No One Like You
Barefoot William # 4
Barefoot William # 4
By: Kate Angell
Releasing April 28th, 2015
No One Expects a Curveball
For Rylan Cates, the gloriously sunny beachside town of Barefoot William may be home, but the pro baseball player needs to focus on spring training. Hiring a personal assistant to keep him and his four dogs organized for the next eight weeks is the first step—and Beth Avery is the perfect pinch hitter.
Beth is still looking for her place in the world, and a couple months caring for Rylan’s two dachshunds, his golden retriever, and a Great Dane named Atlas should shore up her finances before she moves on. Except it’s Atlas who won’t budge, pushing her toward tanned, scruffy, sexy Rylan every chance he gets. One more strike and she’s calling the dog out—unless she and Rylan admit that the attraction they’re feeling is a game-winning grand slam…
It's been a long time since I've read one of Kate Angell's books. It wasn't until I cracked it open that I realized just how much I'd missed her writing, her character and the world she created. She's probably my favorite baseball romance writer so I was deeply saddened when her Richmond Rogues series came to an end. I had hoped it would go on for a lot longer than it did.
I'll admit that I haven't kept up with her new series. But this book, when I had the opportunity to review it, I couldn't pass it up. Not only was it her new series, it was baseball. Best of both worlds, right? Well, that's exactly what it was. I didn't realize it at the time but our hero Rylan plays for the Richmond Rogues. I actually felt my eyes tear up a little when some of my favorite characters from the past were mentioned and there was a little update on what they're doing now. It also made me want to binge read the whole series again.
From the moment I started this book, I was unable to put it down. Well…until around the 80% mark and it wasn’t that I wanted to put it down but I didn’t want it to end. I kept watching the % get closer to 100 and it just made my heart heavy that my reunion with Kate Angell and the Richmond Rogues was almost over.
I’m actually glad that I started with this book. Yes, it’s part of a series (number 4 to be exact) but it’s also a stand alone. The previous books were about Rylan’s siblings but I felt like this book bridged the Richmond Rogues series and the new one. For me, it introduced me to Rylan and the new crop of players on the Rogues and also introduced me to Rylan’s family. I fell for his family and can’t wait to go back and read their books. I’m also looking forward to books about the new Rogues. There was a preview of book 5 at the back of the book and it’s about one of Rylan’s team mates. I hope that the author will indeed write more baseball books because she knows how to perfectly balance baseball with romance.
Rylan is definitely one of my favorite heroes ever. I loved the slow build relationship between him and Beth. The whole reason he hired her was because she wasn’t his type and he wasn’t attracted to her. So I loved how he fell for her as he got to know her. And I loved Atlas and his matchmaking ways! Atlas and his antics had me in stitches.
I feel like I haven’t really talked about this book specifically and honestly, I don’t know what to really say besides that this book was perfection from page one. All I want to do is sit down, start from the beginning and experience the awesomeness all over again. I can’t wait for the next Kate Angell book!
Returning downstairs, he found Beth and his dogs in the kitchen. It was the only room in the house that he’d renovated. His brother Aidan had done the work. He was a contractor. They’d bumped up the room’s roof to double height for a soaring ceiling. The tongue-and-groove boards resembled nineteenth century planks. New oak beams acted as structural cross ties.
The large, all-white room was clad in bead board cabinets with nickel hardware. The modern range had a white enamel finish and vent hood. The apron-front sink had been a steal at an antique show. The center island was topped with old chestnut boards salvaged from the floor in the upstairs closet. Vintage red soda fountain stools surrounded the island where Rylan enjoyed his morning coffee. Old subway tiles completed the countertops. Clerestory windows flooded the kitchen with light.
Beth stood in a pool of sunshine. A red bandana held her wild hair. Her movements caused her crop top to creep up her back, flashing smooth skin and a narrow waist. She’d kicked off her sneakers and wore a pair of short pink and yellow floral socks trimmed in turquoise.
He squinted to read the writing at her ankle. I Think I Can.
She caught him staring. “My positive message socks. They’re similar to a mental mantra, but on my feet. Not as good as yoga, but they keep me balanced.”
