Change Up…Prologue

change up

Prologue

Harris Walker jogged out to the mound of Citi Field in the bottom of the ninth. His blood was pumping; the fatigue that should have set in was nowhere to be found.

He was in a pitcher’s dream right now. What everyone hoped for. What they wanted to achieve and very few would.

Three more outs and he’d have his no hitter.

At thirty years old he knew he wouldn’t have too many more years in his pitching career.

A top prospect at just seventeen, he didn’t really develop until about five years ago. He didn’t get to show what he was made of and many started to write him off.

But, bam, out of nowhere, two years ago he grabbed control of his fastball, he mastered his changeup, and his curveball seemed to throw everyone off.

He was the pitcher players didn’t want to face. He signed one hell of a five-year contract to stay with the Mets when plenty were willing to pay him more.

Why? Because he was born and raised in Upstate New York and he’d been a Mets fan his whole life. Talk about a dream come true.

They drafted him, they put their faith in him, they gave him what he wanted in his contract. He was staying loyal because that’s who Harris Walker was.

And now he was going to prove to the owners he was everything they thought he was. He was going to show his pitching coaches they had every reason to believe in him.

Ace Reynolds got up to bat for the Atlanta Braves. He was seventh in the lineup and Harris couldn’t have planned this any better.

First pitch straight down the middle, ninety-eight miles an hour. Ace swung, missed, the crowd went nuts. Harris was like a squirrel going after those nuts himself, but he’d always been in control internally and he wasn’t letting anyone see the excitement he was feeling.

Second pitch, curveball, a little wide, called ball. One and one.

Third pitch, fastball down the middle, swing and—shit. Ace connected. Harris watched as the ball sailed into center field, but there was Johnny Reed, racing, diving, and catching it. One out. Two more to go.

Second batter only took three pitches too, pop fly that the catcher nabbed, and they were down to the last out.

The Braves put in a pinch hitter. Miller Smith who was on a hot streak. Bastards. They were already down three to one. Come on.

Harris didn’t care. Well, he did, but he wasn’t showing it.

He wiped his sweaty hand on his pant leg, he took a deep breath, and then wound up and threw a slider. Way out of the strike zone, but Miller swung, strike one.

The crowd was in a frenzy. The stadium felt like it was rocking.

He was going for speed. He wanted to prove he still had it with a hundred and five pitches down tonight.

Fastball, here it comes.

Miller connected, line drive, right at Harris, but not close enough for him to dive and catch it. He didn’t need to worry, because the second baseman had his back, plucking it right up over his head and bringing it in.

His teammates raced him on the mound, everyone slapping him on the back. The tears were rolling down his face and he didn’t give one shit about it.

He was man enough to cry over throwing the best game of his life.

And three hours later when he and Johnny and a few others were tossing back shots in a bar in downtown Manhattan, he was living the dream.

Women were hanging out around them, many rubbing against him…whispering in his ear. Yeah, he could go home with any of them, but he didn’t have plans on it.

He wanted to celebrate with his buddies. They had a game tomorrow and though he wasn’t playing, the rest of the team was.

Matt Greene, the Mets’ babysitter as they called him, walked over between him and Johnny. “Time to pack it up, boys. There’s a game tomorrow.”

“I’m not playing,” Harris said.

Johnny laughed. “Lucky shit. You play once every five games, get all the money, and more than half the chicks.”

Harris slapped Johnny on the back. “You like being my wingman, admit it.” The “half the chicks” was a running joke since many knew Harris barely took a woman up on an offer.

“Some wingman you are. We are both going home to empty beds tonight.”

The two of them laughed and followed Matt out of the bar and to his SUV. Matt was a good guy, just doing his job, making sure the players stayed out of trouble.

“Shotgun,” Harris called. “Since I’m the man of the hour.”

“You’re the man, all right,” Johnny said. “Ride in the front. I’ll just stretch out back here behind Matt anyway. You always push the seat back so far that the rest of us are squished. You aren’t the only one over six foot, you know.”

