‘You better be careful with that arm or you might wreck your average.’ Cliff has been watching Rocco go hard to bat for an hour straight. The man with the golden leftie they call him. Dapo called to let him know their friend was hitting hard balls so they know there is a problem.

‘Nah I’m good.’ Rocco says hitting another ball that sailed across the yard at full tilt.

Cliff turns off the ball machine, he’s seen enough. ‘JJ still mad?’

‘Of course she is.’ Rocco throws the bat down, and it makes a clang at the plate. ‘She thinks I did something wrong by inviting her own mother into our home. I mean what was I supposed to do? Toss her out on the street? That’s not how we were raised.’

‘I know.’

‘And then when she found out I invited her to watch Bella’s nutcracker performance she flipped. I think she is going to call off the plans we have for the holidays.’

‘She won’t.’ Cliff is definitive in his reply.

‘What makes you so sure?’

‘Same way I was sure she was not going to walk away when Alexa pulled that stunt with your juvie records.’

News coming out of the New York Gunners tonight is reports of Rocco Rossi’s stint in juvie, this hardly comes as a surprise the Third baseman has never shied away from his past so it’s a little surprising that someone has leaked this to the press in its entirety. The records were sealed so someone with an axe to grind wanted this known to the world because it contains explicit details of the case. Rossi was fifteen years old when he was sentenced to two years juvenile detention for beating up another guy in a brawl. This is the first time we have seen the pictures and I must say the make for brutal viewing. The opponent, if we can call him that, was left with a broken nose and two black eyes. What caused the fight remains heavily speculated on, but persons with knowledge of the case say it was because his opponent use the n-word when referring to Rossi’s mother…

The news reports were having a day and a half with news of the sudden appearance of Rocco’s sealed juvie records. Coach called him in early this morning, practically sent a car to pick him up. They’d received a call from The Journal yesterday, the most loathed and feared tabloid, about the exclusive story.

‘How do you wanna play this?’ Coach asked; he was Rocco’s second father, mentored him from the moment he saw him play in the juniors and after his release from juvie, made sure he stayed out of trouble and kept a level head. This morning’s crisis meeting, just happened to be on the same day of one of their biggest charity events at the club, the press and the media will be there in their droves, this was Christmas come early. Alexa sure knows how to wage a war.

‘I don’t wanna play it Coach. I never hid this from anyone because if people went digging they would have seen interviews where I talked about this. If they know, they know. If you have to pull me from the line up fair enough. If questions come up I’ll answer them but I don’t wanna play it any way. My folks know and that’s all that matters.’

‘Your new girl?’

At this Rocco hung his head, JJ does not know this part of him because he’d never bothered to tell her. Or they haven’t gotten that far in their getting to know stage, even if they are expecting their first child together. What a cluster fuck. ‘She doesn’t know.’

‘Is she coming with you tonight?’

Rocco shakes his head, ‘she doesn’t do the red-carpet thing, so she won’t get ambushed.’

‘You still gotta tell her.’

‘Depends on how serious it is between them.’ The assistant coach says, and four heads turn to look at him. Rocco’s best friends on the team were also in on the meeting having received calls from the press to give their statement on record. ‘Okay then I stand corrected.’ He obviously did not know it was this serious.

‘I will.’ This was the moment Rocco understood how he felt about JJ; he did not want to lose her and he is not sure how she would react to the news of him having a juvenile record. She is not from his world, street smart and rough around the edges, she was reserved and English, raised with a silver spoon in her mouth and shy and sweet, the opposite to him in a lot of respects, but he loved everything about her. His feelings had taken him by surprise.

‘I just saw the news, are you okay?’ Fen, Caroline, Tallulah, and Rocks were on the phone the minute the story broke.

‘I’m fine but Rocco’s not answering my calls.’ JJ woke up to find Rocco gone, then she received the morning newspapers and understood why. He sent her a text saying he would call her but she’d rather not wait.

‘He’s probably still with his coach, crisis talks being what they are.’ Rocks said, trying to assuage her friend’s worry.

‘He’s also got to attend a charity event tonight I’m sure that’ll be fun.’

‘Are you going with him?’ Caroline asked.

‘No I never got to those things, we have an understanding.’

‘I think you should go to this tonight.’ Fen says.

‘I agree.’ Tallulah said.

‘Why would I?’

