Excerpt for Love in the Rough by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Love in the Rough


A Romantic Comedy


J. D. Rogers


***


Smashwords Edition







Text copyright © 2017 by J. D. Rogers

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for quotations in printed reviews, without the written permission of the author.

All characters are fictional. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

COVER PHOTO: Courtesy of Pixabay.com






Smashwords Edition, License Notes


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Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16







Chapter 1


Kate Tucker had been playing professional golf for seven years and was still looking for her first win. She had more second place finishes than any other girl currently on tour. She just couldn’t seem to find a way to pick up a win. But maybe today would be different. At least she hoped it would.

She was on the last hole of the tournament, the seventy-second hole, and she was tied for the lead at the Shag Carpeting Classic. Yes, it was a stupid name for a tournament, but a consortium of carpeting manufacturers had put up several million dollars in prize money, so they got to name the tournament.

Convinced that shag carpeting was about to make a comeback, they elected to call the tournament the Shag Carpeting Classic. They even asked if they could lay shag carpeting on each of the tee boxes, but the tour nixed that idea, pointing out that this was not putt putt golf.

Kate put the name of the tournament out of her mind and turned her attention to her next shot, perhaps her biggest of the weekend.

The hole was a par four, a little over four hundred yards long. She had hit a perfect tee shot, right down the middle of the fairway, almost two hundred and eighty yards from the tee.

In contrast, her opponent had hit her tee shot into the left rough. Not the deep rough, just the first cut. She wasn’t as long off the tee as Kate, so she would be hitting first.

There was a small pond in front of the green, so you didn’t want to leave the ball short. On the flip side, the pin was on the front of the green, just a few feet from the pond, so you didn’t want to over club.

Kate didn’t want to put the ball on the back of the green because it was a long green, close to one hundred feet long, and truth be told, putting was the weakest part of her game.

Her opponent was away, so Kate watched as she studied her shot, conferred with her caddie, and selected a club. She took a couple of practice swings, addressed her ball, and swung.

The ball flew out of the rough and landed about five feet behind the pin. But because she was hitting out of the tall grass, there was no backspin on her ball. it rolled a good thirty-five feet toward the back of the green, leaving her with a forty foot putt.

As the crowd applauded, the watching television cameras turned their attention to Kate, including the hand held camera that followed them down the fairway.

Kate did her best to ignore the cameraman who was all but running over to her, and held out her hand. Her caddie, she couldn’t remember his name, no big surprise, since he had only been with her for a couple of weeks, handed her a club.

“One seventeen to the front of the green,” he said, rattling off the yardage. “One twenty-one to the pin. One fifty to the back of the green. No major breaks, it’s all pretty flat.”

Kate did her best to ignore the butterflies in her stomach, not to mention the cameraman, who was all but in her face. Then she looked at the club that her caddie handed her. It was a pitching wedge.

Kate handed the club back to her caddie. “Give me the sand wedge.”

“Your max distance with the sand wedge is one twenty,” her caddie said. “Hit it fat and you could end up in the water. Pitching wedge will put you safely in the middle of the green, right where your opponent is.”

“She’s a better putter than I am,” Kate said. “I don’t want to get into a putting contest with her, not if I can avoid it.”

Kate’s caddie took the pitching wedge from her, dropped it in the bag, and handed her the sand wedge. Then he moved out of the way.

Kate moved behind her ball and studied the shot. You got this, she told herself. You feel good. You’re playing good. One perfect shot and the tournament is yours.

She was wearing what she always wore on Sunday, pink and black. Her Sunday colors. Pink shoes. Pink ankle socks. Black culottes. And a pink polo shirt. Her long brown hair was tied up in a chignon and a black baseball cap covered her head and shielded her eyes. Her golf club sponsor’s name was printed on the front of the cap in neon pink.

She took a couple of practice swings and addressed her ball. As soon as she did, everything that she had managed to ignore all day long assaulted her. She could hear the birds chirping and the crowd shuffling. She could feel thousands of eyes on her. She could feel that damn cameraman, the one with the hand held camera, creeping closer and closer.

She thought about stepping away from the ball, giving herself a moment to relax, but she knew it wouldn’t help. She would just tense up even more. The knot in her stomach would just get tighter and tighter.

Just hit the damn ball, Kate told herself. And so she did.

She knew it was a bad shot as soon as she hit it, because she hit it fat, taking a big divot out of the ground. Instead of reaching the green, the ball landed in the middle of the pond that fronted the green.

Kate tried to control her anger but she lost it, she just lost it. Lost her cool. Lost the tournament. Lost a chance to pick up her first win ever. Lost a chance to lose that damn nickname the media had stuck her with, Second Place Kate.

“Damn! Damn! Damn!” she yelled.

She tossed her wedge to her caddie. All right. Threw it at him. It ended up hitting him right in the face. Right in the nose. Hard enough to make his nose bleed.

“This is all your fault!” Kate yelled. “If you hadn’t put the idea in my head, I wouldn’t have hit it fat.”

She stormed off toward the green, not bothering to check on her caddie, see if his nose was broken. Not that she cared because he was gone. She would find a new caddie. Yet again.


***


David Stone was watching Kate’s melt down from the living room of his beach front home. On the phone was an old friend. Marcus Leery, who just happened to be Kate Tucker’s agent and business manager.

“So, will you take the job?” Marcus asked David.

Kate was a pretty girl, ridiculously pretty. Not that it was easy to tell, what with the way she wore her hair up in some kind of a bun and hid her face beneath the baseball cap by pulling it as low over her eyes as she could.

