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Indelible. Part 17

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"Hey Molly," I said when the other woman walked in with a jug of milk and a brown paper sack under her arm. "Let me get those for you."

I grabbed the items and put them in the kitchen before jogging outside to see what else the ladies had to unload.

"How was she?" Sam asked, gesturing at Karrie, who was trying to carry a watermelon up the steps.

"Great," I answered truthfully. I grabbed the rest of the bags and said goodbye to Molly, leaving the girls to their hugging and cooing. For people who saw each other every day, they sure did hug a lot.

I was taking things out of the bags when Sam walked in.



"I didn't want to put anything in the wrong place," I said to explain why everything was sitting on the counters.

"Thanks for helping," Sam responded, walking over to me and putting her arms around my neck. "I really appreciate it."

I took advantage of the situation and leaned down to taste her lips. "Mmmm, you taste good," I said. I leaned in for another taste, nibbling lightly on her bottom lip as I pulled away.

"So do you," Sam said, her voice breathy and sweet, causing my body to respond in all the right places.

"I'd better let you go so we can get this stuff put away," I said, my voice low and rough with desire.

"Okay," Sam murmured as she leaned in to offer her lips to me again.

"Mommy, wa'mln," Karrie said from behind us.

I let Sam go and turned to look at Karrie, who was pointing to the watermelon on the counter.

"You want some watermelon?" I asked.

Karrie nodded, her curls bouncing sweetly around her head.

"Okay, do you want to sit in your chair or go play while I cut some up for you?" I asked.

"Pay," she responded sweetly.

"Okay, you go play. I'll let you know when it's ready." I smiled after her as she toddled out of the room, and then turned to see Sam staring at me. "What?"

"You're so good with her," she said, her voice breaking as she spoke.

I looked into her misty eyes and grabbed her by the shoulders. "You aren't going to cry, are you?"

She shook her head, but her face told a different story. I kissed her roughly, my tongue entering her mouth and exploring swiftly. When I pulled back, her eyes were no longer filling with tears. Her face looked flushed and her eyelids looked heavy. GoodaI'd rather she be h.o.r.n.y than about to cry.

"Where do you keep your cheese?" I asked with a smile, waving the cheddar at her.

We put the groceries away, and Sam showed me where the knife and cutting board were so I could cut up the watermelon for Karrie. As I cut, Sam started to prep the steak, potatoes, and corn for dinner.

It was all very domestic, and I found that I liked it.

I couldn't believe how much my life had changed in a few short months. My dad was about to get out of rehab, there were scouts coming to my game, and I was in a serious relationship with a wonderful woman and little girl.

I almost felt like a different guy than the one Sam had met that first night in the bar, when all I was concerned about was getting into her pants.

When the watermelon was ready, I went and got Karrie and set her up in her highchair with a bowl of melon.

"So, don't you think we should talk about what happened with Tuck?" I asked her, broaching the subject we'd been able to avoid until now.

Sam wiped her hands on a towel and picked up the meat. "Let me put these on the grill; it's already getting dark. How do you like yours?"

"Medium."

She was back in a matter of seconds, her face looking strained.

"I'm sorry that I got mad at you," she began. "I know none of it is even remotely your fault. You didn't know that Tuck was the guy, and I shouldn't hold your friendship with him against you."

"It honestly doesn't even jibe with the guy that I thought Tuck was," I said, leaning against the counter and looking outside at the darkening sky. "We never talked about kids, but we have talked about our plans for the future. I thought that we were pretty good friends, but I was totally taken by surprise. I can't fathom the decisions he's made."

I felt Sam come up behind me, and her arms went around my stomach. She laid her head against my back.

"That's because you're a good man."

"I had always thought Tuck was too, at the core. I guess I was wrong."

"I'm sorry, Judd."

I turned so that I could wrap my arms around her and hug her back tightly.

"Oh!" Sam exclaimed, jumping back. "I have to flip the steaks."

I smiled after her as I walked to the table to see if Karrie needed more melon.

"Would you like to hear some good news?" I asked Sam as she walked back in.

"Please," she said with a laugh.

"Coach told us that there will be scouts at our game this weekend." I couldn't stop the grin from spreading over my face. I got excited just saying it out loud. I couldn't wait to tell my dad; he was gonna flip.

"That's wonderful," Sam said, jumping up in the air and pumping her fist, a goofy grin on her face.

I laughed at her exuberance.

"I can't believe it. We've had a great season, sure, but I never let myself hope that it would be good enough to get scouts interested."

"You guys deserve it." Sam bounced over to me and kissed me soundly on the lips. "I'm so excited for you."

"I'd love it if you could be there," I whispered against her mouth.

"Nothing will stop me," Sam said, her eyes intent on mine.

In that moment, with the sounds of Karrie happily eating in her chair, the smell of meat on the grill, a beautiful girl in my arms, and hope for my future in my heartaI knew I'd never been happier.

