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    Jenny and Michael’s Love Story

       Jenny Kriesel ducked behind the ice cream stand as a ball flew toward the first baseline, straight at her. A loud thump struck the counter above her before the ball bounced to the ground. She shook her head, picking up the ball and tossing it in the already-full bucket. How many more foul balls would the The Eau Express team hit today?

       As she stood up, the warm summer sun caressed Jenny’s face. She gathered her shoulder-length hair in her hands and tied it in a ponytail. So much for straightening her hair this morning. No one would notice her perfectly straight strands when it was tied back in a ponytail. Not that she needed to impress anyone.

       She glanced up at the nearly empty stands. Even if she wanted to, there weren’t many people to impress today. Unless she counted Brian. Surely, he was at the game and would stop by soon, making another feeble attempt at asking her on a date. If he couldn’t gain the confidence to truly ask her, then she wasn’t interested.

       Footsteps clanged against the metal stands and ended with a thump as Brian hopped off and landed on the concrete. He stopped in front of the ice cream stand, his eyes fixed on a dried glob of chocolate on the counter. “I’d like a sundae cone.”

       Jenny withheld a grin. Who was she kidding? Brian would never get the courage to ask her out. She waited for disappointment to settle in the pit of her stomach, but nothing came. She twisted in the small space and opened the cooler, reaching for a sandwich. Turning around again, she flinched with surprise.

       “I’d like a t-shirt.” Next to Brian, stood a tall lean guy with dark features. In a way, he almost looked like Seinfeld. But cuter. Much cuter.

       Jenny lifted her hand to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, but gripped at air. Dang it. Why had she pulled her hair into a ponytail? She dropped her hand and expelled a breath, realizing that she’d been holding it. Probably since she’d first laid eyes on the handsome Seinfeld guy. “Uh, which shirt do you want?”

       “That one.” He pointed at a large orange t-shirt hanging on the wall, his gaze never leaving hers.

       She pulled the shirt off of the hanger and set it on the counter. He quickly reached out to grab it, his hand brushing hers. Had he meant to do that? Hopefully, he had. “Ten dollars.”

       Brian cleared his throat. “Here’s the cash for my sundae cone. In case you wanted your register to balance out.”

       “Oh. Right.” She took the cash and slipped it inside the register, barely aware of her fingers hitting the keys as she rang up both of the sales.

       “We better get going.” Brian looked at the guy standing next to him. “We’re missing the game.”

       She almost choked on her own saliva. Was handsome Seinfeld a friend of Brian’s? This couldn’t have worked out better. Now that he knew she worked at the baseball field, maybe he’d come back to a game with Brian.

       The guy held his arms up and pulled his new t-shirt down over his other shirt. Before he could adjust the length, his under shirt lifted, exposing hard lean muscles. Jenny tried to look away, but she couldn’t.

       He caught her staring at his abs and smiled. “I didn’t want to take my other shirt off. I thought that might be a little risqué for a baseball game.”

       She laughed as Brian and his friend turned to walk away. The guy stepped up on the stands and looked back. “We’re in Section B if you want to sit with us later.”

       If she wanted to sit with them? Heck yes she did. Not that she would act like it. Her shift ended after the seventh inning, so she’d sit with them during the middle of the eighth inning. She couldn’t look too eager.

       The game rushed by in a blur. On the outside, she was calm and composed, smiling at kids as they begged their parents for cold Snicker’s bars and Eau Express apparel. But on the inside, her nerves were melting away every last bit of confidence.

       By the time the eighth inning started, her legs felt shaky. Maybe this was a bad idea. What if he’d offered for her to sit with them because he was just being nice?

       She glanced up at the stands, searching for Brian and his friend. She found them and did a double take. The guy was looking right at her. She swallowed hard. Maybe he really wanted her to sit by him, after all.

       Jenny ran to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror. Pulling out her pink lip-gloss, she applied it to her lips and smacked them. She took off her work shirt and straightened the tank top she wore underneath. Taking one last look in the mirror, she took a deep breath.

       Part of her wanted to run to Section B. To spend as much time as possible with him. What had she been thinking wasting time in the bathroom? Yet again, she had to hold herself back. Act intrigued, but not interested. She shouldn’t appear too eager to hang out with him. A guy as cute as him, it would probably go straight to his head.

       She forced her long legs to descend the steps at a steady pace, pausing at the row where Brian and his friend sat. She ambled toward them and slipped into a seat next to Brian’s friend.

       Brian crossed his arms.

       Jenny bit her bottom lip, guiltiness sweeping in like an unwelcomed visitor. But she shouldn’t feel guilty, should she? If Brian really wanted her to sit by him, he should have asked. She glanced at Brian’s friend. Did he know that Brian had been visiting her at the ice cream stand since the beginning of the season? “How do you two know each other?”

       Brian glanced at Jenny before his gaze flickered away. “Michael is my landlord.”

       Jenny raised her eyebrows. A landlord? How old was this guy? “I usually imagine older people being landlords.” As soon as the words escaped, she cupped a hand over her mouth. “I mean …”

       Michael gave a deep, throaty laugh. “Well, I did join AARP last year, but I’m their youngest member.”

       She nodded, relieved that he was messing with her. At least he wasn’t offended. “Seriously, how old are you?”

       He winked at her. “I’m twenty-five.”

       Only a year older than her. “How many rentals do you have?”

       “I own two. The way I see it, the earlier I can rent properties, the sooner I can start making money off of them. In ten years, my goal is to have ten rental houses.”

       “Wow. That’s impressive.” So much for only acting intrigued, but she couldn’t help it. He was very accomplished for a twenty-five year old.

       Michael leaned back in his seat and set one leg over the other, bending it just above his other knee. “But enough about me, what about you?”

       “I just graduated with majors in education and special ed. Now I’m looking for a teaching position around here.”

       Michael let out a low pitch whistle. “I can’t imagine being a teacher, especially after the way I acted in school.”

       “Really?”

       “Don’t worry. I’ve changed my ways.”

       She laughed. “You don’t have me convinced.”

       Michael twisted his wrist, while snapping his fingers. “Dang it. Can’t get much past you, huh?”

       “Nope.” Jenny smiled. Michael had a lot of the qualities she was looking for—laid back, confident, and funny. She had to see him again. “What are you guys doing for the Fourth of July?”

       Brian leaned forward, setting his elbows on his knees. “Nothing yet. What are you doing?”

       “You should have a party,” she suggested.

       “Wait a minute.” Michael put his palm up to stop further conversation. “Shouldn’t you ask his landlord if it’s okay?”

       Jenny narrowed her eyes at him and gave him a playful nudge. “Are you always this difficult?”

       “Yes.”

       “That’s for sure.” Brian sighed, eyeing the two of them before looking over at Michael. “So, is it okay if I have a party?”

       “That depends.” Michael turned his whole body toward her, his dark brown eyes searing her heart. “If you’ll be my partner for bag toss.”

       Jenny grinned. Was it too late to play hard to get? “We’ll see.”

    Where are they now?