Home > Scoring With Him (Men of Summer #1)(9)

Scoring With Him (Men of Summer #1)(9)
Author: Lauren Blakely

“First time. Gotta make it good,” he says in a tone that’s a little raspy, a lot sexy. My skin sizzles as I picture other first times.

“So they say,” I say, keeping the banter light.

He takes a beat. “And what’s your story?”

My story? He asks it like Echo at the tattoo shop. What the hell am I supposed to tell him?

Should I give him my dating profile? Psychological flicks and fast-paced books rock my world, Daniel Craig is hands down the best James Bond, the designated hitter rule is the only way to go, and I’d love to take him out to dinner.

But before I can open my mouth to say something else entirely—because I am not saying any of that, especially the last part—he laughs, then adds, “Your baseball story, rookie. That’s all I mean.”

I breathe a sigh of relief. “I was in Triple-A last season,” I say, and I make a mental note that he’s not one of those guys who follows the minors. That’s what I would do if I were him. But, hey, maybe I’d be so absorbed in my own game that I wouldn’t have time to worry about who was coming up. That’s probably why he doesn’t know who I am.

The man has more forward momentum than anyone. He’s in a league of his own and doesn’t have to peer in the rearview mirror to see who’s chasing him.

He scrubs a hand across his chin, studying me. It’s not a sexual look. He’s not shamelessly eating me up with his eyes. It’s more like he’s trying to read me, figure out if I have an ego the size of an SUV, if I’m just one of the guys, or a pushover, or somewhere in between. “So, you’re a hotshot, then?” Declan asks.

Fuck.

I am doing this all wrong.

I don’t want him to think I have a big head since I raced through the minors faster than most guys.

“No. I don’t think I am. And I’m also not a shortstop,” I say quickly, lest he think I’m gunning for his position.

Then he cracks up, sets a hand on my shoulder, and I go still so I don’t give away how much I like that big hand on me. The way he curls it over my muscle. How his palm fits on my body. That’s just a friendly hand, nothing more.

Too bad my body doesn’t feel friendly with him.

It feels hot.

Hotter still when he says, “Rookie, I’m just fucking with you.”

Does he know how much innuendo I can hear laced in his words?

Or is it just me, craving innuendo with him?

Note to self: you seem to have forgotten that your teammate is off-limits.

He drops his hand, then holds it out to shake. “Declan Steele,” he says, and I want to tell him, Dude, I know who you are. I’ve watched your games, seen your interviews, admired your career. And your deep brown eyes, perfectly messy hair, and chiseled jaw with just the right amount of scruff that blends together into the hottest guy I’ve ever seen.

By the way, you might not post shots online of your dates, but I’ve come across the pics of you having dinner with Nathan Sparks, and all I have to say is this—that guy’s a jackass and you can do better.

“Grant Blackwood,” I say. “I’m looking forward to playing with you.”

And I cringe.

Did that just come out of my mouth? That sounds so filthy. So deliciously, dangerously filthy.

And so wildly inappropriate.

The corner of his lips quirks up. The man exudes confidence. He gives off heady doses of charisma. He’s unflappable even as I step in it. “I’m definitely looking forward to playing with you too, Grant,” he says, then shakes his head, clearly amused by me.

Which is not the first impression I wanted to make on a teammate.

I have bungled this so badly.

I groan privately, then drag a hand down the back of my neck. I came on to the dude, and I didn’t mean to come on to him, and he’s going to think I meant something, and I didn’t mean anything. Even though some part of my lizard brain means everything because I would love to play with him in the bedroom.

But that is not happening.

That is not what spring training is about.

This is about me meeting a teammate, not some guy I’m hot for.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I’m here to say this—it is seriously hard sometimes being a queer dude on a sports team, even if everyone’s cool with queer dudes in pro sports.

Even if I already have sponsors lined up for endorsement deals.

Even if pro sports is no longer a bastion of homophobia, but instead a beacon of rainbow pride, embracing LGBTQ athletes.

I don’t want my teammates to think what small-minded people think about gay guys in a locker room—that we’re checking out all the men.

I vow to never look at Declan in the locker room.

Right now, I do my best to course correct. “All I mean is I’m a big fan of yours,” I say, and yeah, now I sound like a complete tool.

This is awesome.

I love meeting a player I look up to and making a complete fool of myself.

“Big fan,” I repeat, owning my tool-ery. “I sound like I’m calling into a sports talk show.”

“Long-time listener, first-time caller,” Declan quips, then adds, like he’s the radio host Jim Rome, “‘Welcome to the Jungle.’”

And I relax as he takes the conversational plane in for a smooth landing on the runway, making me feel like it’s okay that I put my foot in my mouth.

Like he gets my energy.

He spins around, then he turns back, urgency in his eyes. “Wait a second. You missed the drills, didn’t you?”

“What? No, it’s nine. First workout is at nine-thirty. Did I get the time wrong?”

His expression turns deadly serious. “Aw shit, man. You missed the early drills. Rookie drills were at eight-thirty. You better get out there now, or they’ll make you do all the dirty laundry for the next five weeks.”

Panic kicks in, swimming in my blood. I can’t fuck up. He points in the direction of the locker room that leads to the diamond. “That’s where you need to be. Main field,” he says.

“Thanks, man. Appreciate it.”

I step away, ready to jet, when he sets a hand on my arm. “Give me your phone, rookie. Skipper will have a fit if he sees you with the phone in the locker room,” he says.

“Really?” My brain scrambles, trying to figure out if he’s screwing with me. I can’t remember the manager mentioning a ban on phones in locker rooms.

“Yes. Go put on your uniform. Get out on the field and do the drills. You can thank me later when the coach doesn’t pitch a fit.”

I breathe, exhaling heavily as I hand him my phone. I hightail it to the locker room, pull on my uniform, and grab my glove.

I run to the field as the team streams in, but they’re not doing drills. They’re . . . milling about by home plate.

That’s odd.

The third baseman strolls over to me, holding his cap in front of him. “I can do the triple lift,” Crosby Cash says by way of greeting. “And I bet all these guys that I can do it. They don’t believe me. You in?”

I pat the back pocket of my baseball pants for show. “I don’t have my wallet with me.”

Scoffing, Crosby turns around. “He has no dough. Who’s covering the rookie?”

Seconds later, Declan’s voice calls out. “I’ve got his back. Fifty bucks says you can do it, Cash. You hear that, rookie? We’re betting for him.”

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