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Catching His Heart (Love and Baseball #1)

By Kelsie Swaney All Rights Reserved ©

Romance

Chapter 1

I’m writing because I was once a girl who was afraid. I was too afraid to speak up, too afraid to be myself, and too afraid to see that the person I fell for had fallen for me too. It took a lot of courage and strength, but I became the person I was meant to be. Anyway, enough of this. What’s important isn’t when this started, but when I started to wonder if I could be brave.

My story begins on a Friday night. Nothing special, but it’s the mundane things that lead to the most amazing ones. I was sitting on the bleachers with my best friend Kami, watching my other friend’s baseball game. The crowd cheered. Carson’s team had just won the game. Carson pushed his catcher’s mask up and looked back at me with a blinding smile, which of course sent my heart into my throat. I smiled back at him before looking at Kami, who was going wild. I let out a sigh and put my hand to my heart. If I hadn’t looked away Carson would have figured out my secret: I am head over heels in love with him.

Carson and I have been friends since we were little, and I have been in love with him since it was “cool” to like guys. Carson is the catcher for our college baseball team, and he’s a senior just like me. He’s tall, dark haired, and super smart. He’s studying to be a surgeon, while I’m studying to be a family therapist.

“Alara,” Kami said as she grabbed my arm.

I focused on her and smiled. We talked about the game as we headed towards where all the guys came out after they changed. After we exhausted that topic she looked at me. She stopped me and put her hand on my shoulder.

“Are you ok Lar?”

“It’s just, I’m a little weak today. If I had continued looking at him after he smiled at me that way I would have broken down and told him.”

“Well why not tell him? I mean, you love him! Take a chance for once,” she said as she shook my shoulders.

We’ve had this conversation one too many times. She always insists that I should tell him, but I can’t. No matter how much I want to, I just can’t bring myself to say anything to him. I’m just too afraid of being rejected by the person who unknowingly holds my heart in his hands.

I pushed her hands off my shoulders and shook my head. I ran my hands through my hair and let out deep even breaths. I wasn’t going to let this crush stop me from being friends with Carson, because I would rather keep my secret and have him in my life than not have him in my life at all. I could do this, I could hide my love for him and still be friends with him, even though it hurts to do it.

Kami opened her mouth to say something, but I was saved from further conversations by some of the guys walking out. When the door opened I heard Carson’s voice echoing down the hall and knew he was close. When he walked out he didn’t see me right away because he was talking to some of the guys, so I took that time to just look at him. Don’t get me wrong he looks good in his baseball uniform, but he looks so much better in his jeans that fit just right and his tight t-shirt. Finally he saw me, and the smile he wore while talking to the guys grew.

When the guys saw who he was looking at, they smiled and waved. I waved back and Carson continued talking to the guys, but his eyes stayed on me. Kami threaded her fingers through mine and stood right beside me.

“He so likes you. He can’t keep his eyes off you, even when talking to the guys. You need to tell him,” she whispered in my ear.

I turned to her and frowned. I ignored her and turned back to Carson. He was watching me closely. When he saw my frown he pushed away from the guys and started making his way to me. He wrapped me up in a quick hug before looking down at me. I wasn’t frowning anymore, there was no way to when he had his arms around me.

“You guys did so great tonight,” I said as I took a step back from him.

“Yeah, I guess. I could have done better, but Reed did great,” he grinned.

Reed Carmichael is his best friend and the pitcher. Those two have been playing ball together since they started. Right as we were talking about him Reed came sauntering up in his usual fashion. He looked at Carson before draping his arm over my shoulders.

“Hey, quit hogging the two most beautiful ladies here,” Reed said as he pulled me in closer for a hug.

“Hey Reed, you did amazing tonight,” I said as I tried to hold in a laugh.

Reed knows how I feel about Carson, and he seems to think that Carson likes me too, so he’s always trying to see if he can make him jealous. He smiled down at me before grinning evilly. Oh no, he was about to do something stupid. I tried to pull away from him, but he was too quick. He picked me up and threw me over his shoulder.

