"Taylor Lockwood! Get your ass in here now!"
Taylor groaned and banged her head on her desk.
"What'd ya do now, Taylor," Josh Parker grinned.
She flashed him a menacing glare before retrieving a notepad and pencil and scurrying to the angry man's office. She pulled on the hem of her blouse before knocking on the glass. The man barked out a command for her to enter and she did, nervously.
"Sit," Luther Spencer ordered from behind his heaping desk. She dropped into a straight backed chair and waited for him to speak. He finished reading over the paper he'd been perusing and looked at her expectantly. "Well Taylor, I have a story for you."
She raised a brow. "Another garden party," she asked, unable to keep the sarcasm out of her voice.
He grunted. "I know you believe your talents are wasted and I have to agree. But Taylor, although you've worked for me since graduation, you're still very green and I can't just parlay my veterans to hand you a scoop!"
She sighed. He was right. She'd done just about everything for this newspaper from serving as receptionist to helping out with the presses. She got her hands dirty and never complained. Luther had been kind to give her a job when she needed it the most and she definitely couldn't throw it all in his face.
"Sorry, Luther. I just get frustrated some times."
He smiled sympathetically at her. "I know, dear. Don't think I don't want to give you better stories. Your writing is better than most of my veterans. It's just that, well, it's the seniority thing."
She reached across his desk to pat his hand. "I understand. So tell me, who's throwing a party this weekend?"
He laughed and leaned back in his chair. "Oh I think the Anderson's are throwing a little get together to celebrate their daughter's sixteenth birthday. But I didn't call you in here for that." He grinned knowingly at her.
She scooted to the edge of her seat. "What? You have something good for me, don't you?"
He nodded and folded his hands under his chin. "You graduated a year after Tia, correct?" She nodded, brows furrowed. "I thought so! Perfect!"
"Umm, Luther, get to the point?"
"I know you don't like sports…"
"I love sports! I just hate covering them," she interrupted.
He waved her away. "Whatever. Anyway, I have a sports story for you to do. A human interest sort of story." He held a hand up to stop her protest. "You won't be covering an event. I want you to interview an athlete."
Her stomach started to slowly drop. "I think I know where this is going," she muttered.
He cast her a questioning look. "You do?"
She nodded. The whole town of Somersville, Indiana had been rejoicing in the latest celebrity of one of their very own. Brady Nolan, former town hunk and baseball player extraordinaire had finally made his Major League debut over the weekend with the Indianapolis Racers. After their aging second baseman suffered a season ending broken leg, Brady was called up and dazzled everyone his first game going 3 for 4 at the plate and making a stellar play at second. He'd signed with the team in his second year of college and played in their farm system every summer and after three years, he finally made it.
She sighed. "You want me to interview that arrogant ass, Brady Nolan, don't you?"
He smirked at her. "I take it you're not a fan?"
She rolled her eyes. "Not really." She rested her elbows on his desk. "How come you didn't let me interview Sidney Harper when she played in Indy last year? She's from Somersville!"
"You didn't graduate with her, did you?"
"No," she muttered, leaning back in the chair to pout. "But I like her music."
He grunted. "You like the Racers, too. You and that niece of mine use my season tickets more than I do!" He watched her closely. "Do this one and I'll drive you myself to interview Sidney Harper next time she's in town."
"Fine, fine," she conceded. "When do I have to interview the idiot?"
He studied her thoroughly. "Is there a reason why you dislike him so?"
She hesitated. She could tell him everything and get out of the interview. But if she did, she'd lose the opportunity to write a brilliant story and earn a little respect from her fellow reporters. She'd only been reporting for six months and had never been given anything more challenging than garden parties and society events. This was what she'd been waiting for.
She shrugged. "Jocks irritate me. But don't worry; I'll handle it professionally and knock your socks off with my story!"
He nodded slowly. "Ok. The Racers will be back in town Thursday. That's their off day. I've arranged with Brady's agent for you to meet at the stadium. I'll have your pass and everything else you'll need before then."
She nodded and rose. She reached for the door knob and stopped. "Luther? Why me? Why not one of your veterans?"
He smiled. "Brady's agent said he didn't want to do any interviews right now so I had to think of an in. I remember Tia telling me that you went to high school with him so I used that. His agent called me back and said Brady agreed immediately when he found out I was sending you!"
Taylor bit her lip and nodded. She waved absently and headed back to her desk. Josh looked up at her expectedly. "Well?"
She plopped down in her chair and moaned. "Shoot me now!"
She rubbed her temple as she drove out of the small town and headed to Indianapolis. It was Tuesday and she had a date she couldn't reschedule. The wind whipped her hair through the open window and she cursed her ancient car's defunct air conditioning. One of these days she'd sit down and write a book, get it published, make the best seller's list and earn tons of money! Then she'd have a whole garage full of cars with working air conditioning.
She sighed as she pulled into the state run hospital and parked. She hurried across the hot pavement and through the sliding doors, thoroughly enjoying the cool air. She smiled and waved at the receptionist as she made her way down the hall. She entered a room quietly, noting the drawn blinds and the low volume on the TV. She smiled softly when her eyes fell on a man sitting up in a chair, eyes glued to the images flashing across the TV screen. She padded over to him and dropped a kiss on the top of his head.
"Hi, Daddy," she greeted cheerfully. "How's your day been?"
He blinked a couple times, not turning his head or otherwise acknowledging her presence. She sighed and sat at the foot of his bed so she could face him. A heavy set nurse with faded red hair entered the room carrying a covered tray. She smiled at Taylor and set the tray on the rolling table.
