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Perfect Catch(3)

By´╝ÜSierra Dean



While his body wasn’t as lean as most of his teammates, the pudge of the previous season had been replaced with more muscle, and she found herself staring at his bulky bare forearms, marveling at the implied strength they advertised.

This was a man who caught hundred-mile-an-hour fastballs for a living and knocked home runs out of the park. Of course he had strong arms.

Strong arms that couldn’t change a flat, she reminded herself, to keep from getting too distracted.

Ballplayers were off-limits. That was her one steadfast rule, and she’d had it before she even started working games. There wasn’t a written rule against it because so few women worked in the league, but when she’d started, she’d been told in no uncertain terms she wasn’t allowed to mingle with the players. If she was going to be taken seriously as an umpire, she couldn’t have a reputation for bedding any guy with a nice swing, no matter how impressive his smile was.

The only time she’d broken her rule had been ten years in her past, before she was an umpire, and it would be the last time. That mistake had gone on to be a New York Mets MVP and had gotten his picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

She’d gotten a daughter.

And while the child-support checks were welcome—even if she’d had to fight tooth and nail for them through his team of lawyers—she would have preferred Olivia to be raised with a reliable father figure in her life.

Alex might be looking pretty good to her in the dim glow of his car’s headlights, but she immediately crushed any notion of anything happening between them. If he hadn’t been a ballplayer…if he’d just been some random guy who needed her help, she might have slipped him her number after.

Alas.

As she passed by him to inspect the flat tire, she glanced backwards, getting an uninterrupted view of his ass. Her face flamed in a hot blush.

Oh yes, the off-season had definitely been good to Alex Ross.





Chapter Two

She was like a guardian angel.

A guardian angel who had been poured into some dangerously tight Levi’s and was now bent over his trunk, rummaging around to get the spare out. When she emerged triumphant, her cheeks were rosy from the dig and the cool night air. Her breath puffed out in a white cloud when she laughed.

“For a new car, you’ve sure managed to fit a lot of crap in the trunk already.”

“I like to be prepared. Six weeks is a long time to go without something.” He took the jack from her as she fought with the tire. When he realized she intended to wrestle it out herself, he put the jack on the ground and came to her aid, placing one hand on her back so she wouldn’t be surprised by his sudden arrival.

The heat of her skin was sensational. He hadn’t realized how cold his fingers were until he touched her. She, too, was taken aback by the chill of his hand, because the moment he grazed the exposed section of flesh above the waistband of her jeans, she jumped.

“Sorry. Colder than I thought, I guess.”

In her brief alarm she had dropped the tire and stood back from him, looking ruffled. “It’s okay.”

He pulled out the tire for her, kicking himself for letting her try it on her own. It wasn’t that he thought she was incapable—the woman clearly knew her way around a car—but it wasn’t too chivalrous of him to make her carry a fucking tire all by herself.

He could hear Jane, his eldest sister, saying, “What kind of gentleman does something like that, Alex?” His sisters often functioned as the angels on his shoulder, reminding him of how a woman ought to be treated.

His notions might be on the old-fashioned side, but he liked to believe even the most forward-thinking woman would want to be treated like a lady.

Alex leaned the tire against the car and recovered the jack he’d set down earlier. Alice shucked off her lightweight jacket and draped it over the edge of the trunk before locating the tire iron. She set to work loosening the nuts that held on the hubcap. When she let out a small grunt of exertion, he piped in, “Can I help?”

She gave him an amused look through the curtain of her white-blonde bangs. “I’ve got it. But thanks.”

Alex warred with himself. He was pretty sure he should insist on taking over the physical labor, but she was handling things okay so far, and he honestly didn’t know what to do. He paced nervously, not used to being unable to help when all his instincts told him he should.

For the next ten minutes he felt altogether useless, hanging back as Alice removed the tire and got the spare affixed. He dutifully provided assistance whenever she needed an extra set of hands or a change of tools, but otherwise his denim-clad savior was a one-woman show. When she was finished, there was a sheen of sweat on her chest, drawing his gaze down to her cleavage. She wiped her brow and attempted to get the grease off her hands by rubbing the back of her pants.

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