[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.“I was wondering if you wanted to go somewhere with me.It’s something that I always do, and never miss.I would understand if you didn’t want to come, it might not be fun for you, but it’s a big deal for me, and I want to go.I brought you here because I still want to see you, and I guess I was just hoping that you would come with me—”“Ryker, stop.” I’d never seen him act like this and was immediately concerned.“What are you even talking about? Where do you want to go?”“My niece’s softball game.I help coach sometimes, but I always go to the games.”It took me a second to process his words.They seemed so simple, and I had no idea why he would think I wouldn’t want to go.My smile was wide when I answered him.“Of course I’ll go with you.I love sports.How old is your niece?”“She’s eight.Her name is Ashley.But it’s not that simple, Gabby.”“Okay…” I trailed off, prompting him to continue.Ryker removed his hands from my hips and stood up straighter.I watched as his shoulders squared and his eyes hardened.He looked as if he were preparing to defend himself.“Ashley has Down Syndrome,” he explained confidently, his earlier nerves nonexistent.He looked as if he were waiting for me to react as if I would storm off or look disgusted.“Okay, but what’s wrong? Why are you acting all weird?”Ryker scrubbed his hands down his face, and sighed.“My last girlfriend…she was a bitch about it.She couldn’t handle being around Ashley.She acted like Down Syndrome was contagious…” he trailed off, looking down.When his eyes met mine again, they were slightly narrowed—bright and challenging.“I love Ashley, and I do everything I can for her.She’s a huge part of my life and always will be.”I leaned up on the tip of my toes, grabbing onto his shoulders to steady myself.I pressed my lips against his softly, hoping the simple yet intimate gesture would show him how much I cared.Hoping the kiss could share what my words could not.“Okay, Ryker, but understand that I have absolutely no issue with this.Please know that if you allow me to meet her, I won’t be looking at a child with Down Syndrome.I’ll be looking at a little girl named Ashley.”Ryker’s stare remained locked on mine for a few heartbeats.“Do you want to go to her game with me, right now? It’s up the street, and she’s already there with my sister.I’d like you to meet them.”“I would love to go with you.” I kissed him again.He took a hold of my hand and guided me the few feet to his bike.I got on after him and smiled to myself.The butterflies dancing in my belly were for a different reason this time.Meeting someone who meant so much to Ryker was exciting.I couldn’t wait to see how he interacted with his niece and her friends—it would show me another side of Ryker I had yet to see.My smile remained plastered on my face on the short ride to the softball field.It had been years since I’d gone to a little league game.When I was eight, I’d been quite the tomboy and loved playing with the boys.I’d wanted to play softball, but when I went to one practice and realized none of the girls could catch a ball, never mind throw one…I’d went straight to baseball.Looking around, I realized everything seemed the same as when I was a kid.Trees lined the perimeter, acting as a fence, and both teams were on opposite sides of the field taking advantage of the time before the game started for some last minute practice.All the kids looked so cute in their uniforms, and I couldn’t help but smile.Ryker grabbed my hand and led me across the uneven grass over to the dugout where the red team was set up.Walking hand in hand with him in public felt natural and thrilling.It felt good.It felt normal.I leaned into him slightly when we stopped behind the chain linked fence of the dugout.It stood about four feet off the ground in a rectangle, three short sides connecting to a taller fence to protect the kids from foul balls.A simple wooden bench sat in the center of the space, the dark-green paint chipped and in need of a new coat.One end of the bench was more worn than the rest with rough splinters jutting out in every direction [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]