Then there were those shorts that she wore, big baggy shorts that reached past her knees, it looked like she stole them from somebody trapped in the nineteen fifties. Didn’t the girl understand that she was in the entertainment business?

“What’s with those baggy shorts she’s wearing?” David asked Marcus.

“I’m her agent and her business manager,” Marcus said. “Not her fashion consultant. But she always wears that outfit on Sundays, maybe it’s her lucky outfit.”

“Can’t be that lucky. She just hit the ball in the water and lost the tournament.”

“Hold on a minute,” Marcus said. “I’m getting another call.”

David turned his attention back to the television. Kate was standing by the pond. The camera was tight on her face, waiting, hoping, that she would lose her cool one more time, maybe even go after the camera, which she was clearly all too aware of. A fact made obvious by the way she kept glancing at it out of the corner of her eye.

David had to admit that she had great eyes, big, soft, brown, doe eyes. They went well with her sharp cheekbones, turned up nose, and full lower lip.

She should be showing off that face, he thought. Not hiding it. In the entertainment business, good looking meant more endorsements, which meant more money. And Kate was definitely a good looking girl.

Not that Kate was hurting financially. She would earn somewhere around a half a million dollars for her second place finish. Not that it would console her. They were already calling her Second Place Kate. This would just cement the nickname. It was a nickname no athlete wanted.

“Bad news,” Marcus said, coming back on the phone. “That was her shoe sponsor. They saw what happened and have decided to terminate their contract with her.”

“Can they do that?”

“They’re claiming her little tirade violated the moral turpitude clause in her contract. Hold on, I’m getting another call.”

David turned his attention back to the television. It was hard to tell what kind of a body Kate had beneath those baggy shorts that she wore, but when you considered how much walking she did, he suspected that it was rocking.

A green side television reporter tried to get an interview with Kate but made the mistake of calling her Second Place Kate. Instead of answering his question, she ripped the long skinny microphone out of his hand and tossed it in the pond where her ball had landed. Then she yanked her cap even lower over her eyes and stormed off.

David knew right then that he would take the job that Marcus had offered him. He had played golf in college, then knocked around the satellite tours for about four years, before spending a year on the big tour. That season on the big tour taught him that he would never be more than a fringe player. He just didn’t have the talent.

Rather than spend his life struggling to hang on, he left golf, went back to college, and got his masters and doctorate in psychology. Then he opened his own practice. He worked with people that suffered from phobias, as well as a few athletes, helping them with the mental side of whatever game they were playing.

Marcus wanted him to work with Kate, but knew that Kate would never in a million years agree to work with a psychologist, what she called a head doctor. So Marcus had another idea, he wanted David to caddie for Kate, use his knowledge to help her. He wouldn’t be her psychologist. She wouldn’t be his patient. He would just be her caddie, a caddie with a background in psychology.

“I’m back,” Marcus said, coming back on the phone. “That was her club manufacturer. They’re dropping her too.”

“The moral turpitude clause?”

“The clause gives them the right to end their deal with her if she says or does something that can cause the company embarrassment.”

“Which didn’t they like? Her giving her caddie a bloody nose, or throwing that reporter’s microphone into the pond?”

“Don’t tell me she did that too,” Marcus said. “Just tell me that you’ll take the job.”

“I’ll take the job,” David said.

“Really,” a surprised Marcus said. “Can I ask why?”

“Three reasons. First off, I like her. Secondly, she needs me. Third, I miss the game.”

Marcus laughed. “Sounds like you need her as much as she needs you.”

Maybe I do,” David said. “Maybe I do.”


***


Kate didn’t stick around to celebrate her second place finish. The half million dollar check she earned was nice, but nobody in their right mind would celebrate finishing second at the Shag Carpeting Classic.

Instead, she caught the red eye home and spent Monday in bed. She didn’t turn on the television nor did she connect to the Internet. The last thing she wanted to see was the video of her melt down. On Tuesday, she donned pink sneakers, blue jeans, and a baggy black tee shirt. She pulled a black baseball cap over her unkempt hair and headed for Marcus’s office.

He insisted that she come see him, insisted that they had things to discuss, two of them not good, one of them very good.

Marcus Leery had been her agent, business manager, attorney, for seven years, since the day she walked into his office fresh out of college. She stayed with him for one simple reason, he took her on when no one else wanted her, when she was a nobody fresh out of college, struggling to make the tour, any tour.

Marcus’s office was in his home, a split level ranch style house located in a col-d-sac that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. The house was white with red trim, the only thing that helped it stand out from the neighboring houses were the numerous toys scattered throughout the yard.

Marcus married his college sweetheart. They had been married for fifteen years and had five kids, three girls and two boys.

The oldest of the girls already played golf and wanted to be like Kate. Kate was her hero. As she thought about it, Kate could feel herself blush. Yesterday’s performance was anything but heroic. Fortunately, Marcus’s kids weren’t around. They were spending the week at summer camp. A camp with no television, radio, or Internet service.

Kate pulled her red Mustang convertible to a stop directly in front of Marcus’s house. She climbed out of the car and headed toward the door on the left hand side of the house, the one that led directly to Marcus’s office.

She had no desire to talk to Marcus’s wife Sherri. Sherri was one of those women that never seemed to get upset and if Kate saw her, she would feel the need to explain why she acted the way she did on Sunday.

Why she acted that way was simple. She was twenty-nine years old, had been on tour for seven years, and was still looking for her first win. She was beginning to think that she would never get it.

Her father taught her to play golf and had been her swing coach, the only swing coach she ever had, until cancer took him from her five years ago. It had been her second year on tour and she was still struggling to prove that she belonged. Even so, she made him a death bed promise. She promised him that she wouldn’t give up, wouldn’t quit trying until she had won a tournament. She often wondered what he would think of the nickname the media had tagged her with, Second Place Kate.

