The One for Me
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Devney Maxwell has been my best friend since we were six years old, but she has no idea I’m in love with her.
Even when I’m on the road playing professional baseball, she’s my home—the only one I’ve ever known. But when I return to Sugarloaf to care for the family farm, I discover she’s trying to talk herself into a life with the wrong man … and I become desperate.
It only takes a single, perfect kiss to change everything.
I have six months to get it right with Devney—to convince her to leave this town and turn that kiss into forever.
I aim to do just that as I spend my days coaching her nephew’s baseball team, fixing up the farm, and loving her with all I have. Finally, it seems like our relationship is secure and we’ll find a way to make it work.
Then tragedy strikes ... changing her life forever. She’s needed here more than ever, but as for me—there’s no way I can stay.
I know she’s the one for me, but I might have to let her go ...
Release date: August 18, 2020
Publisher: BAAE Inc.
Print pages: 402
Reader says this book is...: emotionally riveting (1) happily ever after (1) heart touching (1) heartwarming (1) realistic characters (1) strong chemistry (1) swoon-worthy (1) terrific writing (1) unputdownable (1) year's top 10 (1)
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The One for Me
“I am so done!” Devney gives a small little giggle before covering her mouth.
We’ve spent the last four hours in her barn, laughing, drinking, talking about life . . . I had forgotten just how much I love being with her.
“One more drink,” I urge.
“No. I have to meet Oliver tomorrow.”
I roll my eyes. I don’t know what the hell she sees in him. He’s the complete opposite of the kind of guy she needs. Devney is strong and defiant, and yet, she has many weaknesses she doesn’t let people see. Like how she wants to make everyone around her happy, even at the cost of her own wants. He doesn’t see that or know her heart. Oliver is just . . . nice.
That’s the best I can come up with.
She doesn’t need nice. She needs someone to rival her and bring out her spark and fire. A long time ago, it raged inside her. I hadn’t thought there would be a chance it would be extinguished, but then, about nine years ago, it went out.
I don’t know why or what happened, but she changed.
No one stays the same, I know this. Hell, I’m not even close to the same man I was before the night of the accident that changed my life, but Devney doesn’t have some dark secret. She tells me everything, and I withhold that one story.
Oliver, though, he doesn’t know her secrets.
“How is our perfectly nice friend Oliver?” I ask. I’m just on the fringe of being drunk enough not to care that I’m being a dick.
Usually, I mask it. The feelings that simmer are able to stay down, but tonight, I just don’t care.
“He’s going to propose.”
My eyes lift, and I find myself staring into her coffee-colored irises, hating the words that came from the lips I’ve dreamed of kissing.
She can’t marry him.
Not when . . . not when the lies we’ve been telling each other for all this time are between us.
I have to stop this. “Dev—”
“It’s good, though. He’s . . . he’s really good to me, Sean. Oliver will take care of me, be here, and he won’t push me. You should be happy and not looking at me like that.”
She tucks a lock of brunette hair behind her ear and shrugs. “Like I just kicked you in the face. You know, you looked like this the day that Debbie Sue tried to kiss you.”
“Well, Debbie Sue also kissed two of my brothers.”
“She was on a mission to be struck by the Arrowood brothers.”
We both laugh. “Yeah, she was.”
Devney shifts, leaning her head on the back of the couch and angling her body toward me. “It’s not any different than the girls you hook up with now. What do they call them? Homeplate Hussies?”
I roll my eyes. “You have no idea what I look for.”
“Right. Ohhh”—Devney lifts her head with a smile—“that’s right, they call them Bat Rats! Or maybe Cleat Callers?” She taps her chin. “Strikeout Sluts? Homerun Hoes?”
“Cleat chasers.” I give her one of the many names they have for the girls who want to fuck a ballplayer.
“Not nearly as much fun as mine. And what do you mean I have no idea what you look for?”
She has no clue that I am not the guy who is out there, trying to rack up my batting average with women who aren’t . . . well, her.
