A Whole New Ball Game
Secret Santa Fic written for ATaletobeTold
Summary: Bella gets more than she bargains for when she tries to save the Mariner's new outfielder from a skanky groupie.
Betas: SydneyGen and HollBeth
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, the Seattle Mariners or a bar called Strike Zone. I have a beat-up laptop and an overactive imagination.
(If you were looking for the AiL update – I'm just waiting to get it back from the betas and do some final edits! Sorry for the delay!)
000xxx000xxx000xxx - Batter up! - 000xxx000xxx000xxx
It was Friday night, around 11 p.m., and the Mariners game had just finished. They'd pulled out a 4 to 1 win over the Astros in the home opener. Fans poured out of Safeco field, and it seemed as if half of them had found their way to the Strike Zone. We were just a few blocks from the stadium and the bar most of the players came to after home games, and the fans knew it.
As I wiped up some spilled beer, a large cheer came from near the doorway. I didn't need to look up to know that some of the team had arrived. We had a good mix of regular customers who came out after every game and fans out for a special night. As they did after each game, the guys slowly made their way through the crowd, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
I looked down to the other end of the bar, and my dad gave me a nod, letting me know he was alright and ready for the crowd. My brother, Seth, was helping the bouncer check ID's with the rush at the door.
"Bartender! A round of shots!"
"You know my name, you oaf!" I laughed, teasing Emmett McCarty, the Mariner's catcher and a long-time friend of the family.
"I joke because I love, Bella." He batted his eyelashes at me, and I snapped my towel at his chest. "Be nice! Rose bought me this." He smoothed his hand down his shirt-front with a pout.
Emmett was a gentle giant, a big marshmallow inside a body that could crush anyone in his way. He'd gone to high school with Seth and was like another brother to me. After college in California, he'd married his high school sweetheart, Rosalie, and come back to Seattle with a Mariner's contract.
The crowd had begun to stack up behind him at the bar, so I got down to the business. "What do you need and how many, Em?"
"Shots of Patron, six, and a pitcher of Labatts."
I poured the tequila shots and put them on a small tray with a bowl of lemons and a shaker of salt. He looked over his shoulder as he handed me his cash while I drew his beer. He had a huge grin on his face when he turned back to me.
"What's up?" I rang him up and attempted to hand him his change, but he waved me off.
"What?" It was getting loud, so I wasn't sure I'd heard him right.
"Fresh meat," he repeated and angled his head towards the front door. "Tanya cornered the new center fielder."
"Ew. You warned him, right?"
He shrugged, and I shook my head.
"Edward Cullen, right?"
They brought us a lot of business, so I made it a point to keep up on team news. Edward Cullen had been a free agent, and when the St. Louis Cardinals didn't renew his contract, the Mariners snapped him up. He had a great arm, made tough throws from the fence, and he had a high batting average, but most importantly, he looked damn fine in his uniform pants.
"Yup. He's single, Bells, you should let him take you out."
I raised an eyebrow at him. "Really? Do you not know me?"
"Yeah, yeah. You're happy being single. I think that's code for you've given up." He raised his eyebrow back at me, and I aimed the soda gun at his chest as if I was going to hose him down. I hadn't given up, I'd made a choice, but I wasn't explaining it to him again.
"Okay, okay. Just give him a shot from me when he makes it up here, and tell him where we're at."
He slid another bill towards me and took his tray of tequila towards the back of the bar. We reserved a party room for the team on home game nights. It was a nice for them to celebrate with fans, but the private room gave them a place they could get away from everyone if it got to be too much.
I tried to keep an eye on Edward as he slowly made his way towards me. Damn, Tanya was working on him hard. He'd sign an autograph or pose for a picture with a fan, and then she'd be back at his side, stretching up to talk right in his ear.
Edward Cullen was gorgeous, that was for sure, and this wasn't his first rodeo. He'd been in the show for five years before his contract with the Cardinal's ran out. I was sure he knew a groupie when he saw one, or had her plastic boobs pressed up against him. He cringed as she touched his shoulder, and it was painfully obvious to everyone except Tanya that he wanted nothing to do with her.
She was a skank and would sleep with any player who gave her the time of day. I had wanted to ban her from the bar, but my father said it wasn't our problem if men were dumb enough to screw her.
When Edward finally made it to the bar, he looked like a man desperate for a drink. The crowd had mellowed a bit, people had found tables and crowded around the pool tables and dart boards after the initial post-game rush.
