“I knew you guys would get back together,” Taylor said, punching the air with his fist. He called to the other side of the cage where Russ was waiting with his catcher’s gear strapped on. “You owe me twenty bucks.”
“You laid wagers on whether or not Amberlyn and I would start dating again?”
“What can I say? Easy twenty bucks.”
“I knew I was going to lose before I made the bet,” Russ called back. “That’s why you’re buying pizza after practice.”
I glanced between Russ and Taylor and sighed, “I envy you two.”
“You guys are always together. All I get to play with is a batting machine.”
“And a gorgeous blond on Friday nights,” Taylor said.
“Not with her sister walking in on us,” I grumbled. “Or a giant wave crashing over the pier.”
“Bummer,” Taylor said, then turned completely around so his back was to Russ. “Just don’t do anything stupid, like Russ did.”
“What did Russ do?” I whispered.
“You hadn’t heard? He got his girlfriend pregnant.”
“No way. Seriously.” I peeked around Taylor at our star catcher, waiting patiently for Taylor to pitch to him. “Please tell me he’s standing by her and not being a jerk, or… worse.” I gulped.
“Don’t worry, she’s definitely having the baby, even if she’s sporting a watermelon under her cap and gown. At least she’s planning to graduate.”
“Well that’s good,” I said. “Are they, like, gettin’ married?”
“They’re talking about it. Trying to weigh the options, do what’s best for the baby, you know.”
“Man, seems like such grown up decisions to be making during your senior year of high school.” I felt the weight of my friend’s predicament.
“He’s gonna need our support this spring.” Taylor almost sounded choked up about his best friend.
“That’s what teammates are for, man.” I patted Taylor on the shoulder before picking up my gear bag to head down to the furthest batting cage. “And I promise; I won’t get Amberlyn pregnant.”
“We’ll come down and heckle you after we’re done here,” Taylor said louder, now that we weren’t hiding our conversation from Russ. “That way you won’t feel all alone.” He made a show of wiping fake tears from his eyes.
“You cranking that pitching machine to a hundred yet, man?” Russ called to me.
“Nah, I haven’t gone above ninety-eight,” I called back. “I try to vary the speed every couple of minutes. Most guys our age aren’t gonna be throwing that fast. I gotta be prepared for everything you slow pokes lob at me from the mound.”
“Very funny,” Taylor said, then got into position. He threw a pitch to Russ and they all glanced at the speed gun. Seventy-eight.
“That would be a home run for me.” I chuckled while walking away. Then my face fell at the irony. And a sobering reminder not to take things with Amberlyn past first base.