Thrown by a curve, p.30
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       Thrown by a Curve, p.30

         Part #5 of Play by Play series by Jaci Burton
Page 30

  Author: Jaci Burton

  Alicia’s face flamed with mortification. She had no idea who this Victoria was, but obviously, it was someone Garrett knew well.

  “Well, since you’re here—” He turned. “Alicia Riley, this is my agent, Victoria Baldwin. Alicia is my physical therapist. She works for the Rivers. ”

  Victoria walked over, her hand extended. “Very nice to meet you, Alicia. ”

  Oh. His agent. Great. Just freaking great. The last person she wanted to catch Garrett and her nearly having sex in the workout room. She was doomed. “Nice to meet you, too, Victoria. Would you like something to drink?”

  Victoria waved her hand. “Don’t go to any trouble. I just popped in to check on Garrett’s progress. I had no idea I was interrupting something else. ”

  Alicia heated all the way down to her toes. She wanted to disappear into the floor. “It’s no trouble. And you weren’t interrupting anything. I’ll go fix us some iced tea. ”

  They left the workout room and headed into the kitchen. It was obvious Alicia wasn’t going to vanish in a puff of smoke and avoid this rather embarrassing moment, so she was just going to have to deal with it.

  “So, how’s the workout going?” Victoria asked Garrett. “And even more importantly—how’s the arm?”

  “My arm feels great. Alicia’s doing a fantastic job. ”

  “Yes,” Victoria said with a wry smile. “It certainly looked that way. ”

  Alicia cringed as she filled a tray with drinks. This was what she was afraid would happen if she got involved with Garrett. She had no idea if they could trust Victoria, but the last thing she needed was Phil or Max finding out she was sleeping with one of her clients.

  Doomed. She was doomed. Doomed and fired and disgraced, and she’d never get another job again.

  Pasting on a pleasant smile, she turned around. “The tea is unsweetened, so I’ve put regular and artificial sugars, and some lemon on the tray. You can fix it however you like. Why don’t we go into the living room?”

  Alicia set the tray down then swiped her sweaty palms on her pants, nervous as hell about Garrett’s agent being here. And she’d found them fondling and kissing each other in the workout room. Talk about bad timing.

  Alicia wanted to throw up.

  Victoria fixed a glass of tea and sipped it, her gaze alternating between Garrett and Alicia, all the time not saying a word. But she was smiling, in an I-know-exactly-what-you-two-are-doing kind of way.

  Kill me. Kill me now.

  Alicia needed to regroup, put on her professional demeanor, and panic later.

  “Garrett’s shoulder is showing definite signs of improvement,” Alicia said, unable to bear the awkward silence. “He’s even thrown some pitches. With no pain. I’m really excited about how well he’s performing. ”

  “Is he now?” Victoria arched a brow. “I assume the performance you’re referring to relates to his shoulder?”

  “Tori. ” Garrett’s tone came out as a warning.

  Victoria laughed. “Come on, Garrett. I’m just teasing. ”

  “Alicia doesn’t know you like I do. ”

  “It’s okay. ” Alicia hated people talking about her like she wasn’t there, and she couldn’t handle the suspense. “I’m sure if Victoria has something to say, she can just say it. ”

  “Oh, honey. Whatever you’re doing with Garrett outside of working on his shoulder is absolutely none of my business. Garrett and I go way back. I signed him when he was an annoying kid with more attitude than talent. ”

  “Hey,” Garrett said.

  Victoria ignored him, her focus remaining on Alicia. “And we’ve been close ever since. Whatever you have going on is between the two of you. My only interest in Garrett is in how his injury is progressing. I need him back on that pitcher’s mound. ”

  Alicia relaxed a little. “My main goal is to get him there. ”

  Victoria nodded. “Good to know. ” She turned to Garrett. “And you’re sure the arm is good?”

  Garrett wound his arm around. “It feels great. ”

  He told her about the different types of therapy Alicia had employed since they’d started. “Some of it’s been pretty unusual, too, including rock climbing. ”

  Victoria arched a brow. “You got him to rock climb with an injured shoulder?”

  Alicia nodded. “It’s good for stretching the tendons and muscles. Often someone with an injury will favor that area. My goal is to make him use the arm, and not just with the average therapeutic exercises and weight lifting. I like to do activities like golf, swimming, and even rock climbing. It’ll make Garrett use the arm without realizing it. ”

  Victoria actually nodded and looked impressed. “I’m in awe of your talents, Alicia. He’s needed someone to kick his ass a bit. ”

  “Just doing my job. ”

  “I hope you do it well. We need to get our guy pitching. ”

  “That’s my intention. ”

  “That’s all I care about, then. ”

  So why did Alicia still feel so tense? And defensive? And scared to death that everything was about to change? She needed to get a handle on this situation and get her head screwed on straight again.

  “You’re here to see other clients, too, Victoria?” she asked.

  She gave Alicia a smile. “Yes. I have several playing down here. Then I’m off to Arizona to check out a couple of more. ”

  “You must have quite the client base. How many play for the Rivers?”

