His lifelong dream turned into a haunting nightmare.
Jamie Williams had his chance but blew it. A series of very bad choices not only destroyed his major league baseball career but brought a dishonor his family refused to forget. Exiled to a small Cape Cod town, a distant relative took pity on him and got him into the local fire department. His love of the game remained though and drew him back to the field–not as a player, but as the head coach of the Falmouth Troopers. Falling for a girl from New York who thought baseball, the only real love of his life, was just a bunch of guys standing around picking daisies was so not in his game plan.
Her summer in Cape Cod was supposed to be a new start.
When Mandy Gilman happened upon the chance to take her paramedic skills to Cape Cod for the summer, she packed up and didn’t look back. Mandy needed a serious change–an escape from the heavy disappointment in her parents’ eyes and the prying pity in her friends’ comments. The Cape was the perfect opportunity to find herself again under the warmth of the sun and relaxing sea breeze. She even let her new roommate drag her to a couple of ball games. Baseball bored her but watching some hot guys run the bases was better than sitting around feeling sorry for herself. The incredibly sexy coach who seemed determined to make her fall in love with him and the game didn’t hurt…
Mandy has no intention of falling in love ever again, but Jamie has no plans to let her walk out of his life. He might have blown his past, but the feisty paramedic is his future. He has to convince her that a man who risks his life every day for strangers is worth risking his heart on. Can she let go of past heartache and let Jamie love her or will Mandy be the one left picking Daisies in the Outfield?
“What? Where?” Callie started dancing around and screaming.
“Callie! Stop!” Her roommate froze. “It’s there.” Mandy pointed to the blanket that covered her. A hairy, brown arachnid was ambling around right about where her abdomen was.
“Oh! Ew! How—we need to kill it!” Callie grabbed one of Mandy’s work boots and raised it over her head. As the boot came crashing down, Mandy rolled from the bed and landed on the floor with a thunk.
“Ouch!” She rubbed her elbow where it had made contact with the tile floor.
“Are you okay?” Callie grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet.
“What the hell, Cal! A boot?”
“Um, did you see that sucker? He was huge! And I didn’t have a baseball bat.”
Mandy turned back to the bed. Reaching out, she slowly lifted the boot and the spider scurried out from under the heel.
“Quick! Do something before he escapes!” Callie started squealing and dancing again.
“Will you stop!” Mandy grabbed the edge of her blanket and folded it up and over the critter. From there she wrapped it up like a giant burrito. Funny she should be thinking about burritos.
“What are you going to do now?” Callie asked, finally standing still.
“We are going to take this blanket outside and dump that bastard where he belongs.”
“Um, okay.” Callie reached for one end while Mandy took the other.
“Yes, ma’am.” Together they ran through the cottage laughing and squealing. Once they made it to the porch, they threw the burrito blanket over the railing, held one edge, and let the rest roll toward the ground. The perpetrator flew across the sidewalk where he landed on all eight legs. After standing still for a second, he started running back toward them.
“Mandy! He’s coming back! Do something!”
“What the hell do you want me to do? You do something!”
“Is there a problem, ladies?” Mandy froze. It couldn’t be. Oh, God, don’t let that be—she slowly looked up from where she watched the spider. Her eyes followed a pair of long, lean legs to a trim waist clad in loose running shorts, up and over a broad, muscular chest covered in nothing but little drops of perspiration and found a pair of milk chocolate eyes. The owner of the eyes was grinning as he perused her body the same way. She looked down at herself.
“Oh shit!” She grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around her hips.
“Good morning, Mandy. And—?”
“Callie. I’m her roommate and bestie.”
“I heard you two screaming and I came running.” His gaze slowly raked over Mandy’s body once again. “I’m sure glad I did.”
“There was a spider,” Callie finally replied. “He was huge. And hairy and he was coming right for us.”
Jamie looked down at the sidewalk. “This little guy here? Aw, he’s harmless.”
“Not so harmless when he was crawling across my bed.” Mandy finally managed to find her words again.
Jamie chuckled as he leaned down and scooped the spider up. “Come here, little dude. You’re one lucky guy.” He tossed him over the fence into the next yard. “There. You’re all safe now.”
“Thank you!” Callie ran down the steps and threw her arms around him. “You’re my hero.”
He laughed as he extricated himself from Callie’s grip. “It’s all in a days’ work. Glad I happened by at the right time.” Jamie looked over Callie, meeting Mandy’s eyes again with a big grin.
“He’s a firefighter, Callie. That’s what they do—save the damsel in distress.”
“Ooohhh, a firefighter? No wonder you’re so strong.” She ran her hands up and down his arms real slow as her tongue peeked out and slid over her top lip.
Stepping back from Callie’s touch, he smiled up at Mandy. “That what you plan to wear tonight?”
Every drop of blood in her body raced to the capillaries in her face. “Perhaps,” she replied, trying to sound much more calm, cool, and collected than she felt with Jamie’s eyes pretty much already undressing her. “You said wear something comfortable.”
Mandy was vaguely aware of Callie’s gaze flitting back and forth between her and Jamie but she couldn’t seem to break away from his stare. The longer he looked at her the more she leaned toward the tearing off her clothes option.
“Works for me.” Jamie grinned and Mandy felt her entire body flush with the connotation of his words.
Carolyn LaRoche grew up in snow country but fled the cold and ice several years ago. She now lives near the beach with her husband and their two sons. She’s been known to lug her laptop to the baseball fields and keeps a notebook by her bed to jot down the next big story idea in the wee hours of the night.