Ginny walked out into the waiting room of her clinic. "So, Eliot." she smiled. "Who's on the chopping block for today."
Eliot handed her the list. She looked at the name. "Leia Lawson?" She asked. A man in the corner of the room, holding a corgi got up. Ginny smiled, "follow me." She led them into an exam room. "So." She said, opening Leia's file. "This is Leia's first time at this clinic, right?" She looked up and gulped. Mike Lawson was looking at her, an annoyed look in his eyes.
"Yeah, well." He shrugged. "She's my ex's dog and I wasn't going to bring her to that fancy LA clinic where they give dogs mani-pedis." He held the dog out. "She needs her shots."
Ginny gently took the dog. The dog licked her face, wagging her tail so fiercely her entire lower body shook. Putting her on the table, she turned and looked at Mike.
"I'm sorry, it's just...you're Mike Lawson."
He looked slightly annoyed.
"I'm Ginny. Ginny Baker. I had your rookie card, you've been my favorite player since-"
"Don't..." He said, holding up a hand. "Finish that thought, you'll make me feel old and it makes you look stupid." He looked at the dog, "can you help her?"
Ginny's stomach sank. Looking at Leia, she murmured. "I'm willing to bet she gets her temperament from her mom."
"Be grateful that she didn't." Mike muttered. Ginny frowned at him. Well, she supposed it was true: never meet your heroes. Leia yipped at him, before licking Ginny's fingers.
"Well, what shots does she need?"
"Uh..." Mike blinked. "The usual ones?" Ginny looked at him in irritation.
"Right, of course. I was top of my class in veterinary school so I could learn to administer "the usual ones." She scratched behind Leia's ears. Mike grumbled.
"So what can you do?" He asked. Ginny grit her teeth. He was officially an ass.
"I'll check her microchip." She said.
"She doesn't have one." Mike said. Ginny frowned.
"Ra-" He cleared his throat. "My ex didn't want her to get one. Something about an article she read about chips negatively affecting a dog's..." He trailed off as Ginny gave him a glare.
"That's beyond stupid and irresponsible." Ginny muttered. "If she gets lost and doesn't have a collar a microchip would save a hell of a lot of hassle and now I'll have to get her vaccination records the old fashioned way."
"Old fashioned?" Mike said nervously. Ginny grimaced.
"A blood test." Ginny said. Mike's eyes widened. So he cared about the dog; he'd regained some points, but he was still an ass. "The results should be back by the end of the week. If she needs anything, I'll contact you."
Mike nodded. Ginny turned her attention to Leia. The dog was looking at her intently.
"Hi, sweetie. Let's get your weight." She picked her up and brought her to the scale. "Can you sit for me?" She asked.
"She doesn't..." Mike trailed off as Leia sat still. Ginny read the scale and nodded. Picking her up and bringing her back to the exam table. "How did you do that?"
She pulled a treat from the jar on her desk and gave it to Leia. "Dogs respond to tone." She said. "If you say something in a nice tone, they'll listen. If you say something angrily, they'll get defensive." She threw him a pointed look. "It works on humans too."
"Haha." He said, running hand through his hair. "She's been driving me nuts, barking all night, chewing my shoes."
"I'm not a dog psychologist, but maybe she's had a disruption in her life?" Ginny said, checking Leia's teeth.
"Well she lives in my house now, not my ex's." He sighed. "It's not disruptive though, it's quiet most of the time."
"So a change in environment." Ginny said, pulling out her stethoscope and putting it in her ears. Leia's heart beat was strong and regular. No murmurs or anything else that would cause worry.
"Well, my ex took her to spite me." Mike mumbled. "She invited me over last week, practically begged me to take her back."
Ginny rolled her eyes. She highly doubted that it was true, but she decided not to contradict him. He seemed too caught up in his recollection to care.
"And I didn't get back with her, but I took the dog." He gave the dog a half smile. Ginny glared at him.
"I'm not sure I approve of people using a dog as leverage in a separation." She muttered as she opened a drawer to remove a needle for the blood test. Leia whimpered. "Hey, it'll be okay." She knelt so she was eye level with the dog. "It'll sting a little but after I'll give you another treat." Leia's tongue lolled out of her mouth and her lips pulled back in a smile. Ginny scratched behind her ears. "You're such a sweet girl." She said.
Mike was looking at her, bewildered. Ginny arched an eyebrow.
"Instead of gaping at me like a fish, maybe you can hold her? She's not going to like it when I give her her shot."
