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Catching Ava: Spring Training, #3

Catching Ava: Spring Training, #3

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Catching Ava: Spring Training, #3

270 pages
4 heures
Mar 14, 2017


It starts with a blind date… 

A blind date with a sexy major league baseball player seems harmless enough. Except Ava Phillips falls hard for Xavier Monreal and then can't get him to move off first base. 

He is not boyfriend material… 

Xavier has some family issues that need resolving before he's boyfriend material for anyone. He also has a stubborn streak that keeps Ava at arm's length. 

Their passion won't be enough if they both dig their heels in. 

Time and again their agendas clash. Ava has personal goals that keep her from spending much time with Xavier. Meanwhile, Xavier needs to get his head out of his ass if he wants to earn her respect. Major league baseball is a demanding sport not conducive to long-term relationships. Only the strongest can survive. 

Welcome to the Spring Training series by best-selling author Becca Jameson. Spring Training follows the lives of several major league baseball players as they deal with the fame and reality of life and love. 

This third book in the series, Catching Ava, features the third baseman as he meets the perfect sweet, innocent, younger woman while dealing with a family crisis. Club Zodiac, the spinoff series that follows Spring Training, is featured in this book. 

This is a full-length novel with 64,000 words, a happily ever after, no cliffhanger, no cheating, and super hot sex scenes. 

Mar 14, 2017

À propos de l'auteur

Becca Jameson is the best-selling author of the Wolf Masters series and The Fight Club series. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two kids. With almost 50 books written, she has dabbled in a variety of genres, ranging from paranormal to BDSM. When she isn’t writing, she can be found jogging with her dog, scrapbooking, or cooking. She doesn’t sleep much, and she loves to talk to fans, so feel free to contact her through e-mail, Facebook, or her website. …where Aphas dominate.

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Catching Ava - Becca Jameson

Chapter 1

Does Lily know you’re here?

Ava shook her head without glancing in Zia’s direction. She held one hand above her eyes to shield them from the sun. Her gaze was locked on the third baseman. No.

Are you going to tell her? Zia leaned forward, waving a hand in front of Ava’s face to get her attention.

Ava still didn’t take her eyes off Xavier Monreal. Eventually, but after the tantrum she had Friday, I’m not really in the mood to speak to her.

Zia chuckled. I heard it was bad. What happened?

I don’t know. She and Dominic had some sort of disagreement, and Lily insisted we leave immediately. She hardly spoke to me on the way home.

Wow. That must have been a long two-hour drive.

It was. Trust me. Ava rolled her eyes.

She hasn’t called me, either, Zia admitted. That was saying something. Zia was Lily’s best friend. They’d known each other for years.

Sure, Ava was Lily’s sister. But there was a twelve-year age difference. At twenty-two, Ava felt like they were recently becoming more like friends than the mother-daughter relationship they’d had since their parents died when Ava was six.

So… Xavier, huh? Zia wiggled her brows.

Maybe, Ava responded, trying to sound noncommittal, as if she didn’t care and hadn’t driven back to Jupiter to see him play another spring training game. She smoothed her free hand over the edge of her skirt. Had this short sundress been the right choice for today? She wasn’t sure. She felt slightly exposed now.

Zia clearly fought laughter. You’re here. And you haven’t taken your gaze off him since you sat down.

Finally, Ava dropped her hand and turned to face Zia. He’s hot. I mean those pants… And that dark skin of his… And those eyes… She turned her gaze back toward him as he caught a ball and threw it to second base. They were still warming up. The game would start in ten minutes.

You can’t see his eyes from here, Zia teased. But I will admit, they are nice.

When he smiles… Ava squirmed in her seat.

So you were on a date with him the other night when Lily and Dominic fought?

Yeah. Sort of. Not sure if it was a pity date or something more. But I thought we had fun at dinner, and then we talked for a while after. Maybe something might have come of it if Lily hadn’t stomped back to the table and insisted we leave. Ava hadn’t been too pleased with her sister at the time, but Lily had been under a lot of stress dealing with a crazed stalker for weeks, so she cut her some slack.

A pity date? Why do you say that?

Ava shrugged. Dominic set us up. Not sure Xavier had a say in it.

I don’t think Xavier does anything he doesn’t want to do. Besides, he at least knew who you were, right? I mean, you met him at my wedding, didn’t you?

