“Shoot it Rachel!” Angel shouted at me from the backseat. It was my birthday, and I was super pumped for my girl’s weekend with my besties. We were taking a road trip to Miami to watch some baseball and bar hop. Angel had bought me the tickets as my early birthday gift, and Lyla and Ginger were going with us to enjoy the celebration.
“Ugh!” I grimaced as the amber liquid burned my throat and heated up my insides as it made its way down. “Fireball?” I choked, as I handed her back the empty plastic shot glass. Not really sure why I’d chugged it before smelling it.
“Yes, what’s a party without fireball?” Lyla asked as she refilled my shot glass and tried to hand it back to me.
I shook my head and held up my palm. “No thanks.” I looked over at Ginger who was driving and visibly annoyed with the traffic. “How about you Ginger? You need a shot?” Her scowl and pinched brow really suggestion that she did.
She shook her head and tucked a thick strand of her short brown bob behind her ear and her blue eyes softened as she smiled at me before admitting, “I can’t drink that stuff. It always leaves holes in my memory.”
I actually shared her sentiment and wrinkled my nose as Angel handed me another shot. “Maybe we should slow down.” I added before begrudgingly taking the shot.
Lyla who was definitely buzzing already stated, “We are almost completely sitting still Rach. Slow down for what?” She surveyed the traffic around us confused.
I laughed taking her empty shot glass away from her and dropping it on the floor of the car. “On the shots, Lyla! I want to enjoy the ballgame. At this rate, we won’t make it because we will be too drunk to even get in the stadium.”
She groaned but didn’t protest. I was the only die hard baseball fan in our group, but this was my birthday and they were all going to enjoy it regardless.
The traffic finally cleared and we were actually able to find a spot to park at the stadium that wasn’t a mile hike. Of course, we were late, but the fireball buzz minimized my aggravation when I realized it was already the bottom of the second inning. We quickly grabbed a beer and headed to our seats.
I was hurrying to get settled as not to miss anymore of the game, and didn’t pay attention to anything else going on around me. Other than the fact that Angel had almost tripped twice going down the stairs to our seats. Thankfully we were staying right down the street from the stadium. Because I was pretty sure a shoe change was a must before any after game shenanigans, or she’d kill herself in those wedges for sure.
As soon as I took my seat and got comfortable in it Angel leaned over to me and whisper shouted in my ear, “Holy shit! Did you see Hotty McHotass sitting behind me? I would totally do him in these bleachers. In front of God and everybody here. I swear it on my life I would.” I started to turn around and see who this guy was that my best friend wanted to molest in public, but she reached over and grabbed my chin. “NO! Don’t look now. Or he’ll know we’re talking about him. Wait about two minutes OK?”
“Oh OK! Because I’m sure he didn’t hear you,” I giggled, but did as she asked and didn’t turn around. I hadn’t noticed him when I sat down, but I wasn’t interested in any guy at the moment. I was thoroughly enjoying my very single status. I even forgot to turn around after the allotted two minutes had passed. Nor did I think about Hotty McHotass again until Angel turned all the way around in her seat and started messing with the poor guy. Embarrassed, I turned to apologize for my drunk friend’s behavior, but when our eyes met electricity burned throughout my entire body. I don’t even know what I said to him, but he was smiling at me intently.
Angel was totally wrong, he wasn’t hot, he was undeniably the most gorgeous man that I had ever laid eyes on. His whiskey color eyes were rimmed in gold and fully locked on mine, his dark skin beautiful and tan, and he had a tiny little freckle on his left cheek that just topped off his unbelievable perfection. I’d stopped talking and was thinking about kissing him softly on the perfect freckle when Angel began to laugh. No doubt at my reaction to this guy.
I didn’t want her to embarrass me any further and, I quickly turned back around to the game and didn’t dare look behind me again. But as soon as we were out of the stadium Angel said, “I told you. I knew you’d agree with me. You’d totally do him. Admit it.”
She was probably right. Since my divorce, a little over a year ago, I had only dated one guy more than once. It definitely wasn’t serious. He had left for Greece for the summer last week and I was only a little bummed. So obviously, he wasn’t the one or anything.
Not that Hotty McHotass was either, but I’d totally give him five minutes to try and prove otherwise. Angel and I both agreed that he was either married or crazy. Because men who looked like that definitely weren’t single.
After a quick run to the room to swap Angel’s shoes and give ourselves a quick freshen up after the game, we decided to hit the little bar on the corner to finish my birthday celebration. It was full of Brave’s fans celebrating the win, and I stopped at the bar to get a round of drinks. I turned to ask Angel what she wanted, and saw she’d made her way across the room and was sitting with none other than Hotty McHotass. Oh hell!
“Where are you going?” Carol yelled after me as I was hanging my dry cleaning in the back seat of my car.
