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Home Run Baby: A College Baseball Romantic Comedy: Kings of Chicago North, #3
Home Run Baby: A College Baseball Romantic Comedy: Kings of Chicago North, #3
Home Run Baby: A College Baseball Romantic Comedy: Kings of Chicago North, #3
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Home Run Baby: A College Baseball Romantic Comedy: Kings of Chicago North, #3

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Two things I didn't expect to happen to me over Spring Break at Chicago North University:

1. Getting knocked out by a baseball.

2. Getting knocked up by a baseball player.


Hunter Novak. The most valuable player in college baseball. Home Run Hunter himself.

But that's not the name he gave me when he took me home from that bar a few months ago.


We're strangers. Now, we're having a baby together.

So, we're going back to first base.


First date. First kiss. First everything all over again in the hope it leads to... first love, I guess?

Our baby deserves a family. A real family.


Can me and my one-night stand be a home run?

Or was it all just a major foul?


Home Run Baby is a steamy stand-alone sports romance guaranteed to tug your heartstrings. This new second edition includes brand-new and extended scenes not available in the original version.

PublisherTabatha Kiss
Release dateMay 7, 2022
Home Run Baby: A College Baseball Romantic Comedy: Kings of Chicago North, #3
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    Home Run Baby - Tabatha Kiss




    Oh, to be young and in love.

    Me? No. Not me. I’ve never been in love. I’m happy for my sister, though. I truly am.

    But if I hear John Kirby groan like that one more time, I’m gonna lose my shit.

    I press my head between two pillows, trying to ignore the rhythmic sounds carrying through the wall. You’d think after tonight’s game they’d be exhausted, but I suppose stamina generally isn’t an issue for college football players. Or frat guys. Fortunately for my sister, her boyfriend is both.

    Unfortunately for me, that means listening to them bang while they think I’m asleep.

    Oh, fuck, he groans again.

    Okay. That’s it.

    I sit upright on the sofa, exhaling hard as I reach for my phone. It’s just before midnight, but there has to be something still open at this hour. If not, a quick walk around campus should give them enough time to finish.

    I throw on some clothes and grab my jacket on the way out. It’s a crisp autumn night in Chicago, but there’s a spark in the air around Chicago North University. The Bearhawks won their final game and qualified for the championship for the first time in… a long time, I guess? I don’t go to this school, nor do I care much about college football, but it’s a big deal, apparently. And lucky me, I was there to see it all happen.

    I was there to see a man declare his love for my sister on national television.

    I swipe as I walk down the unfamiliar streets surrounding campus, running a search for the nearest bar.

    Closed, closed, closed— ah!

    Bruno’s. Open. Two blocks away.

    I head in that direction. That direction takes me through one severely run down neighborhood and two dark alleyways, but I’m not picky. As long as there’s booze.

    The second alley brings me to a bright red door. For a second, I think it might be closed. It’s a small place with only a few tables scattered about, all with chairs resting upside down on top. Empty barstools. Dim lights blend with red wallpaper, creating an atmosphere I can only describe as eerily romantic.

    I turn to leave, but a bartender appears from a curtain behind the bar and silently waves me inside.

    Well, hello there.

    I drift toward the bar, my eyes drawn to him as they adjust to the quiet lighting. He’s difficult to look away from, honestly. He’s no older than I am, early twenties and average in height. His black T-shirt hides a toned physique with a few bulging biceps threatening to tear the sleeves right off.

    I sit down at the bar, happy to stay.

    What can I get you? he asks me.

    Whiskey sour, please, I say, withdrawing my wallet to find my ID. He barely snipes it as he pulls a clean glass out from beneath the counter.

    As he fixes my drink, I take a closer look at him. Bright green eyes. Caramel-colored hair that’s just about an inch too long, but he makes it work. It wouldn’t surprise me if he moonlights as a model or something. Though, if he did, I doubt he’d work at a shithole like this.

    He glances at me. I look away. I focus instead on the old man sitting at the other end of the bar, hunched over a crossword puzzle with a tiny pencil in his wrinkled fingers. I hadn’t noticed him before. Quietly, I spin around in my stool to check the empty corners for other hidden patrons, but there’s no one else. Just the three of us.

    I hear my glass touch the counter behind me.

    Here you go.

    I face forward and nod without looking at him. Thanks, I say.

