Home > Stealing Sawyer (The Perfect Game #3)

Stealing Sawyer (The Perfect Game #3)
Author: Samantha Christy

Chapter One

Sawyer

Damn Straight!

I look down at my jersey and see it caked with dirt. Then I stare at my pants to see they are no longer white, but reddish-brown with one of the knees ripped clean through. Bonus points for that.

The state of my clothing always tells me what kind of game I had. The dirtier the better. And today has been exceptionally good, especially for a season opener. Hell, I might even frame this uniform. Four stolen bases. Four! I’ll bet Rickey Henderson is shaking in his boots thinking I might be the one to break his record.

For two years now, I’ve held the league record for stolen bases. And if this game is any indication, I’m on my way to year three.

“Take me home, Sawyer!” a woman screams, as I make my way into the dugout.

I turn my head and find a beautiful tall blonde giving me a good look at her cleavage. I take a second to memorize where she’s sitting so I can have one of the ushers slip a note to her.

I won’t take her home. I never take them home. But the hotel down the street from where I live is convenient, within walking distance of my townhouse, and nice enough that the girls don’t complain too much when I leave before the crack of dawn. After all, they do get a hotel-catered breakfast fit for a queen, albeit for one. As for me, I usually hit Starbucks on my walk home.

I put my helmet and batting gloves away and scribble a note to Blondie. Then I hear the disappointment of the crowd and look over to see that Benham got thrown out trying to steal third. I shake my head. I need to give that rookie some pointers.

Brady pats me on the back. “Nice job out there,” he says, removing his jacket and grabbing his glove to head out onto the field.

I lift my chin at him. “Let’s end this now.”

I give my note to an usher, along with a description of the woman and her location. Then I grab my own glove before jogging out to my position. I warm up with the other infielders as the crowd gets louder and louder, wanting us to shut out the Nationals for our first win.

It’s the top of the ninth and the score is 4 – 0, so as long as they don’t pull a rabbit out of a hat, we’ll get the victory.

Before the batter comes to the plate, I take a quick look around Hawks Stadium. Man, I love this. I have the best job. Great pay. Good friends. Killer city. I couldn’t ask for things to be any better than they are right now.

Growing up, I could only dream of playing in the majors. My childhood was anything but ideal. My mom was taken from me far too soon. My dad was a drunk. I made so many mistakes. Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here, the shortstop for the New York Nighthawks.

I rein in my thoughts. I need to stay sharp. I am, after all, what most people consider the most important position on the team. I’m the captain. The quarterback of baseball. You don’t win games without a top-notch shortstop. And you definitely don’t win the World Series. But that’s exactly where I plan on taking my team.

I hear the distant sound of thunder as Brady strikes out the first batter to the cheers of the stadium.

The second batter pops one up over the infield. I back up, calling off the center fielder so I can make a clean catch to get the second out.

The third batter dribbles a ground ball past Brady. Conner runs up to the ball, scoops it up and throws the batter out at first, solidifying our first win of the season.

We run off the field just as it begins to rain, celebrating our way back into the dugout.

I catch a glimpse of Blondie as I make my way to the clubhouse. I give her a wink and call out to her. “Give me twenty minutes, sweetheart.”

She smiles and then turns around and screams with her friends.

I laugh and shake my head. Every time.

Walking up to my locker, I see one of the assistant coaches leaning against the wall. “Rick wants to see you,” he says.

“Okay, sure. Mind if I shower first?”

“I don’t think he cares how you smell, Mills. Just get your ass in there now.”

I watch him walk away, wondering what this is all about. I mean, I just had the best game of my life, why would Coach want to see me?

Caden comes up next to me. “Being called to the principal’s office so soon?” he jokes.

“I’m sure he wants to tell me how awesome I played. Did you see me out there? I fucking killed it.”

My words speak a much different story than my mind. My mind is going crazy wondering why I’m being called to the manager’s office after playing such a good game.

I’m no stranger to being in Rick’s office. A few times a year he likes to give me the talk about keeping my dick in my pants. Last year they changed the rules of the organization to forbid employees from dating not only each other, but also their family members. Yeah – that was because of me. A pregnancy scare with the daughter of one of the assistant coaches did not go over well.

“I’m sure that’s what it is,” Caden says.