Today was the day of the big game. The scouts were in attendance, and since Judd really wanted me to be there, I was there. I was telling the truth when I said that nothing would keep me away. I was almost as excited as he was. Luckily, my mom had asked to come visit this weekend and agreed to watch Karrie for me, so it worked out perfectly.

I was sitting in the bleachers, close to a couple of older guys in suits, and the game was going great.

Judd was amazing. He was having the best game ever, and as I leaned in I heard the suits talking about him. They were comparing notes and talking about RBIs and other things I had no idea about. What I did understand was that they were scouts and they liked Judd.

"I wonder if he's a free man, ready to commit to a team," one of the suits said to the other. "You know how difficult it can be if they have baggage."

"Yeah, especially as much as they have to travel," the other suit said. "It causes too much stress if they have a family to worry about. I think the coach said that this guy is single, and that he wants nothing in the world more than to play the game."

"Great," the first suit said. "Makes the offer much easier to make."

I sat back in my seat, chastising myself for listening in. I guess that's what I got for eavesdropping a" the hard truth.

Judd was up to bat and I went crazy, along with the rest of the crowd, when he hit a homerun. I saw the suits look at each other and smile before scribbling frantically in their notebooks.

Once the game was over, I gathered my things and walked out of the park. I had a lot to think about.

I'd spoken to Judd before the game to wish him luck and tell him that I'd see him back at the house later. I couldn't wait around, since my mom was with Karrie and he was going to come by later to meet her.

I used the time on the walk to think. I knew in my gut that they were going to offer Judd a position in the minor leagues. Just like I knew when I told him that I had to have a job and a stable life for Karrie, there was a chance he'd turn it down.

That was just the kind of man that he was.

I also knew that I couldn't let him do it.

"Hey Mom," I said as I opened the door. "Was Karrie okay?"

"A complete angel," my mom said with a grin. "How was the game?"

"Judd did great," I said, tearing up. "I think they're going to pick him up."

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" she asked, looking worried.

"It's a great thing," I replied, the look on my face not matching my words.

I sat down on the couch forcefully and looked at my mom, my eyes filling with tears.

"Do you think Karrie and I could come back home with you? I'd like to stop by the school and see about that job opening."

"Honey," my mom said in a tone perfected by mothers over the ages. "What's going on? Are you sure that's what you want?"

"I am," I said, nodding for emphasis.

"What about Judd?" she asked softly. "Are you in love with him?"

"Yes," I answered her, the tears flowing freely. "Which is why I have to let him go."

My phone vibrated, signaling a text.

"Babe, I'm on my way over. I've got crazy news."

"Is that Judd?" my mom asked.

I nodded, not trusting myself to speak.

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"What I have to," I responded sadly.

I asked my mom to take Karrie to the park. I used the time to straighten up the house and try to settle down. This was going to be one of the hardest moments of my life.

Even though I was expecting it, the knock on the door scared the life out of me. Judd didn't wait for me to answer; he knocked once and then opened the door.

"Sam," he exclaimed, excitement dancing across his face. "You aren't going to believe what just happened."

He crossed the room and picked me up, spinning me around in circles and laughing happily.

"They offered me a contract." Judd smiled so widely I thought his face might split. "It's the craziest thinga I actually thought that my baseball career would be over after this season. I never let myself dream that this was possible."

"That's wonderful, Judd. I'm so happy for you." And I was.

Judd kissed me soundly on the mouth and I sunk into it, loving the feel of his lips against mine and throwing everything I felt for him into my response.

When he pulled away he gazed down at me and said, "Wow."

"My mom's here," I began. I was going to have to tear the Band-aid off swiftly, and still, this was going to hurt. A lot.

"Yeah, where is she? I thought I was going to get to meet her," Judd asked, looking around for signs of my mother.

"She took Karrie to the park."

"Oh, okay, will they be back soon?" he asked. "I want to go tell my dad."

"Um, yeah, they won't be long, but you should definitely go and tell your dad. He's going to be so proud of you." I smiled at him and kissed him one last time before saying, "She's here until tomorrow, then Karrie and I will go back home with her for a couple of days."

"Oh, I didn't know you were planning on going for a visit." Judd looked slightly puzzled.

"Actually, I'm planning to make an appointment with my old school to see about that teaching job," I answered, looking him in the eyes.

He put me down slowly, my descent down his body slow and torturous.

"Is that your plan, then? To move back to your hometown and get a job?" Judd asked, his face suddenly serious.

"I think that will be the best thing, for me and for Karrie," I responded. "It'll be easier for me to work and finish up my credentials with my parents nearby to take care of Karrie."

Judd cupped my face and gazed down at me.

"I want to be there for you and Karrie," he stated.

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Indelible. Part 17 summary

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