Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lucky for Him {Chapter 1 Teaser}

I'm so excited for Lucky for Him to be available on in the next few days! If you're as impatient as I am, then this post is for you. Here's a chapter teaser. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1

Wichita, Kansas. Early August 2013.

Austin Sanders pulled his black pickup into the parking space closest to the front gate of the Wichita Star Amusement Park. Three teenage boys walked between his truck and the car parked next to him. They all laughed. One kid barely squirmed out of being shoved into his side mirror. Austin grabbed the faded blue ball cap off the passenger seat. The once bright white “KC” logo was now a dusty cream. It was the first thing the owner of the Royals had ever given him. He’d gotten it the day he signed his contract. He shoved the hat into his bag before slinging it over his shoulder and stepping out of the truck. The sky was cloudless and the sun bright and warm. He tipped his head back slightly, letting the sun warm his face. The thought “It’s good to be home” flashed through his mind, but even he wasn’t convinced. He slipped on his sunglasses and made his way to the ticket counter.

For over twelve years he had been practicing at the best facilities that any college, then any professional league, could possibly offer. Now he was buying time at the batting cages from a teenage girl in a red polo shirt who barely looked up from her phone when she handed him his change.

“Bats are around the corner next to the golf clubs.” Her thumbs never hesitated on her keys.

He hiked his bag with his own bat and gear higher on his shoulder. He was halfway to the cages when a boy stepped in front on him.

“Are you Austin Sanders?”

Austin didn’t blink at the question. People had been stopping him, asking for autographs or pictures, his entire adult life. He was always happy to do it, especially when it was young kids. They were the future of baseball, and he wanted them to see athletes as people who gave back to the fans. “That’s me.” He waited a second for the kid to pull out a pen and paper.

“I think you’re awesome! My dad took me to four of your home games last year. I shouted extra loud when you were at the plate.”

“I appreciate that. What’s your name?”


“You play baseball, Blake?”

“Uh-huh. I play first base, just like you.”

Austin saw the boy’s dad standing a few steps away and nodded. The dad stepped forward with a pen.

“Thanks.” Austin looked around for a slip of paper but didn’t see any.

“You can sign my shirt, or my arm, or . . . anything.”

“Wait a sec.” Austin rifled through his bag before pulling out the blue ball cap. He uncapped the pen and scribbled a message on the bill. “You get good grades, Blake?”

Blake’s face twisted and Austin could tell he wasn’t as sure about his answer to this question. “I try.”

“Keep trying. And keep practicing.” He slipped the cap on the boy’s head and handed the pen back to his dad. “Ya’ll have a good day.”

“Thank you, Mr. Sanders. Wait till I tell my brother. He’s never gonna believe this. Will he, Dad?”

Austin raised his hand, waving a good-bye, as the father and son walked away. Austin remembered feeling that way about baseball. Hell, he still felt that way about it. He loved it. Had loved it. He lost sight of the blue cap as the duo pushed through the line of people waiting for the bumper cars. The hat doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Austin walked to the cages, opened the door, loaded the pitching machine with balls, and flipped it on. He grabbed his helmet and bat out of his bag and took his place at the plate.

He took his first few swings and guessed that these balls were coming in at about fifty to sixty miles an hour. More like batting practice before a game than the indoor cages he was used to. He kept swinging and sending the balls careening towards the net. He relaxed his shoulders. He swung. Thwack.

He didn’t want to think about his lost career. He had a new goal now: to open this sporting goods store. Everyone told him that after he retired he would need something to keep him motivated, keep him engaged in life. Too many times he had seen teammates slip into depressions after leaving the game. Whether from the sudden lack of serotonin-producing activity, or the thrust out of the spotlight, he wasn’t sure. The ones who were forced out by injury had even harder times than the ones who chose to quit. They struggled to find their place among the rest of the world.

Austin had tried hard to figure out what he wanted to do as he recovered from his last shoulder surgery. A teammate had joked with him and said he had a face that could land him a sports-casting job. But Austin hadn’t liked the idea of being even more in the public eye. His physical therapist had run through a list of possible second careers and the idea of a sporting goods store came up. As soon as the idea surfaced, he had known it was the right thing to do; the coin hanging from the chain around his neck had once again given him the affirmation he had grown to depend on, like his heart was pumping warm champagne through his veins instead of blood. The heat and vibration always guided him in the right direction. Well, the right direction for making money, anyway.

He hit a ball high and long.

“Nice hit.”

Austin nodded at the guy in the cage next to him. It wasn’t exactly the shouts and applause of thousands of hyped-up fans, but he’d take what he could get. “Thanks.”

He took off his helmet and wiped his forehead on his shoulder. He turned off the machine and packed up his stuff, shoving it into his athletic bag. No matter how much he focused on his new adventure—his new life—he missed baseball and could never really get that last time on the field out of his mind.


He had been standing on home plate of Kauffman Stadium, the Kansas City Royals’ baseball field and his sanctuary for the previous eight years. With his hands on his hips, he had breathed in the smell of freshly cut grass and wet dirt. The stands were empty, as was the field, but Austin could still hear the excitement of the crowd, the crack of a bat meeting the ball, and the chatter of the guy he was keeping on first base. One thousand one hundred forty-six games played, 4,158 times at bat, 239 homeruns . . . A hand had clamped down on his shoulder. “Shit,” Austin breathed. “You scared the crap outta me, Bill.”

“Well, that’s what managers are supposed to do, right?” Bill had said with a small chuckle. He patted Austin’s shoulder a few times, folded his arms over his chest, and looked out over the field. “Never gets old, does it? That’s a beautiful sight.”

“Yeah.” Austin nodded and unconsciously rubbed his right shoulder. “I’m going to miss it.” Austin felt Bill’s gaze drift from the field to his hunched shoulders.

“Every memory up till this point was your past. Every experience you pursue is your future.”

He appraised his manager for a quiet moment. “I never figured you for the philosophical type.”

“Hell, I’m not. That’s just what my fortune cookie said at lunch today.”

The corners of Austin’s mouth turned up in a slight grin. He sighed and ran a hand over his face. “I only made it eight years. I’m thirty-one years old. I wasn’t supposed to leave baseball until I was an old man.” Austin paused. “You know, like you.”

“I have a cure for pity parties: it’s called running poles.”

“Pity party,” Austin scoffed. “I’m not cryin’ in my beer, here. I’m just saying, what do I do now?”

“Shit happens; go find something else to make you happy.” Uncomfortable with too much sentiment, Bill had slapped Austin on the back one more time and walked away.

Go find something else to make you happy. If only it were that easy.

****Here's another fun post if you're interested in what my character inspiration was.****

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