Moonshot(14)

by Alessandra Torre

Together, we would only bring chaos.

29

He didn’t know what it was about her. How she managed to get under his skin. He’d sat next to her on that dock and wanted to wrap his arms around her. Sit there until morning and unwrap every layer, every story, every nuance of her soul.

That was a stranger talking, a Chase Stern who hadn’t been around in a long time. A stranger who needed to stay hidden, especially around a minor. If there was one thing worse than fucking a teammate’s wife, it was screwing one’s daughter. Even he realized that. He thought of her question about Davis’s wife, how she had gone to the jugular, his harsh response not scaring her away, the strength in her eyes only glowing brighter when she’d stepped to the plate and called him on his shit. That had done something to him, snapped some piece of his armor off.

He never should have talked to her. Not in that locker room, not in that tunnel, and definitely not buying her candy and luring her outside. Talk about creepy behavior.

The kiss … he couldn’t regret that. Wouldn’t. There would never be another moment in life worth more of a risk. The quiver of her mouth, like her heart was beating so hard it would jump out of her chest. The tentative press of her tongue against his. The hungry way she had clawed at his chest, wanting more. The taste, the connection, the energy. Men had been killed over kisses like that. Careers had been lost. Hearts had been stolen.

He needed to stay away from her. Focus on his game and forget everything else. He had gotten here, to the place of his dreams. Hell if he’d mess it up now. Hell if he’d survive another kiss like that.

JUNE

“It turns out that Rachel Frepp had attended a couple of Yankee home games that 2011 season. But it took years for them to know enough to even look for that connection. When she died, no one thought it was because of the Yankees. It’s a big city, with a lot of pretty blondes who die. No, it took a few years for NYPD to tie it all together.”

Dan Velacruz, New York Times

30

New York

I nodded my head to the beat, Jeremih and 50 Cent pumping as loud as my Beats would allow. Wiping down bats, I sang along to the lyrics, my rhythm interrupted by Big Lou, who tugged on the cord of my headphones, speaking to me in a string of Spanish. I obeyed his request, pulling out the headphone jack, my phone blasting “Down On Me,” the beat hitting hard, the Dominicans laughing at my music before nodding their heads in time. I beat-boxed with Frank, dancing in place as he rapped out a line, his version ten times dirtier than my clean mix.

I spun, my hands raised, a laugh spilling out, and saw Chase. He stood in the doorway, a towel over one shoulder, his V-neck shirt dirty with clay stains. I looked away, before our eyes met. Laughing at Frank, I stepped back to the bats, focusing on the task, the beat continuing, everything continuing, but everything, as it always was when he came near, was different.

31

She was laughing, her head back, smile big, her blonde hair fanning out as she lifted her hands and turned.

It might have been the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

32

Beneath my feet, the slight vibration of travel. Above my head, my seat light shone down on the pages of my economics textbook. When the ball of paper dropped from above, a gentle tap on the page, I stared at it. Tightly crumpled, the size of a grape, it looked innocent, coming to rest in the gully of my textbook. A silent, deadly foe. I glanced around, my dad sound asleep in the next seat, the same fate hitting the two men across from me. I glanced back, the Yankee jet dark behind me. I unrolled the ball of paper carefully, stretching it out.

check underneath your seat

The handwriting was terrible, slanted and sloppy. I didn’t have to study the lines of it, didn’t have to turn around to identify its thrower. In this plane, it could only be from one man.

I didn’t want to dig under my seat. I wanted to be the stubborn, proud woman who tore up love letters and moved on to the next great event in her life. But I wasn’t that woman, and this wasn’t anything close to a love letter. This was bait and at three in the morning, it was infinitely more exciting than the power of the euro in economies of scale. I reached under my seat, my hand closing around two distinct objects, and I smiled before I even pulled out the Starburst tower and the Twix.

I unwrapped the Twix, halfway into my first bite, when the second ball of note hit my lap. This time, I didn’t hesitate, my fingers fast in their work.

Quit hogging the only candy on the plane. The hot guy five rows back is starving.

I almost laughed, my lips clamping down as I glanced quickly at my dad, a well-timed snore coming from his sagged chin, his cap pulled over his eyes. I finished my chew and contemplated my choices. There were really only two—stay in my seat or don’t.

I didn’t. I got up slowly, as quietly as possible, laying my textbook on the seat, and stood in the aisle. My eyes tried to adjust to the dark, scanning the rows of sleeping athletes. He waved, six or seven seats back, and I stepped toward him, stopping by his seat, his lazy smile tilted up at me.

I looked at him in mock confusion, holding up the wrinkled scrap of paper. “This says…” I squinted at it in the dark, “a hot guy.” I looked up from the paper in time to see him tilt back his head and laugh. I didn’t think, prior to that moment, I’d ever found a neck sexy. His was. Half-covered in the dotted texture of stubble, thick and strong, leading to that jaw, then that mouth. I tried to remain unaffected, to not think about what it could do, how it could taste.

“Sit down, Little League.” He patted the empty seat next to him—a window seat. I looked down at his long legs, stretched out, the crawl over one that would be impossible in any sort of a lady-like fashion. He saw my predicament and leaned forward, standing up, towering over me in the small space, our bodies too close for comfort. “Sit,” he whispered, right against my ear.

I sat, his return to his seat giving me the vague feeling of being trapped. This was a bad idea. I should be back at my seat, finishing my work, not surrounded by sleeping giants, holding out my candy to the worst one in the bunch.

He took the candy, breaking off a piece of Twix before handing it back to me. There was a pause, and I wondered what on Earth we were going to talk about.

33

“That doesn’t make sense,” I argued, pulling my hair into a messy ponytail. “It’s selfish.” New fact learned about Chase Stern: he had a family. A mother and father, still married and living on five acres in Ohio. His mom worked as a paralegal, his father an electrician. They wanted him to be a lawyer, and still wondered when he would ‘stop this ballplaying and settle down.’ He hadn’t mentioned any siblings. We’d gotten distracted at the mention of Casper.

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