Catching to Win (Over the Fence #3)

BOOK: Catching to Win (Over the Fence #3)
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Catching to Win
Over the Fence, Book 3
Carrie Aarons

C
opyright
© 2015 by Carrie Aarons

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

L
ittlest B
, this one’s for you. Thank you for always showing me the peace and love that the world has to offer.

If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.

Yogi Berra

Prologue
Clint
Two Years Ago

Y
ou know
that moment when a hot girl sweeps her eyes up your body, each of your muscles instinctively flexing as she focuses on the sections of your brawny strength. That heat in her eyes, and you just know that she’s wondering what you’ll be like in bed. If you’ll be able to hold her down, pin her up against a wall?

Yeah, I know what that looks like too. Because I see every girl at Grover University give that look to my teammates every night we go out. But never me.

Hi, I’m Clint Bellows, and I’m the fat friend.

Sure, every group has one. But what no one tells you is that if you are the fat friend, life fucking sucks. Good thing I’m also used to it.

I’ve been the big guy, the teddy bear, for as long as I can remember. I’d never been a small kid — always a couple pounds too heavy, a little bit too large for each grade I entered.

I’d resigned myself to being passed over, to having to suck in my stomach each time an attractive girl looked my way, hoping she’d overlook the extra weight and come up and talk to me. I’d heard the whispers from the girls who came back to the house with my friends, “I just wish their roommate was hotter so that one of us could hook up with him.”

I’d endured the stares and criticism of other college coaches when I’d gone to try out for their baseball teams while I was in high school. One coach had actually told me I would never play for him unless I got rid of the gut.

So I hid. I used my weight, my shame, to hide from the world. Insecurities ruled my life, usually keeping me from going to parties, doing normal things a 21-year-old would do. Especially things guys do with girls.

It’s never been the hugest deal, just the ugly dark cloud hanging out in the background, tainting the picture but never fully ruining it. Until tonight.

Tonight. When Owen Axel, my best friend, brought his girlfriend Minka Braxton to visit, she’d brought her two friends. And one of them just happens to be the girl of my dreams.

Or so I think she is, not that I’ve gotten the nerve to go up and talk to her.

But when Kelsey O’Brien walked onto my porch this afternoon, it had taken all of my willpower not to drool like a hungry dog. She was fucking perfect. Small and full of life, like a beautiful fairy. Like the one Liv Tyler played in Lord of the Rings. Except smaller, which made her so much hotter. Something about knowing I could tower over her if we were toe-to-toe makes my cock twitch with lustful anticipation.

She’s got that halo of fiery red hair twirling around her foxlike features. Her pointy ears, narrow nose and slanting, mysterious amber eyes. Her expression was cunning, like she had some devilish idea on her mind. Jesus, she made me gulp so hard I thought my Adam’s apple would end up in my stomach.

But of course, Kelsey had looked straight through me.

I’d seen her eyes slide right over me to Parker, his muscled, tatted torso on full display. Damnit, I’d thought. I thought I would get over it, just move on from yet another rejection or pass over. But this one niggled at me all day. I couldn’t get her out of my head. That megawatt, troublesome grin she’d plastered on her face as we said hello wouldn’t stop playing over and over in my brain.

For the first time in my life, I wished I looked different. Of course I’d had that thought before…if I could just be more in shape, if I just had muscles, if I had more confidence. But this time I felt it down to my bones. A pit of deep sadness sat in my stomach, because if I could just look like Parker or some other cooler looking dude, she would have noticed me.

I would have been the one she was dancing with right now, out on the deck at her first college party. She might even come back to my bed, let me kiss her and strip off those clothes, which were already leaving little to the imagination. My cock went rigid in my boxers.

This is how it had always been. Clint, the invisible big guy. Friendly, pretty cool, but not hot enough to actually date. Or fuck. Or anything.

Shame, hurt and dejection crawled up my throat until the point of nausea. I didn’t even realize Owen’s girlfriend had come out to stand beside me.

“Hey, Owen’s girl.” I grin, but she scowls at me. Shit, I think I just offended her. “Sorry, I know, your name is Minka. Anyways…is your friend, the pretty, short one, single?”

