ONE AND DONE Contemporary Christian Romance, Third book of the Red River Romance series
Main Characters : All-around ‘today’ girl, Samantha Danielle Davenport reports on the weather at a Dallas TV station. George Herman Walter Johnson is the oldest-ever Texas Ranger rookie and a phenom pitcher.
Premise : God tell us His plans and brings them to fruition if we listen then obey.
Synopsis : ONE AND DONE is an unlikely love story born of prophesy, grown in full view of the probing public eye, and seemingly doomed because of the bride-to-be’s heathen condition. The pitcher follows Christ though, but can his faith that she is God’s woman for him carry them through to their happily ever after.
God can pull a fish out of water and make that thang smell like a rose. Both men and women will enjoy this love story with a baseball backdrop, strong pitcher/batter hero, and the cutest weather girl who dreams of being a sports reporter. Then her station sends her to scoop an interview with a pitcher Rangers’ management is hot after. George Herman Walter Johnson is undeniably a phenomenon on the mound, playing for a Mexican team. His charm and debonair bowls her over, but turns out, he’s such a goody two-shoes, she can’t even get him to first base.
Conflict flies as the wealthy ex-poker player, Ranger rookie lays everything on the line in his quest to win her heart. She remains wary of his resistance. Will her bunt snag the man of her dreams…or his homerun drive her home?
read Chapter One
“Hey. Weather Girl.”
Sammi Dan stopped in her tracks. Crackers, what did he want? With a million and two things to do, she did not need distractions this morning. She turned. Her boss stood at the end of the hall just outside his office waving a brown paper envelope. Mister Yancy had hardly said four words to her in the year she’d been with KBTL.
She stepped toward him. “Yes, sir? Is there a storm? Because if there is, I swear, I didn’t hear a thing about it.”
“You’re the one with the guy’s name, right?”
Oh, okay, here we go. “Yes, sir. Well, my parents named me Samantha Danielle, but most everyone calls me Sam. Or Sammi Dan.”
He grinned. “I thought so. Joe says you like baseball. That right? You know some of the basics?”
So, he and the sportscaster had been talking about her. Could it be about the open slot in sports? She’d love that! Oooo, or maybe the company box? She’d remember to give the ex-quarterback sportscaster a big thank you kiss if he’d put in a good word for her. She added a touch of intentional pep. “Yes, sir. All my life.” She closed the distance to a few feet, didn’t want to seem too eager to get his Rangers tickets.
Though none of the other girls had complained about the general manager, Sammi Dan’s guard hairs stood at attention on the suspicion. Just in case, she better say something. No need for any awkward misunderstandings. Best policy she’d found? Be firm and honest right up front.
“Your passport up to date?”
Passport? She nodded as a tsunami slammed her backwards. No box seats, no sports position, not even a little harassment. There was a storm. Oh, baloney! She hated covering hurricanes. “Yes, sir.” She hadn’t meant for that to sound quite so dejected. “Where do you need me?”
He stuck out the envelope. “Take What’s-her-name from the bullpen with you. This might be good. Joe caught wind of a rookie phenom the Rangers are hot after. He’s pitching tomorrow night in Mexico City. Be there. Get ahead of this story for us.”
She took the offering. “Yes, sir, whatever you say, sir. But…why me? I’m the weather girl.”
“I know who you are. Your numbers are trending.” He backed toward his office.
“Well? You want to go or not?”
“Yes, of course. Very much so, sir. Thank you. I mean for thinking of me. Woo! I am plenty excited about this, I can tell you.”
He didn’t even crack a smile. What a geezer!
“There’s a Visa in there.” He pointed to the packet. “But best be wary of the sharks in accounting.”
A company card! What a wonderful old, generous geezer. “Yes, sir. And thank you for your confidence in me. I’ll not let you down, Mr. Yancy.”
He waved her off like getting a shot at sports meant nothing and retreated to his office. Must be nice being GM of DFW’s biggest television station. She spun around then turned back. What’s her name in the bullpen? Okay, that left her choices wide open. Hmm, who’d be the most fun camera girl to fly south with?
Or should she choose a guy?
Exactly six hours and forty-seven minutes later, Sammi Dan flopped down on one of the Hilton’s double beds as though a kid again. Wow, she could hardly believe how fast it all happened. But there she was!
April What’s-her-name Meadows stood in front of the dresser and smirked, unpacking her suitcase into the drawers. “Shouldn’t we hurry up and get ready and go back downstairs? Aren’t we running out of time?”
“Oh, girlfriend, lighten up for the sake of the team, will you? You’re not being any fun.” Sammi Dan pointed to the little refrigerator. “See what they’ve got to drink in there. And if there’s any chocolate.”
Her camera girl slash producer slash assistant shook her head. “You’re unbelievable. I’ve already made arrangements for you to do a preliminary with this G. H. Johnson guy in exactly.” She slid her phone open. “Fifty-two minutes in the lobby.”
“Heavens to Mergatroid, girl, that’s almost an hour away. Why the rush?”
“Whatever. You’re supposed to be the talent here, Sam. Don’t you want to freshen up, get downstairs early for a lay of the lobby—choose the perfect shot for your interview? Or do you plan on lounging there sucking up the AC and drinking tequila with your chocolate truffles?”
