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     The Perfect Game

       part  #1 of  The Perfect Game Series  by  J. Sterling / Romance & Love
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The Perfect Game
Page 1
ONE

“Cassie, are you almost ready?” my roommate, Melissa, yelled down the hall.

“Just give me one sec! I’m almost done,” I shouted.

I ran my fingers one last time through my stick-straight blonde hair, trying in vain to give it the appearance of volume or thickness. One final coat of mascara on my eyelashes and I’d be all set. The purple strappy top I was wearing really brought out the green in my eyes.

“Perfect,” I muttered to my reflection, admiring the way my low-cut jeans hugged the curves of my butt.

“If you’re so perfect, then let’s go!”

“Good God, woman. It’s not like we’re heading to the prom. ” I walked out of the bedroom and down the hall toward my stressed-out best friend. “It’s just a party. There is no late at a frat party, you know?” I leaned into the door frame, determined not to hurry.

“All the good guys will be taken. ” Melissa stuck her bottom lip out in the pout that she had perfected, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“This is a frat party, Meli. There are no good guys. ”

“I hate you. ” She frowned, twirling her shoulder-length wavy brown hair around her finger.

I smiled. “Good. Let’s go. ”

I tossed my arm around my pint-sized friend and headed out the front door, locking it behind us. I’d known Melissa since high school. She moved here right after we graduated, while I was forced to attend community college. “You have to take the same courses the first two years anyway. It’s much cheaper,” my mom had insisted. So I stayed close to home, while Melissa’s parents happily paid for all her expenses at Fullton State.

After two years of general education, I applied to three universities in Southern California and was accepted at all of them. I knew immediately which one I wanted to transfer to. Not only was my best friend at Fullton, but it also had one of the best photo communications programs in the state, with an award-winning student magazine and newspaper. And since my major was photography, the choice was easy.

Melissa’s parents insisted on getting an apartment for us to share and refused to let my parents pay for any of it. We weren’t poor, but we didn’t have an overabundance of cash the way Meli’s parents did. They told my folks that college tuition was expensive enough without all the extras and then they paid our rent a year in advance, including the summer. I remember my dad promising to pay them back during one of the many pre-moving discussions, and my eyes met Melissa’s with an all-knowing glance that the repayment would never really come to fruition.

Her parents had always been overly generous when it came to me. But then again, they were privy to the many times my dad had promised me something and then not delivered. On more than one occasion, Melissa’s mom’s was the shoulder I cried on and whose ears I vented my disappointment and frustrations to. I intended to start paying them back as soon as I graduated and opened my own photography business.

The night air was warm on my exposed skin as we walked the five blocks toward the fraternity house. “That top looks fierce on you,” Melissa complimented me with a slight smile.

“It’s cute, right?” I smiled, looking down at the formfitting top hugging my curves and accentuating my tiny waist. “You look as hot as ever. ” I winked before slapping her black-skirt-covered ass.

Melissa was truly beautiful. Her dark brown hair contrasted with the blue of her eyes, making it hard to look away from her at times. She honestly looked like she belonged on the cover of a magazine, with her stunning figure and flawless features. We were total opposites, what with my five-foot-eight-inch frame and disproportionate body shape. I used to joke and say that God put me together like a Mr. Potato Head toy. One piece for my butt, one for my waist, one for my boobs…all a mismatch of sizes.

But it worked on me.

And I worked it.

The sound of hip-hop music filled the air. “Ooooh, I love this song! Let’s dance!” I grabbed Melissa’s hand and dragged her along, jogging closer to the source of the music.

“You always want to dance. ” Melissa rolled her eyes. I’d smack those perfect blue eyes right off her face if I didn’t love her so damn much.

“Well, I’m a good dancer. And this butt of mine—oh, you know what it does. ” I started shaking my hips in the crowded driveway of the fraternity house.

“Oh, no. Please stop. ”

I laughed and slowed down my booty-shaking when I noticed the number of eyes ogling me. I hated being gawked at. I know, I know. I’m a fucking hypocrite. I scanned the crowd before suddenly stopping on the most delicious pair of chocolate-brown eyes watching me. The fact that the eyes belonged to one of the hottest faces I’d ever seen was merely a bonus. He ran his fingers through his black hair before resting them against his tanned, scruffy face. He smiled lazily at me and I felt my stomach flip.

Stupid stomach.

“No. Tell me you are not looking at him, Cassie. ” Melissa stepped in front of me, breaking the eye contact.

“Hey, move. ” But every direction I craned my neck, she blocked me with her annoying face.

“No freaking way. Don’t you know who that is?” She threw her hand in front of my eyes before I swatted it away.

“Obviously not, or we’d be dating. ” I hopped up to steal a peek over her head.

“Jack Carter doesn’t date. He sleeps with girls and all their friends. ” Melissa’s mouth curled with disgust.

