Thrown by a curve, p.11
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       Thrown by a Curve, p.11

         Part #5 of Play by Play series by Jaci Burton
Page 11

  Author: Jaci Burton

  “Yeah. She pushes me. She’s told me I’ve had my head up my ass about my recovery and I haven’t worked hard enough. ” He lifted his fork and pointed it at her. “She even came to my house and banged on the door one morning when I tried to blow off therapy. ”

  “No shit,” Gray said, with something that looked an awful lot like admiration in his eyes.

  “No shit,” Garrett said. “She’s tougher than she looks. ”

  “I could use someone like you on my auto-racing team,” Gray said. “My crew needs a kick-ass motivator at times. And I pay well. Interested in defecting?”

  “Hey,” Garrett said.

  Alicia laughed. “No. I’m happy where I am at the moment, but thanks, Gray. I’ll keep you in mind. ”

  “Seriously?” Garrett arched a brow at Alicia, who smiled sheepishly and shrugged.

  “I have to keep my options open, you know. ”

  “Ooh, she’s cutthroat,” Trevor said. “I might be in love with her. ”

  “You don’t know the meaning of the word,” Gray said. “You’re more a woman-of-the-week type. ”

  “True. But if I was going to fall in love, it would be with someone like Alicia. Beautiful, smart, talented, and vicious. My kind of woman. ”

  Alicia laughed. “I’m hardly vicious. ”

  “I don’t know about that,” Garrett said. “I’ve been on the receiving end of one of your therapy sessions. ”

  “Now you’re going to give the guys the wrong idea about me, Garrett. I’m a marshmallow. Really. ” She batted her lashes.

  “Somehow I think she’s a mixture of both,” Trevor said, studying her. “Which just makes me like her more. ”

  “You should keep a tight hold on her, Garrett, before someone sneaks up and steals her right out from under you. ”

  Garrett slid a piece of steak into his mouth and didn’t answer Gray’s comment. It was unlike his guys to be so taken with a woman. In fact, he would have sworn they’d be pissed off he’d brought Alicia with him. Instead, they’d been welcoming and seemed downright enamored by her.

  He couldn’t figure it out. Oh, sure, he knew she had a killer body. And a beautiful face, silky hair, long legs, and a perfect ass. She was smart and had a dry sense of humor that men would naturally fall for.

  He took a long swallow of his beer and reminded himself that Alicia wasn’t his girlfriend, a woman he was dating, or even having sex with. She was a professional, and she was here this weekend to torture his shoulder.

  Nothing more.




  “WE SHOULD WORK OUT YOUR ARM,” ALICIA SAID AS they made their way back to the room.

  It was past midnight, and they’d hung out in the bar after dinner, trading stories of college life. Garrett had a good time and several beers, and after a long day, he was exhausted.

  “I don’t think so. I’m beat. ”

  “Uh-huh. And the reason I came along was so you wouldn’t miss a day of therapy. I’ll bet your arm is tight. ”

  It was, but he’d be damned if he’d admit it.

  “I realize it’s late, and I’m not talking about a full-blown workout. But if we don’t at least stretch it, you’ll be even tighter in the morning. ”

  “Okay. ”

  “Unlock the adjoining-room door after you change clothes, and I’ll get you loosened up. ”

  After she shut her door, he went into his room and changed into a pair of sweats, leaving his shirt off. He unlocked his side of the adjoining-room door, then stretched and sat on the edge of the bed.

  Alicia came through a few minutes later. She’d changed into her yoga pants and had put on a T-shirt that fit snugly against her breasts.

  Not that he would notice what his therapist was wearing.

  But he definitely noticed everything Alicia did. Or wore. And as she leaned over him, he breathed in her scent, something musky that made him want to grab her hair and bury his face in her neck.

  “I’m glad you left your shirt off. I can put some massage lotion on your arm and really work into it after I stretch it. Then I’ll go down the hall and fill the ice bucket and ice you down. ”

  He grimaced. “Sounds fun. ”

  She smiled. “No, it won’t be, but it’ll loosen your shoulder. ”

  “Let’s get this over with. ”

  “Lie down on your back on the side of the bed so I can get to your shoulder. We’ll put some heat on it first, and then I’ll stretch you. ”

  He laid down, and Alicia kneeled at his side to put the heating pad on his shoulder. He turned to face her. “You’re going to stretch me kneeling on the floor like that?”

  “Yes. ”

  “That can’t be comfortable for you. ”

  “It’ll be fine. I’ve stretched people in more uncomfortable positions than this. And trust me, it’ll be way more uncomfortable for you than it will be for me. ”

  That made him smile. “So, what you’re saying is that I shouldn’t feel sorry for you. ”

  “Not in the least. ”

  “Okay. I hope you suffer. ”

  She laughed. “That’s the spirit. ”

  “Did you have a good time tonight?”

  She leaned back on her heels. “I did. Surprisingly. ”

  “Why are you surprised?”

  “I guess I wasn’t prepared for—how nice and how much fun your friends were going to be. ”

  “Yeah? What did you expect?”

