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By Rosalyn Alsobrook St. Martin's Press, Seascape, 12/97
(book six of the series, but this book stands alone)
Excerpt from end of Chapter One . . . The long <girl's> shimmering-blond ponytail dangling through the adjustment gap in the back of Jeri <Adams>'s red baseball cap was a dead giveaway. So was her half-tucked in bright red baseball shirt with bold white letters that read Adam's Lumber and Construction. Evidently she child played on a sponsored team back home.
"Come on, Dad," she whined loud enough Paige heard. "He's got the idea already. Move out of the way so I can finish striking him out."
Dad? Paige skidded to an abrupt halt, still a dozen yards behind the lopsided backstop. The man she had thought to be Damon Adams still stood out in right field, now impatiently twisting what appeared to be an oversized gold ring around his pinky. But the man Jeri had just referred to as Dad stood directly behind the batter, helping a boy who looked to be about nine years old straighten out his batting swing.
She couldn't see the second man's face, but when he bent forward to place his arms around the small batter, his worn jeans pulled taut, allowing her a nice view of what could only be described as one lean, hard, muscular behind. The light blue short-sleeve shirt stretched around a pair of wicked shoulders, and gave stark contrast to his dark tan. His arms flexed with smooth, agile strength while he gently moved the boy's arms, using his hands.
He was one of those men who made simple mass-manufactured clothing look top designer.
So much for the softening with age theory.
A hard knot the size of the baseball in Jeri's hand formed in the pit of Paige's stomach. Suddenly, she wasn't so sure she had done the right thing coming to Maine. There had to have been other favors she could have done for her sister.
"No, Barney, hold it more like this, and swing level when she pitches it to you."
Paige sucked in an unsteady breath at the sound of his voice. Even that was every bit as sexy as it had been back in high school. Maybe more so, what with the deepening of age. How unfair.
"Come off it, Dad," Jeri complained. She shoved her hat back a half inch, all her ponytail allowed. Not yet noticing Paige, she jutted her hip out and tucked her gloved hand under her pitching arm. Dirt stained the side of her pleated shorts. "He isn't even on our team."
"I'm just helping him a little with his batting problem," Damon pointed out needlessly. He continued to manipulate the boy's arms. . .. Finally Damon stepped away from the batter and took his position as the catcher. His form fitted Levi's stretched to their limit around taut thighs when he squatted and slid his hand back into his glove, then held it upright. He had yet to turn around and notice Paige. His attention remained on the batter. "Ready." . . .
. . . Paige waited until the preacher finished his victory dance and had joined his teammates under the only tree before approaching the man she now knew to be Damon.
Prepared to feel insignificant again, like when she was twelve years old and he was eighteen, she called out his name.
Everyone turned to look at her. Including Damon.
Paige's reaction was immediate. A combination of awe and disappointment struck her at the same time.
She had so hoped that in concession for having kept such a strong, healthy body, he had forfeited immensely in the face. But he hadn't. From this distance, he looked even better than he had fifteen years go. But close up surely she would discover a whole network of age lines and such, especially when it was obvious by his tan skin, he spent a lot of time out in the aging sun.
She headed toward him, again hopeful.
"Yes?" Having squinted against the sun despite the shade the billed cap provided, his nose was still wrinkled when he first turned to face her. But, instantly, that expression gave way to one of obvious surprise. "Can I help you?"
Jeri had not yet returned to the pitching mound and stood just a few feet in front of her father. She cocked her head and gave Paige a quick once over, apparently not pleased with what she saw. Her disdainful expression reminded Paige of that younger Damon she remembered so well.
With Jeri blocking her path, Paige stopped several paces away and desperately sought something intelligent to say. But words failed her. She was still too stunned by how very little Damon had changed in fifteen years.
"Dad, is this the woman you told me about?" Jeri scowled and gave Paige another cynical sweep. "Is she the one who is supposed to help keep me entertained while we're here?" She rolled her eyes and gave Paige a get real kind of look. Clearly, the girl thought Paige unqualified for the job.
"I don't know," Damon admitted. He'd tugged off his glove and stepped around his daughter. Eyes that were every bit as blue as those Paige remembered met hers questioningly when he came to a halt only a couple of feet away.
Paige drew in another disappointed breath. Dear heavens. Hardly any age lines at all. Her heart did a little jazz dance while she considered how disgustingly handsome he still looked.
"Are you Paige Brockway?" He blinked hard as if not quite expecting the answer to be yes. The shadow from his cap slanted across a still handsome face while he studied her more closely. "Are you that skinny little kid who used to follow Blair around all the time? The one who was so bony, I called her Sticks?"
"Yes," Paige snapped. Obviously, the attitude part of this man hadn't changed either. He was still incredibly insulting. "But I happen to have grown up since then."
Great , she thought. Not even a minute in Damon's company and already she was on the defensive. It was like being twelve years old all over again.
"A rich and original treat--certain to fulfill every dreamer's fantasy. A winner for Ms. Alsobrook!"
----Katherine Sutcliffe, bestselling author of MY ONLY LOVE.
"Alsobrook is impressive and self-confident in her approach to writing."
----Texas Books In Review, Spring issue.
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