Just one night sex love.., p.13
Just One Night: Sex, Love & Stiletto Series, page 13
“Hello?” Riley asked again when nobody responded.
“Your thing with Sam,” Julie said, nudging her tennis shoe softly against Riley’s knee. “You know, the plan.”
She slumped onto the bench next to Julie. “I don’t think it’s working.”
“Are you kidding?” Emma said. “The man’s been burning you up with his eyes since the second he arrived on the field.”
“Only because he wants to strangle me for being a brat.”
“Oh come on,” Julie said. “That’s crazy.”
Riley pivoted her head to give her friend a long look. “He told me that.”
“Of course he did,” Emma said calmly. “He has to say something to keep himself from dragging you under the bleachers to make out.”
Grace stepped out of the dugout but remained close to the fence as she gave a “practice swing” that resembled something between a golf swing and a yoga stretch.
“Looking good, sweetheart!” Jake called.
They all ignored him.
“Look, I say just keep doing what you’re doing,” Grace said.
Riley started to glance toward third, where Sam had been stranded as Jake pitched his way toward the third out.
“Don’t!” all three of her friends commanded at the same time.
“You have hump eyes when you look at him.”
“Hump eyes? That is not a thing,” Riley said.
Julie pointedly pivoted toward the spot where Mitchell stood talking with some of the Oxford guys and stared at her fiancé. It took Riley only four seconds to get it. Everything about Julie changed when she looked at Mitchell. Her body language, her mouth, and yup … those were definitely hump eyes.
“I look like that?” she asked, incredulous, pointing at Julie. “She looks ridiculous.”
Emma patted her knee. “Don’t feel bad. It’s the same affliction Grace has when she looks at Jake. You’re in good company.”
“Hey, I think Alex is trying to get our attention,” Julie said, jerking her chin toward the opposite dugout where Oxford’s editor in chief was giving his team a pep talk.
Emma turned to look at Cassidy, but Riley, Julie, and Grace all watched Emma.
“You see?” Grace said smugly, holding up a hand toward Emma. “Hump eyes case study number four.”
Emma’s head whipped around. “What just happened?”
“You tell us,” Julie said, studying her nails.
Emma was saved by loud cheering coming from the Oxford dugout as Jake struck Oliver out in a horrifically short at bat.
“It’s not my fault your guy looks so good in jeans,” Oliver muttered at Grace as he carefully removed his helmet so as not to muss his hair.
Riley sighed as Emma snapped a glove across her chest. It was their team’s turn in the field. “I hate this part.”
“Maybe if you spent more time watching the batter and less time flirting with the center field guy, you’d be more into the fielding part of the game.”
Riley told herself to get going, but she lingered as Sam ran in from third.
Sam hung up his helmet, and unlike the prissier Oliver, he merely ran a hand through his unruly hair. He nodded in thanks as she handed him his glove.
They walked shoulder to shoulder onto the field, he to shortstop and she to left field. “Try and actually get the ball in the glove this time, hmm, Ri?” he said as he settled between second and third base.
“Maybe if you were a little more adept at grounders, I wouldn’t have to do all the work. Besides, I’m carrying my weight.”
He gave her an incredulous look. “How do you figure?”
“Well, let’s see.” She tapped a fingernail against pursed lips. “One of us scored, and the other—”
“The other got on base because he actually made contact with the ball, not because the pitcher was distracted with nipples,” he snapped.
So he’d noticed.
Riley did her best impression of embarrassed, although admittedly it wasn’t her best role. “Wrong bra choice, I guess.”
Sam’s eyes darkened, exactly as she’d hoped they would. “Another of those scrappy lacy numbers?”
Riley made an oh gross face as she walked backward. “I thought we were going to pretend that never happened.”
His gaze flicked briefly to her chest before he pulled down the bill of his hat and turned his back to her. She thought she heard him mutter something, but it was hard to know for sure when she was so distracted by the way his butt looked in those jeans.
Sam had shown up wearing a navy hoodie over a couple of layered T-shirts. The look was good on him.
She felt a glare, and glanced over to where Julie was giving her a look from right field.
Right. Start thinking little-sister thoughts.
Camille hollered, “Batter up!” and needlessly blew a whistle, and Sam leaned over slightly in that “ready” pose of people who actually knew how to play this sport.
Her chances of being able to focus on the game went from about one percent to nil when she had an unobstructed view of his butt.
Luckily Emma had taken over the pitching mound and made surprisingly quick work of the trio of Oxford wives and girlfriends who stepped up to the plate.
The game proceeded in the boring back-and-forth that defined amateur softball, and finally, finally, the ninth inning rolled around.
“Do you have a mirror?” Riley asked Sam as she tried to find the least ugly helmet out of the bunch. There was a purple one that wasn’t so bad, but it was planted firmly on the head of Julie, who was on first base for the first time ever.
Riley was pretty sure Jake had given Julie a pity walk, but she doubted she’d get any such sympathy. Jake, being the loyal type, only had eyes for Grace and hadn’t been the least bit enthralled by Riley’s careful Playboy posing two innings back. She’d struck out.
