Tyler’s question catches me off guard, since getting in trouble on purpose is all I’ve been trying to do since I arrived at camp, but right now, that’s not why I’m here. Unless giving Tyler hell can get me in trouble.
“Well?” Tyler asks. His breath, minty and cool, rushes over my face, reminding me just how close we are. “If you’re not here to see Todd, then what are you doing here?” His jaw is tense and flexes as he stares at me.
I bite my lip, unsure how to answer now that I’m here and we’re standing so close I can feel the soft fabric of his Henley brush against my slightly sunburned skin.
Tired of all the games we’re playing, I drop my eyes to the ground and fidget with the frayed hem of my jean shorts. “I…I came to see you,” I admit, trying to keep an edge of anger in my voice, but it comes out sounding exactly the way I feel. Vulnerable.
“Why?” he whispers, angling his head so our foreheads almost touch, the space between us so small I worry he can hear my heart thudding in my chest.
I swallow hard. Why am I here?
My mind races with the excuses I used to justify stomping over here—but with his body so close, and his eyes so intense—flirting with Jenny right in front of my face, or teasing me on the dock, or his antics on the field when I could have sworn he was about to kiss me, all seem irrelevant. The truth is—I wanted to see him.
“I came to…uh…wait—” I know why I stomped over here to see him, mad, and jealous, and determined to stop this game we keep playing, but why is he so mad? Because I’m breaking the rules? Or is it because of something else?
Putting a hand on my hip, I pull away so I can see his face, hoping I’ll find an answer there. “Why do you care if I was here to see Todd or not?”
Tyler blinks like the question has thrown him off guard. He steps backwards and rakes his hands through his hair, taking with him the heat from his body, and sending a chill up my arm in its absence. “You should go, Emily.” The intensity in his stare at war with his words.
“Why?” I take a step towards him, wanting to feel his body close to mine again, wishing he’d tell me to stay.
“Emily.” It’s a plea.
I press again. “Tell me? Why would you care if I was here to see Todd?”
Tyler drops his hands to his sides, sucks in a deep breath, and then lets it out in one quick push of air. “Because the idea of him kissing you, or touching you, or even being near you infuriates me,” he says so deep, and quiet, it comes out more like a growl.
My breath catches as I stare into his eyes—and unlike today on the field—this time he doesn’t hesitate.
The baseball field is dusty and hot, and it’s exactly where I want to be.
Between job shadowing Doc, thinking about Emily in that teeny tiny bikini—which I completely shouldn’t be—and the pressure of choosing between medicine and baseball bearing down on me like the mid-afternoon sun, I’d almost forgotten how excited I was to spend the summer at a camp dedicated to sports.
“All right, guys, I know it’s just a pickup game, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to play like it’s the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series.” Mark, one of the other counselors who plays ball claps his hands. The whistle hanging around his neck and the clipboard tucked under his arm reminds me of Coach. “Am I right?”
“Right,” the team echoes in unison before scattering to our various positions.
Grabbing the rim of my baseball hat and tugging it down low to block the sun from my eyes, I pump my fist into the hollow cup of my well worn glove and settle in at shortstop.
“Let’s do this,” I call, and then proceed to choke on the cheek full of sunflower seeds in my mouth at the sight of Emily walking out of the other team’s dugout—in something way hotter than a tiny bikini.
A baseball jersey.
Shooting me a wink, she bends down, grabs a helmet, and slips it on before approaching homeplate. She kicks in her toes, drawing up dust as she grips the bat and readies herself for the pitch.
Damn, she looks hot. And by the slack jawed faces of my teammates, and frankly, her team, too, I’m not alone in my thinking. Maybe that’s why Mark gives her a nice easy pitch right down the middle.
She hits a hard and fast line drive right between me and the second baseman, and before I can even scramble for the ball, she’s on first and smiling at me.
I shake my head. Of course she plays baseball—why wouldn’t she? She is the coach’s daughter after all.
But staring at Emily standing on first base, tying her jersey into a high knot and revealing her toned stomach, I’m starting to get the feeling she’s playing with a whole different set of rules. Ones I’m pretty sure her dad didn’t teach her.