Home Run Page 2

Christian narrowed his stare on his brother.

“You’ll be at the wedding right?” Ed was touching her arm. “I thought Darcy said you’d RSVP’d.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Ali can’t stop talking about it.”

“I look forward to it.” Ed smiled and then both of them looked at Christian still seated in the booth.

“Guess we’ll see you then,” he croaked out.

Victoria nodded and forced a smile. As she walked past him, limping just as he did now too, she put her hand on his shoulder. “It was good to see you, Chris.”

Then, she was gone.

Ed sat back down and shook his head. “You’re pathetic.”

“Me? Why?”

“She’s still in love with you.”

“She is not. She dumped me.”

“Because she had to.”

“Had to?” He picked up his hot tea and burned the pads of his fingers and then his throat. But it was worth it.

Ed opened the package of chop sticks by his plate and tore the two wooden pieces apart. “She lost a lot that night. Her sister died. Her brother-in-law died. She got two kids to raise and has no parents to help her. She’s all alone and all you could tell her was you weren’t ready for a fully formed family. I didn’t realize you were an asshole, until that day.”

If Christian was the man he used to be, he’d be up from that table and have pulled his brother out of that side of the booth by his shirt collar. But as if to remind him that he wasn’t an athlete any more, his knee throbbed and the pain shot up through his body.

“She didn’t need me around when she was trying to get things taken care of.”

“You’re right. Six surgeries on your leg and two toddlers at home is a piece of cake. Why have the man you love getting in the way?”

Christian swallowed hard. He didn’t need his brother poking at him. It had been a year and he felt bad enough.

Luckily, the food arrived just in time for his brother to shove some in his mouth and shut up. Christian, on the other hand, had lost his appetite.

He had become a pathetic loser and he’d lost the only thing that he’d ever cared about—Victoria.

He took another long, scalding sip of his tea. Maybe Ed’s wedding would be the perfect place to apologize for being an ass.

It wasn’t in him to be a father right now, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t be a friend. She looked as though she certainly could use one. And they’d been friends too—hadn’t they?

Christian tore open his chop sticks and broke them apart. As he picked up a pot sticker, he thought about his parents.

They’d been divorced when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and her husband had walked out on her to marry another woman and have a baby. She was alone with three kids.

He tugged at his collar because it was getting hot.

His own father, who was at the time engaged to Kathy, still stepped up and took care of his mother. Damn, he’d even shaved his head for her.

That was love. That was commitment.

It was right too. His father’s marriage to Kathy lasted less than a day and he was back with Christian’s mom and had been married, again, ever since.

What had Christian done when the woman he loved needed him? He backed away.

He put down the pot sticker. Again, he wasn’t hungry.

They’d both lost a lot that night when that drunk driver hit that car. Lives changed in a flash—a bright white flash.

Ed was right. He was pathetic.

But he was done being pathetic. It was time Christian Keller took his life back—and the woman he still loved.

Chapter Two

Weekends had once been for playing ball. Then, they became time to chill with Victoria. One day they became two more days to sit still on the couch and wallow in the misery of what life had handed him. But Chris had decided he was done with that.

After seeing Tori, he wanted normalcy back.

Saturday morning, he looked around the living room and admired the view. The curtains had been open for the first time in months. A breeze blew through the open window and he could smell fresh cut grass. Spring time was a good time to start over.

Avery had tapped on the door, he’d seen her pull up, but then she pushed it open and walked right inside.

Her hands were full of grocery bags and she stopped and looked around.

“A little spring cleaning?”

Chris nodded tucking his thumbs into the front pockets of his jeans.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this place look this nice. Tell me you got the ring out of your toilet too.”

“Don’t give me crap.”

“Hard not to. Here help me with these.” She hoisted a bag in his direction.

“I can go to a grocery store you know.”

“I know, but seeing as you never do, I brought you some food so you won’t starve.”

Avery walked through the living room and back to the kitchen where she stopped again. “Chris, this looks great.”

“Y’all have been taking care of me for too long. I thought it was time to get off of my sorry ass and sweep.”

“There’s more to that.” She set the bags on the table. “Windows are open. There’s fresh air in here. What is that?” She walked over to a small cup on the counter. “Is this a dandelion?”

He laughed as he placed the bags on the table next to the ones she had set there. “He was an early bloomer. I didn’t have any flowers around to spruce up the joint.”

Avery turned, crossed her arms over her chest, and narrowed her stare on him. “What gives?”

Not much had ever slipped past his cousin. There was no reason to keep it from her now. “I saw Tori the other day.”

“Yeah, and Ed says you weren’t very nice.”

Christian rubbed his hand over the back of his neck. “I haven’t been too nice to anyone.” He waited for a comeback, but she didn’t offer one. “I can’t be a father to those kids. I think I’d be a lousy husband. But she really looked like she could use a friend.”

“And you?”

He let out a breath. “I could use one too.”

“Hallelujah, I think we might have cured you.”

He grunted. “Don’t get cocky. I might crawl back into bed tomorrow and stay there for a week.”

She studied him. “Nah, I think you’re going to be just fine.”

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