With all the laugher and cracking of the billiard balls, Rachel was amazed she’d even heard the bell ding above the entrance door, either announcing or saying goodbye to a customer. People were coming in, while others were making it an early night and heading home. This was one of those rare nights where she didn’t have to be home at a certain time. Her mom responsibilities were put on hold for the next twelve hours. Her daughter was safe and happy, and Rachel was set on having a good time.
She saw him first.
If she was smart she would’ve sank down in the booth, trying to make herself unnoticeable or give him the hint she still wasn’t interested in talking. It was the same way she treated him after…well, after the night that changed her life. She was still on the fence as to if that change was a good thing…or a very bad thing.
Turns out she wasn’t smart. At least not when sinfully, sexy Ty Robinson stood just feet away from where she sat. Smart and Ty never had gone hand in hand with her. He clouded her judgment—always had. She sat up straight, almost announcing herself to him, begging him to waltz in her direction.
His warm gaze locked on her instantly. Was he surprised to see her? She couldn’t tell. But from what she could tell by his wide grin, flashing pearly whites, he didn’t look unpleasant at the sight of her. That was a good sign.
“Mmm…” God, did she just sigh out loud. No, it wasn’t fair he still could turn her brain to mush. How was that even possible?
“What’s that?” Morgan asked, her eyes narrowed. “What’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
No, it wasn’t a ghost, not by a long shot. She would have been a lot safer if the man standing just feet away from her, looking like the hottest thing ever to grace The Eight Ball, was paranormal. A fitted gray T-shirt stretched over a formed chest, revealing muscular—but not overwhelming—tanned arms. Was it possible he’d grown taller since the last time she’d seen him? He had to be at least six feet plus inches. Long legs filled the luckiest faded pair of blue jeans. And here she thought seeing him on television, under the blazing sun, perspiration forming above his brow, and with an intense expression as he sized up his opponent in the batter’s box was enough to get her juices flowing. Watching his baseball games were entertaining, but didn’t come close to seeing him up close.
Rachel couldn’t will herself to look away. “I can’t believe he’s back. Why is he here?” Ty’s sister, Stacy, one of her best friends, never said anything about her twin brother coming back to town. At least not to Rachel, she didn’t. Could it have been Stacey didn’t even know? “I wonder if Stacey has seen him yet.” Another thought came to mind. It was enough to turn her attention back on Morgan. “How do I look?”
“You look like you always do. Why is who back? And what does it have to do with Stacey? I’m sorry, Rach, but you’re not making a lick of sense.”
Rachel fiddled with the paper napkin under her glass of wine, too afraid to look up again. “Ty. Ty Robinson just walked in.”
Before Rachel could tell her friend not to make it obvious they were talking about him by whipping her head around, Morgan was already turned completely around in the booth, eyes fixated on Ty. “Oh. My. God. It’s really him, isn’t it?”
Isn’t that what she had just said? “Morgan,” Rachel said through clenched teeth. “He’s looking right at us. Can you please turn your ass back around? Geez!”
“What do you think this means?” Morgan asked, once again facing forward. “I think he retired the end of last season. Do you think he’s back for good?”
Opening Day, something she only knew because it was considered a holiday in Lincoln Springs, was a little over three weeks ago. And since he was in Lincoln Springs and not playing under the big lights, it was safe to say the rumors of Ty retiring after only playing six years in the Major Leagues was true.
“I’m not sure what it all means.”
“Well, it’s not like he hasn’t been back in the past ten years. He used to visit once a year.”
This time felt different. In the past ten years Rachel had only seen glimpses of Ty around town when he would come to visit his family. She had stayed away, never even offering a hello to him, because of her marriage to James. As far as she knew he hadn’t been in town in the last three years.
The already loud bar got even louder as everyone figured out the biggest thing to come out of Lincoln Springs had returned. A lot of hellos were given, a lot more slaps on the back…and of course women appeared out of every corner like cockroaches, swarming around him.
Rachel casually sipped her wine, peeking over the rim of the glass to catch another eyeful of an all grown-up Ty Robinson. It wasn’t like she hadn’t seen him in the last ten years. In the past couple years she’d caught a few of his games. Because he played on the west coast, the games were always on late. Sometimes after she’d put Brooklyn to bed and had a few minutes to sit back and relax, she would turn on a California Wolverines game. She wasn’t always sure what was exactly happening on the ball field, but…God, the things that man could do to her. She didn’t have to understand all the ins and outs of baseball to appreciate the sight of him in a pair of uniform pants.