But I know as well as he does that we’re both full of shit.

I walk down the hallway and stand at Rick’s door. He’s on the phone, but he motions to the chair in front of his desk, so I sit down while he finishes up his call.

I look around his office. The walls are lined with pictures of players. Most of them past players, but there are a few current ones. Most notably, my two best friends, Brady Taylor and Caden Kessler. Caden got his picture on the wall two seasons back for setting a Nighthawks record for hitting the most home runs in a season. Brady got his ugly mug on the wall for the perfect game he pitched last year.

My picture is not yet on the wall. Not even after two years of holding the league record for stolen bases.

Rick has it in for me. It’s no secret. I know it. He knows it. Hell, even the press knows it.

I wonder what it will take to get my picture on his wall.

He hangs up the phone. Then he looks at me thoughtfully as he relaxes back into his chair. He crosses his arms and studies me.

He eyes my dirty jersey. “Good game today,” he says, with about as much enthusiasm as a pet rock.

“Thanks.”

He pushes a folder slowly across his desk, nodding to it.

I pick it up and open it. It takes me a minute to realize what it is before my blood pressure shoots through the roof. I close the folder and throw it back onto his desk. “You’re trading me?”

“Yes.”

“You’re trading me?” I ask again, still in disbelief. “But I fucking killed it out there today. I’m one of your best players, Rick.”

“Could be a good opportunity for you,” he says.

I open the folder again. “Kansas City? Are you kidding me? It’s a demotion and you know it.”

“They’re a solid team, Sawyer. You’ll do well there. And they are one of the few teams willing to take you on. Hell, you’re lucky we’re not straight up releasing you.”

“Come on, Rick. Lots of guys have issues like I do.”

“Issues?” He walks over to his file cabinet and pulls out a thick folder. He drops it on his desk in front of me. “Your issues take up more room in my file cabinet than the other twenty-four players combined.”

He opens the tattered folder and pulls out some papers, shuffling through them. “I’ve never seen so many complaints. Women, men, old, young. Hell, I had to sit here and get my ass chewed out by some hussy’s granny last fall. I don’t know how many times you have to be told to stop fucking around, Mills.”

“Why the hell does the organization even care what I do when I’m off the field as long as I perform like I did today? I’m making the team tens of millions and you know it.”

He shakes his head. “There comes a time when the risks outweigh the rewards. And we’ve pretty much hit our limit. Your reputation has gone from being the quintessential bad boy of baseball to potentially damaging the Nighthawks’ brand and we can’t have that.”

“What about Brady? He had a chick in every city for Christ’s sake. Did you ever threaten to trade him?”

Rick shakes his head. “He kept a low profile. We didn’t have to hire an additional PR person just to cover up his indiscretions.”

“So you’d rather get rid of me than give me a second chance?”

He gives me a stern stare and then nods to the folder on his desk. “The racy photos. The constant stream of tabloid fodder. The goddamn pitching coach’s daughter. Need I say more? Mills, you’ve had a hundred chances and everyone knows it.”

“Come on, Rick. You know as well as I do you’ve never threatened to trade me. Yeah, so you’ve had it out with me a few times, but if I’d known it was coming to this—”

“You’d what? You’d change? We’ve been asking you to do that for years.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t think it was that serious.”

“This is a business decision, Sawyer. Nothing personal.”

I stand up and pace behind the chair. “Nothing personal? You’re not serious, are you? This is very fucking personal. You haven’t ever liked me, Rick. Not from the very beginning. And you’ve said nothing to me about this being a possibility. This is bullshit and you know it. I could have done things differently. I would have done things differently. You can’t do this without warning. You have to give me a chance to prove myself now that I know what could happen. Come on, man. I love it here. And you need me. Please. Give me a chance to show you I can change.”

“Pick up, Rick,” a familiar voice says from the speaker on his phone.

Shit.

It’s Jason. The team owner. He’s been listening in the entire time.

Rick puts the phone to his ear. “What is it?”

I pace his office, running my hands through my hair as the two men discuss my fate.

I can’t imagine leaving New York. My whole life is here. It’s where I started my career. They are the only MLB team I’ve played for. My friends are here. They are more than friends, they’re family.

Rick holds out the phone to me, looking annoyed. “Jason would like a word.”

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