Playing the Rookie (A #Played Novella)

By: Rachelle Ayala

Chapter 1


“I had no idea baseball players are so huge.”

A snarky male voice behind me says, “They’re major leaguers, what did you expect?”

Oops, I whip my head around and catch Todd Martin, my friend and intern coordinator, smirking at me. His bright teeth flash knowingly, and he shakes his head, causing his afro curl hair to bounce and jiggle.

“Something a little bigger than peewees, but these guys are hulks. Sure this isn’t football?”

“Jessica Song.” He wags his index finger and peers over his natty horn-rimmed Johnny Depp style glasses. “Kindly refrain from referring to any athlete as peewee, or I’ll revoke your internship.”

“Point taken, boss.” I straighten the sign-in sheets on my clipboard and stand behind my station ‘A through C.’ “I’ve only ever seen them on TV, and well, wow, in real life, they’re gorgeous.”

“Get your jaw off the floor and let’s sign them in.” Todd cocks his hand next to his mouth and whispers, “If you see one you like, note your room number on the back of his badge.”

“Uh, that’s not what I’m here for. Besides, I’m kinda still hung up on someone.”

“That’s exactly why you need to be here, girlie. You’re supposed to be getting over him. As for ballplayers, three’s never a crowd.” Todd’s eyebrows do the conga line, and he hooks his thumb. “Play ball! Here they come.”

A fluster of heat tackles me as the first group of major leaguers swagger to my table. My face tilts up, and up, and my voice catches in my throat.

“W-welcome t-to spring training. Please sign in and pickup a name badge. Oh, and your folder, Mr., Mr.? Uh, I don’t know your name, because you’re not wearing a badge.”

Three men with the build of lumberjacks form a dense wall of manhood in front of my table, blocking all light from my eyes and sucking the oxygen out of the room.

I swallow, unable to stop gawking at their strong chiseled jaws, tanned faces, and solid muscles, evident even under their suit jackets.

One of the players chuckles. “You must be new if you don’t know who I am.”

His friend punches him on the bicep. “Better be glad she doesn’t recognize your ugly mug.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Let me look you up.” I flip to the team roster, barely able to keep the drool in my mouth. Why didn’t I study this last night instead of playing video games with the other interns?

“A. J. Callahan.” A man with a wide mustache points to his name. “I have a suite. Wife and kids visit on the weekend.”

“Thank you, Mr. Callahan.” I check off his name and grab a goodie bag filled by our sponsors. “How many children?”

“Three.” He grins, puffing his chest. “Two boys and a girl.”

Digging under the table, I find the children’s camp backpacks. He loops all three over his wrist and winks. “If you want to earn some cash, call me.”

“Excuse me?” My heart drops and my jaw slackens. A wife and three kids and me?

“They’re four, seven, and nine. Girl’s the oldest.” He glances at my name badge and scribbles on his card. “Name’s Jessica too. Tell her what to do and she’ll make the little guys obey.”

“Oh! Sure. Thanks, Mr. Callahan.” I pocket the card and move on to the next player.

Hands, most of them huge, faces, chiseled and handsome, torsos, damn fine, but because I’m too busy to look up, my eyes are stuck at groin level. A symphony of sexy voices in a multitude of accents scramble in my vicinity. Forget about flirting and being star struck, I’m barely able to keep up with the flow, handing out goodie bags, passes, backpacks, badges, pens, notepads, and folders while answering questions.

I glance over at my fellow interns, but no one has time to chat. Smiles pasted on their faces, they work the lines, sorting players by teams and amenities. Fifteen professional teams descend on the greater Phoenix metropolitan area for spring training, keeping the resort and hospitality businesses hopping. Camps for children of all ages, spas for the wives, and of course, the players, trainers, and coaches all have to be accommodated.

Also By Rachelle Ayala

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