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Wild Pitch (Homeruns Book 1) by Sloan Johnson (1)

The four of us lined up, two on each side of Mason in front of the stainless steel bean at Millennium Park. We tried to keep from bitching too much about the fact that we’d all rather be anywhere other than posing for wedding pictures. That wasn’t entirely true; we’d gladly freeze our asses off to make Mason’s future wife happy if she wasn’t the Ice Queen. It seemed fitting that the weather had turned unseasonably cold the night before their nuptials.

I stood directly to Mason’s left, plastering on a smile I hoped no one would realize was completely fake. It took every ounce of self-control I possessed to keep from flagging down a taxi and throwing him inside.

The photographer snapped a few shots and checked them on the LCD screen of his camera. “Okay, those look good,” he called out. Even he looked miserable, and he was dressed in a thick wool coat and bright scarf. “Let’s get a few of just the groom and his best man, then the groom with his father and we’ll get someplace a bit warmer.”

The rest of the guys tried to act cool as they speed walked over to where our winter coats were piled on the ground, leaving just the two of us alone. “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You” by Heart blared from Mason’s pocket, signaling at least the fifth call of the day from Teresa. For all of her obsessing over every detail of this wedding, being superstitious of the bride and groom speaking before the wedding apparently wasn’t on her radar.

“Hey, sweetie,” Mason answered, flipping me off as I rolled my eyes. It was immature, but I couldn’t help it. He was so in love with her he couldn’t see what a controlling, manipulative bitch she was. I couldn’t hear what he was saying as he walked away, but it sounded like she was freaking about something. Again. She’d made Bridezilla look calm and laid-back about three phone calls ago.

Mason scrubbed at the back of his neck as he disconnected the call. When he turned to face me, he looked miserable. “There’s still time to back out,” I teased. “We could jump in a cab and be at the airport in less than twenty minutes. By the time people start piling into the church, we could be at cruising altitude on our way to somewhere warm and sunny.”

My cock twitched at the thought of joining the mile high club with Mason. It’d never happen, but that had never kept my mind from wandering into fantasy territory. Mason stepped closer, reaching up to straighten my tie. His gaze remained fixed on mine as he ran his hand down the center of my chest. I blinked, telling myself I had to be imagining the look of longing in his green eyes. It was as though he might actually be considering my suggestion.

“I can’t do that.” He sighed, curling his fingers around the lapels of my wool tuxedo jacket. “This is what I want, Sean. I know the two of you’ve had your differences, but I can’t think of many women other than her who would put up with me.”

“That’s no reason to get married, Mace,” I argued, trying to keep my voice quiet enough that we wouldn’t be overheard. The other groomsmen quickly turned away when I glanced their direction. Over the years, our friends had joked that Mason and I were like an old married couple, not only because of how we bickered at times, but also because of times like this. Mason didn’t shy away from getting into someone’s personal space and had no problem seeking comfort when he needed it. Mason’s parents were old hippies who didn’t believe in raising their son to believe that men should hide their emotions and he didn’t. Right now, he looked utterly terrified of getting in the town car to head over to the church. I’d seen guys going to prison for life who handled their fate with more ease and grace.

“I know, Sean, but this’ll be good for me,” he conceded. I was about to tell him how screwed up it was that he hadn’t once mentioned how much he loved her when his dad, Bill, joined us.

“Everything okay over here?” He raised an eyebrow, more to me than his son. I got the impression he wasn’t thrilled with this expansion to the family either.

“Yeah, Dad. We’re all good.” He patted his dad’s back before walking back to the front of the sculpture.

I followed, wondering how I’d get through the ceremony without blurting out my objections when the minister asked for them. Mason and Teresa were the last two people who had any place getting married, and that wasn’t only because I’d wanted him since we met.

Twenty miserable minutes later, we were dismissed with strict instructions to be ready for more pictures an hour later. The short ride to the church would have been somber had Mason’s cousin not brought his iPod with him. I draped my arm over the back of the seat and leaned closer to Mason.

“Hey, I’m sorry for what I said earlier,” I told him. I stood by my statements, but he didn’t need my shit on his big day. He needed me to suck up my feelings and support him. That’s what good friends did.

Mason shrugged. “I get it, Sean. The two of you have always been like fire and ice. I don’t think that’ll ever change. It’d be nice if my best friend and my wife could be in the same room without wanting to rip each other’s throats out.”

His hand dropped to my knee and my entire body stiffened. I looked around nervously, wondering what the guys would think if they saw my arm around his shoulders and his thumb rubbing the soft wool of my pants. I reminded my now achingly hard dick that he didn’t mean anything, that Mason was just being Mason. The faint smile he flashed before straightening in his seat felt like both the greatest reward and a punch in the gut.

It hit me that I was just as much of a problem in his mind as she was in mine. All Mason wanted was for everyone to get along. His ability to play the peacekeeper most of the time was one of the many traits that attracted me to him. If it meant not seeing him threatening to crumble, I’d promise him just about anything. “Mace, I’m never going to go out of my way to be her buddy, but I promise I’ll work harder at trying to get along. For you.”

Mace looked up at me with bright eyes. “Yeah?”

“Of course,” I said quickly. “It’ll be tough, but I’m not going to be your Yoko.”

Mason wrapped his arms around my shoulders in a tight hug. “Thanks, Sean.”

The car pulled up in front of the church before I could make an ass of myself. Mason and I got out first and Bill greeted us by thrusting two gloves and a ball into my chest. “The boy needs to settle down. Take him out to the courtyard and throw the ball around for a bit. I’ll come and get you when it’s time to go inside.”

Catch. I could do this. It’d been a long time since I’d thrown the ball just for fun, but I agreed that it was just what Mason needed to keep from freaking the hell out about saying ‘I do’. And I could focus on not hitting him in the face rather than trying to figure out how to get Mason to walk away before it was too late. 




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