Sammi Dan sat up and huffed. Logical April was right of course, but she sure knew how to spoil a perfectly great trip to Mexico City. Should have asked Christie, she wouldn’t be such a stick in the quicksand. Sammi got up and rifled through her bag.
“I don’t know why you’re unpacking. What’s the point when we’re only spending one night? We do leave tomorrow after the game on the red-eye, right? They could’ve let us fly home the next morning, but no, the sharks in accounting didn’t want to spring for two nights.” If only she weren’t just the weather girl.
- H. Johnson showed early, but Sammi Dan had gotten there earlier. She loved that.
Her chosen place for her first-ever interview offered a lovely tropical backdrop of palm trees, ferns, and falling water. She stood and stuck out her hand. “Good afternoon, Mr. Johnson, and thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. I’m Samantha Danielle Davenport from KBTL in Dallas. Won’t you have a seat?”
“I know who you are.”
He did? How in the world?
The man shook her hand with a firm grip, but didn’t try to hurt her, then sat in the chair she’d indicated. “Why’d they send the weather girl?”
She looked at the towering ceiling and shook her head ever so slightly. Why, oh why? She’d hoped no one in Mexico would be privy to that little tidbit. “Apparently, I’m trending up, and the word got out on how much I love baseball. Border on fanatic. Anyway, let’s talk about you. Were you named George Herman after the Babe?”
“Yes and no.” He pointed toward April. “Shouldn’t she be taking some video?”
“Yes, of course. I mean if you don’t mind. This is just a preliminary, but we might as well get some footage.” She spun toward her camera gal. “Go ahead, we might want to splice some of this in.” When the little red light on the camcorder glowed, she turned back to him. “I’ll ask you again, okay?”
“So, Mister Johnson, were you –”
“Please, call me G. H.”
She forced a smile. Why couldn’t he just co-operate? “Alright, good. So were you named after the great Babe Ruth, G. H.?”
“Yes and no. My full name is George Herman Walter Johnson. Pappaw wasn’t sure what I was going to be, a slugger or a hurler.”
“Your grandfather named you?”
“Yes, ma’am. Sure did.”
“Well, my notes call you the next Walter Johnson. Says here the radar guns clocked you at over a hundred miles an hour.” She pouted her bottom lip and shrugged. “Hate to bring up your somewhat rocky start, but after that, you’re six-and-0 in your last half-dozen games with an ought ERA. Care to comment?”
He didn’t say anything for a minute.
She waited then glanced at April. Her red light still glowed. Sammi looked back to the pitcher.
He squinted. “Are your eyes always that green? Or are you wearing contacts? They don’t come across so electric on the television.”
Her face immediately heated, but she wouldn’t let him get the best of her. No way. “Yes, that green. No contacts, sir, all naturelle. And I don’t know about the electric part, but yes, they do look just like this on TV; you must not have high def. Now the comment I’m looking for, Mister Johnson, is on your last six starts. What happened?”
“Well, two things. I found the strike zone and a straight change.”
“Are you excited about joining the Rangers?”
“Am I now?” He grinned. “Isn’t a done deal yet. How old are you?”
This guy was incredible. What a flirt. And on camera, too.
He leaned forward and seemed to be checking her notes. “It’s a fair question, you know my age.” He pointed. “Right there, the year, month, and day.”
She leaned away from him and glanced at April again and gave her a can-you-believe-this-guy head shake. But Sammi Dan’s usual twenty-nine answer refused to pass her lips. For some reason, she didn’t want to lie to this guy. “That’s a silly question. Why would you even want to know?”
“Just curious to see if I’m going to be breaking one of my rules or not.”
Her face burned, and her interview flew out the window. She forgot all about the filming. “You have rules? Who do you think you are? Leroy Jethro Gibbs?”
“Ah, you like NCIS, too. Number eight, I usually don’t date older women, but in your case…yep…I’d make an exception. I’ve got to meet with my agent tonight, but what say we have dinner together after the game tomorrow?” He looked at April. “Want me to ask one of the hombres to join us?”
“Oh, no. I’ll be fine. You two go ahead.”
Sammi Dan gave his shoulder a little push, maybe more of a shove. “I’d love to. That’ll be great, but I want April to come.”
She turned off her camera and hung it at her side. “I am. Miss Davenport’s producer, but I do not have to go—nor do I want to.”
“Hey, I know y’all came for the interview, and you’re welcome to shoot a quick one after the game.” He looked to Sammi Dan. “I apologize for fooling around here, but four’s a double date, three’s a crowd.”
“Excuse me. I hate to interrupt.” A ditzy blonde tapped his shoulder then thrust her pad and pen at him. “I just have to have your autograph. You are The Deacon, aren’t you?”
He grinned again. He had an alluring almost-smile, nearly a smirk, but with a come-hither slant. “I was, but I don’t play anymore.”
