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Stealing Home: A Reverse Grumpy-Sunshine College Sports Romance: Chapter 63

MIA

TODAY’S TICKET isn’t under a special name or moniker. Just Mia di Angelo, written in Sebastian’s sprawling handwriting across the top. Billy tips his baseball cap to me as he scans it and sends me through the gates, Penny at my heels.

We run up the steps to the main level. It’s crowded, even for the last game in a season that isn’t going anywhere, and I can’t tell which team is at bat. I find the scoreboard, blazing neon from the outfield like a beacon.

It’s the top of the ninth inning. McKee is winning, 5-3.

I take off running.

It’s not a conscious decision. It’s not even a thought. It’s a feeling, singing through me, propelling me forward. I nearly collide with a couple, but twist away in time, and sidestep an old guy. I think he shouts a curse at me, but I don’t care. Penny calls my name, but I don’t look back.

Once I’m past the netting protecting the space behind home plate and the foul lines, I hop the fence, kicking up dirt. It’s hot out here without shade; the sky a deep, cloudless blue. Distantly, I hear the shouts of people realizing what’s happening, but I don’t give anyone a chance to catch up to me. I just step out of my shoes and sprint barefoot across the grass.

Julio stares as I run by.

Rafael whistles.

An umpire shouts for me to get off the field, but I don’t turn my head, and I definitely don’t listen.

I don’t pay attention to anyone except the man standing in left field, looking at me.

My man. My love. My future.

When I’m close enough, I launch myself at him, sending him staggering backwards as he catches me. His glove falls to the ground, along with his baseball cap. I pull his sunglasses off and cup his face with both hands, kissing him with as much force as I can muster. He tastes like lip balm and sweat, my favorite combination, and his skin is warm from standing out here in the sun. He’s frozen for a moment, just long enough to send a wave of panic through me, but then he fists his hand in my hair and kisses me back, and something clicks into place in my soul.

I never want to go another day without one of his kisses. Never.

“I’m sorry,” I breathe out against his lips. “I’m sorry for all of it.”

“Don’t be sorry,” he whispers.

“I am. I left you. I let myself stay scared.” I smudge my thumb over his eye black as I cradle his jaw, pressing another kiss to his lips. “But I love you, Sebastian Callahan. I love you and I’m never letting you go again. Come on an adventure to Europe with me.”

His green eyes are shining. He tucks my hair behind my ear, a blindingly beautiful smile on his lips. “You got into the program?”

I nod, too choked up to speak. He pulls me into another hug, spinning me around. “Hell fucking yeah, di Angelo! I’m so proud of you!”

“I want you to be there,” I say through wet laughter. “Start your career in Switzerland with me. Please.”

“Callahan!” someone shouts. “Come on, man!”

“My girlfriend just got into a fucking awesome study abroad program! Give me a second!” he calls.

He takes both of my hands in his, squeezing tightly. “Absolutely. We can start planning it right away. You know why?”

I smile. I feel so warm, I might catch fire. “Why?”

“Because I love you too.” He leans in for another kiss, his lips lingering on mine. “Feels like I’ve loved you forever, you know.”

“I know that now.” I wipe at my eyes with the heel of my hand. My smile is wobbling, but I don’t care. “I know you mean it.”

“More than anything in the world, angel.” He leans in a bit, tugging on the ends of my hair. “You know that everyone in the stadium is staring at us, right?”

“Absolutely.” I bite my lip as I smile. “I’m probably going to be banned for life, so it’s a good thing this is your last game.”

He bursts into laughter. “There’s my girl.”

He scoops up his hat and glove, then picks me up. I loop my arms around his neck as he starts walking across the field. It’s ridiculous, I can’t stop blushing, but at the same time, I don’t care enough to twist out of his grip. I want everyone to know I’m his.

“The game isn’t over, you know.” I crane my neck for a glimpse of the scoreboard. “Only two outs.”

