Thrown by a curve, p.16
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       Thrown by a Curve, p.16

         Part #5 of Play by Play series by Jaci Burton
Page 16

  Author: Jaci Burton

  Nothing. That’s what was going to happen between them. Yeah, he got that they needed to be focused on his recovery, and getting it on with his therapist, who was also employed by the team? Likely a really bad move, plus it would put her job in danger. He wasn’t an asshole; he knew she liked her job and didn’t want to jeopardize it.

  Besides, she wasn’t the only game in town. If he wanted to get laid, there were a lot of ways to get there. He just needed to get his game on elsewhere and leave Alicia alone.

  “Just to let you know, Max gave me a pretty thorough workout this morning. ”

  She finally turned her gaze on him.

  “You know, in case you had some of your now-famous torture in mind. ”

  Her lips lifted. “The only thing I have in mind right now is to get near the ocean. Your therapy starts tomorrow. I’m too jet-lagged to even think about it today. ”

  “Good. I was thinking more about getting something to eat. How about we do that first, and then we can walk on the beach after?”

  She gazed longingly at the beach, but then she nodded. “I’m also starving, and hunger always wins. We’ll eat first. ”

  “Okay. ” He really had missed sparring with her, though. She challenged him, and he enjoyed that. And she was so damn pretty, and she had a smart mouth, and hell, she smelled so fucking good. And then there were her perky breasts . . .

  “What are you doing?” she asked.

  He blinked. “What?”

  “You’re ogling. ”

  “I was?” He was.

  “Yes. And you should stop it. ”

  He should. But he probably wouldn’t. An employee of the team or not, she had a hot body, just the kind he liked. He couldn’t help noticing it. “So, do you like seafood and pasta?”

  She gave him a dubious look. “I love pasta. The seafood I’ll pass on since you know I’m a vegetarian. ”

  He grinned. “I was just testing to see if you’d converted in the couple of days since I’ve seen you. ”

  She rolled her eyes at him. “Should I change clothes?”

  It gave him an opportunity to look her over again. “No, you’re fine for where we’re going. ”

  They got into his rental car, and he drove down the beach toward town. There was a restaurant on the pier that served the best seafood he’d ever eaten.

  “This place isn’t fancy or anything,” he said after he parked in the lot across the street.

  “I don’t need fancy. I just need food. ”

  It was after five now, and he was so hungry they wouldn’t be able to serve him fast enough. He hadn’t eaten lunch, and then there was the workout. He couldn’t go that long without food. He was a big guy.

  They got a table near one of the windows, just in time to see the last of the day’s rays disappear.

  As soon as the waitress showed up, they grabbed menus and scanned them. Alicia must have been as hungry as he was, because she ordered her food at the same time as her drink. So did he.

  “Maybe they’ll bring the food faster,” she said as the waitress wandered off with their order.

  “I’d be happy if they brought the salads. Or bread. ”

  She laughed. “I’m kind of embarrassed to be this hungry. My stomach is growling so loud you can probably hear it. ”

  “I can’t hear it over my own stomach. And I’m sorry. I should have thought about the food thing as soon as you arrived. We could have gone out to eat right away. ”

  “It’s okay. I’m a big girl, and I have a voice. I was too busy oohing and ahhing over the house and the beach to even think about food. That’s what usually happens to me. ”

  “What happens to you?”

  “I get busy or distracted, then I forget to eat. ”

  “That must be how you stay so thin. ”

  She nodded. “That and my fast metabolism. And running around all the time. I also do yoga, which I love. Plus, my mom is still slender, so it must be a genetic thing. I’m very lucky. ”

  The waitress brought their salads—and bread—so they both dug in, which meant conversation stopped for the moment. Once he had salad and bread in him, he felt more human.

  He sat back and watched Alicia. She enjoyed the whole salad and three pieces of bread.

  “You really do burn it off. ”

  She swallowed then downed some water. “Wait till you see me handle the main course. ”

  He laughed. He preferred women who liked themselves. There was something about self-confidence that was sexy. Obviously, Alicia didn’t have any problems with her body, at least not that he’d seen.

  And when her main course of pasta and vegetables arrived, she ate that with as much gusto as she’d devoured her salad, which meant he was free to dive into his lobster and crab.

  Finally full, he sat back and wiped his mouth and hands, and took a drink of iced tea.

  “Tell me about your family, Alicia. ”

  She eyed him warily. “Isn’t that venturing into the personal?”

  “Come on. We’re not robots here. We’re spending every day together. Tell me about your family. ”

  “I have two amazing parents who’ve been married forever and have been very supportive of my career. My brother, Cole, plays football for the Traders, and my cousin Mick plays for San Francisco. He’s married, has a teenage son, and they just had a new baby boy. And you already know Gavin since he plays for your team. ”

  “So you have an entire family of athletes. ”

  “Yes. ”

  “That’s convenient. Did you practice your therapy moves on them?”