Kate shook those thoughts out of her head, knocked on the door that led to Marcus’s office, and headed inside.

Marcus Leery wasn’t your classic looking attorney. He was short, standing five foot six, the same height as Kate. He was overweight, not fat, just a little plump. His short brown hair was thinning on top, there was still a little left up there, but not much. Kate figured in about three years, when he turned forty, there wouldn’t be anything left.

Even though his office was in his home, Marcus was dressed in a suit. He always seemed to be dressed in a suit. This one was dark gray and double breasted. He wore a pale gray shirt and dark red tie with it.

What made Marcus so good at his job was his refusal to take no for an answer. That was how he ended up with a blond beach bunny like Sherri, who in Kate’s opinion, was way out of Marcus’s league.

His office was small, but neat and orderly. A walnut desk and matching credenza dominated the room. A high backed black leather chair sat behind the desk. Two walnut captain’s chairs with black leather cushions faced the desk. A big screen television was on the wall that faced the desk. Dark green drapes that matched the color of the carpeting framed the windows behind the desk.

“All right, I’m here,” Kate said. “So what’s the bad news?”

She moved to the credenza directly to the right of the door that she entered and poured herself a cup of coffee, dumping it into a small Styrofoam cup.

“You should switch to paper cups,” Kate said. “Better for the environment.”

“You say that every time you’re here,” Marcus said. He was sitting behind his desk, studying his laptop.

“And you never listen to me.”

“Here’s the bad news. Your shoe and equipment sponsors are terminating their deals with you.”

“At the end of the year?”

“As of last Sunday.”

Kate wasn’t surprised. She figured something like this was coming, and frankly, she didn’t blame them. “So which embarrassing incident are they going with, the bloody nose, or the microphone?”

“The bloody nose, although the television network is billing you for the cost of the microphone. Wouldn’t surprise me if your caddie sues you for assault and battery.”

“Ex-caddie,” Kate said, correcting him. “So what’s the good news?”

“The applicants to be your new caddie are in the living room.”

Kate set her coffee on the credenza, walked over to the inside door, which was directly across from the one she entered, and opened it.

There was one man in the living room, talking to Sherri. He looked to be in his mid thirties, somewhere around Marcus’s age, but he was taller, thinner, and had more hair. Kate shut the door and turned back to Marcus. “There’s only one guy out there.”

“Yeah, so?”

“What if I don’t like him?”

“Trust me, you’ll like him.”

“What if he doesn’t like me?”

“He likes you.”

“He’s never even met me.”

Marcus smiled. “Maybe that’s why he likes you.”

“So, not funny,” Kate said.

“He saw you play on Sunday.”

“And he still wants to be my caddie?”

“He does.”

“What’s his handicap?”

“He’s a scratch golfer, just like you and me, has been since college.”

“You’re not a scratch golfer,”Kate said.

“In my mind I am.”

“What’s his name?”

“David Stone.”

“His background?”

“Played college golf, played the satellite tours for four years, then spent one year on the big tour. That’s when he walked away from the game.”

“What’s he been doing since then?”

Marcus rose out of his chair and headed for the door. “Why don’t you ask him.”







Chapter 2


Kate grabbed a seat on the corner of Marcus's desk and folded her arms across her chest. A second later, David Stone entered the room. He was tall, but not real tall, a little over six feet. He was wearing sneakers, blue jeans, a dark blue dress shirt, a matching tie, and a gray tweed sport-coat. His dark brown hair was cut short and parted in the middle. He had a strong chin, a narrow nose, and pale blue eyes, so pale that it was hard not to notice them.

“Wow,” David said, as he turned his attention to Kate. “You're even prettier in person than you are on television. Your complexion is flawless.”

“Why do you want to be my caddie?” Kate said, getting right to the point.

She wasn't used to getting comments about her looks, not compliments anyway, not that it was unexpected. This was a job interview which meant he had to be nice to her, although the comment about her complexion did manage to catch her off-guard.

“Why wouldn't I want to be your caddie?” David said. “You're a terrific golfer.”

“I also have a bit of a reputation for being, shall we say, hard on my caddies.”

David laughed, sat in the chair closest to her and looked right at her. “Believe me I know, I saw your melt down on television.”

Kate could feel herself blush. She responded by doing what she always did when she blushed, she pulled the brim of her cap down lower, shadowing her face. “You still haven't told me why you want to be my caddie.”

“I believe I did.”

“You said that I was a terrific golfer.”

David nodded. “Which is why I want to be your caddie.”

“You know what the media calls me?”

“Second Place Kate.”

“And you still want to caddie for me?”

A big grin spread across David's face, and Kate had to admit that he had a great smile. A little crooked, but when you combined it with those pale blue eyes, man oh man, it could make a girl's knees go weak.

“I'd rather caddie for you than Tenth Place Tara or Missed the Cut Melody.”

“I understand that you used to play on the men's tour.”

“Four years on the satellite tours, one on the big tour.”

“And then you quit?”

David nodded. “And then I quit.”

“Why?”

“Because I didn't have your talent. I realized that no matter how hard I worked I would never be more than a fringe player. I would've killed to have a nickname like the one the media's given you.”

“Why?” a puzzled Kate said. She hated her nickname. Hated it.

“Because it would've meant that I belonged. In my case, I was never good enough to belong. You've already proved that you are.”

“What have you been doing with yourself since you left the tour?”

“Mostly charity work.”

“Charity work doesn't pay any money.”

“I received a salary, it just wasn't a big one.”

“What kind of charity work did you do?”

