Meeting Megan Again. Julianna Morris
“Your kids are beautiful, Jack,” Megan said.
She had the same wistful look she’d had when she’d watched Kara and nearly started crying. Tyler shifted uneasily and tried to think of ways to change the subject. Motherhood was a powerful thing, practically beyond male comprehension, or so he was told. And looking at Megan’s beautiful, yearning face, he was willing to believe it.
“Yup,” Jack agreed. “My looks and Toni’s brains. They got the best of both worlds.”
The outrageous statement startled Tyler, then he realized it must be a family joke. Jack was a pleasant-looking fellow, but Toni was so gorgeous she probably stopped traffic on a regular basis. It was one of the things that made him uncomfortable about these family gatherings—not knowing the inside jokes and reasons for laughing.
The inning ended with a single run scored by Kara, who was so proud she nearly burst when she landed on home plate.
They only earned one more run in the next five innings, with four scored by the opposing team. It left them two behind at the bottom of the seventh and final inning, softball being played with two less than standard baseball.
“Okay, we can still do it,” Megan said.
“Yeah, tomorrow or the next day,” Jack Carter said drolly.
“Ha. A defeatist attitude.” She shook her finger with mock severity. “I say we’re going to win.”
But it didn’t look promising when their first batter struck out. The next several plays earned them one run though, putting Tyler on third with Megan on second, and one out left. The next batter came up to the plate, making a big show of warming up. Megan called something from second and Tyler glanced at her, smiling faintly. Her spirit was infectious. He wanted to win the game, just for Megan.
Tyler didn’t even wait to see where the ball was headed when the next hit came. He just put his head down and charged for home plate. He hit the backstop, then turned and watched Megan racing for home.
Everyone was shouting and from the corner of his eye he saw Reece O’Bannon bringing his arm up to throw the ball.
“Slide, slide,” the team screamed in unison.
No. Tyler cringed at the thought of Megan hitting the dirt. Despite the growing chill in the late afternoon air she’d left her sweatshirt tied around her waist, so there was nothing to protect her arms or face. Not that she would slide. Women didn’t get that physical.
Putting on a burst of speed, Megan flung herself forward, hands outstretched. A split second later the catcher had the ball in hand, but not before she’d touched the plate, making the winning run.
For an instant Tyler sagged against the backstop, then he strode forward and hauled her to her feet.
“Are you all right?” he demanded.
“Of course.” She laughed and brushed dust from her T-shirt and jeans. A like amount of dust smudged her face, but it didn’t seem to bother her.
The rest of the team came out with a victory yell, along with the opposing players who cheerfully offered their congratulations. Tyler accepted his share of the praise, but he couldn’t keep from watching Megan.
He hadn’t wanted her to hit the dirt, because he hadn’t wanted to see her get hurt. Just then something on his hand caught his attention and Tyler looked down. A streak of red kicked the adrenaline in his veins into overdrive.
He dragged her out of the family group and not-so-subtly examined her for injury. At the sight of a long scratch on her forearm, he scowled.
“Look what you did.”
“Oh, pooh.” She shook her head. “The cat does worse than that on a good day.”
“Then you should have the wretch declawed.”
Megan put a hand on her chest. “Sacrilege. Ninety percent of his personality is in the tips of his claws. It would be like Delilah cutting Samson’s hair.”
Tyler didn’t want to examine why he felt so protective of her. He’d spent a good deal of his adult life trying not to feel anything at all for Megan, and now his gut was twisted in a knot over a mere scratch. He did a mental calculation of the remaining three days of the reunion and groaned. If she could put him into a tailspin in just one afternoon, he was in serious trouble.
“I suppose the women you know would never slide into home plate,” Megan said after a moment. Her merry expression had altered subtly, becoming more cautious.
“I’ll just have to survive not living up to such a high level of perfection,” she murmured.
Tyler wanted to explain it wasn’t a criticism, but she turned away before he could say anything.
“Grams,” she called. “I need to go back to the house early. Can you take Kara and Tyler in the van?”
“Of course, dear.”
He watched Megan’s departing back and sighed. Considering her impact on him, he ought to be relieved she was angry.
But he wasn’t. A part of him want to grab her and make her listen, then kiss her senseless. It wasn’t too civilized of him, but none of his feelings about Megan were civilized, so it wasn’t surprising.
“Going to do something about that?” asked a voice and Tyler turned his head.
Jack Carter smiled shrewdly. “About Megan.”
Tyler wasn’t about to answer. He definitely needed to do something about Megan…he just had to decide what that something might be.
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