Chapter 13

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Toronto - Two months later

The stadium still felt the same, but now, he was viewing it from the visitors bench. He finished lacing his cleats, and stepped out onto the turf, the echo of the Sixer's already out on the field warming up familiar, making him nostalgic.

He saw Timo, and waved. Havier nodded at him. Other players gave their hello's. They couldn't be seen talking to one another before the game, but after, they planned to meet up for drinks. He'd missed their antics. The time he'd been here had given him good friends, even if they were on different teams now.

He grabbed a spot near the rest of his team and began his warm up stretches. It wasn't long before he was staring up into the stands, wondering if she'd be there to watch.

It had been two months of constant effort, and he had focused all his energy on his game. The trade had gone through with Texas after he'd spent a couple of weeks with the Blackjacks, and he had reluctantly taken it. He'd enjoyed his time with them, and was sorry to go. If for nothing else that he felt like he contributed to the team. He was part of something good. He liked the boys, and he enjoyed being a quasi-coach.

Travis had asked after Gretchen, but when Josh had just told him she was gone, he'd grunted and left it. He was back to his usual gruff self, and Josh had never gotten around to asking him if everything was ok. Felicia had, of course, told him in no uncertain terms that he had a home there if things didn't work out.

"We'd sign you on as a coach in a hot minute, you hear me?" she murmured in his ear as he'd hugged her goodbye. "Travis won't say it so I will. You fit here, young man."

It had hit him square in the gut as he walked out of the stadium that he did, but had to pack that away and focus on the fact that he was headed back up. If he stayed healthy, it was a decent amount of money. Harv had counseled him on maybe staying for a year more, then cashing in, or maybe go for more money as a free agent. But what would that do?

His first game back in the Majors, he'd had two hits and an RBI. But instead of celebrating that night, he dragged himself back to the apartment they'd put him in and stared at his phone, looking at her text. He wanted to tell her about it. He wanted to see her again and the hollow space that ached whenever he thought about her pulsed away as he hovered his fingers over the screen.

Finally he'd fallen asleep without sending her anything, and dreamed about her, remembering her laughing, her hair bouncing and shining, fiery blonde and tousled. Her eyes over the rim of her coffee cup, giving him goosebumps. How she'd felt in his arms, surrounding him, letting him in.

He blinked, coming out of his thoughts, as his glove was tossed at him.

"Yo Malvern. Get up. Toss me a few."

He nodded at his new team mate, a young guy named Ryder who was all cocky newbie. He'd dove head first into the stands at their last game to get a catch. He was lucky he didn't kill himself.

As he tossed the ball, he realized he was getting old. Thirty two wasn't old, but in baseball terms, he was practically elderly. His rookie year in Boston, didn't he do crazy shit like that?

"What's it like to be back here?" Ryder asked him as they finished up the tosses and headed back towards the dugout. Fifteen minutes to game time.

"It's familiar, but not, you know?" he said noncommittally.

"Got any strategy? You know these guys."

"What I can legally tell, coach has. By now, they oughta know the players already anyways. We play the same league." he replied testily.

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