From Third to Home
Paperback: 240 pages
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
Book 3 in the Playing for First Series
by Chris Paynter
First baseman Amy Perry and her Cincinnati Reds teammates have one goal for the new season: win the World Series. Sportswriter and best friend, Lisa Collins, is there to cover the action from spring training through the hot days of summer.
But baseball isn’t the only thing on Amy’s mind. Her wife, Stacy McCrady, is trying to have a baby. The thought of becoming a mother pushes Amy to think this might be her last year—if the Reds were to win it all.
While covering the Reds, Lisa gets the surprise of a lifetime. Her father, whom she has never met, contacts Lisa. Can Lisa’s partner, Frankie Dunkin, help Lisa set aside more than thirty-five years of anger?
Kat Benson is the cocky second baseman for Amy’s former team, the Kansas City Bandits. The Bandits manager insists that Lisa and Amy attend a game to assess Kat’s potential for the minor leagues. Kat, however, struggles to focus on baseball while confronted with her family’s secrets.
From Third to Home continues Chris Paynter’s Playing for First baseball series. Join Amy, Lisa, Kat, and the women who love them for an exciting season full of ups and downs, hopes and dreams.
A scene from Spring Training, Arizona
Chapter 2 Excerpt
“Jesus, Sandy, you don’t have to rip my glove off this early in camp,” Amy shouted. She wasn’t exaggerating either. Her hand still stung from Nick’s throw.
“Buck up, Perry!”
Amy flipped her glove off and shook her hand out with her middle finger pointed toward Nick.
“Perry, quit goofing off!” Murphy yelled. He glared at her from where he stood with Lisa and the other reporters.
“Damn, Murph,” Amy muttered under her breath.
Max Murphy cupped his hand over his ear. “What’s that, Perry?”
Amy tossed the ball across the diamond without responding. Nick grinned when he threw the ball back. Amy pointed her glove at him, as if to say “wait.” He shook his head and kept smiling.
A little over a week had passed since the position players had reported to Goodyear, and they were about to play their first spring training game against the Cleveland Indians. Even though it was only a spring training game, Amy had butterflies as she settled into her position for the first batter.
Roberto Sanchez, the Reds right-hander, hurled a fastball that the umpire called a strike. The crowd cheered, and the game was underway.
The next pitch was a curve on the inside part of the plate to the left-handed batter. He screamed a liner right at Amy. It got to her so fast, she didn’t have time to react. She felt the ball hit her nose with a loud crack. Everything went black. The next thing she knew, Nick was standing over her with Murphy beside him.
“Amy, Amy, you with us?” Nick asked.
If the worry on his face was any indication, Amy didn’t look so great. She raised her hand to her face. She felt the warm stickiness of blood and stared at her hand. She tried to sit up. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea as everything started spinning.
Tom, the head trainer, and Barry, one of his assistants, came into view. Tom held a towel to Amy’s nose.
“Take it easy, Perry.” He lowered the towel and pressed his thumbs against the bridge of her nose. She flinched. “Yeah, I think it’s broken. Can you sit up now?”
“I… I think so.” She slowly sat up.
“Damn, Perry, you’re already getting shiners,” Nick said.
Tom and Barry helped her stand up and held onto her elbows as she swayed a little.
“God, I hate that Stacy is here for this,” she said as she allowed them to lead her to the dugout. A ripple of polite applause spread around Goodyear Ballpark. She ventured a peek into the stands and caught Stacy’s worried expression. Amy waved at her and mouthed, “I’m okay.”
Once they got into the dugout, she asked Tom about the damage.
“Definitely broken. I could feel the cartilage moving around in there. I think you may need stitches too to bring that cut back together. We’ll get you to the emergency room.”
Amy thought of her trip to the emergency room right before the playoff game at the end of last season. It wasn’t a pleasant memory. She still had nightmares about that damn needle.
“You’re sure it needs stitches?” Amy couldn’t believe she’d been injured on the first play of the game. Not just a game—a spring training game.
