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Scoring Position- Strike Zone Series Book Three

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Chapter one

Chapter 1

I couldn’t get a hold of Dillon. The guy has been MIA for the last week. He’s not helping me with Nate. Since I couldn’t get Dillon to get me out of today I had to do it myself. Knowing Nate isn’t a morning person, and he refuses to answer his phone before ten, I left a voicemail for him bailing on moving Kayleigh at the last minute. I’m not ready to answer his questions about why I know about diamonds, engagement rings or why Mark knew to go to Cartier for the ring in the first place. It all comes right back to me. I know Nate hasn’t forgotten my little word spew. He’s a dog with a bone over it, if anything.

So this morning, I informed his voicemail that I couldn’t help out. So did Carson and Mark at my urging. I’m just covering my own ass on this. It’s better for everyone that Nate doesn’t get the answer he’s looking for. He won’t like what he finds out.

We went to the batting cages instead of helping him move Kayleigh into his place. I did my best to work off my frustration and find some of my own answers that are eating at me. I found some answers but there are a few that are eluding me. With each swing of my bat, I struggle in my head to get the rest of the way there.

“Reese! Dude, what the fuck, man? You’re not even getting a piece of it!” Mark yells from behind the cage.

I can’t hit today. I’m not even getting a piece of the damn ball right now. My mind is everywhere but on the ball. Well, not exactly everywhere but on her. Molly. It’s all about her once again. The last time I was in this position, the last time I was this frazzled over her, I ran for the hills, or more accurately into Charisse’s bed. And Molly saw it all. It was the biggest mistake of my life.

“Maybe you need some extra time with that new batting coach! Have you seen her? I’m up for some extra coaching sessions with that!” Carson wiggles his eyebrows, grinning.

“It won’t help you.” Mark teases.

“Hey, Dillon has been putting some major time into his batting practice. Don’t have to guess why there. You think he’s tapping that?”Mark wonders out loud.

“I heard she was dating Tipton and when he lost his touch, he blamed her coaching style and they fired her.” Carson is the core of the gossip in the league. “That’s why we got her at such a deal.”

“I heard she dumped his ass for cheating on her. You know that Tipton doesn’t keep it in his pants, not even for that.” Mark comments as he puts on his helmet and grabs the bat.

“Who cares? I thought we were hitting some balls, not playing gossip queens! Fuck, you’re worse than the girls!” I grumble as I swing and miss again. Slamming the bat down on the ground , I yell. “Fuck!”

I can’t do this anymore. My mind is so cluttered with thoughts of Molly, I can’t focus. I love her. I always have. I can’t see my life without her. But changes are going to happen sooner than I’d like. I have to figure out what I want to do. I don’t have much time.

I don’t want to think about what’s in store for me. I don’t know if Molly is ready for it. I’m not sure if I am, but the coach has already talked to me about this change and I know it’s coming. I’m being traded at the end of the month. I’m leaving the Angels. I’m leaving California and I don’t have much choice.

I haven’t told anyone what’s up. I’m not ready for the questions that will come as soon as I tell them. I started my career with the Angels. I knew that I would get traded some day. I just didn’t expect it so soon. I thought I’d have until the end of my contract at least.

No such luck.

Things were falling into place for me. My career is going great, I’ve got money, fame, and family right here. I got my friends and now I finally have Molly, it was exactly what I wanted. And I don’t want things to change.

But change is coming nevertheless.

Coming home from the cages, I found Molly waiting for me. She’s gorgeous, all dressed up and ready to be on my arm for the first time with the team. It doesn’t matter what she wears, she is always the most beautiful woman in the room. And damn if she doesn’t knock me over when she looks like she does tonight. The sexy black dress, with no back that clings to every dip and curve I see. And those tall spikes for heels she’s in make her butt and legs look so long and good.

We may not make it out the door.

“Damn, Molly! How many guys am I supposed to take on tonight?” I slide my hands down to her hips pulling her to my chest. “I really don’t want to kick anyone’s ass at this thing.”

“You’re going to have to deal with it. I’m not changing! It took me too long to find just the right dress.” She pouts before she kisses me.

“That you did, babe. You look amazing.” I nuzzle her neck only to get pushed away.

“Ugh! You stink! Go shower, then you can kiss me.” Molly pushes me toward the bedroom.

I laugh but I have to agree. I’ve been at the cages all day today sweating it out. Trying to sweat out answers to my dilemma that just aren’t coming. Looking at her now, I know the answer to what I want is right in front of me.

Molly is everything I want. And she’s absolutely right, I need a long hot shower. Heading upstairs to clean up, I leave Molly to her emails. Stripping down, I get under the hot spray and relax. Letting my worries fade away for the night. I don’t want Molly to think any of my worries are about her. She’s the reason this is so hard. I don’t want to leave her behind and I’m not sure she’ll want to come with me.