He turned so I was looking at Carson. Now he looked down right angry. Reed looked over his other shoulder and laughed. I shot Carson a ‘save me’ look and his anger evaporated. He winked at me and took a step closer to me.

“I’ll just be taking this. I think I’m gonna bring you home with me tonight,” Reed said as he started walking away.

“Like hell you will. You can take Kami, I’m taking Alara home with me. It is Friday after all.”

I love Fridays, because they are our standing movie nights. We order pizza and watch a bunch of movies in his theater room before we crash. Reed turned around so all I could see was Kami laughing and the guys grinning. The guys were talking now, but all I wanted was to be put down. I beat on Reed’s back until he sighed and put me down.

“Finally,” I huffed when my feet hit the ground.

Reed laughed, but Carson just grabbed my hand and pulled me close. I wrapped my arms around his waist and he put one of his arms around my shoulders. Kami started talking about what we were doing this weekend, so I turned us to face her, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed Reed was watching us silently with a huge smile on his face. I wondered why, until I noticed Carson’s hand was stroking my arm softly, almost like it was an unconscious action. Kami noticed about the same time I did, and shot a look at Reed, one that said ‘let’s leave them to their fun’.

Reed moved to Kami and grabbed her hand, waving goodbye as he did. Kami promised to call me tomorrow before turning around and walking off with him. Carson look down at me and smiled.

“Alone at last. Let’s get home, we’ve got a bunch of movies to watch.”

He removed his arm and I let go of his waist, choosing instead to take his waiting hand. The other guys were cat calling from behind us, causing me to blush, but Carson just ignored them. He tightened his hold on my hand and led me to his truck. He had worked hard throughout high school to save up for this truck and after graduation he finally had enough money to buy it. He helped me up into his truck since I’m so short (5′ 3″), and then rushed around to get in himself.

I shivered, because it was getting colder. As Carson got in he must have noticed because he grabbed a jacket from his back seat. He handed it to me with a huge smile and I blushed again. I slipped into the jacket and it swallowed me, but I loved it. When he started the truck and pulled out of the parking lot, I brought the sleeves to my nose and sniffed greedily.

He looked over at me as I was still sniffing and smiled before turning the radio up. I Love This Life by LOCASH was playing, and of course I couldn’t resist singing along. He turned it up louder, rolled the windows down and started singing along with me. When the song ended it was like we were in a spell, and we just kept singing along to whatever song came on.

The spell didn’t last long, just long enough to get us home. When we got there and he turned the truck off I felt like something had just ended, but then I felt stupid because what was there to end? He got out and instead of helping me down like usual, he lifted me down and threw me over his shoulder. I laughed and he carried me inside the house he shared with his parents. I waved to his parents as we went by, and they waved back.

He carried me down the stairs, and then dropped me on the couch. He smiled and grabbed his phone, ordering pizza. I got up and started picking out movies to watch. I grabbed a few that I didn’t like and that I knew he would argue about, and then a few I knew he would agree to, because that way I got what I wanted and so did he. When he hung up and turned around I was sitting on the couch surrounded by movies.

He chuckled and shook his head as he walked over and vetoed a few movies. I proceeded to argue with him in favor of those movies, but in the end I gave in because these were movies I didn’t care for anyway. He eyed me, and for a second I thought he knew exactly what I was doing. After those movies were put back he tried to argue against my favorite movie, The Notebook, and I refused to budge. I gave him my puppy dog face and he immediately gave in.

“It’s no fun if you give in immediately,” I whined.

“Well too bad. You know I can’t fight your puppy dog face,” he said with a smile.

I sighed and shook my head, smiling the entire time. He picked the second movie, something scary, which I know he did on purpose because I hate scary movies as much as he hates romantic ones. He looked over at me before grabbing another romantic movie. I was shocked that he picked out a romantic movie, especially one that I love. We had our movies, now it was time to fight about the order as always. Before we could finish arguing the doorbell rang, the pizza was here.

