January 22nd is release day!
Twenty-year-old Jaycee Shumway breaks into professional baseball player, Reed Tyler’s home, to steal the second most valuable set of balls he owns. Neither of them expect their striking attraction or battle of wills to lead them to a homerun.
Jaycee has more than herself to worry about. When Reed discovers she has a younger brother and sister, he’s caught up in the losing season they call life.
Spring training begins and the separation puts Reed and Jaycee’s game on hold. With bases loaded and hearts on the line, will Reed convince Jaycee that she needs him to win or will Jaycee strike out and walk off the field forever?
I turned and faced him. “Look Reed, I’m not going to be your girlfriend. I don’t need rides home or your jackets.” I was such a liar. I didn’t ever want to give up the jacket enveloping me in warmth and his scent. I wanted to roll in his smell coating my body with Reed Tyler.
“I’d like you to work for me.”
Well that made me laugh. “Doing what, your laundry, cleaning?”
“Don’t you think it’s a better gig than Tasty Burger?”
I’d said my last words as a joke but god, he was serious. “I am not going to be your maid. The idea is ridiculous.”
“Just hear me out.”
“No.” Why did he always bring my pride to the forefront?
“I have an apartment over the garage. It has two bedrooms. Jon could sleep inside the main house and you and Bitsy could have separate rooms.”
Now I understood and pride was the last thing I felt. A slow angry buzz built in my brain.
It made perfect sense, baseball player, too much money, an easy lay whenever he had the need. “You want a live in whore?”
His voice exploded in the car, “You drive me crazy. No, I don’t want a live in whore.” He took a deep breath and spoke one decimal softer, “Spring training starts in two weeks. I’ll be in Florida. I have a cleaning service that comes in once a week but there’s always something neglected when I’m gone. I need someone to oversee things, let the pest control guy in, make sure the yard is tended by the yard crew. It’s honest work. Your sister and brother need this. You can’t do it all and I have the means to help you. Christ, I would just give you the money but I don’t see you taking it. Instead you risk your life robbing me and you risk your brother and sister’s lives too.”
His words only fueled my anger. “You know nothing about me or my sister and brother. You live in your mansion and think you have the right to butt into my business. Tell me this… did you plan on keeping your hands off me? Are you providing my own room so you can sneak in at night and get a little extra for your money? Is that part of your overall scheme?” Reed Tyler was a creep the same as all the men my mother brought home and that included the three that fathered me and Jon and Bitsy. I threw open the car door and slammed it closed behind me. I ignored the screeching tires and fought back tears. Squaring my shoulders, pushing the internal pain aside, I knocked on the trailer door. The soft crying coming from inside registered at the same time Jon opened the door.
“What’s wrong?” I looked past Jon to Bitsy.
“It’s… it’s… Don Gato.” Tears covered her scrunched up face.
My heart broke. She held the mangy old cat in her arms.
“Oh honey, he was very old. It was his time.”
“He’ssss not dead, he’s sick and he won’t walk.”
Now my heart broke even further. Jon closed the door behind me and I walked over to look at Don Gato. He was lifeless but I could see the slight rise and fall of his chest. I didn’t even have money to end his suffering. Life crashed in but I had to control myself. I angrily wiped the tears from my face.
“You need to go to sleep Bitsy. You can’t stay up holding him all night. It won’t make a difference.” And I knew it wouldn’t. It didn’t matter how long I’d held my mother’s hand, she died anyway. She’d left me alone to care for my sister and brother. People died. Cats died and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
An hour later, I lay down with Bitsy one arm under her pillow and my other hand across her body resting on Don Gato. His small chest continued to rise and fall. I needed him to die by morning. Bitsy didn’t need to go through this any longer. I cried quietly so Jon couldn’t hear. I’d seen Jon’s eyes. He knew the same thing I did.
It sucked to be poor.