She eyes me and I see it instantly. She’s assessing whether Kelsey would ever date me, and by the sympathetic look in her eyes, I’m guessing it was a no.

“Kelsey, yeah she is. But that’s of her own doing. Word of advice? Don’t try it. She doesn’t do boyfriends. Or friends that are boys for that matter.”

Okay. Okay…I could work with that. I’d get her to be my friend first. I would be the first guy to do that. Minka walks away with a concern marring her face.

A plan began to formulate in my head. This time would be different. I could change, sure it would be hard and it would take a while. But eventually I’d mold my muscles and shape my body into a masterpiece that Kelsey could not ignore.

At the same time, I would befriend her. I’d become her go-to guy, the one she could count on. I’d make her laugh, get to see her smile. This way she would know me well before I really went after her.

Because I intended to catch her. To make my face be the one she saw when she closed her eyes. To make her think about me as much as I was already thinking about her, and I’d only just laid eyes on her four hours ago.

This time I would get the girl. Because she wasn’t just any girl, this was the girl that would change my life. I felt in my bones.

I’d had everyone, especially women, pass me over for too long. I took it lying down. Not anymore. It was time to stand up, buff up, and show Kelsey O’Brien exactly why I was the only man for her.

1
Clint

W
hat
. The. Fuck? Did she have to stick her tongue down this dude's throat right in front of me?

I grumble as I watch her. She’s leaning against some dufus against the crappy wall of my college house. I turn away, averting my eyes to get some relief for my heart, which now feels like it's being stuck like my mammy's pincushion.

Lifting the light beer to my mouth, I grimace as it passes my lips. This amber-colored crap tastes like watered down piss, but I’m not going to blow all of my work in the gym this afternoon on her mouth fucking some guy. I might as well just start taking shots of whiskey to get myself drunk enough to endure this. At least with that I won’t give myself a gut.

I've been putting myself through this for a month. Watching Kelsey O'Brien get sloppy drunk, standing on table's to dance and then pimp herself out to these random losers by the end of the night. And then inevitably use one of the two open bedrooms in our house. It was like, with every party, my insides were being ripped open with a rusty saw. I didn't know how much more I could take.

I walk to the other side of our deck which is jam packed with people I go to school with. Everyone seems to be staying at school for the summer, and our house is the place to be with playoff season heating up. We won our region and are headed to super regionals next week. Lord knows how we won, with Miles Farriston, one of my best friends, leaving the team just before playoffs to take a great minor league offer. But I understand, he had to chase his dream and his girl, Chloe Trabucco, who was also chasing her dream of being the world’s best ballerina. He had to go. I'm just worried about us. The team. If we're going to win a College World Series, this is the year. Everyone is going to have to buckle down and try to make up for the loss we feel with Miles not being on the field.

"What's up, buddy?" Owen Axel, my other best friend and star pitcher on the team walks up to me where I stand at the deck railing, facing away from everyone at the party.

I shrug. "Not much, man. Kind of tired of this shit, ya know?"

His shit eating grin tells me that he's not. Owen is a chameleon. He has the perfect girl, the perfect throwing arm, the perfect life really. He fits in anywhere, is always the center of attention and is like, genuinely nice. The life of the party but also the guy who is there for everyone offering support and encouragement.

When he noticed I was trying to get in better shape and drop some LBs, he didn’t say anything, but he would stay and do extra work outs with me, or one day I noticed the fridge was wiped clean of all junk food and replaced with a bunch of healthy shit. Yeah, Owen is just that kind of guy.

"I don't know. Guess I'm just not feeling it tonight." I answer his silence, slanting my eyes over to Kelsey, who's now almost straddling this prick on my deck.

"Or maybe you're just feeling something else, Bellows.” Owen takes a sip of his beer, running his hand through his wavy brown hair. As if it wasn't bad enough that he was perfect, all the girls thought he looked like some model on the cover of a romance novel.

I rub my flat abs, trying hard not to rub the grooves that were now etched into my stomach. I wasn't obsessed with my body or anything, didn't flaunt it like half the guys I played with on the team. But I was fascinated by my new muscles, how different I felt in my own skin. It was both good and weird. Like I was living an out of body experience. Things that used to take a mountain of effort to do, like getting upstairs, or even hefting myself off the couch, were now easier than pie.

