No Time to Explain by Kate Angell
No Time to Explain
by Kate Angell
Who says romance has gone to the dogs?
Richmond Rogues’ left-fielder Joe “Zoo” Zooker has his own ritual for the start of spring training—a weekend of pure pleasure, including as many pretty faces and curvaceous bodies as he can charm into his bed. After that, he’s all about baseball, especially with hungry minor leaguers eager for their own shot at the majors, just waiting for him to strike out. But when a beautiful woman with a smart mouth brushes off his flirting, he’s determined to go to bat as often as it takes to win a smile aimed only at him.
Stevie may be new to the beach town of Barefoot William, but she’s seen plenty of charmers like hot and hunky Zoo before. Managing her aunt’s doggie daycare business, she’s up to her ears in rowdy puppies—and she doesn’t need a lifelong hound like Zoo breaking her heart. Still, there’s no denying the attraction between them, and as spring training heats up, lust suddenly begins to look a lot like love
No Time to Explain
Excerpt from Chapter One
‘Here comes the bride’.
The wedding march echoed down the Barefoot William Boardwalk. The annual Southwest Florida bridal event brought engaged and expectant
women to the beach. It was a sea of sexy. Joe ‘Zoo’ Zooker took it all in. The idea of marriage made him sweat. It triggered his gag reflex. He could, however, admire the ladies planning their weddings, as long as they didn’t involve him. He was a confirmed bachelor. For life.
“Does Crabby Abby’s General Store sell condoms?” asked his Richmond Rogue teammate Jake Packer. Better known as Pax.
He and Pax presently leaned against the blue metallic railing that separated the boardwalk from the beach. Joe knew where the condoms were shelved. He’d stocked up earlier in the week. “They’re back by the pharmacy, bottom shelf, next to douches and K-Y lubes.”
“You need anything, bro?”
Joe shook his head. He had six Magnum XLs in his wallet, to get him through the night.
“Be right back then.” Pax pushed off the railing. He walked the short distance to purchase his protection. He planned to get lucky. So did Joe.
The team was in town for spring training, with a weekend to kill. Booze, babes, and sex would definitely come into play. Monday, and they’d turn serious. They’d live and breathe baseball. The entire team would assemble for workouts and scrimmages. Nine Roanoke Rebels would also hit the field. Affiliate Triple-A players, participating in preseason practices and an exhibition game. Showcasing their talent and hoping for the call to suit up in the majors.
Joe hated squad competition. Dean Jensen in particular got to him.
The minor leaguer played left field. Joe’s position. Joe had refused him, four years running. Rule 5 draft, Dean had one final year to either make the club’s expanded forty-man roster or be passed over. The guy kept coming after Joe, harder and faster each season. He wouldn’t let up. But then neither would have Joe, if the situation was reversed.
He rolled his shoulders now. Cracked his knuckles. It was too nice a day to dwell on the asshat. He turned, and stared out over the Gulf. Clear skies. Turquoise water. White sugar sand. Sunbathers. Sand castles. Carnival rides, amusement arcade, and a long fishing pier stretched south. Paradise. He would retire here. Years from now. Following his last bat.
Joe waited patiently on Pax, for all of five minutes, before restlessness claimed him. He wasn’t good at standing still. He was continuous motion. A few brave men mixed with the wedding-minded ladies. He tugged down the bill on his black baseball cap. His mirrored Maui Jim aviators allowed him to stare, and not be caught doing so. He stepped into the crowd. Pax would find him. Unless he found a hot babe first.
So many women. Blondes, brunettes, redheads. A chic with purple hair. Horney walked with him along the boardwalk. The multicolored storefronts on the beachside shops were all open, welcoming the stirring breeze and aroma of salt air. The scent of freshly popped popcorn wafted, along with the aroma of chocolate fudge, cheesy nachos, cotton candy, and women’s perfume.
Ladies came onto him. He was recognized by many. Flirted with by most. Inviting glances and promising smiles. His navy T-shirt scripted with I’ve Broken All the Rules Today. So You’ll Have to Make New Ones drew whispered suggestions. Half-naked appealed. Kink tempted. He liked the attention. A lot.
Space was tight. Whether intentional or by accident, female bodies pressed him. Some snugged as close as skin. He didn’t mind the touching. Although a few hands got downright personal. Arousal heightened his senses. He was looking for a weekend lover. But no one fully caught his eye. So he kept walking. Sex foremost on his mind.
Long decorated tables lined both sides of the boardwalk. Signs were visible. Bridal banners arced overhead. Women clustered, checking out the area’s best photographers, florists, engraved invitations, caterers, bakers, wedding and reception venues, entertainment, hair stylists, makeup artists, prenuptial consultants, and other important services. Mannequins exhibited wedding gowns. Assorted accessories, from veils, crystal tiaras, rhinestone headbands, sashes, to jewelry came next. Along with the garters.
Garters. Worn on a bride’s thigh. A total turn on. He scanned the ruffled, pearled, lacy, feathered, monogramed, broached, and rhinestone collections. Foreplay. He might buy one, for the pure pleasure of slipping it up his lady’s leg, then slowly sliding it down. Sexy.
“Something blue,” he heard a woman say, soft and wistful.
He glanced toward her voice. Stopped, and got an eyeful. A slender blonde stood in profile, alone at the end of the table, toying with a pale blue satin garter with a silver heart charm. He was a sucker for long hair. The sun had run its fingers through the strands, streaked and shiny. The ends tipped her waist. He openly stared as she bent, her shoulders curving, her ass jutting out. Sweet cheeks outlined beneath her short skirt. Gently stretching the elastic, she worked the garter over a sandaled foot--her toenails painted silver--then up her calf, and onto her thigh. She had nice legs. Freckled knees. She straightened, admired the garter. She had yet to notice him. He appreciated her further.