Not really. I saw him there. Drooled. But I didn’t speak to him.

Nevertheless, I’m sure he saw you too. He knew what he was getting into when he agreed.

"If he’s such a nice guy as all of you proclaim, then it’s possible he was simply being nice," Ava pointed out. Let’s hope not.

Xavier had called her the following morning, and they’d spoken for over an hour. He’d also texted her several times in the last few days. None of that had been necessary as a follow-up to being nice. Besides, he had invited her to come to his game. Also not necessary.

As the team ran into the dugout, Ava held her breath. At the last second, Xavier lifted his gaze, smiled, and gave her a brief wave.

She came, Xavier whispered to his best friend.

Who came? Brett set his glove down and lifted one leg onto the bench to stretch his calf muscle.

Lily’s sister. She’s sitting with your wife.

Really? Ava? Didn’t you go out with her Friday night?

I did. Xavier ran a hand over his face and took deep breaths. He had invited her today, but he wasn’t sure she would show up.

And? How did it go? You haven’t mentioned it.

It was fine.

Fine? Brett lifted a brow. That sounds horrible. Like you would’ve rather watched paint dry.

Xavier sighed. No. Not at all. She’s cute and funny and smart and sexy as hell. Way better than drying paint.

Then what’s the problem?

Well, first of all, she’s twenty-two. She graduated from college less than a year ago. Xavier tucked his shirt in better as if it needed straightening. Second of all, it’s always messy starting a relationship with someone’s sister. What if things go south and I’m stuck having to answer to Lily for the rest of my life? Or you? Zia’s like a sister to her too.

True. But aren’t you getting ahead of yourself? I just asked if you liked her. That’s all.

Yeah. He way more than liked her. If Lily and Dominic hadn’t had a fight, Xavier would’ve gotten Ava on the dance floor and hopefully managed to kiss her before the evening ended. The woman had actually made him nervous. And no woman had ever made him nervous before.

"Well, she’s here now. And I don’t think she drove two hours from Miami to see me play." Brett smiled. His eyes danced with laughter as they ran out onto the field for the national anthem.

Xavier just hoped he could keep his head in the game now that he knew Ava Phillips was sitting behind the dugout with the other wives and girlfriends.

Chapter 2

Seems weird to leave before the game’s over. Ava followed Zia toward the Miami clubhouse to wait for the men.

Yeah. It was strange at first. But it’s something they do during spring training. When the season starts, I never leave a game early. This is practice. The veteran players usually start the game like Brett, Dominic, and Xavier did today. They play a few innings, and then the coach pulls them and puts in a rookie. The object of spring training is for the coaches to decide who comes up to the majors and who doesn’t. Xavier doesn’t have to worry. He’s already earned his spot on the team.

And that’s a given? Every year?

After three years, it’s pretty solid. Unless something happens. But Xavier is on fire. He’s golden. Zia tucked her arm around Ava’s. He’s young enough to have a lot of years of baseball left in him.

Ava glanced at Zia. How old is he?

Twenty-nine, I think.

Ava laughed.

What’s so funny?

Lily’s been dating a twenty-six-year-old and fretting over it the entire time. She thinks their eight-year age gap is unacceptable. Xavier is almost that much older than me. But the double standard.

Yeah. Kinda crazy. As long as it’s the man that’s older, no one flinches.

Ava let go of Zia’s arm and wrung her hands together as they reached the clubhouse. She was nervous about seeing Xavier again. Friday night they hadn’t had a moment alone. She assumed that was about to change.

She felt like a groupie waiting for him outside the clubhouse.

Stop worrying. I’m sure it will be fine. Zia glanced at the door as it opened, and all three friends stepped out.

Several fans stood closer to the clubhouse, and Ava watched as the men signed autographs for them before making their way through the group and heading toward Ava and Zia.

Brett leaned down and kissed Zia so thoroughly Ava’s face heated.

Dominic waved at them, nodded, and took off in another direction.

Xavier smiled at Ava as he stepped into her personal space. You came, he whispered.

She licked her lips and returned his smile. Did you think I wouldn’t show up?

He shrugged. I wasn’t sure. It’s a long drive.

Was he sorry she came? Suddenly she felt even more nervous.

He nodded behind him in the direction Dominic had fled. My car’s in the lot next to the clubhouse. Is yours in the visitor lot?

No. I drove to Zia’s. She brought me here.

Perfect. Their condo is close to mine.

