Moonshot(7)

by Alessandra Torre

16

I’d seen naked men before. The locker room was a freaking sideshow of male genitalia, and my presence there was sometimes unavoidable. I’d learned to keep my head down and walk quickly, a trip in and out typically knocked out within thirty seconds.

Not this trip. My head had been up, my teeth deep in the apple, my eyes widening as they encountered the utter beauty that was a naked Chase Stern.

Torso facing me, he had a white towel lifted to his neck, the action tensing every perfect ab, his shoulders wide and strong. His head was down, his mess of dirty blond hair showing as he rubbed his neck, the other hand loose on his hip—God, the cut of that hip, a hard line of definition that pulled my eyes down to the thing that hung between his legs, big and proud. His penis. I was staring at Chase Stern’s penis. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move; I just stared. It was darker than his legs, thicker than I had imagined that organ would be, and it swung slightly when he chuckled.

Chuckled. My brain registered the sound right before he spoke.

17

She was a fawn, caught in headlights. Long, bare legs leading to a baggy tee, a bright green apple lifted to her mouth, her eyes huge, focused on him. It was about time she reached his face; she’d certainly spent enough time examining the rest of his anatomy.

She moved the apple away, her mouth full, and chewed, her eyes darting away, her face deepening in color, bright red by the time she swallowed, her feet suddenly in motion. She crouched before a locker, her hands quick, rummaging through its contents. He stepped closer, his eyes narrowing. “Hey, what are you doing?”

She ignored him, jerking open the drawer at the base of the locker, her hand shoved inside, and then she was full height, just a few inches shorter than him, something gripped tightly in her hand.

“You didn’t see me. I didn’t see…” She flushed. “You. In case someone asks.”

“You can’t steal that.” He reached out, grabbing her arm, his fingers closing easily around her tiny forearm. She jumped, yanking away, her eyes snapping to his.

“I’m not stealing.” She held the item against her chest. “It’s my dad’s.” She spun, and in a burst of legs and blonde hair, she was gone.

18

I ran as quickly as I could. The stupid apple was still in hand. Dad’s wallet in the other. This was bad. Dad would freak. All of his worries, everything I had dismissed, and this had happened.

Like what you see?

Oh my God. He had caught me staring. How long had I stood there, just examining him like some sort of pervert? And then he’d thought I was stealing? He probably didn’t believe me, was probably pulling on clothes and heading to the security office right now, would describe me, and they’d pull video, and of course Marty and Shaun would recognize me, and of course they would tell Dad, and ohmygodIthinkImgonnavomit. I stopped in the middle of the hall, breathing hard, my stomach heaving, the damn apple still in my hand, no trash can nearby. I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes, tried to calm my breathing, tried to sort through this in my head.

Dad would know something was wrong. My poker face was terrible. Once, when I was eleven, I cheated on a math test, a calculator stowed under my notebook. Dad had known something was up the minute I passed the Scantron over. But this wasn’t an elementary school test. This was a hundred times worse. I tried to think of something, a distraction for my father, a lie prepared in case he asked what was wrong.

I came up with nothing, God punishing me for my actions, my deceit given absolutely no backup. I pushed off the wall and took the final steps to the end of the hall, the sun shining brightly through the door’s windows, the world outside oblivious to my demise.

I pushed on the exit bar and stepped into the sunshine, chucking the apple in the trash. At the curb, Dad’s truck idled.

“Got it.” I held up the wallet and slid into the passenger seat, slamming the door shut and busying myself with the seat belt.

“Where was it?”

“The drawer.” I pulled up my foot, resting my tennis shoe on the seat and busied myself with the laces, tightening them and retying the knot.

“You okay?” He was staring at me; I could feel his eyes, the truck not put in gear, his head turned to me.

“Yeah. Just pissed that I didn’t check—” My sentence was cut off by the ring of his phone, coming loud through the speakers, and I let out a sigh of relief, followed by a moment of panic. Maybe it was the security office.

“Hello?”

The voice that responded was brash and feminine, and I relaxed against the seat, letting our housekeeper’s voice carry my father into distraction, my chance at getting caught dissipating with each of her raised vowels.

Chase Stern. Naked. Staring at me. The deep laugh in his voice when he’d asked if I’d liked what I’d seen.

I dropped my head against the seat, replaying the interaction. Our misunderstanding over Dad’s wallet. My sprint out the doors. I hadn’t even introduced myself. Though … what would I have done? Shook his hand? I couldn’t have, not with all his nakedness right there. No, it was probably for the best, me leaving when I did. Before someone else came in. Before he said something else. I groaned as quietly as I could and turned away, resting my forehead on the glass window.

Talk about ruining me for life.

19

Chase stood, for a long moment, his towel still in hand, and stared at the swinging door, almost expecting her to reappear. It’s my dad’s. He glanced back at the locker, ROLLINS printed on a brass nameplate across its top. Frank Rollins. A name that needed no introduction, the closer’s place in the Hall of Fame already guaranteed, his rookie card one that Chase had behind glass somewhere. He’d heard that Rollins had a daughter—the sort of lewd comments always tossed around a locker room. He hadn’t paid much attention. Now, he wished he’d listened harder, his mind blank on anything but her father’s accomplishments.

He gave her one last chance at a return, then wiped at his face and headed for the shower.

Jesus Christ. Talk about the last thing he needed.

20

Moonshot. They say the term comes from Wally Moon, a player from the fifties, who hit bombers that the local press dubbed ‘moonshots.’ Dad had taught me the term when I was twelve, and desperate to hit my first home run. An impossible feat for a scrawny blonde in a Major League stadium, but Dad hadn’t told me that. He’d just kept me swinging, his pitches easy, my breath huffing smoke in the cold night air, my hits short after short after short.

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