Hit and Run by Tara Wyatt

 

One

Beau Beckett rolled over in his king-sized bed and rubbed a hand over his face, waiting for sleep to pull him back under. His shoulder ached, his back was tight and all he wanted to do was go back to sleep. Even though the room was bright, he wasn’t ready to get up and face the day yet. Pressing his face into the pillow, he pulled the sheet up over his bare torso, settling back in.

A soft moan from his right cut through his thoughts and his eyes flew open.

Right. The women.

Cautiously, he glanced to his right, taking in the pretty redhead, her fiery hair spilling across the pillow. Then he glanced to his left and saw a beautiful brunette still sleeping soundly, her hands curled under her face.

The redhead shifted slightly and Beau winced, staring at the ceiling as he tried to remember her name. Either of their names. Shit. He was an asshole of the first degree, but forgetting both of their names was low, even for him. Especially considering what they’d been up to just a few hours ago.

He sighed and continued to stare at the ceiling, his gaze roving over the smooth concrete, exposed matte black pipes, and swirling ceiling fan. He’d forgotten to shut the automated shades covering the floor to ceiling windows along the far wall, which explained why the room was so damn bright. Granted, he’d been a little distracted last night.

Both of the women stirred again and he grimaced, still trying in vain to remember their names. Wishing they hadn’t slept over. Wishing he had a way to extricate himself from awkward morning after conversation, which he hated and avoided at all costs. Gingerly, he propped himself up on his elbows, surveying the room. The two ugly ass armchairs the decorator he’d hired had insisted “completed the room”—whatever the hell that meant—were covered in clothes, both his and those of his guests.

He sat up a little more, wondering which was worse—not remembering their names, or sneaking out before they woke up, knowing his housekeeper would chase them out when she showed up around 10 that morning. His eyes darted back and forth between the end of the bed and the clothes strewn on the floor. If he could get out of bed without waking either of them, he could slip into some clothes and head to the yard, avoiding any awkward conversation and strained goodbyes.

Such. An. Asshole.

Sitting all the way up, he carefully lifted his legs out of the tangled sheets, moving by inches so as not to wake up the women. Blowing out a breath, he cautiously crawled to the end of the bed, almost free of the tangle of sheets. He was nearly there. He could see his discarded jeans and black T-shirt on the chair just a few feet away now. All he needed was to get out of the bed, grab them, pull them on and get the hell out of there.

He lifted one foot to the floor, the polished concrete smooth and cool against his skin. As though he were a spy navigating his way through a web of lasers, he slowly lifted his other foot from the bed. The sheets wrapped around his ankle seemed to tighten, and his eyes widened, panic shooting through him.

“No, shit!” he whispered, hopping on one foot to try to maintain his balance. He flailed his arms, windmilling them helplessly as he fought to stay upright. With a huff, he regained his balance and closed his eyes for a second. His foot was still tangled in the sheets and even as he tried to pull it free, the sheets kept him snarled up.

Bending forward to attempt to free his foot, he lost his balance again, and this time, no amount of wildly flailing arms could save him. Despite his efforts to stay upright, he knew it was futile, and after one last hop, he crashed to the floor, tearing the sheet off the bed as he went. He landed in a heap of limbs and Egyptian cotton, his elbow slamming painfully against the concrete. At 6’2 and 200 pounds, he wasn’t a small man, and both the noise of his body crashing to the floor and the impact were jarring.

“Son of a bitch,” he ground out, glancing up in time to see two heads peering down at him from the bed.

“Going somewhere?” asked the redhead, whose name he was pretty sure was Katie. Or Kelly. Kaylee? No, wait. Kristy. Maybe.

“Uh, no, I was just—” He cleared his throat, his voice still rusty with sleep.

“I think he was trying to sneak out,” said the brunette, a skeptical look on her pretty face. “He was going to ditch us in his own penthouse.”

“What?” Beau arranged the sheet around his waist and stood, his elbow throbbing angrily. “No. No! What? I wouldn’t do that. No.” He rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, two sets of eyes narrowing at him. Guilt slammed into him, making his chest tight as he stared at a fascinating spot on the gleaming floor. “I was just planning to uh, to go to the coffee shop around the corner. For…coffee.” He let out a low chuckle, regaining his footing, both physically and mentally, and checking that the sheet was secure around his waist, he moved toward the bed. Bracing his palms on the mattress, he leaned forward, meeting first one and then a second pair of eyes. “Thought you could use a little caffeine after last night, is all, and I didn’t want to wake you.”

Lying asshole. So full of shit.

“So…you weren’t trying to sneak out and ditch us?” asked the redhead with a pout.

