “You’re trying to downplay your travels so I won’t feel bad. ”

  He lifted the glass of wine to his lips and smiled. “Maybe. ”

  “Don’t. I’m perfectly content with the life I’ve lived. ”

  “All right. I like to travel during the off-season, so I’ve been to England, Portugal, Italy, and France, quite a few of the countries in South America, and several of the Caribbean islands. Hawaii, of course . . . ”

  Alicia listened to Garrett recount his travels. He was a smooth conversationalist, which surprised her. Some athletes could only talk about themselves, their sports, and their stats, but he was well-rounded.

  “You enjoy travel. ”

  He smiled. “Yeah. I like meeting people. You can learn a lot from visiting other cultures. ”

  “What about home?”

  “I like that, too. ”

  “Tell me about where you’re from. ”

  “Nevada. Lots of gambling. ”

  She laughed. “So, you’re from Las Vegas. ”

  “Around that area. ”

  “Is your family still there?”

  “Half of them. My dad is. ”

  He stopped with his glass partway to his lips. There was something he wasn’t telling her.

  “Wait,” she said. “Where’s your mom? I thought you said your parents were still together. ”

  He laid his wineglass on the table and shrugged. “Oh. Did I?”

  “Yes. You did. ”

  “Huh. ”

  “Garrett. ”

  “I don’t remember that conversation. ”

  “Yes, you do. We just talked about it. You asked about my family, and I told you all about them. Then I asked about yours, and you led me to believe your family was exactly the same. ”

  He didn’t say anything, just grabbed another piece of bread and buttered it.

  “Come to think of it, you never elaborated about your family at all. ”

  He wasn’t even looking at her, was tearing off small pieces of bread and leaving them on the plate. “My bad. My parents divorced when I was eighteen. ”

  “I’m sorry. ”

  He shrugged. “It’s okay. It was a good deal for them. They fought a lot. The waters have been calmer since the divorce. ”
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