    He walks away, drifting to the other side to check on the old man while I waste no time tossing back my entire drink. I scan the wall above the bar. Photos and magazine articles. Local history, I guess. Nothing to get excited about.

    I lean forward to rest my head on my arm. With closed eyes, I exhale and listen to the dull music piping through the crackling jukebox in the corner.

    Rose and Johnny sitting in a tree.


    Wanna talk about it?

    I raise my head. Hot bar guy has returned.

    Do they train bartenders to ask that? I ask.

    Actually, yes, he says.


    Most drunks just want someone to listen to what they have to say. And most bars want to keep them talking for as long as possible because the longer they sit on that stool…

    I raise my empty glass. The more they imbibe.

    He takes the glass to refill it. Money in the register. Tips in the jar.

    That’s pretty skeevy.

    He shrugs. It’s just business.

    I nod, watching him as he mixes my drink again. "So, I’m a drunk, eh?"

    I didn’t say that.

    "You implied it."

    Would that also imply that you want someone to listen to what you have to say?

    I don’t know. I kick the leg of my stool with my heel. This stool feels awfully flimsy to be a soapbox.

    It’s worth a shot.

    Do you actually enjoy listening to the slurred ramblings of anonymous bar patrons? I ask.


    Do they train you to say that, too?


    So, basically, you’re full of shit.

    He chuckles and leans forward, resting his elbows on the bar between us. Wanna talk about it? he asks again.

    I glance at the old man down the bar again before letting out a stiff sigh. My sister is in love, I say.


    With a man.

    All right.

    He loves her back. They’ve got that whole destined to be together, written in the stars thing going on. All that screaming at the football stadium tonight was for them.

    That’s what all that noise was? he asks.

    You didn’t watch the game?

    He grimaces. Not a football guy.

    Me neither.

    So you’re not happy she’s getting all this attention? he asks.

    What makes you think that?

    He slides to the left and points over his shoulder, gesturing to the mirrored wall behind him.

    I look forward into my own reflection. Pale face. Black-lined eyes. A deep frown and a rather heavy cloud weighing on my shoulders.

    Oh. Right. I take a long sip from my whiskey, nearly draining half the glass, and a rush of dizziness plagues my head.

    Let me guess, he says, sidling back over. "She’s your younger sister?"

    "Older, I say. By about three minutes."

    You’re twins.

    Yes, sir.

    Then, what’s up? he asks. You don’t like the guy?

    He’s all right. I shrug. Pretty good, actually.

    So, what is there to be unhappy about?

    Don’t get me wrong, I say, "I adore my sister. She’s my life. My blood. Quite literally my reflection. She deserves to be loved. I could not be happier for her."

    He waits. But…?

    I heave a breath. Lately, it has become painfully obvious to me how unequal we are.

    How so?

    She’s a teacher, I say. "She influences lives. She’s in grad school. She’s smart. Like really smart."

    And you’re not?

    I didn’t even go to college.

    So? He grabs the whiskey bottle and refills my glass. I do. Worst decision I ever made.

    You’re a Northie, huh? I ask.

    That I am.

    Bad school?

    No, it’s a great school, he says. I’d just rather be elsewhere.

    That’s what I thought, too, but I wonder sometimes if having that one line of text on my résumé would have put me in a better place now.

    What do you do now? he asks.

    I take pictures.

    What’s wrong with that?

    "Nothing — if I actually got to take pictures I wanted to take instead of telling asshole kids to smile or snapping yet another damn glossy memory of a couple slicing into an overpriced, multi-tiered, gluten factory."

    He laughs. What would you rather be taking pictures of?

    I look away, hesitating to say it. Baseball, I mutter.



    You want to be a sports photographer? he asks, raising a brow.

    I shrug. It’s dumb, I know.

    "It’s not, he says. That’s really cool."

    That’s also really competitive and surprisingly difficult to break into, I say. "I’ve sent my portfolio to Sports Illuminated a dozen times over the last few years and never got one call back. And expensive. You’d be shocked to discover how long it takes to afford a professional telephoto lens when you make a buck over minimum wage."

    He smiles. And on top of all that, you’re single, too.

    I glare. Is it that obvious?

    Just a wild guess.

