Ah, Atlanta. We have the largest division lead in the game and only one All-star. One sportswriter suggested we're the Rodney Dangerfield of sports at the moment. Yet, come September, I doubt anyone will recall how many each team send to Citi Field next week. But just for the record, I want to quote Yahoo Sports Network contributor Anthony Schrieber:
"To paraphrase a ranting diatribe, Freeman should not have to be pitted against a rookie -- scratch that, it is too early to even call him a rookie -- an MLB fetus -- there, that's better -- like Puig."
So, there. Let's go to dinner with Mike and Verity. Perhaps whats on their plates will be more palatable.
“And this is because of that freak show family you referred to?” Why couldn’t he let the topic rest.
Verity nearly upset her water glass, grabbing for her champagne. While she chugged the glass’s contents, she wondered whether to lie. “Look, I’ll try to explain. My father belongs to a… community, I guess you’d call it. He decided he wanted three wives at once. "With me so far?"
His eyes widened, but she didn't see judgement... yet. He nodded.
“My mother deceived him about who she was and where she came from. He had strict ideas about what he was looking for in a wife, and she didn’t meet his standards. He kicked us out of that community before I was born. I grew up with her people, in a place that didn’t accept me because of my father. Are you still following this?” Getting only another nod, she hurried to finish. “He changed his mind when I was twelve and took me away from her. He didn’t stick around, mind you, but I was raised with Sage and Rosemary after that. Only, because of my mother, that community didn’t accept me either. I don’t fit in anywhere, other than with my sisters, and maybe my grandfather.”
“So, this is a religious thing?”
“It’s exactly that. But I questioned my own worth for a long time. I like to think I got past it, but most of my experiences add up to disappointment if I let myself forget I’m anyone other than the kid who wasn’t wanted anywhere.”
“My father teaches comparative religion at a small college in Oregon. I was raised to believe all religions have part of the answer, and to respect each and every one of them. Nobody’s completely wrong and nobody’s completely right, according to my dad. Religion can be a cruel tool, a way of categorizing people without taking the time to see their worth as individuals. I didn’t mean to upset you, Vee. What I guess I was after was funny stories about sisters so close in age, but I can tell by the tears you’re trying not to shed, maybe there wasn’t much to laugh about. I’m sorry if you think I pushed you too fast and too hard.”
“I’m flattered you seem to care, actually.”
Her story rubbed every nerve in his body the wrong way. Protective instincts he didn’t know he had made him want—make that need to—wring her father’s neck. “But now the three of you are close?” He had to know somebody cared about her.
She smiled and the pain in her eyes seemed to lessen. “We are now. I mean, all we really have is each other. We fight, don’t get me wrong. We’re very different people. Sage probably loves Him the most, and because he loves nobody, it makes her seek male approval and attention. Rose is hot-tempered and judgmental. That aloofness is her way of protecting herself. But when push comes to shove, we stick together, no matter what.”
“Now it’s my turn to be flattered,” he murmured. “You must have a well-developed sense of self-protection too, but you opened up to me.”
“You didn’t give me much of a choice,” she pointed out, tearing her gaze away to glance meaningfully around them. “Besides, I learned to get along with everybody.”
And keep that wall up to protect herself, too, he’d bet. “I was right though. I had to do something drastic to stop you from turning me into just another guy you needed to protect yourself from.”
“I was right, too,” she insisted, fixing him with a glare. “You are trouble on two legs.”
There was something about this woman. Intuition told him complete honesty was the way to go. “I’m laid back, as you say, but when I see something I want, I go after it. If that makes me trouble in your book, then you need to spell it with a capital T.”
“And you want more than sex from me?”
Mike knew he was dissatisfied with his life. He had a successful career, but needed something else. Though he couldn’t define why, he sensed she was that something. “I want to see you mad, so I can tease you into a better mood. I want to see you tired, so I can rub your back and help you relax. I want to open my eyes in the morning and see you look at me the way you did when you walked in this restaurant, like everything’s right with your world because I’m in it. I want that a lot.”
“Because every cell in my body tells me you’re special, maybe more than special.” He reached to stroke her face, and when she pressed her face against his palm, emotion made his hand tremble. “The real question here is what you need in return. Be honest with me, because I’ve never felt anything like this in my life. Men can be hurt, too, Verity.”
The vulnerability in his eyes had her heart in a second. His words were like balm to the deep wounds caused by rejection. The attraction had sizzled between them since the moment she’d looked in his eyes at that tattoo parlor. Somehow they had skipped right past the initial stages of attraction to the place where it was time for declarations. The truth might make him run away screaming, but she wasn’t willing to let dishonesty screw this up. Even if the truth ultimately might mean another rejection. “I need someone who can accept the unacceptable. Someone willing to be open-minded and not afraid of the unknown. I hear what you’re saying, Mike. More than that, I feel it myself. I’ll be just as honest as you are, because that’s who I am. Do I think I could see your face every morning and be sure everything is right with my world because you are there? Yes. But my world might be the thing that you can’t accept, the thing that makes you not want an ‘us’.”
“Take a chance on me, Verity. I was raised to be open-minded. I told you already, I’m not rational about you. Quit over-thinking this. Go with your gut the way you did last night. You wanted me, and you reached for me. Now I want more of you. It’s that simple.”
Too deep in conversation to order, they'd waved off the waitress. “Are you hungry?” he asked. “Or can we go someplace else?”
“I took a cab, hoping you’d offer me a ride home.”
He gave her a grin as he motioned for the check. “Rosemary suggested I ask to see your beach.”
“You need to stay away from my sisters." she punched his arm as they left the restaurant. He placed the arm around her, hugging her to his side.
“You mean those two unattractive women I had to beg for your phone number?"
She fervently wished her crystals had shown her how this turned out. He sure sounded special.
Be sure to drop by and show Jennifer Simpkins some love while she parties over the impending return of Derek Jeter to the Yankees line-up. Thanks for dropping in. Have a great week!