  She quirked a smile. “As much as they’d let me, which wasn’t often. They much preferred I’d give them massages, which is what they thought the whole sports medicine thing was about. ”

  “That’s what I used to think it was about, too. ”

  “Yeah, well, until you’re involved in it, either on the giving or the receiving end, you don’t really know all that goes into it. ”

  “I guess not. ” He took the bill from the waitress and tossed down some cash. They left the restaurant and drove back to the house.

  “You ready for that walk now?” Garrett asked.

  She looked over at him. “Definitely. I need it after all that food. Let me go grab my sweater. ”

  She came back with a sweatshirt instead. “Couldn’t find my sweater. I know I packed it. ”

  “We can go shopping if you need some stuff. There’s a mall a few miles away. ”

  “You’d offer to shop with me again?”

  “Not voluntarily, but if you need something, I don’t mind taking you. ”

  She shook her head. “How bizarre. ”

  He opened the back door, and they walked down toward the beach. Alicia threw the sweatshirt over her head.

  “How am I bizarre?”

  “Men don’t shop. It’s unnatural. ”

  “I was just offering to drive you there. Didn’t say I’d go shopping or anything. ”

  “Still, it’s such a nice gesture. ”

  He glanced over at her as they wandered down the beach. “I’m not even sure how to take that. No guy ever took you to the mall?”

  “No. ” She slid her hands in the front pockets of her hoodie. “That’s a girl thing. ”

  He laughed. “You have some strange notions. You do see men at the mall when you’re there, don’t you?”

  “I suppose. ”

  “And men with women—together. ”

  “Yes. I’ve just never gone shopping with a guy. Except with you, of course. ”

  “You do realize I don’t mean to pick out nail polish with you, right?”

  She shot him a look. “Uh, yeah. I think I get that. ”

  “Then I guess I’ll have to take you again, just to prove guys aren’t only interested in sitting in front of the television drinking beer and playing vi
deo games. ”

  She stopped, tilted her head up. “We’re here to work on your shoulder, Garrett. This isn’t a vacation. ”

  “I don’t think you’re going to spend twenty-four hours a day rehabbing me. ”

  “You’re right, of course. But you need to wrap your head around the fact that we’re going to push it hard together while we’re here. ”

  The way she said it made his cock twitch. He should look on her as a professional, but in her oversize hoodie and those stretchy pants that clung to her great ass, it was hard to think about her as a physical therapist. They were going to be alone in a house together, and she was an attractive woman. And that kiss . . .

  “You’re doing it again,” she said.

  “Doing what?”

  “Looking at me. ”

  He shook his head. “So, now I’m not supposed to look at you?”

  “Not that way. ” She turned and headed down the beach.

  He watched her ass move as she walked.

  He might be her patient, and she might be the therapist, but he was still a man.

  And she still had a great ass that was going to be hard for him to ignore.




  ALICIA FIGURED THE BEST WAY TO GET GARRETT TO stop giving her those looks—the ones that made her heat up from the inside out—was to get started on his therapy routine as quickly as possible.

  He’d forgotten how awful it was—how awful she was. A quick reminder should take care of those hot looks he kept giving her.

  The sooner he hated her, the quicker he’d regard her as if she were the devil. And she really needed him to hate her, because she sure liked the way he looked at her.

  After their walk on the beach last night, she’d come back to the house and gone to her room to finish work on his treatment plan. She’d ended up falling asleep sideways on the bed, and had woken this morning disoriented and still in her clothes. It had taken her a minute to remember where she was.

  That’s what a comfortable bed and jet lag did to her.

  She took a shower and dressed, then made her way to the kitchen and brewed a pot of coffee, tapping her fingers on the counter as she breathed in the scent. When she poured a cup and took her first sip, she groaned.

  “That good?”

  She looked up to find Garrett leaning against the wall.

  He must have gone out for a run this morning; he was sweaty and his hair was still damp, curling against his neck. He wore sweats, a sleeveless shirt, and tennis shoes. Her stomach clenched as she drank in the sight of his muscular arms.

  Seeing him at the team facility to work on his shoulder was one thing. Living with him and spending every minute of every day with him? Something else entirely.

  She wanted to tell him to go away, but she had no valid reason to tell him that other than it bothered the hell out of her that he was so goddamn sexy.

  “Yes, it’s that good. Would you like a cup?”

  “What I’d really like is orange juice. ”

  “I’ll get it for you. ”

  Grateful to have an excuse to turn her back on him, she lifted a glass out of the cabinet and poured one for him.

  “Thanks. ” And there he was, his body so close she felt some kind of vibration coming off him. She inhaled and breathed him in—the scent of the sea and musky, sweaty male, which unfortunately was not a turnoff to her. Definite sexual chemistry. She was afraid to even look up at him, and she was no coward.

  But Garrett Scott represented her job, and if she did her job well, it would be a shot in the arm to her future with the Rivers. As one of the therapists in the lower echelon, she really needed to do well on this. Having the hots for her client was a terrible way to start.

  She pushed off the counter.

  “I was thinking omelets for breakfast. I know you’re a vegetarian, but do you eat eggs?”

  She stopped, turned, forcing herself to face him. “I do. Do you want me to fix your breakfast?”
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