“Everything I ever wanted is happening to me right now,” Mark said suddenly. “I dreamed about playing in the Majors since I was like six years old. And now it’s going to happen. You know what that’s going to mean for my family?”
Dylan said nothing.
He was getting a little breathless from talking as he ran, but continued nevertheless. “I can send my sister to college. Any college she wants to go to. My father can retire and my parents can go to DR anytime they want instead of scraping together pennies to go every three years. Hell, they can buy a house there. Or even build one.”
Dylan waited for it, but he didn’t mention a single thing he wanted for himself.
“And all I have to do is show up at a few events, a few meetings, take some pictures and play ball when the time comes. And I can’t wait to play.”
“Then what’s so frustrating?”
“I met someone I really like and . . . but I don’t have the time I wish I had. So she’s off dancing in nightclubs with other guys, and dating lawyers.”
Dylan looked at him, not knowing how to address the last part of what he said. All she knew was that she wasn’t about to make any promises not to go out, or not to dance with guys who wanted to dance with her because Mark, despite all his attention, had made no promises to her.
“Okay, let’s burn it out,” she said. “Sprint the last hundred yards back to the car?”
“No,” Mark said.
“No? Don’t tell me you’re tapped out already, Mr. Superstar Shortstop,” she teased.
“I want to know first. Are you?”
“Am I what?”
“Hanging out with any of those guys you work with. Or dating anyone.”
Mark nodded. “Okay.” Then he smiled at her and unexpectedly broke away into a full-speed sprint.
Dylan went chasing after him.
By the time they got to the car, they were both soaking wet with perspiration. Mark draped their towels over the backs of their seats and they got in, pulling away from the curb.
“So remember I said I want to show you something?”
“Now? How about we get cleaned up first?”
“It’ll be fine. There’s no dress code involved.”
They headed back downtown and Mark pulled into an underground parking garage, leading Dylan into a building she recognized but had never given much notice to before. Like many New York buildings, it was fairly nondescript outside and offered absolutely no clue as to what awaited once you went in.
The condo was on the third floor, a beautiful, newly renovated unit near Washington Square Park. Boasting pristine dark oak floors, wonderful light and airy, modern rooms, it was fully furnished and looked like something out of Architectural Digest. There were three enormous picture windows overlooking Washington Square flanked by low-slung sand-colored sofas. On the opposite wall was a modern polished marble fireplace that would be beautiful when lit. The dining room and kitchen were separated from the living space by a solid red brick wall that stood in stark contrast to the modernism of the rest of the condo.
“I almost bought it,” Mark said. “Then I choked at the last minute. So it’s just a rental, but I wanted you to see it, see if you like it.”
“I love it,” Dylan said spinning around and taking it all in. “What’s not to like?”
“Maybe you’ll spend some time here,” Mark said, coming toward her.
“I’d like that.”
She looked up at him and he leaned in to kiss her. Then he was running his hands down her sides, and this time she was self-conscious, because she was damp and sweaty and maybe even a little ripe as well. But Mark didn’t seem to notice or care and the next thing Dylan knew, he was pulling her running tights down and over her hips and she was too excited and too surprised to object. She held her breath as he got to her feet and peeled it off one leg at a time, removing her sneakers and socks as he did. This was one hell of a turnaround for a guy who not too long ago was pulling back as he kissed her, just so she wouldn’t feel his erection.
Standing barefoot and in her underwear and t-shirt in the middle of Mark’s brand-new living room Dylan reached out to raise his shirt, over his rippled stomach, over his chest, helping as he shrugged it completely off. His chest was covered in a light layer of the same silky dark hair on his arms, and Dylan couldn’t help but reach out and touch him. And he actually quivered, as though just her touch was pleasure to him. In his face, Dylan saw a mirror-image of the wanting she felt. She slipped her fingers into the waistband of his sweatpants and pulled them down, crouching as she did. When she was face to face with his pelvis, she stopped and blinked. Whoa. Someone was rearing to go. Mark pulled her up and kissed her as he stepped out of the clothes she’d removed. Without speaking, he led her to the rear of the condo.
The walls and the floor of the shower were sandstone and built to look like the rocks on a waterfall. Mark turned on the water and jets came alive from all directions. He adjusted the temperature then turned to Dylan again. She remained perfectly still while he stripped her naked, slowly removing her shirt, her sports bra and her underwear and tossing them aside.
For awhile he just looked at her, for so long that she was almost self-conscious. He trailed his fingers over her perfectly flat stomach, down and then up again, finally cupping her breasts in both hands and bending to kiss them, his tongue moving over her nipples and around them, tasting her. They were both breathing audibly now, almost as though they were still on the Central Park trail, just before they hit the crest of the hill. Then Mark raised his head to look at her.
“Is this moving too fast for you?” he asked. But there was a plea in his eyes, as though he was begging her to say ‘no’.
Dylan shook her head.
If anything, it wasn’t moving fast enough. She considered for a second—but only a second—that she should probably play a little harder to get; maybe he would lose interest after this if she was too easy. But in the moment, it was difficult to care. She wanted him as badly as he obviously wanted her. And there was every likelihood that he’d lose interest anyway. She would be foolish to assume that this would change anything. When all was said and done, he would still disappear into his new life, and she would become a distant memory. But for now, she would take what he was willing to give.
When they stepped into the shower, Dylan was immediately drenched from all sides. The water temperature was perfect, and she thought only fleetingly about her hair. Thankfully it was securely braided—she wasn’t sure how she would have felt about him seeing her massive, tangled ‘fro once they got out. But all thoughts of hair or anything besides him were eradicated when Mark touched her once again. His hands were slippery with soap now and he ran them all over her, bathing her the way one might bathe a child. Dylan submitted, completely transfixed by the look of utter and complete focus on his face. She took the soap from him and reciprocated, running her hands over his arms, his firm stomach, his sides, his back, his buttocks.
When she brought her hands around to stroke him, he let her for a few moments, his eyes closed, his mouth slightly open, a low guttural sound emitting from between his lips. Seeing him this excited, excited her and Dylan redoubled her efforts, but Mark pulled out of her reach.
He lowered his head, kissing her, his hands simultaneously rinsing the soap from her body and caressing her. The cool water, the warmth of his hands, and the lack of friction as their skin made contact was almost too much. Then he was kneeling in front of her, the water falling over him in sheets, and spreading her thighs once again. A girl could be forgiven if she passed out at a time like this.