Mike nodded, going to stand by the table, rubbing his hands in soothing circles on her back. The dog moved closer to him. "You'll be good for Dr. Baker, right?" He rumbled and Ginny noted that he had deliberately made his voice comforting, taking her earlier suggestion to heart. Leia looked up at him and barely flinched when Ginny inserted the needle. Drawing some blood, she grinned.
"Good girl." She motioned to the jar of treats. "Do you want to give her one?"
"She's going to get fat." Mike muttered, but he reached for the jar anyways, grabbing 2.
"Actually she's a bit underweight." Ginny said. Mike's eyes narrowed.
"Not seriously." Ginny reassured. "Are you feeding her dry or wet food?"
"Dry." Mike said. "Once a day."
"Alternate between the two and give her a little in the morning." She scratched behind Leia's ears. "As for her barking and chewing your shoes. She probably needs to get out more. There's this great dog park you can take her to." She wrote down the address on a post it. "It might be good for her to socialize with other dogs."
"My friend Blip has a Yorkie." Mike muttered, taking the address and putting it in the breast pocket of his plaid shirt. Ginny tried to reign in her excitement. Mike Lawson had just told her that Blip Sanders had a yorkie.
"Set up a doggy playdate."
Mike ground his teeth.
"Or dog hang out." Ginny rolled her eyes. "If if calling it that bruises your male ego a bit less." She smiled down at Leia. "Men are so emotional."
Mike chuckled, but it was short and his shoulders tensed with anxiety. "Are you sure her weight's nothing to be worried about?"
Ginny nodded. "See the lab coat?" She pointed at her chest. "It means I know what I'm talking about."
"I'll contact you as soon as I have her blood work." Ginny continued. "And even if she's up to date on all her shots you should still set up an appointment for her to get micro-chipped." She gave Leia one last pat before going to the door. "All done!"
The next day Ginny got up early and took her dog, Satchel, on a run. The dog park was about 5 blocks from her house and it did both of them good. It was enclosed, so she could let him off his leash and go ahead of her. He was a shy dog and preferred to stay close. That morning was unusually cool, and a haze hung over the park, which was bizarre. Ever since she'd moved to San Diego it had been dry and hot. Satchel was turning a corner when he was almost knocked over by a round ball of fuzz half his size. Jumping back, he hid behind Ginny, looking at the ball in suspicion. Ginny gaped as the ball rolled over and grinned at her.
"LEIA" Mike Lawson's voice sounded as he ran down the hill. "Sorry, she's...." He trailed off. "Doctor Baker."
"Mr. Lawson." Ginny said. Satchel, who seemed to understand that the danger had passed, stuck his head out from behind Ginny and sniffed in Mike's direction. Mike, for his part, looked surprised to see her, but his signature annoyed expression came back as he watched Leia waddle over to Satchel. Satchel lowered his nose to sniff at Leia who happily licked his snout. He pulled his head back, sneezing.
"Leia." Mike groaned as Ginny laughed.
"Satchel doesn't mind." She said.
"He might bite her head off." Mike muttered. "I mean look at the size of him and he's definitely part Rottweiler."
Ginny crossed her arms. "And part Labrador. What's your point?" Mike blinked at her.
"Are you saying I would allow my dog near another one if I thought he was dangerous?" Ginny cut him off. "I don't know if you noticed, but it's kinda my job to fix dogs, not hurt them." She scrunched her face. "And by fix I didn't necessarily mean... not that I don't do that; it's my job, it's just that it's not the only thing I do." She broke off. Mike was looking reasonably chastened. Leia was playfully darting in and out of Satchel's legs. Satchel was looking up at Ginny for help, unsure what to do with the ball of brown fuzz. "A dog's breed doesn't determine its character." She said, pulling up the sleeve of her sweatshirt. A small semicircle of scar points was visible on her arm. "This was the worst bite a patient ever gave me. Wanna guess what type of dog it was?"
Mike looked at the scar and shook his head.
"Laugh all you want it's the truth." She yanked down her sleeve. "Satchel." She said, whistling. Satchel, grateful for the distraction, rushed at her legs, Ginny stumbled forward and grabbed the closest thing she could to stop herself from falling. Unfortunately that thing happened to be the beefy forearms of San Diego Padres starting catcher and team Captain Mike Lawson. He reacted, grabbing her waist and pulling her close so she was pressed against him. They were almost nose to nose.
"Satchel, huh?" Mike said.