“We’ll watch the scary movie last, that way you can fall asleep part way through it,” he said as he got up to go get the pizza.

When he walked out of the room I let a tear fall. He’s so sweet, and he really knows me. It’s so unfair that he isn’t mine. I heard him coming down the stairs and quickly wiped my tear away. I couldn’t let him see me cry, because then he would ask what’s wrong and not drop it until I told him.

When he walked in he had drinks and the pizza. He crossed to me and dropped a kiss on top of my head. I smiled and went and put in The Notebook, walking back and plopping on my end of the couch. I toed off my boots and stretched out, my feet resting in Carson’s lap. I watched the movie in rapt attention, mouthing the words to my favorite parts whenever they came on.

About halfway through the movie I looked over at Carson and he was trying not to laugh. I stuck my tongue out at him and he busted out laughing. He grabbed my feet and I thought he was going to tickle me, but instead he started massaging them. I sank back into the couch and sighed happily. I went back to watching the movie and when I started to cry at a sad part he pulled me to him by my feet and held me until I stopped.

“You are such a girl,” he said before dropping a kiss on my cheek.

I stuck my tongue out at him again, but instead of pushing him away like I usually would I decided to snuggle into his chest. I pulled my arms into the sleeves of his jacket and felt warm and at peace. He picked me up and moved me into his lap, holding me close. I was so content that I didn’t even think about how nervous and embarrassed I should be.

After the movie was over he moved me and said he was going to the bathroom. I got up and switched to the second romantic movie, waiting to hit play until he came back. He came back down and I was sitting on my end of the couch. He stared at me for a minute before I wiggled my toes, silently asking for him to come rub my feet. He smiled and took up his post at my feet.

After the second movie I went up and used the bathroom, using that time to prepare myself for the scary movie he had picked. When I walked back down he was spread out on the couch, taking up the entire thing. When I walked in he hit play, and I shook my head and sat down in front of the couch. He sat up and told me to get up. When I stood up he reached for me and wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me forward until I had no choice but to lay on top of him.

My face was bright red, but I couldn’t do anything. He locked his arms around my waist and held me there. I rested my head on his chest and sighed happily. When things got too scary, I turned my head and pressed into his chest, and then his arms tightened around me and he stroked my hair.

“It’s alright sweetheart, I’ve got you,” he would say quietly.

About a quarter of the way through the movie I felt myself drifting off. I wanted to move because I knew he couldn’t be comfortable with me laying on top of him, especially since soon I was going to be dead weight. I tried to move, but he tightened his arms. I started to complain weakly, and he put his finger over my lips.

“Shhhhh, I want you to stay right where you are. I’ll move you later,” he promised.

“Ok, but only cause I’m so tired, and really comfortable,” I said as I let myself drift off.

I woke up the next morning and I felt like I had slept for days, although my pillow felt kind of hard. I kept my eyes closed while I wondered why Carson’s couch felt so hard. I opened my eyes and came face to face with a strong chest. I felt two strong arms around me and a hand tangled in my hair. I looked up and Carson was smiling up at me.

“Good morning sunshine, how’d you sleep,” he asked as he stretched.

“Perfectly, what about you,” I asked shyly.

“Amazing,” he responded.

We just laid there staring at each other for a minute before a voice in the doorway startled me into getting up. I sat on the other end of the couch, and Carson looked like he was going to laugh. I shot him a glare before his mother walked into the room.

“So, what are you up to today Alara,” she asked as she walked into the room.

“I’m hanging out with Kami. What about you lazy bum, what are you doing today,” I said as my eyes moved back to Carson.

“I don’t know, I’ll probably do some homework, and then maybe we could all meet up for dinner. You, me, Kami, and Reed. What do you say?”

“I’ll ask Kami and let you know. For now I’ve gotta go meet up with my parents. I promised them I’d stop in for breakfast this morning.”

“Ok, you need a ride,” he said hopefully.

