The Masks of October

MJ Compton

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The last thing caterer Skye Schuyler needs is for her crush on sexy baseball catcher Tag Gentry to develop into something more. She craves stability and a home base. Falling for a guy who thrives on road trips will only lead to he...
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The last thing caterer Skye Schuyler needs is for her crush on sexy baseball catcher Tag Gentry to develop into something more. She craves stability and a home base. Falling for a guy who thrives on road trips will only lead to heartache. But fate isn't following her line-up. When his team hires Skye to feed him while he recuperates from a severe leg injury, Skye struggles to remain out of play for him.

Tag’s World Series dream is shattered along with his leg and possibly his career. His only pleasure comes from flirting with Skye. He’s the one who usually calls the plays, but he can’t tell if she’s shaking him off or going for the pitch.

When Tag learns Skye is catering a Halloween party for the team’s notoriously sketchy owner, he steps up to the plate to keep Skye’s involvement from going foul. He doesn’t like batting clean-up, but he goes for the assist because sometimes a player has to sacrifice for the good of the team. And he and Skye have formed a team.

The trick now is convincing the sexy caterer that hooking up can be a treat.

Excerpt
Skye went over her ledger. If the Gems took the World Series to seven games—as they’d done with the championship series—she would be short only a few hundred dollars on her mortgage payment. There was one little problem: games six and seven would be played after the November first due date.

There was still Drake Dixon’s Halloween party between now and her deadline, but as much as Dixon was paying her, it still wouldn’t be quite enough.

If only there was a way to add another week or two to the calendar. Or at least to her grace period.

The only thing in life she ever wanted was a permanent home. Purchasing the old restaurant for her catering business had made sense at the time. So had the mortgage. But she must have been blinded by the stars in her eyes, because when the bank sent a reminder about the balloon payment, she’d been shocked.

Her cell phone buzzed at her elbow. The Gems’ front office was calling, probably wanting to confirm the dates and times of the first two games of the World Series.

“Skye’s the Limit. Skye speaking.”

She listened. She doodled. She listened some more.

Tag Gentry was home from the hospital and needed someone to provide meals for him. The team wanted to hire her to feed him. And someone was going to pay her a whole lot of money to do so.

How could she turn down the job?

She couldn’t. The player being Tag Gentry meant nothing. She was professional enough not to let her little crush interfere with doing the job.

Maybe she’d just been granted a miracle.

* * * *


Thank God he wasn’t stuck in a rehab center.

Team management wanted Tag in a professional facility. Tag even understood why. But he had most of the equipment he’d needed right in his workout room in his penthouse. The physical therapist could damned well come to him. He was the hero of the moment. A little gratitude was in order.

Either way, he was going to go nuts. He called his current lady friend, but she was out of the country. Terra Baldwin was a reporter for a cable news network and was always running off to the far corners of the globe in search of a story.

“I’m in Wheretheheckistan,” she’d told him. “I heard rumors the government was going to test a nuclear weapon.”

That was his Terra. Always on an adventure. No wonder they got along so well. When they saw each other. It had been a while. He could have used a little female company while he was grounded.

His chest was so tight it hurt to breathe. He should be at the stadium, taking batting practice, working with the bullpen. He needed to be with his team. The backup catcher was okay, but he wasn’t World Series ready.

The Gems were so fucked.

He said as much to his agent when Marty called.

“They know that. And you’re fucked anyway, so quit stressing.” Marty Fiscoe was not a coddler. “Your physical therapist is coming to your place. Any equipment you don’t have, they’ll order in.”

“The team’s paying, right?”

“I’m still working on that. The team would have paid for the rehab facility. Moving the facility to your place might be a different song. You’ve got a day nurse and night nurse coming in, and your meals will be brought in by the team caterer.”

Tag didn’t need taking care of. He needed something to do.

Or so he thought, until his physical therapist, a Bluto clone, showed up. The guy was a sadist. Tag reminded him about the tibial whatever bone sticking out through his skin, but Bluto didn’t seem to give a shit.

Neither did the day nurse. A guy. Who looked vaguely familiar. Like Hans, from old seasons of Saturday Night Live. And so Tag dubbed the male night nurse Franz.

When did men start being nurses? Tag had been hoping for a busty blonde, but the way his luck had been going, Tag could have gotten stuck with Nurse Ratched.

He tried to convince himself the testosterone was good for his recovery. There were only four months until pitchers and catchers had to report for spring training, and Dr. Jekyll, also known as Dr. Jackson, had warned Tag he might not be ready. His injuries were too severe.

Concentrate on getting better. Don’t get distracted.