  “Just two. Garrett and new outfielder Raul Hermosa. ”

  “I’ve heard great things about him. He’s got amazing speed and a hell of a throwing arm. ”

  Victoria grinned. “And he’s all mine. Well, technically, he belongs to the Rivers now, too, but I nabbed him first. ”

  “He’s a good kid,” Garrett said. “Gavin said he has a rocket arm and a killer bat. I can’t wait to see him in action. ”

  “Then get your ass back on the mound,” Victoria said with a wry smile.

  Garrett leaned back against the sofa. “I’ll be there. No doubt about it. ”

  “You’re singing a much different tune than the last time I saw you. ”

  “Am I?”

  “Yes. You were mopey and unsure about pitching a couple of months ago. ”

  “I’ve healed since then. And done a lot more therapy,” Garrett said, throwing a glance at Alicia.

  “And he’s thrown a pitch or two. Now, he’s anxious to get out there with his team,” Alicia said, feeling a little more comfortable now that the topic of conversation had moved away from her and Garrett, and onto baseball and Garrett’s recovery.

  “Do you think he’s ready for that?” Victoria asked.

  Alicia shifted her gaze to Garrett, who looked as hopeful and expectant as Victoria.

  “I think he’s ready to start working out with the team. ”

  Victoria stood. “That’s the best news I’ve heard today. ”

  “You’re worried about my contract,” Garrett said. “Or the continuation of my contract. ”

  “That’s what you pay me for, isn’t it?”

  Garrett shrugged. “Yup. ”

  “Well, don’t you worry. First, your contract isn’t up for a while. And second, I have every faith in you—and Alicia, here—that you’ll be pitching this season, so your contract isn’t going to be an issue. ”

  Alicia liked Victoria. She put Garrett at ease about his contract and gave him confidence. The one thing he didn’t need was something else to muck up his head.

  “Thanks, Tori. You’re right. I don’t want to be worrying about that shit. ”

  “That’s why you have me. And why you pay me so much of your hard-earned money. ”

  Garrett laughed. “You’re right there. ”

  “And now I have to get going so I can check on my other guys. ”

  “Already?” Alicia frowned. “Y
ou sure you don’t want to stay and have dinner with us?”

  “That’s so sweet of you, but I can’t. ”

  “You sure we can’t convince you to stay?” Garrett asked. “I can throw some steaks on the grill. It’s not gourmet cuisine, but it won’t suck. ”

  “You’re so sweet. You’ve cooked for me before,” Victoria said. “It was burgers on the grill as I recall, and I don’t remember you poisoning me. Sadly, I can’t stay. We’ll catch up when you’re back in town for the home opener. ” She laid her hand on his arm. “And I’ll be expecting you to pitch. ”

  Garrett gave her a grin. “I’ll do my best. ”

  “I’m sure you will. ”

  They walked her to the door. Victoria turned to Alicia. “It was nice to meet you. ”

  “You, too, Victoria. ”

  “Work his ass off, okay?”

  “I’m doing my best at that every day. ”

  Victoria gave her the once-over. “You know, somehow I believe you really are. And I think he needs someone like you—in more ways than just the rehab. ”

  Alicia had no idea what Victoria meant by that, but she didn’t elaborate, just waved and headed out the door.

  “Well. She’s interesting,” Alicia said after Victoria left.

  “She’s a kick-ass agent. She wasn’t kidding when she said she plucked me out of obscurity. She got me my chance with the Rivers when I was just a kid. I owe her a lot. She’s a good friend. ”

  Alicia shut the door and leaned against it. “Your good friend almost caught us having sex in the workout room. ”

  Garrett grinned. “Yeah, she did. And she’ll be discreet about it, so you don’t have to worry about her saying anything to Manny or Max or Phil. ”

  He was like a mind reader. She pushed off the door and followed him back to the workout room. “I’m thinking she was probably concerned I was paying more attention to your cock than I was to your shoulder. ”

  “Believe me, if Victoria had a concern about that, she’d have voiced it. She knows I’m in a much better place now than the last time she saw me. And if she wasn’t relieved about how well I was doing, she would have stayed instead of making this a short visit. Then she would have grilled me—and you—for hours about every aspect of my therapy, which would have included conference calls with Max and Phil. ”

  Alicia stopped what she was doing to look up at him. “Is that true?”

  “It is. She’s thorough as hell where her players are concerned, and she has no problem butting in if she thinks shit isn’t getting done. So trust me when I tell you, she has confidence in your abilities, and she doesn’t care what’s going on personally between us. ”

  She relaxed. “Okay, then. ”

  “Okay, then,” he reiterated. “Now, let me ask you a question. ”

  She paused at the pulleys. “All right. ”

  “Am I really ready to start working out with the team?”

  She was expecting that question. “I don’t say things I don’t mean, Garrett. I would have never said something like that otherwise. When the team’s back in town tomorrow, we’ll start integrating your workouts with them. ”

  She saw the light flash in his eyes, the excitement on his face. She laid her hand on his arm. “I don’t want you to get your hopes up too fast, though. You’re not ready to pitch a game just yet. This will be just warm-ups and workouts. ”

  “I get that. But I’ll be with the team, and that’s a move in the right direction. I know I’ll be pitching soon enough. ”

  She hoped so, and she hoped her treatment plan was spot-on, because if she disappointed him, or if his arm wasn’t ready yet, he’d be devastated. And she wasn’t sure he’d recover from that.
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