“We dug wells, built schools, libraries, clinics.”

“Where?”

“Mostly in the third world, small villages nobody has ever heard of.”

“Why would you want to give up such fulfilling work to caddie for me?”

“It's like you said, charity work doesn't pay that much. Plus, I miss the game, miss being around it.”

Kate did her best to ignore his smile, not an easy thing to do when you combined it with those pale blue eyes. “You still haven't given me a reason why I should hire you. As a caddie, I mean. If I was looking for a humanitarian, you'd definitely be in the running.”

“You should hire me because you were right,” David said.

“Right about what?” Kate said.

“On Sunday, at the eighteenth. You were right to play the sand wedge rather than the pitching wedge.”

“Even though I came up short and put the ball in the water?”

“You hit a bad shot. It happens to everybody.”

It always seems to happen to me when the tournament is on the line, Kate thought. Not that she said that.

“You're a talented golfer,” David said, continuing. “Talented enough to play the aggressive shot. Talented enough to make the aggressive shot nine times out of ten. Last Sunday, just happened to be the tenth.”

“What would you say is the weakest part of my game?”

“Your putting. You seem to have trouble reading the greens. Actually, you tend to over read the break on the greens, but I can help you there. Putting was always the strongest part of my game.”

“What else did you notice about my game?” Kate asked. She wasn't sure how she felt about the guy other than he was easy on the eyes.

“You want me to be blunt?”

“Please.”

“You're a bit of a choker,” David said.

Kate could feel the anger welling up inside of her. Before she could suppress what she was thinking, the words came flying out of her mouth. “I’d rather be a choker than a quitter. Giving up after just one year on the big tour, that’s the very definition of a quitter.”

“I’m sorry if I offended you with the term choker,” David said. “On the bright side, you only seem to choke on Sundays, and then only on the back nine, when you’re either in the lead, or tied for the lead.”

“The last thing that I need or want is a caddie that calls me a choker.” Kate slid off the desk, walked to the outside exit, and opened the door. “This interview is over. We’ll let you know when we’ve reached a decision, but if I were you, I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

“You’re not a front runner,” David said, not even bothering to stand up. “I can understand that, I never liked having the lead going into Sundays either. I preferred to be lurking one or two shots back, less pressure that way.”

“What do you know about pressure?” Kate asked him. She shut the door and returned to the edge of the desk, this time sitting on the other side so David wasn’t right in front of her.

“I know pressure,” David said. “I went to Q school for five straight years.”

Q school was short for qualifying school. If you didn't make enough money on tour the previous year, or hold an exemption from winning a recent tournament, you had to go to qualifying school, which was a week of intense pressure, competing against a hundred or so other golfers for the right to earn one of a dozen or so spots on tour.

If you didn't qualify, you spent another year on the satellite tours, sleeping in cheap motels, driving across country instead of flying, and playing for small purses in front of small crowds.

Kate remembered Q school, although she was only there once. She hated it so much that she made sure that she never had to go back. Her desire to avoid Q school was one of the things that drove her, that and the promise she had made to her father.

“Went to Q school once,” Kate said. “Hated it so much, I vowed never to go back.”

“Which she hasn't,” Marcus said.

Kate turned her attention back to David. “I've got a practice round scheduled for this afternoon, if you want, you can carry my bag and we'll see how things go.”

David flashed Kate his best smile. “I definitely want.”


***


Kate and David headed for the first tee at the Palm Hills Country Club, Kate’s home course. Kate had changed into blue golf shoes, white pants, and a dark blue polo shirt that matched her shoes.

David liked the way the white pants fit her, nice and snug, showing off her tight little bottom. He couldn’t help but wonder why she didn’t dress like that when she was competing, instead of those giant baggy shorts that she normally wore.

Instead of hiding her hair underneath a cap, she wore it down, pulled back in a ponytail, a long silky ponytail that reached to the bottom of her shoulder blades. She wasn’t wearing a hat, but wraparound sunglasses hid her doe eyes, which David found a bit disappointing because he loved looking at those big soft eyes.

For his part, David was wearing tan Dockers and dark green polo shirt.

“How come you don’t dress like this when you’re competing?” David asked Kate.

Kate stopped dead in her tracks and glared at David. “Is there something wrong with the way I dress when I’m competing?”

“I noticed that you always wear pink on Sundays, what’s the deal there?”

“Pink and black,” Kate said, correcting him. “They’re my lucky colors.”

“They didn’t bring you much luck last Sunday.”

Kate looked like she wanted to argue with him, but didn’t. Was he pushing her? Testing her to see how sensitive she was? Yeah, maybe a little. The better he knew her, the better he’d be able to help her.

“No they didn’t,” Kate admitted. She turned and marched off to the first tee, forcing David to grab her bag and hurry after her.

There was a foursome in front of them, getting ready to tee off, which meant they would have to wait awhile.

“Where were we?” Kate said, turning back to David. “Oh, yeah, you were criticizing the way I dress.”

“Not these,” David said, looking her over. “You look great today. Who would’ve guessed that you had such a rocking little body. And then there’s the hair, I didn’t even know you had hair, little own that it was that long and that silky.”

Kate blushed, reached behind her, and fiddled with her ponytail. It was almost as if she wasn’t comfortable with people complimenting her on her looks. Considering the way she dressed when she was on tour, David wasn’t surprised.

“Thank you,” Kate said. “You look very nice too.”

“I’m just a caddie,” a grinning David said. “Nobody cares how I look. But what’s deal with those shorts you wear when you’re competing?”

“They’re not shorts,” Kate said. ‘Theyre culottes.”

“Cool what?”

“Culottes.”

“I’ve never heard of culottes.”