“So that’s the infamous Jack Carter, huh?” I was intrigued. This guy’s name was all over the school papers and online.

Melissa threw an arm over my shoulder. “The one and only. ”

“Is he really as good as they say?” Jack would be eligible for the Major League Baseball draft after the season ended. Everyone said he’d get drafted within the first five rounds. And apparently that’s a pretty big deal.

“His ego certainly thinks so. ”

“Typical. ” If there’s one thing I know, it’s athletes. They’re all the same. Superstitious, cocky, insecure egomaniacs. Yes, I realize the words are contradictory, but most are somewhat normal guys. They just hide behind a hundred-foot-tall brick wall, built entirely on ego. Plus, they don’t know any better. They’ve been baseball players their whole lives; they don’t know how to be anything else.

“What is it with you and assholes, Cass? Jack Carter’s a world class jerk and you need to stay away from him. ”

“Hey!” I stomped my foot and firmly placed my hand against my hip. “The question isn’t, ‘What is it with me and assholes. ’ It’s more like, “What is it with most guys being assholes?’”

“Valid point. But still. You already know up front this guy’s a player, so why bother? You’ll only end up hurt. ”

“Not if I hurt him first,” I mumbled under my breath.

“Trust me, you won’t. Jack Carter doesn’t get hurt by girls. Promise me you’ll stay away from him. ” Melissa pinned me with a glare to let me know she was serious.

“I promise I’ll stay away from him. ” I batted my eyelashes, my tone of voice insincere.

“Ugh! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. ” Melissa pushed her way through the crowd and I watched as Jack stopped her before she passed him. He reached an arm out for her and she moved it away, her foot tapping against the ground the way she always did when she was irritated. He turned to eye me and she matched his gaze before gesturing wildly and shaking her head no. A wide smile crossed his face as Melissa threw her arms up in the air before storming inside the front door.

Jack walked, no, make that sauntered, over to where I stood. His black cargo shorts and tight-fitting gray baseball t-shirt did a number on his body. The definition of his arm muscles rippled against the fabric, accentuating his well-defined shoulders on his six-foot frame as his arms swayed. He tilted his head and narrowed his eyes at me like I was some tiny, helpless creature who didn’t have a clue it was about to get eaten alive by the most beautiful, albeit dangerous, creature in the jungle.

I almost felt violated.

Dirty.

Like I needed a shower to scrub that look off my body.

It wasn’t until he got close enough that I could read the writing on his shirt. It said, “No Glove No Love” with a picture of a catcher’s mitt in the middle.

What a Pig. Yes, with a capital P.

Two can play this game.

Defenses up.

“So you’re Melissa’s roommate?” The words came out smooth like butter, his voice deep and sexy.

“You’re a genius,” I said, going for my most uninterested tone.

“Hey now, don’t be mean. I just wanted to meet you. ” He looked me in the eyes with a focused, unbreakable stare. “You have beautiful eyes. ”

“Nice shirt. ” I gave him a disgusted once-over, trying to cover the fact that I wanted to laugh. It was clever, but I’d be dammed if I would admit that to a guy like him.

He looked down and smirked. “Ah, you like that? I think it’s a pretty responsible message I’m sending out, don’t you?”

I said nothing, questioning whether anything that came out of this guy’s mouth was genuine or not.

“What? Cat got your tongue? You don’t believe in safe sex?”

Was this guy for real? “What do you want?” My lips pursed together, making my tone harsher than I had intended.

“I told you, I wanted to meet you. I’m Jack Carter. ” He reached out his hand and I looked at it, my arms firmly crossed against my stomach.

“I know who you are. ” I pretended not to care. He was beautiful. And he was charming. And a man-whoring pig. God, what is wrong with me?

“So you’ve heard of me, huh, Kitten?”

My lips suddenly felt like they were filled with lead as they turned downward in disgust. “You did not just call me ‘Kitten. ’ Do I look like a stripper to you?”

He looked me up and down and then did it again. “Well, now that you mention it. ”

“You’re an asshole. ” I pushed past him to walk away, but he grabbed me.

I tore my arm from his grip. “It costs fifty cents every time you touch me. Don’t do it again. ”

“Oh, so you’re not a stripper, you’re a whore?”

“Oh, so you’re not only an asshole, you’re a piece of shit,” I responded as I stomped away.

“I like you,” he shouted at my back.

“So you’re dumb, too,” I tossed over my shoulder with a glare. “I’ll add it to the list of your many redeeming qualities. ”

I heard him laugh before I entered the house to search for Melissa. I finally found her in the backyard, drinking something out of a red plastic cup and talking to a group of people I didn’t recognize. I appeared at her side before she realized I was there.

“Oh my God, Cass, what did he say to you?” She ushered me toward an empty clearing in the yard.

I grabbed a drink for myself off a nearby table and rolled my eyes. “Nothing. He’s a jackass. ”
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