“Among other things, like causing the loss of advertising dollars and game-day revenues, yeah.”
“Tommy, come on. That doesn’t make sense.”
“Actually, it does. We’re talking millions and millions of dollars, and you know the saying: blood is thicker than a paycheck.”
“How do you know this?”
“I know all.”
“Not good enough.”
“I was contacted by someone who wanted to sell me proof.”
“Oh God,” she breathed. “How much is that worth?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t take it. I have some scruples.”
Whether or not that was true, Holly’s head was spinning. Tommy was a greedy, sneaky, manipulative bastard, but the bitch of it was, he was always right. “You’re sure?”
“Listen, doll, we both know my faults. Sniffing out an untrue story is not one of them.”
“I’ll get back to you.” Holly shut her phone and stood still for a moment as the shock filled her. Sam, the bad guy? She grabbed her keys and headed out into the staggering heat, driving straight to the Heat facilities, where she found the pretty publicist in her office. “Sam? Can we talk?”
Sam barely looked up from her desk, where she had two laptops going and a handheld fan blowing right in her damp face. Her cell phone was ringing, as was her desk phone. “I’m sorry, the AC is out, the soaring temps are killing me, and I’m swamped. I don’t have time to—”
“Are you feeding bad press to your brother so his team looks better than the Heat?”
At that, she had Sam’s full attention. “What?”
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. I wouldn’t feed Jeremy anything. He’s a shark.”
Holly sank to a chair. “Okay, here’s the thing. My boss is a complete jerk, but he’s got a way of sniffing out a story. He says your bad press is an inside job.”
“Yes. Many think it’s you.”
Mouth grim, eyes worried, Sam stood up. “I know. God, I know. But it’s not me either.”
“I don’t know—No one else has the info I have,” Sam said.
“Then who’s accessing your computers and information, besides you?”
Sam opened her mouth and then slowly shut it again, thoughts clearly racing. “I need a moment alone,” she said tersely, reaching for her phone.
“Yeah. Okay.” She was back in the parking lot, sweltering in the morning heat, when her cell phone buzzed with an incoming text from Pace.
I’m back. Come to the park.
It took her fifteen minutes in the morning traffic, in the damn heat wave with no AC in her car, during which time she went over and over the look on Sam’s face. It wasn’t her. Sam loved her job, loved the guys, loved everything about the Heat. She’d never have jeopardized that.
Holly parked next to Pace’s Mustang in the parking lot and got out of her car and nearly melted. The fence wasn’t locked today, and the For Sale sign had been covered by another that read, Sold.
She saw no one. With butterflies low in her belly over the thought of seeing Pace, she walked to the empty field and turned in a slow circle in the sweltering heat, coming to a stop at the abandoned building. It was a one-story structure, originally used to store equipment, with two high, long-slatted windows that she couldn’t reach to see inside.
The door was opened. Dying for shade, she stepped over the threshold and into a large room that was clear of everything but some drop cloths, a few buckets of paint on a lone table, two ladders, and one sexy-as-hell Pace Martin.
He stood at the top of one of the ladders, roller in hand. He wore loose cargo shorts, low on his hips, the hem past his knees, and a T-shirt, both smeared with baby blue paint. Just looking at him lightened her heart.
He had his baseball hat on backward, his hair curling out from beneath the edges, and an easy smile that pretty much galvanized her.
She’d go to the ends of the earth for that smile.
He backed off the ladder with easy grace, hopping down to the floor from the last few rungs. “Hey.”
“You bought this place,” she said. “You bought it for the kids.”
“Yeah, but for me, too.” He turned to shut and lock the door, then came close, his gaze touching her features. “I missed you, Holly.”
Her heart caught painfully. The poor organ seemed to be getting quite the workout lately. He stood there with that melting smile, the promise there in his eyes, colliding with who he’d become—a man for whom baseball was just a part of his life.
Not the whole, but a part.
“I missed you, too,” she said softly.
He smiled. “Good.” He grabbed a second roller. “Want to help?”
“More than anything.”
He cocked his head, holding the roller back from her now, his shirt stretching taut across his broad chest. “More than anything? That covers a lot of ground.”
She caught the heat in his gaze and her tummy quivered, but she had to tell him what she’d just learned. “Pace . . . I talked to Tommy this morning.”
“About today’s game? Yeah, it’s a big one. Do or die.”
“No.” She drew a big breath. “About what’s happening in the press. He says it’s an inside job.” She told him everything she knew, including how she’d gone to visit Sam. “I don’t believe it’s her.”