Cole glanced at Lizzie's profile as she watched the field. He let out a big breath of frustration. He had to get away from her for a little while. How this emotion could still exist after all this time was beyond him, but there it was, suspiciously feeling a lot like pain.
"I'm going over to say hi to Bobby."
"What? You can't." Lizzie grabbed his arm in a claw-like grip.
He frowned down at her hand. "Why not?"
"Because they're in the middle of a game, that's why not. You of all people should know better."
He raised his brow in shock. "I may be injured and no longer in the majors, but do you really think those kids don't want some coaching advice from the formerly great Cole Ryan? Come on, Lizzie. What's really wrong with you?"
"Nothing's wrong with me."
"Then give me back my arm." What was this all about? Maybe she didn't want him to leave her? Could she still care? His heart leapt at that. "I promise, I'll come back and talk to you about us later, if that's what you want."
She dropped his arm like he'd electrocuted her. "That's not it."
Her intensity took him aback.
"Fine." Cole rolled his eyes at his own stupidity and stalked away toward the field. Bobby was hanging onto the cage watching the hitter at bat when Cole came up behind him. "Need any coaching help from a former major leaguer?"
His joke was answered by Bobby spinning around. Instead of a welcome or a smile, his childhood best friend pulled back one arm and greeted him with a fist to the face. Bobby hit him so hard, the next thing Cole knew he was on his ass staring up at the sky. Then he could no longer see the sky, because the kids on both teams and most of the parents surrounded him in a tight circle.
Cole struggled to sit up and gingerly touched his jaw while looking at Bobby's angry face. If he stood now Bobby would probably just punch him again, so he stayed where he was for the moment. He'd vowed ten years ago that if Bobby beat the crap out of him for having sex with Lizzie he'd allow it. He just never imagined Bobby would come to collect ten years later. He guessed some offenses had no statute of limitations.
His train of thought was interrupted when the pitcher he'd admired from the bleachers broke through the crowd. "Uncle Bobby. Why did you punch him?"
With his mind still foggy and working a little slow from the punch, Cole took a moment to wonder why Lizzie didn't just say he was her and Bobby's nephew. The kid must be their older sister Mary Sue's son, so why would Lizzie not tell him that?
The kid glanced into the crowd. "Mom. Get him some ice out of the cooler."
When Cole looked to see Mom, she turned out to be a Lizzie. She was a little paler and looking not so happy as she sent Cole a look, but it was Lizzie nonetheless. It was a good thing Cole had remained sitting on the ground, because that would have knocked him on his ass again otherwise.
Head still spinning, he stared at the boy and realized he looked nothing like his mother and everything like Cole himself. He took a shaky breath and asked him the question he feared the answer to most. "You've got some pitching arm on you, boy. How old are you anyway?"
The boy smiled proudly. "I'll be ten in February, sir."
Ten. The magic number. They'd had sex in May. He was born in February. It didn't take long to do the math. Cole swallowed as acid backed up his throat.