“It’s not a freaking fashion show,” Sam muttered as he plucked a brown helmet off the bench and set it on her head, giving it a soft smack on the top.
“This one’s ugly.” She scowled up at him.
He looked down at her, his lips curving in amusement. “But it fits.”
The air became still between them as their gazes held, and Riley quickly stepped back and grabbed a bat as she silently repeated the mantra Emma had ingrained in her head.
Make him hate that you’re over him.
“You know this is the closest Stiletto’s ever come to winning?” she asked.
“So? We’re losing five–four, and it’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs.”
Riley glanced at the area above his head. “Oh, look, a little black storm cloud.”
“Just get on base, would ya?”
She shrugged. “Honestly, I’m kind of just in it for the free beer at O’Malley’s after the game.”
Still, she did kind of want to win. Not because she liked the sport. Because she liked winning.
Then there was a crack of the bat as Emma lined the ball over the head of the third baseman and everyone started yelling. Like, everyone.
Ironically, the loudest voice was Emma screaming at Julie to run, run, run, which was rather unnecessary, as running was the only athletic endeavor Julie could do, thanks to Mitchell’s penchant for marathons.
Julie apparently drew the line at Emma’s scream to slide but made it safely to third all the same, while Emma gloated on second and Jake did an admirable job of not having a heart attack on the pitching mound.
Riley was so delighted with her friends’ success that she didn’t immediately realize what Emma’s clutch hit meant for her.
Bottom of the ninth.
Runner on third.
Now there wasn’t even a ghost of a chance that Jake would walk her out of pity. She actually had to swing.
Sam stopped his cheering and came up behind her, planting palms on her shoulders. “You’ve got th
“Really? Because I seem to remember soccer being more my thing.”
“Only because you liked the outfits better.”
“Have you actually seen women’s soccer gear? It’s not exactly a short cheerleading skirt.”
“I remember the way you wore those soccer shorts.”
She gave him a surprised look, and he shrugged. “First day we met. You’d just gotten home from practice and were wearing shorts.”
“You remember that?”
“I remember all of it.” His eyes flicked to hers for a half beat before he removed his hands and shoved her none too gently forward. “Go get ’em.”
Great. Now her hands were shaking from the tension of the game and whatever moment had just passed between her and Sam.
Camille stood behind the plate with hands on her hips, and Riley saw from her boss’s narrowed eyes that she’d observed that entire encounter.
“There’s a reason coed sports end after sixth grade,” Camille muttered.
Alex Cassidy came out from the Oxford dugout to stand with Camille behind the plate. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Just providing a second opinion,” he said smoothly.
“You think I’d cheat?” Camille asked, eyes fierce behind her rented ump mask.
“Let’s just say the stakes got a little higher with that last at bat,” Alex said, his eyes flicking briefly to second base, where Emma stood, hands on her hips, glaring right back.
“Emma’s pretty good, isn’t she?” Riley said cheekily to Cassidy as she strolled up to the plate, keeping her voice and posture casual as though the entire game didn’t rest on her shoddy hand-eye coordination.
Cassidy’s eyes narrowed just briefly, and Riley caught an unexpected glimpse of the alpha businessman hiding behind that easygoing lankiness.
Look out, Emma.
And then she forgot all about Emma and Cassidy, about Camille and even Sam, because it was just her and Jake.
Grace’s boyfriend—no, fiancé—might make a ridiculously attractive Hugh Jackman look-alike, but right now he was the enemy.
“Who’s the scorekeeper?” Jake yelled to the bleachers. “Better get ready to write another K for this one!”
“I don’t know what that means,” Riley hollered back, “but let’s hope you’re wearing a cup today!”
“He’s not!” Grace yelled from the dugout.
Riley gave her trademark cat smile as her eyes dipped to the vicinity of Jake’s waist. “Excellent.”
But Jake Malone was made of stronger stuff and knew Riley well enough to be wise to her tricks, because he merely slipped on his game face and got into a rather intimidating pitcher’s position.
Playing the part, Riley stepped up to the plate and hovered the bat over her shoulder.
“Just keep your eye on the ball, Riley,” she heard Mitchell call from the dugout in his calm, nothing-riles-me voice.
“I always do,” she called back, getting the expected laughs.
She wanted to sneak a look at Sam, but then Jake was doing his windup thing, and she became determined not to be one of those girls who couldn’t manage to hit a little ball because she had a crush on a boy.
She could have sworn that the first pitch was going to be way to the right, but then it did some weird thing where it came back at the last second. Riley knew even before she heard Cassidy mutter a satisfied strike right before Camille’s more begrudging pronouncement of the same call.
“Lookin’ good,” came the husky voice from behind the catcher’s mask as he tossed the ball back to Jake.
“Shut it, Cole.”
Cole Sharpe was one of Oxford’s other golden boys and normally fun to flirt with in a harmless, platonic kind of way, but right now she wanted to win.
The second pitch was outside, although just by a hair.
“The count’s one–one!” Cole hollered needlessly. “Two more strikes and it’s beer time.”
“One more hit and it’s beer time,” Riley snapped.
Cole’s teeth flashed white in a way that claimed bullshit.
Riley remembered that she’d have to actually swing. So she did.
