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Authors: Ella Jade

Sliding Into Second

BOOK: Sliding Into Second
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Sliding Into Second

 

by

 

Ella Jade

 

 

Sliding Into Second

Copyright © 2015, Ella Jade

ISBN: 9781940744643

Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.

Electronic Publication: February 2015

Editor: Leigh Lamb

Cover: Fantasia Frog Designs

 

eBooks are not transferable. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

 

Back Cover Copy

 

Jilted once before, now it’s her turn to level the playing field
.

Hotshot sports reporter Sage Millan has been busy making a name for herself in the male dominated world of baseball. She’s just landed her dream job, and her first assignment is covering the newly crowned World Series champions, The Kingston Crushers. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. The only problem…her ex-boyfriend, and the only man she’s ever loved, is the team’s second baseman. Things ended badly between them, and she’s not sure she can put those demons to rest.

Professional baseball player Nicolas Cordova is having the time of his life. His team has just won the World Series, and with the victory comes more fame, women, and exposure than he ever could have imagined. But things are about to change for the sexy, charismatic athlete. He never expected his ex-girlfriend to walk back into his life, much less the locker room.

These days Sage is smarter, more mature, and doesn’t plan on being played a second time. Her appearance stirs old memories for Nic. She’s the one he let get away in the name of his career. He vows he can be the man she needs this time around. Will that be enough to mend her broken heart?

 

Content Warning: contains explicit sex and adult content

 

Dedication

 

To all of my Kingston Heat fans... Thanks for coming back for round two. My players won’t disappoint.

 

Chapter 1

 

Sage Millan walked down the long corridor on a brisk October evening in Chicago. The stadium was quiet. Disappointed fans filed out in stunned silence. The Kingston Crushers had defeated the home team in one of the most important series of the baseball season. The Crushers were the new World Series champions. Sage was on her way into the locker room to interview their shining star. Paxton Hughes, the Crushers’ pitcher and savior, led them all the way to victory, clenching the night’s win with what appeared to be an effortless task.

“Hey, Millan,” Sal, her cameraman, yelled from down the hall. “Wait up.”

“Stop lagging behind.” She straightened her skirt and glanced down at her crisp, white dress shirt. “How do I look?”

“Hot as always.” The attractive, twenty-four-year-old winked. “Just enough cleavage for the network too.”

“Stop looking at my boobs,” she warned. “I’m a professional.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He laughed. “You’re lucky you know your baseball, or else I’d say the suits hired you for your body.”

“You’re a real piece of work, you know that?”

“You love me.” He handed her a microphone. “You know it.”

She did adore him. They’d only been working together for a few weeks, but they had an instant chemistry. He was a few years younger than her, but he never stopped flirting. He wasn’t offensive and knew he didn’t have a shot, so that made his teasing harmless. This was her first major gig with the station since landing the job as the local Kingston sports reporter. Tonight, she had one last test before her producers would give her the final go-ahead on a new project. She couldn’t mess this up. Too much depended on it.

“You ready to go interview all those hot, sweaty sports types?” he asked.

“That’s why I’m here.”

That wasn’t entirely true. While snagging this job was the opportunity of a lifetime, she’d be lying if she said she wasn’t there to see her ex-boyfriend. The one guy she couldn’t get out of her head, no matter how hard she tried.

“I thought you were a professional?” He winked. “I knew you were checking out the dudes.”

“Could you let me do my job without all your commentary?” She shook out her hands and tried to relax. This was probably the biggest interview of her career so far. “Let’s go do this.”

As she opened the door to the Crushers’ locker room, she took in the moment. This team had just done what other teams had only dreamed of. The screams of excitement echoed throughout as champagne bottles popped off at a furious pace. Flashes of camera bulbs burst as reporters made their way to available players. The whole place buzzed with adrenalin and raw emotion.

“Pax is over there.” Sal pointed. “We’re up next. Don’t screw this up.”

“Thanks for your confidence.”

The station had secured her a time slot with him, but she had to move fast. The team had hours of interviews, pictures, and celebrating ahead of them. As she made her way across the frenzy of players, her eyes connected with Nicolas Cordova. Her palms clammed and her mouth went dry. She had to pull it together. Having a breakdown over an ex-boyfriend would tank her career. She was pretty sure of that.

She’d been watching him take the field for years, following his career as if she had some kind of stake in him. She did. Once.

He leaned against the lockers, casual and carefree. Just as she had remembered him. His white baseball pants were covered in dirt, evidence of an active night at second base. She recalled the quick double play he made that shut the opposing team down and helped them lose their momentum in the third inning. She’d seen him make that play dozens of times when they were in college. It never got old. When he did it tonight, she’d given him a mental fist bump. No matter what had gone down between them, she wanted this win for him. In some ways, it felt like it was her victory too.

She hadn’t expected to avoid him. When she accepted the position, every memory the two of them had ever shared came crashing to the surface. Her first love—her only love. When he left to pursue a professional career, he had taken her trampled heart with him. Seven years ago, she kept reminding herself. Certainly enough time to bury the past. There were days when he wasn’t even a thought in her mind, but the other days, the ones where she recalled their relationship in great detail, were the hardest. She’d done a good job of moving forward, at least she thought she had, but when she got on the plane to cover the series, all the time they spent together, good and bad, came with her.

