CHAPTER ONE

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I walk out of the dugout, taking the few steps up slowly. I walk out, slowly spinning in a circle, taking in the entirety of the beautiful stadium that will hold thousands of people who will come to watch my team play. My team. It seems so unreal. I've worked so hard for this position, and now I'm here. The first ever woman head coach of a MLB team. I don't know what the owners were thinking when they hired me. I was laughed out of so many interviews for coaching positions, I thought for sure I would never get one. To have a coach who has not actually played the game... I mean, I played softball in college, but this is Major League Baseball.

I shake away the thoughts and really look around. We have an updated stadium, and a young and fresh team. We are going to do great things this year.

I hear a clamoring in the dug out and look as it fills with players. All of them male and all of them much bigger than I am. We got lucky and found a group of players that have been playing together for years. The owners took a chance on them, as much as they did with me. We are all starting this adventure together.

I make my way over as all the guys start to get their equipment together. Bats and gloves are lying around. Big coolers of Gatorade and water are set up on a shelf, along with various kinds of things to chew on; bubble gum and sunflower seeds seem to be the most popular. the owners banned any chewing tobacco, which I am extremely grateful for. I was not looking forward to picking my way through sticky, brown spit everywhere.

"Hey, Coach." Nathan Grifffin, our new catcher greets me. I incline my head slightly in greeting. Being around the team is unnerving a little bit.

I was alone almost my entire life. I was extremely sheltered, only allowed out of the house for school or if I promised not to talk to anyone. My mother used to tell me and my sister Marie all kinds of horror stories about men. The abuse was bad. Someone at school finally noticed and called CPS, and Marie and I spent the rest of our childhoods as foster kids, being shipped from one home to another until we aged out, she a full year before me.

It was during those years that I found out that I was a softball prodigy. I joined the team at whatever high school I happened to be going to at that time, and I was always the captain. I pitched, and I was darn good. I won awards and lettered at four different schools. It earned me a free ride scholarship to college, where I worked my tail off to get good grades for my business degree.

"Coach Sorenson, why are we at the stadium and not the practice field?" The pitching coach, Owen Blackbourne asks me, curiosity written all over his face. I look around at the guys, and they are wearing similar expressions. I smile at them, and take a deep breath. I can do this.

"I wanted our first practice with the new team to be here." Understanding dawns on them. I blush a little. Yeah, I'm being sentimental about it, but I can't care about that. "We'll go to the practice field tomorrow." I clap my hands together. "Alright, guys, let's get moving."

The next three hours are spent pitching and batting, playing catch and running drills. I do everything I ask them to do, so by the end of it, I'm out of breath and sweating right along with them. I'm sitting out in left field, chatting with our left fielder, Victor Morgan, about running laps, when the first base coach, Sean Green comes trotting over.

"Hey Coach, there's a call for you in the locker room." His hair, under the seafoam green ball cap, is a mess of blonde curls, his green eyes bright and shining. I get up and utter a quick thanks and start to jog to the locker room wondering who could be calling me. I don't have any family. I lost track of Marie as soon as she aged out of the system, and I never bothered to make any friends because I was too focused on my college career.

I enter the locker room and go to the phone on the wall. With shaky hands, i pick up the receiver.

"Hello?" My voice comes out a nervous croak. I clear my throat and try again. "Hello?" that's better.

"Well hello, Sang." The familiar mechanical voice says. I have to physically restrain myself from throwing the phone across the room as chills run down my spine. I thought I had been free of Volto. I haven't heard anything from him since i went off to college. I was so thankful to never hear that voice again. "Guess you're making a name for yourself, and now I want to play with you again."

"Why are you doing this to me?" I ask, pleading him to explain. He never has before, and I doubt he will now.

"Because I can." It's always the same answer. Because he can. He was relentless when I was in high school, always leaving threats and scary blank masks, the empty eyes haunting me in my sleep.

"You left me alone for four years. Why come back now?" I'm desperate for any kind of detail I can get from him. Or her. I tried for over two years to try to figure out who was stalking me, to no avail.

"I have my reasons. Ones you may or may not ever learn. Just know that I'm back, and now your in the spotlight. The first ever woman head coach. Congratulations, Sang. That's a big feat." He's silent for a few minutes, and I sit there listening to his eerie mechanical breathing.

"What do you want from me?" I finally ask.

"You'll find out in good time. In the meantime, just know I'll be watching you." And with that he hangs up. I stand there staring numbly at the receiver in my hand. I don't know how long I was standing there before I hear voices. the right fielder, Brandon Henshaw, and the second baseman, Marc Weiland round the corner. A look of concern crosses their faces. I place the receiver in its spot and quickly plaster a fake smile on my face.

"You okay, Coach?" Marc asks me quietly. I nod my head.

"Yeah. That was just an old friend calling to congratulate me on my new position." I call out as I make my way to my office.

When i get there, I close and lock the door behind me. I lean against the door, and only now that I'm alone do I let the terror flow through me. The years of anguish from my step mother's abuse, the never ending threats from Volto, my father's disinterest, and my sister's indifference. I am utterly alone, and I have no idea what I'm going to do. Just a few hours earlier, and everything had been looking up, and now my world is crashing down. I can only hope I can stay in one piece while it happens.



A/N: While the Toma Team does make an appearance in this story, this will not be an all 14 HEA. It will be the nine Blackbourne boys HEA.

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