Third Strike's the Charm by Nicci Carrera

(about this author)

  • Super student Cara Cruz made it all the way through her prestigious MBA program only to choke on the last final. Ordered by her advisor to take the summer off and clear her head, she’s home in Lobster Cove for some fun before retaking the exam. If she fails a second time, she will lose her dream job offer in Chicago. Meanwhile her best friend happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s mom, which means close contact with the man who broke her heart. Twice. This time she’ll protect her heart no matter the cost.

    Ex-major-league baseball pitcher Jason Ward blew his money, his elbow, and his love life. Now at home taking care of his mom and working on a new life plan, he wants Cara back, but he already struck out, didn’t he? Maybe not, and now his mission is to win her back without telling her the truth about why he really came home.

    Winning at love will be the only play that counts.


    “Have some coffee with me.”

    “Uh…” He didn’t look hostile. He wouldn’t bring up the wedding, would he? She should leave, but the stomach flutter at the nearness of his powerful pitcher body, the tightness in her throat as though her lungs were trying to capture and hold his spicy male scent, made her want to stay. She nodded and returned to the living room while Jason went to the kitchen. Coffee aromas wafted into the sunny room. She was perched on the sofa when he arrived and handed her the warm cup. He sat in one of the chairs.

    “How’s your elbow?” She’d read that he couldn’t play any more, which made her sad. She’d wanted to call him, but they’d ended on such bad terms at the wedding, it didn’t seem like he’d welcome a phone call. At Christmas he’d avoided being alone with her, and she hesitated bringing it up in front of everyone. “Does it hurt?”

    “Nope. Can’t pitch a fast ball any more though. At least not fast enough.”

    “I’m so sorry, Jason.”

    “Thanks. That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about.”

    He wanted to discuss his career with her? Cara shifted to the edge of the sofa. “What’s going on?”

    He stared at the floor. “I found out I couldn’t go back to the majors the day of Maya’s wedding.”

    She remembered his anger, the way he stormed off, how hurt she’d been at the time. “Oh no! I’m so sorry.” That news made Maya’s wedding day one of the worst of his life. “I had no idea.”

    “I know. That’s why I wanted to tell you. I was in a really bad state of mind that day. I acted like such a jerk.”

    Her heart constricted. “The whole kiss thing was an accident, and I made it worse by not sorting it out right away. Now to find out you had that awful news hanging over your head makes me feel even worse.”

    He frowned. “I overreacted.”

    “Well, it’s understandable now.”

    He cleared his throat, meeting her gaze. “Now that we have that cleared up, are you seeing someone?”

    Did he want to try again? Her heart gave an inappropriate little bump. Remember your MBA, your new job. And remember how many times Jason disappointed you. “No. I’m not seeing anyone. I need to get my career settled before I think about anything like that.”

    He frowned, and then nodded.

    “So what have you been doing since you can’t go back to baseball?”

    “Ah, you know.” He leaned forward and picked up his coffee. His features closed down. Pure Jason retreat mode.

    “No.” She drew out the word. “I don’t know. Which is why I just asked you.”


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Third Strike's the Charm

Third Strike's the Charm


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