Pitching phenom Bruce “Jilly” Gillette has a hard time talking to women. His hulking presence of tattoos and muscles is what makes him an intimidating closer on the mound, yet off the field, he’s painfully shy, uncomfortable in his own skin.
Desperate to revamp his loner image, the New York Kings hold a dream date contest, granting the lucky winner a night on the town with their surly reliever, doing whatever it takes to force Jilly out of his comfort zone.
Hailey Halpert enters the contest on a whim, looking for answers as to why her high school relationship with Jilly hit the skids. Now she’s a popular romance author writing under a pen name, and her reappearance in Jilly’s life is no accident. It turns out that her novels are all about the sexy players on the Kings, and Jilly has no clue that he’s about to become her new leading man.
I never thought that Hailey Halpert would be at one of my games, cheering for me. Sure, she watched me play plenty of times in high school, but never as a King. It’s something I’ve often fantasized about, and now, it’s actually happening.
I take a deep breath to steady my nerves. I don’t get nervous no matter how pressure-packed the situation. I’m known for having ice water running through my veins. When I pitch, nothing can get to me, but tonight, I want to show Hailey what I can do. I want to impress her. Let her see that she’s dating the number-one closer in all of baseball. I want to prove that I’m good enough for her, that I’m worth taking a chance on.
I shake off my catcher, Pedro Gonzalez. He wants me to throw a breaking ball. Yeah, right. I don’t think so. I intend to bring the heat.
Pedro finally gives in, realizing how determined I am to deliver a fastball. Burke Balfour, the Detroit player at the plate, is currently leading the league in homers. This should be fun—a muscle against muscle, chest-thumping battle for supremacy. But you know what? Screw Balfour. I’m all about blowing Hailey Halpert away.
I rear back, slightly changing my delivery in order to give it everything I’ve got. The ball flies out of my hand, Balfour swings and misses, and the crowd goes wild. I take a look over my shoulder to check out the scoreboard for the radar gun reading. A hundred miles per hour. I smile to myself. I want Hailey to see me at my absolute best, and that’s what she’s going to get.
I sneak a quick glance at Hailey. She’s watching me attentively, her eyes trained on no one but me. Even in front of all of these people, my crotch tightens. Fuck.
About Collette West
Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball’s biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette’s impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.
Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she’s not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is the author of NIGHT GAMES and GAME CHANGER.