THE ONE NIGHT STAND by Elizabeth Hayley

Gabriel Torres thought his life after Major League Baseball would be simple and quiet, or at least quieter. However, as he takes over running the exclusive Players Club, he finds himself continually embroiled in scandal and drama. Surely nothing, and no one could make his life any crazier…Right?

Rachel Adler is a blast from Gabe’s past who crashed back into his life with the finesse of a freight train. But she’s a welcome distraction. At least for a night.

Rachel has been working hard to become one of the top sports journalists in the country. She doesn’t have time for a long-term romance or irresistibly charming baseball players. A one-night-stand with the man who she knew would hit it out of the park was all she wanted.

But when she gets a tip that Gabe could have ties to one of the biggest sports stories in history, a story that could make her career, Rachel decides that maybe she has a little time for the sexy baseball player after all. As she gets in deeper with both her story and Gabe, Rachel begins to question who she is, what she wants, and what exactly she’s willing to sacrifice for her career.

Will the potential grand-slam romance be stopped short or will Rachel and Gabe be able to go the distance?

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Chapter One

Rachel hustled through the newsroom, her brown hair bouncing against her shoulders as her mind whirled with all of the different things her boss Rick Hartnett may want to talk to her about. None of them were good.

She’d been a reporter with All Access Sports Magazine practically since she’d graduated college, but as she let her eyes roam around the room, she noticed the thrill wasn’t as strong as it used to be. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her job or had much of a desire to move on to a different publication. Moreso it was that she felt stagnant. Every day there was a reminder that she hadn’t reached the kind of success she’d hoped she would have after nearly a decade in the industry.

Reaching the door of Rick’s office, she gave it a few raps. “You wanted to see me?” she asked after he looked up from his computer.

“Yeah,” he replied, gesturing to the chair on the other side of his desk. Though All Access Sports was on the twenty-second floor of a building that was less than twenty years old, their space was anything but sleek. Stacks of old newspapers and magazines littered Rick’s floor, and Rachel had to step around them to make it to the chair.

Rachel took a seat without closing the door, since Rick always preferred it stay open. She and Rick engaged in some sort of odd staring contest before he finally picked up the next edition of their print magazine and dropped it on the desk in front of her.

“You want to tell me why you don’t have an article in there?”

No, actually she didn’t want to tell him. “I didn’t have anything solid to contribute.”

Rick steepled his hands and let his chin rest atop them. “Hmm. That’s interesting. Because when I looked into our budget analytics for last month, I see that you flew across the goddamn country to chase a story. But,” Rick slapped a finger onto the magazine, “I don’t see a story.”

“The lead didn’t pan out.”

“I didn’t even approve that trip. How’d you get the go ahead?”

Rachel shrugged in an overly casual way that was an attempt to pretend she wasn’t about to get reamed out by her boss. And what was worse, she deserved it. “You weren’t here when the story came up so I asked Cal.”

“You asked Cal, a junior editor with no actual authority to make this decision?”

“Accounting thinks he has authority.” It was not the brightest thing Rachel could have said in that moment, but it was at the very least true.

“But you know he doesn’t. What was the story anyway? At our last pitch meeting you said you were going to do a piece on the inflation of prices at ballparks. Pretty sure you didn’t need to go to California for that.”

Rachel looked down and studied her nails. She really needed to get a manicure. Her nail beds looked disastrous. “I heard some grumblings about the club so I thought I’d check it out.”

“Jesus Christ. Not this again.”

Rachel let her hands drop into her lap. “Yes, this again. You know this is an ongoing investigation for me. If I can figure out the truth behind the rumors, it would make my whole career.”

Sighing, Rick crossed his arms on his desk. “How long have you been looking into this club?”

“I’m not exactly sure,” she hedged.

“Too long is the answer. You gotta drop this thing, Rach. If there was any truth to it, you’d have found out by now.”

“Not necessarily. It’s extremely exclusive. Only the best of the best get asked to join, so obviously they’re going to be tight-lipped about it. I just have to find the right angle.”

“Rachel.”

“And I’ve found enough details to support its existence. I just don’t have anything solid enough to base a story on.”

“Rachel.”

“But it’s only a matter of time. The source in San Diego didn’t pan out, but something else will. I just need to keep my ear to the ground.”

“Rachel!” Rick yelled.

Taking a deep breath, she focused on him, even though she knew she wasn’t going to like what he had to say.

“It’s time to give it up. You’re out there chasing a unicorn when there are more pressing things we need you to cover.”

“It’s not a unicorn. It’s a Triple Crown winner.”

“A hypothetical Triple Crown winner. That’s not good enough to waste resources.”

“I’ve spent years on this story. I can’t–”

“You’ve spent years on it and have absolutely nothing to show for it. I’m sorry, but you need to drop it. We can’t allocate any more resources toward it.”

“I’ll work it on my own time.”

“We consider your time our resource. We pay you for it. We need your head to be in the game.”

“You can’t forbid me from working on something when I have nothing else going on.”

“No. But I can fire you if you don’t start providing usable material on a regular basis.”

Rachel’s eyes shot to his, hers widening in surprise. He’d never threatened to fire her before. Nothing even close.

Under her scrutiny, Rick’s face softened. “Look, I’m not trying to scare you. But I do have to be honest. I can’t have a reporter going rogue whenever she feels like it. We’re a team here, and you used to be one of our most integral players. But it’s like you’ve put yourself on the disabled list and refuse to do any more than take a few practice swings.”

“That was…a really involved metaphor.”

Rick rolled his eyes, but some of the good-natured vibes they normally had between them returned, which encouraged Rachel to be completely honest.

“This story is going to be epic, Rick. And it may not happen this month, or this year, but it’s going to happen. And I’ll be damned if it happens for someone else after I’ve spent so many years on it. I refuse to lose out because I was forced to give up.”

“Listen. If something comes over the wire that even so much as hints at the club, you’ll be the first one to know. But as far as using All Access time and resources to investigate it…those days are over. When you’re here, you’re to work the assignments we give you. And for Christ’s sake, next time you use company money to travel somewhere, you’d better go through the proper channels. I don’t give a shit if you’re riding a subway to Brooklyn. You clear it with me first.”

Figuring this was the closest to a compromise as she was going to get, Rachel nodded. “Got it.”

“Good. Now get out of here and pack.”

Rachel startled. “Pack? I thought you’d just finished grounding me for the foreseeable future.”

“Stop being a smartass or I won’t send you anywhere.”

Rachel stood and smoothed out her black slacks. “Where am I going?”

Rick reached across his desk to retrieve the magazine. “The Super Bowl.”

Elizabeth Hayley is actually “Elizabeth” and “Hayley,” two friends who love reading romance novels to obsessive levels. This mutual love prompted them to put their English degrees to good use by penning their own. The product is Pieces of Perfect, their debut novel. They learned a ton about one another through the process, like how they clearly share a brain and have a persistent need to text each other constantly (much to their husbands’ chagrin).

They live with their husbands and kids in a Philadelphia suburb. Thankfully, their children are still too young to read.

Elizabeth Hayley’s writing motto is best captured by the words of Patrick Dennis: “I always start with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”

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