"I don't know what you're talking about." I shrug, trying to act like I don't give a shit.

"If it bothers you so much, why do you let her stay here?" Owen ignores my nonchalant brush off and keeps at the Kelsey line of questioning. "Or better yet, why don't you just go get what you want, dude?"

Typical guy in a relationship. Thinking shit is so easy. Doesn't he remember what it was like to win Minka Braxton, the love of his life, over? On second thought, it was easy for him. He enjoyed the challenge. Owen has all the confidence in the world. Me? I think a fucking gnat has more game than I do.

"She's my friend, man. That's all. My best friend. Plus, Kelsey doesn't do boyfriends. Remember?"

I gaze across the deck at her, all those petite curves being pawed by some doucheclown. Her tiny waist swathed in one of her flow, hippie skirts that falls to the wooden deck, hiding her round, voluptuous ass and those shapely legs. More than a slice of her porcelain skin is left exposed by the tiny crop top she wears. I can practically taste the smattering of freckles on her shoulders, put there by the summer sun. What I would give to run my tongue over them. She has them on her nose too. I love her button nose set against the sharp angles of her cheeks. The hazel eyes framed by all of those lashes that she loves to blink up at me, causing my cock to go rigid. Her auburn hair cut short so that it just skims her sexy collarbone. I wish I could put my lips there and drag them across her flesh until she was gasping for air. Her perfect tits sit perkily below that sexy bone, a handful each. I have to ball my hands into fists to restrain myself from testing out that theory.

It’s everything. Everything about her drives me crazy. I knew from the moment I'd laid eyes on this girl that I was ruined. It’s like the heavens made her for me. And then she opened her mouth and that spunky personality came out, and I was a goner.

"Yeah, keep telling yourself that, bro. By the way, you got a little drool..." Owen interrupts my Kelsey stare-down, wiping at my chin until I punch him in the arm. "Hey! That's your pitcher you’re potentially injuring. Watch the merchandise!"

I roll my eyes. "Oh, shut up. If that arm can take those 90-mile fastballs you've been slinging at my face for the last month, it can take a tiny jab."

"Dude, don't mention balls and slinging in the same sentence. It reminds me of this YouTube video I watched and this guy..." He stops himself before he can say anything more embarrassing.

"Oh, do go on. Didn't realize you swung the other way when it came to porn, but hey, I learn something new every day." I chuckle as Axel's face turns beat red.

"Minka made me...you know what. Fuck off." He flips me the bird before loping off as I cackle at his back. At least he picked my spirits up a bit.

As the smile lazily floats on my lips, I watch as Kelsey almost takes a head first dive into the deck. I'm sprinting in an instant, pushing people out of my path as I beeline for her across the deck.

She stumbles, careening through the air. The drunk prick who has been mauling her face off looks unsure, not willing to injure himself trying to break her fall. He pathetically reaches out just enough to keep her from splitting her skull open, but her wrists, elbows and knees hit the deck awkwardly, absorbing all measly 100-pounds of her weight.

I don't hear anything crack and thank God for that. I reach her, my big body shadowing her small frame which is now sprawled out on the planks of the deck. I assess her, thanking god that nothing looks broken.

"Up you go." I reach down, carefully and gently scooping her into my arms. My skin instantly heats, the chambers of my heart pump double time with her this close to me. She smells exotic, like Jasmine and spices from continents far away. She's so small in my arms, fragile but tough as nails at the same time. I never want to let her go.

"There's my big hero!" She swoons, wrapping her arm around my neck and hiccuping in a drunk, but totally adorable, way. Her big hazel eyes are filled with light and appreciation. I trick myself into seeing love in them, despite the fact that my gut knows it’s just friendship. "Why are you always saving me, huh?"

Kelsey smiles, and I think I feel my knees buckling. My voice sounds like a broken thirteen-year-old's when it pushes past my lips. "Well, what are friends for?"

