Home > Catching Caden (The Perfect Game #1)(6)

Catching Caden (The Perfect Game #1)(6)
Author: Samantha Christy

“What?” I ask.

“You’re different,” he says, studying me.

“What do you mean?”

“Normally, girls are begging for my phone number, and here I am handing it to you on a silver platter and you don’t want to use it.”

I nod in understanding. “Maybe that’s because I don’t want to sleep with you, Kessler. I’ve had my fill of narcissistic pigs, thank you very much.”

“Ouch,” he says, looking melodramatically dejected. “For what it’s worth, I’m not a narcissistic pig. And further, I don’t want to sleep with you either, Murph.”

“Good. Friends then?” I ask.

“Absolutely,” he says.

I smile. I smile so big my face hurts.

“What is it?” he asks.

“Nothing. It’s just that you have the unfortunate distinction of being my only friend in New York at the moment.”

“Not unfortunate,” he says. “Lucky. And when you meet Lexi, the number of friends you have here will double.”

He looks at the clock on the wall like he has to be somewhere and I remember he said he’s going out of town.

“Don’t you have a plane to catch or something?”

“Actually, yes. We’re playing in Phoenix and San Diego this week.” He looks like he’s about to turn to leave. “Oh, hell, I almost forgot.” He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a brochure to give me.

It’s a gym brochure. I open it up and stare at it, confused. “Uh, Caden, the doctor said I can’t lift anything for a while. Not only that, I have no job and no money. This place looks expensive.”

He points to the number on the back of the brochure. “Call Jayden, she’s the gym manager, tell her Mason Lawrence offered you a job and that you’ll start a few weeks after your surgery.”

“Who’s Mason Lawrence?”

He laughs. “You don’t watch football either, do you?”

I shake my head.

“Mason is one of the owners of the gym and a personal friend. When you told me you worked at a gym for a few years back in high school, I decided to call him. There’s a position coming open. It’s not anything special, just a front desk job. But I thought maybe during your recovery, that would be just what you need.”

“Are you for real?” I ask him.

He shrugs.

“Are you repenting for something, Caden? Did you need a charity case this week? Why are you being so nice to me?”

“Because all of this is—”

“Your fault,” I complete his ridiculous thought. “For the last time, it’s not. Now, go or you’ll miss your flight.”

He winks at me and turns to walk away.

“And Caden?”

He spins around in the doorway.

“Thank you.” I hold up the phone and the brochure. “For everything.”

“No. Thank you,” he says.

“For what?”

“I don’t know. For not hating me for what I did. For being so darn nice. For not wanting to sleep with me.” He gives me a wave before walking out the door. “Later, Murphy Brown,” I hear him say as he strides down the hall.

And for the first time since Friday night, I feel like maybe my life isn’t so pathetic after all.

Chapter Seven

Caden

“Sue is hot,” Brady says when the girls get up to use the bathroom.

I look in their direction. “I guess.”

“Dude. What is wrong with you? You’ve been acting strange all night. Wait, is this date number three? Are you trying to figure out how you’re going to cut bait?”

I take a sip of my beer. “No, this is number two, but I’m not sure she’s going to make it to three.”

“No good in the sack?” he asks, raising his brows at me.

I love Brady like a brother, but he can be a lot to take sometimes. What I was telling Murphy about some of the guys on my team having a girl in every city—that’s Brady. It’s not like he’s a bad person, I mean they all know the score. He doesn’t have a wife. He doesn’t have a girlfriend. He just has friends in every place we play.

Murphy.

I look at my phone again, wondering why she hasn’t texted me. It’s Thursday. Surely she knows by now when she’s going to have surgery. Maybe she just decided to go back to Iowa after all.

Murphy. That’s an unusual name. An intriguing name. It’s not boring like, say, Sue.

“Kess?” Brady asks, prodding me to give him an answer.

“Uh, no. I don’t know. Haven’t slept with her.”

“Shit, really?” He gives me a cocky smile. “Then would you mind if I do?”

I dunk my fingers in my water glass and flick them at him.

Sue and Abby return to the table, giggling. “I just got asked for my autograph,” Sue says.

“Is that so?” I ask.

“Yes. Some girl in the bathroom wanted to get the signature of Caden Kessler’s girlfriend.”