“They live next door, and I parked there last night, why would I need a ride,” I asked with a raised brow.

His mom looked curious about his answer as well. I shot her a look and she shrugged. Carson looked like he had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar before he ran his hands over his face.

“Alright, you caught me, I want to spend more time with my best friend, so sue me,” he said with a grin.

I smiled at him and shook my head. “You really are a doofus, you know that right?”

He just smiled and got up, stalking up to me with a devilish look in his eyes. I started backing away from him because I knew that look. He was about to tickle me. I backed up until I hit the wall and he caged me in.

“Don’t fight it firefly, accept it. You know I’m going to get you,” he said huskily.

I stared at him for a second. He hadn’t called me firefly in years, and just hearing it took me back. We were ten and outside playing with fireflies. I don’t care what he says, they are lightning bugs. Well a couple lightning bugs landed on me and he decided that made me the firefly queen, and eventually that just got shortened to firefly.

I ducked out from under his arm and laughed as I went and hid behind his mom. When he turned towards me I squealed and ran upstairs and hid in the kitchen closet. He ran right past me, straight to the second story. I slipped out and ran right into his mom. She laughed and grabbed my hand, leading me to hide in the bathroom with her.

She closed and locked the door before turning to me. She just stared at me for a second. I knew her well enough to know that she had an important question. I lifted my eyebrow and she smiled.

“So, what’s going on with you two? I mean I saw how you guys were laying when I came down. Are you guys finally together?”

“We aren’t together, as much as I wish we were. I don’t know what that was about.”

She looked like she didn’t believe me so I sighed. “Look, just don’t tell him what I’m telling you. I don’t want to ruin my friendship with him, because our friendship is one of the major constants in my life. I’m not going to lie to you though, I love him.”

She smiled and nodded before I held my hand up to tell her to hold on. “But, as much as I love that idiot, I don’t want to ruin what we have now.”

She nodded again, and this time she held her arms out to me. I snuggled into her and she held me tight. She stroked my hair, and that made me think of Carson stroking my hair last night.

“Don’t worry sweetheart. I won’t say anything. He needs to come to his senses and figure out that he’s in love with you too, but he needs to do it on his own.”

“You don’t know how good it feels to tell someone other than Kami. I’ve been holding this in for years, it feels so good to finally be able to tell someone else,” I said quietly.

After a minute of silence I moved out of her embrace and decided it was safe to come out. His mom laughed at my caution as I opened the door. I didn’t see him, so I let out a relieved breath and walked out. I made it to the kitchen before Carson got me. I squealed and tried to get away from him, but he had a tight hold on me.

He tickled me for a few minutes, laughing the entire time. When he let me go he held his arms up and called a truce, because he knew I would get him back. I shook my head and turned to go. He wrapped his arms around me from behind and swung me around.

“Where do you think you’re going? I haven’t gotten my hug yet,” he said seriously.

“I don’t think you deserve a hug. You tickled me.”

His face lit up with a smile, and just like that I was lost in him. I stuck my tongue out at him, but hugged him anyway. As much as I wanted to stick to my guns and not hug him, I wanted to hug him more. When his arms encircled my waist again I had no choice but to melt into him. He squeezed me tight before letting me go.

My phone started vibrating like mad in my pocket, so I took it out and smiled. Kami had texted me 10 times, 5 times telling me to call her, and 5 times saying she was coming over so I better get home. I waved to his mom before heading out the front door. I walked out just in time to see Kami pulling into my driveway. She got out and grinned at me.

“You walk of shaming it Alara,” she asked with a smirk.

“It’s only a walk of shame if there is something to be ashamed of,” I said with my own smirk as I walked up to her.

“Ooh details, now,” she said as she grabbed my hand and dragged me inside.

When we got inside I saw my parents sitting at the kitchen table, so I walked over and kissed both their cheeks before pulling Kami up to my room, promising my parents I’d be back as we went. When we were sitting cross legged on my bed, I spilled everything that had happened last night. Kami stayed quiet after I told her, and that worried me, because Kami doesn’t do quiet.

