"The Hot Streak is an interesting take on loving someone who is in the limelight. I enjoyed the book and found it to be an entertaining read." --Coffee Time Romance When Casey Branigan meets major league baseball player Tyler Hammond at a photo shoot, she finds the fun and excitement her life needs. As a manager in a big Boston design firm, Casey's life has become lackluster - but her affair with Tyler promises to change that. Quickly caught up in the whirlwind that surrounds celebrity athletes, Casey travels all over the country to watch Tyler pitch. The sex is breathtaking and Casey loves the lifestyle fame and fortune affords. Tyler is on a winning streak, and he thinks Casey is the reason why. But Casey must decide for herself whether this is just a summer fling. Or is Casey starting a winning streak of her own?
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July 03, 2009
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Excerpt from The Hot Streak by Cecilia Tan
Casey felt like a little girl on her way to the circus. That was the only thing she could think of to compare it to, as she rode the packed train toward the ballpark. There was a kind of excitement in the crowd, and as she elbowed her way out of the car with the rest of the passengers, she couldn't help but be caught up in it. She wasn't completely sure which way to go, but surrounded by people in Robins hats and jerseys and T-shirts, she figured all she had to do was go with the flow. The river of brightly clad people buoyed her along toward the stadium. The summer breeze blew warm off Boston Harbor while the sun set somewhere behind the skyline. The glow of stadium lights ahead and the tinny sound of music from the PA system seemed to beckon the crowd. People chattered excitedly all around her, and she caught the sound of a familiar name in it. Hammond, Tyler Hammond. The two women directly in front of her were talking about the very guy who had invited Casey to this game. "What? It's Hammond starting? I thought it was Gutierrez on the mound tonight." The woman was in her forties, Casey guessed, blond, with overlong nails and too many rings. She reminded Casey of her Aunt Mary. "That was last night," her friend replied. "Why do you think I'm wearing my Tyler Hammond jersey? Hello?" The other woman slid her long, dark hair aside, and pointed at her back to emphasize the point. Casey blinked. Right there, it said Hammond, with a large number thirteen sewn in black satin on the orange-red cloth. She had the urge to ask them, What's he like? Is he a decent guy? I met him today at work and I have no clue what I'm doing here... But as the crowd grew thicker closer to the park, she lost sight of them. Time to figure out where to pick up the tickets. The stadium was only a few years old, a gleaming jewel on the waterfront, built to entice a National League team to Boston and, so said the cynical business columnists, to eat into the huge market of baseball fans the Red Sox had formerly monopolized. It had been big news at the time, but Casey hadn't paid much attention in recent years and she'd never been to the ballpark before. She eventually found the window labeled "Team/Family/VIP"--a handwritten sign taped on the inside of the glass. Behind it stood a gray-haired woman wearing a red polo shirt with the Robins logo embroidered on it. "Last name?" she barked at Casey through the grill. "Branigan," Casey answered. "Tyler Hammond said he left me..." "Branigan," the woman repeated. "Cassie?" "Casey," she corrected, more annoyed at having been cut off than at the woman getting her name wrong. "Whatever. ID, please?" Casey slipped her driver's license into the little metal well under the window, and the woman slid it back along with a ticket. "Enjoy the game. Next!" Casey put her license back into her wallet, feeling a bit like she was at the airport as she prepared to go through security. Were they going to want to see it again? They were searching people's bags up ahead. But all she had was her little handbag, too small even to hold a single bottle of smuggled beer in it, much less a weapon of mass destruction. The guard just gave it a cursory glance and waved her through. She made her way through the brick and concrete building, making her way along wide walkways edged with vending stalls selling popcorn and hot dogs; it smelled like the circus, too. A man selling bags of cotton candy lined up on a long pole edged past her and up a ramp toward the seats. She examined the numbers posted above the ramp and walked on further, looking for hers. She came to what looked to be the right ramp and headed up a narrow concrete tunnel toward the bright lights. Suddenly she was standing in the bowl of the stadium, the field huge and green in front of her. Players were spread out over the grass and