He pasted on his most charming grin, the one he’d perfected in his teen years when he’d realized the power it had. “What kind of asshole would I be if I did that?” he asked, shaking his head slowly.

“A giant one,” said the brunette, still scowling skeptically. “But if you’re going for coffee, I’ll take a cappuccino.”

He winked at her and she visibly softened, her shoulders relaxing, her scowl melting into a half-smile. “Okay, one cappuccino, and what about you?” he asked, turning his attention to the other woman in his bed.

“Vanilla latte with cinnamon, please.”

“One cappuccino and one vanilla latte coming straight up.” He turned and scooped up his discarded clothes, disappearing into the adjoining bathroom to get dressed. It wasn’t that he was embarrassed to be naked in front of the women—he wasn’t shy, and they’d seen everything he had to offer last night—he just didn’t want to give them any ideas. As he tugged on his jeans, going commando as usual, he mentally reviewed his rules, wondering if they needed an update after this morning’s debacle.

  1. No repeats.
  2. No dates.
  3. No exchanging of personal information.
  4. No feelings.
  5. No promises or commitments.

They were rules he’d lived by his entire adult life, and they’d served him well. They’d kept him safe, insulating him from the emotional turmoil he’d experienced growing up. He’d learned the hard way what it felt like to be vulnerable, to love and not be loved back, and he wanted nothing to do with any of that shit as an adult. Beau didn’t do love, he did sex, and lots of it. It kept things simple. Straightforward.

Safe.

“New rule,” he said as he studied himself in the mirror. “No sleepovers.” He yanked his T-shirt on over his head, gave himself a final once over in the mirror, smoothing down the spot where his thick hair was sticking up, and then headed back into the bedroom, where the two women were naked and kissing in the middle of his bed. His cock perked up, but he reminded himself of his number one rule: no repeats. He clenched his jaw and forced himself to leave the room, stepping out into the hallway outside his bedroom and shutting the door behind him.

He moved quickly down the hall, his bare feet slapping against the concrete floor. He’d lived in the two-story loft-style condo for three years now, and while he liked it, there was something about it that didn’t feel like home. He regretted hiring that decorator, even though it had saved him a lot of time. As he took the stairs down to the main level, his gaze moved from item to item, all sleek leather, shining glass, and gleaming wood and concrete. Everything polished within an inch of its life. It looked good, but it wasn’t him.

At the bottom of the stairs, he grabbed his phone and his keys, slipped his shoes on and left, finally feeling like he could breathe.

Later that day, Beau pulled his 1970 Chevelle SS into his assigned parking space at Dell Park, the Longhorns’ stadium. After he’d dropped off the coffees for the ladies, he’d said he had to head to the yard for practice, hoping they’d get the hint and leave. Thankfully, they had, giving him some time alone before he was actually due at the park. He’d watched some TV, eaten, lifted weights, eaten again.

As he stepped out of the car, slipping his Aviator-style sunglasses off his face and tossing them on the passenger seat, he snapped his fingers and pointed up in the air, a sudden flash of memory lighting up his brain.

“Kylie!” he practically shouted. “And Brenna! I remembered!”

A passing staff member driving a Longhorns branded golf cart carrying batting equipment gave him an uncertain look and Beau grinned, waving at him. “Brain still works,” he said, tapping a finger to his temple.

“Congratulations,” came a voice from behind him, and Beau whirled to see his teammate and friend Hunter Blake standing several feet away. “We’ve all been worried.”

“Ha ha,” said Beau dryly, slamming his car door shut and heading toward the stadium’s entrance. He tipped his chin at Hunter as they walked. “How’s the hamstring?”

Hunter shrugged. “’Bout ninety percent. How’s the shoulder?”

“Same as always. Tight. Achy.” Ever since he’d torn his rotator cuff a few years ago, it hadn’t been the same. Probably never would be.

“You talking about war wounds?” asked Dylan McCormick, jogging over to them from where he’d parked his truck one row over. “Let’s see, my knee still hurts every time it rains, and my thumb gets stiff. Oh, and my glute strain is still—”

“A pain in your ass?” quipped Hunter, finishing Dylan’s sentence, a common occurrence between the two of them.

Dylan laughed. “Pretty much.”

“You heard anything from Aerin lately?” asked Hunter, returning his attention to Beau as they walked down the wide, curving hallway that led to the Longhorns’ clubhouse. Aerin Prescott-Flores was a huge player in the sports world, one of the best agents out there, and she represented several guys on the team. She also happened to be married to the club’s manager, Javier Flores.

Beau shook his head. “Nope. Said she’d let me know when she had anything to share.”

Dylan bumped his shoulder against Beau’s. “Can’t believe you’re thinking of leaving.”

