We've hit a rough patch in Atlanta.
(I know, I know. Please, someone, nominate that sentence for Understatement of the Year. I need the publicity.) While my fictional Brave's third baseman, Mike Reardon, thinks his luck has changed when he hooks up with Verity on the patio at Obsidian, the real-deal Braves have won only eight of their last twenty-two games.
Welcome to that time of year when I start to put some serious thought into what I wear on game days. Their pink Mother's Day bats didn't do much for the Upton brothers yesterday. Does that mean...(gasp!) Has my lucky pink Braves cap lost it's magic? Say it ain't so, Joe. Should I not wear my lucky hat when we play the D'backs tonight? Do I need to find my Chipper Jones bobble-head doll, build it an altar, and sacrifice a live chicken? Will my neighbor miss their live chicken, or are they serious Braves fans, who might understand
Believe it or not, that kind of fan-think was one of the motivations behind Guarding the Line. We all know someone--or are the one--who thinks our behavior can affect the outcome of a game. Or, maybe you have to live in the sports-crazy culture of the South. But I had the thought "What if there's no such thing as bad luck? What if the things happening in an alternate reality bleed through and affect humans day-to-day activities." A bit of musing on all the times I hunted a lost item, only to find it in exactly the spot when I searched most often, and voila! GTL got it's start.
Oh, so you caught me diverting your attention from the Brave's season, did'ja? Guilty as charged. So is Verity, when we last saw her, she'd been caught red-handed by her half-sister Sage, coming out of a curtained booth on the patio at Obsidian.
Verity could've strangled her sister, but she kept her voice even. At least she hoped it was even. “Going back to the VIP bar, Sage. I think my break’s over now.”
A wicked smile curved sage’s lips. She eyed Mike, then looked at Verity. “So, the fact that Avery came into work isn’t information you’re interested in?”
Verity felt her heart speed up, as if the organ wasn’t beating hard enough already. “I thought Avery was in Jamaica?”
Sage raised one shoulder. “And the lovely vacation turned into a spat. His lover picked up somebody else to love, so he’s back, and you’re off the hook. Poor man’s eying the tip jar like a drowning swimmer looking at a life preserver. Nothing like a bit of cash to soothe a broken heart. I’ve been looking for you everywhere. I couldn’t believe it when Hanes said he saw you come out here, and Jeremy said you were…well, anyway.”
Verity thought about sending her sister a bouquet of her special roses for the way Sage dropped her eyes to examine Mike’s…package. “Really, Sage?” She didn’t feel a single twinge of guilt for not telling Sage her suspension was up. The information had slipped her mind. For a week. Yeah, right. Closing her eyes, Verity quickly filled her mind with images of trivia…the dark curtains surrounding the patio, the beach at her front door, her front yard. The last thing she wanted was for Sage to discern information about her visit from the Triscaro. She’d tell Sage at some point, but until Verity figured out what Sage had done to warrant the punishment Verity suffered on her behalf, she wasn’t in any hurry to let her sister go back to practicing magic. And it would be best if Sage didn’t know how interested Verity was in the man standing at her side. Wasn’t it just like Sage not to show an ounce of compassion for Avery? How awful, to break up on vacation. Embarrassment made her thoughts whirl.
“Thank you, Sage, whoever you are. I have plans for this woman,” Mike said, grabbing her hand. So much for secrets. “Let’s get you clocked out and go someplace else.”
“This is my sister, Mike. It’s her club. Sage, this is Mike…uh, don’t think I recall your last name.” Dammit, she was too old to blush.
“Reardon. Nice to meet you, Sage.”
“Oh, no. the pleasure is all mine,” Sage purred. Before Vee could react, Sage stuck her hand between her breasts, bringing out a key. Removing the chain from around her neck, Sage pressed the small piece of brass into Vee’s hand. “Allow me to help you with those plans. Have fun, kids.” Verity curled her fingers around the key, watching Sage preen like a parrot through narrowed eyes. Sage smoothed her short hair and stuck out her breasts. Her eyes were still glued to Mike and Vee didn’t miss the avaricious gleam. If the guy had returned Sage’s look, Vee wouldn’t think twice about leaving, but he didn’t. A quick glance showed Verity he was looking at her. For now.