“Ah, but I’ve still got four inches on you,” Harris said, climbing in and putting his seatbelt on.

They were driving back to the building that he and Johnny both lived in. Not only were they teammates but darn close to best friends as well, always riding back and forth to Citi Field and the airport together.

Just blocks from their place, they were sitting at a red light when Harris caught a flash out the right corner of his eye. Headlights coming fast and nowhere to go, then the pain as it slammed into his door.

Nothing else after that. The rest was just darkness.

 

 

Change Up

 

change up 

Can physical therapist Kaelyn mend her shattered trust in men while trying to heal Harris’s broken dreams?

After throwing his first no-hitter, pitcher Harris Walker and his teammates went out for a night on the town. Little did he know it’d be the last strike he’d ever throw professionally. He returns home with the hopes of finding a new life, if only he can figure out how to put all his hopes and dreams behind him.

Kaelyn Butler has always wanted to make her own mark in the world regardless of the money behind her name. Her choice in men has left her heartbroken more times than she cares to admit. Skittish and distrustful of men? Yes, she is! So when Harris Walker shows up in her office for physical therapy and flirts with her, the last thing she has time for is the sweet-talking hottie. Then why does she find herself making poor choices again?

Cupid’s Quest- Prologue

CupidQuest

Prologue

Ruby got out of the car and pulled her backpack from the backseat that had been sitting next to her, flung it over her shoulder and put her head down while she waited for the social worker to open the trunk for her larger duffel bag. That was it, all her possessions were portable and had been for the past ten years.

“You’ll like it here,” Missy said. Missy Carter was her eighth caseworker. Seemed no one stayed at this job for long.

“Whatever,” Ruby said. Missy was young, she was eager, and she was clueless. Give her a year or so—maybe even six months—and she wouldn’t be so peppy dealing with her clients.

The two of them walked up the creaky stairs to a chipped white front porch that had seen better days. Out of place in the corner was one spray-painted black rocking chair. There was room for plenty more, but that solo one told her all she needed to know about this house.

While they waited for the front door to be answered, Ruby looked around the neighborhood. It was pretty much like most of the other ones she’d lived in. Not completely run down, but not nice pretty suburbia. Yeah, wouldn’t that be sweet? If ever!

When the door was opened, Ruby got a look at her new foster mother. She was probably in her fifties, tall, stocky and rough around the edges. That had to be her chair that no one was allowed to sit in while she escaped from the wards under her roof.

“Mrs. Wilson, this is Ruby Gentile. I’m Missy Carter,” she said, putting her hand out. “We spoke on the phone. I’m so glad you’ve got room for Ruby.”

“Always room for kids,” Mrs. Wilson said. “Call me Candy. Everyone else does.”

“Thanks, Candy,” Missy said.

“Come on in. Shoes off,” Candy said to Ruby. “You walk in the door, you take your shoes off. We’ve got rules here and I expect them to be followed. If you do that, we’ll all get along just fine. If not…”

Yeah, Ruby knew what the “if not” meant. It meant she’d be moving once again. All she wanted to do was find a place where she could stay long enough to make it through her last two years of school, which was starting in three weeks. Another school district she was changing to.

Ruby slid her old sneakers off and left them by the door where a few other pairs were taking up residence. Four that she suspected belonged to other kids by the range of sizes. She continued to stand there in the doorway, not making a move until she was told. Been there and done that and wasn’t about to assume a damn thing.

“Would you like to show Ruby around before we talk and fill out paperwork?” Missy asked Candy.

“Sheri!” Candy yelled at the bottom of the stairs that they were facing as they stood in the foyer of the older home.

Ruby remained until she was told otherwise, heard a door open above them, and a teenage girl close to her age came to the top of the stairs. “Yes?”

“Ruby is in with you. Show her your room and explain how we do things here while I meet with the caseworker.”

She couldn’t even call Missy by her name. Yep, Ruby knew how it was going to be here for sure.

