Let Me Love You
Australian Sports Stars, Book 2
by Iris Blobel
Ebook ISBN: B00RQRKAXM
Print ISBN: 978-1500920067
[ Sports Romance, MF ]
Oliver Dempsey, pitcher for a Melbourne baseball club, loves the women, and they love him… But he keeps them at an arm’s length, and when he meets Tamara, he’s unprepared for the attraction he feels for her. Told by his coach that she’s off limits, only draws him in more.
Sweat ran down Oliver’s back, soaking his shirt. He’d been on the field for a couple of hours, but frustration grew in him with every ball he missed. He placed his hands on his knees and took a deep breath, fixing his stare at the ground. For Pete’s sake, he was a pitcher, not a hitter, and well known for his fastballs as well as his perfect curveballs. Alas, he had neglected his hitting. Today, his swing was below average, and, unable to focus, he walked over to the bench where he spotted Coach Becker shaking his head towards him.
Pointing his finger back towards the field, the coach said, “Head right back out there, Oliver. You need to improve your hand-eye coordination. I want to see more, and better.”
Oliver cursed under his breath. “It’s not going to happen. My shoulder’s killing me. It’s been a long day.”
Coach Erik Becker rubbed his face.
“It’s not gonna happen today,” Oliver persisted.
With a grimace on his face, his coach nodded. “Righteo, call it a day. But I want you back out there again in the morning, though.”
Oliver eased off his gloves and shoved them into his back pocket, before removing his helmet.
The coach gave him a gentle slap on his back. “I need you to concentrate more tomorrow. Remember what I told you. You need to focus on your proper stance as well as swinging the bat. Keep your eye on the ball as it comes towards you. Try to connect the bat with the ball, preferably at the fat of the bat. We have a game coming up soon. Go and deal with the shoulder issue. Check in for a massage.”
Oliver wiped his forehead with his arm when he noticed a woman standing in the coach’s shadow. Raising his eyebrows, he nodded towards her as to ask who she was.
Erik turned slightly. “Oliver, this is my niece,
Tamara. She’s moved here from Perth. Tamara, this is Oliver.”
Oliver extended his hand towards her. “Nice meeting you.”
She ignored his hand and took a step back.
Taken aback by her reaction, Oliver instinctively checked his hand for dirt or sweat. Questioningly, he looked at his coach.
Erik ignored the situation and simply said, “Have your shower and see me before you head off to discuss your training schedule.”
Nodding, Oliver took another quick look at Tamara. For a brief moment, their eyes met, and he was puzzled by her expression. It seemed as if her intense blue eyes were trying to hide something.
The distant look in them was almost mysterious, and combined with her body language, he couldn’t help but get the impression something was wrong. She was very guarded. With one last look towards Tamara, Oliver turned and left.
As soon as he got to the locker room, he peeled off his T-shirt. Pain shot through him the instant he lifted his right shoulder. He’d been ignoring the twinge during the training session, but knew he had to have it looked at. The fucking skateboard rider had nearly knocked him over the previous day when he came out of nowhere. Oliver hadn’t had a chance to move out of the way fast enough and slammed his shoulder into a post.
He slowly stripped out of his track pants before grabbing a can of Coke out of his bag. Leaning against the wall, he chugged half of the drink while enjoying the quietness around him. Everyone else was still out on the field trying to please Coach Becker. He choked a laugh, hoping his mates would put Erik in a better mood than he had. They had a few important games over the next few weeks before the season ended, and for the first time in years, the club was doing well. As he walked to the showers, he thought about his training session and wondered whether his shoulder was to blame for the bad hits, or his lack of training. But who was he kidding, he always liked to throw everything he had at people, yet was hopeless in receiving anything thrown at him. That applied in baseball and in life. When he’d been to see his first baseball game as a kid in Los Angeles, he’d known he was born to pitch. He ran the water to heat it up before stepping under the spray and lifting his face to the mist. Closing his eyes, he succumbed to the seduction the water brought as it ran over his head and muscles. He was tired. After a moment of letting the water flow over his body, Oliver opened his eyes, and fixed his gaze on the tile wall before him. Coach Becker’s niece, Tamara, popped into his mind, and he thought of how she’d ignored his hand. He wasn’t sure whether she’d snubbed him or there was more to that look of fear in her eyes. Reluctantly, he turned off the water and grabbed his towel.
