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Perfect Catch(7)

By:Sierra Dean

Kevin, too, appeared aware of the rarity of Olivia’s kindness, and both he and Alice sat in breathless quiet, watching to see what Alex would do. The new arrival didn’t bother relying on them for a hint. He helped himself to two slices of the cheese pizza and said, “Can you pass the parmesan?”

Chapter Four

It didn’t matter how much time he’d spent with personal trainers over the winter, or how much work he’d put into getting into shape, Alex was never going to like running.

He kept pace with Tucker as they jogged down one of the paths near the hotel, while Tucker’s fiancée Emmy put them both to shame running several feet ahead.

“You’re like a foot taller than she is,” Alex pointed out. “I’m pretty sure you could pass her.”

“If I passed her, I wouldn’t get to enjoy the view.” Tucker’s voice was deadpan, but Alex saw the quirk of a grin tug at his friend’s lips.

“I can hear you.” Emmy was now jogging backwards, giving them a fake look of disapproval.

“Woman, watch where you’re running,” Alex scolded. “You are an accident waiting to happen.” Though he knew Emmy wasn’t as clumsy as he tended to tease her about being, right then it was easy to remind her of the time she’d nearly run him and Tucker over with her bike on that same path.

Emmy stuck her tongue out at him and spun back around, sing-songing, “Be nice to me, Alex. I know where you were last night.”

Alex stumbled, regaining his footing before he tripped over himself. Tucker chuckled at his fumble but stood at the ready to steady Alex if necessary.

“Guess you know all about it too?” Alex asked when he got his feet working properly again. Emmy had slowed some, falling into line between Tucker and Alex, a cheeky, infectious grin on her face.

“I might have heard something about it,” Tucker admitted.

“Well, it’s not like it’s anything. She helped me with a flat, that’s all. I’d hardly call it a romantic evening. Me, her brother glaring at me, and her kid.”

“I’m amazed she introduced you to Olivia. I mean, I know Alice pretty well, and that’s sort of a big deal.” Emmy gave Tucker a friendly hip bump, and he sidestepped, giving her more room.

Watching the two of them together was interesting for Alex. A year earlier they’d been strangers, but somehow twelve months had transformed them from separate entities to a well-honed unit. They read each other without words, and Alex often wondered how Tucker had functioned before meeting Emmy. Everything changed once the two of them got together. Tucker was happier, warmer and downright better. Even his game had improved.

It didn’t hurt that Emmy was the team’s athletic trainer, and it was her job to help Tucker improve. She’d gone above and beyond, getting his head back on straight, his pitch where it should be, and the rest seemed to fall into place afterwards.

Alex wasn’t much of a romantic, but he liked seeing the good things love could do for people.

In Tucker’s case it had gotten him a perfect game. And a soon-to-be wife. Not too shabby.

“What do you mean, sort of a big deal?” Alex returned to Emmy’s last comment.

“She doesn’t introduce guys to Olivia. She likes to keep that part of her life private. I mean, honestly I can’t remember the last time she dated, let alone brought a guy home. Under normal circumstances I’d say it meant she really liked you. But considering she just met you, and you’re, you know, a ballplayer, that’s obviously not the case.”

How Emmy was able to chat freely without losing her breath was an impressive feat. Alex huffed along beside her, then asked, “What’s wrong with ballplayers? We’re good enough for you.” He gave her a grin to show he was only ribbing her. Emmy had a good sense of humor, but he never knew where a woman’s patience would wear thin. Five sisters had taught him to tread carefully and cover his ass.

“I got one of the good ones,” Emmy replied.

“Ouch.” Alex held his hands over his heart, feigning injury.

Emmy responded by cuffing him in the arm. “Seriously though, she doesn’t date baseball players.”

“Who said anything about dating?” Alex caught his defensive tone and added, “Not that I care or anything. But why?”

“She’s an ump. I swear I told you that when I introduced you.”

“Maybe. Beer and brain cells are not exactly mutually beneficial.”

Emmy snorted. “Half the water in your body has been replaced with alcohol, Ross. You’d breathe beer if you could.”

“Give me some credit here, please. Whiskey. I’d breathe whiskey if I could.”