Vee swore silently.
“What’s the key to? Are there more, um, private places in this damn nightclub?”
Sage’s smile would’ve melted the Abominable Snowman. “A private elevator, the one that goes to an apartment in this building,” her sister informed her hook-up.
“Give me that key,” he replied, reaching for Verity’s clenched fist.
“Not the trusting sort, are you?” Verity relinquished the object. “First the hair comb, now the key?”
He didn’t let go of her hand. “Come on, gorgeous. The gods answered my prayers. Let’s go. Call it insurance so you don’t change your mind without giving me the chance to talk you out of it.”
He didn’t give Sage a second look.
Maybe my luck’s changing.
Maybe my luck’s changing.
They made their way around the dance floor. The crowd had thinned a bit, since it was well past midnight. Verity led him to a door marked Female Employees Only. Torn between necking in the hall and shoving her through the door so they could go wherever the key in his hand might lead, he was relieved when she twisted from his grasp and disappeared through the door. He leaned against the wall after sending a text to Victor, to tell his teammates not to wait. He shoved the cell phone back in his pocket, waiting impatiently, while visions of the things he planned to do with her danced like demons in his head. What was it about her that had him panting like a teenager, even though she’d just milked him damn near dry? He hadn’t been able to take his damn eyes off her, not at the tattoo parlor, not tonight. With hundreds of women in the place, she was the only one he could see, despite the nearly identical sister. It had to be those amazing eyes, he decided. How weird was it to imagine something so beautiful, only to have it come true? He could barely wait to have her beneath him.
And me without a condom or four. Surely, little Miss Sage had some handy. There had been a large bowl in the men’s room, mounded with glossy black wrappers imprinted with the club name across the front.
The door opened, and he shoved away from the wall. He could see her nipples through the fabric of the tee shirt. What a hot little number.
“Do I need to duck into the men’s room for some condoms, or will she have some in her apartment?” he asked.
“There will be some upstairs,” she assured him.
“Let’s go.” Grabbing her hand again, he let her lead the way. She stopped in front of an elevator door, but he saw no buttons on the brass plate, just a small hole. He realized the carriage took a key, and fished in his pocket. The key Sage had given them slipped in easily. The polished black door slid open without a sound.
He found the key slot on the inside of the elevator door and once more fitted the key inside the lock. Gold-tinted mirrors lined the walls of the elevator, a relief from the unrelenting black. The door closed obediently. Turning toward her, Mike pressed her against the back of the elevator, pinning her with his hips as he kissed her hungrily. He felt the elevator ascend. Odd, because he’d thought the club was on the top floor.
Before he could do much with her shirt, they stopped and the door slid open. Looking over his shoulder, he realized the elevator opened directly into an apartment. He reached for the key, but she put a restraining hand over his. After depressing a tiny button below the slot, she took his hand. They stepped into the apartment, leaving the key in place.
Mike let out an admiring whistle. During his time in the majors, he’d seen some fancy digs, but this place was right up there with them. The facing wall was floor-to-ceiling glass, overlooking the city. Through the sheer drapes, he could see a large balcony, complete with fire pit. Black-lacquered furniture studded the room. The upholstery had been done in black leather. A kitchen sat to his left, tucked into an alcove. The black countertops were identical to the ones downstairs in the bar. Bright pottery decorated countertops and shelves. To his right, another alcove featured a massive poster bed. The covers were black, but pillows of turquoise, red, orange, and hot pink were piled at the headboard. The colors mimicked the crocks and jars in the kitchenette. Even the floors and walls were black. The flooring looked and felt like rubber. Squinting, he thought the ceiling was covered in the same material. Sound-proofing, maybe? The lighting was subtle, as was the music. The song playing wasn’t the hard-driving stuff from the club.
“Sage is fond of black.” She toed off her shoes.
“Does she live here?”
“No. If anyone asks, now you can tell them you’ve seen the real VIP lounge at Obsidian.”
Fuck gawking at the room like a tourist. Mike put his hand on her waist. Since their little adventure on the patio, every time he touched her, a strong sensation shot straight to his cock. “Show me that tat.”
(To be continued 5/20)
Thanks for dropping in. Let's go see what fellow romance author Jennifer Simpkins has to say about her damn Yankees, shall we?