Thrown by a curve, p.7
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       Thrown by a Curve, p.7

         Part #5 of Play by Play series by Jaci Burton
Page 7

  Author: Jaci Burton She reached over and put her hand on the back of his shoulder, gave it a squeeze. “Muscles aren’t too tight. Are you sure you want to go on?”

  “Yeah. ”

  “Okay. Let me know if it gets to be too much. ”

  “Let’s just keep moving. ”

  Her lips curved. “I think you like the challenge. ”

  “Do you want to hang here and talk, or do you want to get to the top of this wall?”

  “Let’s get climbing. ”

  He had to admit, watching her butt was a good distraction, and since she was above him, he had a pretty-damn-good view of her fine ass and her legs as she swung from one rock to the other. She had a tank top on that showcased the muscles of her back.

  He’d like to get her naked and see what her body really looked like.

  Maybe he could talk her out of wearing those ugly uniforms. She was a lot more pleasant to look at in this outfit.

  “Still doing all right?” she asked.

  “Great. ” They’d made it three-quarters of the way. Even Alicia was sweating now, and Garrett’s shoulder no longer had any feeling in it. He wasn’t sure when he reached for a rock if he’d be able to hold on. But he’d be damned if he’d quit. If Alicia could make it, so could he.

  She waited while he grabbed the nearest rock and pulled himself up. He’d never tell her he used his legs to hoist himself up.

  “You’re looking a little shaky. Is your shoulder hurting?”

  “Hell, yes, it’s hurting. But we’re close to the top. I can make it. ”

  She crossed over several rocks above him and ended up on his left side. He mustered up whatever he had deep within him to keep pace with her. And when Alicia’s foot slipped on a rock, despite the harness and the ropes the handlers held them steady with, he reached out with his left arm to grab her around the waist.

  “Crap,” she said, holding herself close to the wall.

  He pulled her tightly against him. “You okay?”

  “Here I was thinking I was such a monkey. I do this all the time, and I’ve never once slipped. ”

  She was still shaking. He kept his arm around her, despite the strain on his other shoulder. He could handle this. “Just take deep breaths. We’re in no hurry to go anywhere. ”

  She lifted her gaze to his, and he was struck by the clear blue of her eyes. Eyes that held more than a little bit of fear at the moment.

  “I’m the one who’s supposed to be taking care of you,” she said.

  “I didn’t slip,” he said, his lips curving.

  “Smart-ass. Thanks for grabbing me. ”

  “You weren’t in any danger since you’re harnessed up and they have you in check on the ground. ”

  “True. But it’s still pretty scary to lose your footing this far up. I’m grateful you reached out for me, even though you shouldn’t have. It could have hurt your shoulder. ”

  He arched a brow. “No way was I going to let you fall—or dangle or whatever it was that could have happened to you. ”

  She stared at him, and then, as if she realized he was holding her, she gently shifted away.

  “I’m all right now, but if it’s okay with you, can we descend?”

  “Sure. My shoulder’s pretty much done for, anyway. ”

  Going down was a hell of a lot easier than going up had been, though they still had to take their time. Garrett kept his focus on Alicia the whole time, making sure she took each step slow and steady. She did, not scrambling around on the rocks the way she had on the way up.

  “Are you all right?” Dave asked when they reached bottom and unhooked.

  She gave Dave a bright smile. “I’m fine. My foot slipped. I’m so glad Garrett was there to grab me. ”

  “You were perfectly safe up there with your harness and us down here anchoring you with the rope, you know,” Dave said.

  Garrett read the defensiveness in Dave’s tone. He crossed his arms and tried not to smirk about it. Though Dave was right and Alicia had been safe, Garrett liked knowing he’d been the one up there to catch her. For months now he’d felt useless, his bum shoulder making him feel inadequate. He might not have caught her with his injured shoulder today, but he’d held on to the rock with his sore arm, and grabbed her with his good one.

  To Garrett, that spelled victory.

  “Logically, I know I was fine up there,” Alicia said. “And there’s no way I could have fallen since I was hooked up to a harness. But there’s nothing like having someone there to grab on to. Garrett was a hero for me today. ” She turned to him and laid her hand on his arm. “Thank you again. ”

  “No problem. ” He walked away with a big smile on his face, leaving Alicia to wrap everything up with Dave. Once she’d finished, she grabbed her bag, and they walked out.

  “So what’s next?”

  “We need to go back to the facility so I can assess your shoulder and ice it down. ”

  “Okay. ”

  They headed back, and when they arrived, she laid him down on one of the therapy tables.

  “I want to do a light stretch and check your range of motion. ”

  “No other exercises today?”

  She shook her head. “The rock climbing was enough torture on your arm, don’t you think?”

  He definitely thought so, but he wasn’t sure what her plan was.

  After she worked on his arm a bit, he had to admit, the ice pack felt good on his throbbing shoulder. Alicia sat on the bench next to him, focused on her notebook.

  “That was fun today. ”

  She lifted her head and smiled. “I’m glad you enjoyed it. Your arm got a fabulous stretch. It really helped your range of motion. ”

  “So . . . could we do it again sometime?”