“It’s a divided skirt.”

David wrinkled his brow. “A divided skirt?”

“Shorts that are cut to look like a skirt.”

“Yeah, but you can tell they’re not actually a skirt, so they just end up looking like really baggy shorts.”

“They’re comfortable.”

“You shouldn’t dress for comfort when you’re competing. You should dress to look good.”

“I’m not out there to look good,” Kate said. “I’m out there to win.”

“Why can’t you do both?”

“Why would I want to do both?”

“Because you’re an entertainer and good looking entertainers are more popular than those that aren’t so fortunate.”

“I’m not an entertainer,” Kate said. “I’m a professional golfer.”

“And golf is what?”

“Golf is a sport.”

“And why do people watch sports?”

“For entertainment.”

David grinned. “Which makes you an entertainer.”

“Fine.” Kate sighed, sounding just a bit frustrated. “I’m an entertainer.”

“I’m sure culottes were all the rage on the women’s tour back in the nineteen fifties, but times have changed and you need to change with them. You’re a pretty girl with a hot little body, why not take advantage of that.”

Kate blushed, again. “You do know that I’m auditioning you for the role of my caddie, not my fashion consultant.”

David raised both hands in a sign of surrender. “I know. Im just saying if you show off that pretty face and hot little body, your popularity will climb. Big time.”

“Couldn’t terms like hot little body be construed as sexual harassment?”

David tried, but couldn’t suppress a grin. “First off, you haven’t actually hired me yet. Secondly, if you did hire me, you’d be the boss, which would put you in the power position.”

“So if I hire you and tell you that you have a hot body, I’ll be guilty of sexual harassment?”

David nodded. “I’m pretty sure that’s the way it works.”

“So your telling me that I have a hot little body is . . . what?”

David felt the grin return to his face. “That would be a compliment.”


***


Kate could feel herself blush, yet again. She wasn’t used to men complimenting her on her looks. She couldn’t remember anyone complimenting her on her looks since college, even then, she hadn’t heard it all that much. She had always considered herself to be the geeky girl in her sorority.

But then she had been raised by her father, with no mother or sisters, which meant that she grew up a tomboy, she certainly had never been what you would call a girly girl.

Her mother left shortly after Kate was born, at least that’s what her father said. He claimed that her mother just up and decided that she didn’t want to be a wife or a mother, then she packed a bag and walked out. Kate was too young to remember the woman, wouldn’t even be able to pick her out of a lineup.

That’s why she didn’t know as much about fashion as the other girls, but at least when her car broke down, she could figure out pretty quickly why it broke down, she didn’t need some man to explain why.

As far as David Stone was concerned, well, she didn’t know what to make of him. None of her other caddies ever commented on her looks. She hadn’t even hired this guy yet and he had already told her that she had a hot little body, not to mention a pretty face.

“Why would I want to change the way I dress when I compete?” Kate asked David.

The foursome in front of them finally hit all of their drives and were waddling off down the fairway. Now, she just had to wait for all of them to hit their second shot.

“Changing your look might help you get those contracts back that you just lost.”

Kate could feel herself blush, again. She didn’t like the fact that she had lost her temper on Sunday. She wasn’t even sure where her temper came from, certainly not her father. He was as patient a man as she had ever met.

She figured that she must’ve gotten it from her mother. Anybody that could just up and walk out on her husband and baby had to be prone to rash decisions. And throwing your club at your caddie was definitely a rash decision.

“You heard about those?” Kate said, referring to her lost endorsements.

The Cheshire cat smile returned to David’s face. “It’s all over the internet. Speaking of which, where’d you manage to find a clothing company that makes culottes for golfers? You got a time machine or something? One which transports you back to the nineteen fifties.”

“I didn’t have a clothing contract,” Kate said. “I had a shoe contract and a club contract.”

“Did you know the video of you grabbing the microphone from the reporter and tossing it into the pond already has over one million hits.”

“And why do you think I need to know that?”

“Because most of the people approve of what you did. The only people that hold reporters in high esteem are reporters.”

“And the point of this is?”

“There are a lot of people out there that like you, despite the fact that you insist on inflicting those culotte things upon us.”

Kate look at David. “You really don’t like my culottes do you?”

David grinned. “I don’t even like the word.”

Kate turned so she was facing him, then she looked him directly in the eyes. “I’ll make a deal with you. If I hire you as my caddy, I’ll get rid of the culottes.”

“And if you don’t hire me?”

“If I don’t hire you, it’s simple. You leave and the culottes stay.”







Chapter 3


“Here’s what I expect,” Kate said as they stepped into the first tee box. “I expect you to have the yardage on the course memorized without having to consult a yardage book.”

“Not a problem,” David said. “I have a photographic memory.”

Kate made no attempt to hide the surprise on her face. She normally didn’t ask her caddies to memorize the yardage, but this guy was so opinionated about how she dressed, she figured she’d get back at him by pushing him a little, demanding more from him than she did from her other caddies. Never in a million years did she expect him to tell her that he had a photographic memory.

“You’re telling me that you already memorized the yardage to this course?”

David nodded. “Bought a yardage book in the clubhouse and memorized it while I was waiting for you to arrive.”

Kate wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not. Not that she said that, all she said was, “We’ll see. This is my home course, so I know the yardage intimately.”

“Lucky yardage,” a grinning David said.

“Let’s move on,” Kate said. She could feel herself blush but did her best to ignore it. “Here’s what I expect you to keep stocked in my bag. One bottle of water from a spring, not tap water that’s been filtered by osmosis or anything like that. One apple, a golden delicious. One protein bar, preferably double chocolate, although chocolate chip is acceptable.”

