Thrown by a curve, p.10
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       Thrown by a Curve, p.10

         Part #5 of Play by Play series by Jaci Burton
Page 10

  Author: Jaci Burton

  “Sorry. Alicia Riley, this is Gray Preston. ”

  He shook her hand. “Nice to meet you, Alicia. ”

  “Same here, Gray. ”

  “Alicia is my physical therapist. ”

  Gray’s smile turned to something a little sexier. “Is that what we’re calling it these days?”

  Alicia laughed. “No, I’m really his therapist. I work for the team. ”

  Gray arched a brow and shifted his gaze to Garrett. “So, the team pays for it? Quite a perk. ”

  “You’re an asshole, Gray,” Garrett said.

  “That’s what my father tells me. ”

  “Your father’s a prick. ”

  Gray slapped him on the back. “And that’s why you’ve always been one of my good friends. Go on and get settled in. Trevor’s already in the bar, likely the center of attention. ”

  Garrett laughed. “Of course he is. What about Drew?”

  “Haven’t seen him yet. ”

  “Okay. We’ll see you soon. ” He led Alicia to the elevator and, once inside, pushed the button for the second floor.

  “Gray is interesting. ”

  He nodded. “Yeah. His father is Senator Mitchell Preston. ”

  She turned to him as they got out of the elevator and walked down the hall. “I’ve heard about the senator. Very staunch and no-nonsense. Gray doesn’t seem at all like him. ”

  “He isn’t. Wait till you get to know him. ” Garrett stopped at a room. “This one’s yours. ”

  “Oh. Okay. I’ll get unpacked and changed. Meet you outside in fifteen minutes?”

  “Sure. ”

  She went into the room and put her bag on the bed, hung everything up and went into the bathroom to unpack her toiletries. She fixed her makeup and brushed out her hair, then went into the closet to ponder what to wear.

  They were meeting in the bar, so she decided on a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and her boots, figuring understated would be a good choice.

  When she came out of her room, Garrett wasn’t there, so she knocked on his door. He opened it.

  “Sorry. Grabbed a quick shower. ”

  His hair was still damp, the ends curling. She inhaled his fresh, piney scent, which made her want to inch closer and bury her face in his neck. Instead, she took a step back.

  “That’s okay. Are you ready or should I just go wait in my room?”

  “No, I’m ready. ”

  He closed the door and stood there, scanning her.

  She frowned and looked down at her clothes. “What’s wrong? Am I not dressed right?”

  “Uh, no. You look very nice. ”

  Relieved, she relaxed. “Thanks. I wasn’t sure what was going on the rest of the day, so I figured I’d go casual. ”

  “You’re fine. Let’s go. ”

  He was acting strange. Maybe it was the long drive. He might be uncomfortable. “We should get in a workout today, make sure we at least stretch out your shoulder. ”

  “Okay. We’ll do that later. ”

  “We’re burning daylight already. ”

  “I’ll make sure to whine and complain about how much I hurt so that you don’t forget. ”

  She laughed. “You can do that, but trust me, I won’t forget. That’s the whole reason I’m here, remember?”

  “Right. Though Gray thought you were hired for another reason. ”

  She laughed. “Yes. Which I thought was wildly funny. Imagine someone like me, an escort. ”

  He gave her a long look. “You could pull it off. ”

  “Not in yoga pants with my hair in a ponytail. ”

  He stopped as they walked off the elevator on the first floor. “You don’t give yourself enough credit, Alicia. ”

  She gaped as him. “I’m not sure whether to be flattered or insulted. ”

  “Be flattered. ” He placed his hand on the small of her back and directed her down the darkly paneled hallway, away from the main entrance. The bar was tucked just inside some doors that led outside to what she imagined was the golf course.

  The bar was painted a rich burgundy and cream, separated by wainscoting along the wall. The place looked just as expensive as everything else she’d seen of the lodge, with wood tables and booths spread around, some pool tables, and televisions mounted above the bar and throughout the room showing various sports. It was kind of like Riley’s, her aunt and uncle’s bar, only way more upscale. There was a thick oak bar served by two bartenders wearing long-sleeved shirts and vests. Their shirts even had pleats. Fancy.

  Definitely not the kind of bar she usually frequented. There weren’t even any peanuts on the floor. In fact, she was pretty sure she could eat off this floor.

  Gray was seated in one of the booths in the corner, along with several other guys. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she wondered if she was being punked. They all stood up, and it was like walking into a cover shoot for a magazine. Several hot men smiled at her as she and Garrett approached.

  Maybe she should have dressed up more. Dashed on some perfume or something. Because, damn.

  “The ever-elusive Garrett Scott finally shows up,” one of them said, sticking out a hand.

  “Surprised to see you here, Trevor,” Garrett said. “Figured you’d be stripped down to your underwear doing another photo shoot for a magazine or a billboard somewhere. ”

  Now Alicia knew why that guy looked familiar. Trevor Shay’s oh-so-hot body was plastered up . . . everywhere. On billboards, across magazines, on the sides of buses, and in commercials. He had been one hot commodity for the past few years, because he’d been playing football and baseball, and was very good at both of them. He was also a known ladies’ man.

