Thrown by a curve, p.14
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       Thrown by a Curve, p.14

         Part #5 of Play by Play series by Jaci Burton
Page 14

  Author: Jaci Burton

  “Is sadism one of the job requirements?”

  “Oh, definitely. I love knowing that I’m hurting you. It gets me off. ”

  He gave her a look. “Really?”

  She rolled her eyes. “No, not really. Unfortunately, pain sometimes means progress. When I find a spot that I know is tight and I focus on that area, it means I’m working on breaking up scar tissue to loosen up your arm. ”

  “And here I thought you were getting some kind of sexual gratification out of all this torment. ”

  “Now that would be a nice perk of the job, wouldn’t it?” She gave him a wink and focused her attention on his workout.

  When she finished the therapy, he was sweating and gritting his teeth. “You’re enjoying this. ”

  “I do love my job, but it’s not causing you pain that I enjoy, Garrett. It’s the end result that will be the most rewarding for me. ” She smoothed her hands over his shoulder and shook out the tension.

  “The end result being me pitching again. ”

  She nodded. “Of course. That’s what I want most for you. You can sit up now. ”

  He rolled over and rested on his elbows. “That must be the best part for you—the endgame. Being able to walk away from an athlete who’s fully rehabbed. ”

  “Yes. I look forward to the day I can finish your therapy and see you pitching again. ”

  “Then you and I will be done with each other. ”

  She grinned. “I’m sure you’re eager to see that day. No more torture. ”

  “I don’t know. I’m kind of getting used to having you around. ”

  She laughed. “Sure you are. You can’t wait to get rid of me. ” She held her hand out to help him off the bed.

  He grasped her hand, but instead of pulling up he surprised the hell out of her by jerking her down onto the bed, then rolled over next to her.

  “Garrett. What are you doing?”

  “I’m not sure. ”

  He laid his hand on her stomach, and she was sure he could feel the out-of-control banging of her heart. She should shove his hand away and leap off the bed. She was his therapist, and they shouldn’t be close like this, and she damn sure shouldn’t be lying in the middle of his bed.

  But oh, the press of his warm hand on her stomach and the feel of his hip connected to hers was unbearably hot, and she just didn’t want to get up. Not when his face loomed over her and she wanted to reach up and swipe her hand over the slight stubble of beard at his jaw. There was so much of him she craved to touch, that she’d denied herself. And he’d thrown down the gauntlet.

  He paused, no doubt waiting for her to protest, to push him away and jump off the bed.

  But she didn’t, because being next to him like this felt too good, catered to all the fantasies she’d had about him.

  And when he leaned down and brushed his lips across hers, everything in her exploded with need and desire and want. She cupped the nape of his neck to hold him there as he explored her mouth, his tongue darting out to slide across her bottom lip, opening her to him.

  Oh, God, it was so good. His lips were firm, coaxing, and she floated on a sea of erotic bliss. She could get so lost in Garrett.

  She was shaking. This was wrong and was going to change everything. He’d lose focus, and she could lose her job.

  She pressed on his chest, and he broke the kiss.

  “Stop,” she whispered, barely able to get the word out because the absolute last thing she wanted right now was for him to stop.

  He hopped off the bed, and the first thing she saw was a very nice erection that she’d like nothing more than to spend the night exploring. But he grabbed her hand and pulled her off the bed, and just like that, it was over.

  “Sorry,” he said, dragging his fingers through his hair. “I don’t know why I did that. ”

  She straightened her T-shirt over her hips. “Don’t be. You weren’t the only one on that bed. But it’s a mistake. And we both know why. ” She walked to the doorway leading her to her room, then stopped, unable to face him. “Thanks for being such a good guy about it. ”

  She turned, and he was right there, palming the wall next to her head, his body inches from hers. Testosterone rolled off him in waves. If he stepped in just a little closer, they’d touch. If he leaned in a little, his mouth would be on hers again. She wasn’t sure at this moment if she wanted that or not.

  Oh, who was she kidding? She wanted it, wanted him. If he kissed her again, she wouldn’t stop him this time.

  His eyes were hard glints of steel as he hovered only an inch away from her. “Make no mistake, Alicia. I’m not a nice guy. I knew exactly what I wanted on that bed. I still want you. ”

  She inhaled a deep breath, her desire for him warring with what she knew was best for both of them. She slid out from under his arm.

  “I’ll see you in the morning, Garrett. ”

  He didn’t move, just nodded as she closed the door on him. She laid her forehead against the closed door.

  Yeah, she had to be the logical one. What a crock of shit that was.

  For the first time ever, she really hated her job.




  ALICIA SHOOK OFF THE CLOSE CALL WITH GARRETT and concentrated on the next step in his recovery, which would take place in—thank God—Florida. Since it was the dead of winter, Alicia had had to dig into the back of her closet for all her summer clothes. Normally, she’d be giddy about heading to Florida in late February, but this was work, not vacation.

  She would be staying in his guesthouse, in close proximity to him every single day. Working together, sleeping nearby. After what had happened the other day, the living arrangements were going to make the situation between them even more difficult. She’d have to shore up her internal defenses and make sure Garrett understood that his recovery had to be his primary focus.