He believed in staying positive. Life could shift and shake at unexpected moments. Stability was important to him.
Beth had located the organic cookbook and gathered the ingredients: ground turkey, carrots, apples, and broccoli. Atlas barked at her to move faster then nudged her thigh with his nose, making her laugh. Her laughter was light, feminine. Contagious.
Ry couldn’t help but smile.
Beth handed Atlas a carrot, which he scarfed down. The Dane liked his vegetables. All but peas. He had the ability to find a single pea in his meal and spit it out. That had always amazed Rylan.
“How’s lunch coming along?” he asked, crossing to her. Standing close, he felt the heat of her body. Despite having walked his dogs, her scent was fresh and very female. “Need any help?”
“I’m feeling confident,” she said, stuffing the food processor with the fruit and veggies. She secured the top and then flipped the switch. The blades whirred and chopped. She went on to combine the ground turkey with the mixture. Then blended in two raw eggs. She scooped the ingredients into a rectangular baking pan and popped it in the preheated oven. Atlas stood before the stove, not moving except for his tail wagging back and forth.
Beth set the timer for twenty minutes before turning back to Rylan. “You received five calls while you were in the shower.” She tapped her finger on a white sheet of paper near the microwave. “I printed out your messages, and also sent them to your iPhone.”
“Read them to me, please.” He was running late and could listen far easier than if he took the time to read each one.
Beth relayed the messages. She spoke quickly, precisely. He paid attention. The first two calls were from his family. His older brother Dune invited him to stop by his volleyball clinic. Dune’s wife Sophie offered to drop off groceries. No emergencies. He’d get back to them later in the day. If not tomorrow. The third and fourth calls were from his teammates.
“Halo Todd needs the name of a good tattoo artist. He, uh”—Beth’s cheeks warmed—“wants to ink his groin.”
Ry rolled his eyes, but wasn’t surprised. Halo was keeping to Rogue tradition. Players of previous years had such tats. The right fielder would set the bar. His teammates would be inked before opening day. All but Rylan. He didn’t always conform, either on or off the field. He believed in live and let live as long as the players got the job done.
“Esme at Inkcredible Tattoos on Breakaway Wave Drive does nice work.” Or so he’d heard from his brother Zane. Zane had Hurricane Hunter on his left bicep. He’d felt no pain. However a tat to the groin could prove tender.
“Landon Kane wants to know where he can get the best deal on tires,” Beth said, checking her list. “His Porsche has a flat.”
When had he become Google? Ry wondered. The third baseman had an iPhone. Barefoot William had only one tire dealership. It was easy to find. “Send him to Rubber and Rims.”
Beth looked at him to see if he was serious, then chuckled. “You made that up.”
Lady was quick. “It will take Land a few hours to figure that out.”
“What if he calls back?” Her concern was genuine. He liked that—having an assistant who looked out for his teammates was crucial to him. Even if the men drove him nuts sometimes.
“Tell him Gray’s Garage on the southeast corner of Sunshine Drive carries tires at a good price.”
Beth wrapped up with, “Your last call was from Ava Vonn.”
Ry’s grin came easy. He didn’t try to hide his pleasure at hearing her name. She’d been one of the applicants for the PA position; a hot blonde with full breasts who spoke her mind. She’d flirted with him. Shamelessly. He’d been flattered but in the end, feared mixing business and pleasure.
“Ava would like to meet for drinks and dinner,” Beth told him, keeping her voice professional, though he noted a hint of curiosity creeping into her rain cast eyes, “to compensate for her not getting the job.”
Compensation worked for him. “Call Ava back and see if she’s free tonight. Apologize for the short notice. If she’s available, make a reservation for seven at The Pier House in Saunders Shores. The restaurant is popular and often booked a month in advance. Tell the manager I’d appreciate a table. He should be able to accommodate us. A view of the Gulf would be nice.”
“Got it,” Beth said.
“Then schedule an appointment at Theodore’s Barber Shop for four, if possible. Shave and a haircut.”
“Will do.” She scrunched her nose. “Don’t get your hair cut too short. You look good now.”
