Here’s a sneak peak at Rookie Season, the first book in the Love at the Ballpark Series by V.K. Robbins.
What could possibly be more romantic than baseball? That’s what I was thinking as I walked down the steps of aisle 139 to the seats where I’d held season tickets since the stadium opened. The sun was about to set, the field was a beautiful green, and the stands were filling up and buzzing with expectation.
“Did ya come early to check out the new rookie?”
“You know me so well, Sam,” I said, smiling to the enthusiastic retiree who owned the seats next to mine.
Sam and I both owned sets of two seats, but since his wife’s death three years ago and my divorce two years ago, both of us usually showed up alone, but neither of us missed a game.
Sam leaned forward on the railing and said, “He’s looking pretty good if you ask me,” as he watched the new guy take batting practice.
He sure does, Sam, I thought. Clay Love was hitting one ball after another into the bleachers.
“That’s impressive, but wait until someone’s throwing a ball at him at ninety-eight miles an hour.” I tried to sound dismissive, but I had been paying attention to Clay since I met him last year at Raley Field playing for the Tennessee Sounds against the Sacramento River Cats in a championship game. I wandered down to the field before the game that day and for some reason started watching him warm up in left field.
He was twenty-four years old then and looked fresh off the farm. Dark blonde hair. Blue eyes. Disarming smile.
And that body! To say he was fit would be an understatement. He wasn’t overly muscular like the steroid cheaters of the last decade. No, he was part of the new generation of ballplayers who actually respected their bodies. All healthy eating. No junk food. No drinking. Well, almost no drinking. And serious about sleep, working out, and focused practice. He was one of those dreamers who was wooed by the promise of millions but hadn’t yet been ruined by it.
Somehow, a ball got by him and bounced right off the wall in front of me. I reached over the railing for it just as it bounced away from me. I stretched as far as I could to try and reach it and toppled over the railing, throwing both hands to the ground to keep me from falling over completely. In that precarious handstand I remembered that I was wearing a skirt because I had come straight from a meeting for work. I remembered because, almost in slow motion, as I toppled forward and my feet went up, my skirt came down, revealing my San Francisco Giants bikini panties. I gasped and tried to balance on one hand while my other hand shot to grab the hem of my skirt to cover my behind. Just as I was about to fall over onto the warning track, Clay got to me, wrapped his arms around me, and helped me get my feet on the ground where they belonged.
I was embarrassed and flustered, but not so much that I didn’t notice his incredibly strong arms and shoulders. When I was back on my side of the railing, I looked up at him and saw those blue eyes for the first time. I couldn’t say anything. It looked like he couldn’t either because we just stood there for what seemed like forever staring into each other’s eyes. His arm was still wrapped tight around me.
Finally, he said, “Are you ok?”
I mumbled, “Uh, yeah, yeah, thanks.” After another prolonged pause he let go of me and turned to walk away.
After a few steps he turned and came back. “What’s your name?”
“Hi Rose,” he said. “I’m Clay.”
I couldn’t believe it. He was blushing!
“Nice to meet you, Clay,” I said. Then I started to blush.
He paused and smiled some more and then he was off. My heart was in my throat. I was amazed that I’d been able to speak at all. It had been a very long time since a man had held me so closely, and my body had responded immediately. I blushed some more.
But it wasn’t just a physical thing. There was something else about him that drew me in. Chemistry? Hell, no. I didn’t believe in that sort of thing. But what else could this be?
“Yeah, I don’t think he’s going to have any trouble with the fastball,” Sam said, pulling me back to the present.
My heart started beating faster when Clay jogged out to left field, right in front of me, to catch some balls.
“Dang, how old is he? Fifteen?” Sam asked. Everyone looked fifteen to Sam.
“No, he’s twenty-five. A full grown adult.”
“I won’t believe it ’til I see a birth certificate.” Sam sat down and waved his hand like he was swatting away the thought that Clay could be so old.
Without warning, a ball shot passed Clay and over toward Sam and me. It hit the ground right where it met the wall and shot almost straight up. I jumped for it and caught it. Clay came running over and reached out his glove. I pulled the ball closer to my chest.
“Hi, Clay,” I said.
He finally looked up and into my eyes. He blushed immediately. “Rose?”
I laughed. “I can’t believe you remember me!”
“How could I not remember you? Those panties, and all.” He turned even redder. “I tried to find you after the game. I mean, I came back to that spot near the fence, but you were gone.” His voice sounded genuinely sad.
“Well, I’m here now, ” I said. Then flirty me added, “And you’d probably like the panties I’m wearing today, too.”
He seemed surprised at my comment, and he just looked at me, smiling.
There we were, gazing at each other like teenagers, when he said, “Would you like to get dinner with me after the game? It’ll be late, but not too late, I hope.”
My heart skipped a beat. Did I hear that right? Was this gorgeous, young, talented ballplayer asking me out?
“It won’t be too late,” I blurted out. “Yes, that sounds great.”
“Cool. Meet me at the back entrance about thirty minutes after the game.”
“See you then.”
As I watched him walk away, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. It wasn’t just that he was a perfect physical specimen, but that he was so energetic and moved so fluidly.
And he remembered me.
And he knew my name.
And he asked me out.
I sat down and looked at Sam. He had a Cheshire cat grin on his face, and his eyebrows were raised in surprise when he said, “Well, that was certainly unexpected.”