The Perfectly Imperfect Match (Suttonville Sentinels)(4)By: Kendra C. Highley
“I swear I’ll have you there by eight-thirty.” Because why wouldn’t she be up at such an ungodly hour on a Monday during summer? And who would want to spend three hours hitting balls with sticks? Still, she’d do anything for Otis. He’d wrapped her around his little finger the first time she’d laid eyes on the chubby newborn at the hospital. And he knew it. “Mom, Serena and I want to go out tomorrow night.”
“Where are you going? When will you be home?”
“Why always two questions at once? Why so suspicious?” Lucy grinned at her mother’s pursed mouth. “Okay, okay. We’re going to the lake. Serena’s dad is letting us take the boat out for a few hours.”
Mom’s eyes narrowed. “Is that all?”
Lucy held up her hands. “What else could there be?”
“I still remember receiving a call saying you and Serena stole a dog from down the street.”
Lucy scowled. “The owner was abusing the poor thing.”
“And what about the time you spray painted ‘Down with Fascists’ on a placard outside city hall?”
At least she hadn’t sprayed it on the wall…and she’d done four hours of community service for it, too. “They’re voting to stop allowing livestock inside town lines. Serena’s dad is worried they won’t let him keep his free-range farm!”
Mom crossed her arms. “And the time you were out until one chasing shooting stars?”
Lucy squirmed. “That was two years ago.”
“Honey, I have no problem with you hanging out with Serena. Just…try to temper the passion a little, huh?” She patted Lucy’s back and went to the front to work on receipts.
Lucy flopped into her chair. Curb her passions? It wasn’t enough that she was working her butt off on her needlepoint, but she’d been helping in the store and watching Otis, too. With Dad stationed overseas, she’d really reined it in to help her mom, but a girl needed a little mischief from time to time. She wasn’t hurting anyone, and she never would. All her “incidents” came from a helpful place. So what if she was kind of a mess—life was messy, and she fully intended to live it.
Dylan was in the dugout, preparing the equipment, by seven-thirty Monday morning. When Tristan stumbled in at eight, looking like he needed a giant cup of coffee, he groaned. “Dylan, man, this is excessive. They’re little leaguers.”
“It’s recruiting.” He threw a couple more balls into the pitchers’ box. “We’re teachers. We need to be on top of stuff.”
Tristan grumbled but came to help drag everything out onto the field. Water jugs were set up on tables outside the foul lines on third and first, the grass was freshly mowed, and the infield dirt was pristine. If that didn’t impress the parents who shelled out three hundred bucks for this camp, Dylan didn’t know what would. This would be the best camp the Sentinels ever put on—that was the mission.
The first campers started showing up for registration around eight-twenty. A few underclassmen were working the sign-in table, sending kids to Dylan if they were pitchers, and to Tristan if they were outfielders. Nate Rodriquez had the infielders. He was an upcoming junior and a wicked shortstop. They made a good set of captains.
The first kid through the gate ran straight at Tristan. “I’m Corey and you’re Tristan Murrell.”
“Hi, Corey.” He shot Dylan an amused look over Corey’s head. “You play centerfield?”
“Just like you!” The kid prattled on as Tristan directed him farther out into the field.
Nate watched, laughing. “Remember being that age and thinking the high school guys were heroes?”
Dylan nodded. “That’s why I want this to be perfect. These kids don’t know we’re human.”
“Aw, c’mon. We are human. I’m a Mexican-Irish kid who hates tamales and shepherd’s pie. If that’s not human, I don’t know what is.”
“I’d eat both of those things.” Dylan watched as more cars rolled up and kids climbed out. “I don’t mean act untouchable… I meant we have to preserve the illusion. It’s like at Disney World—you have to be at least sixteen to do the ‘Behind the Magic’ tour. They want to save the magic for the kids. They look up to us, you know?”