Saturday afternoon, I found myself sitting beside Jax at the Ranger’s Stadium in Arlington. He had gotten us seats right behind home plate, a few rows up, which were probably the best seats I’d ever had the privilege of sitting in at a Ranger’s game before. Even in the stifling afternoon heat, it was exhilarating, and I wasn’t sure if it was the energy of the crowd, just being at the game, or being there with Jax that had me buzzing with excitement.
It was almost a shock when Jax had shown up at my apartment that morning to pick me up wearing khaki cargo shorts and a Ranger’s tee-shirt, tennis shoes, sunglasses, and a baseball cap. It was a stark contrast from the formal suits I was used to seeing him wear, and even from the more casual clothing he wore on our trip to New Zealand. He looked so normal, and I had to admit, I liked it. I was almost able to forget all the reasons I kept resisting him in the first place, at least for the time being.
At one point during the game, when he turned to smile at me from behind his Oakleys, he took my hand in his and interlocked his finger through mine. I couldn’t hold back my returning smile as I leaned into him, hoping this minor concession was not a mistake. It was times like these that made me feel like it would be so easy to just give in to him and let him be a part of my life like I knew we both wanted on some level, but there was still that little piece of me that just couldn’t bring myself to surrender to my innermost feelings. I just couldn’t let go of that need to protect myself, and protect my heart.
The game, at least, was one that kept everyone on the edges of our seats, and Jax had made sure to keep my beer refilled throughout the game. By the eighth inning, my bladder was calling, and I excused myself for a restroom break. As I made my way back to my seat, squeezing past the others sitting on the same row as we were, one of our players hit what appeared to be a home run, and I was knocked off balance as the crowd all jumped up out of their seats in unison, yelling, cheering, and throwing their arms up in the air in celebration. As I began toppling forward, I panicked, picturing myself being sent flying down the stands below me, until two strong hands took hold of me and held me steady, keeping me from taking a painful spill.
Jax held me there, leaning into me, and suddenly the attention of the people around us was diverted to the jumbo screens above us that were now showing a couple from two rows back where the guy was proposing to his girlfriend. It was just close enough that we were visible on the camera, and as I looked around, I noticed all eyes around us in our section had turned from the screens to the couple. All eyes, except for two, that remained planted firmly on me.
When my eyes met his, a moment passed between us, and I could see the depth of feelings he felt for me in that moment, protecting me from a fall, holding me in his strong, masculine arms. I felt myself longing to get lost in his eyes, but the moment was broken all too soon when the girlfriend two rows back apparently said yes to her proposal, causing the crowd to go wild again.
Once the game was over, we stood to leave, but instead of heading up towards the exit, Jax pulled me in the opposite direction toward the field.
“What are we doing?” I asked him, noticing the wry grin that had spread across his face.
“I have a surprise for you,” he answered. “I’m good friends with one of the players, Tom Winston. I called him a couple of days ago to arrange a meet and greet with some of the other players.”
“Are you serious right now?” I squealed in excitement, trying to curb the urge to jump up and down.
He beamed and nodded. “Come on. Let’s go meet some baseball players,” he said, taking my hand and pulling me onward.
He may not have known it, but Jax had just scored huge points with me. I could feel the carefully constructed armor chipping away little by little, and I was too stinking excited at the moment to worry about it. There would be time to worry later.
It appeared my luck was changing. After my break-in to Perla’s apartment had proved fruitless, I had been racking my brain to find another way to take my life back, and the little b**** held the key. I’d torn that place inside out and couldn’t find what I was looking for. I had to find a way to get to her.
And there it fell right into my lap as I sat in Ranger’s Stadium, watching the jumbo screen. There she was. And with Jax f***ing Maddox of all people, holding her in a tender embrace like the bas***d was in love with her or something. Could it get any easier for me?
Yes, I had some work to do, and Perla Fae’s days had just been numbered.