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Perfect Catch(2)

By:Sierra Dean

Kevin’s response was cut off by Olivia’s barely audible complaints. “You on your way now? The beast is getting restless.”

“The beast wouldn’t be half so restless if you had fed her two hours ago,” Alice reminded him. “Let her watch My Little Pony until I get home, and she’ll be fine.”

Any protestations Kevin made were halfhearted at best because she knew he secretly liked the cartoon.

“Yeah, I’ll be home in fifteen. Give Liv a handful of goldfish crackers if her tone gets any more woe-is-me than it already is. Don’t let her talk you into those cinnamon sticks from the pizza place either.”

“Her talk me into them. Yes. That’s what happened last time.”

Alice grinned at the phone. Whenever she questioned why she’d let Kevin move in with her, a moment would come around to remind her. She adored her brother, and he was the most important person in her life aside from Olivia, and even though he pushed her to the very boundaries of her patience, she loved him fiercely.

She got back into her car, giving the ballpark one last glance. In the next week it would be crawling with all manner of players and staff, and once the spring training games started, she’d be tossed into the mix. This was the calm before the storm.

After backing out of the lot, she turned onto the main thoroughfare and was soon driving down the barren stretch of highway that took her from Lakeland proper to her neighborhood.

Since the highway was typically empty this time of night, a set of blinking rear lights stuck out like a sore thumb in the dark. The part of her dedicated to self-preservation told her keep going, but the good Samaritan within reminded her it was a long shot anyone else was going to pass by and offer help.

Locking all her doors, she slowed down and stopped alongside the car. Better able to see it now, she let out an appreciative whistle at the pristine new Porsche Panamera. Its matte-black exterior made it blend in with the growing darkness, but Alice had to admire the audaciousness of the car.

She rolled her window down halfway and leaned across the seat. The car’s owner got out, and Alice struggled to place his face. He was unconventionally handsome, with a dark growth of stubble along his jaw and equally dark—borderline curly—hair in desperate need of a trim. He was familiar the way an old acquaintance at a party might be. She knew she ought to have a name to go along with the face, but she was drawing a blank.

“Car trouble?” she asked.

He braced an arm on the roof of her car and peered in the partially opened window. “Yeah. Flat tire. Guess Porsche didn’t design these things to survive driving over fallen tree branches.”

“No spare?”

His round-cheeked smile faltered, and he lowered his gaze, looking downright sheepish. “If I admit I don’t know how to change a tire, are you going to think less of me as a man?”

Alice laughed. “If I told you I’m not shocked a Porsche owner can’t do his own car maintenance, will you think I’m being prejudiced?”

“I can’t be offended if it’s true.” He put his hand through the window. “I’m Alex.”

Alex. Alex. When Alice shook his hand, she scrutinized him more thoroughly. “Oh Christ. Of course. You’re Alex Ross.”

Alex didn’t seem surprised she recognized him. He probably got it a lot around town this time of year. Alex Ross was the star catcher for the San Francisco Felons. “That’s me.”

“We’ve met. I’m Alice Darling, Emmy Kasper’s friend. She introduced us at The Low Ball last year.”

He tilted his head, and she obliged him by lowering the window and activating her interior light so he could see her better. The new recognition on his face was genuine, and she was glad he seemed to remember her. “Wow. Hey, Alice. Small world.”

“No kidding. You need some help with that tire?”

“Yeah, if you don’t mind?”

“Changing a flat for a four-time All-Star? I don’t mind, as long as you let me tell all my friends.”

He laughed and stepped back from the car so Alice could pull forward and park ahead of him. When she got out, she was able to get a better look at him. Last time she’d seen Alex he’d been stocky—borderline paunchy, even—but the off-season had been good to him. He still wasn’t as tall as the average baseball player, only five-eleven or so, while most towered close to six and a half feet. But a taller man would have seemed ridiculously oversized in a Porsche.

His dark hair had been mussed by the evening wind, giving him a wild, youthful appearance, and when he smiled, his brown eyes lit up, and Alice was nearly dazzled by the whiteness of his teeth. He ought to give his dentist a nice, fat bonus check.