Saving Maverick

By: Debra Elise

Chapter 1

Maverick Jansen woke to the sound of a jackhammer tearing down his hotel room door. Hung over again. He buried his head deep under the pillow to block out the world. It didn’t work.

“Mav. Get your ass up and unlock the damn door.” Luke Garibaldi, catcher for the Idaho Outlaws of the United States Baseball League, had just rocketed to the top of Mav’s shit list. But he was also quite possibly his last friend on earth.

The pounding started again. Like someone was doing a tap dance on his skull; a really bad, fucking annoying tap dance.

“C’mon bro, it’s Luke, I need to show you something. Let me in.”

Throwing his pillow across the room, Mav ripped the sheets off and stood. His world tilted. Damn. He’d lost himself in another bottle of eighty-dollar whiskey. He needed to break the habit, but the demons of the day had won as they typically did, and he’d drunk until he passed out. It was the only sure way of keeping the nightmares at bay. “Someone down the hall is calling security. C’mon, Mav.” True concern laced Luke’s words and he wasn’t one to cause a scene, but Mav wasn’t ready to face anyone. Not even his best friend.

“In that case, shit head,” Maverick shot back, “I’m going back to bed. You’re on your own. A charmer like you can fend for yourself.” He grabbed his head and cursed. Yeah, he maybe shouldn’t shout yet. Not at least until the marching band left. He sank back onto the bed.

Despite Mav’s poor performance on the mound last year and now being on the disabled list, their new team owner, Thomas Scott, was standing behind him. He couldn’t get over the fact that he was still on the team after the league’s winter meetings. He thought for sure he’d be traded or let go after the disaster at the division championships.

But that second chance hadn’t cured his frequent trips to the bottom of the whiskey bottle.

More pounding.

“What the hell, Luke? I’m ten feet away from you, not back in Boston,” Maverick yelled. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and used words his momma never taught him.

He heard a heavy sigh come through the door. “Man, the last thing you need is security riding your hide. Open up.” Luke paused. “Please? I have news and it’s not good.”

“All right ... all right, hold your goddamn horses, you citified cowboy.”

Bracing his pitching arm against the wall next to his bed in the five-star resort bedroom overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene, Mav thought about moving toward the door, but that’s as far as he got.

Damn, it hurt like hell to think.

He took a deep breath and stood up. “Hang on. Let me throw some pants on.” He stumbled around in the darkened room searching for his sweats.

Luke was right. He sure as hell didn’t need hotel security up in his business. Squinting at the clock he thought it said four ten, but was it morning or afternoon? He made his way toward the door before Luke could begin another round of rat-a-tat-tat.

“Mav, I swear to the good Lord above, if you don’t come open this door, I’m knocking it down.”

Shit. Again with the dramatic crap. Maverick had had enough bad news in the last few months to last him two lifetimes. The desperate tone in Luke’s voice slammed into him, reminding him of when his world exploded three months ago.

The fear of what awaited him on the other side of the door turned his blood ice cold as memories assailed him. Maverick’s stomach clenched; the nausea he thought he had under control reared its ugly head.

“Now, Maverick. I’ve seen your package in the locker room. If I wasn’t impressed then, I sure as hell won’t be now. Open . . . the damn . . . door.”

Maverick hopped on one foot as he finished pulling on his sweats. “This better be good, Luke, because I was having the best wet dream of my life before you showed up.” Not really, but he needed one more moment to steady himself.

Ready or not he threw the dead bolt and flung open the door to let in the only person in the world who still gave a shit about him.

Luke brushed past him and started talking a mile a minute. “Slow down man, I need coffee to keep up with your motor mouth.” Maverick held an arm over his eyes as the glare from the hallway assaulted him.

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