Shoot me. As if I'm not already about to blow my brains out because this girl will never see me as anything more than her fat friend, I add insult to injury by playing up the "best guy friend" act. My plan to squeeze into her life as friend worked. But fucking story of my life, I can’t get myself out of the goddamn friend zone.

"Let's get you to bed, yeah?"

She wriggles, protesting being taken out of the party. Thankfully, light as a feather, and I only pull her closer as I shove through the crowd towards the back door.

"Come on, Clint! I'm having fun! You're not my dad you know. I'll give you a titty-twister if you don't put me down!" Her electric-blue fingernails sneak out towards my nipple, and just the thought of her touching me like that, even in pain, sends a shiver of lust straight to my cock. I shift her so that I can carry her in one arm and wrap my other big hand around her two tiny ones.

"Come on, Clint! I'm having fun! You're not my dad you know. I'll give you a titty-twister if you don't put me down!" Her electric-blue fingernails sneak out towards my nipple, and just the thought of her touching me like that, even in pain, sends a shiver of lust straight to my cock. I shift her so that I can carry her in one arm and wrap my other big hand around her her two tiny ones.

"Not fair! Just because you're the Hulk doesn't mean I won't punch you in the balls while you sleep." Kelsey shimmies her body against mine again in an attempt to break free, and I know that if I don't get down the hallway to our spare room quick, I might be throwing her against a wall. And how would that affect our friendship?

"I'm a ninja, remember Roo?" I pinch her side, relishing the sound of her voice as it came out in a happy, drunken yelp.

"If I'm Roo, does that make you Christopher Robbin? Or Winnie? Although now, you can't really be Winnie. The most you pig out on is protein shakes." The little pixie relaxed in my arms as I gently kicked open the door to her makeshift room. My Roo. I'd started calling her that after we'd watched an old episode of the cartoon one Saturday morning. She was exactly like the little Kangaroo; petite, determined, always looking for her next big adventure.

I set her down on the bed, careful to only remove my arms from under her when I know she's stable. The fleeting feeling of her skin on my skin is doused in cold-hard reality, and the moment she's gone I feel empty. Kelsey sits up, her bohemian skirt flaring around her on the bed, her hair, the color of fine-aged scotch, dusting her shoulders. Her long lashes fluttered over her makeup free face. She was so naturally beautiful it took my breath away. The light flooded the dark room from the slats in the blinds, and for a moment we just stared at each other.

An electric current flowed between us, and I hoped and prayed to whatever God there was that she was feeling this too. This excruciating, burning need.

I took a step toward her, reaching out and brushing my fingertips, rough with calluses from being mashed in my catcher's glove, over her velvety-soft skin. My lungs are on fire with the breath I'm not expelling. I keep every sound inside my body, knowing that with one exhale, I might send her running like a spooked animal.

She leans into my hand, the soft strands of red hair streaming over the skin of my arms. Kelsey nuzzles my fingers, and I'm sure I'm shaking now that she's this close to me.

"Kels..." I can't help it, I have to kneel down, look into her eyes and address her.

Just then, the curtain closes over her hazel eyes, and I can feel the icy panic start to spread over my chest. Shit.

"You're always saving me." She smiles, a polite smile. One meant to get me out of this room. One meant to protect herself with.

"I wish I didn’t have to.” I turn away, rubbing my fingertips together, hoping to save any remnants of her on my skin. She doesn't respond, so I turn back to face her. "Why do you pick these losers, Roo? Do you even know..."

I trail off, stopping myself from complimenting her when I know she doesn't want to hear it. Or even worse. Telling her how completely I've fallen for her.

"You're sweet, Clint. That's why I know I can trust you. You're such a great friend." Her smile doesn't reach her beautiful eyes. I can tell she's avoiding the subject altogether as she lays back, plopping down on her pillow in that way drunk people do. "Thanks for putting me to bed. Go have fun. Find a girl, get her number. Kiss her. Fuck her. Have fun!"

Kelsey throws her arms up in the air, but her limbs are sleepy, almost overtaken with exhaustion. Before I can respond, I hear her soft breathing tickling the white pillowcase, letting me know she's out cold.

"I've already found her..." I mumble on my way out, shutting the door gently behind me.

BOOK: Catching to Win (Over the Fence #3)
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