‘Because we know where this is coming from.’ Rocks was matter of fact about it, ‘she wants your attention so give it her. Turn it up.’

‘Absolutely.’ Caroline acquiesced.

‘I’ll send over with some options.’ Tallulah says, ‘and hair and make up. Rocks?’

‘On my way.’

‘Hang on. What is going on?’ How had this conversation become a battle cry.

‘JJ, I say this as your oldest sister with much love, now is not the time to retreat, you love this man, everyone who has seen you two can tell, he loves you. So, this is the time to make the noise. Let her know you are not cowering or hiding away.’

‘She wants your attention, let her have it.’ Caroline sounded absolutely devious, she wished she was there to see what Rocks and Tallulah would come up with.

They were three outfits in when Rocks excused the team for a private chat with her friend, she’d seen JJ look more worried about the whole thing, it was bigger than just walking the red carpet, her friend was not typically one to sweat the small stuff and this was relatively small stuff where everything else was concerned. She had survived a rather emotionally heavy childhood for starters and dared to pull herself out and go against her father’s strict edict on her life, called his bluff and thrived. There was something more.

‘Talk to me.’

‘I’m pregnant.’ JJ spilled with much relief. She’d been itching to tell someone outside of her and Rocco. She needed to say it so that it was even more real. Rocco and her had been in this lovely bubble but she needed to let someone else in.

‘Fuck. That was fast.’ Rocks laughed a little, ‘how far along are you?’

‘Three months and a bit.’

‘Oh my dear. This must be so hard for you. Why didn’t you say something earlier?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘How has he taken the news of the baby?’

‘Ecstatic. We haven’t even told our families yet. The shop is just taking off. I’m so scared.’

Rocks envelopes her in a hug. ‘Listen to me, you don’t have to do this. I’m sorry we bullied you into thinking you had to. She’s not worth it.’

‘I want to do it. Not because she gets to me, well there’s that, but more so because I’m crazy about him. I love him and I need to be out of my comfort zone sometimes. Tonight, I will meet him in his.’

‘You sure about that?’


‘Atta girl.’

Her friends turned her out in fine form.

When Rocco arrived on the red carpet, JJ was pulling up behind him, all day he hadn’t taken her calls because he was afraid of what she might say to him, he wanted to plead his case in person, but also had commitments he could not pull out of quick enough, so he promised to come straight to hers after the event.

Rocco’s assistant tapped him on the shoulder and motioned behind him. He turned to look and there she was the woman of his dreams. Looking as beautiful as ever in that pant suit; the tuxedo jacket was low cut to her belly button, and the wide leg pants draped her long legs sexily. A diamond chain followed the line of her décolletage before disappearing teasingly. Her hair is pulled loosely in a bun, and she looked sensual with that red lipstick make up. He wanted to steal her away from this maddening crowd, close the world out so it was only the two of them soon to be three. He made his way towards her, smile in place.

‘Hi.’ JJ called his assistant to make a plan with her, so their arrival was coordinated without him knowing.

‘Hi. You look… sensational.’

‘You weren’t taking my calls, so I thought I’d come here and surprise you.’

‘We need to talk.’

‘No, we don’t. Not right now.’

‘I’m sorry.’ Rocco continued either way, ‘I should have told you instead of waiting for you to find out this way.’

‘Apology accepted.’

Rocco’s assistant approaches them, beaming, ‘JJ you look incredible in that suit. The press will eat you up.’

‘That’s the plan.’

‘Well, your audience awaits.’

‘Shall we go give them something to talk about?’

‘Let’s turn it up.’

The next day in the newspapers the leading story above the fold, was the picture of Rocco and his belle dominated the coverage. In the words of Rocks, she’d turned it way up.

‘She is not that woman Rocco. She loves you’ Cliff continues his unequivocal support for JJ whom he’d come to know and admired in a short span of time. His friend was mad over her from the moment they met in London, so much so he’d called to tell him the next morning. ‘She has baggage so do you, so do we all, but your love for each other is absolute anyone can tell. She’s not gonna cancel the holidays you are going to have a wonderful time, so just give this time to settle. And mind your fucking arm.’

Rocco laughed a little, ‘you’re that concerned about the arm huh?’

‘Well its not only the arm you are godfather to two of my children and my parents and wife happen to love you more than they love me and not to sound possessive but you’re my bestie. You’re also the best Third there ever was my friend, I won’t let you forget it.’

‘Thanks bestie.’