Somehow she felt considerably younger than twenty-two all of a sudden. This was a grown man with a career and looks and a fan base. She was hardly out of college, had no full-time job yet to speak of, and lived in a one-bedroom apartment off the trust from her parents’ death. She was way out of her league.

He set a hand possessively on her lower back as they walked.

She liked it. A chill climbed up her spine.

Dominic was ahead of them, and he climbed into his car and pulled out of the lot without looking back. His presence was awkward. She didn’t really want to get into her sister’s crazy relationship with Dominic, but it was like an elephant in the parking lot.

Xavier stopped at the passenger side of a fancy silver sports car she assumed was his and turned toward her, dropping his bag. I don’t have a clue what’s up with Dominic and your sister. I didn’t ask. I didn’t really want to know.

Me neither. She was mute on the way home Friday night, and I haven’t spoken to her about it since.

Xavier smiled. Then that subject’s off the table. Maybe tonight we can have a full evening out without the sudden interruption of a lover’s spat.

Sounds good. She had no idea what his intentions were for the evening. They hadn’t discussed specifics. She’d brought an overnight bag in the back of her car—just in case. But that was presumptuous at best.

Xavier opened the door and waited for her to get situated inside before shutting it. He rounded the hood while she wiped her hands on her skirt and straightened it.

She had never been more nervous about a date in her life. Friday night had been entirely different. They’d been with her sister and Dominic. There had been no pressure. This was the first time she would be alone with Xavier.

He opened the driver’s door, dropped his bag behind the seat, and slid into the car. It was warm inside, and he started the engine and adjusted the air conditioning. Then he turned toward her.

His gaze was serious, and he licked his lips. Was he as nervous as she was? That seemed unlikely.

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we leave.

She furrowed her brow. Okay.

He reached out with his left hand, cupped her face, and closed the distance to kiss her.

Oh. My. God.

Maybe he meant a simple peck, but she found herself leaning toward him, grabbing onto his forearm, and tipping her face into his touch.

He deepened the kiss, his tongue stroking her bottom lip until she parted for him. Power raced from his mouth into her. He consumed her until her brain turned to mush and she didn’t know where she was.

Her world focused on nothing but the best kiss she’d ever experienced in her life. And her entire body responded to his touch as if pleading for it to never end.

When he released her lips slowly, he continued to nibble on her top lip until he met her gaze. A slow smile spread across his face. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Heat spread across her cheeks. He was so intense. And she was so aroused. It was difficult not to squirm. Who got all hot and bothered from one simple kiss?

Except it wasn’t simple at all. She was in so much trouble.

He eased back into his seat, put the car in gear, and pulled out of the spot.

Ava couldn’t have driven if her life depended on it. How was he so calm and collected?


Yes? She jerked her gaze to his.

Put your seat belt on, hon. He winked.

She turned a darker shade of red and reached for the belt. When she had it buckled, he took her hand and held it over the console between them. His fingers were shades darker, and his palm engulfed hers. She stared at his profile for a few minutes. He was so gorgeous. His Latin heritage gave him stunning wavy black hair and dark eyes. Years of playing ball gave him muscular arms and a chest any woman would want to run her hands over.

Why didn’t he have a girlfriend?

His thumb rubbed her palm, making her wish he were rubbing the rest of her body in the same way.

This was so unlike her. Sure, she’d been attracted to him at the wedding and then again Friday night, but after several conversations with him in the last few days, she found she really liked him for more than his looks. He was funny and sweet and kind.

He’d shared details about his life. She now knew his parents divorced when he was young, and he’d been raised in both households, spending half of each year with his mother in Florida and the other half with his father in Puerto Rico.

His mother was also from Puerto Rico, but her family had moved to Florida when she was a child. The two families had been long-time friends, so the marriage had been a no-brainer. The divorce hadn’t been on anyone’s agenda.

She also learned that Xavier had a tumultuous relationship with his father in recent years. Xavier also had a younger brother living in Puerto Rico who was in and out of trouble, and Xavier was tired of bailing him out. His father, Carlos, tended to side with his brother, Juan. It was messy. And apparently Carlos had been behaving erratically ever since Juan went to jail the first time a few years ago.

She’d also shared details about her childhood. She’d been six when her parents died in a car accident, leaving an eighteen-year-old Lily to raise her. Lily had been a wonderful sister/mother, and Ava counted herself lucky. Lily had also given up having a relationship of her own to raise Ava, which was why at thirty-four she was still single.