Franz opened the door for the caterer.

Red. Tag’s pulse jumpstarted. “You here to give me that kiss for luck you owe me?”

She smiled. “Nope. I’m here to feed you.”

“Man food, I hope.”

“Healing food,” Red replied.

He’d never paid much attention to the team caterer, other than her hair and asking her for a kiss before every home game. It was just something he did. Completely harmless.

He stopped his wheelchair in the door of the kitchen and watched her unload packages onto his counter.

“I didn’t know what kind of kitchen setup you had, so I made everything for the next twenty-four hours microwavable.” She didn’t look at him as she unloaded the contents of her rolling cooler into his refrigerator. “Tonight’s supper, tomorrow’s breakfast, lunch, and a couple of snacks. The heating instructions are written on the containers.”

“I can’t reach the microwave,” he said. He didn’t bother mentioning his limited access to the fridge. “I guess Franz will have to do the reheating.”

Faint color stained her cheeks. “I didn’t realize you had someone with you, so I didn’t prepare enough food—”

“Franz can order up a pizza,” Tag said.

“I’ll make enough food for two tomorrow.”

“Don’t worry about it, Red.”

“Skye.”

“Huh?”

“My name is Skye. I own Skye’s the Limit Catering.”

“Red Skye at night, a catcher’s delight.” He thought he was pretty clever.

Her lips—very nice lips—parted. “That is…stupid.”

Red’s entire face fascinated him. He’d never noticed her eyes before. They weren’t green, and they weren’t blue but a cross somewhere between the two colors. Like the tropical lagoon where he had swum with sharks.

“Stay awhile, and keep me company.”

“I can’t. Besides, you’ve got your night nurse.”

“Franz?” Tag snorted. “He’s here to make sure I don’t fall if I need to whiz in the middle of the night.”

The color in her cheeks deepened. “Try playing cards with him. I hear you’re good at pitch.”

“I’m good with pitchers. Pay attention, Red.”

She zipped the top of her rolling cooler. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Let me know if you have any requests. You can have anything that was on the regular menu at the clubhouse.”

She headed toward the front door. The denim of her jeans clung to her nicely shaped ass.

“I don’t have your number.”

“Your night nurse has my business card.”

And she was gone. Just like that.

Tag pulled his phone from his pocket and looked up Skye’s the Limit Catering. He liked what he read. Celeste Schuyler specialized in sports nutrition and vegetarian cuisine. He wouldn’t have recognized her from the photo on her website. Her kinky copper-colored hair was down—something he’d never seen. She was smiling too. A big, all-encompassing grin. God, if she ever smiled at him like that, he wouldn’t be responsible for his actions.

He dialed the number on the website.

“Skye’s the Limit Catering. Skye speaking.”

“Hey, Red. Who the hell named you Celeste?”

“Hello, Tag.”

“How’d you know it was me?”

“You’re the only one who calls me Red.”

At least she didn’t sound annoyed. “So you specialize in sports nutrition. Who else uses you besides the Gems?”

“Athletes who demand too much from their bodies.”

“Hey. This was not my fault. All I was doing was catching a ball. Blame that punk from New York. I do. Every second of every minute since he slid into my knee and slammed me with his cleats.”

“You can heat the chicken breast in the microwave.”

“You already said that, and I already told you I can’t reach the microwave. Can I have a steak tomorrow night? I could really go for a grilled top sirloin. Bring enough for Franz and yourself, and we’ll have a little party. We could open a bottle of wine, but alcohol and my meds don’t mix. At least, that’s what the doctor said. But you could drink. Maybe I could get you drunk and have my wicked way with you.”

“Let me see what I can do for you and Franz. Find out what he likes so I can take that into consideration when I’m buying supplies.”

“So, do you like baseball or football better?” Tag asked quickly, before she could disconnect on him.

“What?”

He worked his way to his recliner. He never thought there’d be a time when sitting was preferable to action. “Do you like football or baseball better? Or maybe basketball. Who’s easier to feed?”

He heard a sigh. Or something.

“I’ll see what I can do about a steak tomorrow night. Find out what your night nurse wants and e-mail or text me.”

“What about Hans and Bluto?”

“What?”

“Do we have a bad connection or something? You keep asking me to repeat myself. I asked about my day nurse and physical therapist. They need to eat too.”

“Your nurses are Hans and Franz, and your physical therapist is Bluto?”

“You got a problem with that?”

“Find out what they want and text me. I’m hanging up now, Tag.” And she did.

He resisted the urge to call her back. He was going to have way too much time to get to know her. Getting to know her better would at least give him something to do.

Copyright © MJ Compton

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