Stealing Home (Callahan Family #2) - Carrie Aarons
Six Years Ago
I guess that’s it then, I think as I down the rest of my tequila on the rocks.
Typically, I’m a beer man. Or maybe a whiskey if it’s a stuffy event I’m forced to go to by my coaches or the executives at the ballpark. But tonight? No, tonight requires tequila. Mind-numbing, bad thought-erasing, will-knock-me-out-of-my-misery tequila.
She flits around the room, saying hi to guests and getting swept up in the bliss of her night. Well, technically it’s their night, but all the events surrounding a wedding are usually about the bride. The groom just puts on a tux and shows up, nodding his head yes at the right moments and then smiling for pictures.
Hannah is getting married, but she’s not marrying me.
No, she’s marrying Shane Giraldi, the asshole I play on the same major league baseball team as. Lord knows what she sees in him, though I guess if I was being objective and didn’t hear his disgusting, degrading locker room talk, the guy has a certain charm about him. Shane is always the loudest in the room, the entertainer, the cool kid that everyone congregates around as he tells wild stories with even wilder hand gestures.
Personally, I never understood their relationship. She is effortlessly kind and soft-spoken, while he preens more than a peacock.
She catches my eye again as she shimmies across the dance floor, a shy but vibrant smile reaching all the way to her eyes. From the table I’m sitting at, sulking, in the back of her rehearsal dinner, my heart kicks up about three notches. Jesus, she looks so beautiful it hurts.
With all of that curly black hair, smooth olive skin, and bright blue eyes, I’ve always imagined Hannah fitting right in on the white-sand shores of a Caribbean island rather than in Packton, Pennsylvania. The first time I ever met her, about a year ago when Shane got traded to the team, it was so hard to keep my eyes off of her that she probably thought I was insane. Hannah has the personality of the girl next door trapped in a bombshell body. A lithe body with luscious hips, full natural breasts, and an ass I can rarely keep my eyes off of. Will I ever find another woman I find half as attractive?
Having met her family, some of them this very night, I see where she gets her exotic looks. Tonight, she seems to glow so brightly that I’m tempted to go half-cocked and say something I can never take back. Now or never. Forever hold your peace. Isn’t that what is always said at the altar, when someone stands up and professes their undying love?
I’m sure it’s the tequila talking. I don’t necessarily have an undying, unrequited love for Hannah. But having spent a bunch of time with her over the last year or so, the two of us talking at the bar while Shane was holding court, we’ve grown close. And then there was that one dinner we had together when her fiancé was shooting an endorsement campaign in the middle of a three-game road trip. I almost spilled the beans on how big of a crush I had on her, and I knew Hannah knew that. The way her eyes had seemed shifty, the blush in her cheeks—something there hadn’t seemed so unrequited.
Now, though, we’d never know. She was clearly head over heels in love with my teammate, and I carried a silly torch for a girl I’d never even been on a proper date with.
I’d get over it. Tomorrow, I’d watch her walk down the aisle to another man. And they’d ride off into the sunset while I searched for my happily ever after.
But tonight? Tonight, I get to drown my sorrows in tequila. Tonight, I am allowed to mourn a love that will never be, and burn the rest of my fantasies in the singe of this alcohol.
Something scratches the window, and suddenly, I’m as spooked as my five-year-old daughter when I forget to put her three night lights on.
My blood runs cold, my heart comes to a screeching halt, and sweaty goose bumps break out all over my skin. I lie in a bed that isn’t my own, completely paralyzed, wondering if I hear it again, if that will spur me to pull open the nightstand drawer next to me and grip the handle of the Swiss army knife I’ve placed there.
Turning my head mere centimeters at a time, I look to the shadows painting