Sweet Spot, Homeruns #4 by Sloan Johnson
Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.
When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.
Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?
Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.
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Four years ago, it took no time at all for Cody Marshall to fall for the rookie pitcher at spring training. While their lives were nothing alike, Cody understood Nick Stone’s insecurities and pain. And then… Nick left. Eventually, Cody found his own passion and landed a dream internship with the Mavericks. His life was finally turning around. And then… Nick came back.
Just like the first time they met, Cody finds himself falling for Nick. Unfortunately, Nick is still plagued by the belief that he is where he is because of his father. If they’re ever going to make it, Cody has to have to prove to Nick that his success has little to do with his name and everything to do with his drive to succeed.
Two men, both close to having everything they’ve wanted. Will they be able to find the sweet spot between dreams and desire?
For the first time in my life, I was walking into work every day as Nick Stone, pitching hopeful for the Mavericks. I wasn’t Marcus Stone’s son. I wasn’t the closeted gay kid in the clubhouse. I was just Nick.
“Thanks. You deserve a lot of the credit for that,” I told him, because it was the truth. He was the one who’d made me see my dad for who he was. He was the one who gave me the strength to quit lying about who I was. He was the one who made me understand what my dad said when he told me life was more than baseball. Today, I was more worried about leaving Cody than I was about my placement in the organization, but I knew that’s how it was supposed to be. Baseball was my job. Cody was what mattered.
“I didn’t do anything,” Cody scoffed.
I leaned over and kissed him softly, cupping my hand around the back of his neck. I pressed my forehead to his as I spoke. “Yeah, you did. Everything I have at the end of today is because of you. You’re the one who’s helped me through. I love you, Cody.”
Those words terrified me. I’d never said them to anyone other than family, but it felt right to tell Cody how I felt about him. It left me exposed and vulnerable, but it was right. I choked up, knowing that I’d do anything to keep Cody looking at me the way he did right then. Stunned. Happy. In love.
“I love you, too.” Cody sighed. “I’ve wanted to tell you for a while now, but I was worried it’d freak you out.”
I hated knowing that he still had traces of lingering doubts. I’d planted those in his head with my actions years ago. I shook my head and swallowed hard as I thought about how to respond. I’d promised him I was through apologizing to him, but that’s exactly what I wanted to do now.
“I don’t want you to feel that way, Cody.” I buried my head against his shoulder. “I never want you to feel like you can’t tell me what you’re thinking. I know why you do it, but that’s only going to make things harder for the next few months.”
“I know,” Cody responded, sounding like a kid who’d just been scolded. “I’m trying, I promise.”
“That’s all either of us can do,” I parroted the words he’d said to me several times since the first night we’d talked. “Someday, it’ll be easier.”
“Yeah, it will be,” he agreed. Cody rubbed his eyes and I could tell he was struggling just as much as I was with my possible early departure. “Look, I just wanted to tell you that before I dropped you off. You know, that you’re doing good. No matter what happens today, remember how far you’ve come.”
“I will.” This was the pep talk I really needed. It was important to me that he understand what was going on and that he was the one who was able to say what I needed to hear. “And I’m going to keep busting my ass so I can get to Milwaukee. I have too much there to stay away for long.”
“I’ll hold you to that.” With one final kiss, Cody straightened in his seat and re-fastened his seat belt.