Devney is the girl I keep searching for, even though she’s right in front of me.
My brothers give me shit, and they’re right, but we can never be. Not because of the promises I’ve made to stay single and never marry. It’s that I can never marry Devney. She wouldn’t be able to handle the fact that I’d never be here. I travel too much, train too much, work harder because, if I don’t . . . I will get cut.
The only dream I’ve ever had was to play ball. I dealt with the abuse of my father, the pain of losing my mother, and the constant worry for my brothers because I always had baseball.
I couldn’t give it up. Not for anyone.
And Devney would need me to. She can’t love half in, half out, which is exactly what my life is. I’m married to the game, and she would be my mistress.
“Nothing, ignore that,” I say and then grab my beer. I can’t go down this road with her. I’ve had enough wrecks in my life and this friendship is worth taking a different road.
“No, I want to know.”
“I don’t think you do.”
She pokes my chest. “Yes, tell me.”
My lips part and the words stall. If I release them, there is no taking it back.
I take her glass, fill it again, and hand it back to her. “Just drink more and we can go back to making fun of my brothers or we can talk about why you’re still living in Sugarloaf when you had dreams to leave.”
That usually takes care of it.
What bound us was the want for more. Devney was going to be an architect, and I used to rarely find her without a pencil and sketchbook as she doodled buildings, houses, and any other kind of structure.
Then, when she came back from college, that all stopped.
“Sean,” she whines, “I am so drunk already. Oliver hates when I drink because I get too unpredictable. He likes that I always behave, that I’m always proper, and he never has to worry about me.”
I laugh. “Then Oliver doesn’t know you.”
“Oliver knows who I am now.”
“Well, it’s a good thing that I know who you are in your soul.”
We both raise our glasses, clink them, and then drink.
“I’m so going to regret this in the morning,” Devney complains as her head falls back.
Not as much as I will.
“Well, tell me about Oliver and his proposal plans.” I bring the conversation back to where I want it.
Her eyes lock on mine, and she shrugs. “I don’t know what to say other than he mentioned that it was time that we move things along. He loves me, and he’s good for me. He’s that steady kind of guy, you know?”
“Sounds like the makings of the perfect marriage.”
“Don’t even. I don’t judge your relationships—well, not that you have any.”
I smirk. “Damn right.”
Devney rolls her eyes and sighs. “Don’t play that crap with me, Sean Arrowood. I know you better. You want the wife and kids. You always have. The issue that you have is that you’re stupid.”
She nods. “Yup. S-T-U-P-I-D. And dumb.”
“They mean the same thing.”
“It required the extra punctuation at the end.”
God, I love the side of her that is smart-mouthed, fearless, and relaxed. She’s only this way with me. Or at least, that’s what I’d like to think.
The last ten years have been hard on our friendship. We both went off to college, I had baseball and she was studying. We’d see each other on breaks, but after the accident that changed the trajectory of my life, I stayed in Maine, and we rarely saw each other.
However, when I had a series in New York, Devney came. If I was in Philly, she would find a way to meet me, and I flew her down to Tampa a few times.
Now, though, I’ll be around her so much more, and I know these feelings aren’t going to go away, they’ll get stronger.
Yeah, I guess I really am stupid.
“Well, I may be stupid, but at least I’m not settling.”
She sits up, slapping her hand on the couch cushion. “Settling?”
“Yeah. You may love Oliver, but he doesn’t make you crazy.”
Devney shifts back. “You’re making me crazy right now.”
I shrug. “You love me.”
“It helps that you’re hot.” Devney quickly covers her hand over her mouth. “I did not mean it like that.”
I grin and lean toward her. “You think I’m hot?”
“I think you’re mediocre. God knows your harem of . . . whatever you call them . . . think you are.”
For so long I’ve fought against telling her anything about how I feel. How those women are faceless and mean nothing to me. It’s always her. Always a brunette who I seek out, hoping to find just a piece of something like her that I can cling to, but I never say it.