"Uh huh." Ginny said, her voice breathy and higher than she felt comfortable with.
"As in Satchel Paige?"
Ginny didn't speak, just nodded. Mike had really nice eyes. Hazel with flecks of green.
"And here I thought I was your favorite player." He sounded smug, even suggestive. Ginny didn't miss the way his hand was sliding down her back. She grabbed it before it could go any lower.
"Well his name used to be Lawson, but I changed it." She gritted out.
"Oh?" Mike asked.
"Yeah, I met you and it turns out you're an ass." She pulled away, whistling for Satchel. He was still trying to hide from Leia's enthusiastic attention. She clicked his leash on and turned down the path to continue her run. She could feel Mike's eyes burning into her back as he watched her go. The last thing she heard before she turned the corner and left the park was Leia's mournful howl at having lost Satchel. Ginny kept jogging. Exercise was always a way for her to clear her head. She'd worked herself into a sweat before she realized it was time to go to work and that she didn't have time to go home first.
"What a pretentious, stupid, gropey-" She growled as she and Satchel went into the clinic. Eliot's eyes widened as he took in her appearance.
"I'm taking a shower and changing." She said, letting Satchel off his leash. "Also it's bring your kid to work day." She added, motioning to the dog as he rushed over to say hi to Eliot. About 20 minutes later she'd cleaned herself off and was wearing the back up clothes she kept in her locker. Pulling on her lab coat, she walked out. "So." She said, smiling at Eliot. "Today's victims?"
Eliot was about to reply when the door opened and a man walked in. "I have a delivery for Ms. Ginny Baker?" He said, looking down at his clip board. Ginny frowned; she hadn't ordered anything.
"That's me." She said. The man nodded and opened the door to the clinic.
"Bring it in." He called. Two more men carried in a large dog treat. Ginny's jaw dropped. Who....never mind. She knew who. Her eyes narrowed as the delivery man handed her a card.
"To Dr. Baker." She read through gritted teeth. "I'm sorry, please accept these box tickets for the next Padres game and this small present for Satchel as..." She crumpled the note and threw it in the trash. "Yeah that's not going to happen." She muttered, going into her office.
He was at the park the next morning with Leia. The second the Corgi spotted them she barked excitedly and charged, ripping the leash out of Mike's hand. Satchel froze, his eyes comically wide as though he wasn't sure if he should run or stand his ground. Mike walked over.
"Hi." He said.
"Good morning." Ginny's response was clipped.
"So, interesting thing happened yesterday." He said. "This woman, that I got really expensive tickets for, handed them back to the box office."
"Huh." Ginny said. "Well, and this is just a theory. Maybe she doesn't like the idea that you thought she could be bought."
"Bought?" Mike looked upset. "I was apologizing."
"Most people do that with words." Ginny snapped. "Throwing money at a problem doesn't solve it."
"I'm not sure what I even did wrong." Mike muttered. Ginny scoffed.
"Really? Let's start with you walking into my office while questioning my judgment, then move on to you implying that my dog might be a rabid monster followed by you trying to grope my ass."
"I-" Mike began but Ginny didn't want to hear his excuses.
"I guess you're all the same, aren't you? Think that a woman will just shut up if you tell her what she wants to hear or if you buy her something to cover up for shitty behavior."
"I'm getting the feeling that I'm not the person you're mad at." Mike snapped. "At least, not completely." He amended as Ginny glared. He dropped his gaze. "We're scaring the dogs." he mumbled, motioning to them. Leia and Satchel were looking at the two of them, confusion and nervousness obvious. Satchel growled at Mike.
"Here's a tip." Ginny said. "Talking to someone works better than giving her dog a weight problem." She frowned. "And box tickets suck. If I wanted to go to a baseball game, I'd get something closer, where I could actually feel like part of the game, not like I'm in some bubble, safe from everything that makes a baseball game a baseball game."
"That a hint for next time?" Mike said.
"There's not going to be a next time." Ginny said. "Stop trying to figure me out, Mr. Lawson; you suck at it." She turned and walked away. about a foot away she was pulled back by Satchel. He was looking a Leia and whined slightly. "Are you serious?" She grumbled. Mike held up his hands.
"Don't look at me. You told me about this park and that I needed to socialize my dog more. It's not my fault she imprinted on yours."
Ginny huffed and whistled. Satchel whined but followed.
