Four Play: A Collection of Novellas

BOOK: Four Play: A Collection of Novellas
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Four Play

A collection of novellas

by Amalie Silver

 

 

 

 

Titles Included:

 

Big Balls

Debating Number Ten

Surrendering to Innocence

Fair Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are
either the product of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014, 2015 by Amalie Silver. All rights reserved.

 

Paperback ISBN: 1514348608

Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9962751-9-4

 

Cover design: Qdesign, Amy Queau. All cover art used was purchased on Bigstock.com, and all proper licenses and model releases were obtained.

 

This book has been edited by Amy Jackson Editing.

 

 

 

 

Big Balls

© Amalie Silver 2014

Originally included in the Nighttides anthology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

April 14              Game 24      79 degrees Fahrenheit

 

“Everybody in!” I called, taking off my catcher’s mask.

One by one the ladies jogged toward me, ceasing their warm-ups and stretches. Ponytails flopped loosely behind red caps, cleats crunched over the gravel, and gloves were taken off and tucked into armpits.

“All right. ladies. The game starts in five minutes. Up until last week, we were undefeated. So there are a couple of things I don’t want repeated.” I panned the field, looking for any stray red uniforms.

“Kelly, get your ass over here! And fix your pants.” She walked over, and I lowered my voice to a rumble. “Your camel toe is so obvious I feel like I should lead you to water.”

The ladies snickered.

“Okay, like I was saying… We made some obvious mistakes last game. So Lilah,” I looked to my left, letting my chin drop and my brow rise, “if I catch you checking your manicure during a game when your eye should be on the ball, I’m going to rip every one of those things off your fingers with a needlenose. Understood?”

She shamefully nodded.

“Good. Jessy.” My eyes shifted to the blonde standing at Lilah’s side. “I understand that we all have our personal problems. But you are to never again bring a breakup onto the field. Leave that shit at home.”

“Sorry, Jacky,” Jessy said, twisting her hair and looking down toward the grass.

“If you’re going to date during the season, that’s up to you. Just don’t let it affect the team,” I said with a tight nod.

“And Becky,” I added, finding her at my side. “Get a sports bra. This isn’t a striptease.”

She went to defend herself, but I put up my hand. “I don’t want to get into another discussion about the poor craftsmanship of our uniform’s buttons.”

Becky chewed the inside of her cheek and dropped her shoulders in defeat.

“Tonight is a doubleheader,” I continued. “Back to back, same team. We gotta show them who’s boss right out of the gates. Remember,” I pointed to my head, “this game is ninety percent psychological and twenty percent skill. I want to see everyone’s one-hundred-and-ten out there tonight.”

They all swiftly nodded.

“Good. Hands in!”

We piled our hands over each others’. “On three. Ready?”

In unison, we shouted, “One. Two. Three. Beavers!”

Home team had its advantages. Being first in the field meant we’d close the game batting. That would be necessary if we were behind by the ninth inning, but I had no intention of letting it get to that point.

That evening we were playing the Cougars.

They were tough.

But we were tougher.

We’d played them in the Division Championship last year, and we handed them their asses. We took the College World Series, too. But a lot of our seniors graduated last season, and a slew of freshmen and sophomores were added to our starting team. And although we had a strong team, we’d still need a lot of work if we stood a chance at winning it all again this year.

Now, more than ever, it was vital that we stay focused and committed.

Our coach’s name is Marny. She chews tobacco, wears cologne, and walks like she has a pair of testicles. She’s not much of a talker and only pulls one of us aside if she notices a flaw in our technique. Otherwise she usually sits quietly keeping score on the bench.

The team took their positions on the field. I was catcher. Izzy stood on the pitching mound, while Jessy jogged over to first base. Wanda stopped on her way to second base to pull up her sock, and Lilah was in the infield at shortstop tightening the knots on her shoes. Becky sat at third, smoothed the wrinkles from her uniform, and winked at a group of guys in the bleachers.

But even with the hustle onto the field and the sounds of nearby traffic, birds chirping, children laughing, and the pings of aluminum bats at surrounding fields, I knew that as soon as the umpire walked onto the gravel, the girls could morph into fast-pitch softball killing machines.

Fierce.

Determined.

Greedy.

Focused.

Once the outfielders got into position, I surveyed the team. The umpire walked from behind the backstop and I watched as each lady put on her game face. The heat of the evening was still bearing down, but I could feel a slight lift to the humidity as the sun began to set.

The Cougars were dressed in their bright orange uniforms, and each one stood behind the backstop rooting for their first up to bat. Cleats were perched between the fencing, and fingers gripped the wire. They all chewed big wads of bubble gum and gave us the stink eye. Those girls
looked
a lot tougher than they were.

I squatted behind the plate and nodded to Izzy. Her eyes flickered toward the umpire and waited for his words.

“Play ball!” he shouted.

My insides flipped as I wiped the sweat from my brow just before sliding on my mask. I took one last look at the ladies, ensuring they were all in position.

Each one of them crouched; their eyes remained glued to the batter walking into the infield.