"How are you today, honey," she greeted Taylor, bending to hug her.
"Just fine, Karen, thanks."
Karen bustled about the room, sliding the table over and uncovering the dishes. "And how you doing, Evan," she asked, not expecting an answer. "We have corn, rice and baked chicken tonight, darling!"
Taylor hopped up and moved closer to her father. "I'll feed him tonight, Karen. Sometimes I think he realizes it's me."
Karen smiled sadly at her and handed over the fork in her right hand. "Of course, honey. If you need anything, give me a ring."
Taylor nodded as she cut up his chicken. She carefully spooned some rice in his mouth and watched as he automatically chewed. She wiped his chin with a napkin and talked softly to him.
"So, guess what, Daddy? I finally get to cover a big story! Of course I have to interview Brady Nolan. Do you remember him? He came to the house a few times back when I was in school."
She received no indication at all that he heard her, let alone understood, but she didn't let it deter her. "I'm sure he's still as cocky as he was in high school, but I think I can handle him. It'll be a challenge anyway!"
She spooned a couple corn niblets in his mouth and paused to watch his expression. It never changed, no matter what he ate or what was said to him. She resumed feeding him, talking softly the whole time. "I talked to Michael Sunday. He's doing well. He's taking a summer semester but he promised he'd get down here and spend some time with us this summer. He misses you."
She continued with her commentary until he'd eaten most of his dinner. When Karen returned an hour and a half later, she kissed her father good-bye and left.
The sun was setting as she made the short commute home. Try as she might, she couldn't push the memories of her senior year with Brady Nolan out of her head.
The end of January was nearing and boredom started to set in again. School had resumed a couple weeks earlier and the excitement of a new term faded rapidly. Taylor stood before her locker, exchanging books for her first hour class when she felt his presence behind her. She turned slowly to face him. As much as she despised the jock clique type, she had to admit he was beautiful to look at! His short dark hair always had that just got out of bed look which he pulled off perfectly. His green eyes were bright and full of intelligence. He had straight, blindingly white even teeth which showed prominently when he smiled. He stood at about an even six feet and had the signature athletic body, though he was a tad on the lean side. The only imperfection to be found was a tiny scar right above his left eyebrow.
"Hi, Taylor," he greeted, leaning against a neighboring locker.
"Hi," she mumbled, clutching her books to her chest.
"I was wondering if you'd be so kind as to help me study for this English test at lunch? I mean, if you're not doing anything."
She smiled at his unusual nervousness. She nodded and closed her locker. He flashed a brilliant smile at her as he walked next to her down the hall. "Great because I'm a little lost."
"I thought you usually did very well in that class," she asked, conscious of the stares she was receiving for merely walking down the hall with Brady.
He just shrugged and squeezed her shoulder lightly. "Hey thanks," he told her as the warning bell rang. "I'll see you at lunch."
And that's how it had started. She sat with him everyday that week at lunch. Friday, after their English class, he walked out of the classroom with her and pulled her into a huge bear hug. She had blushed profusely as he gushed about how he never would have done so well on the test had it not been for her. He shocked her even further when he asked her to have dinner with him that night. She reluctantly agreed.
Her nervousness that evening vanished quickly as she found him to be charming and quite amusing. They ate at a quiet pizza place and talked for two hours. She'd been surprised at how easy the conversation flowed between them. He told her about his parents and his brothers. She told him about her younger brother who wouldn't attend their school until the following year.
"Where did you live before you came here," he asked, studying her face in the low light.
"We lived up north, near South Bend." She grinned. "My brother and I both want to go to Notre Dame so I'm sure we'll go back someday."
"How did you end up here? In Somersville of all places!"
"My dad was transferred to his company's Indianapolis office. He didn't want to live in a big city so we found a house here. It's close enough to easily commute."
Brady took a big gulp of his soft drink. "It must've really sucked to move to a new town and a new school your right before senior year?"
She looked down and shrugged. "It wasn't easy."
He reached across the table and gently squeezed her hand. "Hey! People here actually like you! If only you'd talk more, you'd have more friends."
She looked up and smiled. "Are you talking about your group of friends?"
He leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. "Why not?"
She shook her head. "I don't fit in."
"You could if you tried."
"Maybe I don't want to try."
He smirked at her. "I like your attitude."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "It's not an attitude; it's a state of mind."
He threw his head back and laughed. She smiled cautiously. He got his laughter under control and looked at her. "So, if no one's asked you yet, would you like to go to the winter dance with me?"
She snapped back to the present as she parked in the driveway of the small duplex she rented. She let herself in and listened to her messages. She grinned at the exuberant message Tia left her. Apparently her uncle had informed her of Taylor's latest assignment. She wandered down the hall to the bathroom and started a bath. She poured a glass of wine and grabbed the novel she'd been reading and retired to the tub. She sighed dramatically. At least the day was finally over!
A/N: BACK AGAIN! Here's the new story and I'm not sure if I'm gonna like it or not. It's the first story that I'm not totally sure where it's gonna go so if I start to hate it, I'll pull it! Also, I can't think of a good name for it (I really suck at that). Got any suggestions?
Hope you liked the little reference to Sidney (from the Rookie series). I doubt she'll be in this story but who knows, it IS her hometown. Also, if you hadn't noticed, the baseball team is my wonderfully made up Indianapolis Racers (the town of Somersville is made up also in case you didn't know) and we all know who plays for them! Yeah, they'll probably be in this story a little bit, but they won't be the focus.