Title: For the Win (a Standalone Baseball Romance)
Author: Raine Thomas
Genre: Contemporary Romance
It’s what gets Jasmine Li out of bed every morning. She’s determined to overcome the injury that has derailed her career in ballet, the only love she’s ever known. She can’t afford to allow a baseball player to distract her, no matter how hot and persistent he might be.
Will Campbell defines the word. It’s what makes him a successful pitcher and it’s helping him learn how to be a single dad to a little girl with plenty of trust issues. Just his luck, the one person his daughter—and his heart—finally respond to is a stubborn, sexy ballerina with plans that don’t involve relationships or children.
But Will didn’t become the best closer in the majors by giving up. He knows what he wants and what his daughter needs, and he’s going to get it. Jasmine Li has met her match...and he’s playing for the win.
In the pursuit of her heart, winning is the only option.
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“Don’t I know you, kid?”
Will nearly rolled his eyes over the grizzled Uber driver’s question, but he didn’t want to look like the kid he’d just been called. He was twenty-two, for Christ’s sake. He wasn’t a damn kid.
“I play ball,” he replied.
“Hot damn,” the driver declared, jerking the wheel so much in his excitement that Will braced himself. “You’re Will Campbell! I’ve got Will Campbell in my car!”
The driver turned to look at him over his shoulder. “You look a little different without your ball cap on. I’m a huge fan. You’re one of the most promising young pitchers I’ve seen in years. I don’t know how you pulled out that win against New York to end the season. Shame it didn’t get us into the playoffs.”
The car crept toward the double yellow lines on the road. Will tightened his grip on the chicken stick. “Uh, yeah. Listen—”
“I always wondered what you guys did in the off season. Do you live here in Denver then?”
Will’s eyes were glued to the road. The car’s tires thudded as they hit the reflectors lining the center of the road, finally prompting the driver to glance back out the windshield and yank the wheel the other way.
“Yep,” Will choked out.
He didn’t mention that they were on the way to his neighborhood now. The driver seemed like the kind of guy who would drop by unexpectedly if he knew that.
“It’s been a bitterly cold fall,” the driver commented, his eyes now mostly on the road. “But it’s nearly winter now, isn’t it? Just another week or so to go.”
Will was relieved when the driver slid back into his standard “kill the time” banter and stopped bouncing in his seat over the fact that Will played professional baseball. His stomach reeled from the driver’s erratic swerving, and it was being urged along by the overwhelming scent of lemon and cheeseburgers floating through the car’s heating system. Those tequila shots he’d done on top of the whiskey were starting to feel like a terrible idea.
Fortunately, it didn’t take much longer to get to their destination. He had given the driver an address a few blocks from his house. It was a safety measure his father had suggested years ago when Will first started living on his own. There had been several times when the advice had saved his ass, especially once he became more well known.
They pulled up to the curb in front of the dark dwelling belonging to the incorrect address. “Nice neighborhood,” the driver observed as he entered their arrival into his app.
Will finished entering a tip amount in the app on his own phone, knowing he’d likely forget otherwise. “Yeah, it’s quiet,” he said as he reached for his door handle. “Thanks for the ride.”
“Hey, wait. Can I get your autograph?”
Although Will wanted nothing more than to exit the car into the crisp December air, he obliged the driver by signing a couple of greasy napkins that looked as though they were the source of the cheeseburger smell. He signed one for the driver and one, he was told, for the driver’s son, then made his escape.
As soon as the car pulled away and turned out of sight, Will walked along the silent suburban streets to his house. His head throbbed dully with every step he took, telling him he was sobering up. A frigid wind had him picking up the pace and burying his hands in the pockets of his Berluti suede bomber jacket. He sure as hell wouldn’t miss the Denver winters, he mused as he finally headed up the path to his front door and fished his keys out of his pocket.
He struggled with finding the right key on his heavily shadowed front porch. The cold night air quickly numbed his fingers. He dropped the keys with a jarring clang.
Cursing, he shifted and bent to look for them, swaying a little as the alcohol rushed to his head. He fought to correct his balance. His foot connected with the keys, sending them skittering under one of the two porch chairs.
He cursed again, more loudly this time, and lowered himself into a squat to retrieve them. He couldn’t see a damn thing under the chair.
Having an a-ha moment, he pulled out his phone and triggered the flashlight. He turned the resulting beam toward the chair and caught the glint of light off metal.
Then the shadows in the second chair moved.
He jerked and aimed the phone toward the second chair. His racing heart calmed as fear eased into confusion. There was a small, shivering lump sitting in the chair…a lump with two long braids and wide, glistening eyes staring right at him.
A little girl.
Why the hell was there a little girl on his front porch?
Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She's a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn't writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida's beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.
Amazon Author Page (www.amazon.com/Raine-Thomas/e/B005FLP14E/)
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