“Did you know that chocolate contains a chemical very similar to the one your brain produces when you have sex?”

Kate ignored the fact that she was blushing, yet again, and glared at David. “Is there a point to that comment?”

“Double chocolate, chocolate chip. I’m just saying that there are other ways for your body to get that chemical you’re obviously craving. Although if you keep wearing those culotte things, you might have to stick to the chocolate.”

“Pressing on,” Kate said, doing her best to ignore David’s comment. “I also want a Snickers Bar in my bag. Not a Kit Kat. Not a Three Musketeers. Definitely not a Butterfinger.”

A Cheshire cat smile spread across David’s face. “How about a Mint Patty?”

“That’s something else I don’t need to hear during a round.”

David wrinkled his brow. “Mint Patty?”

“Jokes. I don’t need to hear jokes when I’m trying to concentrate on my round. In fact, you don’t talk during the round unless I ask you a question. Understood?” David made a zipping motion across his mouth. Kate ignored him and pressed on. “When I ask for a club you give it to me without question. Unless I specifically ask for your advice, you don’t give it to me. Oh, and you get one veto per round. One.”

David wrinkled his brow a second time. “Veto?”

“If I ask for a club and you think it’s the wrong one, you can tell me. But you can only do it once per round. That’s your veto.”

“Will you take my advice?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Depends upon the situation.”

“You got a lot of rules for someone that hasn’t won a single tournament in seven years on tour.”

Kate stepped forward, rose up on her toes, and stuck her nose in David’s face. “I made over two million dollars last year. How much did you make?”

Instead of answering her question, David wrapped his hands around her waist, pulled her against him, and kissed her. The move was so unexpected that Kate didn’t respond. She didn’t kiss him back, but she didn’t resist him either, she just let him kiss her, for as long as he wanted.

After what seemed like an eternity to Kate, but probably wasn’t more than a few seconds, he let her go. Kate stumbled backward a couple of steps. When she had regained her balance, David spoke, in a voice that was softer than normal. “Every time you stick that cute little nose in my face, I’m going to kiss you. Every time. And that’s all the warning that I’m going to give you. Now, if you want to tell me to get lost, I’ll understand.”

Part of her did want to tell him to get lost, but another part didn’t. Another part liked being kissed. It had been a long time since someone had kissed her, really kissed her, and she had forgotten how much she missed it. Until now.

“We’re, ah, here,” Kate said. “We might as well play the round.”

The foursome in front of her had finally cleared out of the fairway. David handed Kate a ball and a tee, Kate teed up her ball, took a couple of practice swings, and then hit the ball. It sailed long and straight, landing right in the middle of the fairway.

“Nice drive,” David said as she handed him her driver. He dropped it in her bag and they headed down the fairway.

“I wasn’t trying to upset you when I pointed out that you haven’t won a tournament in seven years,” David said as they strolled down the green fairway. “I’m just saying that maybe if you relaxed a little, you might play better on Sunday afternoons.”

“New rule,” Kate said. “You don’t talk unless I ask you a question.”

“Why can’t I talk?”

“Listening to you doesn’t relax me.” Kissing him relaxed her, or at least it did something to her, not that she was going to admit that. “And I don’t play golf to relax. I play to win.”

“And yet you’re not,” David said. “Winning that is.”

Kate glared at him. “You’re a very frustrating man. Something I’m not looking for in a caddie.”

A good caddie does more than just carry your bag, rattle off yardages, and hand you your clubs. A good caddie keeps you focused and relaxed, so you can play your best. I’m just trying to get to know you, so I can help you play your best.”

They reached Kate’s ball and stopped. “Yardages?” Kate said.

She already knew the yardages, this was her home course. She just wanted to see if he knew them as well as he claimed.

David looked around, surveying where they were. “One fifty-seven to the front of the green. Yardage book didn’t give pin locations but I’m guessing about one sixty-seven to the pin.” He pulled out her six iron and handed it to her.

Six iron,” a surprised Kate said. “You’ve already memorized how far I hit each club?”

I have.”

Did Marcus give you my yardages or did you figure them out yourself?”

He sent me some videos of you playing. I measured your yardages from watching you play.”

That couldn’t have been easy,” Kate said. “Watching me play in my culottes.”

That part wasn’t easy,” a grinning David said. “But I struggled through it.”

Did you contact Marcus or did Marcus contact you?”

Marcus contacted me.”

So bringing you here was his idea.”

We met in college and have kept in touch. He knew that I was interested in getting back into the game on some level, so he called me up and said that he had a great opportunity for me.”

And you decided that he was right?” Kate made no attempt to hide the surprise on her face. “That caddying for me is a great opportunity?”

I don’t think I ever used the word great. I believe the word I used was interesting.”

The foursome ahead of them finished putting and waddled off the green. Kate took the six iron David handed her, took a couple of practice swings, and hit the ball. It sailed long and straight, landing right in the middle of the green, about six feet from the pin.

Nice shot,” David said.

Kate handed him her six iron and they headed for the green.


***


When they reached the fifth tee, David pulled a chocolate protein bar out of Kate's bag and handed it to her. The look on her face said it all, she was surprised that he knew she always ate her protein bar on the fifth tee.

I watched you play,” David said. “You always eat the protein bar on the fifth tee, the apple on the tenth, and the Snickers Bar on the fifteenth.”

Before Kate could respond, he handed her the water bottle so she could wash down the protein bar. After that, he remained silent until the seventh green, not because he didn't have anything to say, but because he wanted to show Kate that he could shut his mouth and do his job.

David watched Kate as she studied her putt on the seventh green, then he watched her step up to her ball and aim her putt.

