In the immortal words of Glen Frey and the Eagles, “What can you do when your dreams come true and it’s not quite like you planned?”
San Francisco Goliaths shortstop Bryce Baxter finds himself wondering this very thing after winning the World Series, being named MVP, and signing the contract of a lifetime.
All his dreams have come true, and yet something is missing. Even the prospect of hooking up with fiery reporter Rachel Parker can’t quite shake him out of his funk.
When she gives him some unexpected news, he realizes he must step up to the plate for real this time. Not for fame or fortune or even a trophy. There’s more at stake than just a game. It’s going to take more than talent, charm, and great hair to take his game to the next level.
In Earning A Ring, Bryce tries to find out how to move forward “After The Thrill Is Gone.”
I grew up listening to The Eagles. Besides being the soundtrack of my childhood, (along with the Star Wars soundtrack—I’m a child of the seventies), I’ve always found their songs were more about storytelling than anything else. Many a road trip has had the Eagles Greatest Hits, When Hell Freezes Over, and since the turn of the century, The Selected Works 1972-1999 or The Millennium Collection as part of the journey.
For a long time, I had “After The Thrill Is Gone” as my ringtone. I’ve had many dreams come true, from marrying my best friend, becoming a mother, and more recently an author. And some of it is not quite what I’d planned. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. When I turned 30, I thought I had it all figured out. I was a teacher, a wife, a mother. We’d bought our first house, and I was pretty sure that the rest of my life would unfold in a predictable pattern. But I was sad because I thought all of my firsts were behind me.
Boy, I could not have been more wrong.
I have since changed careers, a couple of times. Bought a new house. Had a second child. Kept the husband though.
And I went back to that dream I had. The one I was afraid of following. In case it didn’t end up quite like I planned.
I became an author. I published my first book. (See, I did have some firsts left). Then I published my second, my third, and now my fourth.
Some of it is exactly like I imagined. The thrill of seeing my name on a book cover. Spelled right and everything. Getting notes from readers and reviews telling me how much someone enjoyed my books. Attending a party put on by my publisher. Having drinks at a hotel bar with Nora Roberts. Okay, so Nora just walked by while I was at the bar, but still… Nora Roberts.
Some things are not at all like I expected. I didn’t hit the New York Times Bestseller list—yet. But I have been among the Amazon Bestsellers in Sports Genre Fiction along with authors like Stephen King and John Grisham. I even have screenshots to prove it. I’m not rich enough to donate a literacy center to the new Boys and Girls Club that they are building in my community. But I was able to donate all four of my books to the silent auction.
And I haven’t had people look down upon me for writing Romance. For the most part I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much support I’ve received from friends, acquaintances, and strangers. I even spoke at the local Rotary Club, and was met with genuine interest and curiosity.
I’ve been especially pleased in hearing from friends who bought the first book to support me as a friend, but bought the rest of the series because they genuinely enjoyed reading them.
Now, as I work on the next books, often listening to The Eagles while I write, I hope to “Take It To The Limit.”
For Rachel Parker, covering the San Francisco Goliaths is the perfect opportunity to launch her career as a serious reporter. But she didn’t bargain on Bryce Baxter, the team’s star shortstop, tempting her more non-professional aspirations. After tearing up the base paths with him, she finds herself with a little problem, and Bryce might be the only man who can save the game.
Bryce Baxter should be living the dream. His team just won the World Series and he just signed the multi-year contract of his career. But his field of dreams has been overtaken by a fiery redheaded reporter, who’s bearing a news flash that will change both of their lives forever…
Bryce Baxter sat alone in the San Francisco Goliaths’ clubhouse. He didn’t want to go home and watch the replays of tonight’s game. There was enough of that going on in his head. He’d blown the game. How many times had he made that play since he first picked up a baseball at the age of five? A thousand? Ten thousand? Probably more. Not tonight. Tonight it was as if he’d forgotten everything he knew about the game. What should have been an easy double play ended up being the game-winning run.
The loss put his team even farther behind in their division going into the second month of the season and had reporters questioning the Goliaths’ chances of repeating a World Series run. Some were even questioning the team’s decision to re-sign Baxter to the big contract extension. The biggest one he’d ever inked. So naturally, he was having his worst start to the season ever. He couldn’t hit. Couldn’t draw a walk to save his life. And when he struck out, he did it in spectacular fashion.
Last November he’d been king of the world. San Francisco’s biggest hero since Willie Mays. As World Series MVP, he’d been awarded a brand new Corvette. His face had been on the cover of magazines. He’d made the talk show rounds. Met the President. Women had lined up outside his door. And he’d had his choice of endorsement deals, including a line of men’s hair care products. Now, if his game didn’t improve, his agent would be lucky to get him a spot peddling adult diapers.
Reluctantly, he headed toward the parking lot.
“Hey, Bryce, you got a minute?” He recognized the voice of the woman standing beside his car. A month ago, he would have been happy to see her. Professionally, personally, a little bit of both. But not now.
“Look, Rachel, I’m not giving any more interviews tonight.” He was so down, all he wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed. Alone.
“I’m not here for an interview.” She would have waited in the clubhouse if she were. He knew that. Rachel Parker was a professional, the in-game reporter for Bay Area Sports Network. “Can we go somewhere? Somewhere private?”
“I’m not giving that tonight either.” He waited for his body to protest, recalling the dozen or so encounters with the sexy journalist. She’d been hot. Real hot. Hot enough for him to forget his rule of one and done. They’d been hooking up off the record since before spring training of last season.
“Look, I really do need to talk to you.” She seemed a little nervous, not her usual confident, perky, and always upbeat self who was part bubbly cheerleader, part hard-hitting reporter. She was still hot. But instead of smoking, she was…smoldering. His body stirred. Enough for him to think that maybe spending the next several hours in bed might not be such a bad idea.
But it probably wasn’t a good idea either.
The last time they’d hooked up had been intense. Almost too intense. Too real. But maybe he’d just been riding the high of signing his ridiculous contract. Or maybe he’d felt the pressure of the deal and had transferred it to his personal life. Something he could control.
“You know, I think maybe we should take a step back.” He raked a hand through his hair, still damp from his long shower after the game. “I’m not good for anyone right now.”
Rachel gave him a weird look, almost as if her eyes slipped out of focus. Her face drained of color. She turned and stumbled toward his car, bracing herself against the front fender. Then she threw up on the hood of his Corvette.
“Are you okay?” He took a step toward her.
“No, I’m not okay.” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I’m pregnant.”