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I stick my head in the car and lay a kiss on her. “Are you for real?”

“I’m for real in love with you, Kessler.”

I smile, knowing she’d find some way to tell me she loves me. She does every day. “Right backatcha, Murphy Brown.”

I walk around the car and get in, starting it up and backing out.

“Where are we going first?” she asks in excitement.

I stare at her. I sure as hell don’t need words to tell her what I have planned.

She wiggles out of her flip flops. “Okay then, I guess the beach will have to wait.”

“I have big plans for us and the beach,” I say. “But not today. I don’t have the tent with me.”

“You have a tent? Why do you have a tent?”

“You don’t expect me to make love to my girl out in the open do you? That shit would end up on YouTube.”

I glance over to see her swallow. Hard. “We’re going to make love on the beach?”

“It’s one of your fantasies, isn’t it?”

“Well … yes, but—”

“But nothing. It’s happening. I even got a tent that opens at the top for star-gazing.”

“It sounds like you thought of everything,” she says, smiling.

“I did. Wait until you see the hotel suite. We could hole up in there all week and never leave. I’ve stocked it with all your favorite snacks and drinks. And with room service … hell, we won’t even have to get out of bed until Monday.”

She reaches over to grab my hand. “Sounds like the perfect vacation.”

I laugh, settling our entwined hands on her bare leg. “Don’t worry, babe. I’ll get you to the beach. Maybe you can hang out there when I’m at practice.”

“That might be okay for a day or two, but I’d also like to watch a few practices if that’s allowed.”

“Of course. Anything you want.”

Her phone chirps with a text. When she looks at it, she seems upset.

“What is it?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “It’s Tony. He says he wants to talk to me.”

“Give it to me,” I say, reaching over to get her phone. “I’ll text him. I’ll tell him where he can shove his misguided attempts at extortion.”

She holds the phone out of my reach. “You are not going to text him, Caden. I don’t care what he wants, I’m not even going to answer him. Plus, you’re driving.”

“I wasn’t going to text him this second,” I scoff at her. “I’m not stupid, you know.”

She taps around on her phone. “Problem solved,” she says. “I blocked his number.”

“How does that solve the problem, Murph? It’s not like he’s some random caller. He has your number. He can call it from anyone’s phone.”

“Well, it solves the problem for now,” she says. “And if he keeps texting from another phone, I’ll turn the thing off. He’s not going to ruin my vacation.”

A few months ago, the snake contacted her, threatening to sue her for throwing his home run ball out the window. He said he could have gotten money for it so she should pay him to compensate. Asked her for a few thousand dollars. It was ridiculous. I hadn’t even signed it. I wonder what other scheme he’s come up with now.

I’ve considered filing a restraining order against him, but Ethan said if he hasn’t physically threatened her, they won’t issue one. So, the prick continues to be a thorn in my side.

We pull up to the valet parking at the hotel. I pop the trunk and leave her suitcase for the bellhop so I can quickly get us through the swarm of the dozen-or-so girls who have decided to camp out in front of the hotel this afternoon.

I get no less than two marriage proposals on our way by. But it’s not those that bother me. It’s the remarks about Murphy. Girls asking why I’m with her when they can offer me a perfect face. It takes a lot of willpower not to stop and tell them off. But I learned a long time ago, that won’t accomplish anything.

Once we’re safely inside, Murphy asks, “Do you have to deal with that every day?”

“Pretty much.”

“That’s awful. Can’t the hotel do anything about it?”

“If the fans get unruly, they will ask them to leave. But they always come back. The hotel does a good job of keeping them out of the lobby, but sometimes an overzealous fan will slip by them, going to great lengths to pretend to be a guest.”

Murphy gives me an incredulous look. “What’s wrong with people?”

I grab her hand and lead her into the elevator. “You know as well as I do, everyone wants a slice of the pie.”

“People suck,” she says.

I cage her into the corner of the elevator, not wanting to wait another minute to kiss her again. “You don’t suck,” I say, looking down on her.

“You don’t suck, either,” she says, pulling my head closer to hers.

When my lips are about to touch hers, I say, “Now that we’ve cleared that up, what are we going to do with each other?”

