CURVE BALL

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Chapter Thirty-Three

There was a small doorbell adjacent to the entrance of 2307. Jack smiled. It’s the Ritz. He rang the bell and waited. He pushed the button again and then tried the door. It opened. The light from the outside hallway streamed into the darkened foyer.

“Linzie? Hello.”

“I’m in the bed room,” she said, “follow the sound of my voice.”

The suite was dark. “Mind if I turn on a light?”

“Go ahead. The switch is on the wall to your left.”

He flicked it on. Soft light lit the room. He let the entrance door close.

“Cozy place you have,” he said. He draped his jacket over a chair in the living room.

“They do treat us well,” she said.

He left his shoes on the thick white carpet next to the same chair and crossed the room. The bedroom door was partially closed. “Should I knock or just come in?”

“Well, what would a gentleman do?”

He sighed and knocked. “May I come in?”

“Of course, silly.”

He pushed the door further. The room was huge. There were floor to ceiling windows that looked out at the darkening city. A canopied king-size bed was in the middle with Linzie propped on pillows. She had wrapped herself in an off white linen sheet. A glass of wine was in her hand.

“Welcome to Chicago, Jack. Take a hot shower and relax. The bathroom is over to the right. Drinks and further delights will be waiting.”

“Can’t refuse that. How about a drink before I go?”

“There’s a fully stocked bar in the powder room.”

“The what?”

“Washroom.”

The sheet that covered her dropped slightly and revealed the top of a lacey black negligée.

“I won’t be long.”

She smiled. “I wouldn’t think so.”

He gave her a kiss on the way. The bathroom was big enough to hold a small party. A bar was beneath one of the vanities. He helped himself to a glass of Johnny Black. While he sipped he turned on the shower and waited a few seconds. Water streamed not only from the ceiling of the glass-encased stall but the sides. “Holy shit. It doesn’t get much better.” He slipped off his clothes and stepped in. Baseball locker rooms should have something like this, he thought. This set-up would extend his pitching career.

A panel of buttons adjusted the spray and temperature. He could spend a lot of time playing with all the adjustments, something to look forward to later. He finished with his shower and stepped out. A plush genderless bathrobe hung near the towels. He put it on. An array of cologne selections rested on a silver-like platter near one of the sinks. He slapped some on brushed his hair and teeth. He caught his image in one of the mirrors. He was ready.

“Look at you,” she said, “did you enjoy yourself in there?”

“Are you kidding? That bathroom was something else.”

She pulled back the covers and he saw her bare leg and thigh. “Champaigne?” She put her wine down on the nightstand and reached for the bottle and a new glass.

He sat on the bed wanting to grab her body. She was the definition of hot. He watched her slide over to him. Be cool, he thought. “Champaigne? Gallo makes that stuff?” Jesus, she had long legs and one gorgeous ass partially hidden by her bikini underwear.

“Here,” she said.

He took the glass and poured.

“Let’s drink to Boston winning the Series,” she said.

“Yeah to Boston,” he clinked her glass. Her eyes were bright. She took a sip.

“Hey, slugger, come closer.” She wrapped her arms around him and let her glass fall on the carpeted floor. “Let’s play ball.”

“God-damn that was…”

“Unbelievable,” she said. “You baseball players have stamina.”

“There were others?”

“Of course not, well not ball players. Hey, don’t give me that look. I know I’m not your first.”

He smiled. “No, no, but…”

“You’re a guy so it’s all right? Please. Travelling is boring as hell. You know that. We had fun. It breaks the monotony. She rolled off of him. “I have to go to the bathroom. Don’t move I’ll be right back.”

He watched her. What a piece he told himself. God that was great. He fluffed up several pillows and sat up. He heard a sound.

“Is that you Linzie?”

The closet door opened. A man dressed in a dark suit stepped out. “Nah, it ain’t Linzie. You and her look good on film.” A camera hung from his neck and he had a gun in his hand.

“What the hell?” Who the fuck and what are you…? Jack asked putting one foot on the floor.

“I’d get your ass back in that bed and don’t move.” The man pointed his gun.

Jack sat back. “Okay what is this about?” He asked his breath came rapidly.

The man chuckled. “What is this about? Why it’s about you and Linzie. You two are the stars…well actually you’re the star. Linzie get out here, and properly introduce yourself.”

The bathroom door opened and she came out fully dressed. She moved a foot or two behind the man.

“Tell him sweetheart,” the man said.

“It’s a setup Jack. I’m married. This is my husband Gino Castellini. He works for an organization.

“Let me guess,” Jack said.

“That’s enough. I’ll lay it out real simple. You’re pitching the first game in Cincinnati. About the 4th inning you lose your stuff. Nothing dramatic but the curve ball flattens and your fastball aint so fast. Capish?”

Jack looked from the man to Linzie and back again. “And if I don’t?”

The man’s face broke into a huge grin. “This will make a nice story. Pitcher goes to visit dad on his deathbed winds up at the Ritz with a married woman…very bad publicity. You’ll be on the front page of every newspaper in America. When the press gets through with you, you’ll be dirt…less than dirt. In case you don’t care about your reputation or career as an added incentive, who knows what could happen to my dear wife or your poor father. Mistakes are made every day.”

“You fuck’n…”

“Hey there’s a lady present. Where’s your manners?”

Jack gripped the sheet around his fist. He stared at Castellini. It occurred to him he had seen him before. Where was it? Shit.

“Have a good night and enjoy that bathroom again,” he said. He pushed his wife toward the door. “We’ll be watching on Monday.”

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