“Let’s go,” I tell my two roommates.
“Hot date?” Brock Wilder asks. I shake my head, climbing into my car.
“She’s a fine looking-woman,” Frankie Guerra adds. “Is that the chick from the zoo?”
“Yeah,” I say, pulling out of the parking lot and into traffic. Of course because I’m in a hurry, everyone in front of me is moving slowly, and I’m unable to pass.
“Damn, rookie, you’re not wasting any time hooking up with the locals,” Wilder states. And even though he’s a rookie, too, the guys on the team have taken to calling me “rookie,” and it’s stuck.
“It’s not like that.” Even as I say the words, I know it’s not true. I want to spend time with Ainsley, even date her, but what happens when it’s time to leave? Does this become a long-distance relationship where she comes to visit me or I live in Florida in the off-season? Honestly, I’d take Florida over the cold Massachusetts winter anytime, but what about during the season?
I clear my mind of all those thoughts when I pull into the complex and see that Ainsley is waiting outside her car. I tell
the guys I’ll be up later, hoping they get the idea that I want to be alone with her, and now isn’t the time to get friendly.
As soon as I’m out of the car, she’s pushing off her Jeep Wrangler to meet me halfway. I’m happy that she’s making an effort to see me. The only thing that can make my night any better is if I’m pulling her into my arms and kissing her. And as much as I want to do that, especially in this moment, it has to wait. I need the green light from her. She’s made her position on us very clear, and I’m not about to cross the line.
“You’re here,” I state, pointing out the obvious.
“I said I would be.”
That she did.
I look around the complex, trying to find a location where we can go and talk, but our options are limited. My apartment would be ideal, but I don’t want the guys saying shit about her or teasing her. As far as I can tell, she doesn’t give a shit about sports, much less baseball. “Now that I have you here, I don’t know where to go to talk.”
“I know a place,” she says. “Get in, I’ll drive.” She leaves me speechless as she heads back toward her car. I’m dumbfounded by her change in attitude toward me, but I’m not willing to question it. I’m going to ride this wave as long as I can. I quickly rush to the passenger side and get in.
“Where are we going?” I ask. I turn my ball cap around to prevent it from flying away since her top is down and it looks like we’re heading toward the parkway.
“I thought we’d go to the beach.”
“Isn’t that like thirty minutes away?”
She glances at me quickly before turning back and focusing on the road. “Do you have a curfew or something?”
I shake my head. “Nope, drive on.” I may not have a curfew, but six a.m. comes very early, and it’s our last practice before we start preseason play. I suppose, since I went without much sleep in college, one night now isn’t going to hurt me. Besides, it’s for a good cause. I’m into Ainsley, and if she wants to take me to the beach, I’m going to let her.
She turns up the radio and starts singing along to the song. I know it as well so I join in, and before I know it, we’re having our own karaoke party while we’re cruising down the road. When we hit a stoplight, I expect her to stop singing, but she doesn’t, and the people pulled up along the side of us start singing, too.
Before I know it, we’re at the beach. The car is shut off, the music has stopped, and the only thing we can hear are the waves crashing onto the shore.
“Coming here at night affords me the ability to sit and think without too many people around.”
“Is it safe?”
“I don’t know. I never thought about that. I suppose in some aspects it’s not, but there are always a few other people around, so…” She gets out of her car before finishing her sentence. She shouldn’t walk the beach alone at night, but who am I to tell her otherwise? I quickly follow her, catching up with her in the sand.
We walk side by side until the dry sand turns wet, and then we both sit down.
“When I was little, my mom used to bring me here all the time. I’d swim and play while she read her book, or she’d come in the water with me. It’s funny, when you’re a kid, you have no worries in life, but the minute you become an adult, everything changes.”
I wish I could relate. “My life was the opposite. I’ve always had the pressure to succeed in baseball on my shoulders. My dad, he was strict about everything. In fact, if he knew I was out here now and not sleeping, he’d have something to say about that.”
Shrugging, I slip off my socks and sneakers, burying my toes into the cold sand. “It is, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without that kind of structure.”
“Do you like playing baseball?” Ainsley slips off her shoes and pulls her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around them tightly.