Murphy puts a hand on her arm and it makes me wonder if Lexi has had experience with any of the so-called other ones.
I know everyone has a story. I wonder what hers is. On the surface, it seems like some people live charmed lives. I thought that about Brady when I first met him. Boy was I wrong. And even though Caden and Murphy’s story ended fabulously, it took a lot for them to get where they are. Murphy’s aspiring career was ruined and her reputation almost tarnished after what she went through.
While I used to think everyone else had better luck than I do, now I know my life has been a virtual walk in the park compared to some.
I hope I will get to know these ladies enough to find out their stories.
“Are you guys ready to watch the game?” Murphy asks.
“I’ll make the popcorn,” Lexi says.
I walk into the kitchen. “I’ll get the snacks and juice boxes for the kids.”
Skylar opens a cabinet and finds some glasses. “I’ll pour the wine. Rylee, are you a wine drinker?”
I point to a bag I brought with me and she walks over to pull two bottles out of it.
“I knew we were going to get along great,” she says, laughing.
The doorbell rings again and in walks a young girl.
“Everyone, this is Alicia. She’s going to keep the kids busy so we can watch the game. Alicia, there are snacks on the counter and a selection of movies by the living room TV. We’ll be in the theater room if you need us.”
Murphy messes with the electronics on the side wall until the game comes on the large screen. I’m excited to see the game. I really do like baseball. There were a lot of years that I thought my dad wished I was a boy because he took me to so many Saturday games growing up. He even put me on a baseball team when I was five. I played until I was eleven, when the boys started teasing me about getting boobs.
My eyes are glued to the screen when they show the visitors’ dugout. I hope to catch a glimpse of Brady in his uniform, but the camera moves too fast. Caden gets a close-up when he walks out to go behind the plate. I look over to see Murphy watching the screen intently.
“It never gets old,” she says. “I can’t believe that gorgeous man is mine.”
“He is gorgeous,” Skylar says.
“Yeah,” I agree. “Totally.”
“Eeeew. You are talking about my brother,” Lexi broods.
“Your brother who is gorgeous,” I say.
“I have sex with that man,” Murphy teases her. “Lots and lots of sex.”
Lexi throws a piece of popcorn at Murphy. “I do not need to hear that.”
We eat and drink and talk as we’re watching the game. Then during the seventh-inning-stretch, I finally get my close-up of Brady as the announcers discuss his injury.
“He’s traveling with the team now, so we can assume they believe he’s recovering,” one of them says.
“I’ve never seen a six-month recovery from a simple elbow break,” the other announcer replies.
“Obviously there is more to it than that. We’ve all seen bone breaks that end careers. But the rumor is he’s having nerve issues as well.”
They go on discussing what may or may not happen in Brady Taylor’s future, and the whole time, they are either showing old game footage, the video of the hit that broke his elbow, or Brady talking with his teammates in the dugout.
I can’t peel my eyes away from the screen. When they show him laughing, I reel over how roguishly handsome he is.
“Now, there’s another gorgeous one,” Skylar says. “He might even give Caden competition in the looks department. It’s a shame about his arm. Think he’ll ever play again?”
“He’ll play again,” I announce to the room.
Murphy smiles and Lexi and Skylar question me with their eyes.
“I’m his physical therapist,” I explain.
“Wait,” Lexi says. “You aren’t the physical therapist from Tampa, are you?”
I narrow my eyes at her.
“I overheard my brother and Brady talking a few months ago about a girl from Tampa. Brady seemed very, um, enamored … which is decidedly uncharacteristic of him. Were they talking about you?”
“It’s her,” Murphy says with a smile.
“Oh, my gosh!” Lexi squeals. “Someone is finally going to tame the beast.”
I about spit out my sip of wine thinking of Brady and the comment he made about his ‘beast.’
“I’m not so sure about that,” I say.
“I am,” Murphy says. “He’s moved into her building. He stopped sleeping around. The man is looking to settle down I tell you.”
I give Murphy a scolding look. “Nobody is looking to settle down,” I say. “We’re not even officially dating. Not for seven more weeks anyway.”
“What happens in seven weeks?” Skylar asks.
I roll my eyes thinking about our silly deal. “He wanted me to give him two months to prove himself to me.”