“They’ll have to start carrying on without me sometime.” He hefts me even closer. “I want to hear all about the symposium. And the haircut. Looks good, by the way.”

“I can’t believe you convinced my family to come.”

“They love you.” He stops for a moment, looking down at me with serious eyes. “I’m sorry I ever suggested you cut them out of your life. I know how much they mean to you, and I wanted them to have a chance to see just how amazing you are. They all showed up?”

“Anthony couldn’t get away, but yeah. Even Nana.”

He brushes my forehead with a kiss. “Lovely woman.”

“Well, let’s not get carried away.”

“Not to interrupt the love fest,” Rafael hollers, “but are we finishing the game or what?”

Sebastian ignores him, walking us all the way to the dugout. He chucks his glove at a kid on the bench. “Position’s going to be yours next season, right? Why not have a go at it now.”

He walks right into the locker room with me still in his arms.

When we’re at his locker, he finally sets me down. I settle on the bench, peering in at the space that’s been his ever since he started college. It’s neat and organized, just like him, and the brass ‘17’ hammered above gleams in the low light.

“We only have a few minutes before the guys come in,” he murmurs. He kneels in front of me, swiping a hand through his sweaty hair. I tuck his father’s necklace back underneath his collar for him. “I just wanted to see you alone for a moment, before the game ends and my family comes to find us.”

“Mine too,” I say, playing with the ends of his hair. It’s longer than when we first started living together, curled at the ends from the humidity. Sweat runs down the side of his face. I wipe it away with my fingertips carefully. “They drove me here.”

“We should all get dinner together, then.”

“Oh, God.”

“I’m serious. It’ll be nice.”

“My dad would love to meet James.”

“James is great with his fans. Very enthusiastic, as long as none of them act weird around Bex.” He sighs. “He’s going to be a nightmare when she’s too pregnant to hide it. I can hear him complaining about it already.”

“Sebastian?”

“Yes, love?”

I shove at his shoulder until he laughs. “I hate you.”

“No, never.” He pecks me on the lips. “Not even a little bit.”

My lips twitch into a smile. I hate to bring the playful mood down, but I have to make sure we’re truly on the same page with this. Words are nice, and talking to my family is wonderful, but for this to last forever, I can’t let any uncertainties linger. “I know you said you’re sure, but are you really sure? About kids, and all of that?”

He puts his hand on my knees, squeezing. “You’re my True North, Mia Angel.”

My breath catches in my throat. “Sebastian.”

“I read about it the other day, and I kept thinking about it, you know? I don’t know a better way to describe what I feel for you.” He strokes his knuckles down my cheek. “No matter where I go, or what I do, I want you by my side as my partner—my equal partner, because I wouldn’t expect or want anything different. I don’t care about the rest of it—if we get married, if we have kids, if we stay in one place or if we travel the world. Whatever happens, I want to do it with you. Switzerland is just the beginning. And I know those are only words, so I got you a little something to prove it.”

My eyes narrow. “What?”

“It’s not that. It never has to be that, and I mean it.” He reaches around me, into the locker, and pulls out a little black velvet box. “But I’d love it if you wore this sometimes.”

He hands me the box.

Nestled inside, there’s a gold necklace with a diamond-studded, star-shaped pendant.

“Oh, wow.” I pull it out, admiring the way it glitters. As much as I love my gold chain, I know already that once this goes around my neck, it’s not coming off. The pendant is small, not at all flashy, and absolutely perfect. “Another gift?”

He shrugs. “And definitely not the last.”

“I love it.” I kiss his cheek tenderly. “Thank you.”

“Can I help you put it on?”

“Please.”

He takes it from my outstretched hand carefully. I turn to the side, and he brushes my hair over one shoulder to clasp it around my neck. After he adjusts it, I swing around and kiss him on the lips properly.

We’re still kissing a few minutes later, when his teammates thunder into the locker room.

“Are we interrupting anything?” Hunter asks.

I untangle myself from Sebastian. “He’s here to celebrate with you all one more time.”

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