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Victoria Hudson just wants to play ball. Will her father’s political aspirations interfere?
And what’s going on with the hot catcher?
Victoria Hudson is a seventeen-year-old with a passion for baseball. When her grandmother buys a new house in the city, Vic discovers a way to play the game for the first time since getting kicked out of little league. She just has to move in with her hippie grandmother and make sure her father, a U.S. Senator and prospective Presidential candidate, doesn’t find out what she’s up to over the summer break.
After proving her abilities on the field, she catches the attention of Daniel Cho, the team’s catcher. Everything seems to be falling apart, and yet falling into place. Vic settles into a life she’s always wanted, that of a normal teenage girl. But Victoria Hudson is anything but normal. Once the press learns that the potential First Daughter is crossing the gender line to play baseball, Vic is thrust back into the spotlight and making headlines. The life she tries so hard to get away from simply won’t leave her alone.
Coach gave me the signal to swing away before I stepped into the batter’s box. Their reliever looked more like a linebacker for a professional football team than a high schooler. He also had a massive unibrow, which was very distracting. I’d seen pictures of prettier Neanderthals. That should’ve been my first clue. The first pitch whizzed over my ear as I dropped to the ground. I jumped back up as fast as I went down. The guys in the dugout shouted that it was intentional. Coach stepped out of the dugout, but I shook him off. This battle was between me and Brutus. If he hit me, I’d get first. If he didn’t hit me, I’d get on base somehow. Keep your head in the game. Don’t let him win. He threw three outside, all of which I fouled off. Then he came back inside again. I moved, but not fast enough. The ball smashed into my ribcage. I crumbled like a paper doll. As I sucked in my breath, bursts of pain splintered through my upper back. “You’re outta here,” the ump shouted. Good. He deserves it. He hit me on purpose. An anvil ground into my back. God this hurts. I got to my feet with pure determination and found Brutus backing toward his dugout. He smiled and blew me a kiss. You’re not beating me, dickhead. Any pain I felt disappeared. Not even my father blows kisses at me. Adrenaline cleared my mind and I ran at him, knocking his bulk into the fence. He really was pure muscle. I bounced off, landing on my ass, reminding me of the huge bruise that was forming on my back.“You stupid bitch,” Brutus yelled as his hand cut into the metal fencing. I scrambled to my feet again, filled with the rage bulls must have in Barcelona. Brutus was my red scarf. Before I got my balance, Daniel and Coach grabbed my arms to drag me away. I didn’t get a chance to throw a punch or a slap. I tried to kick him, but Coach yanked me back hard. Daniel, however, ran at Brutus. I grabbed his arm before he got by me. If I couldn’t beat on the jackass, I wasn’t about to let Daniel take a swing. “Come on, Ali. Onto the bench,” Coach said. He pushed me toward the dugout. “He hit me. I get first.” “Yeah, if you were still in the game. You got booted, kid. Now pop a squat.” I fell to the bench and watched Shane take my spot on the bag. I’d never been kicked out of any game before. Never. I almost did the most girl-like thing there is. I wanted to cry. How could I get kicked out? It didn’t help that my back began to throb with its own heartbeat. The game ended without any more drama. We won. They lost. I stayed on the bench, licking my wounds when Coach Strauss raised his voice during a conference at the plate. “It ain’t against the rules, Chuck,” Coach Strauss bellowed. Their coach equaled ours in yell capacity. “Damn it, Bernie. She attacked John –” “After he beaned her. He threw at her head, for cryin’ out loud.” “Guys, calm down,” the ump intervened. “I had a look at the rules before the game. There isn’t anything that says she can’t play.” “Then she needs to be suspended for attacking John –” “As soon as John gets the boot for throwin’ at her head then hittin’ her in the back.” “Stop it. Both of you.” The ump yanked on his thick silver hair. No wonder he was balding. “Here’s what I’m going to do. Both get one game suspension and both teams get a warning. It happens again and they’re both gone. Got it?” The coaches grunted and walked back to their dugouts. I kept my head down, waiting for the barrage of expletives only a Marine would know. When Coach Strauss didn’t say anything, I couldn’t stop my own mouth from running. “I’m sorry.” I sucked up the embarrassment. “It was stupid. But I was just trying to protect myself. He thinks he can throw at me and I’ll quit. That’s not going to happen. I mean, I’m not some wussy little girl that’s afraid of a stupid baseball.” “Just shut up, Hudson. The little bastard had it coming. Girl or not, he didn’t need to throw at you.” He sat by me on the bench. The weathered wood groaned under his size. “Kid, you did good. I’m impressed. You hit well, played well. Don’t let that idiot get under your skin. Besides, we play ‘em again.” “I … um … I …” I sighed. “Thanks, Coach.” He nodded and stood to collect the rest of his bats, dismissing me. Daniel leaned against my car as I made my way through the parking lot. “Hey, how’s your back?” he asked when I got close enough to hear him. I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone might overhear me. “It hurts like hell.” “Don’t doubt it.” He grinned. “You mind giving me a lift? Ollie brought me, but he took off right after the game.” “Yeah, no prob.” I unlocked the doors with the remote. “Get in.” He rattled off the directions, half of which I forgot almost as soon as they left his mouth. “Thanks for the ride,” he said after I passed the first turn. I shrugged and regretted it. The pain snaked up my back and into my head. Before Daniel could comment, my cell rang with the distinctive song, which made me grimace even more. Theo.“Isn’t it like two in the morning or something?” I asked instead of bothering with a hello. “Something like that. Paris never sleeps,” Theo slurred. “I take it you’re having fun.” I wondered how much he’d been drinking. Theo’s not much on alcohol or drugs, but he’s been known to have a beer or a joint on rare occasions. Not since we started dating though. “Absolutely.” He laughed then added, “Andy got toasted last night. I had to fish her out of a fountain.” Andy? “Turn left here,” Daniel said as we approached the light. “Who’s that?” Theo asked, sounding less drunk than he had a minute ago. “Daniel. He’s on the team.” When Theo didn’t respond, I added, “I’m giving him a ride home.” “A ride, huh?” There was no mistaking the annoyed tone in Theo’s voice. “Well, I better get going. I’ll call you later.” He hung up before I could say another word. What did I do now? “Boyfriend?” Daniel asked, interrupting my thoughts. “Yeah.” I slowed at the stop sign and faced Daniel. “He’s in Paris. Senior class trip.” Daniel snorted. “Nice class trip.” He glanced out the window then back at me. “Why didn’t you go?” I rolled my eyes and pulled through the intersection. “I wanted to play ball.”