“Prove himself?” Skylar asks.
“Brady is … was … kind of slutty,” I explain. “And there are a lot of girls in the cities they travel to who would like him to remain that way.”
“My bets are on Brady,” Lexi says.
“Mine too,” Murphy says. “Do you know that he’s rooming with Caden?”
“What?” My eyes snap to hers. “Why? I thought they all got their own room.”
“I guess he’s trying to prove something to you.”
I shrug sadly. “Or maybe he thinks he’ll give in to temptation if he has his own room.”
“Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise, okay?” she says.
I nod. “Caden doesn’t mind having a roommate?”
“No, not at all. Unless he snores. He doesn’t snore, does he?”
“Don’t know,” I say before taking a sip of wine. “I never slept with him.”
Murphy stares me down skeptically.
I roll my eyes. “I never fell asleep with him.”
“Well, when you do start dating, have him bring you to Mitchell’s,” Skylar says.
“He’s bringing me there next Saturday,” I tell her.
“And yet you’re not dating,” Lexi says smiling.
“Semantics,” Murphy says.
“Can we talk about something else?” I plead.
Lexi looks back at the screen and squeals. We all look to see what happened, and on the replay, they show Sawyer Mills stealing home.
“Well, since the most eligible bachelor on the Nighthawks is about to be taken, looks like that slot has just been filled by number fifty-five.” She nods to his picture plastered up on the screen.
“From what I hear, the guy is as bad as Brady,” I say.
“And yet Brady has been tamed,” Lexi says. She sees my unappreciative stare and holds up her hands. “Fine, fine, no more talk about the former playboy of baseball.”
“Wow, he’s super-fast,” Skylar says, watching another replay.
“They call him Speed Limit,” Murphy says.
“He’s fast and his number is fifty-five,” Murphy explains. “Sawyer hates it when they call him that.”
“I think it’s a great nickname,” I say.
“Since when has the speed limit been fifty-five?” Skylar asks.
Murphy laughs. “I know, right? But I think his grandfather called him that when he got assigned the number.”
“I guess it is kind of catchy,” she says. “What’s his story?”
Everyone looks to Murphy who seems to know more about the players than anyone.
She shrugs. “Beats me. All I know is that management hates him man-whoring around. He has no shame. Sleeps with just about anyone in a short skirt. But never more than once. He’d better watch himself or he’ll turn up in a ditch somewhere after he’s pissed off one too many boyfriends or husbands.”
“What do you mean never more than once?” Skylar asks.
“He never takes a girl out more than one time,” Murphy tells her.
“He must be seriously messed up,” Skylar says.
“You never know what drives people to do what they do,” I say.
Murphy gives me a knowing look. “Yeah, you never know. Don’t go judging a book by its cover.”
“You’re absolutely right,” Skylar says. “I was quite a slut myself back in the day, so I have no right to judge anyone.”
I raise my brow at her.
“Long story,” she says. “But if you really want to know, go buy the book my sister wrote about it.”
“That’s right,” I say. “Murphy told me your sister is a famous romance author.”
Lexi laughs. “Don’t let Baylor hear you call her famous. She hates that. And I’m her assistant. I’ll get you the book and any others you want to read.”
“That sounds wonderful,” I say. “I could use a good book.”
“Let’s do a real girls’ night,” Murphy says. “I haven’t been out with your sisters in forever, Skylar. And Lexi’s sisters-in-law could come too. No boys, no kids.”
“That sounds heavenly,” Lexi says. “I’ll set it up.”
We watch the rest of the game and hang out drinking wine until some of the kids start getting cranky.
It isn’t until I get home that I realize I missed a text.
Brady: Heading to bed now. Alone, by the way. It’s been a long day. Sweet dreams, Ry.
It’s the first time he’s texted me since we were in Tampa.
I smile. But I don’t text him back. My mother taught me long ago never to text a man after you’ve been drinking. And now I understand why. There are so many things I want to say – but shouldn’t.
I’ve resisted the urge to use his key again. I wanted to so badly. I wanted to sneak up and lie on his bed to smell his scent. I’ve thought of excuses for going. Maybe I left lights on. Did I close the balcony door tightly enough? Anything that would give me a reason to visit 16F one more time while he was away.
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