I known I'm not suppose to say anything,” David said, stepping up behind Kate and whispering in her ear. He had to admit that she smelled good, not because of some perfume, he was pretty sure she wasn't wearing any. She just smelled clean and fresh and female.

And yet you're speaking anyway,” Kate said.

Because you're over reading the break. If you putt the ball on that line, you're going to end up a foot left of the hole.”

I'm not over reading the break,” Kate said.

Yes, you are.”

No, I'm not.”

Fine,” David said, moving out of the way. “Forget I said anything.”

Wish I could,” Kate said, mumbling to herself.

She stepped up to her ball, aiming on the wrong line. She was predicting the ball would break about three feet from right to left, but David knew that was an over read. The ball would only break about two feet.

Kate hit her putt and sure enough, her ball ended up exactly where David said it would, one foot left of the hole.

Kate spun around and glared, daring him to say something. For his part, David just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I've always been very good at reading greens. My problem was on the tee, I could never seem to keep my tee shots in the fairway.”

On the next green, Kate studied her putt, then turned back and looked at David. “Give me your read on this one.”

David took a minute to study the green, first from behind the ball, then from behind the cup. When he finished, he walked back over to Kate.

Flat putt, about a three foot break from right to left,” he said.

We shall see,” Kate said.

She didn't bother to read the green herself. She just stepped up to the ball, aimed three feet to the right of the hole, and putted. The ball headed in a straight line, then it began to break toward the left. It didn't end up in the hole but it came pretty close, dying about two inches to the right of the hole.

Maybe you can read greens,” Kate said, looking at David. “Or maybe you just got lucky on that one.”

David gave Kate his best smile. “Ten more holes to go. Plenty of time to find out.”

By the time they reached the eighteenth green, David was pretty sure that he had secured the job. If it hadn't been for the part where he grabbed Kate and kissed her, he would've been positive that he had the job. He wasn't sure what she thought of the kiss, but then it wasn't something that he had planned. When she stuck that turned up nose in his face, not to mention that pouty lower lip, it just happened.

So?” he said as she fished her ball out of the cup. “Do I get the job?”

If you still want it.”

Before I say yes, I need to give you my rules.”

Your rules?” Kate said.

My rules.”

You're the caddie, which means I pay you, which means I get to make the rules.”

I get paid a percentage of your winnings, which means if I have some advice which I think can help you win, I'm going to offer you that advice, whether you accept it or not is up to you.”

And you want to know if I can live with that.”

Can you?”

A faint smile spread across Kate's face. “Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not adverse to taking advice, especially if it helps me play better. Just share your advice and move on, don't nag.”

David felt another smile spread across his face. “I've been called a lot of things in my time, but a nag isn't one of them.”

I didn't say you were a nag, I just pointed out that I don't like being nagged.”

Can I assume you pay your caddie the standard ten percent of your winnings?”

Sixteen percent,” Kate said.

David could feel his eyebrows arch in surprise. “Sixteen percent? Really? That's on the high end of the scale.”

Yeah, well, when you burn through caddies like I do, you have to offer a little something extra to get them to work for you. And contrary to popular opinion, I'm not the wicked witch of the west.”

If I thought you were the wicked witch of the west, I wouldn't be here,” David said. He smiled, something he found himself doing a lot around this woman. “Now, since I'm in, can I assume the culottes are out?”

I don't have a clothing contract so I'm going to have to spend my own money on all new outfits.”

The reason you don't have a clothing contract is because the clothing companies don't realize what a hot little body you have. No surprise, considering you're always hiding your looks.”

Kate looked like she wanted to argue with him, and then she did. “I don't hide my looks.”

You don't play them up.”

Did it ever occur to you that there isn't anything to play up?”

Surely she didn't believe that. Then again, maybe she did. She didn't seem to have any men in her life except Marcus. She didn't even have a swing coach. David couldn't help but wonder how long it had been since somebody told her that she was beautiful.

Do you have a boyfriend?” David asked Kate.

Why would you ask such a thing?”

Just curious.”

No, I don't have a boyfriend. What about you? Do you have a girlfriend?”

Not at the moment.”

I bet you've had quite a few in your day.”

What makes you say that?”

You just seem like a player to me.”

When I was in college, I probably was a player. But that was a long time ago. What about you?”

When I was in college, the guys that I was interested in weren't interested in me. I had no desire to date someone I wasn't interested in just so I could say that I had a boyfriend. So I didn’t date all that much.”

And since college?”

Since college I've gotten into a routine, one which doesn't involve a boyfriend.”

Sounds a lot like my life. The older we get, the harder it is to break the routines that we get stuck in.”

They reached Kate's car, a shiny red Mustang convertible. She popped the truck and David tossed her clubs into it.

And then you got a call from Marcus, watched me play, and decided that I was worth changing the routine you had gotten into?”

David closed the trunk and faced Kate. “That's about the size of it. Sometimes you see people that intrigue you and want to get to know them.”

And I'm one of those people?” Kate made no attempt to hide the surprise on her face.

David found himself laughing, “You're definitely one of those people.”

He stepped up to Kate and kissed her, although it wasn't like their first kiss. This was nothing more than an innocent peck on the cheek. Then he turned and walked away, saying, “Thanks for the job.”







Chapter 4


Kate was on the driving range, warming up for the opening round of the Fife and Drum Insurance Classic. It was a tournament she normally didn't enter, but she decided to enter it at the last minute, mostly because she wanted to see how David and her did in competition.

She was also dressed different for this tournament, wearing black slacks, a black polo shirt, and a black baseball cap. She was just finishing her warm-up when David arrived.