I poured him a shot of tequila before he ordered anything, and he got the cutest confused look on his face.
"It's from McCarty, and you look like you need it. He's in the back room with some of the other players."
He'd escaped Tanya for a few moments and gave me a tight smile. "Thanks. I'm Edward Cullen, but I guess you know that."
I smiled and nodded, sure he was used to people already knowing who he was. "Bella Swan, heir to the throne."
"I'm sorry?" That confused look was absolutely adorable.
I pointed at Charlie. "This is my dad's place. My brother and I are slowly but surely taking over and forcing him to retire. I guess I'm technically an heiress, but it doesn't have the same ring." I was a little surprised at my own rambling, but I shrugged, trying to cover it up, and he gave me a crooked smile.
Tanya reclaimed her spot at Edward's hip, and he visibly tensed. He tried to move away from her, but she was on him like white on rice. I couldn't take it anymore.
"Tanya, back the fuck up. You're making Edward uncomfortable."
She gave me a dirty look and tossed her blond hair over her shoulder. "I don't hear him complaining."
"That's because he's a gentleman. Newsflash—Edward is not going home with you. Go find someone else to seduce."
She huffed and did the hair fluff thing again, shaking her shoulders and pushing her chest against Edward.
"Jealous, Bella? You could never make him happy, a man like this needs a real woman."
Before I could tell her to take her fake tits and get out of my sight, Edward turned to her with a snarl.
"Enough. I'm not interested. Quit being a bitch to my girlfriend."
What the what?
Tanya looked at him like he'd grown a third eye. My mouth hung open in shock until Edward leaned across the bar, putting a hand on the back of my head, and brought our faces together.
And then he kissed me. Full on, lips locked, tongues together, heart pounding, kissed me.
When he finally pulled away, I opened my eyes and found him staring right back. I imagined I looked exactly like he did, a little dazed and a lot turned on. That kiss had been...So much more than a kiss. Where the fuck had Edward Cullen been all my life?
"What the fuck?" Tanya looked at us like we were from outer space.
"That's later," Edward laughed, and my eyes got huge.
She muttered something under her breath and gave me one final dirty look before moving off to find another victim.
"Can I get a beer, or are you too busy making out to actually do your job?"
I looked up to see a cranky customer waving an empty beer bottle at me. He looked familiar and was probably one of the after the game regulars, but most of them were decked out in Mariner's gear and hard to tell apart, so I wasn't sure.
I glanced back to see Edward running his fingers through his hair. My eyes darted to the customer, and I bit my lip, trying to weigh my options. Wait on cranky-pants or talk more to Edward and figure out exactly what the hell just happened.
"Sorry. Well, not really." Edward blushed and gave me a crooked smile as he ran a hand through his hair again. I was beginning to think that was a habit for him. "You're busy. I'm going to find Emmett. Can I come find you in a bit?"
I nodded, though I didn't actually want him to leave. He walked away, and I swear my knees went weak. He looked almost as good from the back as he did from the front. Damn baseball players and their long, lean bodies.
I let out a deep breath and shook my head to clear it, turning to the customer who was tapping his fingers on the bar in irritation.
"Sorry about your wait, another beer?"
"Ah, yeah." He rolled his eyes as I got him another Bud Light from the tub of ice in front of me. I wiped it off with a towel and grabbed his money before handing it over.
The night flew by in a blur of similar interactions. Okay, no one else accused me of making out instead of doing my job, but I couldn't stop thinking about the kiss. Or the man.
Gradually, the crowd began to thin out. Emmett and Rose left with a bunch of guys from the team, but I hadn't seen Edward again. It had been busy enough that he could have slipped out without my noticing, and I was surprised at how much that thought bummed me out.
I wasn't lying when I told people I was happy being single. I liked my independence, and relationships always seemed so dramatic. Or maybe I just thought that because my parents were divorced and hated each other, and my brother was a player who couldn't settle down. Oh, and maybe because my last boyfriend had been a pharmaceutical rep whom it turned out slept with half of the female medical staff in Seattle. That could have been it.
What it came down to, was that my heart needed a break from heartbreak, as ridiculous as that sounded, and I was enjoying my singledom. That is, I was enjoying it until a certain center fielder planted his lips on mine.
That kiss with Edward had messed with my mind. It was like, waking up after sleepwalking for days. The way he made me feel in those few seconds was unlike anything I'd felt in years, if ever. He made me consider possibilities I'd put out of my head, made me want things that made me sweat and shiver. I wanted to know him inside and out and to show him the parts of me I kept hidden away.
