If you’ve read my novel Picture Perfect Play, you met cocky pitcher, Joe Wesley. Here’s a short story to give you a bit more insight into the handsome young ball player. *If you haven’t read Picture Perfect Play yet…you can still enjoy this short story. No spoilers.
Joe’s Second Chance – Part 2
Sitting in his car outside the Malibu apartment, Joe Wesley takes a deep breath then slowly releases it. He uses that same method on the mound during games. For some reason it works way better in baseball then it does in this scenario. What the hell do I say to the woman I loved but sent away? He shakes his head, reaches across the seat for the bouquet of pink roses, and makes his way to the door. One more deep breath and his knuckles rap on the red wooden door.
When he hears the tumblers turning in the lock he feels like a teenage boy all over again. As the door swings open and he’s met with that familiar beaming smile, he releases the breath he didn’t realize he was holding.
Awkwardly extending his hand, he offers her the flowers. “Hi, Jenny.”
The petite dark-haired woman takes the bouquet, inhaling the intoxicating scent. “Thank you, Joe. You remembered my favorite flowers.”
She steps aside. “Come on in.”
The handsome athlete enters her home, pausing a few steps in. “I wasn’t sure you’d see me.”
Jenny offers him a sweet smile. “We’ve known each other a long time. How could I not at least hear you out?”
The usually cocky, over confident baseball player is uncharacteristically timid. “Thank you.”
“Let’s sit in here.” Jenny motions towards the kitchen table. “I’ll make us some tea.”
Joe takes a seat at the small wooden table, using this opportunity to study Jenny. He is blown away by the beautiful woman before him. Her long dark hair now features some golden highlights. Her body is still perfectly curvy, just the way he’d remembered. For a moment he becomes lost in his memories…how his hand would rest comfortable on her hip as they slept…the feel of her warm breath against his bare chest…her lips on his-
Literally shaking his head to escape the memories, he replies, “What?”
Jenny grins. “I asked if you still take milk in your tea?”
Nodding, with a shy smile, he says, “Yes, please.” He can feel the flush of heat coloring his cheeks. I’m sure she knew what I was thinking about. Could she possibly be having the same sort of memories?
Jenny returns to the table with their tea. She takes a seat and wastes no time. “So, what’s this about, Joey?”
His heart pounds at her use of the nickname that only she’s ever called him. “Full disclosure here…don’t laugh…I saw a therapist.”
With a supportive smile, she replies, “I would never laugh, I think that’s great.”
He nods. “I need to…I’d like to talk about our time in Texas, if that’s okay with you.”
Jenny doesn’t let it show, but inside she is genuinely surprised by the man sitting beside her. “Sure, let’s talk it out.”
Taking a sip of his tea, Joe collects his thoughts. “I’m sorry, Jen.”
The debilitating pain she felt then comes flooding back. “You hurt me…bad. What exactly are you sorry for, Joe?”
He blows out a big sigh before releasing the floodgate of his thoughts. “I was so freakin happy when you came to Texas with me, Jen. I felt like it was the beginning of our life together.”
With a nod and a frown, Jenny says, “Until you decided you would prefer the single life. I mean what young ball player wouldn’t. Why be tied down to a boring girl like me when you could have all those groupies?”
Joe has never been stabbed, but he can imagine it feels just like the torturous pain tearing through his heart. “Is that what you thought?”
Unable to meet his eyes, she replies, “Yes.”
Slowly closing his vivid blue eyes and then opening them just as slowly, he whispers under his breath, “What have I done?”
Jenny turns to him, now meeting his eyes. The pain and regret she finds there is undeniable.
Resting his elbows on the table and leaning toward her, Joe pauses as his cell phone rings. Without even looking at the screen, he shuts it off and slides it across the table. I have to fix this. Clearing his throat, he begins, “Jen, that’s not it at all. I’m afraid I made a huge mistake…and my biggest fear is that I won’t be able to fix it.”
Pulling her own phone from her pocket and shutting it off, she focuses on her former lover. “Go ahead.”
“Let me start by saying this was all my fault.” He then recounts to her why he sent her away. What he thought back then was the right thing to do for her, and how he can so clearly see now that it was wrong. “I couldn’t see until now that I took away your voice. I didn’t give you a chance to tell me how you were feeling. And I certainly took away your choice of where you wanted to be. I can’t begin to express to you how sorry I am, Jen.”
A tear slides down her cheek and Joe catches it with his thumb. The spark his touch ignites doesn’t surprise her at all. She’s missed his touch everyday since he sent her away. “Joe, you have no idea how much this means to me. I always believed you sent me away because I wasn’t enough for you anymore. I was so devastated when I got home. I had never imagined a life without you and all of a sudden that was my reality. Long story short, I took the job at the high school and married the first man that paid any attention to me…even though I didn’t love him.”
The pain in his heart grows wider. “Oh, Jen.”
“Look, Joe, I could sit here and tell you all the things we could have done differently, but I don’t want to focus on the past.” She looks down then back up to meet his eyes with a shy smile. “I want to focus on the future.” Her heart races, wondering if he wants the same.
The corners of the young pitcher’s mouth turn up. “Are you saying what I hope you’re saying?”
“I think we should give this a second chance.”
Joe stands, pulling Jenny to her feet. He encompasses her in a hug, his lips resting on her neck. “Are you sure?”
As she touches his face a lifetime of memories flood her…good memories…no longer the painful type that haunted her for so long. “I’m sure, but we have to start off slow. You are going to have to court me all over again Joseph Wesley.”
A peace overcomes the athlete that he hasn’t experienced in years…until… “Jen, there are some things that I’ve done that I need to tell you about.”
Shaking her head, Jenny insists, “I know. You’ve made mistakes and so have I. Let’s just move forward. I’m only concerned with the man you are today.”
Joe takes her hand and entwines his fingers with hers, a sensation he’s missed for so long. “I can’t tell you how happy you’ve made me, Jen.”
She smirks, looking into his sparkling blue eyes. “You could show me.”
A heat begins in his core, a heat he hasn’t experienced in years. The difference between making love and having sex. “I can?”
She grins. “Slow down there, Stretch, I meant buy me dinner.”
Laughing, he pulls her into his arms again. I really need to thank Carly.