Publication Date: October 17th 2014
Pitching phenom Bruce "Jilly" Gillette has a hard time talking to women. His hulking presence of tattoos and muscles is what makes him an intimidating closer on the mound, yet off the field, he's painfully shy, uncomfortable in his own skin.
Desperate to revamp his loner image, the New York Kings hold a dream date contest, granting the lucky winner a night on the town with their surly reliever, doing whatever it takes to force Jilly out of his comfort zone.
Hailey Halpert enters the contest on a whim, looking for answers as to why her high school relationship with Jilly hit the skids. Now she’s a popular romance author writing under a pen name, and her reappearance in Jilly's life is no accident. It turns out that her novels are all about the sexy players on the Kings, and Jilly has no clue that he's about to become her new leading man.
His clumsy attempt to show his feelings started off as something beautiful, something Ill never forget, and I want him to know that.
Jilly… I say tentatively, and his eyes instantly snap to mine. The way you held me all through the night, felt so…right. The way you touched me, running your hand up and down my arm, and later when you were stroking the inside of my palm with your thumb. God…it felt so good. You didnt have to say anything. I could feel it.
You dont know how long Id wanted to do that, he whispers softly, his face turning red.
I smile, breaking eye contact because Im completely overwhelmed. Hes saying the words Ive always wanted him to say. This is the talk we shouldve had a long time ago, and I want him to know everything thats in my heart.
I meet his eyes again. What made it even better was that…you didnt have to touch me in all of those places…any other guy would have to make me want you. Your fingers on my arm were enough. I was in agony being so close to you and not being able to do anything more. I wanted you to take me somewhere, anywhere, to finish what you started—upstairs to one of the bedrooms, outside on the porch, in the back seat of the car—so I could kiss you everywhere I wanted to—but you didnt.
Hes staring at me so intently that Im afraid to go on, but I have to. Im almost there.
I know neither of us got much sleep that night because all I could feel was your hand caressing my body from my neck to my fingertips. But the next morning, as soon as it got light, you couldnt wait to get out of there. You started muttering to yourself about being late for something, propped me up on the side of the couch, and left me there. You didnt even say goodbye. Do you have any idea what that felt like?
He meets my eyes for a second before looking away. If you were tightly wound, you can imagine how I felt. You dont remember what you were doing right before that, do you? How you were running your leg up and down mine? Your knee at my—” He stops, burying his head in his hands. “I had to get out of there because I—
I swallow, realizing now why he did what he did.
But I couldve… I stammer. Helped you…with that.
He pushes himself away from the table, and Im afraid hes going to leave me sitting there all alone again. I didnt know what to do. I—
Jilly, I was yours for the taking.
Are you still? His gaze burns into me.
I look into his soulful, brown eyes, which are holding nothing back from me. Hes taking a giant leap for me now, even if he couldnt do it back when we were kids. Things couldve turned out so differently if he had, but here we are, in New York City, sitting across a table from each other, four years older, four years wiser.
I’d thought he was lost to me forever, never to be a part of my life again. But hes here, offering me a second chance at what Ive always wanted—to be with him.