Passion dominates the diamond in the second novel in this fun and flirty baseball romance series by the author of High Heat. Paul Dudley, president of the Plainview Thrashers, is spinning out of control. Preserving his family’s baseball legacy in these tough times takes everything he’s got, and constant clashes with his father have left him struggling for authority over the team and even his own future. So when sports reporter Willow Bourne, a one-night-stand from a year ago, walks back into his life, he knows he can’t give into his feelings for her—no matter how strong they are. Willow never expected to see Paul again, and she’s got her reasons for keeping her distance. Except the more time she spends around Paul, the harder it is to hide her secrets—or stop herself from falling head over heels. As the sparks between them fly, Paul discovers what Willow has been concealing from him, leaving him with a difficult choice—keep the team his top priority or make his own legacy by following his heart…
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“Come on. My treat.” Kendra squeezed her hand. “You need a pick-me-up.”
“Not sure a twelve-dollar cocktail is going to solve my problems, but thanks for the thought.”
“Come on, hon. Give yourself a chance to cheer up.” Kendra led the way through the crowd.
The two women got plenty of looks as they moved through the nightclub. Usually, leers from guys she didn’t know creeped Willow out, but not tonight. Tonight, they were a boost to her badly battered ego.
They entered a long hallway with large leather-lined booths separated by wispy white curtains. Crimson velvet wallpaper lit with colored lights made for a trippy effect.
“We’re in the booth at the end,” Kendra said.
The two slid into the booth and Willow scanned the drink menu. “Ten bucks for something called a Sazerac?” She couldn’t afford this place. Not that she could afford any place, considering that she had lost her job and was living on savings, unemployment checks, and an occasional assist from her parents. Whee! She was twenty-five and on top of the world.
“Don’t get it. It tastes like lighter fluid with sugar in it.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Duly noted.”
A loud yell from the booth across the hall caught her attention. A raucous group of guys, young and mostly good-looking, was flirting with their waitress. Without meaning to, Willow caught the gaze of one of the guys: Quiet. A little older than the rest. An island of intensity amid the liquored-up party people.
He has nice eyes.
She didn’t want to notice anything about a guy right now, but his eyes asked to be admired. They were equal parts gray and blue, bearing an expression she recognized because her face had worn it so often recently. The stranger wore the look of someone trying to hide something—but what? Sadness? No, more like discontent. He wasn’t doing a very good job of it.
She ordered a beer and drank half of it before she had the courage to let her eyes wander in the man’s direction again.
He was still watching her.
Her stomach tightened, but she couldn’t have said whether from excitement or unease. She raised a brow, determined not to look away this time. His lips curved, and the sight took her breath away. He didn’t smile easily, she could tell. It looked like a reluctant one at best, but it lightened the shadow in his eyes.
The easy feeling lasted until he rose and walked toward her. Her pulse erupted.
Get ahold of yourself. He’s a guy in a bar. What’s he going to do to you?
He walked right up, never glancing at Kendra, only at her.
“Hi.” Her voice came out calmer than she felt, thank God.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
A standard line she’d heard a hundred times. So why did it send a shiver of anticipation down the back of her neck when he said it?
She gestured to her beer. “Got one already.”
“I see.” He nodded, not letting that half-quirk of a smile disappear. “Then, in that case, I have no choice but to ask you to dance.”
Linda Morris is a writer of contemporary romance, including High Heat, the first book in the Hard Hitters series; Melting the Millionaire’s Heart; The Mason Dixon Line; and Nice Work If You Can Get It. She writes stories with heart and heat, along with a joke or two thrown in. Her years of Cubs fandom prove she has a soft spot for a lost cause.