“That’s okay, I don’t watch anymore. Not since you haven’t been there.” She pointed to the pad, repeatedly poking at it. “Sign it anyway for me, please. Make it out to Chrystal, that’s C-H-R-Y-s-t-a-l. Starts off like the flower, you know, chrysanthemum. Mama did that to make me a very special Chrystal. I just loved watching you play so much. What a game you’ve got.”
The man signed the woman’s paper, then the floozie in too-tight pants and ten-inch streetwalker heels kissed his cheek and disappeared.
“So what was that all about?”
He shrugged. “Another time, another life. So we on for dinner?”
Her face had cooled, and she rediscovered a mite of civility. “Okay, sure. Fine. I’ll ditch the camera girl after our interview and eat with you as long as you take me somewhere expensive.”
“Know just the place, a little tamale cart not too far, within walking distance. The proprietor wears a big hat, has a real classy burro named Latte, and serves the best tamales in town.”
Sammi Dan scooted her chair back and stood. God’s gift to humor this guy was not—but still cute—and besides, she’d never dated a phenomenon. She shook her head. “No way, George. I was thinking someplace with a little more glitz and glamour. Don’t you want to see me all dressed up?” She extended her hand, and he stood and took it. “So thank you again, Mister Johnson. Until tomorrow.”
“What happened to G. H.?” He shook then kept hold of her hand. “Oh, and a word of warning, the Rojos are old school, no femalies in the locker room.”
“Not a problem. Wouldn’t want to go there anyway.”
“If I finish what I start, I’ll see you and April on the field for the official interrogation. Otherwise, how about we meet right here?”
She let him keep her hand. “Why not the stadium either way?” The contrast between his calloused fingertips and the rest of his hand intrigued her.
“My agent seems to think I need a shutout to get the call we’re waiting for.”
She laughed. “Nothing like putting a little pressure on, is there?”
“I think that’s the whole point.”
Gij watched the weather girl walk away then thought on her all the way to his meeting. And she turned up again in the TV in his head the next morning, too, almost as soon as he opened his eyes. He wouldn’t call her beautiful, but highly attractive sure fit. Hard to believe the weather girl had shown up in Mexico City, of all the thousands of possibilities, tens of thousands.
He allowed himself to think about Sammi Dan all the way to the ballpark. Once inside and dressed in his red pin-striped uniform, he relegated her from his conscious and went to work on the pre-game reports. He had a shutout to throw.
Between his little bit of Spanish and the Rojos’ general manager’s more decent English, he and the catcher got on the same page with every batter. Then he found himself a quiet corner and went to his knees. For the longest, he waited, focused full on the Lord. Finally, a peace settled over—then inside—him.
“Thank You, Father. For Your glory and Your honor, find pleasure in me, Your creation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
For seven innings, perfection. Then the first batter in the eighth leaned forward on an inside pitch and took it on the forearm. Wonder he didn’t break it. The next guy squared to bunt then slapped a dying quail to right field just over the charging first baseman’s head.
Men on first and third. Great. He didn’t need this.
Gij got the ball back and stepped off the mound. “Well, old son, it’s now or never.” Nine heaters later, he strolled to the dugout. Their best hitter had only managed a foul, but his other eight tosses went untouched. Three outs later, he walked off the Rojos’ mound for what he hoped would be the last time.
After fifteen minutes or so, when the fans started thinning, he met Samantha back out on the field as promised. Her microphone crowded his mouth, and her camera girl’s lights practically blinded him, but her unfettered enthusiasm charged him.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like it, G. H. Your whipsaw motion is just phenomenal. How’d you develop it?”
“Played third base in college, and it just came natural when I gave pitching a shot.”
She pushed back the strand of hair that kept blowing across her face. “I watched the game sitting next to the Rangers’ scout right behind home plate. Fastest you threw before the eighth was ninety-eight, but after the two guys got on base, the last nine went from a hundred and three all the way to a hundred six. How’d you do it? Get faster instead of slower, I mean, seems it’d be the other way around.”
“Best ask the Good Lord that one. I didn’t make this arm.”
The weather girl turned toward the camera. “Folks, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been watching baseball all my life. I can’t see one reason why George Herman Walter Johnson shouldn’t be pitching for the Rangers instead of the Rojos. Really, Texas fans are in for a treat. I know I won’t miss a game. This is Samantha Davenport reporting live from Mexico City.”
Dragging her finger across her throat, she faced him as the camera lights went off. “Instead of my usual beauty nap this afternoon, I Googled you. How do you suppose Major League Baseball is going to feel about a professional poker player in their ranks?”
“I do believe your eyes are even greener under the camera lights. You ever seen ’em in light that bright?”
“Duh, I have a makeup mirror. Why are you dodging my question? I didn’t ask you when she was filming, so what’s the deal?”
“I wasn’t doing anything illegal. And I have never bet on a baseball game, not ever. Actually, I’m not even a gambler. I used to be a poker player, and now I’m a baseball player.”
“Simple as that?”
Just like a female, she wanted more than he was willing to give. “Isn’t it?”
“Okay then, why did the University of Texas kick you out of Longhorn baseball right before the College World Series?”
“They didn’t. I flunked out. Spent too much time at the Hold ’Em tables.”
She batted her lashes. “ ‘I see,’ said the blind man. So where are you taking me for dinner?”
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