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Stealing His Heart( Nehalem Pack 25)

By:AJ Jarrett
Stealing His Heart
AJ Jarrett

       Nehalem Pack 25

Stealing His Heart

Chapter One

"Breathe, son." His dad, Caleb, put his big, warm hand on Kamden's neck,  but it did nothing to calm his raging nerves. "Remember they wanted to  meet you. They want you to play for them."

"Yeah." Kamden pulled at the collar of his light blue button-down dress  shirt. It suddenly felt too tight. He winced as another drop of sweat  dripped down his back. "They wanted to see me. I have nothing to worry  about," Kamden mumbled to himself. "I'm the greatest shortstop who's  ever lived." He wasn't, but Kamden liked to pump himself up. It helped a  little.

"Yes you are." His dad moved his arm to Kamden's shoulders. "You're the  best ballplayer I've ever seen. They'd be crazy to not want you."

"You have to say that." Kamden cocked his head to the side and stared at his father. "I'm your son."

"True, but even if you weren't I'd feel the same way." His dad tightened  his hand. "Son, your stats speak for themselves. Last season at  Louisiana State you had no errors and you had a three sixty-two batting  average. You're an amazing athlete. The athletic director at the college  said that Coach Henson is eager to have you play for them. According to  Sean, Henson thinks you'd make a great addition to an already  successful team."

"Why though? I mean any player can look good on paper, but you need to  watch them in action to really know what kind of player they are." This  was the one thing he didn't understand. PJ Henson had never met Kamden  or actually seen him play. He'd come to Silver Creek after Kamden had  graduated high school. They'd never met.

"He talked to your high school coach." His dad, with one arm on Kam's  shoulder, guided him toward the entrance into the baseball stadium where  the coaches' offices were. "According to Henson, Coach Clevenger raved  about your talents, and Henson did get some of your game footage from  the coaches at Louisiana State."

"I guess. I'm just nervous." Kamden shrugged. It wasn't surprising. His  coaches down in Louisiana knew he was having a meeting at Hemsworth.

Kamden had played down in Louisiana for the past two years. He liked it  there-he really did-but he was homesick. His best friend Carson had  moved back to Silver Creek, and his brother Ryan and his little boy were  there now, too. When he left Silver Creek, Kamden wasn't on speaking  terms with Carson and Ryan had gone off to college in Texas. Kamden felt  it was his turn to go off and do his own thing, but the shine wore off  that real quick. Sure he'd made friends, but nothing long-lasting. He  just wanted to be at home where things were familiar and where he was  comfortable, and if he could still play baseball it was a bonus to him.

"It's good to be nervous." His dad smiled at him. "It means you haven't  gotten cocky. You're a great ballplayer, but you don't act like it.  That's a great character trait to have."

"I guess but what if after all this they don't want me?"

"Then they're bat-shit crazy."

Kamden chuckled at his father's words. His dad pulled him to a stop in front of the front entrance.

"Kam, you might be my kid, but I would never lie to you about this.  You're an amazing ballplayer. Have a little faith in your ability." His  dad gave him a quick pat on the arm. "Now let's go see what they have to  say."

"Thanks, Dad." Kamden took a deep breath, grabbed the handle on the  glass door, and pulled it open. The cool air rushed against his face as  he walked inside the building. An older lady with short blonde hair and a  friendly smile on her face sat behind a narrow high top desk ten feet  from the door. "Hi. I'm here to see Coach Henson."

"You must be Kamden Kline-Kemp. My name is Lisa, and it's very nice to  meet you." Lisa stood and came around her desk to shake his hand.  "Henson is expecting you." She waved for them to follow her. "Just  follow me, sweetie." She looked back over her shoulder. "Henson and  Baxter are down on the field."

Kamden glanced over at his father, then followed Lisa down the hallway.  The walls were lined with pictures of past baseball players who had  played at Hemsworth. Halfway down the hallway a glass case displayed  trophies. It was impressive. Hemsworth had made it to the College World  Series the previous year, but Florida had taken home the title. It was a  little intimidating. Kamden had been sought out by recruiters from  Hemsworth while he was still in high school, but after his falling out  with Carson, he needed to get far away from Silver Creek.                       