Murphy leaned over and peered at her.
“I’ve seen my fair share of cuts, Perry. That definitely needs to be sewn up.”
“You’re not a baby about injuries, so let’s get you to the hospital.”
Amy took one last look at first base where her replacement, Brett Colston, had taken over. She followed Tom down the steps into the tunnel that led to the clubhouse. It didn’t surprise her that Stacy was already there, pacing. The worry and concern etched on her face tugged at Amy’s heart.
“I’m okay, Stace. Just a broken nose and a cut that needs stitching.” Amy’s voice sounded funny as she kept the towel pressed to her nose.
Stacy reached a tentative, shaking hand to Amy’s curls. She brushed them off Amy’s forehead.
“What are we going to do with you?” Stacy asked. “Let me see.” She gently lifted the towel away from Amy’s nose. Her brow furrowed in concern. “Oh, babe.”
“That bad, huh?”
“I hate to say it, but, yeah. I’ll go with you. Is that okay?” Stacy asked Tom.
“Sure. I don’t think an ambulance is needed.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Amy caught the playful glint in his eyes. “I’m glad everyone’s having fun with this. I’m never going to hear the end of it from the guys.”
“Come on, Perry. Let’s get Barry to take you to the hospital before you mess up any more of the clubhouse floor.”
* * *
Two hours later, Amy was lying on the hotel bed with an ice pack on her nose.
“Look at it this way, it’ll add character to your face,” Stacy said from the kitchenette. “The stitches make you sexier. Besides, the doctor said you passed the concussion protocol.”
The bed shifted as Stacy sat down beside her. Amy felt Stacy’s fingers sift through her hair. She fluttered her eyes open.
“There’s always that.” Amy grabbed her hand and held her palm to her cheek. “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”
“Yes. This morning as a matter of fact, but I never grow tired of hearing it.” Stacy leaned over and placed her lips to Amy’s. The kiss was soft and as familiar as warm sunlight on a summer morning.
“Remember our talk at dinner the other night?” Amy asked.
Stacy raised her eyebrows. “Yeah?”
“I’ve been thinking…”
“Well, don’t think too hard.” Stacy smoothed her fingertips over Amy’s creased brow. “You’ll hurt yourself.”
“I’m serious, Stace. Why not this summer?”
“Why not this summer for…”
“No, wait. We said we’d think about it, but I don’t see why we can’t—”
Stacy put her fingers against Amy’s lips and nodded, tears in her eyes. “Yes.”
Amy sat up and pulled Stacy into her arms. “I was thinking that a little to the left or a little to the right and that line drive would have been in my eye. And who knows where I’d be? Or if I could play. At the end of last season, I realized when I saw you standing there, waiting on me after the loss—you’re what matters in my life. Baseball is great. I love the game.” She squeezed Stacy’s shoulders. “But I love you, so, so, much more.”
Stacy sniffed. “I can think of nothing better than starting a family with you.”
“I want more than one. Can we do that?”
Stacy gave her a big smile. “I don’t see why not.”
Amy shook her head slightly. “I have no idea how you go about doing this, though.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got it covered.”
“Oh, you do, do you?”
“I’ve been talking to Lainie. Remember? She and Roselle have Teresa?”
“They’re perfect to talk to. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it.”
“Well, you do have other things on your mind. Like, oh, I don’t know, staying focused on your game, getting ready for spring training, being prepared for the season and what you want to accomplish. Should I go on?”
Stacy leaned on her elbow and caressed Amy’s cheek. “Still nothing. You’re perfect, Amy Perry.”
Amy thought back to the night she felt she’d lost Stacy. She herself had felt so lost since her mother’s passing that she’d almost left a bar with another woman.
Stacy interrupted her painful memory. “What’s wrong?”
“You were thinking of something serious.”
Yes, it was definitely serious. She brushed her lips to Stacy’s. “It’s okay now. Why don’t we give Lainie a call?”