The next batter was a young kid who couldn’t have been more than eighteen. She wore thick-rimmed glasses and squeaked at every pitch. She also swung at every ball that came her way and several that didn’t.
What she didn’t do was connect with a single one. Probably because she kept her eyes closed, which meant that her glasses weren’t doing jack shit for her.
Finn tried not to care. It was just a softball game, and a bad one at that, but come on. He looked over at Coach Jake and pointed to their batter. “Mind if I . . .?”
Jake gestured for him to go ahead, his expression saying good luck.
“Kid,” Finn called out.
The kid turned to face him.
“Finn,” Pru said warningly but he didn’t care. He didn’t know how she’d gotten Jake to “go dark” but Finn hadn’t made any such promise.
“What’s your name?” Finn asked.
“Kasey,” the girl said. “I work in accounts receivable.”
“You know how to hit, Kasey?”
“Yeah.” She paused. “No.”
Shit. “Okay, it’s easy,” Finn said. “You just keep your eyes open, you got me?”
She bobbed her head.
“Make contact with the ball, Kasey. That’s all you gotta do.”
Kasey nodded again but failed to swing at the next pitch. She turned to nervously eye Finn.
“That’s okay,” Finn told her. “That was a sucky pitch, you didn’t want a piece of that one anyway. The next one’s yours.” And he hoped that was true.
Pru watched Kasey swing at the next ball and connect.
Finn launched himself off the bench. “Yes!” he yelled, pumping his fist. “That’s it, baby, that’s it!”
He’d started off not wanting to be here, resenting the game, and yet now he was one hundred percent in it. Even, Pru suspected, having fun. Watching him gave her a whole bunch of feels, not the least of which was happy. She was really doing it, giving him something back.
After Kasey hit the ball, she dropped the bat like it was a hot potato and whipped around to flash a grin Finn’s way, executing some sort of very white girl boogie while she was at it. “I did it! Did you see? I hit the ball!”
“Yeah, you did. Now run, Kasey!” Finn yelled, pointing to first base. “Run your little ass off!”
With a squeak, she turned and started running.
Finn laughed. He laughed and turned that laughing face Pru’s way and she nearly threw herself at him.
“Having fun?” she asked, unable to keep her smile to herself.
“You tell me. Prudence.”
She was going to have to kill Jake in his sleep.
He grinned at the look on her face and leaned in close so only she could hear him. “You owe me.”
“For neglecting to mention that you guys are The Bad News Bears.” He glanced at the field and leapt back to his feet, throwing himself at the half wall. “Go, Kasey, go! Go, go, go!”
Pru turned in surprise to see that the shortstop had missed the ball and Kasey was rounding second.
The ball was still bouncing in right field.
“Keep going!” Finn yelled, hands curved around his mouth. “Run!”
Kasey headed toward third.
Finn was nearly apoplectic and Pru couldn’t tear her eyes off him.
“That’s right!” he yelled. “You run, baby! You run like the wind!”
His joy was the best thing she’d seen all day.
Hell, all month.
Scratch that, he was the best thing she’d seen.
Unbelievably, Kasey made it all the way home and the crowd went wild. Okay, so just their team went wild. Everyone piled out of the dugout to jump on Kasey.
She jumped on Finn.
She didn’t mean to, certainly didn’t plan it, her body just simply took over. She turned to him to say something, she has no idea what, but instead she literally took a few running steps and . . .
Threw herself at him.
Luckily he had quick reflexes, and just as luckily he chose to catch her instead of not. He caught her with a surprised grunt, and laughing, hauled her up into his arms. He slid one hand to her butt to hold her in place, the other fisting her ponytail to tug her face up to his.
“Did you see that?” she yelled, losing her ability to self-regulate her voice with the excitement. “It was beautiful, yeah?”
He looked right into her eyes and smiled back. “Yeah. Beautiful.”
And then he kissed her, hard, hot, and quite thoroughly.