We’re getting CLOSE!!
November 20th is JUST around the corner! ARC’s will be going out today or tomorrow! I can hardly wait to hear initial reactions!
And because it’s my birthday today I’d like to give YOU my precious readers a little gift!
How about a signed copy of this years releases so far! Share this post or my FB post to enter to win a signed set these!
Notice something new? 😉
Stay tuned for more on Defining Loves redone cover and bonus content coming in early 2016!
Now I’d also like to give you something else on my birthday
The prologue of Rage!
Make sure you scroll all the way down to find out how and when you can read even more of Rage TOMORROW and how you can enter to win an ARC copy of Rage!!
One of the first things they teach you as a baseball catcher starting in little league is it’s a leadership role. As a leader, you have to be in command and demand respect. But, no one’s giving respect to or taking orders from someone who doesn’t know what ’he’s doing. As a catcher, you also have to be the toughest on the field. No game is too long, no opponent too hard, and definitely no foe too strong to stand up to. Most importantly, being the leader on the field, you have to anticipate all situations. Stay in control at all times. By high school, AJ Romero had mastered all except the latter. But it wasn’t always his fault, and he was determined to master every requirement if he were going to reach his ultimate dream: to be the best catcher Major League Baseball had ever seen. He just needed to check a few things off his list to get there.
Repeating the sign for a low curve ball between his legs for the second time, AJ raised his glove and stretched his left leg out in anticipation of the next pitch. The pitcher threw the ball, and just as intended, it curved and fell low and left into AJ’s glove, just as the hitter swung and missed.
“Nice,” he said, taking the ball from his glove and throwing it back. “Just like that,” he yelled out to the pitcher. “One more, we got this.”
“Yeah,” the batter muttered under his breath as he readied himself for the next pitch, “just like I used to get your mom every Friday night.”
AJ’s head jerked back, not sure if he’d heard the guy right, so he took a second before giving the pitcher the sign for the next pitch. “What was that now?” he asked without standing up.
The guy chuckled, lifting the bat up over his shoulder. “I said just like I used to get your mom—”
Instantly on his feet, AJ pulled off his catcher’s mask, feeling his insides heat, and got in the guy’s face but tried desperately to stay calm. “I know you’re not talking about my mom.”
Obviously startled by AJ’s quick reaction, the batter backed up a bit, but smirked. “Sure I am. The stripper whore—”
AJ buried his fist in the guy’s face, and both benches emptied as the umpire and several other players on his team attempted to break it up, but not before he got a few more good ones in. A couple of others started to get into it as Chino, his good friend and third baseman, managed to pull him aside and talk AJ down.
“He was talking trash about my mom,” AJ said through his teeth, still unable to calm himself.
“Alright,” Chino said calmly, looking him in the eyes. “You got’em, AJ. He’ll be sportin’ a good shiner for at least a week. Now be cool.”
The team started to make its way back slowly into the dugouts. AJ was still full of adrenaline and ready to land a few more blows in that asshole’s face if he could get to him, but Chino was right. AJ needed to calm down. One glance in the stands showed him the disapproval in both his brothers’ faces.
“You might just get off with a—”
“Out of here!” the ump said before Chino could even finish what sounded like his usual optimism “Both of you out,” he added, pointing at the asshole batter.
The ump wasn’t even looking at him anymore, already writing something down on the small notepad he’d pulled out of his pocket. AJ’s head fell back, knowing exactly what that meant. He’d been right too. Not only were he and the other guy ejected from the game, they were both suspended from school for a couple of days and the next game in the series.
His oldest brother Isaiah was adamant that AJ had been set up. While it did piss both his brothers off that the guy would take a stab at their mother, Isaiah insisted AJ needed to work harder on practicing better self-control.
“I probably would’ve decked him too,” Isaiah admitted.
“Fuck yeah,” Nathan, his other brother, immediately agreed.
“Clearly the guy knew saying something like that was way out of line,” Isaiah said. “Anyone would’ve reacted the same way you did. If it were anyone else, it wouldn’t be so suspicious. There was no question you’d react, and you’re batting cleanup with a batting average of over .500.”
Isaiah shook his head, completely annoyed with the fact that the other team would stoop this low and take a stab at their recently murdered mother. It’d been in the papers the whole year, so those assholes knew all about it. He’d also made mention of her being a stripper. Something they’d often had to clarify to the press. She tended bar at a seedy nightclub. She wasn’t a stripper. So that alone was clear evidence that they’d meant to bait him.
“Of course they’d try riling you to get you out of the lineup next game. This is the playoffs. Why do you think they chose one of their shittiest players to do so? They knew you’d both be suspended, and that guy was no sacrifice for them. You gotta get your shit together, man. I know it’s hard to not lose it, especially hearing someone trash-talk Mom, but you make it way too easy for them.”
The team went on to win the playoffs anyway, and his school took the state title, but not before a couple of more flare-ups that nearly had AJ’s fists igniting again, including getting beamed by the ball once. The incident did clear the benches again, but not because AJ went after the pitcher. The next batter up was Chino, and he started talking shit to the other team’s catcher, who’d likely told the pitcher to hit AJ.
