“Why the hell do I look like a half-naked lumberjack elf?” I snap the red suspenders against my bare chest and glance at the green velvet boy shorts. Red triangles, with actual gold jingle bells, trim the waistband. Fucking bells. But I don’t know which is worse—the redonkulous suspenders or the green felt elf shoes with pointed toes curling upwards, capped with more damn bells. I jingle like a powder-puff princess cat every time I move.
“You look … cute?” Jax, my soon-to-be-former-roommate says, suppressing a grin.
“Fuck you. Trade me costumes; I’ll be Mr. Fourth of July.”
He flanks my side, wearing red and white striped pants and a matching patriotic hat. He’s like a beefed-up Uncle Sam. Why couldn’t I have gotten that costume?
“No way, man. I’m not wearing that thing.”
Mr. April, better known as Zach, our ace closer, walks by carrying a large pastel Easter egg. My blood boils. Sure, his silky boy shorts have tiny bunnies draped everywhere, but he pulls it off. I check out the other teammates and conclude I’m the only creepy one. When I agreed to be Mr. December, I thought a Santa Claus hat with sexy underwear would be my costume. Not this hideous contraption.
“Why the hell are we even here?” I grumble.
“You know why. Just grin and bear it.” Jax’s gaze roams along my body, and his lips press tightly together. Despite his best efforts, his shoulders start to shake, and a huge grin slowly stretches across his face. He snorts as he turns to leave and slaps my butt, the jingling sound drawing out the overdue laugh.
Bastard. If Jax weren’t dating someone, I’d kick him in his nuts. His girlfriend may not like me much for that, though. Who I’d actually like to cock punch is Drake, our secondary catcher. Not only is the asshole vying for my spot on the team, but he’s the reason we’re here. His sister organized this fiasco disguised as a photoshoot.
I bite back a swear word. Yeah, the Ass Award goes to me for complaining. The calendar is for a good cause. I mean, it’s kind of hard to be upset when all proceeds go toward St. Clair, the Children’s Cancer Research Hospital.
Our center fielder walks by and snickers. Fuck! Charity or not, I look like a freakin’ creeper elf.
“This calendar better bring in tons of money,” I mumble beneath my breath.
“Oh, it will. Don’t worry.”
My back muscles tighten from the familiar voice. A voice I haven’t heard in over eight years.
“Cupcake.” Her nickname slides from my mouth in a mixture of surprise and intrigue.
I turn to face Mia Gunner. The sight of her hits me like a base runner colliding into me at home plate—sharp and painful, but somehow satisfying. Her eyebrows disappear beneath her blonde hair as if she expected me to not recognize her. How could I not? Of all the stupid things I’ve done—and believe me, there have been a lot—she’s one of my biggest regrets. But why is she here? Wait, Mia Gunner … Drake Gunner. She’s his sister? How did I not know that?
The use of my full name in her clipped tone cuts through me and stings like the heat from a fastball against my mitt. She’s never used my full name. Ever.
I met Mia at the gym my senior year of college. She was a freshman, all shy and quiet, and I was in the highlight of my college career having been drafted by the Phillies. From the initial hello, we hit it off right away. Well, until I fucked up.
Eight years have passed since the night I left her waiting for me at a restaurant. Eight years to apologize, and I never did. But honestly, I never knew how.
“Here’s the rest of your costume.”
She lifts her arms, and my gaze pulls from her beautiful face and travels down her lean body. The trip is short; at five foot two, she’s not stacked too high. But damn if she doesn’t still look good. An expensive camera dangles around her neck, jutting from those luscious tits that I swear are a cup-size fuller since the last time I saw her. The very ones I never got to taste.
Her tiny hands shove some red and green stretchy material further against my chest, and I don’t miss the disgusted growl passing through her lips. Perhaps I shouldn’t ogle her. She always was a good girl, unlike the wild women I take home.
“What’s this?” I ask, grabbing whatever the hell she’s trying to hand me.
“Yeah, it completes your outfit.”
I think she’s kidding, but the determination etched on her face speaks otherwise. Yeah, she still hates me.
“I’m not wearing that.” I shake my head and hand it back. Mia balls her hands into fists and places them on the side of her hip.
“I think you know why.” My eyes stray to the other guys in the room. Drake, who shouldn’t be included in this shoot, is wearing black boxer briefs with a pilgrim hat. Fairly reasonable. So why the fuck am I the only one having to wear tights? Then it dawns on me. Humiliating me is her wicked attempt at revenge. “You’re getting back at me, aren’t you?”
“Egotistical much?” Those electric blue eyes peer into mine, holding a challenge. That shy little good-girl I met in college seems to have grown into a feisty woman. Interesting. When I don’t respond, she drops her arms and turns on her heels. “I expect you in full uniform by the time you’re scheduled to shoot.”
“Sure thing, cupcake.”
She bristles and, with a slight shake of her head, presses forward. I clutch the tights in my hands with renewed determination. If she wants to make a fool of me, so be it. I’ll rock the shit out of this outfit. Just wait.