You going to a funeral?” he asked her. He was wearing tan shorts, a white polo shirt, and the bib that all caddies wore. The bib was dark green with the name of the tournament printed on the front and the last name of the golfer that he was working for printed on the back. Aviator style sunglasses hid his sparkling blue eyes.

You got something against black?”

No, it looked great on Gary Player, but you're not Gary Player.”

Kate could feel herself blush, although she wasn't sure why. David Stone seemed to have a knack for making her blush. “I don't have a whole lot in my closet, mostly pink and black.”

Yeah, I think it's time to lose the pink.”

Why?”

You're twenty-nine years old. You should be wearing red, not pink. Plus, red will contrast nicely with your dark hair. Should you ever decide to wear it down, which I think you should.”

Kate had her hair pinned up in a chignon and tucked underneath her baseball cap. She had gotten so use to wearing it that way that it never occurred to her to wear it any other way when she was competing.

We're getting close to my tee time,” Kate said. She dropped the club she was holding into her bag and headed toward the first tee.

When they were together, they seemed to spend as much time talking about the way she looked and dressed as they did talking about golf. That was something she wasn't used to. She wasn't used to talking about the way she dressed, or wore her hair, at least not with men. Certainly not with good looking single men like David Stone.

When they reached the first tee, they had to wait awhile, until the announcer called her name.

This is your nine fifteen tee time,” the announcer said, his voice booming out of loud speakers set around the first tee. “From Palm Hills, California, please welcome Katherine Tucker.”

There was a smattering of applause from the sparse Thursday morning crowd. There were never many fans on Thursday and Friday, mostly because people were still at work. Not that Kate minded the lack of a crowd, the fewer people that were watching her, the less pressure she felt, the less pressure she felt, the better she seemed to play.

But then Kate never attracted the big crowds, most of the fans followed other girls. Girls that actually won tournaments, or were considered hot. Not hot as in playing really well, but hot as in she's smoking hot.

David was right, this was the entertainment business and looks did matter. The majority of golf fans were men, and when the women's tour rolled into town, they either followed the great players or the good looking players.

David handed Kate her driver. She teed her ball up, took a couple of practice swings, and hit her ball. It sailed high and straight, right down the middle of the fairway.

There was another smattering of applause from the sparse crowd. Kate handed her driver to David and moved out of the way so her playing partner could hit her shot.

As soon as her playing partner hit her drive, Kate and David headed down the middle of the fairway.

You ever think of wearing skirts?” David asked her. “Tight little skirts that show off your legs and bottom.”

Excuse me?” Kate said. He caught her off-guard with that question, although he shouldn't have. He seemed obsessed with what she wore, way more than she was.

You got rid of the culottes but it still looks like you're buying your clothes from Tents-R-Us.”

Did you just call me fat?”

David laughed. “Hardly. I'm saying it looks like you borrowed your clothes from a fat friend. They're a little on the baggy side.”

How come whenever we're together, we never talk about golf? All we ever seem to talk about is what I'm wearing, or how I'm wearing my hair.”

You're one of the prettier girls on tour,” David said. “Why not take advantage of that?”

Because I want to be taken seriously. Because I want to be remembered for my game and not my looks.”

Why not be remembered for both? Instead of being remembered as a chick that could play golf, why not be remembered as a hot chick that could play golf.”

Did it ever occur to you that I'm not as hot as you seem to think I am?”

David looked Kate over. “No.”

Well, maybe you should think about it.”

I don't need to think about it.”

Why not?”

I have impeccable taste in women. And you are definitely as hot as I think you are.”

They reached Kate's ball then moved to the side of the fairway so her playing partner, who was shorter than her off the tee, could hit first.

Playing up your looks might help you play better,” David said.

Kate stared at her caddie with an open mouth, then she laughed. “How do you figure that?”

Worrying about your skirt being too short, or your shirt being too tight, will help take your mind off your game.”

I don't want to take my mind off my game. And it sounds like you think that I need to change my image.”

You kind of do. Right now you're known as the frumpy girl that loses her temper and never finishes higher than second.”

Kate felt herself growing defensive. “Second place isn't so bad. My last second place finished netted me a half a million dollars.”

Yeah, but wouldn't you rather be known as the sexy girl that won a million dollars?”

There's no guarantee that I'll ever win a tournament.”

A Cheshire cat grin spread across David's face. “That's why I'm here. To help you win tournaments.”

Confident aren't you.”

Just in your potential, which is why I took this job.” Kate's playing partner finished her shot. Kate and David headed toward Kate's ball. “One forty-seven to the front of the green. One fifty-five to the pin. Flat side of the green is on the right. No wind.”

Give me the eight,” Kate said.

David laid the grip in her palm, having pulled it out of her bag before she even asked for it.


***


David was standing at the back of the media tent, watching Kate sit down for her post round interview. Most of the girls weren't invited to the press tent, but Kate had shot a six under sixty-six and was currently leading the tournament. The first question they asked her, probably wasn't what she wanted to hear.

“You've been in this position before,” the reporter said. “Leading early only to fade at the end.”

Kate leaned forward, toward the microphone on the table directly in front of her. “Is there a question in there?”

“I'm just wondering what makes you think that this week will be different from any of the others?”

David expected Kate to lose her cool, but she didn't, she just smiled at the reporter and said, “Hope springs eternal in the hearts of men. Which is why we keep playing this game no matter how frustrating it is.”

“I noticed that you have a new caddie,” another reporter said.

“Once again,” Kate said. “Is there a question in there?”

“Did your last caddie quit or did you fire him?”

“We had a mutual parting of the ways.”

“Do you regret throwing your club at him?”

“Not as much as I regret putting that shot into the water.”


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