Of course, AJ was right there to back his friend up when the benches cleared, but no one was ejected since no one took a swing this time. Still, while it took AJ just as long to come down from the adrenaline high, he was getting better at conquering his elusive self-control. His coach had always said taking the title would grab the notice of the minor league scouts. He’d have to prove himself if he ever wanted to make the big leagues. Check.
The lead AJ took off of first base was significant. With his status as the leading base stealer in all of Triple-A Baseball, it was no surprise the pitcher could barely concentrate on his pitching because he kept stopping to throw back to first. AJ was just a few more steals away from breaking the record for most bases stolen in a regular season. Once again the pitcher spun around and threw to first, making for a dramatic and dusty dive back into first because AJ’s lead had been that big.
“That’s right,” the first baseman Higman said as AJ squinted and spit dirt out of his mouth. “Get your ass back on base, bitch.”
AJ stood up, dusting himself off, refusing to look at the guy. Readjusting his helmet, he took a deep breath, remembering his brother’s words. He would not get baited so easily anymore. It was fucking infuriating. Instead of progressing in conquering the fire that ignited so easily in him, he’d deviated in the opposite direction. With so many using his temper against him, his reputation as one of the hottest hotheads in the league preceded him now. Some critics even suggested it was what would ultimately be his doom if he ever made it to the big leagues. Even his brothers agreed, especially Isaiah who insisted it didn’t matter that some of the players like this asshole were just as heavily criticized for being instigators.
With the ball back in the pitcher’s hand, AJ began taking his lead off the base, jumping back once when the pitcher spun around but didn’t throw. The crowd booed at the pitcher. Others cheered, urging AJ to steal that base. He took the lead once again, this time getting a little braver, going even further than he did the last time.
One look at the third base coach and he got the go-ahead to run the moment the ball left the pitcher’s hand. He took an even farther more dangerous lead, and the pitcher spun around suddenly and threw a missile to first. For a second, he thought about diving back, but he was too far and knew he wouldn’t make it, so he decided to chance it and fake trying to make it to second. After just a few steps, he turned around because he knew by then the ball was already headed to second. He was still closer to first, so he shot back.
The crowd went nuts as his adrenaline pummeled through him. He could do this, damn it. He dove into first just as the ball zoomed by his head and hit Higman’s glove but bounced out. Lucky for Higman, the pitcher was already behind him and recovered, so in no way could AJ get up and take off to second.
He exhaled, holding on to the base for dear life for a moment. It wasn’t pretty, but at least he hadn’t blown it. The crowd, of course, had gone wild and was already chanting the nickname he’d been dubbed with for over a year. The same one Isaiah hated with such passion. “Rage! Rage! Rage!”
The local paper had commented more than once about “Romero’s rage,” and soon afterward he’d become Rage. “Who’s the bitch now?” he asked with a smirk but didn’t bother looking up at Higman, who he was sure was glaring at him as AJ dusted himself off again.
As expected, butterfingers didn’t have much to say now. Over the next several pitches, AJ managed to steal second and third, only to be left stranded at third when the batter finally struck out. It was a pisser, but he was damn proud of himself that he hadn’t let Higman win.
Headed slowly back to the dugout, he could hear some of the people in the stands yelling out for him. Many chanted for him to break the record today. He hadn’t even noticed Higman so close to him when he heard the comment.
“Baby sister’s not such a baby anymore.”
AJ looked up in time to see Higman and another player on the opposing team smiling big as they gazed up into the stands. Curiously, he glanced up just as Higman responded to the other guy’s comment. “Yeah, I’d tap that sweet thing in a heartbeat.”
The instant he saw Emi holding up her homemade poster that read “Break that record, big brother! Romero #9,” he knew who Higman was talking about. She was shaking her hips along with the sign, looking far more womanly than her eighteen years. Even then, he still would’ve kept his cool, too, if he’d just done the right thing and ignored Higman and his asshole friend. He shouldn’t have even glimpsed their way, but he did just in time to see Higman rub his dick over his pants and squeeze. He was still looking up at the stands.
“Damn! The junk in that trunk. What I wouldn’t give to get my cock into that ass.”
The fucker would’ve likely gone on to say more, but AJ tackled him before he could, and it was on. Another bench-clearing brawl ensued with the crowd going wild, chanting his nickname over and over.
AJ had actually been a little surprised when Isaiah hadn’t protested too much after he’d been ejected from the game. He’d told him why he tackled Higman. Isaiah just shook his head, but AJ got the feeling his brother was likely thinking he would’ve done the same because he’d been spared the usual lecture. The only thing he did say was, “Yeah, well there’s only two games left in the regular season, AJ. You get ejected next game, and they may sit you out the last one. There goes your chance of breaking that record.”
The next game AJ checked one more thing off his list. He broke that record. Once the season was over, he checked off another. He signed a major league contract with the San Diego Padres. He’d already been called up a few times to stand in for the injured catcher. Only with their regular catcher expected to be out for most of the season, AJ would likely be their starting catcher until their regular was back.
More giveaways continue and read chapter 1 as my web designer and book blogger celebrates her blog’s anniversary with an exclusive excerpt of Rage and an ARC giveaway!
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tomorrow to enter to win!