Read Out of Her League Online

Authors: Lori Handeland

Out of Her League (9 page)

BOOK: Out of Her League
11.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


m sure it

s frightening when you

re all padded up and ready to ram the ball down the quarterback

throat. But here—

she shrugged and waved her hand to indicate the empty yard

—when you

re wearing sandals, and I know you

re not going to tackle me...

She tilted her head.

You aren

t going to tackle me, are you?

Hardly. I

d send you into the next dimension.

Hmm, maybe.


My father was a cop. I know some tricks.

She winked, and Joe

s blood pressure continued to rise, though not from anger any longer. She had very nice eyes. They changed color depending on her mood or what she wore. Right now her washed-out purple shirt made them more green than hazel. He

d always been partial to green.

There aren

t enough tricks in the world to stop me, sweetheart.

Her eyes narrowed.

Does that


thing work for you, too?

In what way?

Do women like it? Or do they knock your teeth down your throat?

Now it was his turn to smile.
“See any teeth miss


she said.


* * *






it right,

Joe said.

When you growl you have to make the sound come from your gut. Like you really mean it. As if you

re going to tear someone

s head off if he rubs you the wrong way.

You have, and I plan to.

He laughed.

You and whose army?

Joe let his gaze wander from the top of her dark head to the tip of her bare feet. Soaking wet, like now, she might weigh 110 pounds. His eyes were drawn irresistibly up those shining legs. Great legs, he observed—long despite her height, muscles in all the right places. Curves, too. He
’d always been fas
cinated with the way a loose shirt became a tight shirt when you added water to the mix. How on earth had he ever thought she was a high school student, with curves like those?

The bigger they are, the harder they fall, buster.

The annoyance in her voice made Joe realize what he was doing—ogling his daughter

s coach, teacher and counselor as t
hough she were the prime attrac
tion at a wet T-shirt contest. He yanked his eyes back to where they belonged—her face.

A single raised eyebrow made Joe wonder if she knew exactly what he

d been thinking, feeling. Then her words penetrated the sudden and surprising haze of sexual attraction that had clouded his mind.

The bigger they are...?

he repeated.

Evie crossed her arms over her chest, and Joe

s cheeks grew warm. She knew. How mortifying. He felt like the high school kid now.

A big guy will go down harder than a little guy if you take him out the right way.


She shifted, dropped her arms and turned around. Joe

s traitorous gaze admired how her cutoff jeans had worn thin across the seat. No one cut off old jeans for shorts anymore—and it was a damn shame.

She spun about, and Joe pulled his eyes back to her face, trying to look in
nocent. Her long-suffering sigh
that of a teacher with an unruly student, showed she wasn

t buying his act.

Joe shrugged.


he muttered.

Me, too.

For what?


ve proven your point, Mr. Scalotta. It won

t happen again.

I have? It won


He had no idea what she was talking about. His thoughts had been mush since he

d stepped into the backyard.

I live in a house full of Y chromosomes, and they don

t look at me as anything other than head cook and bottle washer.


He still wasn

t following her.


m not use
d to girls. Having Toni here to

She shrugged.

I didn

t realize until you illustrated your point.

My point being?


s a young woman amid a team of boys. And those boys don
’t look at her the way my house
ful look
at me. I
never thought something as harm
less as letting them have their first water fight of the summer would be such a mistake. If you hadn

t shown up when you did, they might have ogled her as rudely as you ogled me. I

ll make sure nothing like this happens again.

Joe let out a sigh of relief. She thought he

d been staring at her to prove a point—and a good point it was. He wished he

d thought of it. Now that he was thinking of it, his blood pressure rose again at the image of those boys looking at his daughter the way he

d looked at Evie.

His face heated.
Things appeared a whole lot dif
ferent when you were responsible for
a little girl—who wasn

t a little girl anymore.

Maybe baseball isn

t the best of ideas,

he said.

But she wanted it so bad, I didn

t have the heart to say no.


ll be fine,

Evie soothed.

Toni held her own in the water fight. Acted like one of the guys and not girlie-girl. If she pitches as well as I think she

s going to, none of the boys will want to offend her. They want to win.

Enough to put up with a girl on the team.


ve got a girl for
a coach.

Good point. Do any of the parents object to that?

She wrinkled her nose.

To what?

Having a woman coach a boys



s not a boys



Girls have always been welcome. They just don

t choose to play at this age.

So no one objects?

They did the first year I coached.


I told them if they could find another coach, or coach themselves, they were welcome to. I got no takers. After the first year, no one objected.

And why was that?

Because I

m a good coach, and we won a lot.

Joe frowned as another thought occurred to him.

Is Toni in for teasing because she

s chosen to play on the boys



s not a boys


He sighed.

You know what I mean.

She nodded, silently conceding his point.

She might get teased. But if she wants something she

ll have to stick up for herself. That won

t hurt her. And it won

t hurt her to have the kids on this team for friends when school starts. I think Adam will keep an eye out for her.


s what I

m afraid of,

he muttered.

She could do a lot worse than claiming Adam as a friend.

Friend? He looked a bit too friendly when I got here.

I know.

Evie glanced toward the house, then back at Joe. Her eyes held the same concern that lived in Joe

s heart.

I think we

ve got a raging case of puppy love fueled by hormones coming our way.



For a long mom
ent they stood in silent commis
eration. Finally Joe gave a rueful smile.

I don

t want any of those boys near her.

She returned his smile.

Spoken like a true daddy.

Evie seemed so sure of herself, that Joe had a sudden urge to confess—which he held back for all of a minute.


s a mystery to me. I want to do the right thing, but I don

t know what the right thing is.

Does anyone?

You sound pretty certain.

How I sound and how I feel are two different things. I

ve been around a lot of teenagers and I can give advice pretty w
ell. But to be honest, Mr. Scal
otta, I don

t know what

s right any more than the next guy.


he said.

This time, instead of refusing to use his first name, she dipped her head in agreement.

Just then the objects of their discussion came out of the house toge
ther. Joe scowled. Toni was sup
posed to be on the ground floor, and that kid in the basement. Yet they

d obviously met up inside. At least Toni had chang
ed from her wet shirt into some
thing dry and presentable of Evie


Toni sat on the porch rail and looked up into the kid

s face. The late-afterno
on sun hit her hair, paint
ing the strands every shade of gold. Joe swallowed a sudden thickness at the back of his throat when he saw the expression on her face as she smiled at Adam Vaughn. If that kid hurt her, Joe was going to... A growl burst from his throat.

BOOK: Out of Her League
11.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

His Demands by Cassandre Dayne
Rebound by Rosemary Rey
Rebirth by Sophie Littlefield
Hanging with the Elephant by Harding, Michael
Doctor On Toast by Richard Gordon
The Prince of Beers by Alex Berenson
The Thompson Gunner by Nick Earls