  “I don’t know exactly. It’s hard to come into new situations, be surrounded by a bunch of strangers. These are all your friends, and it’s your reunion. I was the interloper. It could have gone badly. They might not have taken well to you dragging some strange woman in. They were very nice. So funny and so welcoming to me. ”

  “I’m glad you like them. ”

  “I do. You have great friends. You should see them more often. ”

  “Okay, Mom. ”

  “Hey. ” She shoved at him.

  “It’s not like any of us have the time for regular get-togethers. We all have busy careers. Or at least they do. ”

  “You will, too, once I whip you into shape. ”

  “I don’t feel very in shape right now. Just whipped. ”

  She let out a soft laugh. “Once we’re finished working together, you’re going to be a rock star on the mound again. ”

  That’s all he wanted.

  She pulled the heating pad off and started lightly stretching his arm. She was right—he was stiff, and as she got deeper into the stretch, holy shit did it hurt. He ended up clenching his jaw as she pulled at his arm in those vicious, unnatural positions that ended up making him sweat.

  But by the time she finished and went to grab some ice, he was looser. He was already seeing improvement in his range of motion, and for the first time in a long time, he felt hopeful.

  “Here you go. ” She had brought wraps to put the ice in, so she laid it on his shoulder while he leaned up against the headboard of the bed.

  “Thanks for doing this. My arm actually feels looser. ”

  She dried her hands on one of the hotel-room towels. “It’s no problem. And that’s a good thing, right?”

  “Yeah. ”

  “Leave that on for ten minutes, then just dump the ice. I’ll come back for the wrap in the morning. ”

  “You’re leaving?”

  Her lips curved. “Yeah, I’m beat. And unless you have something early to do with the guys in the morning, I’d like to hit the fitness center with you for a full workout on your arm. ”

  “No, nothing planned in the morning. ”

  “Good. Say around eight?”

  “That’ll work. ”

  “See you then. Goodnight, Garrett. ”

  “Night, Alicia. ”

  She closed the adjoining door. He waited for her to click the
lock, effectively barricading herself in.

  She never locked it.

  For some reason, that made him smile.

  Alicia was in the zone the next morning. After thirty minutes on the treadmill and another thirty on the bike, plus weight training and now stretching exercises, she had Garrett drenched in sweat and working the hell out of his arm when a guy walked in.

  She actually had to do a double take because he looked a lot like Garrett. Tall, shaggy raven hair, but with the most piercing eyes she’d ever seen. He zeroed in on them with a cocky grin on his face.

  “You look like shit,” he said as he stopped beside Garrett.

  Garrett raised his head. “Thanks. ”

  “Is this your dominatrix, and does she always schedule early morning sessions to beat the crap out of you in the gym?”

  “Yeah, it’s my favorite new workout program. Drew Hogan, meet Alicia Riley, my physical therapist. ”

  He stuck out his hand. “Hi, Alicia. Anyone who can make Garrett look like he’s about to cry is a new friend of mine. ”

  She shook her head. “Nice to meet you, Drew. Now get out of here so I can continue to torture him,” she teased. “Unless you’d like to be next. ”

  He shook his finger at Alicia but looked at Garrett. “I like her, Garrett. You should marry her. Or have at least a week’s worth of mind-numbing sex with her. Why don’t you two meet me for breakfast after your . . . uh . . . session?”

  Garrett looked up at Alicia for confirmation.

  “Sure,” she said. “We’ll be through here in another thirty, so about an hour?”

  “Great. See you in the restaurant. ”

  Alicia laughed as Drew left the gym. “He’s kind of a force of nature, isn’t he?”

  Garrett grabbed the towel and swiped it over his face. “You have no idea. ”

  They finished up their workout then went up to their rooms to shower.

  Drew was waiting for them in the restaurant, along with Trevor and Gray.

  “Where are the other guys?” Garrett asked as he held out a chair for Alicia. The waiter was right there to pour coffee for them.

  “Lincoln, Hull, and Ted got up early to hit the golf course,” Gray said.

  Alicia looked outside. The sun was out, but it couldn’t be more than forty degrees outside. “Die-hard golfers?” she asked.

  “You’d have to be to play when it’s this cold,” Trevor said. “I won’t drag my clubs out until it hits at least seventy. ”

  “Wimp,” Gray said.

  “I don’t see your ass out there making it a foursome,” Trevor shot back.

  “I had some business to do this morning. Couldn’t make it. ”

  “You lie. You just didn’t want your balls to freeze in the cold. ” Drew gave Gray a smug look. “You might need to use them on—who was that pit bunny I saw when you were giving those interviews?”

  Gray lifted his chin but smiled. “No idea what you’re talking about. ”

  “Whatever. Whoever you’re currently having sex with, you don’t want your equipment to malfunction. ”

  Gray took a sip of coffee. “I have no pit bunny, despite what Drew thinks. I’m too busy working. Unlike Garrett here, who brings his work and play with him. ”

  Garrett rolled his eyes. “I already explained who Alicia is. Believe me, she’s all work. Not play. ”

  “It’s true,” Drew said. “She had him bound up and crying like a girl in the gym this morning. She definitely had him by the balls, but not in the fun way. ”

  Alicia slanted a smile at Drew, who winked at her.

  “I wasn’t crying. I was rehabbing. And if Alicia had me by the balls, trust me, I’d know it. And it would be for fun. ”

  Alicia rolled her eyes. “Is it always like this with you guys?”
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