Josie listened to the farm stand cashier explain.
“Clint, went into baseball and then, all of his grandsons
went into baseball and the granddaughter… well, she left Last Stand long ago.
Cal’s been in the majors the longest, and I like, never see him around here
even though I’ve worked here since last fall.”
So Cal had been keeping secrets from her—of sorts. Or had he
assumed she knew about his family full of athletes? His job explained the
expensive car and clothes, the body toned like a machine, maybe even the
wariness that dogged him. She imagined pro players were hounded by hangers-on
who wanted to be a part of their world for selfish reasons.
But not her. She’d prefer to put ten paces between herself
and anyone who was remotely famous. She needed to avoid the spotlight at all
costs until the trouble at home died down.
The phone vibrated three more times and the girl burst into
laughter. “Sorry!” she apologized to Josie. “I knew Darlene would go nuts when
she heard.” She picked up the phone and flipped it over, eyes scanning fast.
“She wants a picture? Oh God, how can I get a picture?”
Josie figured she’d lost her audience, but since the coast
was clear, she couldn’t resist asking one more question.
“You said he got cut this season?” she asked, wanting to be
sure she’d understood. “As in, lost his spot on the team?”
The clerk nodded. “It was so awful–”
“Josie, let’s go.” Cal’s voice startled them both as he came
through a back door on the opposite end of the store.
She scrambled back from the counter while the teen dropped
her phone. Josie hurried past the blueberries and melons to the archway where
Cal now stood, his expression stony.
Had he overheard her question? Guilt swamped her even as she
kicked herself for not being more careful.
“Ready,” she announced brightly, peering past him into the
greenhouse that connected the barn to the farm stand.
“Are you certain?” His voice was low, just for her ears,
before he took her hand and tugged her into the greenhouse behind him.
A fan whirred overhead, conditioning the air that smelled
like potting soil and growing things. He tipped a metal door closed behind
them. A door that closed silently and reminded her how thoroughly he’d startled
her when he re-entered the store.
“Absolutely.” She wanted to say it with conviction. To move
on and see the bee hives. But her heart was beating too fast with him holding
And standing too close to her.
His green eyes probed hers, his nearness making her recall
his very intriguing male physique. Was it really her fault to feel a flare of
feminine interest when he was a professional athlete and had the body that went
“Make sure you know what you’re in for, Josie, before you
say yes.” His voice lacked the geniality that she’d heard him use with the
young baseball fan. It was all gritty edged and hard now.
And did something wicked to her insides. Something she
couldn’t allow herself to feel so soon after another man had deceived her.
Nerves made her blurt the first thing that came to mind.
“I signed on for bee hives.” She’d been very clear about
that from the outset, hadn’t she?
Cal released her hand, but he didn’t back away. “Except now
you’ve broken our truce by asking questions. So in return, I’ve got a few
questions of my own.”