“Well, what do you think,” I asked impatiently.

“I think you are making a huge mistake not telling him. With what you told me, that boy is totally in love with you, and that isn’t just going to go away. Telling him wouldn’t ruin anything, it would only make it better.”

I chewed on my lip and thought about what she said. She could be right, but she could also be horribly wrong. Who is to say that he didn’t just fall asleep before he could move me? All of this could be explained away, so there was no way I was putting my heart in the hands of a possibility. I need definitive proof. He would have to come out and say it before I would believe it.

“Kami, I don’t trust possibilities, I trust facts. I need to know for sure, so he needs to come out and tell me if he loves me. I won’t risk a broken heart, not with him. He’s it for me Kami, and if he doesn’t love me, I don’t think my heart will ever be the same.”

She nodded, but I got the distinct impression that she was up to something. I knew I should be worried, but at this point there is nothing she could do to really ruin this for me. I mean she could tell him, but I could always deny it and say she was crazy, which he would believe. I was going to let last night go and focus on something, anything else.

“Come on, let’s go eat breakfast so we can go hang out,” I said, shutting the door on any further discussion.

We walked down the stairs, trying to decide what to do today as we went. She suggested going to the mall before we went out with the guys. I finally agreed when it seemed there was nothing else to do. I texted Carson and told him to talk to Reed and see if he was in because Kami was definitely in. I sat at the table and slipped my hand into the box of donuts my mom had left in front of me. Kami flopped next to me and reached for the donuts too.

Once plied with sugary dough, we sat and talked with my parents for a few minutes, telling them our plans for the day. They told me my dad had a business trip out of town, so they were going to be gone the rest of the weekend. This, of course, lead to Kami deciding she was going to crash here with me this weekend. My parents agreed, but made us promise we wouldn’t have any wild parties.

“Have you guys met Alara? She doesn’t do anything wildly,” Kami said with a laugh.

“Yeah, we know, but you do Kami,” my mom chuckled.

“Ok, I still maintain that I wasn’t the one that started that rave junior year. It was my sister and her friends,” Kami said as she threw her hands up.

We all laughed and my parents went to go grab their bags. We waved goodbye until they were out of sight. When they were gone Kami squealed and jumped up and down. Great she was going to try to convince me to help her throw a wild party. No matter what she said, I know she was the one that started that rave our junior year, because I was there when she did it.

“Sorry, we don’t need a repeat of the great rave of 2015,” I said, immediately shutting down her plans.

We ended up chilling out all day, just watching crappy TV and laughing at random things. We ended up going out to dinner with the guys, but nothing really big happened. It was just a normal day as far as we were concerned.

The next morning Carson texted and said he and Reed were bored. I told him that they should go to the gym, because they both love to do the whole bonding over physical exertion thing. He thought that was a perfect idea, so he said he would talk to me later. I sighed and resigned myself to not talking to him much today. I told Kami about the Reed and Carson’s plans and she didn’t seem impressed.

She pouted, but quickly brightened up. There was an evil glint in her eyes. This was not going to be any better than her rave idea, I just knew it.

“Come on, we’re going to my place to get my stuff and find you something to wear. Oh wait, first, grab your cowgirl boots. We are going to the mall,” she said excitedly.

I knew she was going to try to put me in a dress. I’m more of a jeans and t-shirt girl, so she was always trying to get me in a dress. She quickly pushed me back into the house and towards the steps. I grabbed everything I would need before being dragged out to her car.

When we got to her apartment she dragged me to her closet and opened it, revealing a few cute dresses. She looked at me and my boots before choosing a white lacy strapless sundress. She took my boots and handed me the dress before pushing me to the bathroom to change. I stepped out and she whistled at me. I blushed and she handed me my boots.

As I was slipping into my boots someone knocked on the front door. Kami had just walked into the bathroom to change into one of her other dresses, so she called out and asked me to get the door. I went to the door and looked out the peephole, squealing when I saw who it was.

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