What any of that meant? I had no idea.
Seth rang the bell to indicate last call and told Charlie to head home. I poured a few drinks for the remaining customers and helped Seth clean up behind the bar. I headed to the private room the team had been in to make sure the wait staff had bussed all of the glasses. The room looked clean, but I interrupted a couple making out in the corner.
"Hey, Seth rang the bell. You know the deal, it's last call, so wrap it up and head home." I snickered at my own joke. They guy was practically eating her face, and these two clearly needed a room and a box full of condoms.
When they parted, I was shocked to see just how low Tanya had lowered her standards for the night. She'd been making out with James Hunter. He was an asshole, a shitty tipper, and a washed up pitcher who was riding out his contract with the Mariners on the bench. I almost threw up in my mouth thinking about the combination of germs and evil swirling in their kiss.
"Oh crap!" I chuckled, surprised to see the two of them together.
"What are you looking at?" Tanya tried to sound tough, but she just sounded drunk. James didn't say anything, but he leered at me in a totally creepy way that made me want to junk punch him.
I shook my head at the sad pair. "You two need to get out of here. We're closing up."
I didn't wait for a comment or reaction before heading back to the main bar. There were a couple of boxes of empty beer bottles sitting at the end of the bar, so I grabbed one and headed to the back room where one of the day staff would sort the glass for recycling.
I switched off the light and turned to leave the storeroom. I stepped forward and slammed into a warm body that shouldn't have been there. A strong hand held my upper arm as I used my other hand to fumble and turn the light back on. I blinked in surprise at the sight of Edward's concerned face.
"Shit!" I laughed, my hand on my chest. "You scared the hell out of me. What are you doing back here?"
"Seth told me where to find you." He gave me a soft smile.
"He did?" What the hell? That was unusual. Seth normally growled at anyone who asked for information about me. Overprotective nutjob.
Edward chuckled. "Yeah. We've met a couple of times at the gym and at Emmett's playing poker."
"Oh, right." That made more sense, but it didn't explain why he'd asked Seth about me. "But what are you doing back here?"
He loosened his grip on my arm and stepped a little closer. "I told you I'd come find you."
I snorted. "Three hours ago."
He raised his hand and pushed some hair over my shoulder. "You were a little busy."
"I guess," I sighed, looking away from him. He made me nervous, made me question my safe, single girl bubble.
"Look, I wanted to apologize for earlier. Emmett has told me about you, so I knew you were single, and I've been wanting to meet you, but I still shouldn't have been so forward. That woman was freaking me out, and I sort of panicked."
I nodded and shrugged. "It's okay. I mean, you're lucky my dad or Seth didn't see and come kick your ass, but it's no big deal."
"But it is," he said quietly.
"It is a big deal." He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "Bella, I don't really know how to say this, so I'm just going to blurt it out. That kiss...I've never felt anything like it. It was like everything stopped. I wanted to come over that bar and take you in my arms and do unspeakable things to you."
I swallowed hard but didn't say a word. How could I? I had felt the same way, but I was terrified to tell him. My heart pounded in my chest, and I ached at the thought of the things he could do to me.
"Jesus. I don't know anything about you, but I want to take you home and lock the door and spend however long it takes getting to know you in every way possible. I want to make love to you and see you come undone underneath me. Then I want to fuck you until we can't see straight.
"And here's the weirdest thing," he said, shaking his head as if the rest hadn't been strange, "I want to call my mother and tell her I've met the woman I plan to marry. So it is a big deal, Bella, because I've either completely lost my mind or fallen madly in love, and I'm afraid it could go either way at this point."
I stood there mute, letting the words play over in my head again. He stepped closer, surrounding me in his scent and his heat. His hand came up to cup my chin, and his thumb stroked my lower lip.
"You haven't said anything."
My pulse was ragged, and I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. I shook my head and gently put a hand on his chest. The contact was unexpectedly calming. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
"I didn't mean to scare you." He sounded so sad.
My eyes popped open, and I shook my head again. "You didn't scare me."
I bit my lip and felt completely exposed. "I think you read my mind."
His mouth tipped up in a crooked smile that was dangerously sexy. "Yeah?"
My breath hitched, and I put my other hand on his waist, pulling him towards me. "Are we crazy?"
He shook his head and his eyes burned into mine.
He was wrong. We were crazy. We were fucking nuts, and I needed to feel more of his body against mine before I spontaneously combusted. He must have known what I was thinking, because before I could burst into flames, he moved forward, pressing me against the door frame, running his nose along my neck.
