Pitch Please(4)

By: Lani Lynn Vale

If there was a definition of glare in the dictionary, the look Hancock just sent the pitcher would be directly under it for emphasis.

He bent down and picked up his glasses that were laying in the dirt next to home plate, blew them off, then resituated them on his face.

Then he did his whole routine again with his bat, gloves, and pants. Followed by the hat adjustment, bat tapping and swinging it up to his shoulder.

Once when he was ready, he took his bat and aimed it high over the fence, indicating he was about to hit it over the fence.

My mouth dropped open at his audacity.

“Damn showoff,” the coach muttered.

I hid my smile as I continued to watch.

The pitcher, Ramirez, sneered, and I knew what he was about to do.

He was going to hit him.

Knew it without a shadow of a doubt.

Ramirez reared back, lifted his leg and let the ball fly.

Hancock turned into the pitch, letting the ball smack into his right shoulder, and I groaned along with the entire stadium.

Ramirez had the fastest arm in the league right now, and being hit with a ball at ninety-eight miles an hour was enough to hurt anyone, even a big man like Hancock.

I stood up and was on the top steps of the dugout before Hancock even turned, and what I saw on his face was enough to send me back to my seat.

He wasn’t hurt.

Or, at least, he wasn’t going to show it.

He was, however, pissed.

Ramirez made it two more pitches, hitting one more player, before he was removed and replaced in only the first inning, and I found myself smiling.

Hancock, however, wasn’t smiling when he was stranded on second and had to come in.

He started jogging to the dugout just as my phone chimed.

Rainie (7:51): Heads up!

I stood up and hurried to the steps, smiling happily when my friend tossed me a whole handful of Double Bubble.

“Thank you!” I called to her.

My gorgeous blonde best friend grinned at me and waved. I waved back and froze when her eyes widened and focused at something over my shoulder.

I turned slowly to find Hancock directly behind me, staring at me like I was an alien who’d invaded earth.

“What?” I snapped at him.

What was his deal?

“Throw those other ten pieces back at her, and only give Manny two.” He looked at my hand. “He’ll wig out even worse if you show up with that many.”

I rolled my eyes and pocketed all but two pieces, then turned and headed back down the steps of the dugout.

Maybe, next game, I’d take the other trainers up on their offer to stay in the mouth of the tunnel entrance that headed out onto the field. Being in the dugout was turning out to be not such a good idea.

Especially when Hancock’s next words hit me.

“I like the way your hips sway, Mizz AT.”

I turned and narrowed my eyes at him.

“I don’t like it when you mention my fat ass all the time,” I growled. “And the name is Sway.”

His eyebrows snapped together.

“I never once called you a fat ass,” he sounded offended. “Not fucking once.”

My lip curled. “Then why the nickname of ‘Half-Pint’ and saying you like the way my hips sway?”

“Because they do. And I fucking like it. There’s nothing else to it but that,” he said, taking a step back.

Then without another word he strapped on his catcher’s gear, grabbed his glove and headed for the plate.

I watched him go, something uneasy settling in my chest.

“See you in three, Half-Pint.”

Then he was gone, and I was left feeling unsure of what, exactly, had just transpired.

Chapter 3

Sleeping is too hard during the summer. Blankets are too warm, but without blankets I’m vulnerable to monsters.

-Sway’s secret thoughts


I arrived at the stadium on time, and immediately headed down to the field.

The team, as well as all team personnel, were to be here on the field at one p.m. on the dot to film a freakin’ commercial for ESPN.

I’d just stopped about halfway down the stairs that would lead me out onto the field when I looked up and spotted Hancock.


What the hell did he want to be called?

Personally, ‘Parts’ was kind of hard to call someone. Which was why I started referring to him as Hancock in my mind.

Nobody called him Hancock, though.

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