I chewed his final scallop, musing over the question; my advice on affairs limited to midnight reruns of Dr. Phil. “Are you going to change?”
“Me?” He lifted his eyebrows.
“Yeah. Bring her on the road with you. If I was stuck at home for nine months a year, I’d cheat too.”
“No, you wouldn’t.” His thick accent was so adamant, I laughed.
“I might.” I reached for his beer, and he held it out of reach. “You don’t know me, Fernandez.”
He snorted. “Please, pepito. You wouldn’t.”
I leaned forward. “You would. You do.”
He avoided my stare. “I’m…”
“A guy? A future Hall-of-Famer?” I scoffed. “Don’t give me that shit. It’s the same. You don’t get a free pass because you have a bat of gold.”
“So what?” He looked me in the eye. “Two cheaters. What does that mean? We’re meant for each other?”
I stand up, my wisdom fountain almost dry. “Think about whether you’re ready to stop. If you’re ready to behave. That’s what you need to think about.”
He said nothing, just slouched in his seat and worked at the label of his beer. I leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Love you, F.”
“You too, Ty.”
I did. I loved them all. I would do anything for those forty guys. And they would fight to their end for me. This team was my family, my soul. And I think that was what made everything that happened so damn complicated.
Chase Stern leaned forward, sliding the mane of red hair over the shoulder of the woman, tapping a line of white powder down her spine, a dot between each vertebra. She giggled, squirming beneath him, and he put a hand on her ass, squeezing hard, holding her still. “Don’t move.”
“Hurry.” She bounced back on his cock, the wet slide reawakening him, and he chuckled, leaning forward and taking the line, momentary spots of black in his vision before everything became blindingly, perfectly, clear. The squeeze of her around his shaft. The bounce of her breasts as he rolled her onto her back. The slow blink of eyelashes as she groaned, taking him fully in, the push of his thrust deep. The dig of her heels into his lower back, the gasp of her mouth, the taste of her skin as he lowered his mouth to her.
“Oh my God, Chase.” Nails scraping across his back. A sharp tug of his hair. Slick skin rubbing, his stomach against hers, her breasts hard against his chest. Her teeth dug into his shoulder. She contracted around him and screamed his name, shrill and sharp, over and over, a record on terrible repeat.
He was close, his balls tightening, his grip on her harder, his thrusts quicker, when the hotel door slammed open, bright light in the dark space. He lifted his head, a curse on his lips, his body unprepared when hit with two hundred pounds of muscle.
Everything so clear. The fall of his body, away and out of her, his dick still hard, still ready, still close. The huff of male breath, the smell of onion. Pain in his shoulder, a hand on his chest, a fist coming down. He ducked his head easily, pushing off, a bare hand against a T-shirt, the face hitting the light of the hall, a burst of recognition blaring. Davis. Of course. He laughed at the sheer ridiculousness of it all and pushed harder. Another punch. Another easy miss. Everything so slow in this world of mortals. He snapped up his elbow and watched the connection. The widening of eyes, the crack of teeth, the connect of elbow and jaw, Davis’s head going back, hands limp, the edge of the dresser right there and finishing the job. Davis out. He wiped the back of his hand over his mouth and stood, noticing the figure in the door—a woman from the hotel. A manager. Cheap shoes. Mouth half open. Face pale. Eyes darting, a ping-pong game of nervousness. To his dick. To his chest. Back down again. He twitched his cock and chuckled at her flinch, her eyes returning to his face.
He grinned, eye contact made, and winked. “Come on in, honey.”
The woman on the bed picked that moment to scream, a shock of red hair scrambling across the bed and to her husband’s side, a stream of Puerto Rican curses pouring out and directed at Chase. He smirked and glanced back to the door, his grin dropping when he saw the new face in the opening.
John Stockard. His and Davis’s manager. The head of the Dodgers’ MLB coaching staff. And he looked pissed.
I propped a foot on the desk and blew on my toes. Second coat: perfect. I shook the bottle of clear and leaned back in the chair.
On the TV, SportsCenter ran. I rested my head against the chair and watched, an occasional push of my foot keeping my chair in movement. Nothing exciting. The NBA lawsuit, an NHL coach who needed to be fired, a steroids idiot who got caught at USC. I was starting to doze when Chris Berman straightened in his seat, something catching his attention.
I listened to his first few words, my own back coming off the chair, my hand reaching forward and grabbing the remote, turning up the volume. “Dad!” I called, my eyes on Berman’s face, the screen changing to a highlight reel of sorts, showing clips I’d seen a hundred times, the man in them the current dominator of our world.
Chase Stern. The best bat to hit our game since Barry Bonds. A shortstop who made Ripken look like a rookie. A body built for baseball, a face that made GQ editors swoon, and enough swagger to fill Dodger stands with females. Chase Stern had played for Stanford for two years before blowing through the Minors and landing on the big stage. That was four years ago. Around the time I traded in my training bra for a real one. I wasn’t immune to a little hero worship. The boys in the dugout had given me more than a little hell for my blush when he walked out on our field. I once caught a ball he tossed on his way to the dugout, and he’d winked at me. I’d been fourteen, and did everything but trip over myself in response.
But it wasn’t his looks that had sucked me in. It was his play. His effortless grip of a game that we all struggled with. His swing, his throw, the dip of his body when he scooped up a ball, the stretch of his six-foot body when he leapt in the air … it was my porn. I would die a happy woman for one slow-mo clip of his swing, the bite of his bottom lip, the squint of his eyes, his fingers sliding over his bat’s handle, the slow release, the easy swing of his body he jogged around the bases, oblivious to the crowd, to the cheers, to the madness.
He was beautiful.
He was perfection.
And he had, according to the news report title, been a very bad boy.