“Anything,” she says, longingly. “Everything.”

I kiss her until the door opens on my floor. Then I sweep her into my arms and carry her to my suite, having every intention of holding her to her unspoken promise.

Chapter Forty-four

Murphy

There is a knock on the door to our suite. Caden’s still in the bathroom getting ready for practice, so I throw on a robe to go collect our breakfast.

When I open the door, however, there isn’t a tray of food. There’s a girl leaning against the opposite wall with her blouse practically unbuttoned to her navel. Her boobs are spilling out of her push-up bra so much I can almost see her nipples.

I raise my eyebrows at her.

“Oh.” She barely has the decency to look embarrassed. “Is Caden here?”

“Yes,” I say dryly, without making any indication that I’m going to fetch him.

“Well, do you know when you might be done with him?”

My jaw drops at her audacity. “Yeah.” I look at my wrist as if there’s a watch on it. “In about seventy-five years.”

The girl doesn’t look amused, but Caden does as he walks up next to me and plants a kiss on my forehead.

His smile turns into a scowl when he addresses the girl. “How did you get my room number?”

She stands up straighter and squeezes her arms together to give her boobs a lift. “How do you think?”

“Leave now,” Caden says. “Or I’m calling security.”

The girl pulls her blouse together. “Fine. Jeez. I’ll just go find someone else. I hear Brady Taylor is a good lay. But you don’t know what you’re missing.”

Caden eyes her up and down. “From the looks of it, a shot of penicillin.”

She walks off in a huff and Caden slams the door as I laugh at his epic joke. Then he picks me up and carries me over to the couch. Picking me up is becoming a habit of his. One I hope he never breaks.

He sits down with me on his lap. “Seventy-five years, huh?”

I shrug a provocative shoulder.

He leans in to kiss my neck. “Won’t be long enough,” he says against my skin.

I glance up at the clock. “Caden, while I’d love to go for round three, I’m not planning on being the reason you’re late to practice. And you haven’t eaten yet.”

A knock on the door has us laughing at the timing. “I’ll get this one,” he says.

After our breakfast gets delivered, Caden pulls me back onto his lap and feeds me. “Do you know what I find extremely sexy?” he asks.

“Other than the black negligee I wore last night?” I shimmy myself around on his lap.

I feel him harden beneath me. “Stop it or I’ll never leave,” he says, forking a bite of eggs into my mouth. “What I was going to say is that it’s a huge turn on that you don’t get jealous, Murph. Most girls would have seen that tramp in the hallway and immediately assumed their boyfriend would invite her in.”

I don’t think for a minute that he would have invited her in. I trust Caden completely. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see green from time to time. Every beautiful woman who throws herself at him makes me want to gouge her eyes out. Every girl who sends him love notes has me wanting to brand him publicly as mine. Every person who puts me down because they think they are better than me puts a small chink in my self-confidence. But I work hard not to show him any of that. He has enough to deal with because of his celebrity status. He doesn’t need a jealous girlfriend breathing down his neck.

“What good would that do?” I ask. “If you want someone else, nothing I say is going to stop you. And if it comes to the point where I’m not enough for you—”

“That will never happen.” He situates me so I’m straddling him on the dining room chair. “I’m going to marry you one day, Murphy Brown. And you’re going to have all my babies. And we’re going to live happily ever after for every one of those seventy-five years.”

He pulls my face to his and kisses me. He kisses me senseless and then he stands up with me in his arms, depositing me back on the chair before he grabs his bag and walks to the door. “Don’t get too sunburned today,” he says. “I have big plans for that body later.”

Then he walks out of the suite leaving me a hot, speechless mess.

~ ~ ~

Caden winks at me from the practice field. I love watching him play. And the man finally got his wish. I am, in fact, now a bona fide baseball lover. He taught me a lot during the off-season and I can’t wait to go to his games, knowing I’ll be able to fully understand everything that’s happening.

My phone chirps and I look to see Kirsten has sent me a text.

Kirsten: Did you block Tony?

Me: Yes. I don’t have anything to say to him.

Kirsten: But he needs to talk to you.

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