Kayla was the first up to bat on the opposing team. Not that I didn’t already know who she was, the position she played, and her batting average, but her teammates were behind me calling her name.

I took a deep breath and signaled the pitch. Izzy nodded and stood straight, keeping the ball and glove close to her chest.

With a whip-like arm, she pulled it swiftly in a circular motion and took one step toward me, releasing the ball. But before I could feel it hit my glove, I heard the plinking echo of the ball making contact with the bat.

Kayla had hit a line drive straight to Lilah at shortstop.

Unfortunately for Lilah, she didn’t move her glove fast enough.

I heard the crunch of her kneecap from behind home plate just before I watched her fall to the ground.

“Holy fuck!” I yelled, running toward her and flipping off my mask. Lilah lay in the dirt, gripping her knee with both hands, as the ball rolled off into foul territory. She screamed, and then choked on her own vomit.

“Call the fucking paramedics!” I shouted and looked around at the stunned crowd surrounding the field.

When no one moved, I screamed even louder, “Now!”

             

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

“Shhh, shhh,” I soothed. “It’s okay. You’re going to be fine,” I said in the back of the ambulance.

Unfortunately, Lilah’s obscenities were drowning me out.

“You’re going to be fine. We’re only two miles from the hospital,” I said, letting her squeeze my hand to blue.

“Fuck, Jacky,” she winced. “This hurts so fucking bad.”

“I know, I know. We’re almost there.”

Once we arrived at the hospital, they wheeled her from the emergency doors into the secured area of the hospital. My cleats squeaked against the shiny floors as I walked to the self-serve coffee station.

I nodded to Carter, the nurse behind the desk. “What’s up?” I asked, pouring myself a cup.

“Back so soon, Jack? Weren’t you just in here last week?”

“Nah.” I stirred in some sugar with a plastic spoon. “That was two weeks ago, remember? Wanda underestimated her swing and smacked her own head with the bat.”

“Oh, right. I still have no idea how she pulled that off,” he chuckled.

“Me either.” I shook my head.

He continued to laugh. “Well, have a seat. Someone will come get you when they have some answers.”

I nodded and waved my arm, plopping down on the seat next to the coffeemaker. There was no telling how long I’d be there. When Wanda had knocked herself out, I’d stayed all night.

I lifted the rim of the Styrofoam cup to my mouth as a voice came from nowhere. I thought I’d been the only person in the waiting area.

But I was wrong.

“I wouldn’t drink that if I were you,” the gruff voice said.

On the lounge chair in the corner sat a man about my age. He had on a white sleeveless shirt—stained with blood—and baggy, frayed jeans. He shifted to lean forward, leaving his sable, suede, work boots sticking out into the aisle. His forearms were tan—too tan for a Midwestern April—and the hair that adorned them was bleached from the sun.

And he was damn sexy.

There had been men before that point. Not many, but a few. None of them were ever enough to distract my focus from the game. Even in the off season. But in the brief glance I’d taken in his direction moments earlier, that fleeing instinct I had kicked in.

He’s dangerous
, I thought.

“Well you’re not me.” I shrugged, trying to remain indifferent by taking a sip of my coffee.

It tasted like piss, and I couldn’t stop myself from making a sour look.

“It tastes like piss, doesn’t it?” he laughed. “I think it’s the same pot from this morning.”

My eyes darted to his as I swallowed the sickly brown juice.

“Here. Have some of mine,” he said, holding his Starbuck’s cup to me.

I shook my head and set my cup down on the end table. “No thanks.”

I tried ignoring his presence and searched for a magazine, but I could feel his eyes on me. It must have been the heat of the day that was suddenly making me warmer, and I felt the need to straighten my posture. I crossed my legs, pretending to flip through the glossy pages, but my mind was completely in tune to his movement. Like I was behind the plate but keeping my eye on the runner at first, who was going to go for the steal.

I could tell he wanted to speak to me. But what I couldn’t understand was why my body was suddenly burning by the thought of it.

There was something about him that demanded my attention. It wasn’t a reaction I was accustomed to. Nobody was allowed to have that effect on me. Not even a bronze-skinned, sharp jaw-lined, looks-fabulous-in-a-bloody-wifebeater, hottie that trolls hospital wards for chicks.

“Hey, you’re a Beaver, right? Can I ask you a question?” he asked.

I sighed.

Typical. They all think we’re Victoria’s Secret models dying to get our hands on a lollipop.

I knew what he was going to ask.

“Okay, fine,” I began tersely. “No, the team isn’t interested in coming to a party tonight. And no, we have no intention of making a calendar. Lastly, we have no upcoming public car washes scheduled.”

He chuckled, wiping his bottom lip with his thumb, then drew his hand through his sandy blond hair. “That wasn’t what I was going to ask. But now that you mention it, a calendar would be nice.”

My head snapped to him, and my eyes narrowed.

“Or even a calendar
of
you all washing cars.” He nodded in thought. “That would be something. Unique, too.”

“Stop talking.” I put my finger up and then resumed looking through my
National Geographic
.

I heard a shuffle but refused to look up. Within seconds he was sitting on the couch next to me.