    Perpetually, I say, taking another sip. "And I don’t even mean to be. I’ll meet a guy and it’ll be great for a while and then — suddenly — it’s not anymore. I could sit here all night and list off all sorts of bullshit reasons for why my relationships end, but the only thing they all have in common is me." I point at my face. "This gal right here. Meanwhile, my twin sister is in love and having loud, disgusting sex in the next room with a guy who’s perfect for her and they’re probably going to be together forever and get married and have a bunch of babies, but I…" I sigh. I am not. And it’s all my fault. Somehow.

    Look on the bright side, he says. At least you won’t have to secretly Photoshop your face onto your sister’s wedding photos to feel better about yourself. It’s already there.

    I chuckle. "Well, I’ll always have that."

    See? He holds up his hands. Things are looking up already.

    I stare into my glass. She wouldn’t even have gone out with the guy if it weren’t for me. That’s the big difference between us. My sister plays it safe. She doesn’t break the rules. She doesn’t take risks. I laugh. "And then the first time she steps out of bounds…"

    Happily ever after.

    My smile fades. I’ve been on this planet for the same amount of time she has… but I feel like I’m a thousand years behind. Where did I go wrong? What did she do that I didn’t? What does she know that I don’t?

    She’s got a three-minute head start on you, he says. A lot can change in three minutes.

    Maybe. I pause, letting it sink in. I just wish that I could skip to the end, you know?

    End of what?

    "Relationships. I hate the beginning. It’s awkward and weird and no one says what they’re really thinking and then you just end up having to get to know them all over again six months in and I… I shake my head. It’s just not worth the effort anymore."

    He flexes his jaw. Well, if you skip to the end, you’re either single again or one of you is dead.

    I squint. I’m clearly not great at planning, either.

    Clearly. He nods. But I get what you mean.

    You do?

    It’s rough taking the time to get to know someone only to look back and realize you wasted all that time — time you could have spent getting to know someone else.

    "It’s disappointing. But then again, you never know if that someone will turn out to be the one."

    He scoffs. If that even exists.

    Well… I finish my drink. "It’d be super nice if the universe would smack me in the head if that happens because I will sure as hell fuck that up, too."

    He stares at me for a long time, barely blinking. A rush of nerves rattles my gut, forcing me to look into my empty glass again.

    You’re excellent at the keep them talking and drinking thing, I say, clearing my throat.

    I’ve been told that.

    I say nothing else. Not that I could say anything more with his jade eyes carving a hole into my skull like this.

    Look… He leans in closer and lowers his voice to a soft murmur. I don’t normally do this…

    I raise a brow, recognizing the seductive tone. Oh, sure you do.

    He licks his lips. I’m celebrating tonight.

    What are you celebrating? I ask.

    This is my last shift of the year.

    Oh? I ask. Moving on to bigger, better things?

    Just finals.

    Congratulations to you.

    Thank you.

    Why the fuck should I care?

    He chuckles. My shift ends in ten minutes. On my way out, I’d planned on swiping a bottle of the good stuff from the back.

    I gasp. "That’s naughty."

    "That’s justified." He grins. Trust me.

    So, you’re sticking it to the big boss man.

    Yes, I am.

    So, I ask again. I lean forward until he’s only a few inches away. Why the fuck should I care?

    I thought maybe you’d like to join me in my celebration, he says.

    Whatever gave you that impression?

    You seem like you could use the night off.

    From what?

    From you.

    If only it were that simple.

    Let’s make it that simple.

    "So, you snatch up some expensive hooch, we hop on back to your place, and then… what?" I ask.

    He looks at my lips. We skip to the end.

    I point a sly finger at him, narrowing my eyes as my pulse quickens. Not bad, bar guy. Not bad at all.

    Thank you, he says.

    I sit back and look him up and down. Spin.


    Give me a spin!

    He exhales a laugh and turns around in a circle. My eyes instantly drop to his rear. Firm. Tight. He wears his jeans well.

    Okay, I say. Lift your shirt.

    He gawks at me. Seriously?

    I’m sampling the merchandise!

    What am I? An object?

    Yes! I shake my head. Man, the service in this place sucks.

    He fixes his eyes on me and raises his shirt, revealing enough taut abs that I actually lose count. Well? he asks, letting the shirt fall.

    I shrug. Meh.


    Wait. I point. Lift it again.


    Just do it.

    He raises his shirt again. I double-check the skin of his abs. No tattoos.

    Good, I say, letting him release it.

    What was that? he asks.

    Just checking to make sure you haven’t been branded by some douchebag fraternity, I say.

    Not really my crowd.