I roll my eyes at her.

“What?” she asks. “Like, I’m a celebrity now.”

Brady turns to Abby. “What about you, did you get asked for your autograph, too?”

Abby turns up her nose in disgust. “No, she was just obsessed with Caden.”

Brady raises his eyebrows. “This tool? But he’s just a catcher. I’m the pitcher. Everybody loves pitchers.”

I know he’s only teasing. It’s a long-standing joke between pitchers and catchers about who is the most important. Pitchers couldn’t do their job without us. We make them look good. We save their asses when their pitching sucks. And they get all the glory.

I peek at my phone again and scroll through some texts. None of them are ones I care to answer.

“You girls coming to the game tomorrow?” Brady asks.

“Of course,” they say in tandem.

“Thank you for the great seats, Brady,” Abby says. “We’ll be close enough to see your gorgeous eyes.”

“Yeah,” Sue says to me. “Like maybe you could give me a signal that lets me know you see me. You know, scratch your nose or click your heels or something.”

Brady and I share a look. “Uh, no,” I tell her in no uncertain terms.

“Aw, come on. I’ll make it worth your while,” she says with a sultry wink.

I take a long drink and stare her down. “Sue, you need to understand one thing. When I play, the only signals I’m sending are to my pitcher. I don’t care if the fucking President of the United States is in the stands, I’m not acknowledging anyone.”

She looks hurt. “Oh, okay.” She turns to Abby. “It’s just a silly little game. I don’t get what the big deal is.”

I blow out a long breath and down the rest of my one and only beer. “We should head back. Curfew, you know.”

“You have a curfew?” Sue asks.

“It’s more of a guideline than a rule,” Abby says. Then I think Brady must kick her under the table or something. “What? That’s what you always tell me, Brady.”

Brady and I throw some bills on the table and get up to leave. “Where can we drop you, Sue?”

Sue looks dejected. But at this point, I couldn’t give a shit. Any girl who thinks I will jeopardize my job to send her stupid fucking signals during a game is not worth my time. Especially when that girl gets off on being my celebrity girlfriend.

I should have gone with my gut and stayed home tonight.

I check my phone once more on the way out.

~ ~ ~

I’ve always been pretty good at tuning out the crowd. I get in the zone when I’m behind the plate, whether I’ve got a bat in my hand, or a glove on it. But today, thanks to Brady, Abby and Sue are sitting in seats right on the third-base line, feet from our dugout. And Sue keeps shouting things out when the crowd noise dies down. Things like how much fun she had last night. And how she loves me. Things like how I should give her my secret signal.

Man, that girl is needy. We had two dates and you’d think she already has a damn ring on her finger.

No way in hell will I give her my phone number. She’d probably blow up my phone with voicemails and texts. I learned that a long time ago. I had to change my number several times early in my career when I stupidly gave it out to someone who then stalked me, or publicized my number after I stopped dating them. I’ve been called a stupid prick more than once for not giving it out anymore. But my standard answer is, if they really need to reach me, they can do it through the organization.

Melanie stopped giving me messages last year. She basically screens my calls, and after eighteen months of my throwing the little pink slips of paper in the trash, she got the hint that if a woman was trying to reach me through the office, it wasn’t a woman I wanted to speak with.

When I come back in the dugout after a three-up-three-down inning, Sawyer nods to the stands. “Dude, who the hell is the lunatic?”

I take my chest protector off and throw it in the corner. “That would be Sue,” I say in disgust.

“Want me to send an usher over to shut her up?”

I shake my head. “It’s fine. You didn’t see it mess me up out there, did you?”

“Hell no. That was a great save you had on third strike.”

“Thanks.”

Conner steps up to the plate and hits a home run. His second of the San Diego series. Showoff. Sawyer and I watch the JumboTron to see where it lands. Like me, he always hopes a kid catches it, but they rarely do. Most of the time, a pushy adult will all but trample over a kid to catch a ball. It’s sad. And I’ve seen more than a few overzealous fans get booed out of the park for robbing a kid of the experience.

This time, however, Sawyer and I smile when the large screen shows us that it was in fact a kid who caught it.

“Hey, that reminds me, what happened to the guy you hit last week. He okay?”

I smile sadly. “The guy was actually a woman, and no, she’s not.”

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