Then I wonder, maybe this is the perfect time. Oliver is going to propose. Oliver will marry her, and I won’t have a goddamn thing to say about it because I will have never told her.
Plus, she’s drunk.
Maybe she won’t remember it.
“Maybe so, but I’m not asking them. Plus, all the girls I’m attracted to look like you.”
Devney laughs while shaking her head. “Well, it has to be tough kissing your best friend, right?”
And in that moment, I know what I’m going to do. It doesn’t matter that it’s stupid or wrong. I no longer care about her boyfriend or how this moment will undoubtedly change everything between us because she will marry him when he asks. Devney won’t falter. She’ll cling to the safe, and I am not that, but I love her.
I lean closer and her eyes study my movement. With a trembling hand, I cup her face and brush my thumb against her soft skin. Everything freezes around us as I feel the warmth emanating from her. Our breaths mingle as the distance closes. “I don’t know, but I’d like to see if it’s tough to kiss you.”
I wait, giving her one last chance to push me away, but instead, her tongue moves against her pink lips, which is all the invitation I need.
I lean in, my lips touch hers, and I know my life hasn’t just changed, it’s been completely upended.
“Are you okay?” Oliver asks as I push the food around on my plate.
I’m not fine. In fact, I’m a mess. It’s been four days of avoiding his calls. Four days of replaying that kiss over and over again in my mind. There’s no making sense of it.
Sean Arrowood kissed me. He kissed me, and I liked it. A lot.
“You seem a bit out of it.”
I plaster a smile on my face and shove all my confusion aside. It’s our monthly date night, and I should be happy. Oliver came to the office with flowers and a smile so warm it could have melted ice. He’s safe and good for me. I know this, and yet . . . I feel horrible.
He deserves to know.
“Oliver,” I say carefully. “I . . .” I kissed Sean. “I . . . I’m not sure what to say.” I kissed Sean, and I’m a horrible person.
“Just talk to me, Dev. There’s nothing you can’t tell me.”
I put the fork down and release a few heavy breaths. I already live with secrets, and they fester, eating away a bit of my soul each day. I can’t handle living with another one. While he may think there’s nothing we can’t discuss, there are some things that no one wants to hear.
Still, I won’t do this to him. I won’t agree to something more when everything is a lie.
I made a mistake.
I screwed up, and I have to own it.
“The other night, when I was with Sean.” I take a long pause, hating that I’m going to hurt him. He doesn’t deserve it, but more than anything, he deserves the truth. “We were drinking a lot.”
Oliver smiles and shakes his head. “If I remember correctly, you paid for it the next day.”
I’ve been paying for it since it happened.
“Yes, but there’s more . . .” God, I want to throw up. “We were really drunk. Both of us were, well, we should’ve stopped drinking much earlier. I need to tell you this because I love you. I do. I love you, and I love what we have.”
“Devney, did you . . . did you sleep together?”
I jerk back, eyes wide with shock. Why the hell did he make a leap like that so fast? “No,” I say quickly. “No, we didn’t. But we . . . well, we kissed.”
Oliver sits back, adjusting the napkin on his lap. “I see. Not like you normally do with hello or goodbye?”
I shake my head. “No.”
He swallows and then takes a drink of wine. “I’m not surprised.”
Well, I am. “Why do you say that?”
“Did anything else happen?” he asks with a shake of his head. “I’m assuming you’re telling me because there’s more.”
“No, I swear. It was stupid, and I haven’t talked to him since then, but I wanted to tell you. I’m so sorry. I love you. I hate that I hurt you and destroyed what we have. I wish I could go back and stop it. I’m so so sorry, Oliver.”
Oliver, the sweetest man in the world, who has never once questioned or pushed me to do something I didn’t want to, the guy who put me back together when I was falling apart and no one else knew, is going to hate me. And the sad part is, he has every right to.
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