Her smile came slowly, on a sigh. “Perfect, don’t you think, Lori?”
He shifted his stance. Cast her in his shadow. Then removed his aviators for a better look. Twirled them by an arm. He wasn’t Lori, but that didn’t stop him from saying, “Hot, sweetheart.”
She jerked up, and he chanced checking her out. Wide eyes, deep and dark as midnight. A sharp contrast to her fairness. Tip-tilted nose. Full
glossed lips, slightly parted. She wore a navy tank top; her denim skirt had a gold side zipper. Zippers were a quick strip. Diamond studs sparkled at her ears. A collection of thin gold bracelets at her wrist. A pearl ring on her forefinger. She was pretty, he mused, but not nearly as attractive as the babes in his nightly party posse. Those he chose for getting it on. Still he gave her five minutes.
She didn’t ignore him, but neither did she invite conversation. He initiated, “Nice assortment of garters.”
“See one you like? Try it on.”
Was she serious or playing him? “None in my size.”
She had him there.
“The pink garter with the red hearts and white feathers looks like you.”
Looks like him? Is that how she saw him? Hearts and feathers. Her polite expression gave nothing away. He crossed his arms over his chest, hooked his thumbs in his armpits. Widened his stance. Questioned, “Having a good time?”
“Not as good as you.” Dry toned.
“I don’t follow.”
“This is a female event.”
Predominately female, but open to the public. He’d noted five guys on the boardwalk. Seven counting him and Pax. “Your point?” he asked.
She told him. “Men don’t always attend bridal affairs for the right reasons. You shouldn’t be here unless you’re hearing wedding bells.”
No ringing. Whatsoever.
“There are hundreds of hopeful ladies on the boardwalk,” she added. “Vulnerable, emotional, and seeking their ever-after, while men are opportunists.” Pause. “You’re not here to score are you?” innocently inquired.
He wasn’t taking advantage of anyone. He set her straight. “I’m not hitting on you, hon.”
“Talk to me, not to my garter.”
Busted. She was onto him, and caught him eyeing her legs. He liked her thigh-gap. “I’ve integrity.” On a good day.
She glanced toward the beach. “There’s an amateur volleyball tournament near the lifeguard station. A Frisbee contest by the ice cream stand. Kite flying on the pier. Sandcastle sculpturing by the shore. Yet you’ve chosen the bridal event.”
“I’m tapping into my feminine side.”
Her gaze returned to him. “There’s nothing feminine about you.”
He had a hard face, or so he’d been told. Dangerous. Intimidating. He played his features to his advantage. Several scars. A twice-broken nose. A death stare. “I like to browse.” Not necessarily through the bridal items, but cruising women gave him pleasure.
“Browsing often leads to buying.” She tilted her head, thoughtful. Observed, “You’d need to shave before trying on bridal veils, otherwise your whiskers will catch on the delicate lace. You’d have to tie back your hair for both the Swarovski two-tiered circlet and vintage chandelier birdcage.”
Birdcage? That blew his mind.
A few more thoughts, “Wedding gowns, big men should stay away from ruffles and layers. I can picture you in plain silk. Ivory, maybe. Or blush. Go full length, to cover the roll at your waist. Flabby thighs. Complimentary low heels. You’re plenty tall.”
Lastly, “You might consider a manicure. Your nails look rough. Manscaping would clean you up.”
Shave his chest and pubic hair? Not happening. Lady was a fusion of sarcasm and sweet smiles. He didn’t know how to take her. Her suggestions sucked. Along with her attitude. She confused the hell out of him.
No female had ever imagined him in a dress before. He had no words. She saw him as fat, when he was fit. He’d nearly killed himself off-season with endurance and weight training. He had single digit body fat.
She rose on tip-toe, looked over his shoulder. “I need to locate my friend Lori.” She strained to look over the crowd. “I don’t see her.”
“It’s you, me, and the garters.”
She flat-footed. “Lori wouldn’t walk off and leave me.”
“You have a fear of being alone?” Rather disturbing.
“I prefer alone,” she informed him. “My car’s at the mechanics, in need of repairs. She’s my ride.”
Made sense. His day was open. He had free time. He foolishly found himself saying, “I could drive you.”
“Drive me where?”
“Wherever you need to go.”
“California.” Tested him.
Farther than anticipated. He wasn’t crossing state lines or changing time zones “Anywhere local?”
“I don’t get into cars with strangers.”
Stranger danger? Him? She had to be joking. He introduced himself, “I’m Joe.” His teammates and bar squad called him Zoo. “You?”
She scanned his T-shirt. “Not sure we need a name exchange. I play by the rules. You break them. I’d rather take a taxi.”
A cab over him? He had a classic Jaguar XKE convertible in the parking lot. Mint condition. A chic magnet. Leather seats that molded his body like a lover. A phallic long bonnet. Big engine. Top speed. Ground-hugging. Raring to go.
Somehow she’d failed to recognize him. That bothered him. A little. He was high-profile. Rogues’ fans filled the stadium during spring training. The players were a significant part of the community. Available for interviews, charitable appearances, and bachelor auctions. He couldn’t cross the street without someone requesting an autograph. Without a woman asking him out.
“Do you know who I am?” He needed his ego stroked.
“I don’t watch cartoons.” Smile or smirk, could go either way.