"If it was just one of us, it would be crazy. This...This is something else."
He placed a small kiss below my ear, then slid his nose down under my chin to the other side of my neck, trailing small kisses until he took my earlobe between his teeth.
"I don't even know you," I whimpered and leaned against him. "Just the stats I learned when you joined the team."
"Shit, that's hot," he chuckled, tracing the collar of my shirt with his fingertips. His voice was low, and I could feel his warm breath on my face. "What do you need to know?"
"Anything. Everything." I wasn't sure anymore if I was talking about what I wanted to know or what I wanted him to do, but I'd take what I could get.
"Edward Anthony Masen Cullen. Twenty-nine. I'm a Gemini."
His hands slipped under my t-shirt to rest on my waist as his thumbs dipped inside my jeans, caressing my hip bones.
"More." I wasn't making sense, but I was too turned on to care.
He groaned and slid one hand down my leg to my knee, hitching my leg up over his hip. We had been a hairs breadth apart, but suddenly we were touching. Intimately. I could feel him, long and hard, pressed tight against my center.
"I grew up in Chicago. I'm an only child. I wanted to go to medical school before I got picked up by the Cards. I'm allergic to strawberries, and I have a birthmark, but I'll let you find it." He rocked his hips forward, and I swear I melted. "Should I keep talking?"
I arched against him, running my hand down his back to cup his ass.
"What was that?" he laughed, sliding a hand behind my head and ghosting his lips along my jaw. "God, you're sexy. Do you feel how hard I am for you?"
I tried to say yes, but all I could manage was a moan. He lowered my leg from his hip, and I felt his fingers on the button of my jeans and my sanity reared it's ugly head.
I sounded like someone else when I finally strung together a sentence. My voice was low and breathy. "Don't you want to know about me?"
"Oh, I want to know all about you."
His fingers continued opening my pants, and I didn't want to stop him. His hand slipped into my underwear, burning a path between my legs. My breath caught as his fingers dipped into my wetness and circled my clit.
"I want to spend the rest of my life learning everything there is to know about you."
He leaned forward and kissed me, then pulled back and looked into my eyes as his fingers pushed inside me.
"Edward," I breathed his name. I should have stopped him, but it was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to ride his hand, to let him drive me wild. But it was wrong. We didn't know each other. We were in the storage room at the bar, of all places!
I felt tears in my eyes as I shook my head. "I can't."
His free hand came up to tangle in my hair.
"Let go," he whispered. His fingers slowly moved in and out, teasing me with the promise of more. "We'll go home together and lock the world out until you know me better than you've ever known anyone. I'm yours, Bella. Let me love you."
I'd never wanted someone to love me as much as I did in that moment. My fingers fisted in his hair, and I pulled his mouth to mine. It was like a dam broke, and I kissed him like he was the air I needed to breathe. His fingers drove into me, faster and harder, my body tightening around him as my orgasm built. His thumb pressed firmly on my clit and I exploded, my knees going weak.
My forehead fell to his shoulder as I tried to catch my breath. He lifted his fingers to his mouth, sucking them clean with a groan. I bit my lip as I watched him. It was sexy as hell, and I was putting off returning to reality for as long as I could.
Edward zipped and buttoned my pants and pulled me into a hug. He surrounded me with his strength and warmth, and I could imagine myself at home there—sleeping, waking, living in the cocoon of his arms.
"It's late," he sighed, rubbing my back. "What do we have to do to close up?"
"We?" I chuckled, thinking of the shit jobs I was sure my brother had left for me in the bar area.
"Hey, we established we weren't crazy, that makes us a team. Let me help so we can go home."
I eyed him warily. Did I want to go home with him? Hell yes. Should I? That would be a big no. Everything we'd done was totally out of character for me, but I felt more myself than I had in years and I wasn't ready to let go of the connection we had.
"Jesus, I feel like a stalker," he huffed, pinching the bridge of his nose, "but I can't let you go. I'll be a gentleman. I'll sleep on your couch. Just, let me wake up and start tomorrow with you, and we can go from there."
"You're not a stalker," I sighed. "I don't want tonight to end."
"Tonight is not the end of anything, baby." He shook his head before kissing my forehead and grinning. "It's the beginning of everything."
The scary thing was, I believed him.
000xxx000xxx000xxx - Batter up! - 000xxx000xxx000xxx
A/N: Ho! Ho! Ho! Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!