“Hey, Reese! I got a message from Nate. Why did you bail on him today? He was depending on you guys to help him out.” Molly calls out, leaning against the bathroom door, talking to me.

“I didn’t feel like it. Besides it’s not like Kayleigh has a ton of shit. He and Dillon could handle it.” I reason, knowing I’m lying through my teeth.

“I’m sure they did, but it’s not like you to back out on him. Did you guys get in a fight?” Great, she's gonna push this. Her and Nate are two peas in a pod.

“No we didn’t fight! I just didn’t want to help. It’s not a big deal, sweetheart.” I’m avoiding this subject as much as possible or trying to.

Hearing my phone ring, I know Molly is waiting for a couple calls from endorsements to get back to her. She checks the phone and quickly answers it. She drops the conversation for now dealing with who’s calling instead. I breathe a little easier hoping for a reprieve for the night. Then I hear her talking.

“This is Molly, his manager, can I help you?” There’s a long pause before she speaks again. “I’m sorry, what did you say?.... No, that’s what I thought you said. Oh no, I just didn’t know he purchased anything. No, that’s fine. I’ll be sure he gets the message. Thank you.”

Molly comes back to the door as I step out of the shower. She looks confused as I dry off and look over at her. Then I see a slow seductive smile slip on to her lips. Now at this point, I’m pretty sure Nate said something to Molly about wanting to propose to Kayleigh. I wasn’t aware that I would be completely wrong. “Hey, babe, who was that?”

“You went to Cartier the other day?” She asked with an excited glint in her eyes.

I didn’t even think before I opened my mouth and shoved both feet in. “Yeah, the other day with Nate.” Hanging the towel over the rod, I raise my eyebrows at her expression. I didn’t think she’d be this excited about Nate proposing to Kayleigh.

Stepping out of the bathroom, Molly follows me into the bedroom, with tears in her eyes, she walks across the room to my walk-in closet where I’m getting my tux out and plants a sizzling kiss on my lips. The tux drops to the floor as my arms slink around her. Our kisses deepen electricity zapping through my veins as we move back into the bedroom.

Pulling away, Molly cups my face, grinning up at me. “Yes, Reese! Of course, yes!” Molly cries.

I’m confused. I didn’t ask her anything. What is she agreeing to? “Molly? Baby, why are you crying? Who was that?” Now I’m worried about her. Molly doesn’t cry over nothing. In fact, I've only seen her cry a couple times over the years.

“I’m just so happy. I love you. I love you! I love you!” Molly repeats in between kisses. “I can’t wait to see it! I have to tell Mom! And Kayleigh! Oh, I want her as my maid of honor! You’re asking Nate for your best man, right?” Molly bounces up and down grinning at me.

Maid of honor? Best man? What is she talking about? I didn’t…Oh shit! This isn’t good.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Reese avoided my question and dodged me as soon as we left the store. He is good at not dealing with a situation that makes him uncomfortable or he doesn’t want to talk about. Now I know he has something up his sleeve with Molly. I question how serious he really is about this relationship with her if he won’t talk to me about it. I guess I should be happy for them, but I can’t help worrying that my little sister is going to get her heart broken again. Then I have to kick my best friend's ass.

He may be my best friend but Molly is my sister, she’s my priority. I saw just how bad he hurt her in college, even if I didn’t know it was him at the time. If I had known, I’m not sure what would have happened between us or if we’d still be friends. I can’t think of what if’s now, only how I can handle things now. I don’t want either of them to be hurt, I can only hope for the best. Something I’m learning to do from Kayleigh.

Reese and the guys backed out on me for today. Molly wanted time with Kayleigh and took her shopping. Reese is just avoiding me. So it was up to Dillon and I to get Kayleigh’s stuff she wanted to move to my place. My brother is a rock but even he’s got something going on in his head. He’s been distracted all day.

We’re just finishing up at the beach house. Thank boxes are packed up and we’re done loading the truck as we wait for game four of the series to start. If Boston wins then it will tie up the series. We’re rooting for Boston since we are playing this year. Dillon told me about Bailey getting fired from New York. From what he’s said they really screwed up her career.

“So you and Bailey Carruthers, huh?” I ask, hoping Dillon is going to give something away.

I’ve heard about Bailey. She is one of the best coaches out there. And her dad is a hall of fame player and coach. Now I’m curious about this girl he’s kept his mouth shut about. He’s been spending a lot of time with her over the past few weeks. It certainly explains why Dillon has focused on his batting lately.

Dillon turns around, his arms piled high with boxes and his mouth gaping open at me. His dramatic expression only tells me one thing: He’s got a thing for this girl. Dillon sets the boxes on the counter and shakes his head, vehemently denying what I already know.

“What? No! No! We’re not…. She's just a really good coach, that’s all. You know, she’s helping me get my form right, so I can have better scoring opportunities... you know the deal. When you’re ready to get back out there you’d do yourself a favor and have her work with you.” Yeah, right! I know my brother better than that.

