Fans of TV’s Pitch will love this wrap-up to the charming world of the Arlington Aces baseball team.

Arlington Aces’ backup catcher Ian Pratt lives every day to the fullest, focusing on having fun with the three Bs: babes, booze, and baseball. Life’s too short not to go out with a smile on his face.

For Pauly Byrne, being the only female starting pitcher in professional baseball means she’s determined, deliberate, and always staying one step ahead of the naysayers. Facing a difficult choice, she must decide whether to hang up her cleats to become the first woman to coach an NCAA baseball team or hold on to the unlikely dream of becoming the first to play in the Major League. Either way, she needs to win this season’s championship.

When Pauly’s usual catcher fails a drug test going into playoffs, Ian is thrust into the starting role, where their differences—and an unlikely attraction—threaten to derail their season. Their futures are on the line, but can these two total opposites find enough common ground to win the big game and a shot at happily ever after?

Ian walked alongside Pauly in the Denny’s parking lot. Her strides were short and jerky. Her hair bounced against her shoulders and back. She was talkative, but something seemed... . off. They’d passed Sara’s table on their way out, and he wondered if that had anything to do with it.
“Do you know the guy she’s with?” Pauly asked.
“Steve? Yep. He’s her husband. We went to high school together. Different classes. He’s older.” Ian flashed Pauly a look. “Couldn’t you tell?”
“Oh, definitely. He looks ancient.”
“Good answer.”
“You’re way better looking.”
She’d definitely stressed the “way.”
“I am?” He angled his body toward her and gave her a look that said he was pleased and she could keep going.
She closed her eyes and shook her head, a faint smile on her lips. “Just keeping it real.”
Right there. Something odd again.
“How long have they been married?” she asked.
“Don’t know. By the looks of the kids, I’d say two or three years.”
“And how long ago did you break up?”
“Jesus, Byrne. Why are you obsessing?”
“I don’t know. I . . . There’s just something about them. I’m curious.”
“Gathering data?” He scratched at a random itch on his neck. “But there’s no problem to solve here.”
“I know.”
They walked a little farther in silence. He’d parked at the front of the lot, but she’d parked in the back. Couldn’t risk a scratch on her lily-white Nissan. So, he’d decided to be a gentleman and walk her to her car.
“I never think much about having kids, but seeing that makes me wonder if I’ll make a good mom,” she said. “You know, someday, after baseball.”
“I vote yes.”
Actually, he voted for talking about something other than Sara’s happy family, because he was decently wigged out by seeing her, too.
“Maybe that’s another plus for Holymount,” Pauly said, and he hated that she was trying to talk herself into this. “I can finally start something I can finish.” She frowned. “Baseball has destroyed my love life. Flynn and Craig want to fix me up, but I’m worried whoever they find will be intimidated by me.”
“You’re very intimidating.” He was only partly sarcastic.
“I know. It sucks.” She genuinely looked crushed by the thought of it.
“Okay.” He stopped walking. “You actually met my ex-girlfriend. The least you can do is tell me about your last boyfriend.” Because he had a feeling some of her reaction was rooted in that.
“Tyler,” she said, slowing to a stop too. “His name is Tyler.” Tension radiated off her.
“And what does Tyler do?” Since she’d said she wasn’t into athletes . . . 
“He’s a DJ. Almost famous.” She looked away, toward the horizon. “He didn’t like baseball.”
Ian laughed. “Then why was he dating a baseball player?”
“He said he put up with that part because he thought it was temporary.”
“Dude didn’t know you very well.”
She looked at him again, and a faint smile brightened her face. “Of course, he didn’t tell me those things until he was breaking up with me, so I wasted two years thinking I was in love with someone who loved me too. All of me.” The frown came back. “I won’t make that mistake again.”
For some reason, he thought that was a crying shame. Sunlight flickered in her shiny black hair, and despite the obvious sadness, a fire glowed behind her silver eyes. Tyler was a fucking idiot, because Pauly was downright magical, and Ian wanted to show her just how much he appreciated all of her right here. But he doubted she would take him up on his offer.
“So, Flynn’s going to find me somebody. A lawyer. And I’m going to have some fun. Ease back into the dating scene. Blow off some steam. And not worry about love or relationships until my playing days are over.”
Well, if that was what she wanted . . . 
Ian shifted closer and pinned her with his gaze. “You know, it’s not nice to talk about other men when you’re on a date with someone else.”
She coughed a laugh. “We aren’t dating.”
“Call it whatever you want, but this is a date. Two people. Talking. Sharing ice cream. Flirting. It’s got date written all over it.”
“I can’t date you. You’re my teammate.”
“You can’t kiss me either, but you agreed to that. I don’t see what the big deal is. I like you. You like me. Neither one of us is looking for anything serious, relationship-wise.” He smiled. “We’re both committed to winning a championship. Where’s the problem with two consenting adults enjoying each other’s company privately?”
She scoffed but eyed him up. “It’s a bad idea.”
“Holding back is a bad idea. It just clogs your head with more shit to worry about. My way, you get to have fun and a clear head. I say, for once, we do it my way.”
She tackled him. Pressed her body against his, sending him backward a few steps. It was just like Pauly Byrne to attack a batter head-on. Ian’s lips quirked with rising laughter as her mouth covered his, and then, suddenly, nothing felt funny anymore.

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