Once Nic noticed her presence, he pushed up from the locker he’d been resting against, but made no attempt to approach her. Stunned was the only way she could describe his expression. She’d had weeks to prepare herself for this meeting. As hard as it was, she was there to do a job. He had no idea she was about to be in his face for an entire baseball season.

 

Seven years earlier...

“Come on the road with me.” Nic spun Sage around the small hotel room after hanging up with the scout. “The season’s just getting started. We can explore the country together.”

“Whoa.” She rested her hands on his shoulders as he slid her down his body and set her on her feet, wrapping his arms around her waist. Everything was happening so fast. They’d taken a road trip to Rhode Island so he could meet with a minor league team. They had hoped he would get a call back, but she hadn’t expected it to happen before they left the state.

“They want me, baby. I can’t turn this down. It’s what I’ve been waiting for since I was on the little league field.”

He held her gaze with his deep green eyes. His white teeth sparkled through his wide smile. The future held so many possibilities and he wanted her by his side. That was the only place she would ever want to be.

“I can’t do this without you.” He kissed her. “I don’t want to.”

“You want me to come with you?” That was a dumb question. He would want her there. They’d spent years dreaming and making plans.

“Of course I do.” He twirled her hair around his finger. “We’ve been together since the beginning. You’re my number one fan.”

They had been dating since she was a sophomore in high school and he was the all-star senior. The longest two years of her life were when she had to stay in Boston to finish while he went off to Florida. He’d been offered scholarships at universities all over the country, but the south was where he needed to be. The climate was perfect for year-round baseball. When she graduated, she followed him. To her father’s dismay, she gave up an offer from Princeton and enrolled at Florida State University to be with Nic. To an eighteen-year-old girl who was in love, it was the only logical option.

“Unless you don’t want to.” He guided her over to the bed, sitting on the edge. “I just assumed.”

“I want to go with you.” She settled in his lap. “I can’t be away from you again. Not for another two years. It’s too hard.”

“Good, because I don’t think I could do this without you.” He kissed the corner of her mouth. “We’re in this together.”

“Always.”

 

“You’re up, Millan.” Sal’s eager voice brought Sage back to reality. “Hughes is waiting for you.”

“Right.” She strolled past the lockers, being careful not to make eye contact with the second baseman. “Hey, boys.” She tossed them a quick smile as she made her way to Pax. “You did Kingston proud tonight.”

The cat calls and whistles came with the territory. She was a woman in a male dominated industry, but that didn’t stop her. She’d made a name for herself through college, reporting on the school teams. When she graduated, she scored an internship in New York. Once she proved she knew her stuff, she landed a job as the field reporter for a local station in the city. A veteran sports reporter took her under his wing and taught her everything there was to know about the world of sports reporting. When the opportunity came up to cover the Kingston Crushers, she’d beat out fifty other candidates. Nothing would stop her from making it to the top, including a locker room full of horny athletes.

“Sage?” Nic stepped forward, blocking her path to Pax. “What are you doing in here?”

Not even the only man she had ever loved would distract her right now. The last time they were together she had vowed to stay out of his life forever, but some promises were meant to be broken.

* * * *

What was she doing here? Nic stared at her for a few minutes, taking in her flawless skin and long, dark hair. She was no longer the twenty-year-old kid he’d left behind. She’d morphed into a stunning woman, tall, confident, and sexy as hell. He admired her demeanor as she made her way across the locker room, smiling and flipping her hair to the side, not letting the crudeness of the players deter her from her mission. She was headed straight for Paxton, microphone in hand and a cameraman by her side. A professional reporter. Nice. Would she even stop to acknowledge Nic on her way?

She walked toward Pax without so much as a glance in his direction. Could she still harbor the bitterness from all those years ago? Before he had time to think about his actions, he moved in front of her.

“Sage?” His voice came out in a whisper. Her gray eyes connected with his for a brief moment, but he found no warmth in them. Where had her vibrant spirit gone? “What are you doing in here?”

“Working.” She shot him a polite smile, one reserved for a stranger or a casual acquaintance, not for an old love. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to interview your pitcher.”

He glanced at the microphone and noted the call letters. He recognized them as a station in Kingston. “You’re working the local station?”

“KLX,” she said. “It’s an affiliate of the network in New York. I wanted sports, so they sent me to Rhode Island to cover the Crushers. Small world.”

“Millan,” the cameraman said. “You’re gonna blow this if you don’t move right now.”

Pax waited for her to approach him, but the pitcher glanced at Nic. “I’m cool if you want to talk to Nic first,” his old friend said. “He’s probably more interesting than I am anyway.”

The crowd of reporters and players laughed, because Pax was the man of the hour. The team had brought him in to snag a title. He’d played a huge part in their journey this season to winning the biggest game in any of their careers.

“I’m here for you, number twenty-one.” Sage nodded at Nic. “It was good seeing you, Nicky, but I have to go.”

Nicky?
No one had called him that since the last time she had said it. He didn’t think of that day often, because it only served to remind him of what a colossal ass he had been. He’d broken her heart in a matter of minutes, and in the process, he had left himself open to years of meaningless relationships and lonely nights.

BOOK: Sliding Into Second
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