I looked back to see her standing in the back door glaring at me. Her long dark hair pulled in a tight pony tail, her fair skin red from the sun, and wearing a tennis skirt that I thought far too short for a woman her age.
Carol may have been my wife, but I loathed her. She was nine years older than me and we’d been married for almost fifteen years. Nine of which we hadn’t lived together, and I don’t ever remember being happy with her. I’m still not exactly sure as to why I married her in the first place, but getting a divorce without tearing our two teenage daughters worlds apart, had yet to happen.
“Zac’s game,” I mumbled turning away as I slammed the car door and walked around to the driver’s side.
“It would have been nice if you had asked your wife to join you,” she purred in her fake country club voice that made me want to throw up.
I looked in her dark soulless eyes and smiled sarcastically. “It would be nice if I actually had a wife I wanted to go anywhere with.” I got in, slammed the door, and backed out of the garage. She didn’t look hurt or surprised by my words. She’d given up on thinking I cared how she felt years ago. I hated her, and she hated me. It was a known fact in our house, and neither of us tried to hide it anymore.
Carol had been driving me nuts all week, and I needed a break. Even though I’d moved to the other side of the city into an apartment years ago, my laundry was still delivered to the house. I had a big trial this week and needed clean suits. So that meant I had to go by the house before heading to Miami. I had hoped to get in and out without being seen, but I obviously wasn’t that sneaky.
The Braves were playing the Marlins in Miami, and there was no way I was going to miss the game. My twin brother played shortstop for the Atlanta Braves, and I’d attended every game that I was able to since he’d been drafted at eighteen.
He and I had talked earlier that day and I knew that he had somewhere that he had to go directly after the game. So, we wouldn’t get to hang out afterwards like I wanted too. Of course, our father would also be there, but I decided against even telling him I was attending. I wanted to go by myself and enjoy a game of baseball. I needed to relax.
During the hour drive from my house in Ft Lauderdale to the ballpark in Miami, Carol called six times, all of which I sent straight to voicemail. As I was parking I got another call and saw my youngest daughters face light up on my screen.
“Gabbi?” I answered.
“Why the hell aren’t you answering my calls?” Carol screeched in my ear.
“Is something wrong with either of our daughters?” I asked calmly as I switcher her to Bluetooth.
“Yes, their father is an asshole.”
“Other than that?” Regardless of what she said, or the tone in which she said it, I would remain calm. I wouldn’t let her win by giving in to this fight.
“Do you know what day it is?”
“I sure do. You’ll have to go to the Club alone and play the poor lonely wife,” I stated. “Your performance is award worthy at this point Carol. So, don’t worry. You’ll be fine. I have faith in that.” Wednesday family dinners at the Country Club were a big deal in her social circle. A social circle that was way more important to her than to me, and one that my money and last name afforded her. Also, one of the main reasons she was determined to stay my wife.
“Are you not coming back to Ft Lauderdale tonight?”
“No. If the girls need me they can call me, but you have no reason to call me other than to tell me you signed the damn divorce papers.” I hung up before she could say anything else. I knew she wasn’t going to sign the papers. She would just ignore them like she had every other time I had given them to her for the last decade.
I’d been trying to divorce Carol for years without hurting my girls, or giving her anything she didn’t deserve. She could be a decent mother when she wanted, but she was a horrible wife. Not that I was a great husband, but I had no reason to be. She was a spiteful bitch, and I hated her to the core. Which you’d think would be reason enough for her to divorce me, but I felt sure she took joy in the fact of knowing she was making me so damn miserable.
Carol had two things in her favor. The first being that she had some pretty serious dirt on my dad. There were times that I was tempted to call her bluff, but our family business was at risk if I was wrong. I obviously wasn’t as selfish as my father. The second was my weakness for our daughters. She’d sworn to me that she would move them back to Boston to be with her family if we divorced. This too could have been a bluff, but I was more afraid of that than the first. So, I chose to live in my apartment and let her live her little delusional life in the gated neighborhood.
When I got to the stadium I silenced my phone. I was here to relax and I wasn’t going to let Carol ruin my evening with her text all night. I grabbed a beer and some peanuts, and went to my seat to enjoy some baseball.
In the bottom of the second inning four women who appeared to be in their mid to late twenties, sat in the seats in front of mine. They had obviously been drinking prior to their arrival, and were actually more entertaining than the game. One in particular caught my attention on more than one occasion. She was average height with shoulder length sandy blonde wavy hair that was held out of her face by her sunglasses. Her legs were long and tan and she had on a pair of worn out cut offs and a Braves tank top with Zac’s number and our last name on the back. Her tan shoulders had a light dusting of freckles, as did the bridge of her nose.
