Winning With Him (Men of Summer #2) - Lauren Blakely Page 0,2

on this situation.

Dad looks at his watch, gives a casual shrug. “I got here thirty minutes ago.”

My father can do a ton of damage in thirty minutes. Hell, he can do a ton of damage in thirty seconds.

Has he said more about me?

Has he mentioned Grant’s name?

A chill sweeps through me, but before I can assess my next move, Brady James cuts in. “Your dad is like the baseball Yoda. He told me to open my hips, and boom. Longball, just like you want your DH to do.”

No. Just no. Just no.

Why the hell is my dad the acting batting coach for these guys?

Why the fuck is he here?

Tucker grins excitedly, pointing at me. “Jon, do Declan. Analyze your son’s swing.”

I groan quietly. My brand-new teammate is already on a first-name basis with my father. The carnival ride has flipped, and I’m dangling from the rollercoaster car, shaking precariously upside down in the loop-de-loop.

With a can-do grin, my dad gestures to a bat on the ground. “Give it a swing, son. I’ll tell you what you need to do.”

I shake my head.

“Come on.”

I shake again.

Tucker grabs the bat, shoves it at me. “We’ve all done it. Just take one cut and your pops will tell you how to improve.”

Don’t they get it?

Don’t they see who he is?

He’s not some chill pops. He’s not a cool dude who’s just like us.

He’s the drunk dad, ready to hurl tall tales at his family.

But they can’t see that because he’s wearing his I’m-just-one-of-the-guys mask.

I lift the bat and I swing at an imaginary ball, hoping it’ll keep my dad from uttering the word boyfriend again. Can’t let him come even that close to breathing Grant’s name out loud.

My dad studies me, then declares, “You need to open the front hip a little more, and you’ll smack that ball over the stands, son,” he says.


It comes out dry as chalk. I lick my lips, trying to get rid of the taste.

I need a strategy to get him out of here. Picturing the road to the complex from the airport, I wonder if there is some entertainment along the way. A pool hall? Some mini golf? It’s fucking Florida. There must be mini golf.

Think, Declan. Think.

But I come up empty, and it’s like I’m thirteen again, trying to ignore the problems right in front of me.

Ignore, deny, avoid.

I grasp for The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the first poem that gave me the guts to speak up.

But there’s no time to recite it in my head because my dad slaps me on the back, his voice booming once again. “Did he tell you? I gave his boyfriend batting tips.”

No, my head bellows.

I want to tackle him, to slam my hand over his mouth and seethe, “You said you wouldn’t.”

“You did?” Tucker asks, a lift in his brow.

“Does your boyfriend play ball?” Brady inquires.

My stomach plummets to the middle of the earth.

I shake my head, roll my eyes, do my best silly dad look.

“Dad, I’m not seeing anyone,” I say, draping an arm across his shoulders and squeezing tight. “But let’s catch up off the field.”

I pat him on the back then use my considerable strength to drag him away from his new crew. He shoots me an indignant look. “What? I was having a good time. I helped your new team. They love me.”

“Yup. I know,” I bite out.

I lead him off the field, through the dugout, and down the corridor, grinding my teeth the whole way, ready to pulverize my own damn mouth. I pull him into a quiet corner of the corridor in the facility. “Dad, I’m begging you. Do not mention my personal life in front of my teammates—not ever again,” I say, desperation painting over every single square inch of my tone.

“But everyone knows you’re gay. That’s not a secret. Look, I said I was sorry for telling you to stay in the closet when you were younger. But won’t you let me make up for it by embracing it now? Love is love.”

As if this is about love is love.

I try to breathe deeply as he twists my world like it’s a dishrag in his hands. “This has nothing to do with being gay. I’m out. I’m all the way out. That’s not the point. This has everything to do with me wanting some privacy, like I asked you for on the field.”

He smiles a big dopey grin. “You love that guy, don’t you? I can tell. Love is