“D!? Come on, man. I know who Bailey is, I’ve seen her. She’s a great coach. She’s smart, hot as hell and she loves baseball. You’re really gonna tell me you aren’t interested in her?” I don’t buy his explanation for spending time with her.

“Yeah! I mean, yeah, she is all that but…” Dillon rakes his fingers through his hair and growls in frustration. “Look, I’ve gotten to know her and she is great. But there’s a lot she keeps tucked away from everyone. Bailey got a raw deal from Tipton in New York. She’s trying to rebuild her career here and doesn’t want any more problems. The higher ups have already chewed her out for being friendly with the team. I’m just trying to be her friend, quietly. That’s it, Nate. She doesn’t want anything else.”

I nod slowly, understanding more than he thinks. “I get that but D, I know you, man. You want to be more than just friends with her. I can see it. If I see it then you know others do too. You need to be honest with her about what you want.”

“I can’t, Nate. It’s not that simple. She was told she couldn’t get friendly with any of us, that’s not fair to her. They’re discriminating against her threatening her job.” I agree with him, it’s not fair to her. But I don’t have all the facts either. “ Look, I’m okay with this, really. She needs a friend and she agreed to give me that, even if we have to keep it quiet.”

I can see right away that he doesn’t like this plan. I understand her need for privacy just as I know Dillon is too honest of a person to keep this kind of thing a secret, especially when I can see he really likes her.

“So your relationship is a big secret? Why ? What's the point if you have to sneak around?” Picking up the boxes again, we head for the elevator.

“We don’t have a relationship okay. I’m here for her, we just talk, hang out once in a while. Look, if coach knows that we’re hanging out, he’ll fire her. I can’t cost her a job.” He explains, not giving me any details. I still don’t get it.

“Is she going to the awards tonight? Maybe you should ask her to come with us… I wanna meet her.” This conversation has me thinking of a solution to Dillon’s problem. “Tell her we’re picking her up at six. No excuses. I’m meeting her.”

“Nate, she won’t go for it. She wants me to keep it quiet! You do understand what that means, right?” Dillon argues.

“Not an option, brother of mine. You tell her or I do. I’m not taking no for an answer!” Shoving the last of the boxes into the back of the truck, I close the tailgate and grin. Dillon rolls his eyes at me and pulls out his phone. Just staring at the darkened screen he silently debates his options.

“Fuck this! Give me it!” I grab his phone from his hands and send out a quick text.

“Picking you up at six for the banquet be ready.”

“If she texts you back, don’t respond!” Tossing him back his phone, I shake my head at him. “You worry too much, D! If you want her, then you gotta do something about it! Now, let’s get this home. You stink and I need a shower.”

Our team banquet is tonight and the girls have left us to our own devices so they can get ready. Molly has been to these shindigs before with us, but this is Kayleigh’s first time on my arm and really being out with the team. I want her to be able to relax and enjoy herself. Although, I know there will be a few of Carla’s friends there who will report back to her on me. I just have to make sure Kayleigh won’t be left alone tonight. I’ll be sure none of those ladies get close to her.

This is exactly why I’ve decided tonight is the perfect night to pop the question. I want that ring on her finger before the end of the night. We’ve been devising a plan for how I’m going to propose. I’m thinking I’m on the right track.

Molly and my mom have been coaching me for days now. They have given me plenty of options about doing a grand romantic gesture. Mom thinks I should do it at the banquet, when I have to do the peech for MVP. Molly says I should do it when we’re alone. I’m leaning in her direction now.

I had some help but I picked out the ring. I’ve got champagne to put on ice, and I’ve got the girl. I’m ready for this. Kayleigh will be back this afternoon after Molly drops her off from their salon time and I’ll be waiting. I’m ready, right? Yeah, I’m ready. I’m sure of it.

“I’ve got a stop to make before we head home.” I tell Dillon as we climb into the truck.

“I figured. Are you ready for this?” Dillon knows me too well.

I’ve run away from commitments most of my life. I’m a hundred percent committed to my family and baseball, but I’ve never committed to a woman. I didn’t want one until now. Kayleigh changed that for me. She’s changed everything and I have to admit, I like my life this way. I wouldn’t change the way any of it happened, other than my knee. But then that’s the reason I met her.

“Yeah, I am.” I don’t think I’ve ever been this sure of anything in my life. Other than one. Baseball.

That’s the only thing I’ve been more sure about. I’ve been thinking all week about this. I bought the ring, I’ve told Kayleigh I want a future with her. We talked about the future, ideas for my career change, we even talked about kids, but I didn’t ask her what she wanted. I didn’t ask how she felt. I should have.

“Is she ready for this step?” And that’s what’s worrying me. I should have asked her those questions. I should have made sure she’s ready. I don’t want to push her but I’m not wanting to back out now. Did I mess up?

Is Kayleigh ready for this?

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