The next morning Mike was at the park with Leia. Ginny sighed and let Satchel off the leash. He sat and watched as Leia came over. Mike was standing at a distance, clearly waiting to see what Ginny would do. She wasn't going to talk to him, she had more important things to focus on, like her morning jog. She let Satchel play with Leia while she jogged the perimeter of the park. The burning made her forget, because Mike had been right the day before. Part of her anger wasn't directed at him, but at Trevor. Even a year later the incident had still stung. She was on her second lap of the park when she realized she wasn't alone. She looked over at Mike. He was keeping time with her.
"I misread the moment." He said, his breath coming out in puffs. "When I...I thought you were flirting with me and I'm sorry."
Ginny gave him a jerky nod and sped up. Mike matched her speed, a cocky grin forming on his lips. She realized it was probably stupid to try and outrun someone who ran bases professionally, but she didn't care. Even if she'd picked the dress, a part of her was still the competitive ball player her father had wanted her to be. She strove to be the best and she would be damned if she let Mike Lawson out run her. She broke into a sprint. Mike adjusted his pace to match hers. Match, not outrun. She grit her teeth and with a final burst of energy passed him. Mike slowed, grimacing. She glanced over her shoulder, ready to gloat triumphantly, but....he was doubled over his hands on his knees.
"You've got a pair of legs on you...in that you run fast." He said, straightening up, his back and legs cracking. "It wasn't me trying to make a comment on how great your legs look." He wince in pain. Ginny grimaced.
"So it's true." She motioned to his legs. She'd heard that he'd had knee problems, but a part of her had never imagined that the Mike Lawson would ever not play for the San Diego Padres.
"Well, I'm not as young as I used to be." He said.
Ginny glanced at the ground.
"I um...I have an away game tomorrow so...I won't see you in the morning."
"Okay." Ginny shrugged.
"Okay..." Mike said. "Just...thought you should know."
"Fine." Ginny turned and was about to whistle for Satchel, when she paused. "Who's going to take care of Leia?"
"She's staying with Blip's family." Mike said. "Maybe when I come back..." He hesitated. "If we find ourselves at this park at the same time...you can beat me at another race?"
Ginny tilted her head. "I feel like that's elder abuse." She looked over at Satchel who was watching as Leia rolled in the grass in front of him. "But Satchel's never been good at making friends. He's too in his own head." She glanced at Mike. "So maybe he could see Leia."
The next day, Leia's bloodwork came back. She wasn't due for any vaccines and Ginny had Eliot leave Mike a message explaining that. It was a slow day at the clinic. She was going over notes on her desk when Eliot stuck his head into her office.
"There's a woman here who needs to see you about her dog. She said its an emergency and-" He jumped out of the way as a well dressed woman carrying a yorkie pushed into the room.
"You're Dr. Baker?" She said.
Ginny nodded, unsure how to respond. The woman looked her up and down.
"Well now I understand why Mike's lost his head." She grinned.
Ginny blinked. "Who are you?"
"Evelyn Sanders." She held out her hand. "And your number one fan, Dr. Baker."
"How do you know who I am?" Ginny said. Then paused. "Did you say Sanders?"
"Blip Sanders is my husband." She waved dismissively. "He's amazing, I know, but tell me about..." She put the yorkie down on the exam table before pointing at Ginny. "You."
Ginny rubbed her eyes, trying to make sense of the completely weird situation.
"Don't take this the wrong way." She said. "But I don't know you."
"Which is why I'm here." Evelyn said, moving around the office. "Mike's a good friend of my husband's and he went to visit Rachel. That never ends well, he mopes around for days. This time he took Leia, which, if you ask me was a long time coming. Rachel was fine with the idea of a dog but not with the actual responsibility of a dog. So he's in his usual post Rachel mood and then he takes Leia to the vet...and then all of a sudden he's...different." Evelyn tilted her head. "And then he came to me for advice." She wrinkled her nose. "Which frankly is a sign of sanity. I mean, I give great advice, but Mike's not great at accepting or asking for help from others."
"And you're the one who suggested he buy me ridiculous gifts?"
"God no." Evelyn said. "I said he should apologize and try to get to know you." She tilted her head. "What did he get you?"
"Baseball tickets and a giant dog treat for my dog."Ginny mumbled.
"Huh." Evelyn frowned. "Well, at least that's different from his usual routine of jewelry and huge flower arrangements."
Ginny frowned. "He's never bought baseball tickets for a girl before?"
"No." Evelyn grinned. "He doesn't get girls gifts that might inspire a connection past one night." Ginny looked away, focusing her attention on the yorkie.