"There's a pitching practice going on right now," Lisa said. "One of the  starting pitchers pulled a muscle while on vacation. They're hoping he  won't be out for the season."

Kamden nodded. His hands started to shake, and he shoved them into his  pockets to hide just how nervous he truly was. He knew he shouldn't be  so anxious. Hemsworth had wanted him in the first place, but damn that  didn't make a difference to his queasy stomach.

Kamden and his father followed a talkative Lisa through a series of  hallways that ultimately led out on to the vast baseball field. She took  them right out through the dugout lining the first base side. The sun  was so bright Kamden had to bring his hand up to shield his eyes from  the hot rays.

"It's beautiful," Kamden said in awe as he took in the field. The grass  was a vibrant green, and even the dirt in the infield looked  spectacular, soft and brown. Fresh chalk lined the baselines and the  batter's box.

"I'm glad you think so, sweetie." Lisa put a warm, wrinkled hand on his  forearm. She waved over toward an older man, then turned back to Kamden.  "That's Mr. Baxter. He's the head of athletics here at Hemsworth. He'll  take good care of you until Henson is free. It was nice meeting both of  you, and I hope to see you here this fall." Lisa winked at him then  turned and headed back the way she came in.

An older tall man with short white hair smiled as he walked over to  greet them. "Hello there, Kamden. I'm Sean Baxter." He held out his hand  for Kamden, then for his father. "Good to see you again, Caleb." Mr.  Baxter turned his focus back toward Kamden. "I can't tell you how  excited we here at Hemsworth are that you finally agreed to meet with  us."

"I'm happy to be here, sir." Kamden looked out toward the field again.

"Caleb, I owe you one for getting your boy to agree to this."

"Oh, Sean, I can't take the credit on this one." Caleb nodded over at Kamden. "This is all Kam."

"Whatever the reason I'm just glad you're here."

"Thank you, sir." Kamden smiled.

"Enough with that sir crap." The older man chuckled. "Call me, Sean.  Everyone does. Now come on." Sean started to walk toward the bull pen in  the outfield. "Henson is out there with one of our pitchers."

The closer they got to the outfield Kamden could hear a man talking loud  with a stern edge to his tone. The hairs on the back of his neck stood  up, and a weird energy surrounded him. It was as if the air around him  grew heavy and dense like fog. The wind picked up, and a deep, rich  smell of burning wood fluttered under his nose. Kamden's eyes fell shut,  and a lazy smiled curled his lips. Suddenly his shaking hands and  nervous stomach disappeared. Kamden felt as if he could do anything.  With the next step he took he stumbled over his feet and nearly fell  face-first toward the ground.

"Son, you okay?" His dad asked, his strong hands holding Kamden tightly on the shoulders, keeping him from falling.

"Yeah, sorry." Kamden felt his cheeks flush with heat, and he dropped  his gaze to look at the ground. He didn't know what had come over him.

"Henson, get over here!" Sean shouted.

Kamden moved closer to the fence that enclosed the bullpen. He watched  the pitcher prepare for the next pitch. His shoulder came back, then  forward in an easy glide. The ball soared through the air and into the  catcher's mitt. Kamden's eyes widened when he heard the hard smack of  the ball hitting the catcher's glove.

"Ross, do about fifteen more pitches. Then call it a day. We don't want to over work that arm."

A tall man that Kamden hadn't noticed stepped out of the shadows. He  glanced in Kamden's direction and smiled, and Kam's mouth suddenly felt  as dry as a desert. This man must be Coach Henson. He wore a baseball  hat pulled down over his eyes, and the shadow from the bill made it hard  to see his face, but Kam could see short black hair peeking out the  sides. Henson said something else to the other player, then headed in  his direction.

Henson jogged toward them with a smile on his face. His eyes were locked  on Kam's and Kam couldn't look away. Kam shifted uncomfortable from  foot to foot as his gaze traveled over Henson. The man was huge. He had  to be at least four inches taller than Kam's six-foot height. And the  man seemed to be made up of only muscle. Kam could see the way they  flexed through the material of his clothes. He wore a pair of black  Under Armour gym shorts and a gray T-shirt that had the school's name  written across the front.