She glanced my way only once, but in that quick moment I noticed that her eyes were the same color as the sky. She was breathtaking. I tried to ignore her, but for some reason I kept finding myself watching her. I wouldn’t dare talk to her. I could tell that she wasn’t the kind of woman that I usually messed around with. Those women meant nothing to me, and had no place in my life but for sexual pleasure. Something about the way she carried herself told me that she was definitely above that, and she deserved much better than me.
During the seventh inning stretch I decided to stretch my legs and get another beer. When I returned to my seat, one of the women turned all the way around in her seat and said to me, “Hey tall dark and handsome, you don’t have to sit up there all by yourself. You’re more than welcome to join our party.” She patted an empty seat that had been vacated by one of her friends, who was probably on a beer or bathroom run. I didn’t respond to her other than to smile. Her slurred speech meant that she probably wouldn’t remember that I was even sitting behind her in a few minutes anyway.
Then the woman I had been mentally undressing for the last five innings turned to me and said, “You have to excuse her. She’s had way too much to drink. I’m really sorry!” She held my gaze for a moment and I was almost positive that a blush stained her cheeks, but before I could say anything she quickly turned back around and told her drunk friend not to embarrass them anymore.
Other than listening to their banter for the next two innings, I had no more encounters with the cute drunk women in front of me.
With Zac leaving immediately after the game, I forwent my normal visit to Dad’s box. Getting stuck with Dad and his wife without Zac for entertainment, did not fall into the category of relaxing. So, I walked to a bar down the street from the stadium to have a few drinks before I headed back to my hotel.
I was just about to ask the waiter for my tab when the four women from the game walked in. Something in me decided to stay for one more drink. Which I knew was probably a terrible idea.
The bar was packed, but the chatty drunk friend saw me immediately and walked straight to my table making herself at home in the seat right next to mine. She poked her index finger into my chest. “You were alone at the game. Now you’re alone at a bar. Are you just unfriendly?” She was wasted and totally being serious for a drunk chick.
It was hard to not laugh. I did my best to return her serious demeanor. “No, I think I’m pretty damn friendly actually.” I held out my hand to her. “Jeremy.” She said her name, but it was loud and I wasn’t really interested in what she was saying until she said, “Well you need to meet my friend Rachel. Today is her birthday, and we’re celebrating.” Could Rachel be the gorgeous one?
The rest of the women joined their friend at my table minutes later drinks in hand. “Angel, I told you to leave this poor guy alone. You are starting to appear stalkerish,” the pretty one said, then she looked at me. “I’m sorry. She’s pretty wasted.”
“I am not, Rachel. You agreed with me that he was totally gorgeous. Don’t even try and deny it,” Angel stated, totally making my night. Rachel’s cheeks were red again and her beautiful blue eyes apologetic, but she joined her friends and sat down at my table.
She looked mortified and I smiled at her. “She’s fine. She’s not bothering me.” I assured her. Definitely not now!
She smiled back sheepishly. “I’m Rachel.” And she offered me her hand.
I reached out to shake it and as soon as our hands touched I felt a pang of electricity shoot through my arm and make its way through my entire body wrapping its tight grasp around my chest making my breath catch. Her smile faded and she immediately pulled away. Had she felt that? Her eyes still hadn’t left mine, as if she too were trying to figure out what was going on.
“Happy Birthday Rachel. I’m Jeremy,” I said as coolly as I could. My heart was pounding in and I was for the first time, in a very long time, nervous and slightly a little less than confident.
She nodded and tucked her hand under her other arm and said almost inaudibly, “Thanks and nice to meet you.” Now she was looking away. Shy? Embarrassed? Not interested? What? My mind was tripping over itself about this woman. What the hell was happening?
I decided I definitely couldn’t leave yet. Something in me had to know more about Rachel. After forcing my head to clear and my breaths to even out, I leaned closer to her so that she could hear me. “I don’t know many girls who’d choose to spend their birthday at a baseball game.”
She smiled. I saw a light blush make a quick appearance on her cheeks again before she responded. “I love baseball. It reminds me of my dad. He always took me to games as a kid, and I’ve loved it ever since.” She shrugged. “I go to as many games as I can.”
“Who is your favorite team?” I asked.
Baseball seemed to be something she was passionate about. She leaned toward me putting her elbows on the table and smiled. “I’m a diehard Braves fan. You?”
I nodded taking a sip of my beer, but I wasn’t ready to spill the beans on why that was. Especially knowing she was a fan of my brothers. I ordered a round of shots and another round of drinks and Rachel and her friends got comfortable at my table and we talked baseball.
Around two in the morning I decided it would probably be a good idea for me to go. I did have court at nine in the morning in Ft Lauderdale. I told them goodbye, and paid their tab on my way out. As a birthday gift to Rachel of course!
I had no idea what it was about Rachel that had gotten to me. But I knew that I hadn’t imagined that whole insane physical connection we had, and I was almost positive that she noticed it to. This meant I was definitely going back to the game the next afternoon, and hoped like hell so did Rachel.