Line Drive (Homeruns #6) - Quinn Ward
There were about a million things I’d rather do on a Saturday night in the off-season than put on a tux and rub elbows with fans of the Milwaukee Mavericks. Granted, the fundraiser for Secured Hope wasn’t strictly for the fans, but the players in attendance were a huge draw for the non-profit.
When I’d pointed out to my friend that no one here gave a damn about an aging player from a lackluster team, my former fuck buddy, Clint, argued that I may not be a Maverick, but this would help management see I wasn’t opposed to making appearances on my own time in case I still wanted to move north.
Plus, he added, the ladies are going to love you.
The ladies. While I wasn’t looking forward to subjecting myself to their appraisal, they were what finally convinced me to go along with Clint’s foolish suggestion. With Valentine’s Day a couple weeks away, the organizers thought it would be a brilliant idea to host an auction where women bid on a night out with eligible bachelors.
It was a win-win situation, because Secured Hope made a few bucks off me and no one would believe a gay guy would willingly subject himself to a night out on the town, and whatever else, with a woman. At least, that’s what I told myself as I checked over my appearance one last time before swiping my key card off the vanity and turning out the lights behind me. I’d put off heading down to the ballroom on the sixth floor as long as possible. It was time to get this over with.
It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the dim lighting in the ballroom. Everywhere I looked, former and current players for the Mavericks and the Chicago Bulldogs made small talk with the guests who’d paid two hundred dollars a plate to be here. I felt like an outsider, because no matter how many appendages I’d willingly sacrifice to be on a team like the Mavericks, I wasn’t one of them. I was nothing more than the sorry-ass friend Clint roped into this auction to get me out of the house.
Okay, so he hadn’t specifically mentioned how pathetic I sounded, sitting at home complaining about my uncertain future, but I was certain that was his motivation. I had no doubt he wanted to get me out of my own head so I could see that not every clubhouse was like Miami. It wasn’t his fault that being here, hanging out with him and his teammates, made me feel even more uncertain and isolated than I had before getting on a plane.
The line at the bar was four deep, meaning it would be a while before I tossed back the drink I desperately needed to calm my nerves. It was easy to pick out the women who were only there to bid on the bachelors later in the evening; they were the ones practically drooling as they perused the merchandise. And that’s exactly what we were.
Even worse were the ones who managed to make eye contact. There was nothing subtle about the way they stood straighter, shoved out their likely bought and paid for tits, and pursed their lips. While I waited my turn in line, I offered up a quick prayer that not all the women bidding later were like that. There were plenty of women flitting around the room who didn’t come across as trophy wife hopefuls. If I was going to be saddled into spending a night with one of them, I’d prefer sharing a night out with someone who had a good sense of humor and no illusions about a future beyond dinner.
“Hey, I was beginning to think you’d punked out,” Clint greeted me with a hearty thump on the back.
“Told you I’d be here, didn’t I?” If I’d realized not showing up had been an option, I might’ve stayed holed up in my room. Sweatpants and a T-shirt beat out this stuffy tux any day of the week. But I had promised I’d show my support for the shelter most of the Mavericks players went out of their way to help.
Yet another difference between Milwaukee and Miami. The Lightning liked to spout empty platitudes about how they agreed with the league’s inclusion policies, but Milwaukee’s management went above and beyond to show the world they truly cared about the LGBT community. The majority of the players took time out of their schedules to help out whenever possible, even