  Her brows rose. “Sure. ”

  He didn’t know what her other plans were for therapy, but anything other than this day-to-day bullshit he’d been enduring for months sounded like a good idea to him.




  AFTER GARRETT LEFT FOR THE DAY, ALICIA STAYED behind to clean up the room and review today’s session. A session that wouldn’t have happened at all if she hadn’t gone chasing after Garrett.

  Which hadn’t turned out too badly after all. He might be a pain in the butt about getting to therapy, but once they got going, he was all in.

  She had to admit she’d had fun today. Even though she’d monitored Garrett and his progress, rock climbing was one of her favorite things to do. And it was good therapy for his shoulder, so why not combine something he seemed to enjoy with something therapeutic?

  Maybe this wasn’t going to be as tough as she thought.

  And maybe aliens were real.

  She knew better. Today had gone pretty smoothly, despite the unpromising start. That didn’t mean it was going to be all sunshine and roses. She’d read Garrett’s file, knew his rehab was one of the more difficult ones. She was going to have to watch him very closely, every day, if she was going to succeed in getting him back on the mound by April.

  No pressure or anything.

  Needing a break from that nerve-wracking thought, she decided to catch up with Annamarie via a phone chat. She was happy to talk and said they were all having a great time in Florida.

  Color her jealous. They were enjoying themselves in a sunny warm climate while Alicia was alone here and freezing with one difficult client that she’d had to hunt down this morning like the elusive Bigfoot.

  Her cell rang. She looked at the display, pleased to see it was Phil.

  “Hello, Alicia. I just called to get a report on Garrett. ”

  She filled him in on Garrett’s progress.

  “So he’s still dragging his heels,” Phil said.

  “Somewhat, but despite the rough morning, we had a good treatment day. His recovery is going well. The cold weather isn’t helping him any,
though. He’s stiff, and I know it affects him. I’d really like to work him out somewhere warmer, where I could do some outdoor activities with him. ”

  “You have a point. Let’s bring him down to Florida. I agree you can make better headway with him here. ”

  “When should we come?”

  “As soon as possible. I’d like you and Garrett to get together and plan this out. I want you close to him, Alicia. His therapy is important. So, figure out a plan, and the team will handle it from there. ”

  “Okay. I’ll let him know. Thanks. ”

  She hung up then dialed Garrett’s number. This time he picked up the phone.

  “What? You want round two today?”

  She couldn’t help but smile. “You’re off the hook the rest of the day. ”

  “Lucky me. So, what’s up?”

  “I talked to Phil, and he suggested we head down to Florida to continue your rehab in a warmer climate. ”

  “Sounds great to me. When do we go?”

  “As soon as possible. Would you like to discuss that now? We need to make travel arrangements, figure out when we’re going to leave, where we’re going to stay, and discuss your therapy plan for when we get there. ”

  He paused a minute. “Yeah, we can do all that. Look, I’m going to have pizza tonight. Why don’t you come on over, and we’ll plan it out in person rather than over the phone?”

  His place for dinner? That sounded so . . . personal. Then again, her entire existence was centered around Garrett right now, so why not? It would give her a chance to check on him and see how he was faring after the rock climbing today.

  “Okay. Sure. What time?”

  “Six is good for me. ”

  “I’ll be there. ”

  She hung up, then chewed her lower lip, remembering what it was like to walk in on him that morning, that first shock of awareness at seeing him with his sweats barely hanging on his hips and the rest of him gloriously bare.

  She’d had to struggle to engage her brain and focus on why she was there.

  But oh, that image of him remained burned in the back of her head.

  Garrett Scott was so damn sexy, and he had an amazing body she’d love to get her hands on. Though she did put her hands on him, didn’t she? Too bad she only got to feel up his shoulder.

  By the time she’d finished up work for the day, she decided she’d better get lascivious thoughts of other parts of Garrett’s body out of her head. The only part of him she would allow herself to think about was his shoulder. The rest of him was off-limits.

  Before she headed to Garrett’s, she went home to take a shower and change clothes, deciding on her favorite pair of dark skinny jeans, her black boots, and a sweater. Though she wasn’t sure why she didn’t just go directly to his house. What difference did it make what she wore or what she smelled like? This was just pizza and planning the trip to Florida. Disgusted with herself for being such a girl, she also curled her hair and put on makeup and earrings.

  Garrett answered the door, and she was pleased to see him fully covered since her imagination had already gone wild once today. He wore a pair of cargos and a long-sleeved shirt that clung to his torso, outlining all those muscled contours she wanted to run her hands over.

  Off-limits, remember, Alicia?

  Right. Shoulder only. She wouldn’t even look at his body, except his awesome ass as he walked away.

  She sighed.

  “Hey. You look . . . different,” he said as she slid out of her coat and handed it to him.

  “I don’t wear that uniform all the time, you know. ”

  “Yeah, so I noticed when we were rock climbing today. You should get out of that uniform more often. ”

  She cocked her head to the side. He’d noticed?

  He hung her coat in the closet right inside the door. “Take a seat in the living room. You want a beer or something?”

  “No, thank you. I’m driving. ”

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