If We Never Met (Whisper Lake #5) - Barbara Freethy

Chapter One

Dante DeAngelis sighed as the never-ending questions came once more: How are you feeling? What does the doctor say about your shoulder? Will you be ready to pitch again before the end of the season? Or the worst question: Will you be able to pitch the way you once did?

He didn't have answers for any of those questions, but that didn't stop his friends, his teammates, the media, or his family from asking them. Today's questions were coming from his younger brother, Micah, whose call he should not have answered.

He shifted his phone to his other ear as Micah's voice pierced through his reverie.

"What's the deal?" Micah demanded. "Nikki says you haven't been talking to anyone, including her."

"I texted her last night. And I can't answer your questions, Micah. It's too soon. I have my first rehab assessment tomorrow morning, with my official therapy sessions starting on Monday."

"And you're going to stay in Colorado to do that?"

"Yes. There's a new rehab center in Whisper Lake, and my orthopedic surgeon highly recommended it. Plus, I like being far away. It makes it…easier."

It felt absurd to say easier because nothing about his possible career-ending shoulder injury was easy. Whether he'd be back this season or never was the big question. But right now, he could only focus on what was right in front of him, and that was three weeks of intense rehab at a state-of-the-art facility. The fact that the rehab center was in a mountain resort town was a bonus. He'd been sitting in Micky's Bar and Grill for the past twenty minutes, and not one person had come up to ask him for an autograph. That felt both shocking and amazing.


"Sorry, what did you say?"

"I'm worried about you. Why don't you come home? You don't have to stay with Dad. You can hang at my apartment. We have rehab centers in San Francisco."

"This one is the best. It's brand new. It's going to be part of a new Olympic Training Center in Whisper Lake, and they have therapists who are specifically skilled in dealing with professional athletes. I will be getting the best care, and I like being away from a big city."

He looked up as a loud group of guys entered the bar. They appeared to be a softball team with the bar's name scrawled across their jerseys, just the kind of men who might know exactly who he was. Luckily, they were too caught up in conversation to notice him. So far, he'd managed to stay under the radar, but that wouldn't last forever.

"Where are you?" Micah asked. "It sounds loud."

"A bar."

"Well, that's good. I was thinking you were sitting in some hotel room alone on a Friday night. Where are you staying?"

"An inn owned by my doctor's sister. I would have preferred a more impersonal hotel, but Grayson insisted that Lizzie would give me privacy. We'll see. She does make awesome chocolate chip cookies every afternoon."

"Is she single?"

"Engaged. And I'm here to heal, not find myself a date."

"All right. Well, I gotta go. Call me if you get bored. Or if you want company…"

"Thanks. But you're busy with your food truck. You don't need to babysit me."

"Not so busy. The truck has some problems."

"What's going on?"

"I can't get into it now. We'll talk soon."

"All right." He set his phone on the table and picked up his beer. He was thinking about getting some food to go with it when a very attractive brunette approached his table with an uncertain look. Apparently, he wasn't as unrecognizable as he'd hoped. She had on a short, silky floral dress that clung to her curves and showed off her tanned legs. Her dark-brown hair fell past her shoulders in thick waves. His gut tightened, but it wasn't because he wanted her to go away.

"You're Danny, right?" she said.

It wasn't the first time his name had been skewed. "Yes."

"Oh, good." Relief ran through her wide-set, big brown eyes. She pulled out the chair across from him and sat down. "I'm Keira, but you probably figured that out, since you've been waiting for me. I'm sorry I'm late. I had a customer come into the shop right at closing." She paused. "And now I'm talking too much."

He was a little bemused by not only how much she was talking but also how pretty she was, with a bright, self-deprecating smile curving her very kissable mouth.

"Can I get you a drink, Keira?" the waitress asked as she stopped by the table.

"Hi, Joanne. I'd