"Is he okay?"
"Oh he's fine, I lied to get in here." Evelyn said, flippantly. "So. This..." She pulled a pair of tickets from her purse. "Is for next week's game at Petco. Right behind home plate. And this..." she held up a pass. "will get you into the clubhouse."
"Who says I want to go?" Ginny said, but she reached for them anyway.
"Mike's a good guy." Evelyn said. "A bit rough around the edges and...doesn't make the best first..or second impression, but...once you get to know him, he's a giant teddy bear."
"I suppose the beard helps the image." Ginny mumbled. Evelyn grinned.
"I like you." She said. "A strong woman who doesn't take shit and has him spinning in circles. The two of us should hang out some time." She picked up the dog. "Oh one more thing. My husband likes dressing up this poor thing in stupid outfits. Can you give me a medical reason that he shouldn't?"
Ginny blinked. "Sorry." She said. "Not one that I can think of."
Evelyn sighed. "Could you make one up? Throw in a few big science words to make it sound believable."
"Well." Evelyn said. "It was worth a try." She pulled out a card. "That's my number, I expect a call." She walked out, leaving Ginny holding the tickets, completely bewildered.
Mike wasn't at the park for the next few days. Not that Ginny was looking for him. It was her routine and he'd intruded on it. She didn't like unexpected variables and Mike Lawson spontaneously showing up to her morning work out was as unexpected as it got.
It wasn't until four days later that he was there with Leia. She wasn't relieved to see him. If anything, it was just her being happy that Satchel would stop moping if he saw Leia. Mike was sitting on a park bench, sunglasses on. Ginny let Satchel off the leash. She waited for Mike to say something, but he just watched her. She put her hands on her hips.
"Someone's in a mood."
"My knees are... Less than ideal." He stretched them out in front of him. "And I really didn't need the ego bruising that running after you would cause." He watched as Satchel sat in the grass, happily watching Leia run circles around him. "Your dog has it bad."
"My dog?" Ginny snorted. "Leia's the one who's flirting with him."
Mike arched an eyebrow. "Are you insulting my little princess?"
"Your princess?" Ginny snorted.
"What happened to she's my ex's dog and chews up my shoes?" Ginny retorted. Mike crossed his arms and didn't reply. "So, how was the game?"
"Giants won." Mike grunted. "We're playing the Cardinals next week."
"Stellar recap." Ginny said. "You should be a sports caster." She paused. "Wait...the Cardinals?"
Mike arched an eyebrow. "Yeah?" He asked.
"Nothing." She ignored the swooping sensation in her stomach. "I just..." She didn't to tell him about Evelyn's visit and certainly didn't want to discuss Trevor. "I hope you win."
"Yeah you do." Mike said. "Seeing as I'm your favorite player."
Ginny rolled her eyes.
"Was it just the rookie card or did you have note books with Mrs. Mike Lawson written in them?"
"I bet you had a big poster of me." Mike nudged her. Ginny tried not to think about the poster.
"I know you're trying to cheer yourself up, old man." She shot. "But you flatter yourself way too much. When I said you were my favorite player, I was sucking up to you because I figured it might make you want to come back to the clinic."
"I'm hearing a change in subject," Mike said, smirking at her "but not a denial."
Ginny looked him straight in the eyes. "I did not have your poster on my wall." Mike was staring at her intently.
"Sure you didn't." He said, looking back at Leia and Satchel. "So, I'm going to need an appointment for Leia. to get a microchip."
"Call the office and have Eliot set it up." Ginny said, getting up and whistling. Satchel reluctantly walked over.
He's head over heels doesn't want to leave." Mike said. Ginny was about to respond when Leia sat in front of Satchel, blocking his path, her eyes wide. Ginny laughed as Mike grit his teeth.
"Yeah." She said, shaking her head. "He's the one who's got it bad."
Mike saw her behind home plate the second he walked up. Lifting his catcher's helmet, he squinted, not believing what he was seeing, but there she was. Dr. Ginny Baker, wearing a Padres hat and jersey. Her eyes locked with her and she gave him a small smile. Briefly he wondered if she was wearing his number and unsure why that idea was so appealing for him.
He was pretty confident about the game...until Trevor Davis came up to bat and looked directly at Ginny. He glanced over at her to see that she'd ducked her head, her shoulders tensed. Davis seemed momentarily surprised, then his entire body language changed. He was posturing. Mike gritted his teeth. He clearly knew Ginny but...how? and how well? He called for a curveball. Footage of Davis told him that he was overconfident and tended to swing outside the box. He swung and missed. Mike smugly listened to the umpire call strike one. Davis grit his teeth. He wasn't going to put on a show for Ginny; not if Mike had anything to say about it.
Davis hit a foul ball. He'd begun to run before it was called. Stumbling he had to do the walk of shame back to home plate. Mike lowered his head, unsure if the catcher's mask was enough to cover his smug look. Mike called for a change up...and Miller waved him off to throw his fastball. Mike grit his teeth as the crack of bat connecting with ball lanced through his ears. Davis took off. Sal picked up the ball and threw it to Javanese who caught it just a Davis made it to first base.
"Safe." The umpire called.
"Are you blind?" Mike shouted. Davis shot him a smirk, then turned his attention to Ginny. Mike glanced over at her. She wasn't looking at Davis or anywhere near first base. Her eyes were on him. He gave her a small nod before focusing on the next batter.
Ginny's plan was to leave as soon as the game was over. However she hadn't factored in the tenacity of Evelyn Sanders. Before the game was even Over, Evelyn was at her elbow, bringing her into the clubhouse.
After a wild run around the inside of the clubhouse, dodging reporters, saying hi to different Padres, Evelyn finally pulled Ginny towards the field. Sonny Evers had told her Mike was out there with Tommy Miller.
"What did I say about shaking off my calls?" Mike's voice carried over the field. Ginny looked towards homeplate. Glancing at Evelyn, she whispered.
"Should we even be here?"
"I thought the fastball was the best call." Miller replied.
"Right, and of course because you've got so much experience in all your many years of baseball, the batter missed the ball." Mike's face took on a mock look of surprise. "Oh wait...no." He was about to say more when he caught sight of Evelyn and Ginny. Pulling off his hat, he ran a hand through his hair. "Ev...Dr. Baker."
Miller glanced at them dismissively before looking at Mike. "Can I go now, captain?" Mike frowned at the heavily loaded sarcasm in his title and turned to berate him.
It took Ginny a second to realize that she was the one who'd spoken. Miller shot her a look that was pure disbelief.
"And what would you know about that?" He asked.
Ginny swallowed. "Davis is a straight hitter. A fast ball wouldn't fool him. The way to have gone about it would have been to throw a curve or a screwball."
Miller laughed while Mike's eyebrows rose in amusement. "Screwball?" He said.
"Right." Miller turned back to Mike, "leave the baseball to the professionals and go back to playing with your test tubes, Doctor."
Mike shot him a glare before turning back to Ginny. "As much as I hate to do anything that can remotely be considered agreeing with this guy." He jerked his head in Tommy's direction. "The screwball's practically impossible to get right."
"I can." Ginny didn't know where this was coming from. Miller laughed and even though Mike kept quiet, he pressed his lips together to contain a snort. It was their disbelief that made Ginny's nervousness evaporate. Walking up to them, she held out her hand. "Glove." She said. Miller shook his head and opened his mouth, presumably to tell her to fuck off, when he was interrupted by Mike.
"Give her your glove, Miller."
Miller was about to protest, but one glance at Mike and the steely look in his eyes made him sigh and hand over his glove. Mike handed her a ball.
"Show me what you've got, Dr. Baker."
Ginny felt a thrill run through her as she turned and walked to the mound. She was about to pitch in Petco Park to Mike Lawson. It had been a while since she'd done this seriously, once in a while she'd throw a screwball for Satchel to get when they played catch. Looking back at Mike and Miller, she focused, emptying her mind of everything except for the ball in her hand and Mike Lawson's glove. She let the ball loose, watching as it spun towards Mike's glove. It struck the center of his glove with a dull thud. Mike's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. Miller had gone pale. Evelyn clapped. Mike straightened up and jogged to the mound.
"What the hell was that?" He demanded. Ginny met his eyes.
"My dad was a baseball player, almost went pro, but..." She shrugged. "I had an arm, he taught me how to use it."
Mike looked dumbstruck. Handing her the ball, he glanced at it. "Can you do it again?" He murmured. Ginny nodded.
He turned and walked back to the plate. Squatting behind it, he held up his glove. Ginny was dimly aware of other members of the Padres coming onto the field. She pulled her arm back and threw another screwball. There was a murmur of surprise and disbelief through the other players. Mike looked down at the ball in his hand.
"Hey Miller." He smirked. "You can't even throw like a girl."
Mike skipped the ice bath, a decision he knew he'd regret later. After the revelation that Ginny had an arm, Evelyn had invited her to dinner at the Sanders house. He'd volunteered to drive her. A quick shower and change and he was walking out to her. She was leaning against the wall, waiting for him...when Trevor Davis walked up to her. Mike watched as he tried to talk to her, but she brushed him off; her stance completely uncomfortable. Then he said something that made her entire body freeze.
"Everything good, Dr. Baker?" He said, walking up to her. Ginny nodded, shaking off whatever Davis had told her and moving away towards Mike. Davis' eyes narrowed.
"Ginny." He said. "I'm sorry about..
"It doesn't matter." She brushed him off. Walking out of the park, she stopped in front of parking garage. "Today was fun, but...I should go."
Mike frowned. "Why? I mean we were going to dinner."
Ginny seemed nervous. "Look, I..." She bit her lip. "I have an early day tomorrow and-"
"I don't see why-"
"What are we doing, Mike?" She looked at him. "You're clearly still hung up on your ex wife and I'm..." She backed away. "This is a bad idea, I mean, your dog is my patient." She turned and ran. Mike was dumbfound. He shook his head, not sure what to make of her. Getting in his car, he wondered what the hell Davis could have said to upset her. The Ginny who'd run from him just now was nothing like the confident woman who'd pitched 2 perfect screwballs to him. He drove to the Sanders house. Evelyn opened the door and looked behind him. Seeing the lack of Ginny, she frowned.
"I didn't do anything, I swear." He said.
"Seriously, Mike." She stepped aside, ushering him in.
"I didn't." He insisted as he walked into the house. The twins ran up to him and jumped on him. He staggered under their weight "She just...ran."
"Uh huh." Evelyn didn't sound convinced.
"So." Blip said, coming over to him. "Where's the pitching veterinarian?"
"Mike scared her away." Evelyn walked into the kitchen. Mike glared after her as Blip sighed.
Blip looked at him curiously. "You're upset."
"Well, duh." Mike watched as the boys went off to pester their mother to get a bit before dinner. "Having a woman run away from me kills my rep."
"Mike you know you haven't had a meaningless fling in almost a month." Blip said. "A stretch of time that coincidentally lines up with you getting Leia back from Rachel...and taking her to a certain Dr. Baker." He opened the fridge and grabbed two beers. Mike took the one he held out to him and followed Blip outside.
"What are you trying to say?" he muttered, opening his beer.
"Just that you need to stop shooting yourself in the foot." Blip said. "I know you don't want to hear it, but you've never moved past what Rachel did to you."
"I have moved on plenty." Mike smirked. Blip rolled his eyes.
"That's not what I mean." He said. Mike knew he was right. He sat in a deck chair and looked up at the sky.
"It's hard, man." He said. "You're lucky. The perfect woman just...fell into your lap, but..." He ran a hand through his beard. Blip sat in the chair next to him, leaning forward to listen. "I'm tired of being alone all the time." He looked over at Blip. "And for the record, it was Davis' fault."
"Davis." Blip said slowly. "The Cardinals' catcher."
"He...talked to her and...it freaked her out." Mike rolled the beer between his hands. "I'm not sure what to do."
"Well." Blip said, a small amused look stealing over his features. "She's still Leia's vet."
Pictures. Trevor's phone had been hacked and now...she didn't flatter herself to think that she was important enough to cause them to be leaked and Trevor didn't have enough of an established career to make a real scandal, but...she still felt annoyed. Those were private pictures. It was a violation. How could Trevor have been stupid enough to not check his cloud.
She'd thrown herself into her work. Mike hadn't shown up to the park for the next three days. Ginny didn't know why she'd expected him to be.
That night she was getting into bed when the doorbell rang. She sat up and walked over, wondering who would come by this late at night.
"Dr. Baker." Mike's voice was accompanied by hammering at the door. "Please, it's an emergency."
Ginny opened the door. He pushed past her, holding Leia.
"She ate about half a bar of chocolate." He explained. Ginny motioned him towards the dining room table.
"I'm going to need to induce vomiting." Ginny ran to the bathroom, opening cabinets, pushing aside bottles until she found the hydrogen peroxide. Mike was gripping the side of the table, looking at Leia, completely distraught. "Open her mouth." She ordered, putting a small dose in Leia's mouth and closing it.
"Now what?" Mike asked.
"We wait." Ginny said, scratching behind Leia's ears. 'What type of chocolate?"
"Milk chocolate." Mike put a hand to the side of Leia's head. "She opened a cabinet. I don't know how, but I found her when she was halfway through it. It's bad, right? Really bad?"
"You came straight here?" Ginny said. Mike nodded. "Then no. Milk chocolate doesn't have as much of the chemical that's harmful to dogs. If she throws up, she should be in the clear."
On cue Leia began retching. Mike held her as she threw up the contents of her stomach.
"Good girl." Ginny whispered. Mike let out a sigh of relief and sank to the floor. "She's not out of the woods yet." She murmured. "I'm going to have to monitor her for the next few hours." She sat next to Mike and leaned against the cabinets. "She'll be okay." She said, putting a hand to his shoulder. He nodded, rubbing his face with his hands.
"Thank you." His voice was soft. Ginny smiled.
"It's my job." She said matter of factly. "Not to sound insensitive, but how did you know where I live?"
"Evelyn." Mike said, he looked over at her. Ginny got up and walked over to the coffee machine. She pulled out two mugs. Satchel sat next to Mike and put his head in his lap.
"Stop moping." She said. "She'll be okay."
"I know." Mike said, rubbing Satchel's back. "She's got the best doctor." Ginny handed him a cup of coffee. He stood and accepted the mug. "So," he said. "The guys will not shut up about you and your flawless screwball." He took a sip. "Al's been threatening Miller that he'll hire you if he doesn't get his ass in line." He took Ginny's mug so she could pick Leia up. She carried her to the living room, sitting on the couch. Mike sat next to her. Leia wriggled so she was sitting across Mike's legs. Mike looked down at her.
"You terrible monster." He said, giving her a smile. "You had me worried."
Satchel walked over and bumped Leia's nose with his.
"I like what I do, Mike." Ginny said, smiling down at Leia. "But if you ever need someone to put Miller in his place, I'd be happy to help."
Mike looked over at her, his eyes looking over Ginny. "Nice shirt." he remarked, handing her her mug. Ginny looked down and swallowed as she realized she'd worn her Mike Lawson jersey to sleep.
"It's laundry day." She said. Mike snorted.
"So we can add shirts to the list, after rookie cards, posters-"
"There was no poster."
Mike smirked, lifting his mug. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
"Methinks the man has an unjustifiably big ego." Ginny shot back.
"Oh it's justified." Mike smirked. They fell silent as Leia let out a burp. Ginny rubbed her stomach.
"She's fine." She reassured Mike. He scowled.
"I'm not worried." He mumbled. Ginny hummed in amusement. "So what did Davis say to you?"
Ginny froze, spilling coffee over her hand. "huh?"
"Davis said something to you." Mike said. "What is it?"
Ginny ran her fingers over the rim of her cup. "It's my business." She said.
"Okay." He said. "Well, whatever it is...he's not worth you upsetting yourself over."
"Oh?" Ginny arched an eyebrow.
"Yeah, he's not a great ball player. Way too cocky."
"Sounds familiar." Ginny muttered. Mike chuckled.
"Except I had the talent to back it up." He said. "And what kind of self respecting catcher keeps himself clean shaven?"
Ginny couldn't help the snort. "The type that doesn't want birds nesting on his face?" She drummed her fingers against the mug, looking at Leia. Mike grunted. "it ended badly with him. He...he lied to me, he kept telling me he wanted to get serious, that he was giving up baseball." She looked at her mug. "But he'd been meeting with scouts behind my back. He thought...he thought it would be easier for me if it was a surprise. Because he needed to handle me." She took a sip of coffee. "Then he um...tried to convince me that it was my fault he'd lied to me." She shrugged. "I left him and never looked back."
"Good." Mike said. "I mean..." He ducked his head as Ginny looked at him. "He's an asshole."
Ginny shook her head. "Well, it seems to be a catcher thing."
"And yet." Mike poked her in the shoulder. "You're wearing my jersey."
Ginny looked at the ceiling. "Oh you're never going to let this one go."
"Oh no." Mike smirked. "I have so many jokes planned for dinner."
Ginny's eyes widened and she shifted, looking at the mug. "Dinner?" She asked. "Seems like the kind of thing I would have to agree to first."
Mike smiled. "Ginny Baker." he said. "Once we find out if my dog isn't dying would you consider having dinner with me?"
Ginny tilted her head. "One condition." She said. "We bring the dogs."