His warmth radiated, so much that I needed to look over to see just how close he was. I looked up to confirm my suspicions. And just as I thought: any closer and he’d be humping my leg.

He wasn’t
really
pestering me, but I had a gut reaction to stay as far away from him as possible. I crossed my legs opposite of him, and leaned toward the arm of the couch.

It could have been that the heat of my skin was still intensifying. Perhaps it was a nagging feeling, or intuition, that screamed he was trouble. Not because he was annoying, but because he was…attractive.

Too attractive.

 

And I didn’t date during the season.

 

“So why are you here?” he asked. He surveyed my attire, paying special attention to my cleats, and I continued thumbing through the pages of my magazine, feigning interest.

He rested his elbows on his knees, slouching over to inspect my shoes further. After brushing his hair back, he added, “You’re making a mess.”

I closed the pages with an exaggerated huff, and mimicked his posture to look down at my shoes. A trail of burnt sienna sand faded from the emergency doors to the coffee table.

“Is it your head?” he asked, looking at me sympathetically and relaxing his back against the couch.

“What are you talking about?” I insisted.

“The reason you’re here. You seem to be all in one piece, but you appear a bit…
unstable
.” He pointed to his head and winked. “So should I assume it’s a medication thing?” His green eyes glimmered, and the corner of his mouth lifted briefly.

Oh. He was joking.

No matter how hard I tried to keep my smile from surfacing, there was something too playful in his demeanor for me to continue with my stony façade.

“No.” I offered a small smile. “I’m here because a teammate got hit with a line drive. They’re checking her out right now.”

“Where’d she get hit?”

“Kneecap.”

“Ouch.” He winced. “Well, why didn’t she catch it?” he asked pointedly, then followed it up with a chuckle. “I mean, it’s not like you’re rookies. Where was her glove?” he asked rhetorically.

I laughed.
My thoughts exactly
.

The red blotches on his shirt caught my eye, and I nudged my chin toward them. “Gang fight? Rabid dog?” I asked. “Break-up?” I added, guessing where the blood came from.

He looked down and straightened his shirt. “Nah. My dad and I were working on his car, and he cut himself. He’ll be fine. Probably just some stitches.”

I nodded.

“I’m Nolan.” He stretched out his hand.

I stared at it for longer than I should have.

It was a strange contradiction for me. When I was dressed in my uniform—the scent of an oiled, leather glove mixed with fresh cut grass—with the dark sand that stained my knees and cleats, I was unbreakable. An ego extended from me that made me untouchable, prideful, fierce, and mean. It was natural for me.

But somehow, in the seven-minute encounter with this guy, he’d already made a sizable chip to my self-assurance. And somehow without saying it, I could hear his voice in my head:
You take yourself too seriously. Relax.

“I’m Jack.” I shook his hand.

His head cocked to the side as his grip tightened around my fingers.

“Nice to meet you, Jack.”

He looked into my eyes briefly before looking away, but he kept my hand in his. I tried to pull it away, as any natural handshake would’ve ended by then, but he kept a firm hold.

He looked at the stains on my uniform, the grit underneath my fingernails, and back again to my eyes. There was that sparkle again.

I didn’t trust it.

A thousand thoughts swam through my mind—a battle between crumbling to his seductive ways and still trying to remain rigid. No matter how many visuals flashed behind my eyes of what this stranger looked like naked, I couldn’t persuade myself to be brought back into the moment with him.

I was losing my grip on reality.

A reality that had infiltrated me for three seasons.

I said the first thing that popped into my head.

“I don’t date during the season.”

It slipped out before I had a chance to catch it. But it was too late. It was already out there, and I couldn’t call a time-out.

I’m such an ass.

“That’s okay, Jack.” He laughed. “No worry there. I don’t find you attractive.”

I ripped my hand from his and opened up my magazine.

He’s such an ass!

“No offense, please. I was just making conversation. But I actually prefer my women a little…softer.” He winked.

“Softer?” I shook my head. Dick. “As if it makes a difference when you get our clothes off anyway,” I mumbled.

I heard him chuckle, and I wanted to punch him in the throat.

“Well just so we’re clear,” I added, “I don’t find you attractive either,” I chided, and internally congratulated myself for not looking over again.

“Well, good! Then I don’t need to worry about that look you gave me a few minutes ago.”

“What look?” I defended.

“The batty eyelash thing.” He waved his hand toward my face. “The dumbstruck star-gazing thing. Like you were picturing how our children might look.”

My mouth hung open. “Well next time you go to shake a woman’s hand, you might try to avoid molesting it. I think my thumb is still feeling a strange orgasmic aftershock.”

He laughed and looked down, shaking his head.

“Nolan March?” A nurse called from the doors. We both looked toward the ER doors and I saw her holding a clipboard.

He continued to laugh, and stood to walk toward her.

Dammit if I didn’t catch myself staring at his ass.

 

And it was stupidly beautiful.

             

He turned back just before entering the secured door. “Nice to meet you.” His eyebrow lifted. “Jack.”

             

 

             

             

 

BOOK: Four Play: A Collection of Novellas
2.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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