Her compliment surprised him. He took it to heart. He eyed her, then suggested, “Shouldn’t you be writing this down? iPhone, or there’s a pencil and notepad in the drawer by the dishwasher.”
She tapped her temple with her forefinger. “I have an excellent memory.”
He could only hope she did. He didn’t take her for the cerebral type, but he’d been wrong about women before. He wondered if there was more to Beth than met the eye.
He didn’t have time to contemplate her secrets. The timer on the stove went off, and Atlas did his dinner dance. He turned in a circle. Once, then twice, and then stood there with his tongue hanging out. There was no denying the dog his lunch. Now.
Beth grabbed a pot holder from the counter, then removed the pan from the oven. Her mouth twisted as if she didn’t know what to do next, and she glanced at Ry for guidance.
He reached beneath the sink and produced four dog bowls in assorted sizes. “Dish up the food, but let it cool for a few minutes. Atlas gets half the batch. Rue gets the next largest portion and the dachshunds receive the smallest.”
He pointed to two elevated metal food stands by the wall. Neat, perfect, and ready. “Atlas and Rue eat there; Oscar and Nathan by the back door. You can set their bowls on the floor. Keep an eye on Atlas. Don’t let him steal anyone’s meal. Rue nips him to back off. He overpowers the dachs.”
Beth nodded and then proceeded to follow his directions. She’d held her own during the meal prep. Rylan was pleased.
He stayed in the kitchen while the dogs ate. There was one more thing left to do. He removed a white dish towel from a drawer and tossed it to Beth to prepare her. “Atlas wears his lunch.”
The Dane went directly to her after he’d eaten. He tried to wipe his mouth on her shorts once again. She intercepted him with the drool towel—which he took as a toy. He grabbed it and started tugging. Tugging hard.
“Is he always so playful after he eats?” she asked, her voice breathy.
“Wait until you give him a bath,” he warned.
She pulled a face but didn’t let go of the towel.
“Don’t hurt your back,” Rylan said as she fought to keep her footing. Her socks slid on the hardwood floor. She leaned over so far he was afraid she’d fall. The back of her shirt fluttered, and he glimpsed her lavender bra. Her shorts rode up her butt cheeks. She had a tight little ass.
He averted his gaze. “Give it up, Beth. Once you release the towel, he’ll lose interest.”
The moment she let go, so did the Dane. “Good boy, Atlas,” she praised, visibly relieved.
Ry pretended not to notice how exhausted she looked after the tug of war. Her bandana had loosened and her hair sprang free. Wildly so. Her face was flushed. The Dane outweighed her by at least forty pounds. Words instead of force were her only way to control him. He hoped Atlas would listen.
“Stand firm with him,” Ry said to Beth.
She looked at him dubiously.
“He’s smarter than he looks.”
“He has more expressions than a cartoon character.”
That he did. Ry glanced at his watch. It was almost noon. He didn’t have time to fix himself lunch, so he grabbed a Marathon protein bar from the cupboard. His meal on-the-go. “I’m leaving,” he told her, ripping off the wrapper. He quickly went over his plans for the day, finishing with, “Text if you need me. I’ll stop by the house later this afternoon to change clothes for my date tonight. I’ll see you then.”
The dogs trailed him to the front door. He patted each one then singled out Atlas. “Behave,” he said firmly. “Later, Beth,” he called before he slipped out.
“Have a good day.” Her voice rose over the clatter of metal dog bowls as she loaded them in the dishwasher. “We’ll be fine.” She sounded competent.
Fine didn’t last long. He wasn’t surprised to receive a text from her before he reached the end of the block. Seemed there was a tiny war going on at his place.
Atlas is chewing on the leg of the living room couch.
Then another text. Is he still hungry? Should I feed him again?
And finally, he could almost see her frantically typing on the keypad. Where are his toys?
National bestselling author Kate Angell lives in Naples, Florida. She’s an animal lover, avid reader, and sports fan. Bookstores are her second home. She takes coffee breaks at Starbucks. Her philosophy: Out of chaos comes calmness. Enjoy the peace. Please visit her on Facebook or at www.kateangell.com.