Thrown by a curve, p.15
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       Thrown by a Curve, p.15

         Part #5 of Play by Play series by Jaci Burton
Page 15

  Author: Jaci Burton

  Maybe she should talk to the girls about Garrett. Get some advice, ask what they thought. Though based on today’s lunch conversation, she knew what the consensus would be.

  Go for it.

  If only it was that simple.

  “So, I’ll be heading down to Florida to see Gavin soon. I’ll see you there?” Liz asked her.

  “Definitely. You’ll be staying at the beach house?”

  Liz grinned. “Hell yeah. Private and secluded, just the two of us. Lots of time for sex. ”

  Jenna sighed. “I should stop coming to these get-togethers. ”

  “Shut up, Jenna,” Liz said. “You know what we talk about. And you love us all anyway. ”

  “You’re right. I do love you. Maybe I’ll start talking in graphic detail about my sex life with Ty. ”

  “And that would bother us, how?” Tara asked.

  Jenna sighed again. “It wouldn’t. You guys suck. ”

  “And swallow,” Liz added.

  Alicia snickered, and Jenna burst out laughing.

  “I give up,” Jenna said. “I wish Savannah was here. At least she isn’t in love with my brother. ”

  “No, she’s in love with my brother,” Alicia said. “And I don’t want to hear about her sex life. ”

  “Oh, come on, Alicia,” Jenna said, leaning into her. “Misery loves company. ”

  “That’s okay, Jenna. I like your misery a lot better. ”

  Jenna wrinkled her nose. “I hate you. ”

  They finished lunch, and by then Sam had awakened from his nap, so they all got to ooh and ahh over the baby, who was filling out and becoming more adorable every time Alicia saw him. She got to hold him after Tara fed him. Content, he stared up at her, wide-awake, and she was certain he smiled at her.

  She sighed and looked over at Tara. “He’s gorgeous. ”

  Tara’s lips curved. “I think so. I don’t know how I ended up with this happily ever after, but I thank God every day for Mick. ”

  Alicia got teary eyed. “He’s lucky, too, you know. We’re all very lucky you’re part of the family. ”

  And then Tara’s eyes welled up. “Thanks. ”

  “Okay, everyone,” Liz said. “If we’re going to have a weep fest in here, I’m leaving. ”

  “Actually, I have to be at the bar, so I am leaving. Though it isn’t about all the emotion. I’m always happy to have a crying jag with you chicks,” Jenna said.

  “I have to go, too,” Alicia said, carefully handing Sam over to Tara. “I have to finish packing. ”

  She hugged everyone, thanked Tara for lunch, and said her good-byes, then walked out with Jenna.

  “Hey,” Jenna said as she stood at her car, which was parked behind Alicia’s. “I caught you deflecting the whole conversation about Garrett. ”

  Trying to play dumb, she frowned. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. ”

  Jenna leaned her hip against her car door. “Look, I’m the absolute best at trying to deny what’s right in front of me, and I wasted a lot of valuable time with Ty because of it. Do you have feelings for Garrett?”

  Alicia could deny it, but what would be the point? She was closer to her family than anyone. They were better than girlfriends at keeping her secrets. “Honestly? There’s physical chemistry between us. Crazy chemistry. But it scares me because my job is to rehab him, not jump him, you know?”

  “Yeah, I get that. You’re afraid for your job. ”

  “And his. I need him to concentrate on his shoulder, not on getting into my pants. ”

  Jenna laughed. “But if he’s relaxed—and we all know sex can be relaxing—wouldn’t that aid in his concentration?”

  Alicia wagged a finger at Jenna. “You are no help. ”

  Jenna winked at her then opened her car door. “Have fun in Florida, cousin. ”


  * * *

  ALICIA ARRIVED IN FLORIDA, GRABBED HER RENTAL car, and headed toward the beach house, though she was tempted to veer off course and just park at the beach for a few hours. It was gorgeous here and totally different from the cold weather at home. Preparing in advance for the abrupt weather change, she’d shed her coat and sweatshirt, shoes and socks, and rolled the window down to breathe in the fresh sea air as she made the drive along the coast highway.

  When she arrived at Garrett’s beach house, she parked and grabbed her bags. He came outside, already looking tanned in his shorts and sleeveless muscle shirt.

  She ignored the flutter in her stomach as he greeted her with a wide smile.

  “How was your flight?” He took her bags and hauled them toward the front door.

  “It was good, thanks. You look tan. ”

  “Do I? I’ve been doing beach runs twice a day. ”

  “That’s good. ”

  He led her inside.

  “Come on in. I’ll take you on the tour. ”

  Alicia was certain she’d stepped into paradise. A one-story, fully furnished house, it was open, expansive, airy, with wood and marble floors and more windows than she’d ever want to clean in her lifetime. There was so much light, and it was so warm here. She was so tired of cold weather she wanted to walk out onto the back deck, park her butt in one of the comfortable chaise lounges, and not get up for at least a month.

  She turned to Garrett, trying once again not to notice his legs and his arms and his—oh, God, his everything. So much skin was exposed here.

  Maybe she liked winter better. Though she knew what was underneath those clothes, at least the top half, and she’d spent more than enough of her personal time fantasizing about the bottom half, something she shouldn’t be doing at all.