“Come on up,” Sheri said, a smile on her face. Not even a forced one. Maybe Ruby was wrong. Most kids didn’t smile in foster homes. They just wanted to get by.

Ruby turned to Missy. “Thank you.”

Missy put her hand on Ruby’s shoulder. “You’re welcome, sweetie. I’ll be in touch.”

She nodded her head and went up the stairs and to her new bedroom. It was small, had bunk beds and one single in the corner. She’d never had her own room anywhere and didn’t expect that here either.

“I’m on the top bunk,” Sheri said. “I like it there. Suzie is in the single. She is out in the backyard playing. She’s ten. That leaves you under me.”

“No problem,” Ruby said, walking over and putting her backpack on the plain tan bedspread. They had different colored bedspreads, but they were definitely simple and cheap. At least the second-story room had an air conditioning unit in the window, even if it wasn’t on, though it would be nice if it were.

Sheri must have caught her gaze. “We are allowed to put it on for four hours a day when we go to bed. So we turn it on at eight and off at midnight. I’ve found that it cools the room down enough to fall asleep and then stays decent most of the nights.”

“It’s better than I’ve had at other homes.”

“They are strict here, but if you follow the rules it’s not so bad,” Sheri said.

“Who lives here?”

“Candy and her husband, Colin. He works construction and is gone a lot. He’s nice enough, keeps to himself for the most part. We are just people in and out of his house in his eyes.”

“How many kids?”

“You are the fifth. There are two boys in another room. They are set up for six and try to keep it three boys and three girls. The house is big, but they keep us in these two rooms.”

“It’s fine,” Ruby said. “Are you always this happy or told to be this way with the caseworker here?”

“I normally am. I’ve been in some bad places,” Sheri said, sitting on Ruby’s new bed. “This is one of the better.”

“So tell me the rules other than shoes by the door.”

“Meals are always the same time. She makes one thing and if you don’t like it, well, then you pick around it, but she won’t make you something different. If you miss a meal, then you are on your own.”

“We are allowed to get our own food if we miss it?” she asked.

“No. If you want to play a sport and miss dinner, then what you get is the nightly snack we all have around seven thirty.”

“Everyone gets the same thing there too?” she asked.

“Yep,” Sheri said. “But it’s food and I’ve been hungry before so I’m not complaining.”

Ruby had been too. Plenty enough times. “How long have you been here?”

“A year. I’m sixteen. I’m hoping I get to stay until I’m done with school.”

“Me too,” Ruby said. “I just turned sixteen. Two more years.”

“You’re lucky your birthday is over the summer. Mine is in April. Wherever I am, I pray they let me stay to finish school when I turn eighteen.”

The magic number when the payments stop and foster families normally want the bed opened up.

“Are we allowed to get jobs?” Ruby asked, knowing that was the first thing she planned on doing. There was a bus stop around the corner, perfect in her eyes.

“Yep. But you have to find your own transportation and still follow the curfews.”

“I’ll make it work,” Ruby said. She had to. She’d been doing that since her mother overdosed ten years ago and she started to get shuffled around.

All she wanted to do was have a home of her own someday. A family who was there for her or cared about her would be nice, but a home was her number one priority.

Cupid’s Quest

CupidQuest

Ruby Gentile made it out of the foster care system by keeping to herself and counting down the days until she was on her own. She considers herself a successful realtor now and loves that she is doing her part to put people in their forever home. Commitment issues often remind her she may never find what she always wanted as a little girl even if she secretly dreams of love and romance, happy ever after and prince charming…that forever home of her own.

Josh Turner lived through the horrific murder of his parents while he hid in the closet as a young child. He’s an investigator now sworn to protect, but those he loved…he couldn’t bear the thought of life without them. He’d lay his life on the line and make sure they never felt as scared and lonely as he had that one night. When Ruby ends up as his realtor, he realizes that she is the one he never wants to lose, if only she’d let him in.