Stopped Short – A Baseball Romance – Chapter 3



Hell yes! I got the job.

No more boutique advertising for me.  The work in Chicago was great, don’t get me wrong. It was small time, though.  I’m a girl with big ideas that deserve exposure.  This was the one I was pinning all my hopes on.

This morning I was an unemployed 26-year-old.  This afternoon I’m the Marketing Director for Dynamic Advertising.

I’ve got to remember to send a thank you note and flowers to my former boss.  They said the recommendation along with my portfolio were impressive.  Next step, an apartment.  Don’t get me wrong, I saved some money and the hotel I’m in is amazing – but it isn’t home.

Today, though?  Not a chance.

During the interview I was distracted.  I was sure the guy in HR was going to think I was a complete idiot.  I had to say, “I’m sorry?” about five times because Arden’s face kept popping up in my head.

I didn’t get a look at him earlier.  That annoyed me more than it should have.  When we met in Chicago he was just a prospect.  Garrett like to take me to these dinners to show me off.  Not so much me though.  My body.  The three thousand-dollar dress and (borrowed) diamonds he put on me.  I was a model for the luxury he wanted to portray.

Meanwhile, I would sit at the table.  He would be on my left and some player or another would be on my right.  The player on my right would be polite but pay attention to his date.  Garrett would pay attention to the other woman seated next to him.  I knew it was a bad situation. I knew his teammates disliked him.  But I was comfortable if sometimes lonely.

♦ ♦ ♦

The night of the prospect dinner we were seated last at our table. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.  Drinks were already on the table.  As we approached the table, Garrett dropped his arm and took his seat.  I thought “does this jerk not know how hard it is to move in these freaking dresses and heels?”

I stood for a second behind my chair.  I put my clutch down on the table and was about to pull my own seat out.  When I noticed that one of the guys at the table had stood as I waited.  He gave Garrett a look that could kill and turned his eyes to me.  They softened as he rounded the table.  His eyes on mine the whole way, he gestured towards my chair. He pushed the chair in for me as I took my seat.  His big hands still resting on the back as I looked up at him and whispered a grateful, “Thank you.”

He looked at me for a second.  Searching for something. He nodded and went back to his seat.

I just kept thinking it was like they said in that Christmas movie with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz – it was a meet cute.  It was old-world hot in a world of social media.  That simple act felt intimate somehow.

All though the dinner he never spoke to anyone.  He alternated seething looks at Garrett and smoldering ones at me.  Feeling naughty, I made a point to lean a little further over than necessary when getting up from the table. Don’t judge me! I was bored. And horny.

In the end I realized I was playing my little game in my head. Alone. After dinner was done and business was completed.  The hot stranger got up and stormed off faster than should have been possible in Armani.

On the car ride home I felt foolish.  I re-committed myself to the relationship that I was in.  The one I had spent five years growing.  Attempting to grow, anyway.

♦ ♦ ♦

Finally making it back to the hotel on foot, I was beat.  Chicago didn’t have these many hills.  Thank goodness my new salary will cover a taxi budget because parking is parking is atrocious here.

Holly, the receptionist I’ve come to know well greeted me. “How did it go?!”

“I got the job!”

She fist bumped me as I made my way for the elevators.  I needed to sit down.  Immediately.

I sat my purse on the desk and made my way to the bed.  My computer lay open there with search engines for homes and I felt tired just looking at it.

Remembering that I live in a big city, I opened another search engine and found a service that will find an apartment for me.  I know – how bougie.  But, hey! I’m a product of my generation.

I put my requirements, budget, and contact information into the form and clicked send.  They advertise that they will have multiple options in my inbox within 24 hours.  We’ll see how good their advertising is.

I open another window and hesitate before typing in Arden Rothschild.

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