by Rachelle Ayala
Veteran relief pitcher Ryan Hudson always saves the game for his team. He’s dependable, focused, and good at what he does.
Which is why he prefers to live alone and not have anything to do with women and all the noise and chaos they bring.
Noise and chaos is all single mother Jamie Rush knows. Working and taking care of her two boys is a full time job, especially since one of them is autistic and she gets no help from her ex-husband.
When her two sons win a day with ballplayer Ryan Hudson, they strike up an odd friendship with the reclusive pitcher. Jamie is wary of the ball player, but can’t help fantasizing about him.
Ryan is attracted to Jamie, but desperately tries to hide his past. The only problem, they’re made for one another.
They just don’t know it.
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“I wanted to take it slow.” Ryan was breathless as he brought her down onto her bed. “To show you that you’re worth waiting for. That I’m sincere.”
“I am worth waiting for, but I don’t want to wait. I want everything you’re offering, and I’m tired of living in fear, frightened that all good things will come to an end.”
“I promise you, this isn’t ending.” He swept a strand of hair from her face in a way so caring it strummed every blue chord in her heart. “I’ve grown so attached to you and your sons that I want us to be family. I don’t usually feel this way about anyone. I was always separate, in a shell, different, and no one other than my mother understood me until I met you.”
The way he spoke, so confident and sincere, tugged at her heart. He was man enough to let her know how much he cared about his mother. If Drew could someday speak of her in such endearing terms, she would know beyond a doubt that she had done everything right.
“I want to know all about you and understand all your quirks. It’s all about accommodating and accepting those we love,” she said, wondering what issues he had other than his aversion to being touched after sex. She could deal with that as long as she knew he wasn’t shutting her out emotionally.
“Good, the same goes for you.” He touched her lightly, skimming the tiny hairs on her skin. “You can tell me anything and everything, and I will consider it and never judge you.”
It was time for her to stand up to Andrew and make sure he never hurt anyone again.
“We have to go to the police station first,” Jamie explained to Ben. “We need to tell the police everything that happened, and then, after they’re finished, we’ll go see Ryan. Meantime, I want you all to pray for him.”
Drew put his little hands together and bent his head, murmuring jibberish in his own special language, while Ben squeezed out a prayer.
Somberly, she allowed the police to escort her into a squad car, and they took the long ride to the station.
She was sure the horror would hit her later, but for now, she had to file a restraining order and make sure Andrew would never bother them again.
Jamie, speaking about her autistic son, Drew.
“My greatest hope is that someday, Drew could find the love you have in your heart, and I do believe he has it. He said he went to look for you last night. He wanted to give you a fish. Do you know what it means?”
He could only nod and blink. Blink back the wetness welling from his eyes.
“It means he loves you, Ryan. And I know he feels it, maybe not exactly the same, but it’s there because he cares. Just like you care. Just like you’ve shown me each and every minute we’re together.” She caressed his face and nodded, assessing him with her eyes. “It’s a privilege for me, an honor for me to have your love. And in return, I have a song I want to dedicate to you. It’ll tell you how I feel about you.”
“Okay …” His heartbeat had slowed, and the lingering effects of the almost-meltdown frayed at the edges, dissipating. Maybe it was all going to be okay. Jamie believed him. She believed him whereas his own mother doubted him. But Jamie was right. He loved his mother and his father. He loved, because he cared.
The thought made him want to jump up and click his heels. To reach up to the heavens and hug all the vastness of space. To laugh and dance and scream.
“You love me, Jamie, even though I’m different.” He didn’t realize he’d said it out loud until she put a finger onto his lips.
Rachelle Ayala is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it's within the pages of a book.
Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, and A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award. In 2016, Christmas Stray won the Readers’ Favorite Gold Award and A Pet for Christmas got an Honorable Mention.
She is also a writing teacher and founder of the Romance In A Month writing community. She recently released two of her books on audio with many more to come.
Hello everyone. I am a writer who loves to combine romance with suspense and humor. My foremost goal is to take you, the reader, on a shared emotional journey with me as my characters grow and become more true to themselves. I believe stories are the means for us to connect and experience life in new ways. As a writer, I’m privileged to share my private dreams and visions with readers. I’m a romantic. I believe in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feel that everyone should find love as often as possible, even if it's within the pages of a book. Happy reading and loving!
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