Beau shrugged as he pulled open the door to the team’s clubhouse. “It’s not that I want to leave, but I’m a free agent at the end of this season. I’m thirty-two. This’ll be my last big contract, and I want it to count. I’d be happy to stay—we got a good group, good postseason chances. But if someone like the Red Sox or the Dodgers come knocking…” He trailed off, and Hunter and Dylan both nodded.

“I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. You want to go out in a blaze of glory.” Hunter clapped him on the shoulder.

Beau shot him a half-smile. “Something like that.”

“You’ve got a good shot at some big teams wanting you,” said Dylan. “You’re tearing it up this season.”

Beau shrugged and rubbed a hand over his mouth. “Don’t jinx me, McCormick.”

The clubhouse was buzzing with activity, several guys clustered on the leather couches in the center of the space, playing some video game that involved racing sports cars and screaming obscenities at each other. Classic rock pumped through the stereo system, and several players lounged in their leather swivel chairs in front of their cubbies, all in various states of dress for practice. Abby Gossman-Landon, the team’s hitting coach, strode—okay, maybe waddled was a better word—into the open space, her clipboard in hand and her Longhorns T-shirt stretched over her pregnant belly. A couple of years ago, she’d had a thing with then-Longhorns catcher Jake Landon, who’d since retired and was now the color commentator for Longhorns games. They’d gotten married shortly after he’d retired, and now Abby was expecting their first baby—a girl—before the end of the summer.

“Okay, everyone. Listen up!” she shouted, resting one hand on top of her round belly. “First of all, a reminder that we’re staring an hour earlier tomorrow because Piper’s coming in for a yoga session.”

A wolf whistle echoed through the clubhouse and a few guys laughed. Abby narrowed her eyes, scowling.

“None of that. I know you all think Piper’s hot—”

“Because she is!” someone else called out. Beau chuckled. They weren’t wrong. The fitness coach and yoga teacher the club had hired this season to work with the players was unbelievably sexy. Golden brown hair, big brown eyes, heart shaped face and a killer smile, all on top of the body of a freaking goddess. To call her hot felt like an understatement. She was gorgeous and sexy and totally, completely uninterested in him. At least, he was pretty sure. He flirted with her every chance he got, and she’d grouse at him to focus on his workout. But then they’d banter back and forth a little bit, making him wonder if her toughness was all for show. But while he was a lot of things—asshole included—he didn’t chase women who weren’t giving him the green light.

Abby sighed, her arms crossed over her chest. “Yeah, fine. Piper’s hot. We all know it. But keep it in your pants and show up for her yoga class tomorrow.”

Beau pulled his T-shirt off over his head, changing into his batting practice gear as Abby continued, going over what she wanted each of them to focus on during BP. By the time he’d finished tugging on his gray Longhorns T-shirt and athletic shorts, he realized she hadn’t had any instructions for him.

“What about me, coach?” he asked, glancing at her.

She shot him a grin. “I got nothing for you. You’re hitting a solid .312 with seventy RBIs and twenty-five home runs, and it’s only the end of June. Whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it.”

He laughed, spreading his arms wide. “Guess you can’t improve on perfection.”

Several guys groaned and threw empty Gatorade cups at him. Still laughing, he held his arms up, blocking them.

“Don’t litter just because you’re jealous,” he said, picking up one of the cups and throwing it back at Jordan Miller, the team’s first baseman. Jordan laughed, swatting the cup away.

“That being said,” continued Abby, narrowing her eyes at him, “if I have to see your pale ass one more time, I’m going to ask Javi to bench you. Beau. Underwear. Please.”

He shot her a rueful grin. “Right. Sorry, coach.” Then he shook his head. “My ass isn’t that pale.”

She slapped her clipboard against said ass as she walked by, headed towards the stairs that led to the dugout and the field beyond. “Like two full moons. Blinding,” she said, earning a round of laughter from the team. Beau just grinned and shook his head.

Batting practice had always been one of Beau’s favorite non-game activities. He loved the concentration, the ability to fine tune his mechanics, the chance to analyze pitches along with his stance. The chance to send ball after ball careening into the stands, feeling the crack of the impact vibrate through his palms and up his arms. Power and precision, rolled neatly together.

As he stepped into the cage, dropping easily into his stance and taking a few more warmup swings, a kind of peace settled over him. He never felt as good as when he was playing ball. Never. Nothing compared, not even sex.

He swung at the first pitch, sending the ball soaring into the sky with a satisfying crack and watching it land in the upper deck. And then he did it again and again, until his hands were buzzing and sweat was trickling down his temples.

This was where he belonged. What he was meant to do. Baseball was what had shaped his life and given him more self-worth than his childhood or his family ever had.

It was everything. It was life.