  Trevor grinned. “Yeah, well. I took the weekend off to drink beer with you assholes. ” Finally noticing Alicia, he said, “Oh. Sorry. Didn’t mean to cuss. ”

  “It’s all right. I’m Alicia Riley. ”

  “Trevor Shay. Nice to meet you. So, you’re Garrett’s . . . girlfriend?”

  “Therapist,” she corrected.

  Trevor lifted a brow. “Therapist? Got Mommy issues, Scott?”

  “Ha ha. She’s my physical therapist. She works for the Rivers. ”

  “Oh, yeah. You fucked up your shoulder because you can’t throw for shit. ”

  Garrett shook his head. “I’m not even going to dignify that comment with a return insult about how some of us can’t make up our minds about what sports to play when we grow up. ”

  Trevor grinned. “Yeah, and maybe some of us are so damn good we get to play both. ”

  Garrett rolled his eyes. “You keep thinking that, buddy. Where’s Drew?”

  “He can’t make it,” Trevor said. “He’s got a game tonight. Said to tell everyone to kiss his ass and not talk about him while he’s not here to defend himself. ”

  “So, that means we’re going to talk about him, right?” Garrett asked.

  “You know it,” Gray said, lifting a glass in toast.

  Garrett introduced her to a couple of other guys. Alicia was glad she was good at remembering names and faces.

  “Make room, dickheads, so we can sit. ”

  They did, and Alicia slid over in the booth. Garrett leaned over. “I’m sorry, but these guys are all assholes. There’s going to be cursing and name-calling. ”

  “Yes. Feel free to join in, especially if you have dirt on Garrett,” Gray said.

  Alicia laughed. “Oh, no. I plan to just listen. And make mental notes. Maybe write a tell-all book in the future. ”

  “I like her,” Gray said to Garrett. “She’s a smart-ass like us. ”

  Alicia just smiled, and when one of the waiters came over—impeccably dressed like the bartenders—she ordered a drink. A soda.

  “Oh, come on, Alicia. You’re here to relax and have fun,” Trevor said. “Fun means hard liquor. ”

for me to be clearheaded and take those mental notes if I’m fuzzy with alcohol. Soda it is for me. ”

  “Buzzkill,” Trevor said. “You being the only woman in the bunch, how are we all going to get you drunk and take advantage of you?”

  “You aren’t,” Garrett said, and then ordered a beer.

  “I thought you said she worked for the team?”

  “She does. Which means hands off, Trevor. I mean it. ”

  Alicia kind of liked the firmness of his statement, even though she was fully aware Trevor was just kidding and Garrett was only protecting an employee of the Rivers. Not someone who belonged to him.

  “Maybe it’s not just a work thing. ” Trevor picked up his beer and slanted a look toward Gray and the other guys.

  “Maybe it isn’t,” Gray said, tipping his beer toward Trevor. “But if it is, that means Alicia is available. So, are you seeing someone?”

  How was she supposed to answer that? “Um . . . no, I’m not. ”

  Garrett turned to her. “You should run now while you still have a chance. A weekend with these jokers and who knows how you’ll end up. ”

  “She’ll be in love with me by the end of the weekend,” Trevor said, waggling his brows. “I’m irresistible, you know. ”

  “Hey. I’m the one with all the money. And the charm,” Gray said, giving Garrett a smug smile. “A couple of days around me and she’ll dump you like toxic waste. ”

  Alicia couldn’t help but laugh. “Remember, guys, I’m just a therapist. There is no one to dump. ”

  “Uh-huh. ” Trevor tipped his bottle to his lips, his gaze shifting from Alicia to Garrett as he took a long swallow of his beer. “You say that, but I’ve got my eye on you two. ”

  She lifted her gaze to Garrett. “Help. ”

  He held up his hands. “What can I say? These morons are my friends. ”

  But she caught the wink.

  This should be a fun—and interesting—weekend.


  * * *

  GARRETT HADN’T WANTED TO COME THIS WEEKEND for a lot of reasons, the primary one being he felt less worthy because he wasn’t a player right now. And many of his friends were hotshot players, all successful in their games.

  He should have known better. He’d been tight with Gray, Drew, and Trevor in college. They’d bonded from freshman year, and nothing had changed in the four years before graduation. Sharing the suite had made them like brothers, and since he hadn’t had brothers of his own, these guys had known all his secrets—both the good and the bad.

  He missed spending time with them, but that’s what adulthood and pro-sports careers did. Not all of the guys from his dorm had ended up in pro sports, but all his roommates had, something that had surprised the hell out of all of them. Garrett and the guys never failed to appreciate how lucky they had all been, but it had also caused them to scatter in different directions like leaves on the wind. With Gray in auto racing, Drew in hockey, and Trevor juggling both football and baseball, finding the time for all of them to get together was nearly impossible. Just getting this weekend together meant sacrifices for at least a few of the guys.

  “So, how’s the injury coming along?” Gray asked as they gorged themselves on juicy steaks in the lodge dining room.

  “You should ask Alicia that question. She’s the expert on my recovery. ”

  Alicia looked up from her soup. “He’s progressing nicely. ”

  Trevor snorted. “That sounds like a pat answer. How’s he really doing? Is he going to pitch this season?”

  “I think he’s an amazing pitcher, and he can be one again if he works as hard at his recovery as he did at pitching. ”

  “Ohhh,” Trevor said, shifting his attention to Garrett. “That sounds like she’s laid down the gauntlet, buddy. ”
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