  She’d also spent the past few days thinking about that kiss they’d shared, despite her vow to eradicate it from her mind forever.

  Deciding that train of thought would get her nowhere but in trouble, she turned to face him. “It’s . . . amazing. Do you stay here every year for spring training?”

  He set her bags down. “Yeah. I know the people who own it. They’re big baseball fans, so they’re accommodating. ”

  “How convenient. ”

  “It’s a good vacation spot. Unfortunately, sometimes they boot my ass out when they want to come down to watch a few games during spring training. ”

  “Gee, that’s tough. ”

  He laughed. “Well, it is their vacation place. ”

  Unfortunately, as she reminded herself, this was work, not her vacation, so as she wandered through the house, she found the workout room. It was huge and filled to her specifications with all the equipment she’d need.

  “Really nice gym. ”

  “Yeah. We brought in the extra stuff you asked for. The owners are going to do a remodel later this summer, turn this into some kind of yoga or meditation room or something, so they were fine with it. ”

  “Excellent. ”

  “There’s a problem, though. ”

  She turned around to look at him. “Yeah, what’s that?”

  “The guesthouse has been gutted. ”

  Disappointment made her stomach tighten. Now she’d have to stay at a hotel. She’d really miss sitting out on that deck. “Oh. ”

  He leaned against the wall leading to the backyard. “Yeah. I didn’t know that when I made the reservations for this place, but Bill and Margaret—the owners—basically dismantled it since they weren’t using it. They’re going to use the space for some organic-gardening thing they’re putting in. ”

  Alicia folded her arms. “Okay. I can move to a hotel. ”

  He frowned. “Look, Alicia, there are four bedrooms in this place. You can stay in one of those. One of the rooms has its own bathroom. It’s the same thing as you would have had, only it’s in the house instead of a few feet away from it. But if you’re uncomfortable with that, I understand. ”

  Relief washed over her. Commuting back
and forth from a hotel to here would have been a logistics problem. She liked Garrett’s solution better.

  “No, it’s fine. I’m not uncomfortable at all. ”

  “Are you sure? I understand if you’d rather stay at the hotel. ”

  “Now that would make me uncomfortable. Plus, it would be inconvenient for both of us, with you being here. ”

  He nodded. “That’s true. Look, Alicia. I’m sorry. ”

  He was going out of his way to apologize, and she knew why. But he was going to have to get over his discomfort, and she was, too, so they could get back to the job at hand, which was working on his shoulder. She’d have to smooth things over for both of them. “It’s okay, Garrett. Why don’t you show me around?”

  Visibly relieved, Garrett turned and grabbed her bags.

  “Bedrooms are this way. ” Beyond the workout room were three other rooms. Geez, this house was enormous. There were three good-size bedrooms and the master, which simply took her breath away. Decorated in warm shades, it appealed to her on every level. The king-size bed with its white frame and overhead ceiling fan was so inviting, especially with the killer view of the ocean. And the bathroom was truly something to behold. The shower had jets on both walls, and the oversize tub called to her.

  But that was Garrett’s room.

  “You can stay in this room,” he said.

  She jerked her gaze to his. “No. This is your house. Your room. You’ve already been here a few days. You’re settled in. ”

  He laughed. “I can crash anywhere. ”

  “That tub in there will be good for your therapy. So will the shower. I’m the employee, not a guest. ”

  “And the guest should have the nice room. ”

  She folded her arms. “No way in hell am I staying in this room. As your therapist, I insist you make use of that delicious shower and inviting tub. ”

  He inhaled then let it out. “You’re being difficult. ”

  “No, you’re the one being difficult. I’ll tell you when you need a soak in that tub. And believe me, the further we get into this, the more grateful you’ll be for that tub and shower. ”

  “Do you always win arguments?”

  She grinned. “Not always, but I’m going to win this one. ”

  “Fine. ” He put her in the other large bedroom that had its own private bathroom. Plus, it had a stunning view of the ocean as well. It was lovely, decorated in pale mauves, and was roomy and spacious. Who were these people, anyway?

  People with money, obviously.

  She unpacked, changed into capris and a tank top, then set out to find Garrett. He was on the back deck.

  Despite the shoulder injury, he was still in great form. He hadn’t had to stop his normal workout program, which was good. Staying in shape was paramount to his recovery. Now if she could just get his mind to cooperate with his body, she’d have him back to the fierce competitor he was before he’d torn his rotator cuff.

  She walked outside and stood next to him, breathing in the crisp salty air, orienting herself to the new location.

  A fresh start. A fresh, professional start.

  Garrett watched Alicia breathe and tried not to notice the way her breasts pressed against the skintight top she’d changed into.

  He hadn’t seen her for a few days, and despite being busy traveling and then meeting with Phil and Max, he’d be lying to himself if he didn’t admit that he’d thought about her. That kiss they’d shared in the hotel in Oklahoma had stayed with him, and he’d thought about that a lot, about the way she’d kissed him back, the way her body had responded by surging toward his as if she’d wanted more of what he was offering. His dick twitched every time he thought about that night.

  He should probably stop thinking about it.

  He had a feeling Alicia wouldn’t appreciate him getting hard right now. He could already sense the cool, professional walls she was trying to put up between them, so he understood what was happening.
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