He walked to his locker and got dressed. As he packed up his gear, the phone fell out of his pocket and he saw he’d missed a call from Ty. Raking his hand through his wet hair, he remembered he was supposed to meet his friend at the squash court for a couple of games. It was the last thing he wanted to do that night. He threw his stuff into his locker, grabbed his bag, and rang Ty.
“Mate, how are you?” his friend asked.
“Need to give it a miss tonight, mate. I had some idiot on a skateboard slam into me last night and I crapped out my shoulder. How about a raincheck?”
“Make sure you’ll be over on Saturday for the cricket match.”
“It’s always at my place,” Ty replied and hung up.
Tyson had been a friend since kindergarten. With their friend Markus, they’d played football on weekends, until Oliver had moved to the US for a few years because of his father’s job. Oliver had learnt about baseball and fallen in love with the sport. Unlike Ty, though, who played football with an AFL club in Melbourne and earned close to half a million each year, Oliver’s income was less generous. Markus had moved away from football as well and ended up as a goalie for one of the premier league soccer clubs. He’d made some big money during a three-year-contract with an English club, but in the end, he had been too homesick and returned to Melbourne. Not that he’d ever admit to that. Even now in their late twenties, their friendship was as strong as it had been twenty-five years earlier. Then there was Sarah, the only girl in the group. Although, she’d always been closer to Markus, Oliver and Ty liked her like a sister.
A few minutes later, as Oliver walked through the labyrinth of the clubhouse, he pondered about heading over to Ty’s anyway. Katie, Ty’s girlfriend, always had leftover dinner, and a bit of company wouldn’t hurt. The instant pain in his shoulder when he moved the bag, however, reminded him to make that call for a massage appointment. When he hung up, he lifted his gaze and not only found himself in front of the lift but also next to Tamara. All the questions ran through his head again. How she’d ignored his hand, yet more so how intrigued he’d been by that distant look in her eyes.
He was about to say something when the lift gave a soft ping and the doors opened. With a small sigh, he stepped aside and waited for Tamara to enter first.
“Yes, please,” she replied in a soft whisper.
A thousand things went through his head, yet nothing that would start a conversation. He turned his head slightly towards her and as he watched her staring at the closing doors, he noticed a little flinch.
Or had he imagined it?
From where he stood, he was only able to see a small part of her face. She was pale, yet her skin was flawless. Her blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, with a few stray strands tucked behind her ears. No earrings. He moved a bit forward. No rings on any of the fingers either. When she turned a bit, he again saw her deep blue eyes. They were so beautiful, and yet underlined with troubling dark circles. He imagined for a moment what those eyes were hiding.
“So what brings you to Melbourne?” he asked.
He was pretty sure he’d noticed another little flinch.
Tamara finally turned towards him and met his gaze. She had the most beautiful eyes, and for a moment, he completely got lost in them. A smile tugged at his lips, yet she simply turned and stared back at the door.
“Business,” she whispered.
He nodded and was glad when the doors opened after what had seemed the longest two minutes of his life.
“Enjoy Melbourne,” he tried once more, but he should have known she wouldn’t answer. Shaking his head, he exited the lift and headed towards the front doors. As he walked across the car park, he was able to see her in the distance-right next to his car. He choked back a chuckle in disbelief at the odds of parking beside her car.
Shaking his head, he watched her rummaging in her bag. “Lost your keys?” he asked.
She startled, and he saw what he thought was panic in her eyes.