“I thought this was supposed to be as simple as keeping your eye on the freaking ball,” she grumbled.
The next pitch looked almost perfect but seemed to dip low at the last second, and Riley checked her swing.
Camille declared it a ball.
Then Jake declared Camille a scheming witch, which ended up in a rather fantastic shouting match. Riley gladly stepped away from the plate and let her boss and Grace’s fiancé duke it out.
Riley snuck a glance at Sam, who was leaning against the chain-link fence, arms crossed over his chest and hat pulled low.
She couldn’t actually see his eyes to know that he was watching her, but she felt it. Despite the fact that the game was inexplicably held in late September instead of summer, Riley felt suddenly hot.
Camille won the argument by a landslide, surprising nobody, and Riley stepped back up to the godforsaken plate.
The count was two and two, and her palms were beyond sweaty. To think she’d thought her biggest hurdle of the day would be getting caught staring too long at Sam.
The next pitch came at her so much faster than any of the ones before, perhaps fueled by Jake’s temper, and Riley didn’t have any time to gauge whether or not this was going to be high or low, or in her freaking face.
It was swing or die, and Riley wasn’t about to go to her grave an almost virgin.
There was a sharp crack that was so foreign in its loudness that she didn’t realize exactly what had happened until she heard someone yell run.
Probably Emma, judging by the manic intensity of the shout.
Riley sprinted toward first, and although she wasn’t sporty like Emma or a runner like Julie, her days as a high school midfielder kicked in and she made it to first base just seconds before the ball thumped into Jason Kendall’s mitt.
She barely heard Jason’s good-natured curse over the cheering coming from the Stiletto dugout, and then Riley knew that Julie and Emma had both scored.
The Stiletto team had won.
And indifferent to softball or not, that felt good.
Riley let out a whoop and entered a hopping, squealing girl-hug with Julie and Emma.
“That was clutch!” Emma yelled in her ear.
“Quit speaking sports nerd to me!” Riley hollered back, seconds before a shrieking Grace joined the hug, followed by the rest of the Stiletto staff.
When the mob finally broke apart, Riley started to go over to Jake to rub it in just a little but stopped short when she saw his scowl. Maybe she’d just let Grace soothe that one.
Riley heard a sharp smacking noise seconds before her ass started to burn. “Ouch!” she said, turning toward her gloating boss. “What was that for?”
“That’s what the coaches do on ESPN,” Camille said, lifting her hand for another smack. “It means good job.”
“Please. As if you’ve ever watched ESPN,” Riley said, dodging the second smack.
“I watch it for the eye candy,” Camille said, giving up on the ass patting and giving Riley a rare hug. “Don’t think I won’t remember this come Christmas bonus time. I only hope someone caught Cassidy’s face on camera the second you hit the ball. Pure shock.”
Camille moved toward the Oxford editor, crowing about how after-the-game drinks were going to be on Oxford’s budget, and Riley gingerly rubbed her still-smarting ass cheek.
“Nobody was more shocked than me,” she muttered.
“You know there are at least half a dozen men here who’d do that for you.”
Riley froze at the sound of Sam’s voice. She’d almost forgotten he was here. Almost.
“Do what?” she asked, turning and meeting his light blue eyes.
He nodded his chin in the direction of her backside. “Ea
Riley’s hand froze and her mouth went dry as her traitorous mind reminded her just whose hands she’d like to have on her.
And the usual retort was on the tip of her tongue: You offering?
But flirtatious banter was what he’d expect and was not part of the plan. She racked her brain for something platonic and sisterly to say, but damn it—she couldn’t look at this man without thinking sexy thoughts.
He gave her a wry look as though reading her thoughts exactly. “You did good, Ri.”
She grinned. “I know, right?”
Sam gave her a little half smile, and her throat ached with the urge to throw her arms around him the way she wanted to and celebrate the sheer thrill of the moment.
“You know, it’s weird,” she said, as though just struck by a sudden thought. “Everyone else on the Stiletto team came dashing out to congratulate me, but I didn’t see you. Did you get lost?”
“That your way of fishing for your congratulatory hug?”
Damn. He was onto her. And she didn’t even care.
“Well, Liam would have done the whole bear hug thing, and since you’re the stand-in …”
He sighed, uncrossing his arms and opening them to her. “Make it quick.”
For as long as Riley could remember, she and Sam had exchanged hugs because it was what her touchy-feely Irish family expected. He’d hugged her just like he’d hugged her sisters when he came over on Christmas and birthdays, or after they hadn’t seen each other for a while.
But with Meg and Kate the hugs had always been, well … normal. A quick good-to-see-you squeeze.
With Riley and Sam it had always been …
They either lingered too long or jerked back too quickly.
But this hug was something entirely different. It acknowledged what was between them even as it begged to be more than a hug.
She knew he meant it to be just a brief, token embrace. It’s what she’d meant it to be too. But the second his arms closed around her, she felt the rightness of it, and knew from the way he tensed that he did too.
Riley turned her face just slightly, letting her nose burrow into the warmth of his neck, although she stopped short of pressing her lips there. Barely.
by Lauren Layne / Romance have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes