Home > The Baller's Secret Baby (Barnes Family #1)(8)

The Baller's Secret Baby (Barnes Family #1)(8)
Author: Normandie Alleman


Goes to show what the fuck I know. I thought things were going well, then suddenly she’s running out the door.

After going to bed with blue balls that night, the next morning I decided to ask my sister for some help. She was friends with Eden, so I asked her to try to find out what the deal was.

They went to lunch the next day, and afterward Dynassy called to give me a report.

“She doesn’t have anything against you, Nick, but she thinks you’re a player.”

“Do you think she’ll give me a chance?”

Dynassy paused. “Mmm…probably, but she’s not just any girl. You’re going to have to pull out all the stops. Wine and dine her.”

“All right.”

“And Nick…”

“Yeah?”

“This is Eden. She’s like family. Don’t do this if you’re not gonna treat her right.”

“Of course I will.”

“Okay, I had to say that.”

I got it. Few people had as bad a reputation for being players as professional basketball players. The only guys who are seen as worse are rock stars, and that would include my father and younger brother Leo.

So in all fairness, I understood Eden not wanting to be just another notch on my bedpost.

I'd have to show her that she was special because as far as I was concerned, there was nobody like her. There never has been. I know I've known a lot of women, but none of them has ever affected me the way she did that day I saw her shaking those pom-poms.

Eden was probably the type of girl who would appreciate a simple date like going on a picnic or something, but that was a little out of my comfort zone. I was good at choosing a nice restaurant, making a reservation, and hiring a car. If I didn't have a game, I could even take her to Las Vegas or something for the night, but that might seem ostentatious, and I didn't think she would like that.

So I thought we would start with a meal. With Dynassy’s help, I planned a special date. Now I just had to get Eden to agree to go out with me. I also decided to do it by phone rather than text.

Honestly, I wanted to hear her voice rather than see her words on a screen.

I waited until Wednesday and I dialed her number, which I had gotten from Dynassy. I was afraid she wouldn't answer a call from a number she didn’t know so I had originally intended to use Dynassy’s phone to call her from, but my sister had flown to New York today on her way to Dubai, and I had to use my own. So I was pleased when she picked it up on the first ring

"Hello?"

"Hey, Eden. This is Nick."

"Oh, hey."

"I'm sorry you had to run out like that, I mean leave so early the other night. I hope I didn't do anything to upset you."

"No, I'm sorry. I guess I just let things get a little out of hand. My bad."

“No, not at all. It was really good seeing you. I've actually missed having you around. It's been such a long time, but in some ways it feels like it was yesterday that we were hanging out when we were kids."

"Yes, it was fun to see each other."

"We have a few out-of-town games over the next week, but I wondered if you might like to go out to dinner with me next Friday when I get back. That is, if you're not too busy." I wondered if this was as awkward for her as it was for me.

“No, that would be great. I'd love to go."

I exhaled. "You would?"

"Yes," she said with a laugh.

Awesome. "Great. I'll text you the details."

“That sounds great. And Nick,…"

"Yes?" My heart hung on her every word.

"Good luck in your games."

"Thanks." I closed my eyes and hung up, feeling like I’d be playing with an angel on my side the next few nights.

 

Our out-of-town games that week were brutal. We beat Minnesota, but got killed by Boston and Detroit, making us 1-2 for the week. Legion was fighting back spasms, team morale was low, and the only thing that kept me going was looking forward to my date with Eden that weekend.

I made a reservation at one of the best restaurants in Austin. It was at the top of a hotel with a great view of Lake Travis and a chef who’d been on some cooking show, so everybody loved him. I reserved a private table where we wouldn't be bothered but would still have an incredible view.

When I went to pick her up and she opened the door of her apartment, I caught my breath. She wore a blue dress that made her look like a movie star, except I'd never seen an actress as pretty as she was. In the car on the way there I held her hand, feeling as nervous as a high-schooler on his way to prom. When she didn't yank her hand away, but instead squeezed mine back—that put me on top of the world.

“I can't tell you how much I've been looking forward to this night. Ever since the party, I’ve wanted to make it up to you, whatever went wrong.”

"I'm sorry about that. I'd just let things get out of hand when I shouldn't have. These days I've really been focusing on my career and on my cheerleading. I haven’t had a lot of time for dating. I guess I just felt like it got really complicated really fast."

"I understand. And I'm sorry. I don't want to make you feel pressured in any way."

She smiled at me. "Thanks, Nick. That means a lot to me."

When we arrived at the restaurant, I helped her out of the car, and offered her my arm. It was with a sense of pride that I escorted her inside and into the elevator leading to the restaurant. Alone in the elevator, as the car climbed to the top floor, I wanted to take her in my arms and kiss those luscious pink lips of hers so bad, but I refrained. There was no way I was going to risk scaring her off again. Instead I took a deep breath and said, “You look beautiful tonight. That dress is perfect on you.”

“Thanks. You look pretty good yourself.” I’d cleaned up and put on a suit for the occasion. It was the least I could do, and if Eden needed slow that's what I would give her.

The elevator doors opened and I caught the sparkle in Eden’s eye as she looked around, taking in the ambience. Between the soft lighting, the setting sun, and the modern, streamlined decor, the restaurant had a relaxing yet sophisticated vibe. The maître d’ showed us to our table. I ordered a bottle of champagne, and we perused our menus.

“Have you ever been here before?” I asked.

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