  He’d gone down a couple of days earlier to get the house in order, giving her a break and promising her he’d head to the team facility and do daily therapy with Max. Which gave her a little breathing room, thankfully, and some time to shop and pack and see her family before she left. She’d had dinner two nights ago with her parents and said good-bye to them. Today she was going to see Liz, Tara, and Jenna for lunch before she hopped on the plane.

  Tara insisted on hosting them at her place, though how she managed to organize it all with the new baby was beyond Alicia.

  But Tara had a nice spread laid out with mini-sandwiches and three different kinds of salads.

  “I don’t know how you do this,” Alicia said as she hugged Tara, then Liz and Jenna.

  “Jenna and Liz helped. ”

  “And don’t you tell anyone I helped with the food prep or I’ll cut your throat,” Liz said with a mock glare.

  Alicia laughed. “Your secret is safe with me. ”

  They sat down and ate. Little Sam was asleep in the bassinet in the living room.

  “How’s he doing?” Alicia asked, dying to go over there, tickle his toes, and wake him up so she could hold him. But she knew better. Sleeping babies needed to be left alone, lest their tired mothers come after you with something sharp.

  Tara sighed. “He’s perfect. I’m so lucky. He sleeps well and eats well and is ridiculously healthy. I couldn’t ask for more. ”

  “Lucky her,” Liz said. “She’s had a Stepford baby. He hardly even cries. ”

  “You’re not here when he cries. Believe me, he has a very healthy set of lungs, and he uses them often. ”

  “And then you hand him to Mick, right?” Jenna asked. “Tell me you do that. ”

  “Of course I do. ” Tara gave them all a wicked grin. “What kind of woman would I be if I didn’t let the big, strong, macho guy handle a screaming baby?”

  “And does he fall apart?” Jenna asked.

  “He’s a total marshmallow
. ”

  “Ha. I knew it. ” Jenna gave them all a smug look. “Men are such babies when it comes to, well, babies. ”

  “And how’s your man?” Alicia asked.

  “Delicious,” Jenna said, popping a grape into her mouth.

  “She’s getting a lot of sex. You can tell by the content look on her face,” Liz said.

  “Please don’t talk about sex. I haven’t had any for a while, and I’m about to die. ”

  Liz patted Tara’s hand. “The downside of pushing an eight pound baby out of your vagina. ”

  Tara glared at Liz. “Your day will come. ”

  Liz shuddered. “I don’t even want to think about it. ”

  “Are you pregnant?” Alicia asked.

  “Not yet. I told you, we’re practicing. And enjoying the hell out of that right now, so don’t rush me. ”

  “Whatever,” Tara said. “But as soon as you get pregnant, I have to be the first to know. ”

  Liz rolled her eyes. “You’ll be the first to know. As soon as Gavin’s sperm does its magical explosion into my egg, I’ll be sure to call you, day or night. ”

  “Guys. I’m eating. ” Jenna grimaced.

  “Wuss. So, tell us about Florida, Alicia,” Tara said, taking a drink of tea. “I’m so excited you get to leave our dreary winter weather. ”

  “I’m utterly jealous,” Jenna said.

  “I’m excited,” Alicia said. “Nervous, of course, since this is for work. There’s a lot riding on me getting Garrett in shape. ”

  “He looks in pretty good shape to me,” Jenna said. “At least from video and pictures I’ve seen. Is he hot?”

  “Totally,” Liz said. “Victoria Baldwin is his agent, and she’s a good friend of mine, so I’ve had the opportunity to meet him. Believe me, he’s hot. ”

  “Lucky bitch,” Jenna said.

  “Please,” Tara said to Jenna. “You have Ty. ”

  Jenna popped a grape into her mouth. “I do. He keeps me very happy. Which doesn’t mean I’m dead and I can’t appreciate other sexy men. Like Garrett Scott. ”

  “Amen to that,” Liz said. “The day I can’t ogle fine man flesh just because I have a hot man of my own is the day they bury me. ”

  “Do you think the guys talk about women the way we talk about men?” Tara asked.

  “Of course they do,” Liz said. “Do you think they have blinders on when some cleavage-baring, minidress-sporting sexpot of a woman walks into the bar of the hotel when they’re playing away games? Hell, no. Of course they look. They don’t touch, but they sure as hell look their fill. They’d have to be mostly dead not to. ”

  “You’re right. And so will we, until we’re too old to care. ” Jenna turned to Alicia. “How about you? Are you taking advantage of being able to put your hands on Garrett?”

  Alicia paused, her fork filled with fruit salad as all eyes turned to her. “Um . . . of course not. He’s my job. ”

  Liz narrowed her gaze. “Which means what exactly? That you don’t get to feel him up in the fun way?”

  “I wouldn’t even think of it. ”

  Tara snorted. “I would totally be thinking about it. Every time I put my hands on his shoulder, I’d want to explore all parts of him, especially lower, like down in his pants. ”

  “Girl, you so need to have sex,” Liz said.

  Tara hung her head. “I know. I’m so ashamed. ”

  “You are not ashamed,” Jenna said. “You’re already thinking about when my brother is going to come home so you can jump him. And I can’t even believe I just said that. ”

  Tara laughed. “It’s okay. And you’re absolutely right. It’s been too long for me, and I’m kind of madly in love with Mick. ”

  Alicia was glad the topic of her and Garrett had been momentarily taken off the table. Because what was she going to say to them? That they were right, that she had been thinking about parts of him other than his shoulder, and she didn’t know what to do about it?
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