You okay? Xavier asked.

She was staring out the windshield, seeing nothing. At his question, she jerked her attention to his profile. Yes. Perfect.

He squeezed her hand and smiled. A few minutes later, he pulled up to an enormous row of condos and stopped the car. I keep this place for spring training, the six weeks out the year I live here in Jupiter.

She climbed out her side of the car at the same time he exited. You keep a condo for just six weeks a year?

He nodded. Yeah. It’s easier. Spring training is always here. I don’t like to deal with the hassle of finding a place every year. Most of the guys keep a place here. Some have mansions on the water. I can’t justify throwing money away like that. Seems extravagant. Wasteful, I guess. He took her hand as he led her toward the entrance to what appeared to be a two-story corner unit.

Do you have parking somewhere?

Yep. I have a garage accessible from the back. But I didn’t figure we would stay here long right now.

Ah. Okay. After he unlocked the door, she ducked under his arm and entered his place.

It was far more than a simple condo, which shouldn’t surprise her. After all, the guy made plenty of money. He could own whatever place he wanted.

He dropped his bag and shut the door, locking it at her back. Come on in. He grabbed her hand and dragged her farther into the living room. A plush, beige sectional surrounded an entertainment center that appeared to house everything a bachelor could possibly need.

Are you hungry? he asked as he lured her into the attached kitchen area.

Not really. The truth was she couldn’t possibly eat. Her heart was racing from being in his presence, and her stomach was a twisted knot of arousal from inhaling his scent. It wasn’t that he wore a specific cologne or anything. It was his soap, his shampoo, his deodorant. All those things combined with his own personal musk to drive her crazy.

He glanced at his watch. It’s early still. We could go out for dinner in a while.

Sounds good. She fidgeted where he left her standing in the kitchen while he opened the fridge.

A second later, he turned around with a bottle of water, which he took a long drink of and then set on the island. He leaned his butt against the side of the island. Then he met her gaze, his expression serious. Seconds ticked by. Come here, Ava.

She barely had enough brain cells to tell her feet to move, but finally she managed to close the distance between them. When had this intensity picked up?

When they’d gone out Friday night, he’d been easygoing. Light. Their conversations and texts had been similar. But now that she was with him… Yeah. Totally different.

As she stepped into his space, he spread his feet wider, grabbed her waist, and hauled her against his body. The bulge in his pants was undeniable. Her pulse picked up speed.

She was definitely in over her head. But she’d known that before she came to Jupiter that morning. Somewhere in her mind, she’d been fully aware of what she was getting into with this man. And she’d craved it.

She’d had three days to daydream about a moment like this one. None of her imaginings came close to how she actually felt in his arms, however. The intensity of his gaze made her clasp her legs together. Her heart raced. Her mouth was dry.

There was a reason why she packed a bag and tucked it in her car. Now that she stood in his condo with his hands on her waist, she knew she’d made the right choice. She was twenty-two for God’s sake. It was time to lose the V-card.

She wasn’t one of those prudes who held on to her virginity for religious reasons or because she had some high moral standards or even because she wanted to wait until marriage. It had just happened. Or rather hadn’t happened.

She’d been a hard worker in school. She’d dated, but her studies had always taken priority, and somehow she’d never met anyone she wanted to go out with more than a few times, let alone sleep with. Until Xavier. He had a magnetic pull on her, and she knew the timing was right. Xavier was exactly the person she wanted to have sex with for the first time. Any lingering doubt about this plan fled.

He eased his hands up her sides, grazing her breasts on the way, and then cupped her face with both palms and tipped her head back. That kiss in the car was supposed to break the ice. I don’t think it worked.

Before she could respond, he closed the gap and took her mouth again. The first kiss had taken her breath away. This one was so much more. Her knees threatened to buckle.

She leaned toward him and flattened her hands on his chest to keep from sliding to the floor. Her eyes fluttered closed as he tasted every inch of her mouth and sucked her lips between his until they were swollen. She panted heavily when he finally broke the kiss.

His hands smoothed down from her cheeks to her neck to her shoulders. Wow.

Yeah. She blinked, having trouble focusing. Her breasts were swollen and pressing against her bra, making it seem two sizes too small. Her nipples were puckered and tight. Both were pleading for

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