for a moment she panicked, thinking she was late, but she quickly realized they weren't playing yet. They were stretching and practicing their moves. She stared, the way one would if the actors in a Broadway play were wandering around on the stage before a show. But then an usher noticed her lost look and steered her to a seat about ten rows back from the field. The whole section was empty; no one else near her had shown up yet. She bought a program from a passing vendor so she would have something to read while waiting, but she ended up looking around. I'm really not supposed to be here, she thought, and it seemed surreal to be sitting under bright lights in the open air. She was supposed to be at a party right then. A "work" party being thrown by one of her regular clients, a launch party for the new "look" for their magazine, and she supposed she should have gone to be supportive and to network. But open-bar-and-crudite just didn't have the appeal it once did. I never promised I'd go, she rationalized. It wasn't as if she got paid to spend non-work hours attending that sort of thing, either. Well, thank you, Tyler Hammond, for getting me away from that for a night. She looked for him on the field, but didn't see him among the players there. Men raked the dirt and just a few Robins were off to one side playing catch and doing little sprints. She felt a thrill of excitement when she thought she caught sight of him--but no, that was someone else. They'd met earlier in the day, when she was helping to set up a photo shoot for another magazine her company worked for. There had been two athletes involved, Tyler and another whose name Casey had forgotten now. The photographer had been aiming for some high-concept image with Tyler in a suit of armor, but Casey hadn't paid much attention to the photographer. Not once Tyler had started to pay attention to her. Casey generally did not flirt at work. Working in a production bureau normally did not bring her into contact with many flirt-worthy subjects, anyway. And today, she had not flirted either. It was all Tyler. If he hadn't been so persistent, she probably would have just laughed him off and not taken him up on the offer of the free ticket. She sat up straighter suddenly; there he was. He hopped up the dugout steps and started walking across the grass. With him went a player carrying a large bag, and an older man Casey guessed must be a coach. They were fifty yards away at least, and Tyler was wearing a hat, but she was sure it was him. Well, that and the fact that his jersey said Hammond on the back with a number thirteen, just like that woman's. The other player walking with him had Madison on his back. Casey wondered how players felt about women wearing clothes with their names on them. Was it sort of weird? Would Tyler expect his girlfriend or wife to wear a Hammond jersey? Casey shook her head. I can't believe I'm thinking about stuff like that. He was a sweet guy, but it wasn't as if she expected anything to come of it. He had been nice to leave the ticket and it was a great excuse to get away from a boring work function and do something different for once. Casey watched the little trio open a gate in the far wall in the outfield and disappear through it. She was just wondering where they had gone when a woman took the seat next to her. She was alone, not wearing any team colors, her hair a perfect auburn; her jewelry looked expensive. The woman glanced at Casey, then took a magazine out of her shoulder bag and began to read as if she were waiting for a bus rather than a baseball game. The words were out of Casey's mouth almost before she realized it. "Oh my goodness, I worked on that magazine." It was the fashionable home publication whose party she was skipping out on, as if Fate were trying to remind her about it. The woman looked up. "Oh?" "Yes. I did some independent art direction for them. I work at a production bureau here in town...sorry, that might sound like Greek. I helped with their photography and layout." Casey held out her hand. "Casey Branigan." "Pleased to meet you," the woman said, shaking her hand hard. "I'm Missy Madison." Something about the way she said it made it sound like she expected Casey to recognize it. Casey hesitated, eyebrow raised, as if trying to place it, and the woman went on. "Mad Dog's wife." Madison, she had said. "Oh, the fellow I saw walking with Tyler?" Her smile warmed suddenly, seemed more genuine. "You're here with Tyler?" "Well, not with..." Casey started, then stopped. "I mean, he was nice enough to give me a ticket. I'm not, I mean..." Missy smiled and patted Casey on the arm. "He's fun, Tyler is," she said and her smile turned knowing. Casey didn't know what to say to that, so she just smiled in return while wondering what she was getting herself into.