Inning 16 ★ Know Thy Enemy

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On the forehead.

Santiago kissed me on the fucking forehead.

The worst part was that right after that I was sure I looked like I'd been doused with cold water, and he had this annoying little smirk that stayed plastered on his face the entire rest of the night. Because he ruined batting for me that night. He ruined my life.

With a kiss to my forehead. The bastard.

Another bastard? Bobby. When we were about to leave he reminded me that we needed to call my dad. I passed my phone to him and he told dad, in my face and Santiago's, that yes, I was still alone and no, there was no boy with me. Once he shut the call off he shrugged and said he didn't want to get Santi in trouble. That was so nice of him, except for the fact that I now felt like Santi had got me in trouble. I drove home, trying to ignore his stupid, self satisfied mug, fielded off mom's questions, changed into pajamas and washed my face for nothing, because I couldn't sleep. I kept thinking about that brief moment, when he leaned down, lips in a loose but very suspicious O that I'd hoped in my heart of hearts would land on mine, only to see it veer upwards to my forehead. I'd felt his lips on my skin like a brand. A warm, soft brand that penetrated all the way to my stupidly hopeful heart.

And all along he'd known what he was doing, how it would come across, and he got a kick out of it.

I tossed and turned in bed all night, sometimes dozing off a little and dreaming that that kiss was landed in a more southern region. And then I'd wake up, because not even in the dream I could believe it was true.

When I finally fell asleep dad opened the door to my room and woke me up.

"Good morning, honey bunny! You have a mission today."

I rolled all the way out of bed and to the floor. It took me a while to find my bearings and make my way to the bathroom, where I saw I had developed the most notorious pair of dark bags under my eyes. I'd become a panda overnight. A shower and new set of clothes later I appeared downstairs and asked what the deal was. I didn't even have sufficient energy to get mad that he'd woken me up.

"I called Chris," he said as he sipped some OJ. He put the Orlando Sentinel down and faced me. "You both are going on a little field trip. Mayfield is playing today against Jordan Washington High, and I want you both to go scout the game."

Mom put a plate of toast with strawberry and rhubarb jam in front of me, and my stomach suddenly decided it was fine to be awake after all. I munched on a toast and asked, "Why don't you go with him?"

"Because," mom said. "He's going on a date with me."

Dad's pained expression was poetry in action. "We're going to the outlets."

Oh, yeah. That'd take the whole day.

I sighed. It was probably better that I do this, rather than stay home steaming about that freaking kiss. Non kiss. Whatever the fuck it was.

"Fine."

Dad beamed. "Don't forget to take video, and I expect a full report of what you see out there by the end of today. We need to know their strengths and weaknesses vs. ours."

And so I found myself with Chris on his car, trying not to doze off between the air conditioner and the soft music. Luckily he saved me from drooling against his window.

"Are you feeling better today?"

My mind struggled to decipher what he was talking about, and then I remembered that Ellie had told him I had cramps last night. And then I remembered that she'd bought a box of Trojans and I wanted to find out if it had been opened at all. I didn't have any texts from her this morning, but it was early and even if something juicy had gone down she was probably just asleep.

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