    Lone wolf?

    Something like that.

    Good to know.

    Okay, then. He chuckles. "Now, lift your shirt."

    I scoff. Rude much?

    "I’m the rude one here?"

    I’m doing you a favor, bar guy, I say. Without me, your night of celebration would include you getting blasted alone while you Netflix and chill with your non-dominate hand.

    Hey, we could forget all about it, he says, smirking. I’ll even pay your tab and your cab. You can head on back home and watch your sister make googly eyes at her honey while you die a little more inside.

    I blink. Ouch. I empty the rest of my drink down my throat while I slide off my stool. Okay, fine. But just one boob.

    Wait… He twirls a finger. Spin.

    I raise a crooked brow and turn, slowly moving so he gets a good look. His eyes burn into me, crawling down my body like a laser, and I can’t help but blush a little.

    He nods, his gaze flicking upward from my ass. Okay. Go ahead.

    I look at the old man again, but he’s either completely oblivious or great at pretending to be. I grip the bottom of my shirt and raise it, being careful to only let half of my bra get exposed.

    The bar guy looks at me. The edges of his lips curl with delight. Luckily, I sprung for my lacy, black undergarments tonight and the sudden dilation of his pupils shows me he agrees with that decision.

    Well? I ask, dropping it back down.

    He shrugs. Meh.

    Fuck off, bar guy.

    What’s your name? he asks, chuckling.

    I bite my lip and say the first name that comes to mind. It’s Jenny.

    "It’s nice to meet you, Jenny." He turns toward the back room. I’m going to go clock out.

    "And what’s your name?" I ask, watching him go.

    He pauses in the doorway. It’s Joey.

    "It’s nice to meet you, Joey."

    I’m not sure why I lied to him, but I don’t really regret it.

    Leaving Daisy Hawthorne behind for the night sounds like a good idea.



    My name isn’t Joey.

    Hers isn’t Jenny, either.

    But I’ll let her be Jenny tonight if that’s who she wants to be.

    She follows me into my apartment and hums to herself as she sees the cardboard boxes stacked in the entryway. You moving out? I ask.

    They’re my roommate’s, I say.

    Aw, she quips with sympathy. You two break up?

    I chuckle. He moved in with his girlfriend, actually.

    I see. She runs a finger along the top of a box. Is he there now?

    Let’s see. I clear my throat. Yo, Adam! You here?


    I smile on my way toward the kitchen. He’s not here.

    She hums again, just as pleased. And you’re staying? she asks. All by your lonesome?

    Good location, I say, setting my bottle of liberated whiskey on the counter. Rent’s fair.

    She leans against the kitchen doorway, seemingly satisfied with the reply. Either she’s respecting my boundaries or she doesn’t actually care. Neither of which would surprise me. This obviously isn’t her first rodeo.

    It’s not mine, either.

    I snatch two glasses from the cupboard and open the freezer for some ice, feeling her eyes on me the entire time. So, what brought you to the bar tonight? I ask.

    I needed a drink.

    Well, I know that. I fill the glasses. But why Bruno’s? I’ve never seen you in there before.

    Oh. She sighs and pops off the doorframe, her shoes gently clacking along the linoleum floor toward the counter. It was within walking distance of my sister’s place.

    Not yours?

    No, I don’t live here. Anymore. I grew up in the area, but I moved out east first chance I could. I’m just visiting now.

    Out east where?


    Living the dream.

    She chortles. If only. I’m usually a drink at home alone kind of girl, but her place felt awfully crowded tonight, so…

    I nod with understanding as she takes a slow sip from her glass.

    Mmm. She smiles. Joey the bar guy knows his booze.

    It’s a job requirement, I say, taking a sip of my own.

    Makes sense.

    We lock eyes for a moment. Then another. And another. Clearly, we’re both wondering how long we can delay the inevitable here. I think to lean in and kiss her just to get it over with, but she spins away from the counter and walks off to explore the rest of my apartment.

    I let her wander, watching her as her hips sway in those tight jeans. My cock twitches in mine. Jenny isn’t quite like anyone I’ve encountered before, which is ironic, considering there’s another version of her out there on campus. She’s confident, that much is obvious, but there’s a sharp vulnerability beneath it she probably doesn’t let out very often. Her confidence stems from her looks alone. I can’t argue with that, though. I haven’t been able to take my eyes off her since she walked into the bar.

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